In this guide, I will help you to find Where to stay in Cardiff, the best areas to stay in Cardiff for visitors (with a video and map) and the best hotels in Cardiff for all budgets (including the hotel where I stayed).
If you are traveling to the UK, the Welsh capital, Cardiff, should definitely be on your list of places to visit. Home to the iconic Cardiff Castle, the city is a hot spot for anyone interested in the history and culture of Wales.
A rising star amongst tourist cities, investment and rejuvenation projects over the past few decades have driven Cardiff to become an increasingly popular destination with travelers.
Whether you want to spend your trip shopping in the City Centre, trying local street food at the historic Cardiff Market, or taking in the ocean views from Cardiff Bay, everyone will find plenty to keep them entertained in Cardiff.
Where to stay in Cardiff?
The best areas to stay in Cardiff for tourists and first-timers are Cardiff City Centre, Riverside, Butetown, Atlantic Wharf, Newtown, Cardiff Bay, and Roath. These are popular neighborhoods, offering a range of accommodations for all budget travelers.
Cardiff City Centre is the best overall area to stay in Cardiff for tourists, especially for first-time visitors due to its prime location. Staying here allows you located within walking distance to top attractions such as Cardiff Castle and Principality Stadium, many restaurants, bars, and shops.
Cardiff’s nightlife draws revelers from across the UK. The best areas to stay to take advantage of it are the City Centre, for the densest variety, or Newtown and Butetown, for more indie, underground scenes.
If you are staying with family, the area around Cardiff Bay offers a great range of things to see and do to keep visitors of all ages entertained. Riverside has lots of wide-open, green space for kids to work off their energy.
Where did I stay in Cardiff?
When I first visited Cardiff, I stayed for 3 nights at mid-range 4-star Hotel Indigo – Cardiff, an IHG Hotel. It was a modern hotel in a central location with nice decor and comfortable rooms. It was in a quiet area easy access to St David’s Hall and Cardiff Castle.
|💖 Best Area for first-timers:||Cardiff City Centre|
|💎 Best luxury hotel:||The Parkgate Hotel|
|🏨 Best mid-range hotel:||Hotel Indigo – Cardiff, an IHG hotel|
|💰 Best budget hotel:||Sleeperz Hotel Cardiff|
Map of areas and neighborhoods in Cardiff:
🎬 You can watch this short video about the best areas in Cardiff, and continue reading:
The Best areas to stay in Cardiff for tourists are:
1. Cardiff City Centre
Cardiff City Centre is the best overall area to stay in Cardiff for first-time travelers due to its central location. The City Centre has the highest density of hotels, attractions, shopping areas, restaurants, bars, and entertainment options, making it a convenient base for exploring the city.
Staying in Cardiff City Centre allows you to be within walking distance of many popular landmarks such as the Cardiff Castle, Principality Stadium, and the Millennium Centre. It is conveniently located on the bank of the River Taff, south of Cardiff University and Cooper’s Field.
The city center is well-connected to public transportation, including buses and trains, making it easy to explore other parts of Cardiff and even venture out to nearby areas. In the south of the district is the Cardiff Central train station, the main train terminal in the city.
Cardiff Castle is one of the most iconic attractions in all of Wales. From its origins as a Roman fort in the 1st century to its development as a Norman keep in the 11th century, and the final addition of the gothic manor in the Victorian period, the castle has a long and fascinating history.
The Principality Stadium (Millennium Stadium) is home to the Welsh Rugby Union and so is the venue for most major rugby matches in Wales. In addition to rugby, the stadium also hosts a variety of other sporting events as well as concerts.
If you are attending a game or show at the stadium, the City Centre is the most convenient option. However, the area gets very busy around event days, so if you don’t like crowds you may want to check ahead for any big matches or shows around the time of your visit.
Another place of interest is the Coopers Field, which is in the south of the 146-acre historic park Bute Park, a very popular for events and festivals.
Cardiff has a rich cultural scene, and many of its museums, galleries, and theaters are located in or near the City Centre. You can visit the National Museum Cardiff, explore contemporary art at Chapter Arts Centre, or catch a show at the Wales Millennium Centre.
Cardiff city centre is one of the top shopping destinations in the UK. There are plenty of shopping malls, shopping street, and covered markets for shopaholic. Cardiff Central Market has the Victorian glass roof, offering plenty of local produce and freshly cooked food.
Accommodation here caters to all budgets and preferences, with a good mix of affordable and luxury options. There is a good variety of hotels, apartments, and guesthouses here, so you will definitely be able to find a place to stay that suits you.
Stay in City Centre if you are a first-time tourist; Shopping is an important part of your trip; You are traveling to and from Cardiff by train; You are only staying for a short time; You want a good range of nightlife options.
