Wales Tourist Board, 3 Castle Street, Cardiff. 0222 27281. (posted Nov 2011): Cardiff Central (0222 45505).
Cardiff, at one time the greatest coal exporting city in the world, is still much thought of as a ‘working’ city. But since the 2000s the city and port have changed and in recent years Cardiff has set itself up as one of the centres for tourism in South Wales, the city itself providing enough inviting attractions to keep visitors agreeably engaged, whilst for those who want to use it as a base for taking excursions, the Brecon Beacons, the valleys and the coast are in easy reach.
There is a great deal to be said for taking Cardiff as your stepping-off point to see this part of Britain, or making a special trip there to get a taste of Wales. London is less than two hours away by high speed train, while Cardiff fits well into a tour of Britain; you can get there easily from Bristol and the west of England and then go via Birmingham to the north of England or Scotland, for example. Cardiff is also a good touring place, with railways up the valleys and to the coast at Barry Island, and the main line on to Swansea and places like Tenby and Pembroke – and also Fishguard for the Irish crossing. And do not forget the Central Wales line, a very rural alternative from Swansea to Shrewsbury. The city was first built on 60 acres of land bought from the Marquess of Bute, Lord of Cardiff Castle. Two years ago a new concert hall, St David’s Hall, took its place alongside Cardiff’s other theatres, and Cardiff today is able to offer entertainment of all kinds from opera to jazz festivals; history which goes back two thousand years; an art gallery with a dazzling collection of Impressionists; Cardiff Arms Park, home of Welsh Rugby; and access to a whole number of places, all within an hour or two’s drive of the city centre.