The Castle looms at the end of the Main Street. From Bath Spa Station, we bought a “Group Save” return train fare for only £86 for 5 pax. The promo deal works so long as we hop on the train off peak hours. Not bad for an hour’s train ride out of Bath. And Cardiff is so manageable. From the train station, we just walked out and took a left at the first corner and walked along that main road towards the castle. I’d say no more than 10 minutes walking. The Castle is where you can board the hop on, hop off red bus. My tip? Forget that. Just do the Castle and then perhaps the Museum after. Just another ten-minute walk. Then head back to the same Main Street to walk back to catch your return train. You can browse through a couple of churches, some good restaurants and a few shops. But do take your time in the Castle. It’s the highlight of your Cardiff visit.

Cardiff Castle packs 2,000 years of history. Your admission ticket includes an audio guide and takes care of introducing you to Wales’ leading heritage site. The Roman fort was built around 55 AD, but the original motte and bailey castle was built in the very late 11th century by Norman invaders. Norman architecture and Victorian elements have been incorporated and thus transformed the Castle to what it is today. Some of the lavish interiors even have Gothic, Mediterranean and Arabian designs. And how about those falcons (or dragons?) on the vast Castle grounds?

The main hall with its intricately designed ceilings, arches, murals, fireplace and chandeliers may look a tad eccentric with a good mishmash of many elements here and there. Like not a space was spared to display power and wealth. But the study hall cum library remains my favorite. There’s a quiet elegance seeing how those books were lined and neatly stacked in those shelves. God knows how many monarchs and blue-blooded men and women have gently flipped the pages of those old books. And it looked so regal to have picked a book to read, chosen a seat to occupy and while away the time while intermittently looking out the elegant glass windows. Perhaps with a cup of tea, pinkie up for good measure.

The mishmash may be explained by the castle’s long, complicated history. Ownership passed many families and generations, where major renovations have been introduced with each set of owners from Norman invaders to Kings to Earls to Marquesses until 1947 when the Castle was given to the City of Cardiff. Today, it is Cardiff’s topmost attraction and houses the “Firing Line Regimental Museum”. It is also a favorite and default events place for many of the city’s many festivals, celebrations and other musical performances.

Did I say Firing Line? The Cardiff Castle Museum of the Welsh Soldier lies underneath the main entrance and we took the opportunity to claim some chairs here to rest our aching leg muscles after doing the castle rounds. More so if you climb the Keep’s Tower. On display here are the Queen’s collection of Dragoon Guards Museum and the Royal Welsh. Two men, obviously ex-soldiers, offered to make a presentation about the significance of these collections including the artillery used by the guards. Out of curiosity, I tried one as you can see in the photo above. No big fan here.

We did take the hop-on, hop-off bus. Rode it right in front of the Castle and ensured an hour’s “joy ride” with audio guides. If we had time, we could have gotten off to take advantage of free museum admissions. Outside of that, nothing much drew interest. By the time the red bus passed near the Cardiff Central Station, we were ready to have our very late lunch at the Prince of Wales restaurant which we passed earlier. Then back to the station to board our train out of this Welsh capital. Not bad for a day trip from Bath which cost us only £17 for the train, £13.50 for the Castle and £15 for the hop on/off red bus. You may skip the red bus when you visit and just linger at The Castle, then walk to the Cardiff National Museum near the City Hall and Cardiff University. How about that? Just £ 30 for a day trip in this Welsh capital!