Bill Shankly, the Scottish football player and manager, once said: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.” Think that’s dramatic? Head to one of these football-obsessed cities and find out! With over three billion fans, football has got to be the most popular sport in the world… But there are a few cities that take their passion for the beautiful game to the next level. From the massive stadiums of Madrid and Rio de Janeiro to the thrilling team rivalries in Barcelona and Milan, here are six of our best trips for the most diehard football fan.
When you travel on our Highlights of Spain and Portugal trip, you’ll spend three unforgettable nights in Madrid, Spain. And if any city is a mecca for football fans, it’s got to be Madrid. The city is the home of Real Madrid, the richest and one of the most recognised football clubs in the world. It’s also where you’ll find the iconic Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the home of Real Madrid since 1947.
Countless legendary footballers have played here from Cristiano Ronaldo to Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, and Sergio Ramos. Watching a match at the 81,000-capacity stadium among the screaming fans is a truly special experience and you can even take a behind-the-scenes tour to see the changing rooms, presidential box, and the extraordinary amount of trophies.
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Looking for the best football fan travel destinations? You can’t miss Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Known as ‘o País do Futebol’ or ‘the country of football’, Brazil eats, sleeps and breathes football… And the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro may just be the sport’s most divine site. It’s one of the largest stadiums in the world, and when it was built for the World Cup in 1950, it held around 200,000 standing spectators.
After it was renovated for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the standing terraces were replaced with seats and the capacity is now at around 79,000… Which is still very impressive! When you travel to Brazil on our South Americal Revealed trip, you’ll spend three nights in Rio. You can spend some time taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium and learn the stories of legendary Brazilian footballers like Pelé, Garrincha and Ronaldinho.
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Italy has to appear on any list of the best tours for football fans. The country has an obsession with football and one of the best cities to experience it is Milan. This Northern Italy trip will have you spending two nights in Milan, where you can get to know two of the most renowned football clubs in Italy — AC Milan and Inter Milan.
Both teams play their home matches at the iconic San Siro Stadium and you’ll be walking in the footsteps of countless famous footballers from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luiz Ronaldo to Paolo Maldini and Ricardo Kaká. If you’re looking for the ultimate football feast for fans, head to Milan for the bi-annual Derby della Madonnina, when the city’s two teams — AC and Inter — battle it out at their shared stadium while 80,000 roaring fans watch on.
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If you’re a football fan, you’ve got to head to Buenos Aires in Argentina… A city where football is downright sacred. You’ll spend three nights here on our South America Landscapes trip, getting to soak up all the football madness. The country has produced some of the most talented footballers in history, like Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, and Buenos Aires is the best city to soak up the passionate, singing crowds of Argentine football fans. You can experience it any weekend at any stadium, from La Bombonera where the Boca Juniors play to Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, the city’s biggest stadium, and home of River Plate, the arch-rivals of the Boca Juniors.
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Home to seven English Premier League teams, London, England, is one of the greatest football fan travel destinations. When you travel on our London Explorer tour, you’ll eight incredible days to soak up the city’s football glory. See the home stadiums of iconic teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Crystal Palace, West Ham United, and Tottenham Hotspur. Or explore the legendary Wembley Stadium, the architectural wonder that’s also home to the English national team. If you don’t manage to score tickets to the big matches, don’t worry! You can always watch the game from a classic English pub and cheer on your team with the rowdy local fans.
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Barcelona is just as football-mad as Madrid, and when you travel on our Spanish Wonder trip, you can do both! Barcelona is home to one of the world’s best football clubs — FC Barcelona — and up until recently, one of the world’s best footballers— Lionel Messi. You can explore Camp Nou, the home stadium of FC Barcelona and one of the largest football stadiums in the world, with a capacity for 100,000 passionate fans.
Besides Messi, countless famous footballers have played here including Diego Maradona, Rivaldo, Andres Iniesta, Luiz Ronaldo, and Johann Cryuff. If you want a really good show, try to score seats to the epic game between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, known as El Clasico. It’s one of the most thrilling rivalries in this beautiful game.
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What are your favourite football fan travel destinations? Let us know in the comments below!