Getting Around

This page contains information on all the different ways you can get yourself and your luggage around Cardiff.

If you’re looking for information on international travel, take a look at the other page.

When it comes to travelling around Cardiff and its surroundings, you have the following options:

Walking around Cardiff

We all know we should be using our legs a bit more. Unfortunately unless you live within about a mile or so of the city centre and anywhere else you ever need to go, it’s not always the most effective option- and certainly not the quickest.

However studies have shown that walking can be a very good way to relax and also helps you to participate more in your local community than faster modes of transport. So maybe consider walking to the shop if you have time. Who knows, you might meet a very interesting neighbour.

You could also run. Running is a popular recreational activity in the city, from Cardiff Parkrun to the Cardiff University Half-Marathon. If you decide you want to run to school or work though, you wouldn’t be the only one! Running shop chain Run&Become have a guide on running to work.

Why not walk to school if the weather is good? The rule in Cardiff is you only get a free bus to school if you’re more than three miles from your nearest catchment school. Because of how many people live here, it’s really unlikely for you to be anywhere near that. (See the catchment areas on this map.)

Cycling in Cardiff

Cardiff is one of the best places in the UK to live if you love to ride your bike like Freddie Mercury so famously did!

Easy bike hire

The NextBike docked bike hire scheme operates in Cardiff. See our short guide on how to use it:

Hiring a NextBike

 

If you are a Cardiff University student, you can get free membership of the NextBike scheme, which makes the bikes even cheaper to rent. Further information about NextBike available here.

Safe cycling in Cardiff

If you haven’t cycled much before, it might be a good idea to have a look at the Highway Code’s section for cyclists. Note that “you should” means a point is advisory, whereas “you must” means it is compulsory. Note that Rule 64 states that “You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.” If you do need to use a pavement, you should dismount- if you don’t, proceed with caution.

Cardiff Council also offer:

If you have further questions about cycling provision in Cardiff it may be useful to contact any of the following organisations:

  • Sustrans Cymru – Local branch of the nationwide charity responsible for operating the National Cycle Network.
  • Pedal Power – Cardiff’s very own bike hire charity, they also run a cafe near Bute Park and are one of the principal partners in the NextBike scheme.

Bicycle parking in Cardiff

If you need to park your bike outside during the day you should make sure you have a D-Lock, as a cable lock is very easy to break. D-Locks can be purchased at any bike shop, but the Cardiff University security office sells them for a low price of £20. I recommend purchasing a cable lock to supplement your D-Lock in order to use the Sheldon Brown Method.

You should also register your bike on the police-run Immobilise database.

According to the Bike Life Cardiff report, 2 out of every 100 Cardiff cyclists will have had their bike stolen in the last year. There are some places you can store your bike securely overnight however. For example you can keep it locked to a rack on the platform at Cardiff Central station. This is relatively protected from the weather, well-lit and staffed between about 4am and 1am, when the station is closed. Keep in mind that you must have bought a rail ticket to enter the station- although handily this provides your bike with an extra layer of security!

Bicycle repair in Cardiff

There are many places where you can get your bike repaired for a fee from chains such as Halfords and Evans to local shops like The Bike Shed in Pontcanna and Tongywnlais and the Bike Shop in Penarth and Cardiff Bay. If you are prepared to wait a little you can get it done for free at a Repair Cafe…

Repair Cafe Wales – Regular meetups of volunteers who will try fixing just about anything for little more than a cuppa in return (and Time Credits). Keep an eye on the Facebook page for details of their next meeting, which could be anywhere from Grangetown to Caerphilly.

Bus services in Cardiff

Pic by Jeremy Segrott on Flickr

Cardiff is well served with buses. Buses are probably the most efficient form of transport in the city in terms of space used per person, although it will probably take you longer to get where you’re going by bus than by bike or car.

One important note about Cardiff’s bus services is that they are run by multiple companies, who do not have an agreement to share tickets. Cardiff Bus is the main company, and is owned by the council. Other companies such as the NAT Group will not accept Cardiff Bus tickets.

Excellent websites and apps for arranging bus travel in Cardiff are:

  • Traveline Cymru – The comprehensive app for travel in Wales. Features buses, trains and more. Download the app for Android, or for iOS, or give them a ring on 0800 464 0000.
  • Cardiff Bus – The app of the Cardiff Bus company. Includes live departure times for each bus stop, but doesn’t include rival bus companies. Available for Android and iOS.
  • Google Maps – A good catch-all solution. You probably already have it installed. iOS or Android.

Paying for Cardiff bus tickets

Cardiff Bus allows you to pay in cash, but they don’t give change. The NAT Group do give change, but as mentioned the tickets are not accepted by both companies. Cardiff Bus, Stagecoach and NAT all offer contactless payments. You can use Android Pay, Apple Pay or a contactless card.

If you are under 16 you can get a young person’s fare, which is a bit cheaper than an adult fare. If you are 16 to 21 you can get a My Travel Pass. This a Welsh government scheme that can help you save up to 30% off bus travel if you’re aged between 16 and 21. It is free and there are different ways of applying for it. More information available here.

Another way to save money on Cardiff Bus tickets is to buy 10 Adult Tickets with the Cardiff Bus app. These tickets can then be redeemed on later journeys. They’re slightly cheaper too, working out at £1.50 each rather than the usual adult price of £1.90. You can even switch buses within thirty minutes.

