Tag Archives: things to do in cardiff

We love Cathays! Our favourite spots for food, drink, art, fitness and shopping!

Today, we’re taking a tour of Cathays, aka student-land – with local Beth Girdler-Maslen. So for today – We Love Cathays – our favourite spots for food, drink, art, fitness and shopping!

Cathays is right in the centre of Cardiff and full of vibrant and exciting places to eat, drink, shop and workout. However, being known as ‘Student Central’, it is overlooked due to its drunk and stressed inhabitants. Having lived in Cathays for the best three years of student hood, I’ve compiled a list of the best spots in Cathays that you may not know about.

Cardiff University’s Student Union, 45 Park Place

Besides being a place for lectures and where students escape to after a busy day, Cardiff University’s Student Union has so many events over the year. Club nights aside, it has live music and concerts with the likes of George Ezra and Youmeatsix having performed there. The Great Hall also hosts many sales, like posters, plants and clothes. Events like these are open to everyone and a great spot to find bargains.

Rose Street Flea Market, 37 Rose Street

Nearer Roath but still close to Cathays, this market is a hidden in what looks like a garage but is filled with classic and vintage treasures. Rose Street Flea Market is full of antiques, pictures, instruments, books and much more. Virtually unadvertised, the market is known about through word of mouth and only open on weekends. It may look like a junk shop from the outside, but the two-storey house is full of collections and great bargains.

The Early Bird, 38 Woodville Rd, @theearlybird_uk

Right in the middle of Cathays, The Early Bird has everyone flocking to its yellow bakery/café. Open in 2015, The Early Bird has become a staple for brunch with amazing food and homely and rustic furniture. It uses local suppliers and businesses for their produce and makes fresh bread and sweet treats everyday as well as roasting their own coffee.

Stag Coffee, 83 Crwys Rd, @StagCoffee


Stag Coffee is a unique independent restaurant, offering coffee, brunch, burgers and cakes. Their menu is full of comfort food as well as new and exciting vegetarian and vegan options. To try to keep things exciting and different from other restaurants, Stag hits at the Instagram obsessed side of people, by serving their meals in creative ways. Jam jars/mason jars full of milkshakes and coffees, chopping boards for burgers and cups for chips are served to keep with Stag’s effort to keep your visit memorable.

Gassy’s, 39-41 Salisbury Rd, @Gassy’s


Gassy Jacks or ‘Gassy’s’ as it is lovingly called is a brilliant bar full of food and drink as well as great activities all year round. It has a sporty vibe to it, with football and pingpong tables as well as TVs and projectors for the big games. They have weekly events, like Monday Quiz nights, open mic nights, cocktail nights on Fridays and karaoke on Thursdays.

The Hellenic Eatery, 100 Crwys Rd, @TheHellenicEatery

The Hellenic Eatery is a family-run Greek restaurant with ingredients imported from Greece with traditional dishes and music. On most Sundays, they invite you to come try Greek dancing.

The Woodville, 1-5 Woodville Rd, @TheWoodvillePub


The Woody is right in the heart of Cathays and its student area. It’s a good old-fashioned pub with two makeshift beer gardens which are jampacked during the warmer months. It’s a famous spot for students and a pub crawl destination. It has an upstairs and a downstairs as well as a pool table. Their cocktails are definitely something to shout about with a classics cocktails as well as ‘hardshakes’ and summery cocktails served in cans with sweets on the side. Also, it’s dog friendly!

Locos, 7-9 Miskin Street

Similar to and overlooking Gassy Jack’s, Locos is another very busy pub with great food and cheap drinks. It’s very spacious and at night shifts to a darker scene with great music.

The Vulcan Lounge, 2 Wyverne Rd, @TheVulcanCdf

Another great pub with a friendly atmosphere and affordable food and drink. It’s mainly known for the pizza and is very wallet-friendly.

Sherman Theatre, Senghennydd Road, @ShermanTheatre

Right in the middle of Cathays, the Sherman Theatre develops work from Welsh writers and artists for its audience. This year it won an Olivier Award for its production of Killology, as well as the award of Regional Theatre of the Year, the first Welsh theatre to win. It hosts a range of comedy stand-ups, plays and musicals.

