Cardiff has many interesting shopping arcades from Victorian times. I include them in "Things To Do", not in "Shopping", because I did not do any shopping there, but found it rather nice to just wander through. The architecture is very pretty, so I enjoyed that much more than the shops which are sometimes quite pricey.
There are so many that even in the end of the day, when as always I looked at all the pictures I had taken to write down what they showed, I could not remember anymore which arcade was which. The only one I remember very well is Morgan Arcade, where I met with VT member Aaaarrgh in the Plan Café and two days later visited another café.
When you stroll through the city centre just look out for the pretty entrances to the arcades, and wonder through if you see one :-)
I like the UK and I really like flea markets, so I'm as happy as a Welsh pendragon drinking mead to be in the Cardiff Central Market! I don't know why I love places like this so much--lots of junk on display, candies, meats, baking, sports memorabilia, souvenirs, collectibles, the faint smell of must and dust... They're never too crowded, too expensive, and they're always loaded with local blue collar folks. On the flip-side, you never seem to find posh, snobby, rich people in a flea market and that's fine by me.
This isn't my first visit to a British flea market--that was The Barras Market in Glasgow, Scotland, a place where after witnessing a tourist get chased down and thrashed, I learned not to take photos of the common people without asking their permission first.
Despite being in the centre of everything, the market wasn't easy to find--the entrance not clearly marked anywhere. Clueless, even with a map in our hands, my companion and I asked people directions and they'd answer, "It's just around that building, there." We'd walk around, find nothing, study the map, and then have to ask somebody else. They'd invariable answer, "Yes, just around that building." Back and forth and around we went for close to 20 minutes before finding the arched stone entrance, which looks more like the facade of an old metro station than the threshold of a marketplace.
Cardiff Central Market opened in May 1891 on what had been the site of the jail and gallows. Ahhh... Buying a sweet cookie in the shadow of where men were hanged. Anyway, this is a true Victorian Market--an antique storing antiques. I browse the upper level; looking at pets and animals, running may hands across the tops of old, vinyl records from the 80s. I pause to watch some men having their lunch in a small cafeteria--eating something deliciously hot and hearty that I've never seen before. This makes me jealous because I've just eaten a stuffed meat and potato pasty few minutes ago and would have saved my appetite had I known this was up here.
On leaving the market I exclaim to my companion, "That was nice, I'm glad we finally found it!" Knowing her bizarre inclinations, I decide not to express openly how much I truly enjoyed it: definitely a highlight of my visit to this city!
Cardiff has had a central market since sometime in the 1700s although this location has only been in service since about 1860. The original market was where farmers brought their livestock for sale and locals brought in extra corn, cheese, butter, etc. Now under a huge glass roof you will find fish, meats, cheeses, breads, fruits and vegetables, gifts, cards, flowers - just about anything you need. I was sorry that we were not there at a time when it would have worked for us to pick up some fresh bread, cheese, fruit, etc. for a picnic lunch as there was a nice churchyard next to it that would have been ideal. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it is worth a stroll through to admire the cornucopia of goods and services. Their website even boasts of a clairvoyant and a selection of wigs. There are also public toilets.
Another reason why non-shoppers should visit the shopping paradise of the Cardiff centre are its historic arcades. These Victorian and Edwardian structures still retain many of their historic features and are now home to dozens of unique stores and cafes. Although many establishments are now just the regular shops, there are a number of old crafts and shops where, among the "Made in China" souvenirs you might also find some traditional Welsh gifts from handmade Welsh textiles to Welsh love spoons.
The Morgan and Royal Arcades, that link St. Mary Street with the Hayes, are easy to find and interesting to stroll through.
Although the Civic Centre is formed by some amazing buildings the real centre of Cardiff is few hundred meters to the south, and consists of the shopper's paradise concentrated mainly in the pedestrianized Queen street and nearby areas. All the major big names are here, grouped in smaller or bigger shopping arcades that make a labyrinth-like shopping structure.
Among the flashy windows, neon signs and advertising billboards the Queen Street also offers some interesting and unusual architectural surprises, like the bright yellow Venetian house on its southern side, bringing a part of the Mediterranean history in 21st century shopping ambiance.
(Probably most visitors don't even notice this house, but as I hate shopping I had to find my reasons to come here ;)
If you come to Cardiff to shop, you’ll find an exciting mix of high street names and smaller boutiques. Cardiff’s main shopping streets also offer smaller, Victorian glass-covered arcades housing a variety of specialist shops, all within the compact city centre.
There are a good number of local shopping arcades and a virgin shopping complex right next to cardiff queen street and major brands dotted all through the sprawling city centre.
Most of the major shops are all located down queen street which also houses amusement rides certain periods during the year.
This is also a shopping tip! Cardiff Indoor Market is an essential visitor experience. Here you can buy all your groceries - fruit, veg, bread, cheese, meat. And almost anything else - parakeets, tropical fish, records, wigs, umbrellas, microwaves ovens. Or you can get your hair cut, have a tatoo, have your fortune told or sit down to a hot meal.
The vast indoor space which forms the market, is also a useful and colourful
route from St Mary's Street to The Hayes. The current building opened in 1891. There is a very good display of information and pictures on the balcony about the history of the Market. Cardiff has had a covered market close to this spot since the 14th century!
You can get your local delicacies here. Buy some laverbread (Welsh seaweed) at the big fish stall near the East entrance. Or get some Clark's meat pies from Market Deli, at the St Mary Street end.
Open from approx. 8 am to 5.30 pm Monday to Saturday. Stalls often begin to close down about 4.30pm. A large bell on the balcony is rung at 5pm.
Some of Cardiff's most interesting shopping experiences and cafes are found in the numerous covered arcades linking the streets of the city centre. Not exactly being a big shopping fan (well, unless we're talking books or music in which case I can shop with the best!), I just like their magnificent old architecture and high ceilings - much more unique and interesting than shopping on the high street. Besides, it rains a lot in Cardiff so they're a useful way to stay under cover!
The one in the photo is the Caste Arcade, possibly my favourite with good shops, a glass ceiling and lovely wooden balcony; others include the Morgan Arcade, High Street Arcade, Wyndham Arcade and more. I'll put some more info about what can be found in each one on the shopping tips page.
Queen Street, Cardiff's shopping district... the male VT'ers groan. Cardiff has a super shopping area, with all the main shops you would find in any UK city. Many in covered malls, so its a must if the weather is grim.
Visit the CARDIFF MARKET
It's very picturesque and traditional. Besides visiting it for fun, we also bought many things; there's a great range of products, from fresh vegetables and grocers to books and plants.
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