When you’re considering which UK city to head to for a day trip; explore for the long weekend; or even move to permanently, Cardiff often isn’t as immediately obvious as London, Manchester or Edinburgh. But I don’t think this should be the case. Not only is the Welsh capital stunning (think Victorian arcades and Grade 1 listed buildings); cost-efficient (one of Britain’s most affordable cities over here!) and boasting an ever-expanding entertainment scene, often centred on quirky, creative independents, but it’s also the perfect place for the health-conscious human. Here’s the highlights! (NB: They don’t all begin with.)
It’s a Walk in the Park
No post on Cardiff health could exclude the parks, enjoyed by the masses, whether for their beauty, as a breather from hectic city life, or to get moving. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a quiet spot to do your stretches and strolls uninterrupted â€“ Bute Park alone is the size of 75 football pitches! While Bute is deemed â€˜the green heart of the city’, it’s far from being the only one worth visiting. Roath Park, complete with a lake peppered with pedalos and charming botanical gardens, is also a hit, but delve a little deeper and you’ll find Canton’s Victoria Park; the Taff Trail snaking between the Bay and Brecon; and Cathays Park next to Cardiff University.
Cardiff is big on breakfast. To be honest, it likes lunch too, and dinner and drinks don’t get neglected either. You might be questioning the link between a city of foodies and a city of fitness fans. But Cardiff’s ability to start the day the right way demonstrates that indulging in good grub doesn’t mean undoing all your healthy efforts. (I make no promises that your purse won’t suffer, however. Cardiff may be cost-efficient, but the vast choice of eateries available makes for another story…) Cardiff is dotted with healthy cafes â€“ Anna-Loka is the city’s first completely vegan, while Pure Kitchen’s views overlooking the Bay aren’t all it has going for it â€“ its Paleo Hash; Balance Boxes and Protein Pancakes speak for themselves. Other highlights include Milgi (100% vegetarian and snazzy cocktails to be enjoyed in a lovely venue featuring a teepee) and Crumbs, a cosy cafe hiding in the Instagram-worthy Morgan Arcade.
Try Something New
A Cardiff perk is its exercise-based uniqueness. While every city has gyms and hopefully space other than the shopping centre in which to stretch your legs, Cardiff goes the extra mile in offering something unexpected. Over in the beautiful Bay, Cardiff International White Water gets the adrenaline pumping. The Olympic-standard centre, at the International Sports Village, lets you try your hand (and feet) at canoeing, Air Trail, indoor surfing, river-boarding and gorge-walking to name a few. Elsewhere, Boulders is the place to be if you fancy rock-climbing, while the Infinity Trampoline Park is basically where you bop around as if you’re in a club â€“ just without the drinks as a deterrent… Finally, Cardiff International Pool has something for everyone. Competitive swimmers have all 50 metres, used as training for the London 2012 Olympics, while the lazy river and flumes are slightly more relaxing ways to burn the calories yet hardly notice.
Get from A to B
It might not seem particularly inspiring, but we all have to start with small steps… both literally and figuratively. Before long, small steps equate to a whole lot of ground, and Cardiff is ideal for testing the walking boots. (Or even wedges, if that’s more your thing.) Cardiff is a compact, small and well-connected city, meaning you don’t need to rely on the train, bus or in-fact anything other than yourself to get between corners. The city centre may be the tourist’s first port of call, but the suburbs are also full of hidden gems waiting to be uncovered by foot â€“ like the picturesque northern village of Whitchurch, or St Fagans nestled in the west, National History Museum and scenic grounds to boot.
Stretch and Smile
Yoga and Pilates have seen a bit of a boost in recent years. Styled as less intense yet similarly productive alternatives to the traditional sweaty gym sesh or hike over the hills, it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. Cardiff’s abundance of welcoming, quirky studios indicates the city agrees. In the student district of Cathays, Stretchy Suzie’s offers everything from Reggae Yoga to Yin and Thai Massage (it also hosts vegan food pop-ups, but that’s another story!) Meanwhile, Seren Yoga has woken up the city in the form of Hot Yoga, while Cardiff Pilates Studio basically does what it says on the tin â€“ the highest standard of Pilates, using some impressive apparatus. Pilates has improved my core strength, so I’m looking forward to getting back in the game when I return to Cardiff from my uni holidays.
I hope this post provides some ideas on how to work your way around Cardiff’s fitness scene, and that any visitors have a lovely time in this beautiful capital!