Soccer, football, futbol - whatever you want to call it, there’s no denying that it is the most popular sport around the world. Everyone has their own favourite team and there is nothing better than sitting back on a Saturday afternoon and watching your team in action. Or is there? One new trend that is increasing in popularity across the world is heading to a new city for the weekend and taking in a game while you’re there. Sampling a new atmosphere, new teams and new stadiums can be an enlightening way to experience the game you love and we’re here to help you choose which European city is the best for one of these weekend breaks.
One of Europe’s most popular cities, Bruges exudes old-world European charm with its cobbled streets, cathedrals and canals. The views of the canals are famous and something you definitely cannot miss. Belgium is also famous for its incredible beer and chocolate which flow quite cheaply, and make it a popular place to visit. The city also boasts two top-flight football teams, Club Brugge and Cercle Brugge, who both play at the 29,000 capacity Jan Breydel Stadium. Club Brugge are the more dominant team in the city having won multiple Belgian Pro League titles and featured in several seasons of the Champions League. If you spend the weekend in the city, you might be interested in a day trip to seaside town of Ostend and while there you could take in another game at fellow Pro League side KV Oostende.
Stay: Dukes' Palace
See: Brugge Canals
Watch: Club Brugge, Cercle Brugge, KV Oostende
Deep in the heart of Germany’s Bavaria region is its capital Munich. With a mix of modern and historical architecture, the city is a fascinating place to see. One of the more popular facets of culture amongst tourists are the Munich beer halls which are a great place to visit - and drink. When your attention turns away from beer to football; you will find Germany’s most successful club, the European powerhouse Bayern Munich. They play at the 75000 capacity Allianz Arena and taking in a live game there is really a sight to behold. If you want to take things at a slower pace, the club’s crosstown rivals 1860 Munich play in the Fourth tier of German football but have quite a history themselves.
Stay: Hilton Munich Park
See: Nymphenburg Palace
Watch: Bayern Munich, 1860 Munich
With cheap beer, plenty to see and a host of football options; there’s little wonder why Prague is such a popular choice amongst football weekenders. With its iconic old town, Charles Bridge and the stunning Prague Castle there are plenty of historic sights to see here before you even start to think about the free flowing beer and passionate football teams. But speaking of those football teams, the city has no fewer than 4 top flight teams who all vie for supremacy in this ancient city. The biggest team of them all, and the most successful in the Czech Republic is Sparta Prague who play at the historic Generali Arena. Their main rivals, Slavia Prague, play across town at the Eden Arena. If you can secure tickets for it, the atmosphere for any Prague derby match is absolutely incredible. Two of the smaller teams in the city are Dukla Prague and Bohemians 1905, the latter of which are known for the Kangaroo on their logo and their supporters impressive visual displays at matches.
Stay: Grandior Hotel
See: Prague Castle
Watch: Sparta Prague, Slavia Prague, Bohemians 1905, Dukla Prague
Barcelona and football are intrinsically linked in a way that can never be undone. The city of Barcelona is one of Europe’s most beautiful with its colourful, vibrant culture while the cities football team is one of, if not the most, well known clubs in the entire world. Staying a weekend in the city can be pricey when you factor in a hotel and match ticket but it is more than worth it to take in a game at the world famous Camp Nou stadium which seats around 100,000 people. The city does have one other popular football teams, RCD Espanyol, they also play in La Liga and have a 40000 seater stadium. So when you come to Barcelona, you have two choices for watching top quality football.
Stay: Oriente Atiram
See: Sagrada Familia
Watch: FC Barcelona, RCD Espanyol
Liverpool is another city that is almost more famous for its football team than it is for what the city has to offer. But there is plenty to offer here that makes it a great place to stay for a weekend. There are excellent museums, exhibitions and shopping here down on the famous Albert Docks that ensure there is something for everyone and for music fans, The Beatles Story is not to be missed. When you’re done with the sightseeing, head over to Anfield to catch Liverpool FC in action at their world famous stadium. One of the most successful clubs in Europe, seeing a match there is an experience not to be missed. The city also has another successful club in Everton, their very close neighbours. Nine times champions of England Everton play at the historic Goodison Park stadium just under a mile from Anfield. Whenever you go to Liverpool, there will be top quality football on offer. Check out our Liverpool city guide for more information on this great city.
Stay: Doubletree by Hilton
See: Albert Docks
Watch: Liverpool, Everton
Perhaps something of a curveball, but the Serbian capital of Belgrade is an underrated city. Historic sights and beautiful riverside scenery mean that Belgrade should surely be on your to-do list. The fact that the city is far less touristy than others mentioned, mean that it is quite cheap to visit and it is far less crowded during peak times. The city also has the two biggest clubs in Serbia, and two of the most well known in Europe. FK Partizan, or Partizan Belgrade as they are commonly known, are currently the most successful club in the country having won more league titles in recent years. The most popular club in the city and country, is Red Star Belgrade, also known as Crvena zvezda. They are the only club in Serbia to have won the European Cup (Champions League). The two play out one of the fiercest derby matches in Europe and seeing a game here on any given weekend is always a lively experience.
Stay: Belgrade Art Hotel
See: Belgrade Fortress
Watch: Partizan Belgrade, Red Star Belgrade
Milan is more than just the fashion capital of the world, it is also home to two of Europe’s most famous football teams. Both of its European Cup winning sides, AC Milan and Internazionale (Inter Milan), play at the historic and epic stadium known as the San Siro. Seeing a game here is truly spectacular thanks to the vast stands that tower above the playing surface and can host up to 80000 spectators. When you are not marvelling at the top quality football on offer, Milan has plenty to see in the city itself. Milan Cathedral is a huge ornate, gothic cathedral in the heart of the city and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the place to visit if you want to sample a taste of that high end shopping.
Stay: Hotel Dei Cavileri
See: Milan Cathedral
Watch: AC Milan, Inter Milan