The most vibrant city area, known as the nightlife & shopping hub. Besides hosting numerous restaurants and stores, it's also remarkable from an architectural point of view. During the quick stroll, you'll discover vintage shopping galleries, a grand central market, a unique recording store and an interactive museum of history. This route is a part of the "Get to know Cardiff" walk.
As mentioned earlier, St Mary Street is the heart of the nightlife. I won’t give special tips regarding clubs – the choice is huge and depends upon taste. Here is a recommendation for live music fans though. Pay attention to Jazz Cafe by address 21 St Mary Street. It's a cozy place with a pleasant bar menu. They play various styles - blues, jazz, soul, swing. Just make sure you check the events calendar in advance. And note that performances are normally held early in the evening followed by a disco later when the venue gets crowded.
Apart from the entertainment, St Mary Street has an interesting background. It served as a civic centre and hosted the Town Hall before Cathays Park was built. Today it's a kaleidoscope of architectural styles: Gothic, Classical, Georgian Revival, Dutch school. “Victorian arcades”, a series of vintage shopping galleries, is the highlight of the area. Check the list here to explore all of them. In case there's not enough time, I suggest taking a stroll along the Morgan Quarter that connects St Mary and Hayes streets, exploring the adjacent Royal Arcade as you go.
The Morgan Quarter splits as you approach the eastern entrance. At this point take right to visit the Spillers Records store, “the oldest recording shop in the word”. It was opened in 1894 and initially sold phonograph cylinders, the predecessors of gramophone records. The shop was originally located at Queen’s Arcade but didn't move far since that time. You'll find a sophisticated selection of music and great advice from friendly and knowledgeable staff. Consider bringing a gift from this unique place if some of your friends are passionate music lovers.
The final destination is the Cardiff Story Museum. Be careful and don’t miss it in the middle of the noisy shopping street. The museum is very interactive, fun, easy to navigate and the admission is free of charge. Check the website to find out what's on. The general exhibition tells a story behind the key landmarks and how the city evolved. You will see old maps and hear stories of different people – locals and immigrants. It explains how Cardiff formed as a capital, built up the industrial potential and finally managed to adapt to the changing times.
Congratulations! The first acquaintance with Cardiff is done. Now it's time to relax in one of the cozy restaurants or pubs nearby or continue the evening with some special entertainment program.