Things to do in Cardiff for students

Three students having coffee in Cardiff

Cardiff is a city that blends historical charm with a vibrant contemporary scene, making it a perfect destination for students from all around the globe. Students at Cardiff are not only part of an academically excellent university but also immerse themselves in the vibrant life of Wales’s capital city.

For those in pursuit of fun things to do in Cardiff, beyond the esteemed halls of Cardiff University, you can learn about the history of Cardiff Castle or experience the local sports scene at a Cardiff City Football Club match.

In this blog post, we’ll take you through everything you’ll want to see and do in Cardiff, no matter your interests. We’ll run through:

  • What you can expect from Cardiff University
  • The city’s museums and parks
  • The best places to eat and drink
  • Where to visit for entertainment and sports

So, if you're wondering what to do in Cardiff, get ready to explore everything on offer in a city that promises a memorable experience for every student and visitor.

Academic excellence

Cardiff University is a prestigious institution with a story dating back to 1883. Renowned for its commitment to research-led teaching, the University is a hub for nurturing innovation and intellectual growth. And the opportunity to study at Cardiff University is more than just an academic journey. It's about being part of a city where fun things to do in Cardiff are an integral part of your educational experience.

At Cardiff, the pursuit of knowledge goes hand in hand with personal and cultural exploration. Within the University, the Students’ Union offers plenty of opportunities to meet like-minded people. The University libraries, Centre for Student Life, and other buildings are all in the city centre, so you’ll feel welcomed into both the city and the University from day one.

Students here not only leave with a degree but also with a wealth of experiences and memories; student life here is truly special.

Lafan from Qatar, studying BA Media and Communications at Cardiff University, describes their experience: “I think the one word I would use to describe Cardiff is 'special'. The first thing is Welsh people are absolutely friendly. They are very warm. You never feel different to anyone, even though there are of course things that make us different to other people.”

Dive into cultural exploration

Cardiff is a hub of historical and artistic attractions. And by stepping outside the city boundaries, you're greeted with the stunning landscapes of Wales – from rolling mountains to serene beaches.

Whether you're looking for fun things to do in Cardiff or a peaceful space to unwind, this blend of urban and natural beauty makes Cardiff a unique place for students to explore. Sites you won’t want to miss include:

  • Cardiff Castle: At the city’s heart lies Cardiff Castle, a historical fortress with over 2,000 years of history. Students can explore its intricate architecture, learn about its storied past, and attend events and exhibitions that bring history to life.
  • St. Fagans National Museum of History: This open-air museum is one of Europe's leading folk museums. Wander through re-erected historical buildings, watch craftsmen at work, and immerse yourself in the traditions of Welsh culture as you explore life in Wales through the ages.
  • National Museum Cardiff: This museum houses an impressive collection of art, natural history, and archaeology. From Welsh artists to international masterpieces, the museum offers truly diverse exhibits that will appeal to a wide range of interests.
  • Bute Park: Just a stone's throw from Cardiff Castle, Bute Park is a perfect spot for relaxation. The park boasts a vast tree collection, natural play areas, and beautiful horticultural displays. It's a serene escape from the bustling city life, ideal for picnics, jogging, or a leisurely walk.

Eateries and delights

From international cuisines to traditional British fare, Cardiff's eateries provide a delightful experience for students looking to explore new flavours or enjoy a taste of home. The city’s dining destinations are undoubtedly some of the top things to do in Cardiff – here are some of our favourites:

