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Highlighting Places in Wales I’ve Visited – International Student’s POV – Part 1

1 March 2023

Cardiff Bay

Being a first year student in a new country, I often have this desire to seize every opportunity I can to explore. However, I rarely have long periods of time to travel to all the great places I’ve dreamed about, let alone the bank account to do so.  What I’ve realised though is that the UK has an amazing rail system that can take you to gorgeous places and back to university all in one day. Though I can’t venture on long vacations, I’ve taken the opportunity to go on day trips close to Cardiff that have allowed me to experience more of Wales and England. I’ve decided to start a series, detailing the day trips I’ve taken to give an inside look on what you can experience in just a day near Cardiff city. To start, let’s discuss Cardiff Bay.

I know, I know, Cardiff Bay is still in Cardiff. However, the bay is an amazing adventure to get away from the centre of university campus and a whole day is needed to truly see all the amazing things offered here. Though the bay is a 45 min- 1 hour walk, Cathays, Cardiff Queen Street, and Cardiff Central stations have trains running most of the day. The bay was one of the first day trips I took out of main city Cardiff. The air on my skin and the noise from the water was an instant relief from the hustle of main campus Cardiff.

Wales Millennium Centre

When exiting Cardiff Bay station, you will pass the Wales Millennium Centre where amazing shows are put on all week long. From musicals to concerts and operas, the Wales Millennium Centre offers a range of performances, many of which include accessible performances. I’ve personally seen the Colour Purple and My Fair Lady at the Wales Millennium Centre and I was in awe. Tickets were fairly inexpensive and every seat is comfortable and allows for a great view of the stage. As a theatre lover, I felt instantly at ease experiencing the joy of live theatre. The Centre is a must visit when you come to the bay. Their website lists the range of performances each month so I highly encourage you, when you plan a day to the bay, to take a look at what they are offering at the time.

Pierhead and Senedd Buildings

Past the Centre, as you get closer to the water, you’ll come across the Pierhead Building. You’ve probably seen many photos of the infamous building when researching Cardiff but behind the gorgeous exterior serves a museum, venue hall, and event space. You can take tours Monday-Friday and voice your opinions on current issues.

While the Pierhead building holds lots of history, the Senedd building is intended to make history, facilitating as the home of the Welsh Parliament. The Senedd offers many exhibits and you can even sit in on committee meetings Tuesdays and Wednesdays to see democracy at work. It is definitely worth taking a look inside these gorgeous buildings and experiencing Welsh history past and present.

Norwegian Church Arts Centre

A little ways past the Senedd Building lies the Norwegian Church Arts Centre. The quaint former church used to act as a meeting place for Norwegian sailors.  Now, the arts centre mixed cafe has a perfect view of the bay. Events are constantly being held here from galleries to music and even comedy nights. On their website, you can view the list of events at what may peak your interest. Again, the bay has a rich past and the arts centre is another amazing place to experience that history.

The Jetty and Wetlands Reserve

Now my favourite part of the bay is the Wetlands Reserve. To truly escape from city life, the reserve offers a perfect area surrounded by water and nature. You are likely to catch glimpses of swans or ducks passing through the reserve as you make your way to the dock, also known as the Jetty. Bring a book or your headphones and allow yourself to take in the beauty of the bay as you watch boats pass by.

Cardiff Bay has a slew of things to explore and hidden gems to uncover. Whether you’re taking a day to shop at Mermaid Quay, diving into your uni work at the glass-fronted Coffi Co., or taking a boat trip, the bay can supply you with a day of activities or a simple moment away from the city. I truly recommend experiencing the bay at least once to see all it has to offer.

Have fun exploring,

Lilly <3