Best Cities in the UK: Cardiff
Best Cities in the UK > 20 Best Cities > Cardiff
When you talk about the big cities of the UK, the conversation focuses on England.
London and Manchester are the UK’s most well-known cities. Their influence on music and sport tends to be the centre of discussion. But, while these two are fantastic places in their own right, the UK is hiding other incredible cities within its murky shores.
Wales is known for its countryside and natural landscapes more than it is for its cities. It’s seen by many as a place to escape the city and to get back in touch with nature… and sheep.
It’s easy to see how Wales has got this reputation: Sheep outnumber people in the country by three to one. In 2016, there were 9.81 million sheep and lambs in Wales, compared to 3,026,000 people – that’s how rural it is.
But, while Wales’ countryside forms a large part of its charisma and charm, there is more to this country than rolling valleys and livestock.
The capital of Wales is Cardiff. It’s a vibrant, bouncing and charismatic city. It’s a city with its own character and it’s developing and changing by the day.
But you probably don’t know that, do you?
What makes Cardiff so special?
Cardiff is a hidden gem. What was once a small town until the early 19th century, is now a modern and multi-cultural city.
Cardiff is a port city that sits on the south coast of Wales where the River Taff meets the Severn Estuary. It’s the capital of Wales and the county town of the county of Glamorgan.
A modern city
The city has undergone something of a facelift in recent years. It has been subject to several regeneration projects, in particular around the old docks (more on this later).
Cardiff’s modern appearance is enough to satisfy city slickers, but it also offers the best of both worlds to residents and visitors. It’s located close to the Vale of Glamorgan and the coast, meaning fresh air and a slower way of life are never too far away.
Cardiff’s newfound mixture of city-living and country escape has gone unnoticed. The Welsh capital was voted as one of the top three European capital cities in a 2016 EU survey.
Quality of Life
The Quality of Life in European Cities Survey focused on a range of topics, focusing on the various aspects of city living. The topics included employment, transport, education, health, culture, property and green spaces.
It’s easy to see why Cardiff ranked so highly.
The city is home to plenty of green spaces and can be cycled across in just 20 minutes. Its university is considered to be one of the best in research universities in the UK and is home to over 30,000 students. On top of that, the regeneration of Cardiff Bay has produced a flock of new companies and opportunities to the city.
Before we go into any of that, though, let’s talk about housing.
Property in Cardiff
Whichever way you look at it, Cardiff is cheap. The average price of a property in the UK is £234,853. In Cardiff, however, that figure stands at £210,803.
So the city is around £25,000 cheaper than the rest of the UK for purchasing property, but what about renting?
Cardiff is cheap for renters as well.
According to figures from the number-crunching website Numbeo, a city centre apartment in Cardiff will set you back a fraction of what it would in London. Take a look at the figures below:
Rent Per Month Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre: £684.66
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre: £534.21
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre: £1,117.86
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre: £836.15
However, while the prices in Cardiff may be mouth-watering, they’re quickly rising.
Now is the time to invest in the city. The figures of the Office of National Statistics reveal that the 2019 average price is 5.2% higher than it was in 2018.
But what’s drawing people to the city?
Employment in Cardiff
Cardiff is a city that is still going through a transition period. While the likes of Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol are rivalling London for job opportunities and salaries, Cardiff is still playing catch up.
That said, the city is the economic powerhouse of Wales. The last few years have seen a revamp of its employment sector and Cardiff is quickly carving its own lane.
Jobs are up, unemployment is down and visitor numbers continue to grow. Not only that, but the number of new companies in the city is also growing.
The investment and development of Cardiff has been focused on improving life, attracting new talent and modernising the city. Unsurprisingly, this has bought a wave of creative companies to the city, with a particular focus on television and film.
Film & TV
Cardiff Bay is home to the BBC’s 170,000 square foot of drama studios at Roath Lock, which is the largest drama studio in the UK. Pinewood Studios also opened a Cardiff facility in 2015.
There’s also space for the independents alongside the juggernauts. GloWork is a Welsh government creative centre for independent companies to create their work.
Cardiff’s employers are spoilt for talent as well. The city region is home to over 30,000 students and the university is a key player in the city’s economy.
It’s estimated that Cardiff’s higher education bodies employ 10,000 people in the city, while also providing exciting and passionate students for other businesses.
Not only do the students make Cardiff a young and vibrant city, but they’re also seen as the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to take the city forward.
Cardiff’s evolving and growing economy has led to the UK Government naming it as one of the UK’s Financial Centres of Excellence. It contributes almost £1.2billion to the UK economy, which is higher than the contribution made by the sector in cities such as Sheffield, Liverpool, and Aberdeen.
Things to see and do in Cardiff
It’s not just housing and jobs that draw people to Cardiff. The city is an exciting and diverse place that never fails to surprise and charm visitors.
