What are the Cardiff Arcades?
I didn’t really know what to expect when I first heard Cardiff being referred to as the City of Arcades. My first thought was of the kind of arcades you’d find along the beach at Blackpool, you know the ones, where you fritter away all your loose change! However, I could not have been more wrong!
Cardiff is home to many beautiful shopping arcades that criss cross through the centre of the city. These covered passages offer lots of opportunities for the curious traveller to wander around and become lost in the heart of the city.
Some of the arcades were built by the Victorians and date back to the 1700’s, they have been mostly kept in the original, beautiful style that really showcases the history of the city.
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Victorian and Edwardian Arcades of Cardiff
We decided to plan out a route which would take us through all of the city’s Victorian and Edwardian arcades without having to backtrack on ourselves.
Lucky for you, I’ve written out how we did it below so you don’t have to!
The best route to take through Cardiff’s Arcades
Assuming you are getting off the train from Cardiff Central, and working your way North through the city centre, the best way to view the Victorian and Edwardian Arcades of Cardiff is as follows:
Cardiff arcades map route
If you’d like to follow our route through the Cardiff Arcades, you can easily navigate your way around using the Google Maps route below!
1. Wyndham Arcade
The Wyndham Arcade is one of the quieter arcades, however, the open and airy feel to this arcade made it one of the most pleasant to wander around.
There’s a nice selection of cafes and restaurants inside the Wyndham Arcade, with a mixture of independent and indie brands on offer too.
2. Royal Arcade
The Royal Arcade was one of my favourites for window shopping! In the Royal Arcade you can find Wally’s delicatessen, a great shop to wander around in with lots of interesting products to look at. If you’re into craft gins, beers and other indie tipples, there is also a Wally’s Liquor Cellar in the Castle Arcade that specialises in these products.
Another highlight of the Royal Arcade is Uncommon Ground, widely regarded by many local Cardiff folk as being the best place to get a really good cup of coffee.
If you like to geek out on collectibles, be sure to check out Galactic Attic too.
3. Morgan Arcade
The Morgan Arcade has lots of choices when it comes to shopping. If you’re after a spot of retail therapy, but would rather avoid the high street chains, be sure to head here to scope out the independent retailers.
4. Cardiff Central Market
The Central Market of Cardiff has been many things throughout its life to date, including at one point, the city jail.
Whilst the days of bringing livestock to market are long in the past, you can still find lots of small food and drink stalls, and plenty of fresh produce.
Top tip: Cardiff Central Market is shut on a Sunday, so if you are only here for a weekend, be sure to head over to the market on Saturday.
It’s worth noting also, that the stalls will begin to close for the evening at 17:30 on Saturday, so if you want to make the most of your visit, I suggest that you go on Saturday morning.
5. High street Arcade
The High Street Arcade is another beautifully preserved arcade in Cardiff’s city centre.
If you want a nice relaxing afternoon tea with a spot of people watching thrown in, come here and pull up a chair outside of Barker’s Tea House.
6. Castle Arcade and Duke Arcade
The Castle and Duke Arcades are connected, and are also the only arcades in Cardiff that we found with a first floor. Take the stairs up to the balcony to get a great view of the arcade streets from above!
One of the highlights from our visit was lunch at Coffee Barker and adjoining bar, Rum and Fizz, which is near the entrance of the arcade. The coffee house is decorated beautifully, giving it a wonderfully cosy atmosphere in which to sit and enjoy a coffee (of glass of wine).
The seats are a little low down for eating, and lunch will set you back between £20 – £30, depending upon drinks. However, the overall feel of the place was well worth the visit.
I’ve already mentioned Wallys Liquor Cellar, which is the sister store to Wally’s Delicatessen back in the Royal Arcade, but to recap this store is solely focused on liquor from around the world. You’ll find an eclectic collection to suit all tastes here and you might just be invited to try some free samples if you strike up a conversation with the staff!
Troutmark books has a well organised and extensive collection of second hand books, including books from all sorts of genres and subjects as well as magazines, annuals, hardbacks and first editions.
We also tried the Fabulous Welshcakes, albeit not actually in the arcade as they have another shop closer to Cardiff Bay, however if you are in Wales and haven’t tried a Welshcake yet, I’d highly recommend trying one from Fabulous. They have a selection of different special flavours daily too.
6. Dominions Arcade
Dominions Arcade is the newest of Cardiff’s traditional arcades, and recently celebrated its centenary. Though this technically doesn’t make it Edwardian (I did need to Google that), it still has the same charm as the other Arcades on this list.
The Dominions Arcade is actually home to Hotel Indigo Cardiff and the accompanying Marco Pierre White restaurant, where we stayed (you can read my full review of both here). Staying inside one of the arcades was a real treat, and Hotel Indigo is definitely somewhere I can recommend for a weekend getaway in Cardiff.
There’s also a great little coffee shop down here called Bute & Co., which is also part of the Hotel Indigo complex. Although it’s part of the hotel, it has a great independent vibe. It’s slightly off the beaten track, being tucked away in the Dominions Arcade, however is a much nicer experience than one of the busier chain coffee shops you can find on the high street.
You can find out more about Bute & Co in my other blog post here.
Visiting Cardiff’s Victorian and Edwardian Arcades – final thoughts
If you don’t have the time to visit all of Cardiff’s arcades, or simply don’t want to, then I would recommend at least stopping at the Castle Arcade, there were lots of different things to see and do here to suit everyone.
Also, as its name implies, the Castle Arcade is only a short walk from Cardiff Castle, making it a great stop in your itinerary if you’re heading to the castle. As it is also surrounded by lots of great places to eat and drink (we tried the Potted Pig) it can be a great place to visit just before dinner too as you can make a visit stretch out for a little bit longer, and perhaps go for pre or post dinner cocktails in the arcade!