“A walk around town”
So let’s say you get off the train at Cardiff Central, that’s a good start, make your way out of the station towards St Mary’s Street. There’s not a lot of shops on this street (nothing particularly interesting, anyway) BUT there are lots of places to eat and drink on the street. We recommend Brew House for live music and a great night out! Walkabout at the end of the street is a student classic where you will undoubtedly spend many a night. Another watering hole you may enjoy is Popworld – cheesy fun and cheap drinks, what’s not to love?! In terms of food, as you make your way up the street keep your eye out for Kaspas the insane waffle/ice cream house that you will love and some high street favourites such as Zizzis. The Brewery Quarter also lies off this street and is home to yet another Nandos (Can you ever really have too many?), the famous Five Guys and some lively bars.
ST MARY STREET
Feel free to veer sideways into any of the arcades you fancy. You are certain to find some amaaaazing, cool, independent restaurants and shops which you can find more about in our guide to the arcades.
Next, we are going to the castle. You really should have a look around at least once. It’s amazing to see the places people flocked to during black outs during World War One and Two, how the Bute family lived, and the incredible views across Cardiff from the top of the castle.
If you turn left at the castle (or right, if you were coming out of it after visiting) then in a couple of minutes you’ll find the entrance to Bute Park on your right hand side. Take a stroll through this gorgeous leafy park and let the buzz of the city fade away. If you were to continue walking through you’ll reach the striking City Hall. From here, Cathays (the student hub of Cardiff) is only a ten minute walk away.
Now, let’s just rewind as if you’ve turned right at the castle (or left out of the castle). You’ll eventually reach the main high street AKA Queen Street. This street is all about the shops and you’ll find your Topshop, Zara, River Island, Next, LUSH etc. It’s becoming less of a big deal now that you can get everything inside St Davids 2 (we’ll get there soon, don’t you worry) but it’s still a main street. Some of the side streets coming off of Queen Street are awesome and you’ll find Live Lounge and Mission Burrito, Henry’s, Buffalo cocktail bar, and Pulse and WOW (both gay bars, and VERY fun –find them on Churchill Way at the bottom of Queen Street near Capitol Centre).
The shopping centres are also reachable from Queen Street. There are 3 distinct shopping centres (St Davids, St Davids 2 and Queens Arcade) but they all converge into one massive undercover shopping centre. Queens Arcade, unfortunately offers quite little these days as St Davids 2 has become the main deal. However, you’ll still find a lush Millie’s Cookies, New Look and the best Milkshake shop (Shake Shack on the lower floor near the Post Office) in Cardiff!
St Davids Shopping centre is next, where you find M&S, Debenhams, Primark and Boots. Most of these are also accessible from the High Street. You should eventually find yourself in the relatively new St Davids 2. Which is just wow. Every shop you could want, an insane food court with food for all budgets and both fast food and restaurants, and even a crazy golf course. Some shops of note include The Body Shop, Krispy Kreme, Sports Direct, Hamley’s, Hollister, Victoria’s Secret, the BIGGEST H&M, Pandora, and John Lewis. Some of the restaurants you’ll find are TGI Fridays, Nandos, Chiquitos, Yo! Sushi and Patisserie Valerie. See? EVERYTHING!
So we kind of did St Davids 2 a bit backwards because now we’re going to come out of the main entrance and near to where we started. (There is a method to the madness). You’ll find yourself in The Hayes, and near to Caroline Street (AKA Chippy Lane) and the bars of Mill Lane. On The Hayes you’ll find a little cluster of food stalls – don’t overlook these, we promise you that would be the biggest mistake! You’ll also find Urban Outfitters, Jack Wills and TK Maxx, as well as the entrance to Morgan Arcade. Just right of the entrance sits Cardiff Market which is a Victorian market and has a tonne of fantastic stalls selling everything from records, to fresh fish to baked goods. But back to the Hayes and Mill Lane. On your way up Mill Lane you’ll pass the likes of Bill’s (a very popular restaurant famed for its breakfasts), Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Las Iguanas. At the top of Mill Lane, just on the corner is where you find the bars; 10 Mill Lane, Retros Peppermint, Mocka and Soda, to name a few. This is a fun place to have a cocktail to round off a long day shopping and exploring Cardiff. You’re also right next to St Mary’s Street where we started, so in the right place to get the train back to Cathays!
In comparison to some UK cities, Cardiff is small city but it’s got everything you will need. It’s growing increasingly popular, meaning many businesses and brands are opening their first doors outside of London in Cardiff. The accessibility of the city as a student means you can save masses of pennies on travel and, finally, day to day expenditure, even getting a coffee, is cheaper than larger UK cities.
If you’re visiting and you’re not sure where to eat, I’d really recommend going independent. This might sound weird but it”s a way of connecting with Cardiff and embracing it’s culture. You don’t get that with Nandos. We’ve rounded up our favourite places to eat in town, which are all less than a ten minute walk from the main shopping areas and parking.
Written by Teri Howells, 10 months ago
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