National Museum, Cathays Park, @Museum_Cardiff

The National Museum is right in the heart of Cathays and inside it is full of exciting exhibitions. It has a big section on natural history with dinosaur bones and animals, art work and ancient Wales. It regularly has special exhibitions, including The First World War collections, specific artists collections and most recently, women in photography and a Remembrance Day exhibition.

Adventure Rooms, 47 Newport Rd

For those who like to be more active and adventurous, Adventure Rooms is the place to go. It’s a live escape room, where you and your team are locked in a room and you must solve the clues to escape the room. There is a 60-minute time limit and different themed rooms ranging in difficulty, like The Mad Scientist, The Black Queen and Mafia. Prices depend on the size of teams but range from £15-25.

TeamSport Go Karting, 11 Dominion Way, Newport Rd

TeamSport is a multilevel go kart track that is a regular attraction for people of all ages. Upon entry, you are given a motocross suit, helmet, gloves and all the right clothes for go karting. After 20 minutes of being taught how to work the car and the track, you can race around the track as fast as you like, trying to beat the record for the day that has been set by others. You’re also given your statistics of how you did in the race to take home.

Stretchy Suzie’s, 99 Woodville Road, @StretchySuzies

stretchy suzies

Along Woodville Road, Stretchy Suzie’s is a yoga studio and therapy room. It offers massages and retreats as well as fitness classes. It also hosts workshops and events.


This piece was by Beth Girdler-Maslen – Beth is an English Literature and Journalism graduate, with a love of books, running and pugs. An aspiring author and journalist, you’ll mostly find her compulsively writing or with her nose in a book. Follow Beth’s Instagram: @bethgirdlerm / Follow Beth’s Blog – Reading On The Treadmill

Feast Fest is here!

Cardiff is slowly but surely becoming street food city, quite literally, and Feast Fest is one of our favourite ventures to be launched this year!

Feast Fest is launching a colourful outdoor ‘feastival’ on Womanby Street, with five weekends of street food, farmers market, music, vintage clothing, vinyl sales, skate competitions, DJs, craft beers, art exhibitions and much more.

Feast Fest – Facebook event page

The top street food traders in Wales, along with local food producers will be offering kerbside dining every Saturday and Sunday from July 29 to August 26.

Womanby Street is the city’s alternative heartland, just a two-minute stroll from the Castle and five minutes from the central train station. The street has some of the best loved music venues, bars, restaurants, indie shops, tap and ale houses in the city, and is often where we end up after a long night of hard drinking and fast dancing.

The bars and venues will be opening to provide daytime entertainment, craft beers, wines and much more. Award-winning street food chef Jamie O‘Leary of Jols Food Co, who is spearheading the event, said:

“As a chef I’ve grown to love the street food experience – the reward is seeing the customer’s face light up as they watch their meal cooked and handed to them moments later. With ‘Feast Fest’ I intend to put the street food experience back where it should be – on the street. And Womanby Street is such a rich, cultural and vibrant location in the capital – with the recent Save Womanby Street campaign it became apparent that this is a street that the citizens of Cardiff are proud of and therefore an ideal location for a summer-long food market.”

The market will be open at weekends between 12-7pm. Traders appearing on rotation at Feast Fest include Annand George Tuk Tuk, Jols Food Co, Rule of Tum Burgers, Dusty Knuckles Pizza Co, Mr Croquewich, Rackdogs, Shwarmarama, Ffwrnes Pizza, The Bearded Taco, Science Cream, Dixies Vintage Ice creams, The Pork Society, Mighty Soft shell Crab, Shelly’s, EL Chilango and Got Beef.

For full details on trader line up, farmers market and weekly entertainment keep an eye on the website www.feastfestcardiff.com and Facebook @feastfestcardiff 


Staycations in Cardiff when you’re skint

Need some rest and relaxation, but can’t afford the gold dubloons it would cost you to spend a day in a spa? Fear not – Jenny Jones has put together this handy guide to Staycations in Cardiff – when you’re skint. She’ll be rounding up some of the best value options for pure indulgence on a budget.

Stressed out? Skint? Know you need some time out, but just have no idea how you’re going to afford it? Yeah, me too. Everyone needs time out from work – whether your “work” pays you loads, not enough, or nothing at all if you’re caring for people at home.

