10 Soccer Stadiums You Need to Visit

One of the best ways to experience a city as a local does is to attend its local sporting events. The crowds are often friendly (as long as no one makes the mistake of wearing the other team’s colors) and they’ll point out the best street food, the cheapest beer, and most likely, they’ll be using local slang to insult the opposition. But not all soccer teams are created equal, nor are their arenas. Read on to find the 10 sporting teams whose arenas should be on your bucket list.

10. Estádio Municipal de Braga – Braga, Portugal

The Estádio da Luz might be “the Cathedral” and Estádio José Alvalade is bright and beautiful, but it’s the Estádio Municipal that should be on soccer fans’ must-visit list. How many stadiums are carved out of a quarry? The Portuguese stadium might be unique in its setting, providing a beautiful place to watch a match. Only two sides of the field are flanked by stands, meaning the stadium is on the small side, holding just over 30,000. But a glance toward the hew rocks on one end, upon which the scoreboard stands, can fool visitors into believing they’re in the middle of nowhere. Look around to the other end, however, and the city of Braga sprawls below. The stadium sits just a 15 minute walk outside the city center, meaning there’s also plenty of opportunity to enjoy the delights of Portugal’s food and drink.

Photo by: Leon
Photo by: Leon

9. Anfield Stadium – Liverpool, England

For neutral fans wanting to catch a game in the country that gave birth to modern soccer, Anfield is by far the best choice. While Manchester United has a slick new complex and both Chelsea and Arsenal are located in London, all three are known for the rather tepid atmosphere pervading their stadiums. So for those seeking both a great stadium experience and a fun city to explore, the choice must be Anfield. Liverpool hasn’t won a major trophy in over a decade, but that doesn’t mean Reds fans are any less dedicated. The stadium is filled to capacity for nearly every league match, and the Kop – where the most vocal supporters sit – is guaranteed to be raucous. Be sure to learn the words to the club’s anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone, before showing up at Anfield, as the entire stadium sings along just prior to kickoff.

nui7711 / Shutterstock.com
nui7711 / Shutterstock.com

8. Juventus Stadium – Turin, Italy

Serie A was once the top league in Europe, but Italian football is on the decline. That means less money, and less money means once-glorious stadiums like the San Siro in Milan are now crumbling. Juventus Stadium, however, provides not just a bright spot on the peninsula, but a prime model other clubs are in the process of emulating. Filled to almost its 40,000 capacity for every game, all that money goes to the team, a rarity in Italy. For Juventus, that means the ability to buy better players, which has lead to a run of league titles. For fans, it means getting to watch great soccer in the comfort of a modern stadium. For the visitor, it’s a wonderful atmosphere with seats almost right on top of the field. In short, it’s where to go to see the future of Italian soccer.

Pix4Pix / Shutterstock.com
Pix4Pix / Shutterstock.com

7. Maracanã Stadium – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil’s Maracanã is one of the most famous stadiums in the world. Even those who have no idea of its history (the venue was built to wow visitors coming to Brazil for the 1950 World Cup) would likely recognize it as an icon. All those memorable shots of Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue, broadcast to millions during the 2014 World Cup final, often showed the stadium in the background. Visitors might be disappointed to learn they can’t see the famous statue from inside any longer, however, as the roof has been extended to protect nearly every seat in the house. But the upgrades make this a great place to watch a game, from the open, single tier of yellow and blue seats to the airy roof above. And lovers of soccer history will be thrilled to know they’re sitting in the same stadium where the legendary striker Pelé scored his 1,000th goal.

