Didn’t make it to the World Cup this year? 2018 is a long way away so why not make the wait easier by hitting one of these soccer hotspots? Whether you’re a die hard fan or just want to familiarize yourself with the beautiful game, these stadiums are up there with the best and promise to keep you entertained, regardless of whether there’s a match taking place. Pack your cleats and get ready to cheer at one of these sensational soccer destinations.
Stade Velodrome (Marseille, France)The Stade Velodrom is no spring chicken, having opened its doors in 1937 nor does it limit itself to a single purpose (it regularly hosts rugby games in addition to football matches). Don’t get too attached to its current design as it is in the process of undergoing a major overhaul, scheduled to be completed this year. The new setup will include 67,000 protected seats, unobstructed views thanks to well-placed pillars, and a marked increase in food vendors and bathroom facilities. Not only does this renovation mean an all around better football experience, it was developed with the intention of creating harmony between the stadium and the surrounding community. It will boast a minimal ecological footprint which means that fans can focus on cheering, rather than worrying about harshing Mother Earth’s mellow.
Allianz Arena (Munich, Germany)
From the outside, Allianz Arena looks not unlike a really cool, sort of squared tire. On the inside, it’s a massive masterpiece that football fanatics will never want to leave. It has the capacity to accommodate 71,437 fans and has only been open since 2005, making it a modern gem of a stadium. Should you want a really in-depth experience, be sure to sign up for a tour which lasts 75 minutes and allows you to really get up close and personal with this amazing spot.
Craven Cottage (London, UK)Compared to some of the bigger stadiums, Craven Cottage lives up to its name with its capacity of only 25,700. Don’t let its size fool you, though. The Fulham F.C. fans more than make up for their arena’s size with their extraordinary enthusiasm. Arrive early for some pre-game entertainment, stadium snacks, and a cold one to get yourself into the ultimate game-mode. Fun fact: Craven Cottage used to be a royal hunting lodge and its history can be traced back over 300 years.
Vicente Calderon Stadium (Madrid, Spain)Opened in in 1966 (5 years after first breaking ground), Vicente Calderon is home to Atletico Madrid and can accommodate a healthy 54,960 spectators at a time. Fans can participate in guided tours of the arena which allow for behind-the-scenes peeks at otherwise exclusive areas including access to the player’s tunnel which, according to the club’s website, “cannot be explained in words”. That alone seems worth the price of admission. Well, and an epic soccer match, too.
Camp Nou (Barcelona, Spain)Home to Futbol Club Barcelona, Camp Nou is a behemoth stadium that can accommodate 99,786 rabid fans at once, which one can only imagine makes for a pretty amazing party during high-stakes games. It opened its doors in 1957 and has been renovated a couple times, including an expansion in 2002. Thanks to its central location, spectators can take the celebration onto the streets and into one of the many bars and restaurants surrounding the stadium.
San Siro (Milan, Italy)Only in Italy (well, or maybe France) can one purchase team branded wine in a stadium’s gift shop. Other cool things to do? Take a full stadium tour that includes access to the players’ locker rooms, a museum, and oh hey, soccer matches too. Planning on taking your tweens for a visit and want to sweeten the deal? One Direction chose the stadium as a venue for their upcoming concerts. That being said, tickets to that show might be even harder to get than tickets to MSS matches.
Nissan Stadium (Yokohama, Japan)Yes, this is a soccer stadium, but it’s also a love letter to technology, meticulous attention to detail, and a good old love of the game. The stadium’s pitch is natural grass which is carefully maintained by a team of groundskeepers and a series of subterranean water pipes. The roof is retractable, and there are enormous screens which all but guarantee you’ll never miss a moment of the action. Devoted soccer fans will be delighted to hear that thanks to over 800 strategically situated lights, there will be no shadows during game play which should hopefully keep the number of stand brawls to a minimum.
Who is Kate Walker? She’s a freelance writer, yoga addict, and citizen of the concrete jungle. When not on the mat, Kate can be found at the dog park or on the dock in Muskoka. She is also pretty fond of running, skiing, and Settlers of Catan.