It might surprise you to learn that about 20 million people a year come to Cardiff. They’re typically tourists. They come to see St. John the Baptist Church, the castles, the bay, the museums, and the typical touristy things. So let’s get beyond the brochures and the guide books and show you my Cardiff like a local.
Cardiff’s history runs deep. It was once just a small Roman fort, and over many centuries, it slowly transformed into a modern European city. Thanks in part to its port, which was declared the capital of Wales in 1955.
Companies around the world do business here, helping it evolve into a unique and cultural melting pot. The locals take advantage of that—especially when it comes to sports. Rugby is hugely popular here, and so is ice hockey. In fact, even America’s favorite pastime has been a hit for more than a century.
If you want the derivation of the word baseball, don’t look to the United States. Come to Cardiff Arms Park, where—believe it or not—back in 1892, they were playing organized baseball. Now they call it rounders. Any Saturday or Sunday, come on out, and you’ll find a local pick up game.
Modern sports stadiums aren’t the only architectural gems that this city has to offer. In fact, one “must see” structure was built a thousand years ago and still stands today.
It might surprise you to know there are more than 600 castles in Wales, and if you’re coming to Cardiff, you can’t avoid Cardiff Castle. That building has been here since the eleventh century. But I’ve got to warn you, it’s a little touristy. If you’re smart, you’ll go across the street to the Central Market. That’s where the locals go.
With Cardiff’s rich, ethnic diversity comes a wide variety of food. Once inside the Central Market there’s so much stuff to buy. I come directly here for the Welsh Cakes—they go back hundreds of years. The original ones had raisins, and you can get them with carrots, spices, mint, or anything you want…but go for the original one. Now, they’re traditionally eaten at tea time, but once you have a Welsh Cake in your hand, it is tea time.
There’s more to Cardiff than pub food and pretty scenery. The locals have figured that out, and so can you. You can show up and be ready to join a local pick up game of baseball, be mesmerized by the history of local castles, and taste foods from around the world. That’s what it means to see Cardiff, Wales like a local.
To learn about more destinations you can see like the locals, check out:
- Hiking Trails & Unique Dishes: Irvine, California
- Local Markets & Dancing Nightlife: San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Eco Adventures & Jungle: The Island of Dominica
By Peter Greenberg for PeterGreenberg.com