Top 10 Best Bars & Pubs in Cardiff

Heading on a night out with friends, or looking forward to a quiet drink to unwind? From large venues with live music and retro video games to quieter, intimate venues, Cardiff has plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic choices to suit every mood!

The capital city has a fantastic array of independent pubs and bars, however, there are also a variety of UK-wide brands if you’re looking for a familiar favourite for a tipple such as JD Wetherspoons, Vodka Revolution, Brewdog, Slug and Lettuce, and Be At One. 

Here are ten of our favourite pubs and bars in no particular order:

1. Pen & Wig

If you fancy a traditional pub which feels like the life of the party, then a visit to the Pen & Wig is a must. This cosy and bustling watering hole on Park Grove features a range of delicious drinks including a regular rotation of guest ales. 

Equipped with an incredible atmosphere, the Pen & Wig comes with a spacious beer garden completed with comfy chairs, big umbrellas, and patio heaters for the colder nights. Make sure you arrive early on a Friday or Saturday to secure a seat at this pub which is popular with students and young professionals.

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2. The Woodville

Another great pub which is popular with students in the Cathays area is The Woodville. Whether you’re looking to watch sports, settle in for the evening or grab a pint on your way to the city centre, The Woodville has a good selection of drinks at decent prices meaning you won’t break the bank on a night out. 

Affectionately known as The Woody, the pub on Woodville Road boasts a welcoming atmosphere, chilled beer, a pleasant beer garden and some good old fashioned pub grub. There are a lot of loved traditional-style pubs in the Cathays and Roath area. 

Other student-friendly pubs which are worth a visit include The Flora on Cathays Terrace, Gassy’s on Salisbury Road, The Cambrian Tap on St Mary’s Street, and The Crwys on Crwys Road.

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3. The Bootlegger

Looking to drink a cocktail in style? Head to The Bootlegger which serves some of the best cocktails in the city. This quirky bar offers a cool atmosphere with 1930s speakeasy vibes which it says looks to emulate the post-prohibition energy in America. 

With regular live music, the Womanby Street based bar also offers beer and wine as well as mocktails and milkshakes if you’re not a fan of alcohol. With 1930s décor and interesting newspaper-based menus, it’s hard not to enjoy The Bootlegger. 

Like pubs, there is a variety of good cocktail bars to try in Cardiff. Other popular choices in the city include 10 Mill Lane on Mill Lane, The Alchemist and Dirty Martini which are both on St Mary’s Street, and The Libertine on the High Street.

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4. Lab 22

Another cocktail bar which should be on your list of must-visit locations in Cardiff is Lab 22. With a firm science theme which extends to a print of Einstein’s face behind the bar, this tiny venue has won multiple awards in recent years for its fresh and interesting cocktails.

Blink and you’ll miss it as this quirky bar has made its home upstairs above a Greggs bakery on Caroline Street – also known as Chippy Lane or Chip Alley. With 14 unique scientific cocktails, Lab 22 was given a Siete Misterios Award for Best Cocktail Menu in the world in 2021. 

It is not the only hidden gem in Cardiff’s cocktail scene, however, as the city also boasts the award winning 1920s art deco-themed Dead Canary on Barrack Lane - which is only made obvious by a dragon mural on the wall outside - as well as the dark and moody award-nominee Pennyroyal on the city’s High Street.

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5. Old Arcade

If you’re looking for a good pub in the centre of the city, look no further than the Old Arcade on Church Street. This traditional pub, which serves up a delicious variety of beers and food, is popular with both students and other Cardiff folk who are looking to grab a few pints. 

This century-old boozer comes with a welcoming and warm atmosphere. If you’re in the city centre on a match day, especially when the Welsh rugby team are playing, the pub which is known for its rugby following is usually packed with a red queue outside. 

Just down the road on Church Street is fellow popular bar The Head of Steam. Based in a traditional pub setting, the pub offers beer, craft ales, wine, and cocktails as well as delicious food for punters. Both pubs are near the Principality Stadium and are fantastic places to stop before or after a match.

