We didn’t have much of an itinerary when we arrived in Cardiff, but the top of our shortlist was a visit to Cardiff Bay in a wheelchair.
We’re not entirely sure why it was so essential for us to visit the bay, it’s not like we knew much about it, but we knew we needed to!
It turns out it was a wise choice, and we highly recommend it to anyone visiting Cardiff.
Cardiff Bay, formerly known as Tiger Bay, has a long, exciting and sometimes chequered history.
Today the area shows little resemblance to its colourful past and has become one of Europe’s most significant waterfront developments.
Completed in 2000, the Cardiff Bay Barrage transformed the area. The barrage effectively created a 200 Hectare freshwater lake, and the bay as it is today sprung up around it.
Home to many bars, restaurants, exhibitions and the Welsh Assembly, it’s a tourist destination in itself! If picked up and plopped anywhere on the sunny Mediterranean, Cardiff Bay wouldn’t be out of place.
Visiting Cardiff Bay in a Wheelchair
Our trip to the bay started at Queen’s Street train station. It’s an old station currently undergoing renovation work, and we hope they don’t take too much of its character away.
One thing we do hope they take away is the wheelchair lift up to the platform. You can’t see in the pictures that it travels up into the open air on the platform.
The other platforms at the station had a “normal lift”, but not Cardiff Bay?
We understand any lift is better than none, but this one is a bit scary, although not a white-knuckle ride. It could put some people off using the train!
If it’s all too much, buses also run from the city centre to the heart of the bay.
Once on the platform, the trains run frequently from Queen’s Street to Cardiff Bay, and it’s a short trip of about 5 minutes. Cardiff Bay train station isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but it’s a short walk to the bay area once you leave the station.
Bimbling on Cardiff Bay
We headed for the Wales Millennium Centre, which hosts shows and events in the tourist information centre. This impressive building overlooks Roald Dahl Plas and acts as a gateway to the bay area.
I could say Bridget posed for a few photos, but she didn’t. I just plopped her there.
A point to note, and you can probably see in the pictures the whole area is flat and fully accessible in a wheelchair.
We moved on down to Cardiff Bay waterfront
Do you know when you go on holiday abroad, and the vendors shout about their boat trips from the quayside, Cardiff Bay is like that!
It genuinely does feel like you’re abroad being enticed onto the boat trips.
Sitting on Cardiff Bay is like sitting outside a European cafe the morning after a late night.
Set against the background of bar owners clinking their glasses and shuffling their tables, the unmistakable smell of disinfectant, fresh sea air, gulls scrapping over food and that feeling of right now I’ve got nowhere else to be. It’s hard to believe you are only five minutes outside Cardiff city centre, but you are!
Once we’d rested for a while, we bimbled our way around some of the buildings which make up the Cardiff Bay waterfront:
The Pierhead building is a unique place. Not just a beautiful Grade One listed building, it’s a place where people from Wales can go to express opinions, debate and generally be heard!
Click For More About The Pierhead Building
If you visit London, you will see the Houses of Parliament when in Cardiff! The Senedd is more like an urban art building than a seat of power. We were particularly impressed with the access ramp, which is like a maze …cool!
For More About The Senedd and Visitor Centre
We’d heard a lot about the home-made cakes on sale in the Norwegian Church, so we headed on over there:
I can’t believe I didn’t take any photos of the cakes …duh! You’ll have to take my word for it. They were lovely … click for more on the Norwegian Church.
Not far from the church is the Dr Who exhibition. Neither of us is a fan of the Doctor, and frankly, we were both knackered by this point, so we headed back to the hotel … not without one final little adventure, though!
Back To Cardiff City Centre
To get back to the city centre, we took the Aquabus. We had it in our head; it would drop us off at the castle for some reason, but it didn’t. The last stop was the foot of the Millennium Stadium. It’s a bit of a walk back to the city centre but not too far!
The boat has a portable access ramp and plenty of room onboard for the wheelchair. It’s only a short trip, so you don’t get to see much. If you want a sightseeing trip, this isn’t it.
Have you visited Cardiff Bay? What did you think of it?
Have you debated in the Pierhead building?
Have you tried one of the cruises? Where did you go?
Share your Cardiff Bay stories with us …
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy Wheelchair Friendly Days Out.