Network Rider is a daily or weekly ticket. You can use it on Cardiff Bus and most of the other bus services around South East Wales.

School buses

View school bus routes on the Cardiff Council website. Remember you are only eligible for free transport to school if you live more than three miles from your nearest catchment school.

Long distance coach travel

  • Megabus, owned by Stagecoach, runs cheap services from Cardff city centre and the Cardiff University Students Union to Bristol, London, and more. Get a small percentage off if you are an NUS card holder.
  • Sn-ap is a local company which offers a free first trip– West End, here I come!
  • National Express is probably the most recognised coach brand in the UK. If you expect to use National Express coaches often, you can get ⅓ off coach travel with a Young Person’s Coachcard.

Rail travel in Cardiff

Image by Wikipedia’s Peter Skuce

Cardiff, as capital of Wales with an industrial heritage, is lucky to have Wales’ most exhaustive rail network. The two main companies you can expect to deal with are Arriva Trains Wales, which runs the Valley Lines and GWR, which runs trains from London to Swansea. Transport for Wales, a not for profit company owned by the Welsh Government, operates the Wales and Borders Rail Service and South Wales Metro. For more information see the TfW website.

Here are some useful apps for travelling by train:

  • Traveline Cymru – The comprehensive app for travel in Wales. Features buses, trains and more. Download the app for Android, or for iOS, or give them a ring on 0800 464 0000.
  • Google Maps – A good catch-all solution. You probably already have it installed. iOS or Android.
  • Trainline – A really simple, well designed app which lets you look up all sorts of train based information. You can book a journey on the app, look up how many trains are arriving at a certain station, see where a particular train is on the line and more. Android and iOS.
  • National Rail Enquiries – Lets you book tickets from all over the UK, similar to Trainline. Available on Android and iOS.

Saving money on rail travel

Child tickets – if you are under 16, you can get half price journeys just by asking for a child or half ticket.

Season tickets – The most obvious way to save money on rail travel. Often you can get seven days’ worth of anytime journeys at the same price of five off-peak railcard journeys.

PLUSBUS – if you need to get a bus after riding the rails, you can get cheap bus tickets to link to your rail ticket with this service.

Railcard – If you are 16-25 you can get ⅓ off all UK fares by getting a 16-25 railcard. However, keep the following in mind before you buy one:

  • Railcard costs £30 upfront
  • Cannot be used before 10am September-June
  • Cannot be used to purchase season tickets

Transport for Wales have a Student Railcard that offers a 26% discount on day tickets and 10% discount on season tickets for Valleys and Cardiff local routes. This card, costing £10 a year, is for those over 16 in full time education or under 26 and in part-time education.

The cheapest time to book a long distance or one-off rail ticket is usually 12 weeks before departure. This is when rail companies such as GWR release low-cost Advance tickets for their services.

When booking long distance travel it can also be useful to use a “ticket splitting” site such as Trainsplit or Ticketclever. These sites will break up your ticket into cheaper fares, due to the complexity of the British rail system. Combine with Railcard for further savings.

Driving in Cardiff

By Jaggery on Geograph

It’s not essential to drive in Cardiff, as we have seen from the excellent public and active transport options above. However being able to drive is important if you want to be able to explore Wales a bit more, and many employers will not hire you if you cannot drive. Plus, a driving license is the easiest way to prove your age and identity to various people who might ask you- from bouncers in nightclubs to the police- so it may be worth having one for that alone.

The DVLA allow you to apply for your first licence aged 15 and 9 months.

Learning to drive

You can drive aged 17, with a responsible adult and right insurance- and when you have passed your test you don’t even need an adult in the car with you.

If you are under 17, you can get specialist driving lessons as long as you do not drive on public roads.

To pass your test, you’ll first need to pass the theory test. This involves a quiz and a hazard perception test. After that and a few lessons, you will be ready for the practical test. For more information on learning, see Gov.UK’s pages on the subject.

After passing

Pass Plus Cymru is a scheme designed to get young drivers more experience with driving after they have passed the main test. The scheme explains some methods for safer driving and gives you experience in advanced situations such as motorways.

Insurance

Driving for young people can be expensive. No matter how careful you are, our age group is the most likely to be involved in a motor traffic accident. This means your insurance premium will be high.

Taxis in Cardiff

For traditional taxis in Cardiff, try ringing the following firms:

Safe taxi for Getting Around page

If you’re a Cardiff University student, get home safe with the Safe Taxi Scheme– you can book a Dragon Taxi, get home safe, then pay at the Students Union in the ensuing days.

To keep safe when using taxis, follow Cardiff Council’s safety advice.

Ride sharing services

Slightly different from traditional taxis, ride sharing services are popular with students as they are often cheaper and can be accessed by app. The following services work in Cardiff:

Other Useful Links:

The Mix: Drink Driving

The Mix: Learning To Drive

The Mix: Travelling By Bike

Gov.UK: The Highway Code

BBC Advice: Learning To Drive

RNIB: Travel Help And Support

The Mix: Buying A Second-hand Car

The Mix: Public Transport With A Disability

Citizens Advice – Advice For Disabled Travellers

The Student Room: Advice For Learning To Drive

Turn2Us: Travel Costs – People With Disabilities And Carers – Bus Concessions

Call Meic

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If you need more information about getting around and services that can help contact the Meic helpline. Meic is an advocacy, advice and information helpline for children and young people in Wales. Call free on 080880 23456,  text 84001 or Instant Message.

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