Cardiff University

Things to do in Cardiff | Cardiff University

With a campus located in the centre of the city, amongst the elegant Edwardian civic buildings of Cathays Park, Cardiff University puts its students at the heart of the action.The third oldest university institution in Wales, Cardiff University was founded in 1883 as the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire. After changing its name to University College Cardiff in 1972 and merging with the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology in 1988, it finally became Cardiff University in 2004.

The building of the campus you see today began in 1901, when the college was given a five-acre site in Cathays Park. Since then the university has expanded and now contains a variety of architectural styles and ages, from the Gothic Aberdare Hall, built in 1895, to the modern Talybont Halls, built in 1995. With an excellent academic reputation, great connections in the community and one of the biggest student unions in the country, it’s no wonder that more than 30,000 students enrol every year. Want to discover more about what life is like at this university? Check out our guide to Cardiff’s biggest university. And whether you’re visiting a student or attending an open day, you’ll find a Premier Inn hotel nearby, ready to get your stay off to a great start.

Cardiff University

Cardiff University


With over 30,000 students and academics, as well as plenty of visitors each year, the university is always ready to offer a warm welcome. Read about the facilities you’ll find on campus and other important information with our handy visitors guide.

Enrolment week begins at the end of September, before term starts in October. The autumn term ends in January, with a Christmas recess followed by an examination period in January. Spring term starts mid-January and runs until mid-June, with an Easter recess followed by an examination period running from May to June. The university hosts four open days a year, in the spring, summer and autumn. If you have any questions before your visit, you can contact the general enquiries line on 029 2087 4000.

The university is composed of three colleges. The Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Physical Sciences and Engineering colleges are based in the Cathays Park campus which contains several grade I and II listed buildings. The Biomedical and Life Sciences college is at the Heath Park campus where the University Hospital of Wales is located. Want to make the most of the university’s sporting facilities? These are mostly found in the Talybont Halls near Pontcanna Fields, with additional gym facilities near Cathays Park.

With more than 10,000 members, Cardiff University Students' Union is as big as the entertainment it offers. Supporting over 200 student societies and 60 sports clubs, as well as running shops, cafés, Gair Rhydd – the student newspaper - and the studios of Xpress Radio, there’s plenty to keep you busy on campus. Looking for a night out? The union also runs four venues. The Great Hall is the largest venue, while Y Plas is smaller and used for daytime social events and club nights. There’s also the intimate Y Stiwdio venue and a buzzing bar called The Taf.

Cardiff University aims to provide access to all students and visitors. If you have any special requirements, contact Student Support and Wellbeing on 029 2087 4844 before your visit so that any arrangements can be made in advance. The team can also provide you with a map so you can find out the key campus accessibility information and plan your route around the University buildings before you arrive. If you have mobility difficulties, approach the University along Park Place and park in the University's Main Building Car Park for easy access.

Eating and drinking

Located in the heart of the city, you’ll find plenty of food and drink options near the Cardiff University Cathays Park campus.

Whether you’re after a main meal or a quick snack, there’s somewhere on campus ready to fill you up. From Pizza at Ffwrnes to Grilled cheese toasties at Mr Croquewich, get a taste of Cardiff’s pop up food scene outside the Cathays Park main building. Looking for a caffeine hit with your snack? Take a trip to one of the many coffee shops for coffee and tea, as well as sandwiches, pastries and cakes.

If you’re in the mood for a bigger meal, head to one of the university’s campus restaurants. You’ll find these in the Main Building, Trevithick Building and Julian Hodge serving up hearty meals and delicious desserts. To soak up the atmosphere in the Students' Union while you eat, choose from flatbread and hummus at the Magic Wrap, pies and pasties at The Pantry, jacket potatoes and pizzas at The Taf, or healthy salads or burgers with fries at the Y Plas food court. Want to explore the eateries in the surrounding area? Try some gourmet hot dogs at Hogwurst or head to Park House for fine dining in a grand gothic setting.As you’d expect from the biggest Students' Union in the country, there are lots of places to drink on campus.

The union runs four venues, each with their own bar. The Great Hall is the largest venue and Y Stiwdio is the smallest. The Taf is the friendly student local serving cold drinks and food every day of the week. Whether you’re after a glass of juice or a £1.99 pint, you’ll find something to quench your thirst here. As well as a mezzanine balcony, glass roof and state of the art décor, the Y Plas venue has some new bars. So, whether you’re going to a gig or club night, performance or party, you can enjoy a well-stocked bar and plenty of drinks deals at this venue.

If you’re looking for a night out off campus, you’ll discover lots of bars and pubs nearby. In the mood for cocktails? In Park House’s basement you’ll find the Vanilla Rooms, where you can sample any of over 100 cocktails from the award-winning mixologists’ repertoire. Looking for a more casual atmosphere? Take a trip to The Three Rivers for a good selection of drinks, as well as big screen sport and a pool table.

Near Cardiff University

Located in Cardiff’s elegant civic centre, head out of the university and you’ll find lots to see and do right on its doorstep. Wander through Cathays Park and you’ll see tree lined avenues, ornate flower beds and grand Edwardian architecture. Step inside the National Museum Cardiff to explore the nation’s art, natural history and geology collections. Here you can take in hundreds of years of paintings and sculptures, silver and ceramics, or go on a journey through the evolution of Wales. From sitting in front of a creative masterpiece to coming face to face with a woolly mammoth, there are surprises at every turn in this museum.

Our Cardiff City Centre Hotel is a great base for exploring the city, and is just a mile away from the university campus.

Getting to Cardiff University

With a campus in the city centre near plenty of transport options, you’ll have no trouble getting to Cardiff University.

By car
There are limited parking spaces on campus, so if you’re visiting for an open day, why not park and ride? The bus service departs every 15 minutes from just outside the city centre and the journey takes about 20 minutes. You’ll also find plenty of car parks near the campus, including one on Park Place.

By bus
If you’re already in Cardiff city and you want a quick and easy journey to the university, hop on a bus. You’ll find there are plenty of routes that will drop you within walking distance of Cathays Park. Some of the closest bus stops include those serviced by the X4, 6, 21, 36, 51, 53, 86 and 95.

By train
If you’re taking the train to Cardiff Central, you’ll have around a 20-minute walk to the campus. During the morning of open days, you’ll find Student Ambassadors at the station ready to offer directions. Alternatively, hop on a connecting train to Cathays, which will take you to the campus in 6 minutes.

Looking for a hotel in Cardiff?

We have a huge range of fantastic Premier Inn hotels in Glamorgan, South Wales for the discerning business and leisure traveller. If you're jetting into Cardiff on business, check into our airport hotels. For students there are hotels near Cardiff University and a collection of budget hotels for the price conscious. Whichever part of Cardiff you’re planning to visit, there's sure to be a selection of comfortable Premier Inn hotels nearby.