T photography / Shutterstock.com
T photography / Shutterstock.com

6. Celtic Park – Glasgow, Scotland

Celtic played their first match at Parkhead, as fans refer to the stadium, way back in 1892. The park has come a long way since those days when just one wooden stand loomed over the field. Rebuilt in the 1990s, 60,000 seats now enclose the field, and the noise from the stands creates an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams. Those wanting to catch a game at Celtic Park should try to get tickets to an Old Firm derby, when Celtic play their rivals Rangers. More difficult to find now that Rangers are in the second division, when a tournament draws these two together, these tickets are some of the hottest in Europe. Not only does the Old Firm pit the two most successful teams in Scottish history together, but it brings together passionate fans that absolutely despise the other side, making for a cracking atmosphere.

Cornfield / Shutterstock.com
Cornfield / Shutterstock.com

5. Estadio Azteca – Mexico City, Mexico

Club América is one of the most successful teams in Mexico, and it’s definitely worth a trip to watch them play Chivas Guadalajara, another of the country’s best and América’s most bitter rivals. But the real reason to come to this stadium is for international matches. The Mexico national soccer team, nicknamed El Tri, rarely ever loses a game at its home stadium, largely due to the intimidating atmosphere in the stands, which hold more than 95,000 spectators. Even when El Tri isn’t playing, history gets made. The Azteca, the first stadium to host two World Cup finals, has given the world some of the most famous moments in soccer. In 1970, Italy beat West Germany 4-3 in what’s known as the “Game of the Century,” while 1986 brought not only the “Goal of the Century” from Diego Maradona, but his infamous “Hand of God” incident against England.

Jess Kraft / Shutterstock.com
Jess Kraft / Shutterstock.com

4. Türk Telekom Arena – Istanbul, Turkey

Once the holders of the Guinness Book of World Records title for the loudest crowd noise at a sporting event, now Galatasaray fans behave as though they’re determined to take back their crown. The Türk Telekom Arena isn’t one of the biggest in the sport, holding just over 50,000, but the cim bom faithful know how to create a fantastic atmosphere. Galatasaray supporters are also partial to fire, so keep an eye out for flares and flames coming from the sections that house the hardcore fans. For those lucky enough to score a ticket to the Intercontinental Derby, when city rivals Fenerbahçe come to visit, huge displays of choreography and massive banners exalting Galatasaray are to be expected. Expect to be entertained by antics on the pitch as well, as tempers flare there’s usually at least one sending off.

Photo by: Omer via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Omer via Wikimedia Commons

3. La Bombonera – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Officially named the Estadio Alberto J. Armando, this stadium is called “La Bombonera” due to the fact that it resembles a chocolate box, having originally been built in a U-shape, although the fourth side is now filled with a low stand and VIP boxes. The addition of more space for spectators along that fourth side hasn’t diminished the stadium’s acoustics. The triple-tiered stands along three sides trap the noise, aiding the 49,000 supporters in creating an atmosphere hostile to visiting teams. The smallish capacity can make tickets hard to come by, especially if Boca Juniors are playing rivals River Plate, but the experience of being among such passionate fans is worth the effort. Take time before the game to walk around La Bombonera, admiring the murals depicting important moments in Boca Juniors’ history – particularly the choosing of the club’s famed blue and yellow colors.

Jess Kraft / Shutterstock.com
Jess Kraft / Shutterstock.com

2. Camp Nou – Barcelona, Spain

The biggest soccer stadium that can be found outside North Korea, the Camp Nou is on nearly every serious soccer fan’s bucket list. And no wonder: the stadium plays host to one of the most successful teams in Europe and offers a stage to many of the best players on earth.The fans also demonstrate a fierce pride in Catalonia, the autonomous region in which Barcelona is located. The club’s Catalan motto, “Mes que un club”, is spelled out in the seats, the supporters sing in Catalan, and the region’s flag waves throughout the stands. If going to El Clásico, the meeting between Barça and Real Madrid, read up on the political background for some fascinating insights into the rivalry. Even without a visit from the rivals, however, visitors are certain to see some wonderful soccer played out.

