It’s the start of term, you’ve barely just got to grips with your uni halls, and now it’s time to venture out into the rest of the city. Luckily, Buzz has the perfect guide for you to get to grips with your new home!
Words by Charlie Cottrell, Alys Hewitt, Sarah Davies, Emily D’Souza and Megan Thomas
Illustrations by Daisy Dewell
BARS & CLUBS
The definitive nights out
Buffalo has made a name for itself hosting some of the most well-attended student nights in the city. Weekly hip-hop event Bump & Grind is their tour de force: with resident DJs spinning an infectious mix of old and nu-skool, expect a funky mash-up of Kendrick, Missy Elliott, Kanye and Craig David at a party where you can’t help but dance amongst Cardiff’s finest groovers in Buffalo’s intimate upstairs event space.
Windsor Place, Cardiff. Info: 029 2031 0312 / www.buffalocardiff.co.uk
Tucked away in one of Cardiff’s many crevices, the brightly-painted Gwdihw is a diamond waiting to be discovered. A small events space and cosy outdoor area make it a perfect space for the intimate parties that this café/bar regularly hosts. Ranging from funk and soul to Italo disco, Gwdihw nights are a great alternative to some of the larger, pop-oriented events that are peppered around Cardiff, with DJs often spinning dusty vinyl and locals throwing all kinds of shapes to some incredible old school funk and soul tracks.
Guildford Crescent, Cardiff. Info: 029 2039 7933 / www.gwdihw.co.uk
If Radio 1, Love Island and vodka lemonades are your deal, Glam is the place for you. Providing a variety of glitzy nights throughout the week, Glam’s impressive, multi-floor clubbing space continues to draw in huge crowds, plugging itself as “a celebrity hotspot and playground for the city’s elite.” If Cardiff has an elite. In addition to their weekly events, Glam provide one-offs to celebrate some of the biggest names in music; The Great British Drake Off hits the club at the end of September.
Greyfriars Road, Cardiff. Info: www.glamcardiff.com
CARDIFF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS UNION
With their events spanning the electronic spectrum throughout the year, Cardiff Students Union club nights sees locals and students flock to the venue to witness some of the world’s biggest DJs get behind the decks. Having brought the likes of Mall Grab, Peggy Gou and Denis Sulta across the bridge in the previous academic year, the next series of bookings is set to be huge, with some highly talented resident DJs forming the remainder of the line-ups on these hugely popular outings.
Park Place, Cardiff. Info: www.cardiffstudents.com
CLWB IFOR BACH
Cardiff’s premium gig venue has been hosting some of the world’s finest bands for decades. Established in 1983, Clwb has consistently played host to an eclectic mix of renowned live acts, as well as hosting some of Cardiff’s most popular club nights. Whether it’s a gig or a night out you’re after, Clwb Ifor Bach has you covered; a consistent steam of live music goes on there throughout the year, and their big Saturday club night Dirty Pop offers three different dancefloors. Get on your dancin’ shoes – there’s indie rock and nu-wave aplenty, along with a smattering of sassy disco.
Womanby Street, Cardiff. Info: 029 2023 2199 / www.clwb.net
Popworld retains a reputation for being the cheesy heart of both Cardiff’s and Swansea’s club scene. Think a dancefloor lit up with a rainbow of lights, think Abba, think cheap drinks and a whole lot of singalongs. With a party atmosphere that caters for the old and young, Popworld leaves the phrase ‘guilty pleasure’ at the door. An endless list of drink deals and retro bangers provide a throwback vibe that dancing queens will go wild for.
St Mary Street, Cardiff and Wind Street, Swansea. Info: www.popworldparty.co.uk
For the student on a budget, Jack Murphys is a great way to start your night in Swansea, and for anyone more into old-school rock from the 90s, this Irish-themed bar has plenty of space to have a dance, or just relax and have a couple of drinks.
Wind Street, Swansea. Info: facebook.com/jackmurphysrocks
If you’re not too fussy with music and like to change it up, Sin City offers a range of music genres: from indie to metal, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Live bands are also common, with some big names such as Mallory Knox due to play in the club in autumn. With themed nights on the cards, seize the chance to dress up and spend the night in another era.
Dillwyn Street, Swansea. Info: 01792 468892 / www.sincityclub.co.uk
Across the street from Idols, this beach-themed club will take you to your holidays for the night! Enjoy chart hits, r’n’b, live music, bands and resident DJs, and with package deals available for booking, spend your night on one of the rooftop terraces, or challenge your friends on the karaoke machine! Just be careful not to disappear in their Bermuda nights on Mondays.
