Sign up to our newsletter for the latest UK and Ireland travel and destination stories

A guide to the best shopping centres, arcades and markets in Cardiff

By Nerys Lloyd-Pierce

Cardiff has worked extremely hard to earn its reputation as one of the top shopping destinations in the UK and Ireland. Relish Cardiff’s Grade 2-listed Victorian and Edwardian arcades and markets, peruse the high street brands or try one of the many independent stores. Another bonus is that many of Cardiff’s key retail areas are pedestrianised, which makes the whole experience considerably less frenetic.

The Royal Arcade
Women shopping

Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the shops

Built in 1858, the Royal Arcade reflects the opulence of Victorian architecture. It isn’t possible to visit the Royal Arcade without taking a look at Wally’s Delicatessen. This fragrant gastro-emporium has been a Cardiff institution for more than 50 years. It stocks more than 100 salamis and cold meats alone.

For products that don’t cost the earth, in any sense of the word, check out Ganesha Handicrafts, a fine emporium of eco-friendly and fairly-traded goods, such as candles, carvings, cards and a myriad other items. The Pen and Paper Stationery Company stocks exquisite pens and beautiful stationery, enticing us to reclaim the almost forgotten art of putting pen to paper. And what a treat it is to get a hand-written letter or card amid the endless texts and emails.

The Morgan Arcade
Morgan Arcade, Cardiff

Browse the wonderful shops in the Morgan Arcade

The Morgan Arcade wends its way parallel to the Royal Arcade and houses its own collection of fascinating little stores. Spillers, the world’s oldest record shop, the fame of which has spread well beyond Cardiff. Opening in 1894 in the former Queen’s Arcade, it moved to The Hayes in the 1940s, then to Morgan Arcade in 2010.

The Morgan Arcade also sports a Neal’s Yard with its natural remedies and posh potions. Check out DIBA for lovely one-off items of clothing, and excellent leather goods. If all this shopping means that a caffeine hit is in order, The Plan, complete with an award-winning barista, is the place to go. The High Street Arcade houses Hobo’s, which bills itself as a ‘deliciously different’ vintage clothing shop, and it’s certainly worth a good snoop around.

St David’s Dewi Sant
St David's Dewi Saint, Cardiff

St David’s Dewi Saint is the place to go for shopping, dining, or seeing the latest movie releases

The gleaming St David’s Dewi Sant has a lavish John Lewis store as its flagship, and offers a multitude of shiny outlets such as Hugo Boss, All Saints, Swarovski, Jo Malone and Castle Fine Art, a commercial gallery stocking pictures by famous names such as Billy Connolly, Bob Dylan and Ronnie Wood. Who says you can only be good at one thing. Watering holes include Café Rouge and Ciliegino, where the pasta carbonara is highly recommended.

The completion of the development brought Cardiff into the top five shopping destinations in the UK. Specialists such as Proline Skates, a mecca for all things associated with skateboarding, are represented among the international stars.

Cardiff Central Market
Cardiff Central Market

Enjoy a unique shopping experience at Cardiff Central Market

Cardiff Central Market has been trading in one form or another since the 1700s, and while the market no longer features tethered livestock as in days gone by, you can still sift through jewellery, plants and flowers, pets, gifts and curios, wigs, arts, crafts, leather goods, sweets, sandwiches, toys, books, homeware, and there’s also a high-class butcher on the premises, an esteemed fresh fish outlet, a fantastic cheese counter, vegetarian and vegan stalls, and a bread stall selling mountains of freshly-baked crusty rolls.

Follow the smell of baking and join the queue at Cardiff Bakestones, where they produce a range of Welsh cakes and other tempting treats right in front of you. If you’re keen to sample traditional Welsh fare, a full Welsh breakfast featuring laverbread (seaweed) can be enjoyed at the Bull Terrier Café on the balcony upstairs, and there’s Hard Lines for coffee and snacks.

Go on, treat yourself!

Read more about Cardiff

Share this...
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter

Image credits: ©Andrew Molyneux/Morgan Quarter; Ceri Breeze/; Dglimages/

Related features