Natursports / Shutterstock.com
Natursports / Shutterstock.com

1. Westfalenstadion – Dortmund, Germany

The absolute best place to go for fans who want to experience both entertaining soccer and a fantastic atmosphere. Officially named Signal Iduna Park, the Westfalenstadion is the biggest in Germany and one of the largest in Europe, holding 81,359 when both seating and standing are included. While standing is not allowed when Borussia Dortmund are playing in European tournaments, it is their standing section that is perhaps the most attractive feature of a trip to the stadium. Die Gelbe Wand, or the Yellow Wall, comprises the Westfalenstadion southern terrace. It was named so because Dortmund’s primary color is bright yellow. The wall is an intimidating sight, featuring 25,000 supporters doing their best to strike fear in the heart of the opposition. Also watch for Dortmund’s tifo, or giant banners, unfurled in impressive displays of choreography as the match begins.

Photo by: lackystrike via Flickr
Photo by: lackystrike via Flickr

11 Things to See and Do in Liverpool, England

Liverpool, in the county of Merseyside, England is well known for being the birthplace of the iconic band The Beatles and the Liverpool FC soccer team. Although these internationally recognized symbols may draw the immediate eye, the underbrush of history and architecture awaits those who take the time to discover it. An array of bright lights, monumental-sized buildings, and some sneaky artwork lie in wait for the would-be traveler, making Liverpool a location of particular interest to those looking to find a new favorite place to visit.

11. Formby Point

Picturesque sandy beaches wait at Formby Point, with activities only limited by the imagination. Sea grass-covered sand dunes sit just feet from the shore; these ever-changing dunes are just one of many natural features. Behind the magnificent view lie pine woodlands, home to the protected and rarely seen red squirrels. Occasionally, a herd of sheep my greet visitors as well. Prehistoric footprints have also been discovered under the sand, which can be discovered by a guided walk with an archaeologist. Other activities include geocaching, bird spotting and cycling tours.

Formby Point

10. Walker Art Gallery

Behind its high pillars and sparkling water fountain lies a museum with a classic layout and design fit for a movie. The Walker Art Gallery is home to renaissance masterpieces and one of the best collections of Victorian art in the country. Some of the most important works have been on display for nearly 200 years, and are more recognizable by sight as opposed to by name.  Fashion, paintings, sculptures and video art are just some of the collections worth seeing. As with most museums, children’s programs are available, as are guided tours which are highly recommended for information on pieces that date back as far as the 13th century.

chrisdorney / Shutterstock.com
chrisdorney / Shutterstock.com

9. Knowsley Safari Park

Knowsley Safari Park showcases a wide range of wildlife, some that may not be expected at a typical zoo. Along with big cats, birds and elephants are the skin crawling Giant African Millipedes, Poison Dart Frogs, and the Capybara (the world’s largest rodent weighing over 90 pounds). The unique draw is that the visitor drives through the grounds in their own vehicle as animals roam about, just as any other safari, except this one is very close to the city and major highways. The park also features a walk-around area to get really up-close and personal. With fair grounds, and sea-lion shows among the many events at the venue, there’s always something interesting going on here.

Capybara

8. Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

Another sensational building in the city, the hall is built on the same site of its predecessor which was destroyed by fire in 1933. With about 250 events per year (70 or so by the orchestra) the venue sells over 250, 000 tickets annually. Frequented by superb acts (The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Buddy Holly being historical favorites), the hall is considered a premium venue. Whether for a concert or movie premier, a ticket to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic makes for a glamorous evening. Music workshops are also frequently available for all ages.

