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A Cardiff travel guide – a fairytale castle, a glittering bay and organic food markets

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The Welsh spirit shines through on a Cardiff city break. Book a Cardiff hotel to experience a city with a vibrant arts scene, dazzling waterfront and a taste of the great outdoors.

Living history

Two thousand years of history unfold within the walls of Cardiff Castle. Travel through time and discover its Roman wall, Norman keep and dramatic neo-Gothic apartments on fascinating Cardiff city breaks. Return to the age of the woolly mammoth and come face to face with the works of the Old Masters in the free National Museum. You can learn all about traditional rural crafts in the reconstructed cottages at open-air St Fagans Museum. Evensong is the best time to appreciate medieval Llandaff Cathedral at its most atmospheric.

World flavours

Alfresco diners tuck into the catch of the day in Cardiff Bay's fashionable waterfront brasseries, and Italian or tapas in Mermaid Quay's glass-fronted bistros. Cathays' gastropubs serve flavoursome Welsh fare like leek tart, tender lamb and black beef washed down with a pint of local Brains bitter. The city has a spicy side - the Old Brewery Quarter is home to good-value Thai and Indian restaurants.

Local shopping

Take a stroll around Mermaid Quay's galleries for contemporary crafts from wicker to ceramics. Cardiff's boutique-lined Victorian arcades stock everything from Welsh lovespoons to vintage clothing. For high-street fashion, head to St David's Shopping Centre and Queen Street. Foodies can leave their Cardiff hotel and browse the Central Market for creamy Welsh cheeses and seaweed-based laverbread, or Sunday's Riverside Farmers' Market for local fudge, organic ham and cockles.

Great outdoors

There are picture-postcard views of Cardiff Castle from laid-back Bute Park on the River Taff. Take a breather in Roath Park's rose and dahlia gardens, looking out for roosting cormorants on the islands. Cyclists and ramblers can explore the Cardiff Bay Barrage Coastal Path or tackle the 55-mile Taff Trail to Brecon Beacons National Park.