A very pretty city with a very pretty castle, Cardiff is both small enough to be manageable in one decent visit, and large enough to keep you entertained for days!
This city of 350,000 people sees over 20 million tourists every year. So there must be a few things here worthy of your attention!
But with such sprawling suburbs leading out from such a compact central area, working out where you’re going to camp for a few days isn’t easy.
That’s why our travel gurus have put together this local guide on where to stay in Cardiff, so you can pick the area that’s right for you.
Now that your accommodation is a cinch, you can start working out how to pronounce those Welsh consonant combinations. It’s downright difficult!
So let’s get to it, and before long you’ll be strutting the city like you live there, knowing precisely where to stay in Cardiff!
Quick tips – Where to stay in Cardiff
- Where to stay in Cardiff your first time – City Centre
- Where to stay in Cardiff on a budget – Riverside
- Best area to stay in Cardiff for nightlife – Newtown
- Coolest place to stay in Cardiff – Butetown
- Best neighborhood in Cardiff for families – Atlantic Wharf
- Visit the Museum of Cardiff, interactive and fun!
- Head to Clwb Ifor Bach, the three-storey nightclub, for after-hours amusement!
- Catch a show at the (not so) New Theatre, from Victorian times.
Not worried about where you’ll be and just looking for a fit for you? Check out our top picks for Cardiff in general!
Best Hostel in Cardiff – The Safehouse Hostel
The Safehouse Hostel is set in Cardiff and is within a 10-minute walk of Cardiff Central Bus Station. It is conveniently situated in the city centre. There are a range of facilities on offer to those staying at the hostel, such as a library, free Wi-Fi and a tour desk.
Sometimes the best way to experience a destination is from a good dorm room with good people. Book one of these sweet hostels in Cardiff and get ready for the time of your life!View on Booking.com
Best Airbnb in Cardiff – Very cool loft
This very cute loft is a perfect home for your first stay in Cardiff. If you want to be close to the main area, well, you really can’t be any more central than with this Airbnb. Attractions, entertainment and eating options are just around the corner. The loft is quirky and feels like home according to the previous guests.
If you’re looking to stretch your budget a bit further, why not stay at one of these epic bed and breakfasts in Cardiff.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Cardiff – Cathedral House
Cathedral House is located in the heart of Cardiff’s entertainment district with restaurants, cafés and nightlife on the doorstep. Bute Park, River Taff and the Chapter Arts Centre are each within walking distance.View on Booking.com
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Cardiff
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Cardiff is the capital of Wales, in the United Kingdom, and can be found in the southeast corner of the country.
It’s right across the channel from the funky English city of Bristol.
Known unmistakably the world over for their giant red dragon that adorns their flags and merchandise, the Welsh are more welcoming than their mythical symbol would suggest!
Having been around for millenia, with their castle itself built almost 1000 years ago, Cardiff has a long history. It’s only in recent decades, though, that it’s really marked itself out as a place to visit, with significant developments happening all around the city.
It’s the largest city in Wales and the eleventh largest in the UK. This all means that there’s plenty for any visitor to the city to do, whether that’s the extent of their trip to Wales, or they’re using it as the gateway to the Brecon Beacons or Swansea.
As far as neighbourhoods, there is a variety to choose from. There’s Cathays, where the students make their home, along with the accompanying music venues and cafes. Or Roath, with its plethora of sporting facilities, casinos and its enormous park. Tiger Bay is home to stunning, sweeping views seen from high-rises.
And there’s Victoria Park, with its green space and galleries; perfect for lazy wandering kind of days!
However you holiday, Cardiff has an area that will suit you and your style!
Cardiff’s Five Best Neighbourhoods to Stay In…
New to the city or looking for something a bit different? We’ve trawled through the many areas of Cardiff to pick you the five best, based on what you’re into!
Cardiff City Centre is a reasonably sized area just south of Cardiff University and Cooper’s Field. There are some small and narrow lanes to meander through, as well as wide-spaced avenues with all sorts of shopping and street performers to be found. And it’s clean! The city centre is a very well taken care of district.
The area is bordered by the River Taff on the west side of the neighbourhood, and goes down as far as the Cardiff Central Station to the north. This means it’s easy to get in and out of the city from this area, though the standard bus transportation system is also very easy to use, and the drivers friendly to clueless visitors!
