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Cardiff Area Guide: Cathays

CathaysCathays is one of the most popular areas for students and young professionals in Cardiff. Located to the south of Heath, east of Roath and north of the city centre, Cathays is in a prime location for students who want easy to access to the universities and all the great things Cardiff has to offer.

Cathays is populated by terraced houses from the Victorian period, most of which are Houses in Multiple Occupation, which means that Cathays is quite a densely populated neighbourhood, so it is full of life, but probably not the best place for people who enjoy a little more peace and quiet.


Cathays was established as a suburb in 1875, prior to that it was farmland on the outskirts of the old Cardiff Castle. It became a suburb due to the development of Cardiff docks in order to accommodate those relocating for work.

While it is now an extremely popular residential area, and it might be difficult to imagine it any other way, the point in which Fairoak Road and Crwys Road meet is actually where the northern limit of medieval Cardiff was located, so evidence still exists of when Cathays was a relatively unoccupied space!

Like several Cardiff neighbourhoods, it’s difficult to know exactly why Cathays is called Cathays. One possibility is that it’s a corruption of Cad Hayes, with cad being the Welsh word for battle, and hayes meaning an open area. Another alternative is that it comes from the Old English for enclosure for wildcats, catt being Old English for wildcat and haga meaning enclosure.

Things to do

Whether you like culture, nightlife or a mixture of both, there’s plenty on offer to the residents of Cathays.

Cardiff museum, image courtesy of ham via Wikimedia CommonsFor all culture lovers, there is the National Museum Cardiff, where you can visit the dinosaurs, learn more about the historical formation of Wales, or even visit a range of ever-changing exhibitions that are sure to be of interest. There is also the Sherman Cymru theatre where you can see a variety of new shows by Welsh scriptwriters, ideal if you’re looking for something new and interesting to try out.

If you like a quick drink then you can pop into The Woodville or the Pen & Wig, or even Cardiff University Student’s Union. You are also a short walk away from the city centre if you really want a big night out!

Cathays is ideal for students because it offers so much and Cardiff University’s main campuses are also on your doorstep! What’s more, despite the urbanisation of Cathays, there is still plenty of green space such as Alexandra Gardens and Gorsedd Gardens.

Where to shop

Living in Cathays means that you’re surrounded by places to do your shopping, including Albany Road, Woodville Road and City Road; these places are perfect for buying food as well as picking up other day-to-day essentials. If you want to splash some cash though, you’re only a short walk from the city centre and everything the shopping centres, main shopping streets and arcades have to offer.

Transport links

Cathays is just a short walk or bike ride from the hustle and bustle of Cardiff city centre, but it is also well supported by transport links if you’re looking to go further afield in Cardiff, or even out of Cardiff.

Cathays train station offers train journeys to Cardiff Queen Street and Cardiff Central on the southern line, or Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd on the northern line.

There are also several bus routes throughout Cathays which can transport you to any Cardiff neighbourhood.

If you are a student, a young professional or just someone who enjoys living in a vibrant and exciting environment, then Cathays is definitely the neighbourhood for you! To find out about other Cardiff neighbourhoods visit our area guides, or contact us to see what rental properties we have available in the Cathays area.

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