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GR8LIST: Shopping, sights, sound, and adventure in and around Cardiff

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The city of Cardiff and it's stunning surrounding countryside promises a unique blend of beauty and historical interest. It's also full of unmissable sights and locations that are well worth a visit. We've picked out eight of the best...

Cardiff Castle

A family walks through a fabulous hall of Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle, Castle Street, Cardiff CF10 3RB

Cardiff Castle is one of Wales’ leading heritage attractions and a site of international significance – walk through its gates and discover a story 2,000 years in the making.

From the Roman occupation of Britain, to the Norman Conquest, through civil war turbulence, a Victorian transformation, and even the terrors of World War 2, these walls have seen it all.

In a country renowned for its castles, Cardiff’s has not simply survived the centuries, but evolved with them in a fashion few others can claim.

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Glass by Design

Glass By Design's Cardiff shop

1 Station Approach, Penarth CF64 3EE

Glass By Design are by their own admission, “addicted to glass”. Resident glass artists, Angelina Hall & Cathy O’Doherty, can be seen designing and making stained and fused glass on-site and have a wide range of their work on show.

The studio gallery also showcases beautiful work by Welsh makers in the mediums of ceramic, felt, slate, wire, stone, and wood. There really is something for everyone and all handmade!

A wide range of courses are available, but booking in advance is essential – “I can’t believe I’ve made something so beautiful!” said one woman after a workshop – words that sum-up this Penarth enterprise perfectly.

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The Vale of Glamorgan

The Vale of Glamorgan, Barry Island, showing colourful beachfront challets

The Vale of Glamorgan is home to some of the most stunning scenery in Wales, as well as one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the British Isles.

A visit to the Vale promises plenty to do, including surfing, paddleboarding, golf, go-karting, paintball, museums, historical landmarks, mouth-watering local food, and of course, the official Gavin and Stacey Tour in the seaside town made famous by the BBC show: Barry Island.

Whether you decide to stay in-land in Cowbridge and the Rural Vale, or make for the coast and explore Penarth or the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, you’re certain to make memories that will last a lifetime.

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The Pumping Station

Antiques on display at The Pumping Station, near Cardiff

The Pumping Station, Penarth Rd, Cardiff, CF11 8TT

This Grade-II listed Victorian pumpworks is home to an unexpected secret: more than 45 of Cardiff’s finest independent antiques and interiors traders!

This veritable Aladdin’s Cave is chock-full of treasures sure to delight every taste, and offers marvellous finds from a variety of historical periods, including Ancient Roman, Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, retro, mid-century, industrial, modern, and contemporary.

Furniture, models, home furnishings, collectables, and thousands more antique and vintage items can be found within The Pumping Station’s 32,000 square feet, and with both private and trade customers welcome, this is an unmissable stop for antique hunters visiting Cardiff.

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Wooden Tops Furniture

Giftware and upcycled furniture on display at Wooden Tops Furniture, in Cardiff

15-16 Queens Court, Bridgend Industrial Estate, Bridgend, CF31 3TQ

Upcycling furniture is an art, and the team at Wooden Tops Furniture are masters. Since husband-and-wife team Mathew and Sophie set up the Bridgend store in 2016, they have found homes for thousands of beautiful pieces of pre-loved furniture.

Whether you’re looking for expertly restored pieces, pre-owned furniture, home and garden ware, gifts, or the materials needed to upcycle your own projects, you’ll find it at the 3,500 square foot store which is rapidly being recognised as one of Bridgend’s best-kept secrets.

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Hensol Castle Distillery

A gin-loving visitor prepares a batch at Hensol Castle Distillery, near Cardiff

Hensol Castle Cellars, Hensol Castle, Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan, CF72 8JX

Gin-lovers rejoice, because this 17th century Grade 1-listed castle just outside Cardiff is home to South Wales’ first full-scale gin distillery.

As well as producing the small-batch craft gin, the cellars of Hensol Castle house a bottling plant, a gin school, and a glittering visitor experience which is certain to delight any gin fan.

The award-winning spirit is a lovingly distilled traditional copper pot London Dry gin, with notes of juniper, citrus and wildflower – take the tour to find out the history behind it, or even have a go at making your own!

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St David’s Hall
Exterior of St David's Hall, in Cardiff, as crowds walk past

Photo by Kiran Ridley

St David’s Hall, The Hayes, Cardiff CF10 1AH

Fittingly located in the heart of Cardiff, you’ll find St David’s Hall, a celebrated performance venue which ranks among the world’s top ten concert halls for acoustics, and hosts a staggering variety of music, dance, theatre, light entertainment, and more.

Not only is it the home of both the Welsh Proms and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, St David’s Hall is also the award-winning National Concert Hall and Conference Centre of Wales, and annually plays host to the Cardiff Classical, a season of concerts featuring top calibre international orchestras.

Showcasing a rich and diverse programme featuring hundreds of performances every year – everything from opera to stand-up comedy – there’s little doubt that fans of live entertainment will find something to delight and amaze.

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Brooklinde Designer Goldsmiths

A four-stone ring by Brooklinde Designer Goldsmiths, in Cardiff

20 Royal Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1AE

If you’re hunting for the perfect piece of jewellery in Cardiff, look no further than Brooklinde Designer Goldsmiths. Its extensive range of pieces by internationally-famous designers is complemented by a stunning collection of handmade jewellery designed and fashioned in-house.

This bespoke design service is also extended to customers – if you can’t find the perfect piece, Brooklinde’s artists Clare and Emma will work with you to create the jewellery of your dreams.

Their expertise ranges from engagement and wedding rings, to pendants, unique one-off designs, or even repairing or remodelling your favourite piece.

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Image credits: ©Fotobeam.de/stock.adobe.com

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