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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Go Wild in Wales


5. Oddball Day

The ornate interior of Cardiff Castle (left); the newly opened and very kitschy Doctor Who Experience (right).  

Take a break from the outdoors to explore Cardiff’s rich history and young but growing art scene. Grab a latte ($3) and warm slice of bara brith (a currant-filled fruitcake; $3) at the industrial-chic Coffee Barker inside the Castle Street arcade, one of a series of Victorian-era covered galleries now lined with independent cafés and shops. Across the street, walk along the walls and tour the grounds of Cardiff Castle ($17), a Norman-era fortress that offers a glimpse of medieval Welsh life. Self-guided audio tours cover the Victorian-era interior, the hillside keep perched above a moat at the center of the complex, and a series of underground tunnels used as air raid shelters during World War II. Next, stroll a mile straight down Bute Street to the formerly industry-heavy Butetown neighborhood near the waterfront, where Bay Art collective (closed Sundays) is currently showing sixteen book art makers from Wales and beyond. A few blocks away, the waterfront Norwegian Church Arts Center is a former merchant ministry that’s now home to photography exhibitions from local artists (free), adult street dancing classes ($8), and the Norsk coffee shop, where you can break for Welsh rarebit (hot melted cheese poured over toast), served here on rosemary focaccia with caramelized-onion marmalade ($7). Afterward, step a few doors down and back in time inside the newly opened Doctor Who Experience ($20), a kitschy, light-and-laser-filled tribute to the cult BBC series filmed nearby, complete with costumes and set pieces from the show. Walk over to the Wales Millennium Center, a curving, copper-fronted behemoth of an arts complex that’s home to the Welsh National Opera—as well as free performances from local bands and theater companies on the Glanfa Stage most weekend afternoons. Hop back over to Center City for dinner at the Potted Pig, a former bank vault where you can now order modern British dishes like slow-roasted woodland pork belly ($14) alongside more than two dozen bespoke gins. Finish the night at nearby Gwdihw, a café and bar for indie disco or a “bad-ass bingo” session buoyed by locally made chocolate wheat-bock from Artisan Brewing Co. ($4).

Published on Apr 18, 2013 as a web exclusive.

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