The most distinctive aspect of Cardiff is its Victorian and Edwardian arcades which seem to be everywhere. Full of independent shops they offer an alternative to the usual high street shops and it's a pleasure wandering around looking in the shop windows or going in to browse.
There are five of them:
Most are generally two storeys high. The ground floor is lined with shops and cafes. Some are lavishly decorated, particularly the Castle and High Street ones.
The High Street Arcade
Some of the arcades have a first floor balcony serving further units which tend to be creative businesses rather than shops
The Morgan Arcade
The Royal Arcade
Apparently the area underneath this arcade is the site of an 1800s cholera pit
and the Wyndham Arcade
Some bend and fork giving the impression that they go on forever.
The arcades make Cardiff an independent shop heaven - here are some that we found particularly interesting:
Barker's Coffee shop
design for the home
a coffee shop with a huge Toulouse Lautrec mural
an ice-cream parlour which uses Heston Blumenthal-inspired chemistry to turn locally supplied ingredients into ice-cream and other frozen deserts. This happens while you wait: you specify what you want, and a few minutes later, your ice-cream is ready
a head shop
A dedicated button shop that's been around for 30 years
plants and flowers
which includes these gorgeous ceramic jugs from Spain
is huge, full of delicious treats
Dot was my favourite: a dress agency that also sold new clothes
stylish, elegant, quirky clothes - irresistible
that look as delicious as pastries.