Best Places to Stay in Cardiff City Centre for first-timers:
luxury ($$$): The Parkgate Hotel, 4-star family-friendly hotel, ideal base for first-time visitors, located in the centre of Cardiff, short walk from Principality Stadium. Also easy access to major landmarks such as Cardiff Castle, St David’s Hall and Motorpoint Arena Cardiff.
mid-range ($$): Hotel Indigo – Cardiff, an IHG hotel, great hotel, located in the heart of Cardiff, easy walk from St David’s Hall and Cardiff Castle. The hotel has a terrace and fitness centre, car parking, and a bar.
budget ($): Sleeperz Hotel Cardiff, popular 3-star hotel, one of the best places to stay in Cardiff on a budget, located in the center of Cardiff city, short distance to Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, University of South Wales – Cardiff Campus and Cardiff Castle.
Riverside is an affluent district just northwest of the Cardiff city center, running up the opposite bank of the River Taff, spanning from Canton Railway Sheds north to the Pontcanna and Llandaff fields.
The region offers an escape from the more urban, inner-city districts. Meanwhile, the fashionable cafes and bistros in the wealthy neighborhood of Pontcanna have been known to be frequented by celebrities.
In the 1800’s, there are a few cottages near an ancient farm called Plas Turton (Turton’s Mansion), which was built in late 16th Century. In 1836, The Union Workhouse was opened on Cowbridge Road. In 1941, many houses in Riverside were destroyed during the worst air raid of the war, but Pontcanna escaped with a little damage.
The gardens that run along the banks of the river for the length of the district are popular with local sportspeople. Composed of a variety of open fields, as well as bowling and cricket facilities, the gardens are an ideal place for visitors of all ages to work off some energy.
Further north the gardens open into sprawling fields that make for a lovely walking route along the river. Bridges connect over to the Blackweir fields and woodland trails on the eastern banks.
Along the trails, you can find a number of tea rooms to enjoy a relaxing break, before continuing south back towards Bute Park and the mysterious ancient Gorsedd Stone Circle.
The Wood Street bridge connects the area to the City Centre, meaning you can be at the stadium in just a few minutes.
If you stay in Cardiff on Sunday, be sure to check out the Riverside Farmers’ Market on Fitzhamon Embankment, one of the very best in the UK. You can browse for healthy Welsh food and local fresh producers.
There is also Riverside’s Sophia Gardens where you can find Sports Wales National Centre, Sophia Gardens Cricket Ground, and Cardiff Caravan and Camping Park.
The southern end of the district offers a range of affordable accommodation within a few minutes’ walk of the often pricier and busier Cardiff City Centre. Accommodation along the river offers views directly across the water to the Principality Stadium.
Stay in Riverside if you want a neighborhood with lots of open green space; you are visiting with family and young children; you want to stay close to the Cardiff city center but avoid the crowds; you enjoy walking in nature;
Best Places to Stay in Cardiff Riverside for the first time:
budget ($): Lincoln House Private Hotel, 3-star Victorian town house ideally situated on Cathedral Road (The Chelsea of Cardiff), within easy walking distance of Cardiff city centre. It is one of the best places to stay in Cardiff for couples and adults. It has free parking but limited.
budget ($): In Cardiff – Part trendy boutique hotel, part comfortable cozy guesthouse, this is a superb option for stylish accommodation with a home-away-from-home vibe. Close proximity to Principality Stadium, Cardiff University, and St David’s Shopping Center.
budget ($): Pontcanna Inn is a unique boutique hotel, perfect for those who love socializing with both locals and fellow travelers. The hotel boasts a popular restaurant and bar with a beautiful garden area, decorated with fairy lights and quirky furniture.
3. Butetown and Century Wharf
Located between the River Taff and Lloyd George Ave, Butetown is Cardiff’s multicultural epicenter, full of independent restaurants and shops offering cuisines and products from around the world.
One of the less affluent areas of Cardiff, Butetown has its own distinct vibe of authenticity that derives from being a bustling residential area not geared around the tourist industry.
Accommodation is less plentiful than in the main hubs, but the options are typically more affordable. Those traveling to or from Cardiff by train will appreciate Butetown’s proximity to Cardiff Central train station. The tracks run along the north of the district, separating it from the Cardiff City Centre.
Running up the west length of Butetown is Canal Park, a stretch of inner-city green space, providing residents and visitors a pleasant area to relax. The park has some nice walking routes that lead down into the larger Hamadryad Park in Cardiff Bay.
On the other side of Canal Park is Century Wharf. This modern complex provides residential and tourist accommodation along the banks of the River Taff.
