Skip to main content

Going outOnly in CardiffThings to do in Cardiff

Cardiff: The City of Arcades

12 June 2024


Welcome to the City of Arcades – where shopping is anything but ordinary. Picture this: you step off the bustling high street and into a glass-roofed haven of vintage shops, indie boutiques, and quaint cafes. It’s like walking into a whimsical parallel universe where the past and present coalesce in perfect harmony. If you’re someone like me, who loves retail therapy, look no further and head to these arcades for a time-travelling adventure.

To begin with Cardiff’s oldest arcade dating back to 1858, Royal Arcade was the city’s first shopping centre, with a true representation of Victorian architecture. With ornate ironwork and elegant shop fronts, it’s the kind of  place you half-expect to see a Regency-era lady in a flowing gown and bonnet, elegantly strolling by with a parasol but instead see a modern-day fashionista snapping photos for Instagram.

Wander further and you’ll stumble upon a small passageway connecting the Royal Arcade to Morgan Arcade. Fancy a bespoke suit or a one-of-a-kind dress? Fret not, the tailors and boutiques here have you covered. But it doesn’t end here, Morgan Arcade is home to the world’s oldest record shop, a true gem- Spillers Records. It’s called a vinyl lover’s paradise for a reason.

Let’s not forget the double-decker delight of arcades- the Castle Arcade, which is full of eccentricity. Want a tarot reading? Or how about a vintage board game shop? Castle Arcade is the answer to all your quirky shopping needs. It is full of peculiar shops that feel like mini worlds in themselves. And definitely, don’t miss Madame Fromage- a haven for cheese lovers. You can always justify your sudden obsession with a specific Welsh cheese by saying, “It’s not just any cheese, it’s a lifestyle choice!”

Moving on to High Street Arcade- built in 1885, it was once home to apothecaries and fortune tellers. Now it has turned into a contemporary lifestyle destination lined with stores for gothic fashion, vintage clothes and skate shops. Feeling peckish? Head straight to Barkers Tea Rooms, making it a hot spot for those who want to sip tea with a clink of porcelain cups and savour some sweet bakes while pretending you are in the enchanting world of Bridgerton. So make haste and visit this tea room -it would be quite the scandal to miss it…

As you navigate through this labyrinth of shops, you’ll notice a common theme: the whimsical unpredictability. Almost like a time-travelling adventure where one shop might transport you to a Parisian patisserie and next to a Victorian apothecary. And the magic doesn’t end here-each arcade is an architectural masterpiece on its own- straight out of a Pinterest board, but with intriguing historical significance and fewer motivational quotes.

What’s truly special about Cardiff’s arcades is their ability to transform your shopping experience into never-before-seen adventure of discoveries. You never know what you’ll find, who you’ll meet or what hidden gem you’ll uncover. Indeed a blend of nostalgia and novelty in each experience!

So next time you’re in Cardiff, ditch the generic high street stores and dive into the arcades. Let yourself get lost, embrace the quirky, and let the charm of the arcades sweep you off your feet. And if you emerge with a bag full of vintage finds, a rare vinyl, and a new favourite cheese, well, consider it a day well spent.