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6. Porters

Feeling a pub with a difference? Porter’s is a lively and friendly bar which offers a friendly space to drink coffee with your mates by day and a variety of alcoholic beverages to enjoy in the evening. 

From its pub theatre called The Room Next Door to live music and quiet nights, this upbeat hidden gem at Harlech Court, on Bute Terrace, is never short of live entertainment for you to enjoy with your pint. With the promise of a night to remember, Porters is a firm favourite for people throughout Cardiff.

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7. Tiny Rebel

When thinking about good Cardiff bars, Tiny Rebel nearly always comes to mind. With the original branch and brewery in Newport, this bar sells all its own unique and delicious beers which are everything from hoppy, to tropical or peach flavoured. 

Based on Quay Street, and at the entrance to Womanby Street, Tiny Rebel is a fantastic place to grab a few pints with your friends – whether you spend your whole evening there or head out for a night of clubbing. With tasty food on offer earlier in the evening, it is hard not to love this modern venue which offers a buzzing atmosphere.

Quay Street is also home to the much-loved traditional pub City Arms which advertises itself as a beer-lover’s paradise. With an old-fashioned interior, City Arms is a popular stop on bar crawls and for sports lovers as it is close to the stadium.

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8. Fuel

If your music taste tends to lie on the heavier alternative side, then you will find yourself at home in Fuel Rock Bar. While its size is deceptive, this friendly bar is usually recognisable as a mixture of rock, heavy metal, punk, and other alternative music blasts from the front door. 

Complete with a front bar, a back area for club nights and bands, and a large outdoor area, Fuel is a haven for the city’s rockers and metalheads with a good range of drinks and decent prices. 

However, it’s no lie that Womanby Street is one of the homes to music in Cardiff as it is packed with revellers every weekend and after major concerts. Other great venues you can visit on this street include the famous Welsh venue Clwb Ifor Bach and The Moon.

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9. Kongs

For a fun night of retro games, music, and drinks, make sure you visit Kongs on St Mary’s Street. With a variety of 1980s arcade games on offer such as Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Mortal Kombat, and Metal Slug, it’s hard not to have fun at this brilliant vintage-feeling bar which offers a range of beer and cocktails. 

Recognisable from the gorilla logo painted on the front, Kongs also offers activities such as Table Tennis, music you can dance to, and a revolving selection of tasty food from its pop-up kitchen. 

Other bars in Cardiff which are worth visiting if you want to experience a slightly different and fun drinking experience include fellow retro-gaming bar NQ64 and darts bar Flight Club - which are both also on St Mary’s Street - board-game venue Scaredy Cats Café Bar on Working Street, and dynamic games drinking spot Boom Battle Bar – which famously features axe throwing – at the Old Brewery Quarter.

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10. Mary's

Finally, we come to the legendary LGBTQIA+ venue Mary’s. This award-winning gay and cabaret bar offers a warm welcome and fabulous cocktails to its customers. A safe space for all members of the LGBTQ+ community, you can expect a variety of incredible entertainment and events including drag queens, karaoke and even bingo-quizzes. 

This dog-friendly bar has extensive happy hours to go with its wide range of drinks and live entertainment. If you’re not a fan of cocktails, you can also grab a glass of wine, shots, or a beer. Mary’s is a bar which promises a fun and unforgettable night in the city centre. 

Other popular LGBTQ+ venues in the capital city include The Golden Cross on Hayes Bridge Road, which claims to be Wales’s older LGBTQ+ venue, as well as popular two-storey gay bar The Kings on Churchill Way which also features a rooftop terrace.

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Whatever your preference when choosing a bar or a pub, Cardiff has a rich variety across the capital city. With hundreds of venues ready to mix your cocktail or pour you a pint, finding your new regular pub is a great way to see what this vibrant city has to offer.