Planning a holiday and a massive football fan? Then why not combine both with a football holiday? Europe is filled with a number of fantastic destinations that will deliver your football fix and keep you entertained, as well. If you’re looking for inspiration, try some of these locations …
Home to one of the world’s most successful and celebrated clubs, Barcelona is a prime destination for a football-themed holiday. The illustrious Camp Nou is open for the majority of the year. A tour here allows visitors to explore the club museum — laden with trophies and iconic mementos — and go behind the scenes, right to pitch side. You can even sit in the first team bench.
If you time your visit during the Spanish football season, you might be fortunate enough to grab tickets to watch the hosts in action. However, if you’re holidaying in the area, don’t restrict your football experience simply to Barcelona. The Catalan region of the country has other high-profile clubs, too. Staying in the city, you’ll find Barcelona’s rivals, Espanyol, while heading north are Girona, relative newcomers to La Liga. Meander down the coast and into the popular Costa Dorada — which is teeming with beaches and pleasant resorts — and you’re within reach of lower league clubs FC Sabadell and Tarragona. Ideal for football hipsters!
Italy, land of stunning architecture, beautiful lakes, sumptuous beaches, enticing coastlines, charming towns and, of course, delicious pizzas and gelato. It’s a wonderful country to holiday in — and the football’s pretty good, too. Whether you choose to stay in a particular city or opt to travel around the country, stopping off at several points of interest along the way, there’s plenty in Italy to keep the football fan interested. In the north of the country you’ll find the traditional powerhouses of Juventus — in Turin — and both Milan clubs, AC and Internazionale. Travel south, and in the heart of Italy, you’ll encounter the country’s capital city. Rome is a glorious location for a holiday, with a proliferation of ancient ruins, classic piazzas and squares — and two of Italy’s proudest football clubs. AS Roma — semi-finalists in the Champions League last season and likely to be among the contenders this season — and Lazio both play at the Stadio Olimpico, which is located beside the winding River Tiber.
If it’s a city break you’re after, check out Munich. This is a sophisticated, fast-paced metropolis that has something for everyone, with its beer halls, sprawling parks — the English Garden, included in this list here — and green spaces, and inspirational art galleries. For football fans, it’s also home to one of the largest and most impressive clubs in the world. Bayern Munich play at the Allianz Arena, a stunning stadium with a distinctive design. From a distance, the stadium looks like a giant oval, rising into the sky. Visit at night, watching a match in the evening, and you’ll be struck by the stadium’s colour transformation — the exterior turns red, matching the club colours. Tickets for games are hard to come by, so book as much in advance as possible.
The South of France
For a relaxing holiday in the sun, the south of France takes some beating. Vast beaches, striking scenery, top-class restaurants — it’s renowned as a playground for the rich and famous. Spend a couple of weeks there, and as well as soaking up the sun and chilling out, you can visit some of France’s most famous football clubs. Hire a car and drive west to east, and the stadiums of Toulouse, Montpellier, Marseille, Nice and Monaco are all accessible. Time your holiday during the Ligue 1 season and you might be fortunate enough to experience a couple of games, too.
If you’re pressed for time and only have a weekend to play with, a short hop from the UK (flights are usually less than one hour) is Amsterdam — and one of the most iconic clubs in Europe. AFC Ajax’s glory days may be a long way behind them, though former club legends such as Johan Cruijff and Marco Van Basten are rightly still revered and celebrated. Amsterdam’s close proximity to the UK makes it an ideal weekend break. Head to the Amsterdam ArenA, (which was renamed the Johan Cruijff ArenA in 2018) the club stadium, for a tour. Get match tickets if you can and, for something a bit different, take the Johan Cruijff tour. This follows a cycle route, stopping at 14 points throughout the city — each stop is at an important landmark in Cruijff’s life.