I’ve only been to Cardiff a handful of times but I thought I’d create this little guide of our favourite shops and cafes I discovered on my most recent visit there. We spent our days in Cardiff shopping for vintage clothes, admiring the adorable arcades and eating wonderful food. I highly recommend a trip to Cardiff if you can get there; it’s beautiful!
Be warned, there are a lot of photos in this post – everything was so pretty I just wanted to document it all! I’ve written about the place underneath the photos and I’ve put links in all the headings if you want to find out more.
(16 Crown Arcade, CF10 1BU)
Vintage Zizou is a clothes and accessories shop for women; for a relatively small premises they have a very varied stock with vintage and contemporary clothes, bags, jewellery, vintage accessories and some gorgeous bridal wear. My friends were quick to drag me away from the wedding dresses before I could spend another half an hour dressed in tulle. Prices were fairly reasonable; I got a beautiful costume jewellery for £6 and one of my friends took home a stunning sequinned top for £25 which was in mint condition.
(39-43 Castle Arcade)
Troutmark Books is an absolute must-visit if you’re a bookworm like I am. The shop appears deceptively small from outside but once you get set foot inside you’re confronted with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The shop spans 3 floors and has a huge selection of genres available. The shop owner is very friendly and we spent a long time poring over various titles in this shop. Being the kid I am, I especially loved these old children’s books with beautifully coloured spines and the impressive comics collection.
(16 High Street Arcade)
There are a huge number of cafes around Cardiff and I won’t lie, we chose to go in to Sophie’s purely because we had a Sophie in our group. Sophie’s specialise in crepes and galettes and although there were no vegan options listed they were happy to accommodate and create something new for me. Again this cafe was deceptively small; however downstairs there was a spacious seating area where we occupied the sofa for a good hour or so.
(35 Castle Arcade)
This shop was so beautiful! Light, airy and very well-presented; we spent a long time in here as it was also one of the first places we found with a decent mens section. The shop was split into two sections; vintage on one side (with a great selection of dresses ranging from medium to high prices) and crafts, stationary and wedding bits and pieces on the other side, all laid out impeccably. I’d recommend this shop to seasoned vintage shoppers or crafty people with an interest in aesthetically pleasing displays!
(High Street Arcade)
I’m genuinely upset I don’t live closer to this place as I have been telling everybody about Barker Tea House since I got back to London. I am a prolific tea drinker and the mate infused with mint that I tried at Barker Tea House was exquisite! This was the last “meal” we had in Cardiff; the mini afternoon tea for one came with scones and chocolate brownies that were extremely rich and shared between three people we had more than enough. The upstairs area has a lovely interior which kind of reminded me of an updated country house or old-school british library; I loved the floral tiles that were used as accents and the stripped wood everywhere. I can imagine whiling away a lot of afternoons chatting with friends in this place. (Side note: doesn’t Danilo look like an advert for beards?)
(26 High Street Arcade)
Cardiff is well-known as a vintage destination and I don’t know if Hobos is the oldest vintage shop there but it certainly seems to be one of the most iconic. The stock isn’t hugely varied, instead focusing more on popular vintage items (such as silk blouses and varsity jackets). You’re unlikely to stumble across a sequinned ballgown but the items they are all in excellent condition and available in a good selection of colours and prints. For people who take a more streamlined approach to vintage shopping or those who have a more classic style I’d recommend Hobos. They also had a great selection of upcycled vintage items and retro inspired clothes (including the Northern Soul dress I wore in this post!).
(13 Castle Arcade)
On my previous trip to Cardiff with James we had an idyllic meal here; I can’t remember what I ordered but I can remember both James and I talking about how great the food was on the train home. Another gorgeous cafe where I could happily spend a few hours if there weren’t so many other things to go and see! The interior has a kind of New York coffee bar feel to it, with squishy brown sofas and lots of cute metal signs.
(4 Duke Street Arcade)
A couple of locals recommended their Garlands so we headed there on our final (hungover) morning. The vegetarian/vegan breakfast was so filling and although quite a small and busy place the staff let us sit around for a while which made us feel very at home. Prices were great and the plates were so large it was really good value for money. I also recommend their juice; it was amazing!
(45 Castle Arcade)
This shop was about to close by the time we got there but a quick look around confirmed that they have a HUGE selection of buttons and beads from all over the world. The shop has been there for over 30 years and they also have a selection of quirky cards and prints. If there was a specific button or bead you were after I imagine you’d be able to find it here but it’s a great place just to browse as well – the shop is quite small but beautifully laid out.
Cardiff Fashion Quarter is almost a miniature shopping mall of independent traders selling a combination of vintage and contemporary clothes, books, jewellery and furniture. It’s based inside a converted cinema and is spread across two floors. Some of our favourite shops were Rhinestone Cowboy, Nelly’s Treasures, Rock-Ola Reborn, Bada Peng and Freak Unique Boutique. The whole space was beautifully decorated with fairy lights, bunting, paper flowers and pretty wallpapers covering the space and each stall had cute displays, we spent such a long time just wandering around and browsing all the cute retro toys!
Other places I would recommend based on my previous visits to Cardiff:
One of my favourite arts centres with a really good programme of events, also the cafe is absolutely amazing!
Obviously I collect records so I’m always biased towards record shops anyway but even if you’re not a vinyl owner this shop is worth a visit anyway – it’s the oldest record shop in the world.
So there we go, a few of my suggestions for Cardiff! I’ve not really written any city guides like this before so let me know if it’s useful or if you’d like to see more. If you have any favourite places in Cardiff pop them in the comments so other people can go there too!