The Official Student Guide to Cardiff 2023

Ello and welcome to the Diff, as the locals say. Students of 2023 – this is your ultimate student guide to Cardiff!

Whether you’re a fresher or returning for another year of study (hey there stressed-out 2nd and 3rd-year students, we see you…💙), we’ve got you covered with the official student guide to Cardiff for 2023.

Cardiff is a vibrant city brimming with culture, history, city nightlife, and even nature escapades right on your doorstep. In this guide, we share the city’s top going-ons in 2023 to make your stay even better. Plus, don’t miss our special promotion of breezybox – a storage service tailored just for you!

Quick links

Key events happening from September ’23 to Summer ’24
Top 5 things to do if you’re NEW to Cardiff or South Wales
Venues and quirky places
Best places for cheap & delicious meals
FREE things to do when your budget’s tight
Our favourite charity shops for vintage finds

Cardiff street art
‘My city my shirt’ – RMER / UNIFY. Photo credit: AMP

Key events happening from September ’23 to Summer ’24

September & October: Fresher’s Season 🥳

September and October is peak season for all freshers’ events with lots of venues offering welcome parties, raves and quirky events with special promotions just for students.

Some fun events include:

Alternatively, you can save a mini fortune by buying a ‘fresher’s wristband’ which grants you access to multiple venues and events throughout September and October.

Find out more on yourfreshersguide.com

November, December & January: Winter Wonder ❄️

The cold crisp season calls for some Christmas whimsy, hot chocolate and pretty lights. Luckily, Cardiff offers all that starting from November all through to January.

P.S. If you’re travelling to see family over the Christmas holidays and need short term storage to keep your items safe and secure, try out our affordable and easy breezybox service.

Cardiff Christmas Market

Stroll around the picturesque Christmas Market stalls, where you can enjoy seasonal food and drinks as well as purchase original work and handmade gems such as bespoke jewellery, wood-crafted items, and other original artwork across all mediums by Cardiff makers and artists.

Opening dates: 09 Nov 2023 – 23 Dec 2023

Cardiff Winter Wonderland

Christmas at Bute Park

Christmas at Bute Park is Wales’ biggest festival of lights. Expect long trails throughout the park illuminated with Christmas lights and huge decor!

Opening dates: 24 Nov 2023 – 01 Jan 2024

Winter Wonderland

Cardiff’s much-loved Winter Wonderland will be back this year and split once again across two locations, at Cardiff Castle and City Hall Lawn. Anticipate ice skating, festive food and drinks at the castle, with fun rides, games and more festive delicacies at City Hall Lawn.

Opening dates: 16 Nov 2023 – 02 Jan 2024

Cardiff Winter Wonderland

February & March 2024: Six Nations Championship

The schedule for the 2024 Guinness Six Nations has been officially announced, and the highly anticipated annual international Championship will commence on Friday, February 2nd, with France welcoming Ireland for the opening match. Wales v Scotland is set to follow on February 3rd at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff and the event will finish on March 16th.

Anticipate a very loud and enthusiastic Cardiff on that date, make sure to buy your ticket to the match or soak up the rugby spirit in a pub with your buddies!

June: Pride Cymru & Taylor frickin’ Swift!

June is set to be a huge month of festivities in Cardiff, with the Tailor Swift Eras Tour at Principality Stadium on June 18th and Pride Cymru taking place on June 22nd – June 23rd, early bird tickets are now on sale but make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the 2024 lineup.

So, expect a bustling city full of glittering outfits and colours splashed across the streets of Cardiff.

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Top 5 things to do if you’re NEW to Cardiff or South Wales

#1 Discover Cardiff Castle

Step back in time with a visit to Cardiff Castle. This iconic landmark offers a glimpse into Wales’ rich history. Explore the stunning interiors, climb the medieval keep, and have a picnic or stroll through the beautiful gardens.

Tip: If you live, study or work in Cardiff you can get a Castle Key which grants you FREE access to the Castle for 3 years!

#2 Enter your own fairytale at Castle Coch

Castle Coch, also known as the ‘Red Castle’, is a fairytale-like castle tucked away in the woods. Wander through its enchanting rooms and marvel at the intricate architecture whilst discovering its history – it’s like stepping into a storybook!

Plus explore the nature that surrounds it – Fforest Fawr has 3 trails to choose from, with old mining caves, wood carvings and sculptures scattered throughout.

#3 Visit Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay is known as a hub of entertainment and culture. Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, and visit the Wales Millennium Centre for world-class performances.

Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay

If you’re a sporty type and enjoy activities like skateboarding, longboarding or rollerblading, Cardiff Bay has a loooooong Barrage where you can glide back and forth, plus it actually has a dedicated skate park.

Cardiff Bay Barrage Skate Plaza
Cardiff Bay Barrage Skate Plaza. Photo credit: AMP

#4 Step into the city of arcades

Cardiff is famous for its charming Victorian and Edwardian arcades. Discover unique boutiques, vintage shops, and the cosiest of cafes.

#5 Visit the popular Barry Island from British sitcom Gavin & Stacey

If you’re completely new to Wales and you haven’t yet watched it, we highly recommend checking out ‘Gavin & Stacey‘- we guarantee a good laugh whilst learning about true Welsh culture!

The Welsh parts of the show take place in Barry Island – just a train ride away, it’s a seaside gem with golden beaches and a classic British esplanade making it the perfect spot for a day of sun, sea, and fun.

