Cardiff is a bustling and compact city that offers the best of cosmopolitan living while only being a stones throw from beautiful coastline and countryside.

Welsh capital, Cardiff has undergone a series of regeneration projects in recent years. Redevelopment around the old docks has reinvigorated the city and, thanks to its close proximity to the Vale of Glamorgan and the coast, both the open countryside and seaside are within easy reach too.

Living in Cardiff: what to expect

Cardiff (or Caerdydd in Welsh) combines a cosmopolitan and intimate energy. The city was voted one of the top three European capital cities in a 2016 EU survey and yet it’s still compact enough to cycle across in 20 minutes.

There’s also lots of green space on offer in Cardiff (thanks in part to its official status as UK’s wettest city according to the Met Office).

Cardiff University is considered one of the best research universities in the UK; it has around 30,000 students at its campuses each year.

Cosmopolitan Porth Teigr, Cardiff Bay is now home to several independent television production companies and the BBC Cymru Wales drama studios. In fact, it’s become something of a favourite among media freelancers who’ve been priced out of London (current average property values stand at £232,000 according to Zoopla) but are still after the buzz of a capital city.

The Pierhead Building in Cardiff Bay at dusk

Where to start your property search

Central Cardiff: Young professionals might try Cardiff’s leafy suburb of Pontcanna – which featured in The Sunday Times’ Top 30 most fashionable places to live rankings. Local celebrities, sportsmen and women and media types enjoy the café-bars, bistros and exclusive Cameo Club. The area is also a haven for foodies.

Canton – home to both Thompson’s Park and Victoria Park – also has a diverse and bohemian feel. Besides traditional houses, look out for newer developments such as Maes Yr Annedd, between the parks. The railway stations of Waun-Gron Park and Ninian Park are within a mile’s walk.

Waterside developments around Victoria Wharf and Prospect Place, which overlook the marinas and the River Ely, are also popular with young professionals.

Families might favour Penylan, Radyr, Heath and Llanishenm, all areas renowned for their choice of good schools.

If you are an investor looking to rent your home out to Cardiff’s student contingent, try areas including Cathays (pronounced Cat-hays) and Roath. As well as being close to the university, they are within easy reach of parks and the main train station.

Wellfield Road in Roath has a good mix of independent businesses, coffee shops, takeaways and places to eat, such as Juno Lounge, that sit alongside chains such as Caffè Nero.

Further out: South of Cardiff, the coastal town of Penarth has its own pier fronted by an art deco pavilion cinema and café-bar where you can drink in the views of the cliffs and beach.

The town is a mix of desirable Victorian houses – such as those in leafy Plymouth Road – waterside apartments with views of yachts in Penarth Marina, and townhouses overlooking Cardiff Bay. Pont y Werin (the People’s Bridge) offers pedestrians and cyclists a direct route over the River Ely between the town and Cardiff International Sports Village.

Slightly further out again is the market town of Cowbridge along the main A48 road – it holds an annual food and drink festival and has a traditional community feel.

A view of Cardiff Bay

Getting around and about Cardiff

By rail: There are four main stations in Cardiff; Central, Queen Street, Cardiff Bay and Cathays, plus Cardiff International Airport. Smaller stations, known as the Valley Lines, serve outer suburbs, towns and villages.

Cardiff to Bristol Temple Meads takes 50 minutes; Cardiff to London Paddington around two hours.

By road: The main road through Cardiff is the A48. It links to the M4 motorway connecting South Wales to London and to the M5 up to Birmingham.

By air: Cardiff International Airport is about 11 miles south-west of the city and offers 50 direct flights to such places as Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Belfast in just over an hour – and onward connecting flights worldwide.

By water: Regular waterbuses run between Penarth and Cardiff Bay Barrage and Pier Head, Cardiff Bay, close to Mermaid Quay. Journeys take around 15 minutes.

A new housing development in Cardiff

Things to do in Cardiff

Explore the 56 hectares of Bute Park, which has an urban arboretum, woodland and river corridor, and hosts Glamorgan County Cricket Club and cultural events, such as the Royal Horticultural Society flower show. Sign up for one of the many tours of Cardiff Castle, which overlooks the park.

The Taff Trail runs from Cardiff Bay to Brecon. Besides being a walking and cycling route it’s a good place for wildlife spotting. And there’s even white-water rafting.

Take a trip to Barry Island to enjoy the famed golden sands at Whitmore Bay, the eastern promenade (complete with newly built colourful beach huts) and the pleasure park with its fun rides and amusement arcades.

Cardiff is considered one of the 10 best shopping destinations in the UK. St David’s shopping centre is an A-Z of well-loved retailers; the neighbouring Victorian and Edwardian arcades are home to independent boutiques and quirky little stores. Visit the impressive Cardiff Indoor Market for a wander among the fresh produce stalls and nip upstairs for a reviving cup of tea.

Check out Chapter, the independent cinema and arts venue in Canton, which shows arthouse films and has a friendly café.

Cardiff waterfront development, including Mermaid Quay, is a must-visit for Dr Who fans. Book tickets for ballet, opera or a musical at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay.

The Principality Stadium (formerly the Millennium Stadium) hosts world-class events, including rugby, football and motorsports.

It’s also a venue for big music concerts. Cardiff Bay International Sports Village is home to the Cardiff International Pool, a water activity centre and Cardiff International White Water facility.

A landscaped park in Cardiff

Hidden Cardiff

Children’s author Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff and baptised in the Norwegian Church – now an arts centre and cultural venue. Look out for Roald Dahl Plass, a public place in Cardiff Bay and home to the Senedd Welsh Assembly.

5 reasons to live in Cardiff

  • Big city vibe with small city convenience

  • White water rafting without leaving the city

  • Below national-average house prices

  • Train to London in two hours

  • National pride (listen out for the Welsh national anthem whenever Wales plays at the Principality Stadium)

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