Wind Street, Swansea Info: 01792 651651 / www.bambu-bar.co.uk
On the other side of Wind Street, this club is a great place to end your night. With a selection of rooms to suit your music taste, it also isn’t uncommon to find reality TV celebrities doing guest appearances here, so if you can’t tell your fiction from fact when watching Love Island this will work for you. There’s plenty of deals for students here, such as Quid’s In, offering discounted entry fees, as well as cheap deals on drinks.
Little Wind Street, Swansea. Info: 01792 828777 / www.fictionclub.co.uk/swansea
LE PUBLIC SPACE
Newport’s very own thriving and vibrant arts space, the bar-meets-venue hosts regular gig and comedy nights, film screenings, workshops – you name it. The venue prides itself on its warm and welcoming community spirit and commitment to showering the people of Newport in creativity, diversity and excellent independent bands. Its rebirth on the high street after moving home last year has seen it go from strength to strength.
High Street, Newport. Info: 01633 221477 / lepublicspace.co.uk
You may have visited Tiny Rebel’s Cardiff branch, but Newport happens to be the location where it all began. Not too far from where their brewery is located on the outskirts of the city, stands their Newport bar. Expect a choice of craft beers that cater to a range of tastes, tasty food and regular events, such as quiz nights and one-off gigs. Grab a pint or three and enjoy the atmosphere.
High Street, Newport / Rogerstone Industrial Estate, Newport / Womanby Street, Cardiff. Info: 01633 973934 / tinyrebel.co.uk
CLWB Y BONT
Established in 1983, Clwb y Bont has had an extensive history as one of Pontypridd’s focal cultural venues, with a strong commitment to Welsh language and identity at its core. The venue puts events on regularly, offering everything from live music to film and quiz nights, as well as a space to drink and socialise.
Taff Street, Pontypridd. Info: 01443 491424 / clwbybontblog.wordpress.com
THE PARROT/TANGLED PARROT
Bottle shop/café/bar/record shop hybrid by day, events and music venue by night offering a combination of comedy, music and special events, The Parrot is your one-stop shop in Carmarthen for all things with a creative and independent edge. Many of the bands put on by the venue are homegrown, which means it’s a fitting place to discover local up-and-coming talent amongst a lively young crowd, whilst upstairs record store Tangled Parrot is ideal for cratedigging.
King Street, Carmarthen. Info: 01267 220282 / www.theparrot.cymru
Soak up Welsh history
CHAPTER ARTS CENTRE
Chapter is a hub for all things art – workshops, events, cinema showings, plays and live music. It’s also a cool place to hang out, with and an ever-changing gallery in the bar itself. Certainly for any aspiring cinephile, this is the place to be as it’s the only place in Cardiff which regularly screens independent, international and classic films. For students too, it can be as little as £3 a ticket, and with a membership card you can rack up freebies.
Market Road, Canton, Cardiff. Info: 029 2030 4400 / www.chapter.org
WALES MILLENIUM CENTRE
The Wales Millennium Centre, situated in the heart of Cardiff Bay, is one of Cardiff’s most iconic buildings, with the huge curving sweep of its roof an essential part of the skyline. It’s the main stopping-off point for West End hits on tour, from Hairspray to War Horse. There are two smaller venues within the building, offering spaces for more intimate performances, as well as workshops and family events, and a restaurant to boot.
Bute Place, Cardiff Bay. Info: 029 2063 6464 / www.wmc.org.uk
NATIONAL MUSEUM CARDIFF
A great preservation of Welsh culture, with free entry (a massive bonus), you can spend hours here losing yourself in art galleries, fossil and jewel exhibitions, a giant mammoth, a dinosaur and laughing hyenas. They also have tonnes of art workshops, and throughout the year, a changing cast of exhibitions – the current stars including Kizuna, an exhibition of Japanese design, and Women In Focus, on the work of women behind the camera.
Cathays Park, Cardiff. Info: 029 2057 3500 / museum.wales/cardiff
Often housing Cardiff’s Christmas Pantomimes, the New Theatre offers a huge variety of the best shows and plays to see. Opened in 1906, it might not be very new anymore, but it does offer a beautiful baroque auditorium, and its boards have been graced with some of the biggest names of the stage over the years. There’s plenty of cheap options for students too.
Park Place, Cardiff. Info: 029 2087 8889 / www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk
NORWEIGIAN CHURCH ARTS CENTRE
The Norwegian Church might look small, but it’s one of Cardiff’s most interesting spaces, with a café and a performance space all tucked inside this former Lutheran ministry. Most famously, Cardiff native Roald Dahl was baptised here, and the beauty of the Bay is a great place to get yourself inspired.
