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Cardiff Area Guide: Cardiff Bay

Mermaid Quay, image courtesy of Bigiof via FlickrCardiff Bay is one of the most desirable places to live in all of Cardiff, this is thanks to the massive amount of redevelopment that has gone into the area over the last couple of decades. If you've ever visited Cardiff Bay, it's easy to see why people fall in love with the beautiful area.


During the industrial era, what is now known as Cardiff Bay was an exports dock called Tiger Bay. Tiger Bay actually played a large role in Cardiff’s development; it was here that coal from the South Wales Valleys was exported across the world. This industrial boom paved the way for Cardiff to become the capital city of Wales, while also making the owner of the docks, the Third Marquis of Bute, the richest man in the world at that point!

Tiger Bay became a widely multicultural area, drawing in workers from all across the world including Norway, Ireland, Somalia, Italy and the Caribbean. Unfortunately, production drew to a close following World War Two, and the area was left mostly derelict.

In the 90s, a regeneration project was funded: the Cardiff Barrage. While the idea was controversial at the time, the building of the Barrage is now considered one of the most successful regeneration projects in the UK, and it was this successful idea that has led to Cardiff Bay becoming the thriving area it is today.

Things to do

Not only is Cardiff Bay a beautiful area, it is also filled to the brim with things to do and places to visit, which is impressive as you could probably just spend hours walking around and enjoying the scenery!

If you’re looking for your daily dose of greenery, you can visit the Wetlands reserve where you could potentially spot a whole manner of birds, fish and animals. Alternatively, if you’re looking to get pampered, Cardiff’s own 5* hotel, St David’s Hotel & Spa, is just on your doorstep.

If you’re a big Doctor Who fan (and let’s face it, you have to be if you live in Cardiff), you can visit the Doctor Who Experience, and go on a tour that’s out of this world. You can also visit Ianto’s Shrine, which is a shrine set up after the character Ianto Jones died in Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood. Yeah, Cardiffians love their Doctor Who.

Millennium Centre

If you want a more traditional day out, the Red Dragon Centre is the place to visit, where you can see a movie in the Odeon (home of South Wales’ only IMAX screen), go bowling, or even just get something to eat.

Of course, if you want to experience some culture, you have to visit the Wales Millennium Centre, where you can watch shows, music performances, see art installations and more; having this great structure right outside your door is a definite plus!

There is also the Norwegian Church if you want to visit a piece of Roald Dahl’s history, as well as Techniquest if you’re feeling scientific.

If all of this wasn’t enough, seasonal events often take place in the Bay, including a manmade beach during the summer, and the yearly food festival!

Where to shop

If you enjoy eating out, then Cardiff Bay is a great place for you. A small area in Cardiff Bay called Mermaid Quay has a wide range of restaurants on the bay side so you get great views while you eat. There are also a few niche shops, including one dedicated to selling Welsh cakes which you should definitely visit!

Cardiff Bay residents are also a short walk away from Cardiff Ikea and large Asda and Morrison supermarkets. So, while the range of shops doesn’t quite match Cardiff city centre, it’s still a great place, offering a lot.

Cardiff Bay barrage, image courtesy of ed_webster via FlickrTransport links

Cardiff Bay is a beautiful location, with plenty to see and do, so where does it come short? Certainly not in the transport department. Cardiff Bay has a train station with frequent trains to Cardiff Queen Street station, giving you a quick link to the city centre, the city centre is only a short walk from Cardiff Bay regardless, which is perfect during sunny days.

There are also several bus routes that run through Cardiff Bay to take you around Cardiff, and if you’re feeling special you can also ride a water taxi which will take you to Bute Park.

It’s true, Cardiff Bay is a fantastic place to live!

If you’re looking for a student property you can register with us, and we’ll let you know when your dream property becomes available. To find out more about other Cardiff neighbourhoods visit our area guides page, and contact us if you have any questions about renting a student property in Cardiff.

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