Where to Stay in Cardiff – A Guide to the Capital of Wales
Cardiff is the capital city of Wales. Located in the southeast of the country, at the mouth of the River Taff, this major city is famous for its newly renovated waterfront, industrial heritage, lovely parks, tourist attractions, and as the main centre of Welsh language and culture. In this article, we will explore the best areas to stay in Cardiff, Wales.
Why you should visit Cardiff
The Welsh capital offers the perfect mix between the old and the new and is one of the most exciting European capitals. Cardiff’s central districts have undergone a remarkable transformation over the last few decades. Today, the Welsh capital is a vibrant cultural destination and, with over 15 million yearly visitors, it has become the most visited tourist destination in Wales.
Perhaps nowhere is Cardiff’s transformation more apparent than in its bayfront districts. The Cardiff Bay area went from a derelict industrial wasteland to a vibrant cultural, commercial and tourist hotspot built around the shore of a manmade freshwater lake. Some of the unmissable attractions in Cardiff Bay include the Pierhead Building, The Senedd (Welsh Parliament building), the Wales Millennium Centre, Techniquest and the St David’s Hotel. Find accommodation in Cardiff Bay.
A couple of kilometres north lies Cardiff City Centre. This bustling district is home to the city’s main shopping thoroughfares like Queen Street, St. Mary’s Street and the Hayes; the major historic and cultural attractions like Cardiff Castle and the National Museum Cardiff; and the city’s transport hubs such as Central and Queen Street stations. Find accommodation in Cardiff City Centre.
If you like parks and greenery, you’ll be thrilled to know that Cardiff is home to beautiful urban parks and green spaces. Some of the nicest parks in Cardiff include the expansive Bute Park, Hamadryad Park, Waterfront Park, and the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve.
Furthermore, Cardiff is an excellent base to explore southern Wales’ lovely castles, seaside towns, and historic inland villages. If you have a car, you might want to consider Finding accommodation in the outskirts of Cardiff.
When to visit Cardiff
Like most of coastal Wales, Cardiff experiences a maritime climate. Weather conditions are moderated by the sea and the Gulf Stream. This means that the city has mildly warm summers and cool, occasionally cold winters. The temperatures during the summer usually range between 13 and 22 ºC. Meanwhile, the winters can bring temperatures of around 2 – 8 ºC. The best time to visit Cardiff is during the summer (June through September), when the pleasant temperatures are great for sightseeing and outdoor activities.
Cardiff: Getting there and around
To get to Cardiff via air, the city is home to Cardiff Airport (CWL). Located around 20 kilometres southeast of the city centre, this airport, the busiest in Wales, offers frequent connections to holiday destinations and major cities around Europe, as well as a handful of UK routes (Edinburgh, Belfast, Anglesey). For a much wider destination offer, including domestic, medium and long-haul flights Bristol Airport (BRS) is located some 80 km away.
Cardiff is also well-connected to the rest of Wales and England by train services. Cardiff Central railway station, located in the city centre, offers frequent connections to London, Newport, Bristol, Portsmouth, Swansea, Nottingham, Gloucester, Birmingham and Holyhead, as well as commuter rail services to nearby towns and suburbs. Additionally, several coach routes link the Welsh capital with major cities and towns in Britain. Check train and coach schedules, routes and fares.
To move around the city, Cardiff has a multimodal public transportation system consisting of a comprehensive bus network, an urban rail metro system, and Aquabus (water taxi) services. To explore the outlying suburbs or the natural wonders around Cardiff, you may also choose to rent a car for your stay.
Where to stay in Cardiff
The best area to stay in Cardiff is the City Centre. Cardiff’s central district is home to most of the cultural and historical attractions in the Welsh capital, as well as the city’s main shopping and nightlife areas. Cardiff’s City Centre is also the best-connected district in town and where some of the best hotels are located. Find accommodation in Cardiff City Centre.
Another great district to consider when wondering where to stay in Cardiff is the bayfront area. Cardiff Bay is home to the city’s waterfront, great tourist attractions, shopping centres and modern developments. Find accommodation in Cardiff Bay.
Keep reading to learn more about the best areas to stay in Cardiff, Wales.
The Best Areas to Stay in Cardiff, Wales
1. Recommended area: Cardiff City Centre
Cardiff City Centre, as expected is Cardiff’s main administrative, business and shopping district.
This bustling area located on the east bank of the River Taff is home to the city’s main shopping thoroughfares, namely Queen Street, St. Mary’s Street and the Hayes, as well as large shopping centres and arcades.
Not unlike Cardiff Bay, the city centre has undergone a series of redevelopment projects in the last few decades to become one of the most important retail and entertainment districts in the United Kingdom.
Cardiff City Centre is home to the Castle Quarter, a pedestrian-friendly area that includes some of the city’s Victorian and Edwardian arcades.
Cardiff Castle, originally built in the late 11th century on the ruins of a 3rd-century Roman fort was heavily refurbished in a Victorian Gothic revival style in the early 20th century. Today, the castle houses the “Firing Line” regimental museum and interpretation centre and serves as a venue for events, musical performances and festivals.
The majority of Cardiff bus services run to or through the city centre, making this district the best-connected area in Cardiff. Additionally, the centre is home to two major railway stations: Cardiff Central and Queen Street, making travelling to other suburbs, towns and cities very convenient.
As Cardiff’s premier business and transport hub, the City Centre is also where most of the accommodation options in the Welsh capital are located. Here, you can find everything from the most luxurious business-oriented hotels to the most budget-friendly, family-owned accommodations, as well as a lovely selection of tourist apartments.
