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Not so long ago, Cardiff was a down-at-heel city with an impoverished bay area. But now, it’s a slick capital city with a thriving arts scene and countless pubs and bars that reflect this shift. Some of the best offer a lively programme of live music and DJs – try Gwdihw (pronounced “goody hoo”) or Buffalo to mingle with an arty crowd and enjoy the music; Milgi and Cardiff Arts Institute are a good choice if you like the occasional arts happening thrown in. If beer is your priority, head to Zero Degrees, a bustling bar with its own microbrewery, or North Star, where there’s a worldwide selection of lagers and beers. For a touch of glamour, Ba Orient in the revitalised Bay area is worth a visit, as is Barocco, which sits close to the Millennium Stadium. Pica Pica, also close to the stadium, is another great-looking venue, and a good bet for wine and cocktails. For a relaxed pub environment, try the Vulcan Lounge or the North Star, both city boozers that, like so much of Cardiff, have undergone a stylish transformation in recent years.
Probably the most sumptuous and stylish option in Cardiff’s redeveloped Bay area, this is a great choice for cocktails and glasses of bubbly – and if you’re peckish, there’s a snappy Oriental menu, too.
Italian glamour runs through everything here, from the Baroque decor to drinks such as Peroni Nastro Azzuro. Close to the Millennium Stadium, it’s perfect for anyone heading to (or from) a game or concert.
Open until 4am daily, this is a top spot for live music and DJ nights. Imported beers and decent wines are both good reasons to drink here, as are cocktails such as the Zombie, which has a two-per-night restriction.
Close to the city centre, this oddly named bar is a good option for live music. The simple, functional interior is brightened by quirky art installations.
A light, buzzy space where drinkers spill out onto the patio on sunny days, this arts-centre bar has a good selection of locally brewed ales and Belgian beers. Check the website for exhibitions and screenings.
A relaxing refuge by day and a popular drinks venue by night, this is the place for edgy, interesting music – some of it live. Beers come from the Cardiff-based Artisan Brewing Company.
Excellent cocktails underpin the drinks offering in this hip multi-purpose venue that hosts everything from arts exhibitions to a monthly vintage market.
The atmospheric interior nods to this pub’s origins as a Victorian boozer, but these days it has a sophisticated edge. There’s an excellent worldwide selection of beers and, like a real pub, it has a weekly quiz night.
A stylish modern bar with a relaxed, lively atmosphere, Pica Pica has a lengthy cocktail menu plus a reasonable wine list and a good selection of beers, including Amstel and Hoegaarden.
This versatile venue includes a street-level deli and café bar, a mezzanine restaurant and a live music space. Expect a fine array of specialist spirits and cocktails plus an extensive list of world beers and new world wines.
Leather armchairs and vintage lighting are used to charming effect in this revitalised pub. Drinks include American-brewed Blue Moon, cocktails and homemade vodka infusions.
This sleek modern pub’s uncluttered interior allows plenty of room for the drinkers who pile in here on the weekends. A please-all selection of home-brewed brews runs from a Czech-style black lager to a cloudy wheat ale.