That’s part of the reason we’ve chosen it for the best area to stay in Cardiff for your first time in the city!
At the top of this neighbourhood, you’ll find the icon you’ve come to Cardiff to see. Cardiff Castle has been sitting in the same spot, on its tiny wee hill, since 1081, when King William I of England decided to set up shop there for a bit.
The best thing you can do to see Cardiff is to hunt out a walking tour. You can find these free online or sort out a paid private one. Or a ghost tour! Just be careful as one of our team was disappointed when she inadvertently missed the day of the week it was on!
There is a high concentration of restaurants and cafes all around here too, and a few underground clubs for when night falls!
Things to See and Do in the City Centre
– Go see the castle. You can see it for free from the entrance, but if you want to explore more, you’ll need to pay to go inside.
– Visit the Museum of Cardiff, interactive and fun!
– Head to Clwb Ifor Bach, the three-storey nightclub, for after-hours amusement!
– Get your bearings at the John Batchelor Statue, from where you can head in any direction.
– Catch a show at the (not so) New Theatre, from Victorian times.
Best Hostel in the City Centre – Mrs Potts
Mrs Potts is a hostel designed for backpackers who want that warm and fuzzy feeling they get at home. Enclosed in a centrally located, beautiful grade ll listed building designed by Alfred Waterhouse! (Architect who designed the Natural History Museum in London).View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb the City Centre – Very cool loft
This very cute loft is a perfect home for your first stay in Cardiff. If you want to be close to the main area, well, you really can’t be any more central than with this Airbnb. Attractions, entertainment and eating options are just around the corner. The loft is quirky and feels like home according to the previous guests.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in the City Centre – Hotel Indigo
Just a 10-minute walk from Cardiff Central Bus Station, the hotel offers 4-star accommodation and complimentary Wi-Fi. It is conveniently located in the city centre. An express check-in and check-out feature and a concierge are just some of the convenient services at Hotel Indigo.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in the City Centre – Hilton Cardiff
Centrally located, Hilton Cardiff offers easy access to Cardiff’s main retail areas and tourist attractions. The amenities this luxury hotel has to offer include a Jacuzzi, an indoor pool and a Turkish steam bath. This 4-star hotel offers 24-hour room service, a sauna and valet parking.View on Booking.com
This is the name, unsurprisingly, given to the area on the west bank of the River Taff that runs through Cardiff.
It’s our pick for the best area to stay in Cardiff when you’re on a budget, as the accommodation is good but reasonable.
It’s also walking distance to the city centre (free), and the abundant green spaces and riverside mean there’s (free) entertainment all around!
This is a lively and vibrant part of the city, with more of a local feel than you might find in the city centre.
Spend a morning in and around all the parks in the area, some sports fields, some wilder. We’ll let you count the Gorsedd Stone Circle as in your region, since it’s in the extension of the park, though technically on the east bank.
In the town area, you have a wide range of cafes and bakeries for a reasonable bite to eat. The Danish Bakery, Brod, is perfect for grabbing breakfast on the go, and it’s not going to break the bank, either.
In the evenings, there is the Pipes Brewery and Bar, where you can sample their in-house ales on tap. Perfect for craft beer enthusiasts, or just those that admire people with a passion.
Things to See and Do in Riverside
– Wander by the River Taff, making your way to the eerie stone circle in the eastern part of the parks.
– Fuel up at Brod, the Danish Bakery.
– Sample an ale or three at Pipes Brewery.
– Compare those three with a few at The Cricketers. Not just for fans of a test match!
– See if you can find a game on at any one of the many sports grounds in your area.
