Cardiff tours and excursions
There are plenty of operators running boat tours from Cardiff Bay, including MW Marine, who offer return sailings to Flat Holm Island for day voyages and fishing trips. Cardiff Boat runs a regular service between the city centre and Cardiff Bay with pick up and drop off points at pubs and restaurants along the way.Tel: (01934) 636 734; 07445 440 874
City Sightseeing operates frequent circular 'hop-on, hop-off' open-top bus tours of Cardiff that depart from Cardiff Castle every half hour. Running daily, the tour takes in all the major sights around the city and Cardiff Bay. Stops include the Millennium Stadium, The National Museum of Wales and Alexandra Gardens. The full trip takes 50 minutes and commentary is provided in a number of languages including English, Welsh and German.Tel: 07808 713 928.
Run by two of the city's Blue Badge Guides, the Cardiff Walking Tour is a stroll through the city's history that works its way from Roman settlement to Europe's youngest capital city. All the quirks and concealed sites that the guide books might miss are included, and each walk includes plenty of photography opportunities too. Cardiff On Foot run similar sightseeing tours, spilling out yarns about martyrs, marquesses, and of course, the importance of coal to the city.Tel: (029) 2087 3573; 07905 923 421
For an alternative view of the city, the Cardiff Bay Road Train runs regular trips from Mermaid Quay to the Cardiff Bay Barrage with sightseeing commentary included. After passing the Wales Millennium Centre, the National Assembly, Scott Harbour, the Norwegian Church and the Helwick Lightship, this trackless train then heads across the Cardiff Barrage, affording great views across the Severn. Tours last around 50 minutes.Tel: (029) 2070 7882.
Flat Holm Island
A short, 8 km (5 mile) ferry hop from the southern shores of Wales, what Flat Holm Island lacks in amenities (little accommodation, one pub and a single gift shop), it makes up in unwithered, jacket-tightening beauty. There's plenty of history here too, from the island's use as a farm and a fortress, to its days as a hospital used to contain cholera. Nature lovers and bird watchers will have plenty to admire during the standard three-hour stay on the island, while remote pint explorers can get some suds at the Gull and Leek bar.Tel: 029 2087 7912.
Big Pit (Pwll Mawr) and National Mining Museum of Wales
Central to Cardiff's past glory was the coal industry of the Valleys and at Blaenafon, about 40km (25 miles) northeast of the city, visitors can now take a guided trip, led by an ex-miner, 90m (300ft) underground to see a coal mine. Blaenafon is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and, as with other national Welsh museums, admission to Big Pit is free of charge. A visit lasts a minimum of two and a half hours and warm clothing is recommended. Children under five, or less than one metre tall (three feet), are not allowed underground. It is open daily 0930-1630 (telephone in advance for times of underground tours).Tel: (029) 2057 3650.
Brecon Beacons National Park
This area of stunning mountains, moorland and forest is one the treasures of South Wales. Situated around 68km (42 miles) to the north of Cardiff, it offers fantastic walks, plus horse riding, kayaking, canoeing, sailing and windsurfing. It was also the first location in Wales to become an International Dark Sky Reserve - an honour that recognises its incredible views of the Milky Way, constellations and meteor showers.Tel: (01874) 624 437.