Cathays. Cardiff is a student city, with the young things of our five universities forming a fifth of the total population. And most of them live in Cathays. As of 2012, Cathays was the most student-saturated area in the entire UK. But don’t write it off as being completely uncultured quite yet. Complimenting the anticipated range of pubs, bars and fast food outlets, as well as a few libraries and study resources, Cathays also has Sherman Theatre, an impressive auditorium giving many the platform to shine, from amateur dramatics to big-scale politics; a number of independent eateries, mostly on Crwys Road, including The Gutsy Goose; Tuckers and Stag Coffee; and pretty outdoor spaces – the fringes of Bute Park; Alexandra Gardens and Gorsedd Gardens, just underneath the distinguished figure of our capital’s City Hall.
Maindy. Lying between Cathays and Penylan is Maindy, bringing you the chance to revel in Cardiff’s lovely open spaces. Its central location means these are easy to access, and, proving Maindy is a hotspot for the sports fans among us, you’ll also find one of the biggest supporters of the Active Cardiff scheme – Maindy Leisure Centre. Previously known as Maindy Stadium, it now includes a pool, cycle track, gym and spectrum of classes to get the heart pumping. And Maindy has barracks and a further cycling club – so probably not the best for those of a coach potato mentality.
Plasnewydd. A quirky, creative hive, Plasnewydd often joins forces with Roath to create somewhere dazzling and exciting, no matter what that often-gloomy Welsh weather brings. Being sandwiched by Cyncoed; Penylan; Adamsdown and Cathays as well as Roath means there’s always a bubbling team spirit in Plasnynewdd – and the Community Hall; lower section of the winding City Road, Cardiff’s best-kept secret when it comes to unifying the flavours of the world; Shelly Gardens, which celebrates eco living and food festivals; and Mackintosh Centre, which often has independent street food and crafts vendors, do little to dispel this.
Riverside. If you’re in Riverside, you should take a moment (or whole afternoon) to soak up the views the Millennium Stadium so kindly provides. The back of the building is best for this – the river views make you feel you could (almost) be in Amsterdam, and when it’s not heaving with rugby or music fans, the stadium’s architecture somehow looks all the more stunning. An integral element of the Riverside experience is Riverside Farmer’s Markets. Now so successful they’ve expanded into the other Rs, Rhiwbina and Roath, head to RCMA on Fitzhamon Embankment each Sunday, 10am-2pm, to set yourself up for the week through the medium of top-quality Welsh produce. Stallholders specialise in everything under the sun, which whittled down includes fresh vegetables; Pembrokeshire beef; vegan products; wine; artisan breads and even cronuts, croissant/donut blends from Cup and Cake Bakery, in exciting flavours like Crème Patisserie and Salted Caramel/Pistachio. You really can’t go wrong when supporting local businesses and enjoying delicious foods (and drinks!)