Advice for living in Cardiff and the UK, Budgeting, Managing your money, Student Finance, What's On

Discover Cardiff and Beyond on a Budget

Our experts in the Advice and Money Team share some help and advice to make the most of your money.

Putting the fun back into budgeting

We know that the thought of budgeting can make anyone start to sweat but we’re here to remind you of the benefits of budgeting and why it’s important. So here it goes:

If you control your money you can make it do all the things you want to do

What we mean by this is that by not overspending on areas like food shopping, extra takeaways and the regular coffee on your way to lectures, you can instead choose to get other things out of your money. This might include spending more time out and about in Cardiff exploring the city that you live in.

Read on for some ideas of fun things that you can do in Cardiff for less than a tenner.

The beautiful and affordable Cardiff Castle

Here are some of the top leisure locations in and around Cardiff. Most are free, but remember to prepare for the temptations which may spring up along the way. For example, if you’re heading to the Bay just to sightsee, taking your own lunch may stop you indulging your very cheeky self to a Nando’s. When you’ve scrimped for what seems like weeks on end, you’ll appreciate a treat that little bit more but be careful not to overspend in these places.

Cardiff Castle

As a resident of Cardiff, you can get a key to Cardiff Castle for just £6.50, which grants you unlimited access for up to three years. That basically makes you a resident of the castle, which practically makes you royalty. Well not really, but the castle still has awesome views, a military museum and a free accompanying audio guide available in 10 languages among other things.

Roath Park

Roath Park is a bit further afield for some, but it’s well worth the trek, and free! You can walk around the lake, sit on one of the picnic benches and take in the view, visit the gardens or glide along the lake in a rented pedlo. Students can also enter the warm Roath Conservatory for a small fee. They also do lush ice-creams, but have you planned for that treat?

Bute Park

Bute Park and Arboretum is probably the most well-known open space in Cardiff. It’s a luscious expanse that stretches all the way from town to Tal-Y-Bont. It’s a place where you can kick a ball around on the playing fields, try and avoid being hit in the face with said ball while chilling with friends in the sun, ride your bike along the Taf Trail or just take a solo walk or jog through the beautiful gardens. And it’s free!

Cathays Park

The three parks in Cardiff’s Civic Centre are not to be sniffed at, unless of course you’re inhaling the scent of the blooming flowers that grow there. The parks near the National Museum, City Hall and Cardiff University Bute Building are beautiful places to take a free stroll in the daytime, provided the clouds aren’t feeling too grumpy.

The National Museum

If you haven’t already, it’s time for you to discover for free* nearly all that’s inside the pretty building you pass on your way to university. The artwork and archaeological displays at Cardiff’s National Museum can help distract you for hours as you wander round and take it all in. Plus, who doesn’t love that infamous fluffy mammoth.

*Some exhibitions may include a charge

Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay is Europe’s largest waterfront development, and it certainly lives up to the hype. Walking around the Bay will cost you nothing. But if you’re feeling a bit more flush you can try braving white water rafting at Cardiff International White Water, sliding into an adrenaline rush in the International Pool or ice skating at the Ice Arena Wales, which offers student discount. If you can stretch your budget then you might manage to treat yourself to some food and drink in one of Mermaid Quay’s bars or restaurants, or satisfy your inner child at Techniquest. Even with student discounts, one too many trips to the temptations of the bay could affect your budget. Unless you’re just going regularly to soak in the views, be careful of overspending. You won’t be able to go back in time and change things.

Barry Island

It’s not quite the clear blue seas and sandy shores of Lanzarote, but Barry Island has its own Welsh charm. It’s the home of much-loved BBC drama Gavin and Stacey, as well as to Pirate mini-golf, arcades and good old traditional fish and chips. Beware of the seagulls though, they make for very rude dinner guests. A return trip costs just £3.55 with a railcard, or £5.40 without. You can catch a train from Cathays train station, and a direct line will take you to see exactly what’s occurring.

St Fagans

A bus to St Fagans National History Museum from Westgate Street in town costs less than a tenner, and entry to the Museum itself is free. St Fagans has it all: Celtic history, authentic historic buildings, a manor house, blooming gardens, ducks and cute chubby piglets (or alternatively fat full-grown pigs). Why not take a packed lunch and make a day of it!

Your Student Life, Supported.

The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice and Money, Careers and Employability, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing, Disability and Dyslexia and International Student Support. The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.

For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.

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