  • The Three Mughals: Indulge in the authentic and aromatic flavours of Mughlai cuisine. From rich curries to fragrant biryanis, The Three Mughals serves dishes that make it a must-visit for lovers of Indian food.
  • Turtle Bay Cardiff: For a vibrant Caribbean experience, Turtle Bay is the place to be. Its lively atmosphere, coupled with a menu bursting with delicious dishes like jerk chicken and spicy goat curry, make it the perfect spot for students to enjoy a tropical escape.
  • Five Guys Cardiff City Centre: American cuisine takes centre stage at Five Guys, where burger enthusiasts can customise gourmet burgers. It's a popular choice for a casual but delicious meal.
  • Bill's Cardiff Central Restaurant: Blending rustic charm with modern British cuisine, Bill's offers everything from a hearty breakfast to an evening meal.
  • Cosy Club: True to its name, Cosy Club provides a warm – and eclectic! – dining experience. Set in a beautifully restored historic building, it offers a diverse menu with global culinary influences.
  • Café Rouge - Cardiff St Davids II: This charming café brings a touch of French cuisine to Cardiff. It's a great spot for enjoying a relaxed coffee, a light lunch, or a delicious dinner in a stylish setting.

Entertainment and sport

Some of the top things to do in Cardiff include taking in the excitement of local sports games or immersing yourself in the city’s performing arts scene. Whether you're a sports fanatic, never miss seeing a movie, or consider yourself a theatre enthusiast, Cardiff’s vibrant entertainment and sports options cater to every interest. Here are some of our top picks:

  • The Red Dragon Centre: Situated in the bustling Cardiff Bay, at this entertainment venue you can catch the latest movies, enjoy a fun bowling session, or dine in a variety of restaurants.
  • Wales Millennium Centre: With its diverse array of performances ranging from opera and ballet to musicals and contemporary theatre, this iconic venue offers students a chance to experience world-class artistic expression.
  • Escape Reality Cardiff: For those who love a challenge, Escape Reality Cardiff offers an exhilarating escape room experience.
  • Cardiff City Stadium: As the home of Cardiff City Football Club, this stadium is a pilgrimage site for football enthusiasts.
  • Mermaid Quay: This charming waterfront area in Cardiff Bay offers a mix of boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants. It's a picturesque spot for leisurely walks, shopping, and enjoying meals with a view.
  • Utilita Arena Cardiff: This arena is known for hosting a wide range of events, from concerts to comedy shows and sporting events.
  • Cardiff Devils: For an alternative sporting experience, the Cardiff Devils offer thrilling ice hockey matches at the Ice Arena Wales.

Study at Cardiff University

Cardiff University stands out as an exceptional choice for students worldwide. Academically, the University is renowned for its research impact, ranking 11th in the UK (Research Excellence Framework, 2021) and 25th in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

Studying at Cardiff University means more than just gaining a degree; it's about experiencing everything the city has to offer. From its rich history to the fun things to do in Cardiff, students can enjoy a well-rounded life. The fact that 20% of Cardiff’s population are students creates a safe, friendly atmosphere that's welcoming to newcomers. Plus, the University's Students' Union was named the 2nd best in the UK in the WhatUni Student Choice Awards 2023, reflecting its commitment to student welfare and engagement.

Cardiff also ranked second in the NatWest Student Living Index 2023 for monthly rental costs among UK university cities, making it an economically sensible choice for students.  

For international students looking to join Cardiff University, the process is straightforward and supportive. Prospective students can explore a range of programmes. You’ll also want to make sure you understand the entry requirements, learn about fees, and take a look at the relevant information on visa requirements.


Is Cardiff worth visiting?

  • Absolutely! Visiting Cardiff is a fantastic choice for anyone interested in a place where the charm of tradition coexists with modern amenities. Whether you're drawn to its historical landmarks or the lively arts and entertainment scene, there’s a huge variety of things to do in Cardiff.

Why is Cardiff so popular?

  • Cardiff's appeal lies in its stunning array of iconic landmarks and diverse cultural attractions, alongside the presence of thriving academic institutions. It's a city that not only captivates the hearts of its residents but also enchants visitors, with fun things to do in Cardiff ranging from historical sites to contemporary entertainment hubs.

Is Cardiff a friendly place?

  • One of Cardiff's most endearing qualities is its friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The city is known for its approachable locals, who are often more than willing to help visitors. Whether you're exploring the best things to do in Cardiff or simply soaking in the city's ambience, you'll find a warm community eager to make your experience memorable.