The top 6 destinations to watch football in Europe

Tapas and football? It’s time to start planning your next break.

FANCY A TRIP away for the weekend in one of Europe’s coolest cities… and mabe take in a game? We hear you. 

1. Barcelona

Why go: The stunning city of Barcelona also boasts the biggest football ground in Europe, as well as one of the world’s best teams. That must surely be a combination to get any football fan salivating.

The home of Messi, Iniesta and Neymar, it is a must for any football fan to make the trip. Walking into the Camp Nou for the first time is an amazing feeling as you gaze around at over 99,000 seats, towering above pitch level. The four time Champions League winners always put on an entertaining show and the Catalan fans are hugely passionate about their football, creating an enjoyable atmosphere during the game.

Away from the ground you can sample the many beaches along the Barcelona coastline as well as the bars, restaurants and shops along the 1.2km long main street – Las Ramblas. The Sagrada Familia Cathedral is a major attraction in the city. Building of the cathedral began in 1882 and is yet to be finished. The estimated date for completion is 2026, 144 years after building began.

Prices: Ticket prices for Barcelona home games range from €49 for a seat up in the heavens to €154 for a seat along the halfway line.

Flight details: There are three airports in Barcelona with Barcelona El Prat (or Barcelona International) located closest to the city centre. Both Ryanair and Aer Lingus fly directly to El Prat with Ryanair usually working out as the cheaper although it is worth checking out both website before booking.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group H - Barcelona v Celtic - Camp Nou The Camp Nou stadium. Source: Andrew Matthews/Press Association

 2. Dortmund

Why go: If you’re a real football hipster you’ll already have been to the Westfalenstadion. If not, then make sure you go. Borussia Dortmund fans have gained a reputation in recent years for creating one of the best atmospheres in any football stadium around the world. The fabled ‘Yellow Wall’ behind the goals has become famous for colour, noise and stunning pre-match displays. Although tickets are hard to come by for this particular section of the ground it is an experience just to be inside the stadium and see the stand in action. With a capacity of 80,000 the noise is deafening on matchdays.

Away from the ground Dortmund is an attractive old-style German city. The Altes Rathaus is the old town hall, constructed during the 19th century. Located in the centre of the city it is surrounded by bars and restaurants and is where you will find many Dortmund fans on match days prior to kick-off.

Prices: The Westfalenstadion is renowned for having some of the best value ticket prices for top level football in Europe. Tickets for the ‘Yellow Wall’ standing area are just €16 while the most expensive category one tickets are priced at €52.

Flight details: Unfortunately it is not possible to fly directly from Dublin to Dortmund. Usually the cheapest way to do it is to fly first to London Stansted and then take a Ryanair flight from there to Dortmund.

Germany Soccer Cup The Westfalenstadion's famous 'Yellow Wall' Source: Martin Meissner/AP/Press Association Images

3. Rome

Why go: Rome is one of the most historic cities in the world and also boasts two top class football teams who both play their home games in the same stadium. The atmosphere in the Stadio Olimpico is renowned around the world. At times very hostile it is always intense and is an experience not to be missed. With a capacity of over 82,000 it is always loud, despite the running track around the pitch.

There are countless tourist attractions around the city such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain to name a few. If you’re someone who enjoys combining art galleries and football stadiums while on your travels then you will not be disappointed in Rome as art plays a central role in the life of the city.

Prices: Ticket prices differ between Roma and Lazio with the blue team in the city working out as slightly cheaper depending on what seats you are looking for. Tickets for the lower key ‘Category B’ Roma games range from €20 to €95 while ‘Category A’ games cost between €30 and €100.

The cheapest tickets for Lazio home games can be bought for just €16 while the most expensive seats will set you back €120.

Flight details: Both Ryanair and Aer Lingus fly directly from Dublin to Rome. Ryanair fly into Rome Ciampino airport (14km from the city centre) while Aer Lingus fly into Rome Da Vinci (about 22km from the city centre).

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - First Knockout Round - Second Leg - Roma v Arsenal - Stadio Olimpico Roma fans are well known for colour and noise. Source: Adam Davy/Press Association

4. Madrid

Why go: The Spanish capital is home to both the current European champions and the current Spanish champions. You are spoilt for choice on a trip to Madrid with the Santiago Bernabeu offering a chance to see The Galacticos of Real Madrid strut their stuff in the breathtaking 90,000 seater stadium, while on the other side of the city the simmering cauldron of atmosphere that is the Vicente Calderon is home to the ‘working class team’ of Madrid – Atletico.

While both stadiums are well worth a visit you get a better feel for the more authentic Madrid football supporter with a trip to the Vicente Calderon (and it will leave less of a hole in your pocket). For years Atletico played second fiddle to their richer, more glamorous neighbours but their La Liga title last season has shown that they are ready to stand up to Los Blancos. Atletico fans are proud of supporting what has historically been the smaller team in the city and they let that be known during matches, creating a hostile atmosphere for the away team.

Prices: Ticket prices to see Real Madrid in action in the Bernabeu generally range from €70 to €115. In contrast matchday tickets for the Vicente Calderon generally range from €69 to €75.

Flight details: Madrid is easily accessible either with Ryanair or Aer Lingus. Both fly to Madrid Barajas Airport from which the city centre is accessible via the metro.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Atletico Madrid v Barcelona - Vicente Calderon Stadium Atletico Madrid fans display before last season's Champions League Quarter Final. Source: Gregorio Lopez/Press Association

5. Split

Why go: Cheap bars, beaches and party islands just a short boat ride away Split is a paradise in the sun. It is also home to some of Europe’s most fanatical fans, as seen through Hajduk Split graffiti on almost every street corner. Hajduk are one of the most successful teams in Croatia with a total of nine Yugoslav and six Croatian league titles. They play in the 35,000 seater Stadion Poljud on the north of the city, situated on the shores of the Adriatic Sea.

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The Split supports, known as ‘Torcida’, are some of the most dedicated and fanatical supporters in the world. Every match is a huge occasion in this part of the world and the picturesque city comes alive each matchday.

Prices: Tickets for Hajduk Split league matches generally range between 40 and 80 kunas. That’s roughly a range of €5 to €11. Easily the cheapest match ticket on this list!

Flights details: Neither Ryanair nor Aer Lingus fly directly from Dublin to Split. Ryanair offer cheap flights to Zadar, a city 170km north of Split. From there it is possible to get a train along the Adriatic Coastline to Split.

Soccer - Pre-Season Friendly - Hajduk Split v Barcelona -     Stadion Poljud Hajduk Split fans in the Stadion Poljud. Source: Ivo Cagalj/Press Association

6. Bilbao

Why go: Bilbao is the capital of Spain’s Basque Region and home to Athletic Bilbao. Basque people are traditionally fiercely proud of their heritage and see themselves as being an independent state from Spain. Because of this the two main teams in the region – Bilbao and Real Sociedad – are seen almost as national sides.

Athletic moved into a new stadium just last season, leaving the old San Mames ground after 100 years playing there. Bilbao moved into their new ground last season while only three-quarters of it was completed. However, the south stand (which was not open last season) should be ready for use within the near future.


Flight details: Only Aer Lingus fly directly from Dublin to Bilbao with flights every day of the week except Wednesdays and Sundays.

Spain Soccer La Liga The new San Mames stadium is almost fully completed. Source: Alvaro Barrientos/Press Association

So that’s our list of the best European footballing destinations, what are yours? Let us know in the comments below.

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Ruaidhri Croke

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