Cardiff is …
- The capital of Wales.
- Caerdydd to the locals.
- Two-time European City of Sport.
- Around 4% the size of urban London.
- Estimated to have a population of 358,400.
Where it is
Cardiff is a port city in the south of Wales, on the western side of Great Britain, and is separated from England only by the Severn Estuary. It is around 240km from London.
National Stadium of Wales
- Located on the site of the old National Stadium and home of Wales's rugby union team since 1999.
- Jari Litmanen scored the stadium's first international goal in March 2000 in a 2-1 triumph for Finland.
- Staged the FA Cup final between 2001 and 2006 while Wembley was being redeveloped.
- The first 11 major cup finals staged there were all won by the side occupying the home dressing room.
- The stadium is equipped with a retractable roof which takes 20 minutes to open or close.
By air: Cardiff Airport operates direct flights to and from 50 destinations across much of Europe as well as connecting flights to 800 places worldwide. The city centre is around 19km east of the airport and is easily reached by train, bus and road (a taxi should cost no more than €30). Bristol International Airport is one hour away by car.
By road: Cardiff is easily accessible via the M4 motorway, which runs from London to south Wales. The Second Severn Crossing takes vehicles over the river Severn between England and Wales. There are bus routes into Cardiff from all major cities including London, Swansea, Birmingham and Manchester.
By rail: Cardiff has direct rail links to London (2 hours), Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol and Southampton. Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street stations are both situated in the city centre.
Transport to and form Cardiff will be very busy on the day of the final, so plan and book your travel as soon as possible. To find out more about getting to Cardiff visit www.cardiff2017.wales/fantravel and follow Twitter @cardiff17travel from 7 April. You can also download the Spectator Mobility App here from 17 April.
Where to stay
Cardiff offers accommodation for all tastes, including a number of options in the heart of the city. Alternatives include Newport to the north-east as well as more rural options to the north and west and England to the east. See useful links below.
Walk: Cardiff city centre is compact and best explored by foot, with the majority of centrally located attractions within a few minutes of each other.
Bus: There is an extensive bus network, including a regular service connecting the city centre with Cardiff Bay.
Train: Those wishing to venture out of the city can take trains from Cardiff Central or Cardiff Queen Street.
Taxi: There are taxi ranks dotted across the city.
Bike: Cardiff is very flat and easily negotiated by bike. Bicycles are available to hire.
What to see
For culture: Cardiff Castle is in the very heart of the city – you can't miss it, even if you want to! The National Museum also possesses a particularly impressive art collection.
For atmosphere: Cardiff Bay is a vibrant waterfront area offering a great variety of entertainment, shops, restaurants and bars.
For fresh air: Walk or cycle the Taff Trail, have a go at white-water rafting (located in Cardiff Bay) or take a more sedate water trip in one of a number of boat rides available around the city. The river Taff flows through the west of the city and right alongside the National Stadium of Wales.
Eating and drinking
Aside from 'Chippy Lane' (the locals' name for Caroline Street in the city centre, which is dominated by fast-food outlets), Cardiff has something for everyone.
Traditional dishes such as cawl (a type of stew) and Welsh rarebit (a version of melted cheese on toast) are generally harder to find in the city centre; the locals are a cosmopolitan bunch who are as likely to be found eating Chinese, Indian or Italian. However, look out for local sausages, Welsh lamb or Welsh cakes. Local bitter is the most popular evening drink and is generally served in pints (568ml).
Football in the city
Football and rugby union are the most popular sports in Cardiff. The capital's biggest team are Cardiff City (the Bluebirds), who have played in the English football league system since their founding. They are currently in the second tier and play home matches at Cardiff City Stadium, located to the west of the city and current venue for the national side's home games.
Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale and former Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs were both born in Cardiff.
Cardiff has a number of smaller clubs playing in the Welsh football pyramid, including Cardiff Met, who play in the domestic top flight, while Cardiff Met Ladies hosted a group in the 2016/17 UEFA Women's Champions League.
Get out of the city
Brecon Beacons National Park – including the Brecon Beacons mountain range – much of the South Wales Valleys, the Gower Peninsula and Barry Island are all easily accessible from Cardiff. The historical English towns and cities of Bath, Hereford, Cheltenham and Gloucester are also little more than an hour away.
Do it in 24 hours
Breakfast: Before embarking on a day of activity in this vibrant and cosmopolitan city, a hearty breakfast is a prerequisite – there is no better place to begin your cultural journey than one of the many cafes in Cardiff Market on St Mary's Street. A traditional Welsh breakfast is likely to contain laverbread, a highly-nutritious delicacy made from boiled seaweed that has been minced and rolled in oatmeal prior to being fried.
Up to lunch: Once fed, you can enjoy the best parts of a city steeped in both history and modernity as you walk towards Cardiff Bay – the unique and innovative architecture dotted between historical landmarks will appeal to a range of cultural tastes. Once you reach the Cardiff Bay area – one of the most successful regeneration projects in the United Kingdom – you will be welcomed by a mix of attractions that includes the Senedd building, which is home to the National Assembly of Wales and is a striking example of modern architectural design. Cardiff Bay also boasts an eclectic array of bars and restaurants, making it the perfect place for a spot of lunch while enjoying the view.
Afternoon: Shopping for loved ones will pose little problem in the capital, with a choice of high-street names and unique local shops in the winding arcades purveying everything from the mainstream to the extreme. Cardiff Castle and the National Museum are must visits when exploring the city centre, while the Brewery Quarter will supply liquid refreshment for those overwhelmed by the cultural diversity that exists side by side in this exciting city.
Evening: Nor does Cardiff disappoint when it comes to night life, and the various restaurants situated through the centre of the city range from fine-dining to 'all you can eat' experiences, catering for all. Live music is never far away at any time of day or night, while traditional pubs sit comfortably next to late-night clubs to create a thriving evening atmosphere every day of the week.
Midnight snack: Of course, for the ultimate Cardiff experience, any night out must end at Chippy Lane. A string of fast-food outlets act as a magnet to revellers, and offer a wide-range of midnight snacks to bring your tour of the capital to a close.
Your Welsh phrasebook
Wales takes great pride in having its own language. Welsh, or "Cymraeg", is widely taught in schools and is the first language of many people across the country. If you're lucky enough to be in Cardiff on final day, you may well hear Welsh being spoken – and if you want to join in, here are some useful sayings:
Hello – Helo
How are you? – Shwmae
Please – Os gwelwch yn dda
Thank you – Diolch
Goodbye – Hwyl fawr
Where is the stadium? – Lle mae'r stadiwm?
Who do you think is going to win? – Pwy wyt ti'n meddwl sy’n mynd i ennill?
What's today's team? – Pwy sy yn y tim heddiw?
Visit Cardiff: http://www.visitcardiff.com/
Lonely Planet: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/wales/cardiff-caerdydd
City of Cardiff Council: https://www.cardiff.gov.uk/ENG/Pages/default.aspx
Cardiff Airport: https://www.cardiff-airport.com/
Football Association of Wales (FAW): http://www.cardiff2017.wales