Stadium: Arena da Baixada (cap. 41,000)
Games: Four including Honduras against Ecuador, and Australia against Spain.
Airport to city centre: The airport is some way outside the city centre so it will probably take up to an hour to get to your hotel depending on time of day and traffic.
Curitiba is an interesting city with a mild climate and warm people. With a strong Germanic influence, you might even find a pint instead of the typical Brazilian chopes.
Curitiba’s Arena da Baixada was one of the biggest concerns for Fifa with progress painfully slow on the stadium that is home to Atlético Paranaense. In January, with less than six months to go, there was still timber visible in the internal structure and it looked a long way from being finished.
Now, Fifa is much more concerned with infrastructure works in Porto Alegre and the ground in Curitiba is now much closer to being finished. But while the pitch and the inside of the stadium look almost there, it’s likely there will be some unfinished details. The saving grace is that the stadium is pretty well located, and what’s more, Curitiba has an excellent public transport system so access will not be a problem.
What is there to do?
Curitiba is not a beach city and with average June temperatures at 18C, it may even feel fresh if you’ve flown in from Manaus or Fortaleza (though not if you’ve come from Blighty).
But the city has a lot of interesting features to check out in between games. The historic centre has some beautiful buildings to check out, alongside German pubs and the Memorial de Curitiba, a museum that hosted a World Cup exhibition.
Curitiba also has a large Islamic population and so there is also a stunning mosque not far from the historical centre. Given Brazil is the biggest Catholic country in the world, it’s not something you expect to find but it’s worth a look. If memory serves, it’s open on Tuesdays.
Curitiba is well-known for its excellent customer service, efficiency and environmentally friendly policies like its public transport network. But it also has some worthwhile volunteer projects including Lionsraw, a British-run movement that has recruited travelling World Cup fans for social projects including building a school for a deprived area of the city. There’s more info here: http://lionsraw.org/about/
:: The taxi tariff from the airport to the city centre is expensive: arrive with plenty of reais. Normal metred taxis can be found outside the airport and licensed taxis all have red number plates.
:: Spain will be based in Curitiba during the tournament so watch out for Fabregas, Iniesta and Ramos.
:: As well as a strong German heritage, the state of Paraná is also influenced by the English. Londrina in the north of the state was founded by British settles in the early 20th century and was named after the English capital.
:: São Paulo is bus-able from Curitiba. Though take my advice: if you’re travelling on a Friday afternoon, fly or risk arriving in São Paulo to weekend rush-hour, which is more unpleasant than being stuck on the Aston Expressway on a Friday afternoon.
:: For those with insomnia or who might want to burn the candle at both ends, Curitiba has a Rua 24 Horas, or 24/h street, where you can find restaurants, bars and shops open under a beautiful covered walkway.