Best Hostel in Riverside – NosDa Hostel & Bar
Want to experience the beating heart of Cardiff yet seek a calm, clean and comfortable environment? NosDa has the best location for a property in the Welsh capital. On the River Taff, NosDa is opposite Wales’ most iconic building, the Millennium Stadium.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Riverside – Cute attic room
This Airbnb definitely wins the prize for being super affordable and for the kindest and most helpful host. The private room is in a family home, clean, spacious and very bright. Bathroom and kitchen are shared. If you have any problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to the host for help and advice – she’s got great recommendations too.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Riverside – Regan Hotel
Regan Hotel provides spacious rooms equipped with tea and coffee making facilities, plus all the essentials to ensure an enjoyable stay. Regan Hotel Cardiff has an on-site pub where guests can socialise while enjoying a casual meal and a drink.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Riverside – Cathedral 73
Conveniently located in the middle of the city, this 5-star hotel makes for an excellent base in Cardiff. Those staying at the property can also take advantage of complimentary Wi-Fi during their stay. Guests can soak up the sun on the terrace or enjoy a drink at the bar.View on Booking.com
Newtown is in the southern corner of the city centre, more or less where the main train tracks run east out of the city.
It touches the edges of the entertainment district, overtaken by the first-time visitors. For our purposes, we’re allowing you to wander a little way into the middle, to sample all that makes this the best place to stay in Cardiff for nightlife.
You’ve got plenty going on in the centre city, but there are more and more underground venues popping up in the south and more unknown areas.
The ideal way to spend a proper night out here would be to start at Porter’s, near the Motorpoint Arena, then head west and to a counter-clockwise loop of the city, stopping in at one or two good’uns on the way. Just don’t try and do them all!
Your final point will be Tiger Tiger or PRYZM, infamous nightclubs from which the walk home would be a straight line south!
Most importantly, if you’ve timed your visit right, Motorpoint Arena will have some stage spectacular to put on for you.
To shake off those cobwebs the next day, you can seek help from KIN+ILK CAPITAL QUARTER. This shoutily named coffee shop is known for being a good drop!
Things to See and Do in Newtown
– Caffeine up for the nightlife ahead with a brew from KIN+ILK.
– Kick off your evening at Porter’s, for a warm-up cocktail.
– Catch a live show at Motorpoint Arena.
– Head to Tiger Tiger to round out an epic evening.
– Be a bit more cultural with an orchestral performance at St David’s Hall!
Best Hostel in Newtown – Nomad
Nomad brings a new level of comfort and security to the hostel experience. Situated in the heart of the exciting and fast-growing Welsh capital, Nomad offers a huge range of free services and innovation facilities-everything you need to make your trip safe, comfortable and enjoyable.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Newtown – Very stylish studio in condo
Went out last night and now you want to spend the day inside? No problem! This Airbnb is perfectly located for nightlife enthusiasts and also offers an amazing view of the city – you’ll have trouble leaving this home, trust us. The apartment is spacious and very bright, perfectly equipped and feels like a proper home.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Newtown – Premier Inn City South
Premier Inn City South Cardiff offers 3-star accommodation in Cardiff. Guests can also make use of complimentary Wi-Fi. The hotel provides comfortable accommodation and is an ideal base for either the holidaymaker or business traveler.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Newtown – Novotel Cardiff Centre
Boasting a sauna, an indoor pool and a Jacuzzi, Novotel Cardiff Centre is located in Cardiff and offers peaceful accommodation. The various amenities this stylish hotel has to offer include an express check-in and check-out feature, a Turkish steam bath and luggage storage.View on Booking.com
Butetown is on the south side of the main train station in town, between the River Taff and Lloyd George Ave. It’s kinda got that ‘wrong side of the tracks’ thing going on, in a sometimes grungy but always cool way.
The Cardiff Bay area that Butetown resides in was once the epicentre of the city’s trade, where the coal that kept the United Kingdom running came through.
Rejuvenated since the 1980s, a redevelopment program has breathed new life into the once crumbling district.
It’s the coolest place to stay in Cardiff because of its understated charm, with a fascinating history. Oh, and there are some well-kept secrets by way of underground bars here too.
Butetown is multiethnic, and its diversity makes it an interesting base, with the accompanying various cuisines, music and style that you’ll see and hear on the streets. There is an estimated 50 different nationalities settled here!
A particular attraction is the Pierhead Building. It’s a strikingly clean-cut and attractive landmark, with its richly-coloured, glazed terracotta brick making it stand out as if through CGI from its surroundings!
Things to See and Do in Butetown
– Visit the Pierhead Building and learn a little about Cardiff’s past.
– Grab a bite at the Norwegian Cafe, just one of the nationalities settled in the area.
– See a concert or a show at the Wales Millennium Centre.
– In fact, just go and check out the Millennium Centre. It’s quite impressive!
