A 2015 London Times article named the leafy Cardiff neighborhood of Pontcanna one of the United Kingdom’s hippest and most fashionable places to live. It was the only Welsh neighborhood to make the list. In a region filled with stunning landscapes, historic pubs and villages resembling picture postcards, it is hard to believe hordes of travelers have not yet discovered this neighborhood.
Located in one of the most affluent areas of Cardiff — the capital and largest city in Wales, with almost 1 million residents in the metropolitan area — Pontcanna’s tree-lined shopping streets and parks and residential areas are just a 30-minute walk (seven minutes by taxi) from downtown hotels and Cardiff Central railway station.
For a quiet break from Cardiff ’s urban buzz and numerous inner-city revitalization projects, Pontcanna makes a great afternoon and evening excursion. Visit the restaurant Fish at 85, which takes daily delivery of high-quality fresh fish and seafood from the South Wales coast. Also try The Conway gastropub and the historic Robin Hood Public House, where Cardiff-born singer Charlotte Church once sang a cappella to a fortunate crowd. A must-visit lunch, dinner or dessert venue, the year-round Y Mochyn Du pub serves traditional Welsh food using local produce and good regional ales amid the beauty of the Sophia Gardens.
Pontcanna possesses a somewhat elite feel. Twenty-five percent of neighborhood residents speak Welsh (in addition to English), compared to only 11 percent in the rest of Cardiff with its younger demographics. Newscasters and writers from the BBC South Wales studios frequent Pontcanna restaurants and shops, and several well-known Welsh rugby and soccer stars live in the neighborhood. Gentrification brought high real estate prices and upscale amenities but no high-rise condominiums or chain stores.
“There is a strong community spirit here, it has very much a village feel within a city,” said resident Dr. Andrew Webber in a local newspaper article about Pontcanna. “It’s a very sociable place to live. Jogging through Bute Park on a summer’s evening, then enjoying a cold lager outside one of the many village pubs, is a perfect way to unwind after a hard work week.”
One of the best things about Pontcanna is its scale. Small, family-owned shops line Pontcanna Street. A bike trail parallels the lovely River Taff as it flows through parkland on its way to Cardiff and the open sea, just three miles away, and cozy bed and breakfast inns tempt visitors to stay in Pontcanna for more than just a few hours.
Winter- and Christmas-loving travelers may already know Rovaniemi, Finland, as the home of Santa Claus Village, a year-round tourist destination. However, nature- and sustainability-minded travelers might be pleased to learn the man in red is working on a new project: making his village completely carbon-neutral over the next five years.
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