The area is right between the more fashionable areas of the Cardiff City Centre and the east side of Cardiff Bay. This a perfect area to stay in if you want to enjoy the luxuries of the surrounding areas without the higher rates for accommodation.
Stay in Butetown & Century Wharf if you are on a budget; you want to stay near the City Centre or Cardiff Bay but without the higher prices; you are traveling to or from the city by train.
Best places to stay in Cardiff in Butetown:
mid-range ($$): Clayton Hotel Cardiff, 4-star family-friendly hotel, located in Cardiff’s lively centre, within walking distance from Butetown, the Cardiff Castle, St David’s Shopping Centr, and Cardiff Motorpoint Arena.
mid-range ($$): Staybridge Suites – Cardiff, an IHG Hotel, 4-star hotel, featuring a fitness centre, private parking, a shared lounge, luggage storage space. It has rooms for family, solo travelers, group of friends, and couples.
budget ($): Primero Apartments – Cardiff, 3-star accommodation, located in the centre of Cardiff, close to Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, University of South Wales – Cardiff Campus and Cardiff University. Complimentary WiFi is provided and private parking is available on site.
4. Atlantic Wharf and East Moors
To the east of Butetown, around the East Bute Docks, is the Atlantic Wharf area. This area is home to the Cardiff City Council buildings, overlooking the water. Around these buildings are a number of parks and local hospitality, catering to the officials who work here.
In the south is the Red Dragon Shopping and Leisure Centre. Ideal for anyone visiting with family and children, the center contains a variety of restaurants, contemporary shops, and a large cinema.
East of the docks is the East Moors district, a largely residential suburb full of parks, local shops, and cafes. In the southeast corner of the neighborhood, you can access Splott Beach. The sheltered, pebbled cove provides pleasant family-friendly walks right down by the water.
A little ways out of the City Centre Cardiff, Atlantic wharf, and the East Moors are still within a short distance of the more tourist-centric districts.
To the north, the district borders the trendy neighborhood of Newtown, whilst to the south is the affluent east side of Cardiff bay. This is a great place to stay if you want easy access to these areas with a lower cost for accommodation.
Stay in Atlantic Wharf and East Moors if you want to stay near to the City Centre or East Cardiff Bay but are on a budget; you want a quieter, more residential area, away from the tourist crowds; you are traveling with family.
Best places to stay in Cardiff in Atlantic Wharf:
- mid-range ($$): Future Inn Cardiff Bay
- mid-range ($$): Sky Night Serviced Apartments
- budget ($): Quayside Apartments
Newtown was once a purely residential area of inner-city Cardiff, that housed a predominantly Irish population. The area has been repeatedly renovated and is now largely comprised of offices and student accommodation.
However, don’t let that fool you into believing the area is dull. It is now well known to be one of the best quarters in the city for nightlife.
The area’s popularity with the after-dark crowd is, in part, due to its proximity to the city center, bordering some of the clubs and bar-dense streets of the main town. However, Newtown is also popular in its own right as being a center point for the more underground entertainment scene.
At the southeast corner of Newtown, you can find the Magic Roundabout. This art installation by Pierre Vivant is one of the most iconic attractions in Cardiff and consists of a number of geometric sculptures, formed from old road signs, set on an otherwise nondescript roundabout.
Accommodation in the area is mostly situated along the main roads of Adam Street and Tyndall Street. Options range from budget to more luxury hotels.
Stay in Newtown if Nightlife is a priority for your visit; You want to explore Cardiff’s more underground nightlife scene; You want to stay close to the City Centre but avoid the crowds of the main district.
6. Cardiff Bay West
The west side of Cardiff Bay was once an industrialized area of warehouses and dockyards. In recent years it has been heavily renovated into a center for sports and adventurous activities, including facilities built for the 2012 Olympic Games.
This side of the bay is less tourist-centric than the east, so the dining and hospitality on offer is more geared towards the local residents. The perk of this is that rates for both food and accommodation are typically lower.
The south end of the district is taken up by the International Sports Village. The complex houses a wide variety of sporting venues from ice rinks and skate parks to pools and white-water facilities. The less adventurous can enjoy the indoor waterpark with its numerous slides or attend a hockey match at the Viola Arena.
The north is dominated by the sprawling Grangemoor Park, which consists of vast fields intersected with winding paths, leading to the Silent Links art sculpture at the top of the hill.
From here you can take in stunning panoramic views across Cardiff and out over the bay. Bridges over the River Ely connect this part of Cardiff Bay to the nearby town of Penarth.
