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Cardiff student area guide - part 2: City Centre, Heath and Gabalfa

View of Cardiff across Roath towards the city centre

Welcome back to the latest instalment of our guide to student accommodation in Cardiff! Here's a guide to what the City Centre, Heath and Gabalfa areas of Cardiff have to offer - we hope they will help you in choosing the right area of Cardiff to live in. You can also read our guide to Cathays and Roath, and don't forget to search for properties to see what we have to offer!

Heath and Gabalfa (search for properties)

Where is it?

If you head up Whitchurch Road, then you can continue up towards the busy Gabalfa Interchange, or turn right on Allensbank Road towards the Heath Hospital. This area below the dual carriage way is also popular with students, especially medical students, and is also close to the Tal-y-bont halls of residence and sports facilities.

Highlights:

Whitchurch Road offers a decent choice of shops, takeaways and cafes, including Co-op and Sainsburys, plus the Post Office - enough for all the basics without having to head into the city centre.
If you're of a Gothic disposition, or simply like wandering in graveyards, then Cathays Cemetery is both a handy shortcut and an island of peace and greenery among surrounding streets. You're also in easy reach of Roath Lake, which is a great place to go and muck around in boats in the summer, and is one of Cardiff's most pleasant parks all the year round.

Lowlights:

It's a bit more of a trek into the city centre, or down to the Cathays campus of Cardiff University - buses are regular but not always reliable.

Pubs:

Cut across onto North Road, and you can enjoy The North Star pub - good grub and drinks at fairly reasonable prices, and a trendy atmosphere - it was listed as one of The Guardian's Top 10 budget places to eat in Cardiff.
The Heath on the corner of Allensbank Road and Whitchurch Road is a traditional pub, great for a quieter pint, and being further out from the university it's a bit cheaper and there's more of a mix of locals and older folks than some student haunts. It's also a good place to watch sports on the big screen.

Cafés:

There's not the range of coffee shops up here that you have down in the Albany/Wellfield Road area, but there are still some good ones, such as Pretence café bar, a stylish spot up towards the top of Whitchurch Road. (Incidentally, the unassuming newsagents on the corner next door stocks an excellent range of alcohol, with an unexpectedly extensive selection of booze from across the world - check it out!)



City Centre (search for properties)

Where is it?

The clue is in the name!

Highlights:

There's loads going on in Cardiff City Centre - pubs, clubs, shops, theatres, cinemas. All the benefits of being the capital of Wales, within a small city (it's not as big as Bristol, rival city across the Severn). In the city centre, you're close to mainline train services to London and elsewhere, as well as national coaches. Constantly changing and developing, Cardiff City Centre continues to be up and coming.

Lowlights:

There's not as much student accommodation available, and prices are that much higher. The noise and bustle of the city centre, especially on weekends and rugby match days, are not for everyone - St Mary's Street at the weekend is not for the faint-hearted!

Pubs and bars:

Where to begin? The city centre is stuffed with them, so take your pick! But to choose a couple at random, Buffalo on Windsor Place is a bar with loads going on. It hosts everything from live music to quirky events like the Tea Club, which combines speciality tea and takes with DJs playing reggae, funk and dub. There's also the monthly Quiz of Rassilon, a Doctor Who-themed pub quiz that sometimes sees production staff on the show turn up to pit their wits against local fans - no sign of Matt Smith or Steven Moffat though, since they'd probably get mobbed

The Pen and Wig is a traditional pub close to both the university and city centre, and is a popular haunt both for students and professionals. It's got a good beer garden, which is great in summer though often quite crowded.

Cafés:

Again, there's plenty of choice in the city centre. Plenty of big chains, of course, such as Costa and Starbucks - there are 6 Starbucks in Cardiff city centre (one third of all their cafes in Wales!)
But for something with a bit more character, The Plan in Morgan Arcade is a great little café, with good teas and coffees, and nice soups. It's just around the corner from the famous Spillers Records, Cardiff's much-loved independent music shop - who'd have thought that it would outlive HMV?

Stay tuned for more tips and advice, and don't forget to check out our previous posts:

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