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Rail travel can be an inexpensive alternative to flying to your destination, especially when you book your tickets ahead. So pack your woolies and plan a winter visit by rail to the Welsh capital of Cardiff. This young city has a diverse selection of sites for visitors to discover and experience.

Explore more than 2,000 years of history at the impressive Cardiff Castle that was once a Roman garrison as well as a Norman stronghold. Take a guided tour of the grand apartments with gilt ceilings and murals or brave the chill and walk the battlements to the north gate and Norman Keep. Visit the newly opened Interpretation Centre for more on the castle’s history.

To the left of the castle are Bute Gardens, complete with a walled parapet that hosts lifelike stone animals, including a bear, lion and monkey. The gardens offer tourists brilliant and picture-worthy views of the castle and its moat.

Next, visit the National Museum Cardiff. Housed in an impressive domed building, the museum features several collections covering art, archaeology, natural history and geology. The museum houses one of the largest collections of impressionist paintings in Europe, with works by Renoir and Monet.

Rugby fans may want to visit Europe’s largest covered stadium, Millennium Stadium, and take a guided tour of the facility, which includes a visit to the changing room of the Welsh national rugby team, the players’ tunnel and onto the pitch. If you plan your trip well, you may be able to take in a concert under the stadium’s retractable roof.

Tourists who prefer more classical entertainment can enjoy opera, ballet, modern dance and musicals at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, only a mile from the city center.

While in the bay area, fans of the sci-fi TV series "Dr. Who" should visit the "Dr. Who Exhibition" in the Red Dragon Centre to see monsters, costumes and props from both the current series, which films in Cardiff, alongside props from the original series.

Cardiff Bay, once a shabby dockland, is now host to many restaurants, bars and shops, and throughout the year many festivals and events take place there. Visit the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre, known as "the Tube." Its position in the center of the waterfront offers panoramic views of the bay.

Sitting on the outskirts of town and nestled in the woods is Castell Coch, a romantic round-towered castle with red turrets. According to the castle’s Web site, it was built in the 1870s for the Third Marquis of Bute, who was rumored to be the richest man in the world during his day.

For a more adventurous activity, travel a little ways out of Cardiff to Blaenafon to the Big Pit National Coal Museum. The Big Pit is an actual coal mine where tourists can descend 300 feet underground with a real miner as a guide.


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