– Get wet at the Cardiff Bay Water Activity Centre!
Best Hostel in Butetown – Bunkhouse
Located in a beautiful Victorian building situated on the oldest shopping street in the city centre, we pride ourselves on offering travelers from all over the world affordable accommodation in clean, well-maintained dormitories.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Butetown – Flat with incredible view
Offering an amazing view, super-fast wifi and a luxurious home, this Airbnb is a great choice for staying in Cardiff’s coolest area. The Bay is only 5min from your doorstep, and the city centre isn’t far either. The whole place has been refurbished with an eye for detail, which is gonna make you feel even more comfortable and welcome.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Butetown – Radisson Blu Hotel
The hotel offers modern accommodation in Cardiff and is within walking distance of Cardiff Central Bus Station. The rooms include tea and coffee making facilities, a radio, a private bathroom and have panoramic views over the city. They provide a telephone and a bathtub.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Butetown – Clayton Hotel
It is set in the area’s vibrant nightlife district, just a short walk from the Cardiff Central Library.
Clayton Hotel Cardiff has impressive city views, plus free Wi-Fi. Multilingual staff can assist with reservations or dining recommendations.View on Booking.com
Atlantic Wharf is the area surrounding the Bute East Dock, surrounded by Newtown and Butetown.
It is the best place to stay in Cardiff with a family because of its location. It’s about a five to ten minute easy walk to the city centre, and then another five or ten minutes in the opposite direction down to the Cardiff Bay waterfront.
Kids will enjoy the centre city for the cool castle and other attractions and will love the Bay, with its big open areas for bolting about like mad things. And there’s a good ol’ Science Discovery Museum. Who doesn’t love those!?
Right in Atlantic Wharf itself are a few family-friendly entertainments too. There’s a good children’s playground, as well as the Red Dragon Centre, with bowling and cinema. Then there’s the Atlantic Wharf Leisure Centre. Enough to keep you all occupied for days!
Near to Atlantic Wharf is the start of the Taff Trail, the 55 mile walking and cycling path going from Cardiff Bay to Brecon. You don’t have to do the whole thing but a few hours would be ideal when travelling with the little uns.
Things to See and Do in Atlantic Wharf
– Get creative at Techniquest science and discovery centre.
– While away a rainy day (about a 50/50 chance daily) at the Red Dragon Centre.
– Walk part of the Taff Trail.
– Blow off some steam at Craiglee Drive Children’s Playground.
– Sample any one of the myriad cuisines on offer in your surroundings!
Best Hostel in Atlantic Wharf – YHA Cardiff Central
This 4-star hostel provides laundry facilities, an express check-in and check-out feature and a safe. Welcoming and professional staff are available 24 hours a day. YHA Cardiff Central’s 160 stylish rooms provide a private bathroom, tea and coffee making facilities and a seating area.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Atlantic Wharf – Ideal family flat
This Airbnb is a true home away from home. Loved and lived in, you and your family will feel super relaxed and comfortable. There’s enough space to accommodate up to 6 people, so it’s even ideal for bigger families. The area is super friendly and calm, with cute cafes and restaurants close by.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Atlantic Wharf – Travelodge Cardiff Atlantic Wharf
Travelodge Cardiff Atlantic Wharf provides bright rooms equipped with a hairdryer and tea and coffee making facilities, plus all the necessities to ensure an enjoyable stay. They all include a private bathroom and wireless internet access.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Atlantic Wharf – Holiday Inn Express
Holiday Inn Express Cardiff Bay offers 3-star accommodation and is ideally located for guests wanting to visit the area’s popular attractions. In sunny weather, an outdoor terrace provides a nice spot to relax.View on Booking.com
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Cardiff
Cardiff is an easy city to find your way around, once you’ve got your bearings. Most of the city is walking distance, and there are always those friendly bus drivers to help you for the places that aren’t!
Why not walk as far as you can in one direction before catching a bus back? You never know what hidden gems you might discover.
Spending your time staying at our best hotel overall, Cathedral House, will have you near all the main city centre action, while living in comfort and style. You’re also well-placed for those explorations!
And that’s it for our advice and recommendations for where to stay in Cardiff.
Have fun, or Cael hwyl, as Welsh would have it!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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