Cannes? No, Cardiff ranked in top ten summer 2011 destinations

Ruth Doherty

It might not be the first place that springs to mind when you're planning a summer holiday, but the renowned National Geographic magazine has ranked Cardiff, Wales, as one of the world's top 10 summer destinations for 2011.

The city, which Brits often link rugby, was ranked the sixth best alternative hotspot.

The publication listed it alongside destinations in Portugal, Honduras and Croatia for alternative summer trips for their readers around the world.

Its July traveller guide says: 'Historically a city of castles and coal, Wales's capital is emerging as a modern sports-entertainment destination.

'Summer action centres on Cardiff Bay, once the world's largest coal-exporting port, now a 500-acre freshwater lake with eight miles of waterfront.

'Surrounding diversions, part of Europe's largest waterfront development, include shopping and dining at Mermaid Quay, rafting and kayaking at Cardiff International White Water, and windsurfing and powerboating on the bay.

'Celebrate the August bank holiday weekend at the Cardiff Harbour Festival. From Mermaid Quay, take an Aquabus or water taxi up the River Taff or bike along the Taff Trail to Cardiff's city centre.

'Signature sites include the National Museum, Cardiff Castle, 150-store St David's, and Millennium Stadium.'

The city was sixth on the list ahead of perhaps more predictable places such as the Azores in Portugal and Roatan, Honduras - described as the Caribbean's best-kept secret.

Travel writer Simon Calder said it might help shake off the old image of Cardiff's industrial past.

He told the Daily Mail: 'National Geographic's recommendation is welcome news, reflecting the remarkable resurgence in the city - and, in particular, the revival of Cardiff Bay as one of Europe's choicest waterside locations.

'For the Welsh capital to be included in such auspicious company is praise indeed.

'At a time when the tourist industry in Wales is having a tough time, this is the ideal shot in the arm.

'It will also be good news for all the people who are attracted to the capital and realise what wonders there are in the nation beyond.'

The top National Geographic alternative summer 2011 hotspots are:
1. Muskoka Orange County, Ontario, Canada
2. Patagonia, Argentina
3. San Juan Islands, Washington
4. Minneapolis, Minnesota
5. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
6. Cardiff, Wales
7. Stockholm Archipelago Sweden
8. Azores, Portugal
9. Roatan, Honduras
10. Istria, Croatia

Would you choose Cardiff has your summer holiday hotspot? Leave a comment below...