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How to spend 36 hours in Cardiff - The ultimate guide to making the most out of a Cardiff city break

As the Capital City of Wales, Cardiff has a magnitude of activities and experiences designed to keep you entertained and help you explore all the best sights. Rich in history and culture, Cardiff has a castle, cathedral, hundreds of quirky eateries and an abundance of shopping opportunities. 

Whether you’re visiting Cardiff for a concert, sports game, or even just a city break away, here's the best way to spend 36 hours in the Welsh capital.

09:00 – Arrive Saturday morning

Cardiff can be accessed by coach, rail, air, or road. How ever you’re travelling, get in early before hitting the city centre. Don’t want to carry your luggage whilst exploring? Park Plaza offer their guests the option to drop your bags at the hotel reception before you check in.

10:00 – Breakfast in the city

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it’s definitely the best way to keep you energised while exploring, and it gets you straight into seeing the city centre. From fresh homemade granola, pancake stacks, and eggs your way to a full Welsh breakfast using locally sourced produce, Cardiff is guaranteed to satisfy any breakfast cravings. Explore the city centre to find the perfect breakfast spot to start your weekend way with.

11:00 – Spa treatments at Laguna Health & Spa

What better way to prep for an event than with a spa afternoon? Select from treatments such as an ESPA Skin Radiance Facial, a Pevonia Signature Full Body Massage or one of their ESPA for men treatments like their Back, Face & Scalp Treatment. If you would rather make a morning of it, pick a package to suit youfeel relaxed and recharged ahead of your afternoon and evening entertainment. Both hotel guests and those enjoying a Spa Day Package can also take full advantage of the pool, spa bath, and steam room or, if you fancy something to get you pumped, their fully equipped gym is also included.

14:00 Afternoon tea at Laguna Kitchen & Bar

Once you’ve been fully pampered why not pop downstairs for afternoon tea? Laguna Kitchen & Bar, based at the heart of Park Plaza Cardiff, offers a range of afternoon teas. You can choose from a Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea, Traditional, Hendrick’s, Gluten Free, or a Vegan Afternoon Tea.

15:00 – Visit Cardiff Castle

Bursting with 2000 years of history and culture, Cardiff Castle is at the heart of the city and is a favourite with locals and tourists every day. Tickets can be bought on the day and include the castle apartments, wartime shelters, the Firing Line, the Norman Keep, the trebuchet, and the Roman Wall. Tickets can be upgraded to include the House Tour or the film location tour showing where Doctor Who, Sherlock, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures have been filmed.

17:30 – Dinner from around the world

With so many restaurants, Cardiff offers culinary experiences from across the globe. Whether you fancy a trip to Turkey, Italy, France, Spain, Greece, America, Japan, China, Portugal, or you want to stay locally and enjoy locally farmed produce from Wales, Cardiff has it all. Explore the city’s wide range of options and feel like you’ve jetted overseas for dinner or are eating in the Welsh countryside with an array of atmospheres and flavours.

19:00 – The BIG event

Whatever evening entertainment you’ve got booked, it’s time to enjoy the main event. If you don’t have anything in particular booked or your event took place during the day, Cardiff has a huge range of evening entertainment. Grab last minute tickets to a show at the New Theatre, catch some comedy down at Cardiff Bay Glee Club, visit one of Cardiff’s many bars and nightclubs or head into the centre and see what draws you in.

10:00 – Hotel breakfast

No need to travel, enjoy the final breakfast in your hotel. Enjoy a freshly cooked hotel breakfast with all the trimmings, fresh coffee, and pastries (after all, you are on holiday). At Park Plaza you can have it your way and request eggs cooked fresh whichever way you like them and bacon as crispy as you desire.

10:30 – Check out Sunday morning

Don’t let check out be your last memory of Cardiff. Check out times vary across hotels, but some will allow you to leave luggage behind the reception desk for the day while you continue to explore the city.

12:00 – Explore the shopping arcades

Cardiff is unique in many ways, one of them being for the seven Victorian and Edwardian shopping arcades. The arcades are scattered across the city centre’s main shopping streets and are home to over 100 independently run cafes, bars, shops, and small businesses. If looking for the perfect gift or something special, you’re guaranteed to find it in one of the arcades.

14:00 – Experience Bute Park

Despite being situated in the city centre, Bute Park feels a million miles away and is a great escape for some peace and quiet. As well as offering an education centre, three cafés, a sculpture trail, and numerous play areas, the park also boasts a wealth of horticulture and wildlife to be explored as well as a fitness trail, a QR code trail and the animal wall. Visitors can also find peace and quiet across the park’s 56 hectares on the grass or seek shade under one of over 3,000 individually catalogued tree species.

18:00 – The last supper

Cardiff has over 70 restaurants close to the city centre covering a multitude of cuisines and dining styles. Some restaurants, like Laguna Kitchen and Bar, use locally sourced ingredients meaning their menu consists of only fresh and flavourful food guaranteed to make your mouth water, their Slow Cooked Belly of Pork being a particular favourite among visitors. This paired with a warm and relaxed atmosphere is bound to be an all-round crowd-pleaser.

21:00 – Travel home

Although your trip may have come to an end, hopefully you’re leaving with some Welsh souvenirs and good memories. Cardiff has so much to see that it’s hard to fit into one weekend. Plan the next trip and read our ’12 Things to Do by Yourself in Cardiff to Relax and Recharge’ blog post for more ideas and to explore any spots you didn’t have time for - all ideas can be adapted for couple or groups so no one misses out.

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