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Cardiff on a Budget

Kasia Ociepa

Despite only being the capital of Wales since 1955, Cardiff has embraced its role with vigour and ambition, emerging in the new millennium as one of Britain’s leading cities for arts, culture, and tourism. Nestled between an ancient fort and an ultramodern waterfront, Cardiff’s compact size is perfect for a day-visit of exploring and sightseeing. Here’s how to get a full day’s worth of fun and culture there for under £20.

10am - Cardiff Castle (From 10.95)
Located at the heart of the capital, Cardiff Castle is one of Wales’ leading heritage attractions and definitely a must-see while on your visit. The castle is surrounded by beautiful parklands, and within its walls and fairy-tale towers it conceals 2,000 years of fascinating history. Once used by the Romans as a fortress and then later by medieval noblemen as a place to hold court, the castle was eventually transformed by the Bute family into a romantic Victorian fantasy palace. ‘Eccentric genius’ architect William Burges was given free rein to create the lavish and opulent interiors, and each breath-taking room is filled with murals, stained glass, gilding and superb craftsmanship.  

Image credit: Kathryn Yengel

Cardiff Castle is located on Castle St, CF10 3RB. Open daily 9am-5pm.
1pm- The New York Deli (From £3)
Any Cardiff local will tell you that The New York Deli is a must-visit, and will confidently inform you that the sandwiches there are so good they easily rival their American forebears. Serving up huge, delicious sandwiches stuffed with stateside favourites like pastrami, chilli and salt beef, among many others, The New York Deli is a taste of The Big Apple right in the centre of Cardiff. There aren’t many other places around that give you this kind of bang for your buck, and you’ll be wowed not only by how massive their portions are, but how little you’ve paid for them too.

The New York Deli is located at 20 High Street Arcade, CF10 1BB.
1:30 - Cardiff Market (Free)
Cardiff Market is housed under an impressive Victorian glass roof, and has been trading in one form or another since the 1700s. Offering a wealth of products, from pots and pans to bread and butter, Cardiff Market is alive with the hustle and bustle of traders who have an eclectic range of goods to sell. Although you can pretty much get anything your heart desires in this market, it has definitely set its sights on catering for foodies, so leave room after lunch for a sweet treat or two from one of the many traders selling artisanal goodies.
Cardiff Market is located on St Mary St, CF10 1AU. Open daily from 8am-5:30pm.
3:30 - Bute Park (Free)
Known as the “green heart” of Cardiff, Bute Park is full of historic interest dating back to Roman and Medieval times and boasts a wide variety of wildlife to explore, including woodpeckers, jays, otters and leaping salmon. The park is flanked by the River Taff and Cardiff Castle, and its impressive size makes it one of the largest urban parks in Wales. Bute Park is the perfect place to escape the noise of the city and relax in its serene, green surroundings.
Bute Park is located on North Rd, CF10 3DX.
4:30 - Cardiff Bay (Free)
The old Cardiff docklands were completely renovated a decade ago to become Cardiff Bay, and the area has since been named one of the Top 10 UK attractions according to TripAdvisor. What was once the hub of the world’s coal industry is now a buzzing tourist destination with a large freshwater lake for sailing and water sports, fantastic restaurants and cultural attractions. Be sure to check out the Norwegian Church where author Roald Dahl was christened, and Craft in the Bay, which showcases jewellery, ceramics, textiles, metal work and bespoke furniture exclusively made in Wales by members of The Makers Guild in Wales.

6:30 - Dinner at Vegetarian Food Studio (From £4.65)
Far from just your standard Anglo-Indian restaurant, Vegetarian Food Studio remains unswervingly true to the vibrant tastes of India and prides itself in its honest, fresh cooking. A firm favourite with Cardiff locals, Vegetarian Food Studio’s menu is grounded in authenticity and incredible flavours. A temple of indulgence for vegans and vegetarians, and an opportunity for carnivores to get adventurous with veg, this unassuming eatery is the perfect place to do as the locals do, and enjoy some scrumptious, homemade delicacies that are kind to your body and your pockets!

Vegetarian Food Studio is located at 115-117 Penarth Rd, CF11 6JU.
A day out in Cardiff for just £18.60? Sounds like it’s time for you to book a trip to the Welsh capital as soon as you can!