But luckily for you, I’ve been putting together this thrifty guide to getting your chill on. Even if you can’t take a full day out, I’ve split my ideal day up, so you can pick and choose relaxing activities that can fit around your schedule. My preferred mode of transport is bicycle (car parking is a nightmare anyway) so most of these are things you can access in or near the city centre either by bike or on foot. There are also a couple of things you can do – without ever leaving your home!



If you love the idea of sitting on a Parisienne street corner, supping coffee and watching the world go by, perhaps you could consider the Cardiff budget option: getting a cuppa in Cardiff Indoor Market? As far as people watching goes, as far as I’m concerned, there’s nowhere better.

Image by Melissa Jackson

The Indoor Market has a number of breakfast options both downstairs and upstairs, where a cup of tea will set you back 85p, you can get a cooked breakfast for £2.99, and the people watching is free. Now that’s a bargain.


If you’ve got kids, then you’ll already know about how amazing the National Museum is. With its endless rooms of fossils and minerals and early finds from around Wales, it’s the perfect place for the kids to run around and you to get some peace.

Image by Rob Khoo

What lots of people don’t know is that the museum also a serious hoarding of art – including the biggest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art outside of Paris. Pick up a stool on your way in, place yourself in front of the art work, clear your mind and just let the canvases loose on your cerebral cortex. You can see Monet’s Waterlillies and Van Gogh’s Rain amongst many others here. Oh and did I mention that those galleries have free entry?


Most massage places around the centre cost an average of £40 an hour, £60 for an hour and a half. If you don’t have the cash, there are other massage options that won’t break the bank, including qualified masseuses that will visit your home (great news if you’re housebound or find it difficult to get around). I like Odnova, who bring their own massage beds and other bits, charge £30 for a 90 minute massage (plus a small petrol charge to get to your house), and will pummel you to your heart’s content.


If you love being outdoors but don’t have a garden and can’t commit to an allotment, the opportunities for really getting your hands dirty in nature are pretty limited. At least they were, until you heard about the Riverside Community Allotment project. Based in Pontcanna Fields, you can learn how to grow food in a sociable and supportive atmosphere.


There are two working poly-tunnels where peppers, tomatoes, grapes and aubergines are grown, as well as raised beds and an accessible pond and wildlife area. There’s also a solar cooker and a compost toilet. Find out more about Riverside Community Allotment (See also the Riverside Community Garden Facebook page) and drop by – it’s a lovely place to spend an hour or two.

There are various other organisations that will get you outdoors and in sociable environments – Cardiff Conservation Volunteers undertake a new small project every week, and there are a couple of community gardens dotted around the city you can always volunteer with (Green City have more details), or even Keep Wales Tidy – Cardiff branch, or Cardiff Rivers Group.



Although there are plenty of budget options in town, you are trying to treat yourself, so no Greggs, right!? I would send you back to the Indoor Market for lunch, where you can choose between Clancy’s Vegetarian Emporium, Milgi’s lunch boxes (my favourite is the green one!), and the Thai place (pad thai on a plastic plate – just like in Bangkok) – all of which will gift you a very tasty lunch for under a fiver.

Image by Gourmet Gorro

If the weather’s nice, grab your food and go sit in the little garden between St John’s Church and the Cardiff Story buildings. Also great people watching in there (but watch the pigeons).


If you’re seeking a bit of peace from a constantly busy and cluttered mind, then maybe some meditation or mindfulness could be your self-indulgence.

The Buddhist Centre in Roath (but the town end of Roath – very near Newport Road) has drop-in meditation sessions that are open to all, 19.30 Wednesdays and 12.30 (midday) Thursdays. These sessions operate on a donation basis – amazing for those with low cash flow.

The courtyard of Cardiff Buddhist Centre

It may not look like much from the outside, but inside you’ll find friendly people and a quiet retreat from the madness of the city. Bless those Buddhists.


If your idea of relaxation heaven is splurging loads on clothes, then how about investigating the city’s wide selection of charity shops? Albany Road and Wellfield Road in Roath are well-mined by the city’s students, but venture a little further afield (particularly into the more affluent areas) and you’ll find some real gems. I particularly like daytripping over to Penarth, where we’ve managed to get designer items for an absolute steal.

