Shopping in Cardiff must be a serious shoppers dream. Following the extension to the St Davids shopping centre in 2009, with the uniquely named St Davids 2, the Capital saw an influx of new brands emerging, not least the very popular and welcome addition of John Lewis.
The newly formed shopping centre, has put Cardiff firmly on the map, with it now being within the top 5 of shopping destinations within the UK.
But, shopping in Cardiff has so much more to offer than just the big brands. It has independent retailers aplenty, from quirky coffee shops to smelly delis to luxurious homewares, jewellers and fancy clothes stores.
Whilst the new centre stands tall, the Edwardian and Victorian arcades stand proud, and easily hold their own, oozing much character into the town.
Here are some of my tops picks for supporting local retailers within the Capital this Christmas.
Castle Arcade – For Foodies
Castle Arcade dates back to the late 1880s. Whilst most of the shops are on the ground floor you can walk up to the first floor, where you will be able to walk along the gallery and over quaint wooden foot bridges. As the name suggests, the arcade is opposite the Castle, and curves round and opens back onto the high street.
I started my morning, having gone in early, with a much needed coffee and a toasted tea cake in Barkers cafe in the Castle Arcade. Think mis-matched cosy brown leather arm chairs, exposed brick and french bistro tables and you get the idea.
The coffee is smooth and the teacake had loads of butter, just the way they’re supposed to. There is plenty of room in there, with lots of cosy nooks to grab a table and watch the world go by. They also have a sister cafe in the opposite arcade, which is more focused on tea and cakes.
I found myself back in the Castle Arcade later when it was time for some lunch. Now, with the company of my sister and my husband, we were lucky enough to have a table in the very popular Madame Fromage.
A deli and cafe, Madame Fromage serves up tasty soups, generous baguettes, cheese and meat boards and quiches. It is also licensed so you can have a nice glass of wine to complement your cheese.
I had the hearty home-made tomato and roasted pepper soup with three different types of chunky bread, which hit the spot for me. My sister and husband both opted for the cheese raclette, which came with a side salad and lots of fresh bread to dip in. They agreed that it was seriously yummy.
While we were there, plenty of customers were coming into the deli to order their cheese boards for Christmas entertaining.
Whilst I didn’t get to go there today, another favourite lunch spot for me in the Castle Arcade, is Garlands. They also serve up very tasty soups and do a brilliant breakfast.
Just opposite the High Street exit you’ll find Kitchens Cookshop, which stocks a great selection of cookware to suit the novice right through to competent chefs.
Cardiff Christmas Markets – For Unique Gifts
The Cardiff Christmas Market injects a lovely festive cheer into the Capital. Why not have a gluwein to warm you up on a cold days shopping?!
It also has over 80 wooden stalls lining the pedestrian streets, housing produce from local artists and crafts people, along with a fine selection of alcohol and food suppliers. They are perfect for picking up some unique gifts for the awkward ones on your Christmas list who seem to have everything already.
Cardiff Indoor Market – For Local Produce
Cardiff Indoor Market is in an old Victorian structure, with many local suppliers housed under its impressive glass roof. The main entrances are at St Mary Street and Trinity Street. Expect to find the usual marker stalls along with suppliers of meat and veg.
If I’m ever in town I can’t resist a browse at Ashton’s the fishmongers, which is on the Trinity entrance side of the market. They serve up a wide selection of fresh seafood. It’s fantastic for getting your shellfish for a special Christmas dish. I’ll be getting my gambas here for our piri piri prawns.
The Morgan Quarter – For Boutique Shopping
The stunning Morgan Arcade houses traditional boutiques, under a glass vaulted ceiling, with many shops still with their original wooden storefronts.
Have a browse around the traditional Hawkes for some fine attire for the man in your life. Stylish shirts and unusual ties will make a lovely Christmas present for the discerning gentleman.
Or if music is more his thing, take a look at Spillers Records, which is reported to be the oldest record shop in the world, having been established back in 1894. Along with a vast collection of vinyl they also sell tickets for more alternative music concerts.
The Morgan Arcade connects to the Royal Arcade where you will find the newly opened Jo Jo Mama Bebe. Whilst a chain, Jo Jo Mama has it’s roots in Wales, having made a success of it’s business since starting out over 20 years ago in Pontypool. It’s new store is lovely with lots of gorgeous gifts and clothes for little ones.
Also in the Royal Arcade, is the famous Wally’s Delicatessen. This is any foodies heaven, with it’s cured meat counter, the biggest selection of olives I have seen, various pickles and preserves, cheeses and wines.
So these are just some of my favourite spots in the City; some great places to support local businesses this Christmas. If like me you still have shopping left to do, happy shopping and have a very Merry Christmas!
Note: All views are my own and all links are unaffiliated