The 2014/15 rugby season proved to be one to remember for Irish rugby with Autumn International victories over South Africa and Australia followed up with winning the 6 Nations, and the side now head into the 2015 Rugby World Cup as genuine contenders. In a group dominated by European countries, it will most likely be left to Ireland and France to battle it out for top spot, avoiding New Zealand in the knockout stages as a result.
The Rugby World Cup offers an ideal opportunity to explore some of the lesser known cities in the UK and we hope to help people get the most out of their trip.
With two group games in Cardiff and two in London, there’ll be plenty to see and do as you cheer on Ireland this autumn. Here are just a few things to keep you occupied.
Best things to do in Cardiff
Ireland take on Canada in Cardiff’s impressive Millennium Stadium on Saturday 19th September before returning to the city for what should be the group decider against France on Sunday 4th October. The great thing about the Millennium Stadium is that it is located in the heart of Cardiff City, allowing you to take in all the nearby attractions on foot.
Explore the city centre
Cardiff city centre has more than enough to keep you occupied and if it’s shopping that you are interested in then St David’s Shopping Centre has more than enough to keep you busy. For something a little different, head along to the Grand Victoria arcades and the Central Market where you will get a real taste of local produce and some of the talented craftsmen and women in the city.
Relax in Bute Park
Bute Park is a huge park in the centre of Cardiff and is also the location for the grounds of Cardiff Castle. With plenty of walking and cycling routes, and lots of open space for you to relax in, you can certainly find yourself spending most of the day in Bute Park, to bring yourself away from the hustle and bustle of the city during rugby games. With a number of cafes dotted around the park as well as an education centre, and playing fields, you never know what you’ll come across in Bute – you may even stumble upon a group of locals playing rugby!
Discover the history of Cardiff Castle
While leaving Bute Park be sure to spend some time getting to know the wonderful Cardiff Castle, the historic heart of the city. Enjoy the guided tour of the castle and head outside to explore the remains from Roman walls and discover military machines from hundreds of years ago. From here, make the short walk to the nearby Castle Quarter of the city and wander round the iconic Victorian Arcades.
Hit the Brewery Quarter
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat, drink and be merry then look no further than the popular Brewery Quarter in the city centre. A stone’s throw away from the Millennium Stadium, the Brewery Quarter will be the place to be if you don’t have a ticket for any of Ireland’s group games, and the place to be even if you do, as the party will be happening all day throughout the World Cup.
Plenty to do outside the city
If you want to get away from the masses of Cardiff city centre during the group games for the Rugby World Cup, then look no further than Cardiff Bay, Europe’s largest waterfront development. From exploring a nature reserve to enjoying a boat trip, you’ll have plenty of options. The Mermaid Quay area of the bay is hugely popular with locals and tourists alike so get yourself along there as well and relax with a cold drink and take in the wonderful scenery.
Things to do in London at Rugby World Cup 2015
If you aren’t intending on going to Cardiff for the opening and final group game for Ireland, then the only other place to catch the boys in green at the group stages is London. Ireland face Romania in their second group game at the 90,000 capacity Wembley Stadium before heading across the city to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to take on Italy on 4th October. With 2 games in 2 weeks in London, there’ll be lots for travelling Irish supporters to do away from the rugby. Below are just a few things to try out in London when visiting for the World Cup.
Visit Buckingham Palace
Top of most visitor’s lists of things to do in London is a trip to Buckingham Palace. You can pop along to simply grab your token photo at the Palace or enjoy a tour of the Palace and the stunning grounds. The grounds at Buckingham Palace and St James’s Park are quite vast and have some great walkways in which you can leisurely stroll through England’s capital city. The picturesque Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are just a short walk from Buckingham Palace so if you’re feeling energetic, and the weather is on your side (which isn’t always the case), get your walk on.
Marvel at Westminster and Big Ben
No trip to London would be complete without spending time taking in the historic buildings at Westminster – Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. From here take a quick walk over Westminster Bridge and hop on the London Eye to enjoy an unrivaled view of this vast city. Westminster is about 40 – 45mins on the underground from both Wembley and the Olympic Stadium, so planning to stay in and around the Westminster area may not be a bad thing. As this is Central London, prices will be much more than other London boroughs but you’ll get to see plenty of the popular city sights.
Hit the shops
London is up there with the likes of Paris and New York as one of the best shopping cities in the world but for a shopping experience with a difference, why not get yourself along to Portobello Road and enjoy the Portobello Market or a shopping tour of Notting Hill. This year celebrates 150 years of the Portobello & Golborne Market, and with hundreds of traders and endless amounts of food options, this is a true London shopping experience. Another great shopping area is Brick Lane, another spot that is popular with many “Londoners”. Hit the vintage shops on the lane and grab yourself a few cocktails as you relax.
Party the night away
As with shopping, London has no shortage of options when it comes to pubs, clubs and nightspots. Enjoy the VIP Experience by clubbing in the popular and uber-stylish West End area of the city or get yourself over the Clerkenwell and hit the world famous Fabric nightclub; one of the hippest areas in the city. For a truly memorable experience, get yourself along to The Shard, one of the tallest buildings in Europe. Enjoy a great view of the city while you dance the night away.
With so much to see and do in both Cardiff and London, you’ll never have a dull moment as you cheer on the boys in green in the chase for Webb-Ellis Cup. With the quarter finals, semi-finals and final all set for Cardiff and London, setting up base in these cities will certainly allow you to see lots of rugby over the coming months.