12 alternative things to do in Cardiff

Cardiff; the capital of Wales and a city with an endless list of things to do. And if you’ve chosen Cardiff as your home while you study, you’ll easily come across bars, restaurants and shops to fill your days. But if you’re not a local, it’s easy to miss some of the gems available in this vibrant city.  That’s why we’ve created a list of some of the hidden treasures that may pass you by…

1. Bingo Lingo!

Located in a former warehouse just outside the city centre, you can find all sorts of activities going on at The Depot – everything from Bingo to Opera! One of The Depot’s most popular events is Bingo Lingo. Not your usual game of bingo, this version has music, fun prizes and dancing! It’s great fun and atmosphere but it does get busy, so book your tickets in advance if you don’t want to miss out! Regular street food socials are also held at the venue – with some of the best local food providers showcasing some of their delicious street food.

2. The Doctor Who Experience

Filmed right on your doorstep in Cardiff, Doctor Who has been a family favourite since 1963! If you’re a fan, take a trip to The Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay, where you’ll find the largest collection of costumes, props and sets from the iconic show. But the experience is closing this year so you’ll have to be quick.

3. Chippy Lane

For locals, a night out just isn’t the same without ending up on Caroline Street – also known as Chippy Lane – where you can enjoy a tray of cheesy chips and curry sauce! Located just behind Mill Lane and off St. Mary Street, it’s a must for anyone out in the city at the end of the night!

4. The Victorian Arcades

Step inside St. David’s shopping centre or out onto Queen Street and you’ll find all of the regular high street stores and eateries you’d expect from a city. But take a stroll through the old arcades off St. Mary Street and you’ll find some real treats. Create your own hoagie at New York Deli or sample some super strong cheeses at Madame Fromage.  There are lots of independent retailers selling fabulous gifts, vintage clothing and sweet treats.

5. Fine dining in a prison

Fine dining in a prison? No, we haven’t made a mistake. The Clink is a restaurant located within the grounds of a category B prison in Cardiff. Here you can actually dine on food cooked and served by the inmates who are participating in this scheme. It’s been hugely successful in Cardiff with rave reviews.

6. Wales Millennium Centre

If fine dining is a little outside your budget, maybe some free entertainment ticks the box. The dramatic building of the Wales Millennium Centre is well worth a visit if just for a photo or two. But that’s not all. You’ll also find a timetable of contemporary dance, choirs and orchestral events taking place free of charge inside the foyer. Of course, if your budget allows, upcoming shows in the centre include Wicked, Miss Saigon and Shrek the Musical. And just outside the front doors of the centre is Roald Dahl Plass, where over the summer months there are lots of free events such as the International Food and Drink Festival, the urban beach and music events.

7. Cardiff Castle

If you live or work in Cardiff, entry to Cardiff Castle is free once you provide proof and obtain a “key” to the castle. The castle itself is definitely a must for those visiting or staying in Cardiff. But there is a lot more going on than just the historic scenery such as regular ghost tours; definitely not for the faint hearted.  In the summer, you can enjoy outdoor theatre performances and there’s even an underground cinema showing classic movies throughout the year.

8. The Dead Canary

If you’re looking for somewhere a bit different to grab a cocktail, look no further. The Dead Canary is a “hidden” underground bar and when you find it, look for the bell and ring it for entry. The cocktails are some of the best around and there are often events or live music taking place. We could tell you where it is but that would ruin the fun!

9. Roath Park

Anyone who lives in Cardiff knows Roath Park.  Boasting 130 acres of scenic park land in the city and a 30 acre lake, there’s lots for you to do. Feed the ducks, hire a boat, take a walk or enjoy a picnic on a sunny day. You can even admire unusual plants, terrapins, fish and whistling ducks at the large glasshouse in the park.  And Roath Park isn’t the only park in Cardiff. There are a wealth of other parks including Bute Park, Cefn Onn, Victoria Park and Llandaff Fields.  All well worth a visit to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

10. Treetop Adventure Golf

If the Welsh weather means you can’t enjoy the outdoor sites of Cardiff, why not head to St. David’s shopping centre? Take the lift to the top of the carpark and enjoy a round of mini golf under cover at Treetop Adventure Golf. Choose between the 18 holes on each of the Tropical Trail or the Ancient Explorer course; or if you’re feeling really competitive, give all 36 holes a go. And at the end of the 18 hole course, tackle the bonus 19th hole and you could win a free round! After a game of golf, enjoy a well-earned refreshment at the bar.

11. The Tramshed

A relatively new live music venue to join the Cardiff scene, The Tramshed has already hosted some great live acts, but it’s not all about music. There’s also regular cinema screenings at the venue, as well as gin and rum festivals coming soon too. And when there’s big events such as rugby internationals taking place in Cardiff, head to The Tramshed to soak up the atmosphere and watch the games.

12. Ice Arena Wales and Cardiff International White Water

For those who prefer something active to do, you won’t be short of activities at both Ice Arena Wales and Cardiff International White Water. During the summer, try your hand at white water rafting. The centre is open all year round if you dare to brave the cold in winter. There are plenty of other activities at the centre to keep you busy including paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking.

If water sports isn’t your thing, head across the road to Ice Arena Wales and put your skating skills to the test or sit back and watch the Cardiff Devils in action at a ice hockey match. Just be prepared to wrap up warm, cheer for your team and probably witness a few nasty tackles!

As you can see, Cardiff has so much to offer and we could go on all day but hopefully this has given you enough encouragement to get out there and explore the city. And if you fancy escaping the city and exploring even further afield, it’s very easy to get to stunning coastlines such as Penarth, Barry Island and the Gower. You can even take a trek to the Brecon Beacons for beautiful scenery and waterfalls, and climb the famous Pen Y Fan mountain.

If you’re looking for somewhere to live in Cardiff while you study, we have student accommodation available at Shand House during the summer months and for September. Our staff at Shand House are all local to Cardiff and they love suggesting new places for you to try. Find out more about our student accommodation in Cardiff.

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