Why is this a recommended area to stay in Cardiff, Wales:
- Best area for business travellers
- Main shopping streets
- Cardiff Castle
- Main train stations
- Very well-connected by public transport
Accommodation in this area
Hotel Indigo – Cardiff, an IHG Hotel
Hotel Indigo – Cardiff is located in Cardiff, 200 m from St David’s Hall and 300 m from Cardiff Castle. The hotel has a terrace and fitness centre, and guests can enjoy a drink at the bar. Hotel Indigo – Cardiff features free WiFi.
ibis budget Cardiff Centre
Situated a 10-minute walk from Cardiff Central railway station and 15 minutes’ walk from the Millenium Stadium, the ibis budget Cardiff Centre offers modern rooms and wireless internet hotspots.
This luxury hotel is in the city centre, looking out over Cardiff Castle and City Hall. It has large air-conditioned rooms, a 20 m heated pool, a gym, spa, sauna, steam room and spa bath.
2. Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay, located about 2 kilometres south of the city centre, is one of the most vibrant districts in the UK.
This area, which has gone a major transformation in the past few decades is home to some of Cardiff’s most exciting developments, attractions and hotels.
Regarded as “one of the most successful regeneration projects in the United Kingdom,” The bay itself is an artificial freshwater lake supplied by the Taff and Ely rivers around the city’s former dockland area.
Cardiff Bay is home to the Senedd building, which houses the debating chamber and three committee rooms of the Welsh Parliament. Other avant-garde landmarks in the area include the Wales Millennium Centre; a cultural landmark offering frequent theatre, ballet, opera and music shows, and Techniquest, a science museum with interactive exhibitions.
One of the few historic structures in this redeveloped area is The Pierhead Building, formerly the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company.
Mermaid Quay, located on the bayfront includes a mix of restaurants, bars, cafés and shops. Nearby, The Red Dragon Centre is a massive shopping, leisure and entertainment centre with restaurants, a cinema, bowling alley, casino and health club.
Other sights in Cardiff Bay include the Norwegian Church Arts Centre and the St. David’s Hotel.
Cardiff Bay station provides frequent connections to the city centre. Additionally, many bus lines connect this area to Cardiff’s central districts and beyond.
Why is this a recommended area to stay in Cardiff, Wales:
- Modern area
- Tourist attractions
- Connected by public transport
- Shopping and entertainment areas
Accommodation in this area
The Coal Exchange Hotel
Boasting a bar, The Coal Exchange Hotel is situated in Cardiff in the Glamorgan region, 400 m from Cardiff Bay and 1.5 km from Motorpoint Arena Cardiff. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property.
Future Inn Cardiff Bay
The Future Inn Cardiff Bay is a modern hotel situated 400 m away from the Wales Millennium Centre. It offers spacious rooms with free internet, free parking and a restaurant, 2.4 km from Cardiff city centre.
voco St. David’s Cardiff, an IHG Hotel
Set in an iconic building, with stunning views across Cardiff Bay, the 5-star voco – St David’s Cardiff features a luxury spa, stylish bedrooms and an innovative restaurant and a bar. Mermaid Quay is a 5-minute walk away.
3. Riverside & Pontcanna
Riverside and Pontcanna are inner-city areas located east of the River Taff.
Riverside is a mainly residential area with terraced houses and is known for being a multicultural neighbourhood.
Directly north lies Pontcanna, an affluent area home to wide tree-lined streets and large houses. Pontcanna houses numerous cafes and independent retailers, mainly situated on Pontcanna Street and Cathedral Road.
Thanks to their close proximity to the Principality Stadium and the city centre, these areas have become some of Cardiff’s favourite areas for tourists.
Riverside is home to a number of budget accommodations, while many of the larger villas in Potcanna, particularly on Cathedral Road, have been converted into boutique hotels and guest houses.
There are no train stations in the area. That said, it is easy to get around by bus or on foot.
Accommodation in this area
Innkeeper’s Collection Cardiff
On Cardiff’s leafy Cathedral Road, Innkeeper’s Collection Cardiff is just a 15-minute walk from the Millennium Stadium and can be found situated within The Beverley Pub. The hotel offers free limited parking and free WiFi.
Situated in Cardiff, 1 km from Cardiff Castle, Pontcanna Inn features accommodation with a restaurant, a bar and a garden. Boasting family rooms, this property also provides guests with a sun terrace. The accommodation offers luggage storage space and free WiFi throughout the property.
Lincoln House Private Hotel
Carefully restored and developed to provide you with all the comforts of modern living, this Victorian town house is ideally situated within easy walking distance of Cardiff city centre.
Centred around Cathays Park, Cathays is Cardiff’s civic centre.
This vibrant area, located directly north of the central business district, is home to the city’s main government buildings, including Cardiff City Hall and the administrative headquarters of the Welsh Government.
This lovely area is known for its Edwardian architecture and being home to the National Museum Cardiff, which exhibits a collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world.
The National Museum Cardiff also hosts one of the best collections of Impressionist art in Europe.
The expansive Bute Park dominates the northwest of the area, running behind Cardiff Castle along the River Taff southward to Westgate Street and northward to Gabalfa.
Cathays concentrates a wide offer of tourist apartments and a few hotels. The best thing about staying in this area is how central it is. You can easily walk to the city centre or take a train from Cathays railway station to Cardiff Central.
Llandaff is a quiet district located in the north of Cardiff, on both banks of the River Taff.
This mainly residential area is known for its quiet, leafy streets with terraced homes and its many parks and green areas.
The main tourist attraction in the area is Llandaff Cathedral, a 12th-century church featuring a 10th-century Celtic cross and a triptych painted by D.G. Rossetti.
Llandaff is served by railway stations at Danescourt, Fairwater, and Waun-Gron Park; each is about a mile from the cathedral. There is a half-hourly service to and from Cardiff on the Cardiff City Line. Llandaf railway station is located in Llandaff North.
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