Cardiff Castle is one of the most-visited attractions in Wales. Its history dates back to the Roman period, but its architecture is part medieval and part gothic. The castle was designed by William Burgess for the 3rd Marquess of Bute.
The result of his work is a breath-taking combination of elaborate interiors and intricate murals with gorgeous stained glass and marble finishes.
National Museum Cardiff
For further insight into Wales’ history, the National Museum Cardiff showcases the country’s national art, history and geology collections. It’s also the location for several major touring exhibitions.
Whether you’re after giant dinosaurs or abstract art, there’s plenty to keep you entertained and gallery trails to guide you around the Museum.
Some of the big-hitters on show at the Museum include Monet, Renoir, Rodin, Cézanne, Turner, Degas, Magritte and Graham Sutherland. It also features work from Welsh-born Richard Wilson, Thomas Jones and Sir William Goscombe John.
The museum has something to offer everyone and also has a regular programme of events and activities, so keep an eye out for something that tickles your fancy.
Cardiff is a sporting city. The city is home to several small rugby clubs and a Championship football club, Cardiff City.
However, the best representation of Cardiff’s love for sport is the city’s stadium. The Principality Stadium is a 75,000-seater stadium that hosts world-class sporting events and concerts.
The stadium has been home to the Champions League Final, hosts Wales rugby and football games, and has been the venue for several music concerts. Previous performers at the stadium have included The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé and Paul McCartney.
After all of that touring, you’ll be needing some retail therapy. Luckily, Cardiff is considered to be one of the best shopping destinations in the UK.
The city is home to all of the high street hitters, as well as a range of unique and individual boutiques.
St David’s shopping centre is the main hub of retail activity. The centre has an extensive list of retailers for mainstream shoppers wanting to pick up the latest trends. If you’re after something a little more unique, the adjacent Victorian and Edwardian arcades are home to the independent boutiques and stores.
It’s not just shopping that Cardiff excels in, it’s also a cultural hotspot and proudly showcases the cultures that make it the modern city that it is.
Cardiff celebrates culture through several events. The city hosts a year-round programme of festivals that includes Oktoberfest, the Swn Music Festival, Hub Festival, and many more. It also has an array of food and drink establishments which show off the talent in the city.
Food and Drink
The Cardiff Indoor Market contains a variety of stalls selling fresh produce and snacks to customers. The smell is enough to pull you in, with the food and the produce making you stay.
Cardiff is full of different restaurants and a variety of cuisines. Whatever you’re after, the city will have something for you. And, giving the economy of Cardiff, these restaurants will often be cheaper than elsewhere.
Curry-lovers should head to the North of the city, where they will be greeted with the tantalising aromas and flavours of Salkaara.
The small curry house is regularly crowned as the top-rated restaurant in Cardiff on TripAdvisor and it’s easy to see why. Ran by head chef Santhosh Nair, the restaurant’s dishes have a south Indian influence and are served in a cosy and welcoming setting.
For a completely unique Cardiff experience, head down to Sully’s cafe and wait until nightfall. What may look like a traditional greasy spoon cafe, is something so much more.
Sully’s transforms into the surprising, impressive and trendy Blue Honey Night Cafe once the street lights come on.
The cafe is the brainchild of the team behind the Cardiff-based vintage store Blue Honey. The shop’s retro influence can be seen across the style and the vibe of the cafe.
The mash-up of good tunes, delicious drinks and flavoursome food make this a must-visit Cardiff hotspot. The menu is a short read, with the food being inspired by street food from around the world.
The bar is open late, making it the perfect place to round up a group of friends and enjoy some fantastic music, food and drinks. Is there anything better?
The arrival of Blue Honey Cafe is undoubtedly down to Cardiff’s new generation of hip and trendy professionals. There’s no denying that their influence can be seen across the city.
One establishment where this is obvious is Rum & Fizz. Opened in 2018, the popular bar is inspired by the bars of Downtown NYC.
With its sister bar (Gin & Juice) being located next door, Rum & Fizz is a beautifully decorated establishment. The decor is lavish and intricate at the same time, with their being a supply for fresh flowers, velvet chairs and decorated tiles.
There’s no prizes for guessing what Rum & Fizz specialise in. The bar has over 250 types of rum behind the bar and the staff are knowledgable in the spirit. The ‘Fizz’ part of the name is represented by the bar’s selection of prosecco, sparkling wines and champagnes.
So that’s Cardiff.
The UK is full of great cities, and many of them are already established. Cardiff is undoubtedly one of these great cities. While it’s a well-known destination, it’s personality remains relatively unknown. But not for long.
The city is known for its large arena and lively nightlife, but it is transforming to a creative, vibrant and young city. A growing job scene, cheap housing and a fantastic lifestyle make Cardiff a tantalising place to be.
The new Cardiff is exciting, but its future is even more so.
Get in before the secret gets out!
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Published at Thu, 21 Nov 2019 10:27:30 +0000