Harbour Drive, Cardiff Bay. Info: 029 2087 7959 / www.norwegianchurchcardiff.com
One of Cardiff’s biggest historical landmarks, although much of it was built in the 19th century by the medieval-mad 3rd Marquess of Bute, who also built Castell Coch, in a fascinating example of Victorian obsession with the past mingling into our own present. The venue’s life is not only historical/educational – they host Halloween film screenings, an outdoor cinema, and lots of summer concerts, with the likes of Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers and Catfish and the Bottlemen filling the air.
Castle St, Cardiff. Info: 029 2087 8100 / www.cardiffcastle.com
DYLAN THOMAS’ BIRTHPLACE
One of the most famous Welsh poets’ childhood home is open for the public to see and it’s a great place to start learning about the history of Swansea. Dylan Thomas was born in Cwmdonkin Drive in the Uplands in 1914, where he lived until his 20s. The house has been fully restored to its original state, and you can book a tour, plan an overnight stay, or just have dinner in the same building that Thomas first discovered his impeccable writing talent.
Cwmdonkin Drive, Uplands, Swansea. Info: 01792 472555 / www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com
GLYNN VIVIAN ART GALLERY
Hoping to make an impact on future generations in Swansea, this gallery conjoins past and present forms of art to engage as much of the public as possible. With growing participation, the museum intends to raise the profile of Swansea and make a difference to the minority groups living in the community. With all kinds of exhibitions being displayed at Glynn Vivian Art Gallery – including an event in memory of Richard Glynn Vivian, who founded the museum in 1911 – there is plenty to learn.
Alexandra Road, Swansea. Info: 01792 516900 / www.swansea.gov.uk/glynnvivian
Sitting in Mumbles town since the 12th century, Oystermouth Castle is one of Gower’s flagship castles, overlooking Swansea Bay. Listen to the famous stories surrounding the history of Oystermouth Castle, from dragons and fairy tales to life in medieval Wales. Recent conservation works at the castle has allowed more access for the public, during which more rooms and chambers were uncovered ready to be explored.
Castle Avenue, Mumbles, Swansea. Info: 01792 636000 (civic centre) / www.swansea.gov.uk/oystermouthcastle
NATIONAL WATERFRONT MUSEUM
If you’re a history buff and want to learn more about the past of Swansea, the National Waterfront Museum will teach you all you need to know, from the ports of Wales to the truth behind the tales of pirates. If you’d rather learn about something in more depth, there are plenty of events and talks where you can really get the most out of what the museum has to offer.
Oystermouth Road, Swansea. Info: 0300 1112333 / museum.wales/swansea
A bite to eat.
One of the finest breakfast spots in Cathays, the Early Bird welcomes you with a sunshine-yellow exterior and the inviting aroma of their freshly baked loaves of bread. It’s the perfect location for a hearty hungover brunch, offering a variety of creative and delicious options that go beyond just a traditional full English, with many components (such as their baked beans) made from scratch. Vegetarians and vegans are also well catered for. It’s a pretty small space that also happens to be very popular, so expect a wait when you get there, but it’s very much worth it.
Woodville Road, Cardiff. Info: 029 2132 0520 / earlybirdbakery.co.uk
Opened relatively recently at the edge of one of Cardiff’s arcades, the aptly named Corner Coffee is committed to delivering a quality antidote to the caffeine fix we all crave from time to time. With a compact and unfussy interior, their ethos is simple: good, flavoursome coffee. It’s a solid spot for studying, or simply watching the pedestrians of St Mary’s Street meander by whilst nursing a latte or sampling their tasty cakes and sandwiches.
High Street, Cardiff. Info: 029 2132 0400
A coffee shop with a difference, at Big Moose you can enjoy your cuppa in the knowledge that you are making a positive change to the community. The business uses their profits to help the homeless and disadvantaged of Cardiff re-integrate into society by employing them in the café, offering them training and paying their wages. It is an excellent, ethically-minded scheme, and encourages its customers to invest in and support local businesses.
Frederick Street, Cardiff. Info: 07977 585548 / bigmoosecoffeecompany.co
MILK AND SUGAR
An independent business with various locations dotted around the city, Milk And Sugar offers award-winning fare and coffee and a wide scope of fresh food options. The very fact that it is ever-expanding its vision to different corners of Cardiff is testament to its popularity amongst locals and visitors alike, and you will surely find something to enjoy in their extensive menu.
