Cardiff

By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Cardiff?

Do you need a car in Cardiff > Should you rent a car in Cardiff UK > Cardiff ( CWL )
Car: Do you need a car in 4? No car: Is it worth hiring a car in 4? Slider: Should you rent a car in 4? Should you rent a car in 4?

Cardiff car hire quick facts

Cheapest rate for one week Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]

80

 #54/300

  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Cardiff but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
How much should I expect to pay in the peak season? Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]

 €

80

 7/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.
Free parking score Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking.Total 154 - of which 86 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

56

%

101/300

  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "whynot" section for more suggestions.

Cardiff public transport quick facts

"Top trumps" train score

Higher scores go to the systems which take you to the most amazing places.

55%

#107/300

  • [full notes - top trumps trains]
  • A good rail system doesn't mean you shouldn't hire a car, but it often means you have a decent range of options.

Overall public transport score {coming shortly}

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel.

--%

#---/300

  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Cardiff good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score {coming shortly}

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Cardiff

--%

#---/300

Need, worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Cardiff", "is it worth hiring a car in Cardiff", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme:

Do you need a car in Cardiff?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city.

Is it worth hiring a car in Cardiff?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares?

Should you rent a car in Cardiff?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Do you need a car in Cardiff? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Cardiff?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Cardiff? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Cardiff as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Cardiff?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments


Why should you rent a car in Cardiff?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Cardiff?


  • Flexibility – As with any other city, a hire car will give you the flexibility to explore beyond the built-up areas in your own time.
  •  There are plenty of really superb scenic drives and walking opportunities which can be taken by heading into the valleys out of Cardiff.
  • Gower peninsular – in my opinion, the most attractive landscapes in southern Wales are around the spectacular Gower Peninsula which is just to the west of Swansea.
  • Although it is perfectly easy to cycle out to the Gower peninsula from Swansea, buses around this area are less regular. A car is certainly a much more versatile option.

Beyond Cardiff & South Wales

  • Welsh countryside – needless to say, beyond the valleys which are easy to reach from Cardiff is plenty of superb countryside.
  • For mid-wales, please see our Birmingham car hire advice page. For North Wales, we also have suggestions for public transport options from Liverpool.

Why not? Visiting Cardiff without a car

What is public transport like in Cardiff? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in Cardiff?


  • Valley Railways — the southern Welsh valleys can also be explored by train using the famous Valley lines. These provide ample access for walking and cycling in these areas. However, they are all fingers branching out from the centre of Cardiff. They don’t have the ‘up and over’ flexibility that a hire car will give you, unless you take the train up one valley and back down another.
  • Swansea, Newport and Bristol. It is easy to add on a visit to the cities of Swansea, Newport or Bristol by train from Cardiff.
  • See our Bristol car hire advice for more details about visiting the south-west of England with or without a car.

Conclusion

Do you need a car in Cardiff?  There are numerous British cities where I think public transport provides a perfectly workable alternative to a hire car for getting around. Whilst the Welsh Valley railway lines might appeal to some, I really think it is much better to pick up a hire car so you have the flexibility to appreciate central Wales at its best.

  • Note for passengers taking flights to Cardiff: Although Cardiff airport does technically have a railway station in its name, services only operate once each hour. You still need to allow for transfer between the terminal building and the station platform.
  • You might find it just as easy to take a bus direct from the airport terminal into Cardiff city centre.
  • A much wider choice of flights is available into nearby Bristol Airport.
  • Cardiff is served by regular direct trains from London Paddington, with a typical journey time of around two hours.

Ratings

Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.

Would you hire a car in Cardiff?

Have you driven in Cardiff? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Cardiff?

Do you need a car in Cardiff? For some or all of the time? 

Tell us what you think using the comments section below:


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