Just a couple of decades ago few would have correctly predicted what Cardiff looks like today. Only Wales' capital city since 1955, by the 1970s this industrial town was fading, close to being written off as washed up following the decline of the coal trade. Fast forward a few years, and it's a thriving metropolis which boasts a glitzy quay, a vibrant nightlife, three universities, and a stadium that hosts major sport matches and some of the biggest musical artists on the planet. This in addition to its numerous museums, its historic castle and its satisfying selection of nearby beaches. There's no doubt about it: Cardiff is now well and truly a legitimate city break destination.
Rugby matters to this proud nation like no other sport, so to get a real feel of the Welsh spirit, visit the Principality Stadium - home of the Welsh national team - on a match day. To revel in a real rivalry, watch a Wales Vs England match, for example as part of the Six Nations competition which takes place every February. Even if you can't bag tickets, be sure to watch the game in one of the city's hundreds of pubs, soaking up the atmosphere as the locals sing the Welsh national anthem, beaming with pride.
Away from the pitch, there's also The Taff Trail, a walking and cycle route from Cardiff Bay that traverses through 2000 acres of parkland, across former rail routes, towpaths and tramways (read: it's mostly flat), eventually ending up at the Brecon Beacons. If water sports are more your thing then there's also Cardiff International White Water Centre, where you can test your nerve on the rapids.
In addition to Cardiff's impressive castle, pretty churches and many museums, including the National Museum of Cardiff or science-themed Techniquest, the city is also home to a large number of cultural landmarks and events spaces. Sites such as the St David's Hall and the Motorpoint Arena host live music and arts events, while the Wales Millennium Centre puts on opera, ballet and musicals. Check what's on before you go and squeeze a night out into your itinerary.
Every year Cardiff hosts a number of festivals and events, of varying size. Here's just a few of the highlights:
If you fancy a little more sporting rivalry, the Welsh Boat Race, which sees Cardiff University rowers take on those from Swansea University is usually held in late April.
In July the Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival hits the city, with over 100 food stalls filling the streets, plus the chance to buy artisan breads, cheeses and meats.