Stay in Cardiff Bay West if you want a more active vacation, you are traveling with children who enjoy physical activity, you are traveling on a budget and don’t mind staying further from the city center, you are interested in visiting the nearby town of Penarth, you want to visit Wales Millennium Centre.
Best Places to Stay in Cardiff Bay:
luxury ($$$): voco St. David’s Cardiff, an IHG hotel, 5-star hotel, one of the best hotels in Cardiff, ideal base for couples and families who want located right by the water of Cardiff Bay. It has award-winning spa to the up-scal , and on-site restaurant with a waterside terrace and a bar.
mid-range ($$): Quayside Apartment in Cardiff Bay – For guests looking for a more independent experience in the welsh Capital, the Quayside Apartments offer residents everything you will need to live like a local.
budget ($): Holiday Inn Express Cardiff Bay, an IHG hotel offers stylish affordability overlooking the old East Docks of Cardiff Bay. The rooms are chic and comfortable, with spacious bathrooms, flatscreen TVs, and air-conditioning.
7. Cardiff Bay East
This side of the bay has quite an eclectic selection of interesting attractions, to appeal to a range of visitors. The area is full of trendy bars and restaurants, particularly along the waterfront and around the marinas.
Roald Dahl Plaza is a popular spot for fans of the Welsh author, frequently hosting fairs, markets, and open-air concerts. Boat tours are available from companies along the bay.
The Mermaid Quay Shopping Centre is a popular, contemporary commercial hub, right by the water, whilst the Craft in the Bay Maker’s Guild further inland provides the opportunity to pick up some unique souvenirs from local artists.
A large portion of the bay is taken up by the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve. This protected area is designed to preserve the habitats of many species of fish, amphibians, and birds.
Much of the area is off-limits to the public but boardwalks and footpaths provide enjoyable walking routes, along which you can enjoy a close look at the protected wildlife. This area is ideal for visitors with children, as it provides a fun educational day out.
Fans of the BBC may recognize some locations from favorite shows, as the BBC Roath Lock Drama Village film studios are nearby. They are located on Porth Teigr, just across the bridge from the Norwegian Church Art Centre.
Fans of Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood may be interested in visiting Ianto’s Shrine. The memorial, dedicated to the beloved character following his tragic exit from the show, is located near the Mermaid Quay and is comprised of a selection of tributes left by fans and a permanent plaque.
Accommodation near the waterfront can get very pricy, particularly if you want a room with a view overlooking the bay. More budget-friendly options can be found further inland, where you may not get sea views but can still be just a few minutes’ walks from the bay.
Roath is a large residential suburb in the northeast of Cardiff. Containing the Cardiff University Halls of Residence, the area is particularly popular with students. With the students comes a market for trendy cafes, independent shops, and restaurants catering to a varied crowd.
In the west, Roath Park runs along the length of the neighborhood, separating it from neighboring Cathays. The park contains pleasure gardens, a large lake, and the Roath Park Conservatory Botanical Gardens.
In the east of the neighborhood, near to the Rhymney River, is the Howardian Local Nature Reserve. The wild space is full of pretty paths and walking trails, where you can spot a variety of local wildlife. The neighborhood is ideal for anyone who appreciates spending time outdoors.
Being so far out from the main town, Roath may not be the best option for first-time visitors or those visiting for shorter trips. However, you can find some really lovely accommodation here for much better rates than you would expect in the City Centre. The caveat is that you may wind up spending extra on travel to and from the central districts.
Stay in Roath if you want to stay in a quieter, more affordable residential neighborhood; you don’t mind being further out from the City Centre; you are in Cardiff to visit a student living in the university halls.
Where should I stay in Cardiff for the first time?
Cardiff City Centre is the best area to stay in Cardiff for first-timers due to its prime location. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of everything, within easy access to major sights, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.
What are the best areas to stay in Cardiff?
City Centre, Riverside, Butetown & Century Wharf, Atlantic Wharf & East Moors, Newtown, Cardiff Bay, and Roath are the best areas to stay in Cardiff because they are the most popular neighborhoods for tourists that offer a wide range of attractions and amenities.
How many days is enough in Cardiff?
If you’re planning a trip to Cardiff, I’d suggest spending at least 2-3 days there to explore the city’s rich history, culture, and beautiful surroundings. Enjoy your trip!
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In conclusion, Cardiff City Centre, Riverside, Butetown, Atlantic Wharf, Newtown, Cardiff Bay, and Roath are some of the best places to stay in Cardiff for tourists. They offer safe locations with plenty of things to do and see for visitors.
Overall, Cardiff City Centre is the best area to stay in Cardiff for first-timers due to its central location, proximity to major attractions, and excellent connection to transportation. Staying here offers easy access to sights, restaurants, bars, and shops.