Windsor Place / Greyfriars Road / The Hayes, Cardiff. Info: 029 2132 1920 / milkandsugarplease.com
Situated at the core of student life that is Crwys Road, Stag is exceptionally homely as coffee shops go, full of quirky décor and with a cosy, colourful outdoor area; they even offer blankets if it’s cold out. Recline on one of their leather sofas, sip a hot beverage of your choice and sample the menu, which encompasses both classic staples and more adventurous dishes. Their sandwiches in particular are huge and hearty, generous fillings bookended by chunky slabs of bread – so make sure you’re hungry beforehand.
Crwys Road, Cardiff. Info: stagcoffeecardiff.com
NATA AND CO.
Nata and Co. offers a taste of Portugal in the heart of Cardiff, serving up the likes of freshly made pastries, quiche and cakes. Its speciality is the traditional Pastel de Nata, a bite-sized cinnamon-dusted custard tart which is just as appetising as it sounds. Nata has locations in Splott and Cardiff Bay, but its main location resides just across from the castle, which makes it an ideal place to grab a bite to eat to fuel your city explorations, or enjoy the greenery of the park with a takeaway lunch.
Castle Street, Cardiff. Info: 029 2034 2200 / nataandco.co.uk
Dumballs Road, Cardiff
With a permanent street food section, Depot is a great way to eat globally whilst staying local(ly). There’s a smorgasbord of events going on, from a Drag Brunch, Pizza & Prosecco nights, vegan events, and, well, any party that might feasibly mix food and fun.
St Mary Street / Barrack Lane / Clearwater Way, Cardiff
An affordable variety of burgers which might be slightly pricier than your average fast food joint, but you won’t risk a soggy bap with meat of questionable origin here. With everything locally and ethically sourced, they have a brilliant selection of styles to the point where you’ll want to keep returning to try everything.
City Road, Cardiff
Situated on City Road, which is perhaps the culinary centre of Cardiff (we could easily have made this whole guide out of City Road venues), Milgi is for the plant-based and gluten-free foodies. Offering a vast range of vegan food including a sweet potato and bean burger, tortilla stack, and for lunch – wholefood bowls and soups with a sandwich/salad.
Info: 029 2047 3150 / www.milgicardiff.com
NEW YORK DELI
High Street Arcade, Cardiff
The ultimate sandwich stop with good value for money. seriously, these sandwiches are huge – you’re not going hungry here. Residents can’t get enough of New York Deli, bringing a touch of the USA to Cardiff; High Street Arcade, and its nearby siblings, are the perfect place to explore the coolest places in Cardiff, being the bustling hub of the city’s independent scene.
Info: 029 2038 8388
Newton Road, Mumbles, Swansea Mumbles Coffee is a firm favourite in Swansea, with some of the best cakes and coffee around. Located close to the seafront, this chilled and cosy coffeehouse is perfect if you’re feeling a quiet coffee with some mates near the front.
Square Peg, Gower Road, Swansea / Peg 2, Mumbles Road, Mumbles After the success of the Sketty shop, which opened back in 2015, Square Peg opened a second café in Mumbles in 2017. Priding themselves in running a non-profit business by supporting their own community, through offering apprenticeships and skills to those who need them. Not only that, it’s the first speciality coffee shop in Swansea too.
Brynymor Road, Swansea If you’re vegan and struggle to find a good café in Swansea, Canteen 18 is a great option. For proponents of plant-based dietary living, you won’t have to stress trying to find something that’s suitable for you, because this place has you covered. It also has a takeaway option, so if you don’t have the time to eat in but happen to be passing by, you can still munch away.
Info: 01792 555518 / www.facebook.com/canteen18
Bridge Street, Carmarthen.
Tucked away on one of Carmarthen’s side streets, and with a selection of freshly prepared and pretty affordable dishes on offer, Karm’en Kafe is the ideal lunch spot if you’re exploring what the town has to offer.
Info: 07540 246501 / karmenkafe.com
SECRET GARDEN CAFÉ
Charles Street, Newport.
With its quaint décor, a laidback atmosphere and a varied, modern menu, the Secret Garden café is making itself known within Newport’s food scene. As its name suggests, the space features a walled garden at the back, ideal to sample the range of options on offer during the warmer months.
Info: 01633 223559
North Street, Newport.
Dutchy’s is a jerk shack offering authentic and vibrant Jamaican cuisine, as well as a selection of cocktails to wash it all down. Tasty fare combined with a chilled-out ambience equals a dream way to spend an evening.
Info: 01633 215048 / dutchys.co.uk