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Cardiff student area guide - part 3: Cardiff Bay, Adamsdown, Splott

When it comes to finding student accommodation to rent in Cardiff, most students choose to live in Cathays and Roath, perhaps pushing out into Cardiff city centre, Heath and Gabalfa, but there are other parts of the city that you might want to consider.

Cardiff Bay

cardiff bay

Where is it?

Down past the city centre, in the direction of the sea! There’s a train service from Queen Street to Cardiff Bay that runs every 12 minutes or so, and regular buses. It’s around 30 minutes’ walk from the city centre.


One of Cardiff’s most dynamic and up-and-coming areas, Cardiff Bay has undergone extensive regeneration, with Mermaid Quay waterfront development a popular destination for eating out.

The Wales Millennium Centre (which looks like a bronze armadillo) plays host to a variety of cultural events, while the Red Dragon Centre offers cinema, bowling and more. The Doctor Who Experience has also found its home next to the BBC’s Roath Lock studios, and if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll have fun finding all the locations that they’ve used for filming. If you like your comedy and music, then the Glee Club is a good place for a dose of stand-up and other events.

You can now walk across Cardiff barrage over to Penarth, with views across the Bristol Channel to England (whether you consider that a good view or not, we’ll leave you to decide!)

In terms of accommodation, there are lots of flats available, and rents aren’t necessarily too expensive either.


The new flat developments in the Bay can feel a bit soulless, and there’s a sharp divide between the redeveloped Bay areas and still deprived areas of Tiger Bay just a few streets away.

Also of note is the somewhat disturbing shrine in the Bay to Torchwood character Ianto Jones, who was killed off (the actor, Gareth David-Lloyd is alive and well), which perhaps crosses the line between endearing enthusiast into obsessively creepy!

Pubs and Cafes

Coffee Mania in Mermaid Quay is a great place to go and have a coffee and watch the crowds pass by, and was a favourite of Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies, who would sometimes pen his scripts there.

It’s just across the way from Terra Nova, inspired by the ship Terra Nova which Scott used on his ill-fated expedition to Antarctica. The whole place was purpose-built around the theme, with ship-like interior of dark woods and interesting nautical nick-nacks. It also has a good range of Brains beers and ales – well worth checking out if you’re down in the Bay.

Adamsdown and Splott

Splott, Looking Towards Town

Where are they?

Adamsdown is the fairly narrow area bounded by Newport Road on the top side, and the mainline railway beneath, extending from Cardiff Queen Street station in the west, up to TGI Friday in the retail park in the west.

Splott is the other side of the railway line (which limits your routes for getting in and out of the place) and is more extensive. Splott rhymes with “blot”, though some people pronounce it “Sploe”, to rhyme with “I’m posh or pretentious and want to make it sound more upmarket”.


A less studenty area close to the city centre, Adamsdown includes the University of Glamorgan’s shiny new Atrium campus that houses the Cardiff School of Creative & Cultural Industries. UWIC, or as it’s now called, Cardiff Metropolitan University, has its Howard Gardens Campus, which is part of the Cardiff School of Art and Design, so whether you’re a budding artist or filmmaker, this area is a good place to be!

Adamsdown and Splott are also really handy for Cardiff city centre, with regular buses up and down Newport Road, and close to Cardiff University’s School of Engineering, and to Eastgate House, one of the locations of Cardiff School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies.

Clifton Street offers a variety of shops, places to eat and essential services. Both Adamsdown and Splott are cheaper area to live, so worth considering if you’re on a budget. The well-known Splott Market on Titan Way sells the whole range of market goods from fruit and veg to books and toys on Sunday, with car boot sales on Thursdays and Saturdays.


These contain some of the more run-down areas of Cardiff, but it needs to be taken on a street-by-street basis – make sure you get a feel for anywhere you’re thinking of living at different times of day, and that you’d be comfortable walking home at night.

Have a look at the other areas of Cardiff you can live in with our area guides:

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