We’d also like to suggest two more shopping alternatives to you, that are perfect for people on a budget: car boot sales, and vintage kilo sales.

Image by Bessemer Road Car Boot

There are so many car boots around south Wales it’s impossible for me to pick favourites (although I will – I’m still a fan of Splott Market and Bessemer Road Market, and definitely make the trip down to Sully Car Boot if you can. I’ve heard Cardiff City Stadium Car Boot is good but I haven’t visited yet, and apparently there’s an amazing undercover car boot in Bridgend, but again I haven’t made it out there yet).

For vintage kilo sales, the best thing to do is keep your eye on Facebook. Local tastemakers Blue Honey put one on every so often – Vintage Kilo Sale is the thing you’re looking for.




As the spiritual (and physical) home for Cardiff’s student population, Cathays and Roath are absolutely bursting with cheap, tasty eats. It’s hard for me to pick just one, so I’m selecting two: Falafel Kitchen on Cwrys Road (my pick: Sabich pitta – fried aubergine and an egg, with mountains of salad for a fiver), or Jalan Malaysia on Woodville Road, where the Turmeric Fried Chicken is a finger licking £8.95.

Don’t feel limited to these two though – City Road and Crwys Road are all about the budget eats.


If you’re one of those nutters that gets relaxation from endorphins, how about joining a running group? Cardiff has recently acquired its own GoodGym, and we’d recommend this. The group meets every week at the Old Library in town, goes for a short run, and then heads to a local destination where they carry out a task to help the local community. Examples of tasks carried out include painting fences or walls, weeding, basic gardening tasks – all for local community groups or charities.


They’re a fun and sociable group which does good and gets fit together. They keep together as a group and no-one gets left behind. Although you do have to pay to join Cardiff’s GoodGym (a tenner a month), the money goes into the GoodGym charity – plus imagine all that karma you’ll be building up.


There are weekly free Sahaja Yoga Meditation drop in sessions in the city centre. In this class, you’ll sit on chairs to achieve Yoga, effortlessly and spontaneously – no Asanas (exercises), mats or special clothing required. If you’re having trouble juggling the challenges in your life, this kind of activity can help you manage stress, master your emotions and find solutions to your problems. You may enjoy better health, better focus, and a deeper understanding of the universe and your place in it. And if not – it’s free, so why not give it a try?


Okay, I said spas were out of the question right at the start … but I lied! Cardiff and Vale College on Dumballs Road has its very own hair and beauty therapy studio, called Urbaspa. It’s brand new, it’s cheap, and I love it!

The idea is that the students get hands on experience while they’re studying, and so the prices reflect that. Bear in mind though, your treatment might take a little longer than usual, and students might have to get teachers to look over what they’ve done. If that doesn’t float your boat, you can always ask for one of the recent graduates who work there in a professional capacity –  I had a great short haircut in there for £20, and got a shape and paint done on my nails for just a fiver. Bargain!

You should also check out the actual spa there – it’s got a sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and monsoon shower, along with heated ceramic beds, and half day access is only £8. I recommend adding on a session on the floatation bed, which is just £7. If you’re feeling really flush, book in a half day spa along with a tasty lunch at the Schoolroom. It’s an incredible £20 – but because it’s so cheap, weekends are booked up months in advance. Go during the week, when the spa is much quieter. Urbaspa website / Urbaspa price guide.

Well, that’s it! Thanks for reading my guide to Thrifty Staycations in Cardiff. Have you got any recommendations you could add? Let us know in the comments!




Little Guide to Cardiff 2017 – update

So, we thought you’d all be able to access the Little Guide to Cardiff that we stuck up on Scribd, but it seems that they want to make everyone pay to join it now … cheeky!

So we’ve abandoned ship and stuck it up on Issuu instead. Inside you’ll find our guide to our favourite major attractions, shopping, arts and culture, pubs bars and clubs, and family friendly things to do in Cardiff.

Read on!

little guide to cardiff cover

We Are Cardiff presents: The Little Guide To Cardiff 2017

A Welsh food safari through Cardiff

Last week, I took part in my first ever food tour of Cardiff – a food safari, no less, taking in some sights, history, and a lot of tastes of the fair capital. Having lived here for as long as I have, I sort of presumed I had explored all of the culinary boltholes in the centre of it. How wrong I was!