Barry Island
Barry Island. Photo credit: AMP

Venues and quirky places for…

….a boogie and a drink

You might want to let off some steam before, during or after those soul-crushing exams and assignments (we understand). Dancing and enjoying some drinks with your friends might be the perfect outlet for you! Thankfully, Cardiff’s nightlife scene is diverse and caters to every taste.

Some student favourites located right in town include:

  • Kongs has a spacious dancefloor, events with live music, craft beers and games like table tennis and arcade machines.
  • Coming from Kongs as a sister bar, The Underdog offers an escape into 80’s nostalgia with dark luxurious surroundings, neon lights, fancy cocktails and miscellaneous music.
  • Delve into Cardiff’s alt scene on Womanby Street and pick your fancy between funk, soul, jazz, rock, metal and much more at The Moon, Fuel, Bootlegger or Clwb Ifor Bach (Welsh Club).

….a video gamer’s paradise

If dancing isn’t your thing but you get your kicks from gaming, NQ64 is a haven for gamers. Step into this neon-splattered den full of retro arcade games, classic consoles and a selection of gaming-themed drinks and cocktails – sounds good right?

….booze and ball games

Get your game on and unleash your inner Monica Geller at venues such as Boom Battle Bar, Roxy Lanes and Golf Fang in the heart of Cardiff City Centre. These fantastic venues are one-stop destinations for bowling, arcade games, pool, mini golf courses and so much more! Plus, enjoy their array of cocktails, drinks and food menus.

….D &D lovers and board game seekers!

If you’re more about Settlers of Catan than settling your tab, Cardiff has hubs for quieter socials.

Student favourites include:

  • With a cosy and laid-back setting, Scaredy Cats Cafe Bar has a big selection of board games with delicious bites and drinks on the cards – perfect for an evening of quiet social stimulation!
  • Located in Morgan Arcade, Geek Retreat is a sanctuary for comic book lovers, board game enthusiasts and devoted D&D players.
  • Make a stop at Chance & Counters with friends or even solo to explore their selection of 650+ board games, crackin’ craft beers & ciders, plus some mouthwatering food.

Best places for cheap & delicious meals

Discover some of the best eateries in Cardiff, offering tasty, filling and cheap foods!

  • “I eat antipasta twice just because she is so nice, Angelina, oooh Angelina, the waitress at the pizzeria” 🎶 RomEat is the perfect place for when you’re craving pizza, and what’s best is that they use the finest Italian ingredients and just for a moment you’re transported in the heart of Rome. 📍 Wellfield Road, Roath
  • Fuel up on caffeine and breakfast or lunch bites at Stag Coffee. This cosy spot offers artisan coffee and a relaxing atmosphere to study or catch up with friends. 📍 Albany Road, Roath
  • Known as the chillest of pubs you can enjoy refreshing craft beer and classic pub food at The Woodville right in the heart of the student community of Cathays in Cardiff. P.S. Don’t miss out on their pub quizzes and live music events – they’re fab! 📍 Woodville Road, Cathays
  • Gassy’s (known as Gassy Jack’s back in the day) has kept its crown as king of bars for students in Cardiff. Enjoy pub food, cheap drinks, live sports and music at this student favourite. 📍 Salisbury Road, Cathays

FREE things to do when your budget’s tight

A day at the National Museum Cardiff

Explore art, history, and science at the National Museum Cardiff, and make sure to keep an eye on what’s on as they offer lots of exciting events, talks and even courses. Admission is free, so take your time wandering through its fascinating exhibits.

Discover the Norwegian Church Arts Centre

The Norwegian Church Arts Centre is a landmark building situated in Cardiff Bay with panoramic views over the waterfront. The venue is free to visit and they often host art exhibitions and events with a cafe bar offering a selection of pastries, cakes and coffee.

Go for a stroll or relax at a park

One of the greatest things about Cardiff is that you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city in nature as there are so many green spaces like parks and nature reserves to choose from. They all make for excellent spots to relax, have a picnic or explore on a peaceful stroll. Our favourite green spaces are:

Roath park
Roath Park

Travel back in time at St Fagans

St Fagans is a village situated on the outskirts of the city, renowned for St Fagans Castle. This Elizabethan style estate boasts expansive gardens featuring fountains, a charming Italian Garden, and a rosery. On its premises, you’ll also find the St Fagans National Museum of History, an open-air museum displaying historical structures transported from various regions of Wales.

The picturesque countryside in the vicinity is a great destination for those who enjoy hiking and exploring.

Our favourite charity shops for vintage finds

  • The British Red Cross, located in Penarth offers a treasure trove of fashion finds, including Zara and Nobody’s Child clothing, all at a fraction of the price.
  • PDSA, located in Penarth, is not just for pet lovers – it’s also a hidden gem for vintage fashion enthusiasts. Explore their selection of Ellesse, Adidas, and authentic vintage clothing.
  • While not charity shops, Hobo’s and Sobeys are student favourites and known for their miscellaneous collections. You’re bound to discover some hidden treasures here.
  • The Knight Vintage Stall in Cardiff Market might not be a charity shop but it’s a must-visit for vintage fashion lovers. Find unique and stylish pieces that will make your wardrobe stand out.

Explore, enjoy and make memories

Cardiff has something for everyone, from cultural landmarks and quirky venues to delicious food and budget-friendly activities. As you start your student journey in this fantastic city, blue self storage would like to say a big HELLO and welcome you to our hometown.

Have a fantastic year, Cardiff students of 2023!

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