We met Sian (who was leading the tour) along with fellow tour-attendees, Doug and Val in the cafe at the castle. Doug and Val had lived here between 1985 to 1990, then moved away. You can imagine how different the city is today to when they’d been here originally.

Cardiff Castle

Although we didn’t eat anything at the castle, Sian gave us a potted history of the castle through the ages. One of my favourite anecdotes was about how it used to be the Royal College of Music and Drama (as the council initially didn’t know what to do with it when it was handed over by the Butes) – Sian had music lessons there as a child. Imagine having music lessons in a castle!

Anyway, this was our first stop: bara brith and tea at Pettigrew Tea Rooms.

Pettigrew Tea Rooms
Pettigrew Tea Rooms

Andrew Pettigrew was Head Gardner for the Third Marquis of Bute , and the tea room is named in his honour. I am ashamed to say we ate the bara brith so quickly I didn’t manage to get a photo … (that’s the sign of some good cake!). It was really good too – super moist!

We then wandered through Castle Arcade. Although I must have walked through here hundreds of times, it was the first time I ever noticed the stag in the mirror (above the exit that goes out onto High Street – see below!)

Cafe Barker, Castle Arcade
Castle Arcade
Castle Arcade
Castle Arcade

It was then into Cardiff Indoor Market, taking a leisurely look around the stalls (I spotted some very tasty faggots and peas in a tupperware box that took my fancy!), but we stopped outside Ashton’s. You’ll know it as the fishmonger that’s at the entrance to the market from the Hayes side. Ashton’s is also the oldest limited company in Cardiff (fact!), and you can buy laverbread and cockles from them to eat there. Sian had baked some oatcakes and brought them with her, to make us small ‘tapas’ style morsels. They were absolutely delicious!

Ashton's at the market
Ashton’s at the market
Sian preparing our tasters
Sian preparing our tasters
Fish faces
Fish faces

We then went on to try some cawl and Welsh ciders! This was a definite high point. (My favourite cider was the Gwynt Y Ddraig medium dry, in case you ever want to take me out for a drink).

A bowl of cawl!
Cawl at Yr Hen Llyfrgell

From there, we went down to the bay. Doug and Val were most excited about this part of the tour, as the bay had been in its very early re-development when they left. No Millennium Centre, no Senedd, no barrage.

To give you some perspective, this is what it would have looked like when they left …


This is what it looks like now (!)

Big wheel and Pierhead building, Cardiff Bay

(obviously the locations are slightly different, but you get the idea)

We wandered around the bay a bit, and Sian imparted more historical knowledge. I live in Butetown but rarely spend time just wandering around, chewing the fat. In this case, chewing on the amazing Welsh cakes from Fabulous …

Millennium Centre
Millennium Centre
Fabulous Welsh Cakes
Fabulous Welsh Cakes
Sian outside Fabulous Welsh Cakes
Sian outside Fabulous

Our final course was in Ffresh. They’ve recently refurbished the inside with a load of copper coloured trees – beautiful!

Also the food. OMG the food. We stuck to deserts – I had a very nice and light iced pear, followed by this amazing shared cheese board. Per las … my downfall …


Iced pear
Iced pear
Food tourists!
Food tourists!

After dessert, I was so full I pretty much rolled down towards the water and into the Princess Katherine, one of the water taxis that runs between town and the bay. There’s actually an onboard audio guide that gives you information about the places you’re going past as you chug past them.


Aboard the Princess Katherine
Aboard the Princess Katherine

“We have many spectacular mountains, a stunning coastline and a little rain – that all helps to create an ideal environment for growing produce which results in award-winning food and drink!” says Sian, who’s been running food tours for a few years now (she also reads the news and used to present the weather, so gets recognised occasionally while you’re walking around with her!). She’s also fluent in French, Italian, Spanish and German as well as English and Welsh (feel like you messed around too much in school?? Me too!).

It was wonderful having Sian to guide us – she is incredibly knowledgeable about Cardiff and so passionate about food – she told us about everything from Welsh vineyards to the history of Italian food in Cardiff. All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our food safari – and ended up discovering some proper hidden Cardiff food gems. Cockles in the market will be on the itinerary for every trip we ever make to town, forever!

Find out more about Loving Welsh Food