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

7. Antony Gormley’s Another Place at Crosby Beach

The rare visit that needs to be timed out, Antony Gormley’s Another Place is a piece of artwork unlike anything anyone has seen. 100 cast iron “bodyforms” are placed along the coast over a stretch of 1.75 square kilometers. Time of day, position of the tide, and weather conditions all play a part in how much of the work is visible at a given time. The unpredictability of the art is what makes it memorable, but also what makes it a new experience every time. A truly inspiring piece of art, Antony Gormley’s Another Place offers insight, enlightenment (and of course a fantastic photo opportunity) as the structures change and grow old with time.

silvergull / Shutterstock.com
silvergull / Shutterstock.com

6. Albert Dock

The famous Albert Dock is home to renowned coffee shops, retail, art galleries and museums. Mainstays such as the Beatles Museum, International Slavery Museum, and the Merseyside Maritime Museum are great ways to explore Liverpool history. Travel in a “Magical Mystery Tour” bus to learn all there is about The Beatles, or a simpler guided walking tour to get an in-depth perspective on this iconic destination. The dock is over 170 years old, and holds the largest group of Grade 1-listed buildings (structures of historical or architectural interest) in the country making sure to find its way into more than a few Instagram pages.

Debu55y / Shutterstock.com
Debu55y / Shutterstock.com

5. Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

It took a staggering 74 years to build what is now the largest historic cathedral in the United Kingdom and 5th largest in the world.  A simplistic layout, the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral has vast open space which only accentuates the architectural features.  The low-cost tour (approximately $8) comes highly recommended due to the stunning history of the structure, having survived both World Wars and all the events that come with a three-quarter century building project. Wine tastings and fashion shows are reoccurring events but a trip up the tower is the biggest draw. Standing 500’ high above the river, the Vestey Tower is a perfect way to soak in the Liverpool skyline as it lights up at night.

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

4. Anfield

Anfield is home to Liverpool FC and is one of the most historic football/soccer venues in the country. Built and opened in 1884, it was housed by the Everton Football Club for 8 years until Liverpool began playing there in 1892. This club has some of the most loyal and dedicated fans in the sport, with team songs that are more inspiring and heartfelt than most. Anfield is the 7th largest soccer stadium in England, and with a capacity over 45, 000 (said to be increasing to 58, 000) the stadium can get very loud. A historic site for any sports fan, it is recommended to go to a Liverpool FC game to understand the true meaning of being a sports fan.

naipung / Shutterstock.com
naipung / Shutterstock.com

3. Museum of Liverpool

Opened in July, 2011 the Museum of Liverpool is a modern building said to reflect the city’s global significance through unique geography, history and culture. This spot is sure to be a favorite visit during a walk along the waterfront with exhibits appealing to all tastes including galleries about the city’s military and infrastructural history, as well as an area dedicated to Liverpool’s most wonderful creative and sports personalities in the “Wondrous Place”.  The kids are sure to enjoy the movies, karaoke and bright-light exhibits the Museum of Liverpool has to offer; and with free admission, so will the adults.

Alastair Wallace / Shutterstock.com
Alastair Wallace / Shutterstock.com

2. Pier Head

Located at the majestic Liverpool Waterfront, the Pier Head brings together the “Three Graces”; The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building, and Port of Liverpool building. The pier offers the famous Mersey Ferries, and is steps away from the Museum of Liverpool. Luxury galleries, bars and restaurants can be found on Mann Island, the recently upgraded space that has enhanced the famous area.  The aforementioned Port of Liverpool Building (designed to fit the Chicago skyline) is a nearby massive building not open to the public, however it is to be marveled at as one of the long-standing structures that watches over the city. Stay at one of the many extravagant hotels and enjoy all the waterfront has to offer just steps away.

Alastair Wallace / Shutterstock.com
Alastair Wallace / Shutterstock.com

1. St. George’s Hall

A self-proclaimed “Breathtaking Venue”, St. George’s Hall is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular neo-classical buildings in the world.  Over 200 years old, the enormous pillars on the front steps make way for an interior that leaves no question as to why the space is so popular. The building is fit for royalty and hosts plenty of up-scale weddings and corporate events. However there are often free and paid shows in The Concert Room that Charles Dickens described as the “most perfect room in the world”. In the Heritage Center, tours and talks are available as well as exhibitions in the newly opened Basement Galleries.  An awe-inspiring building, St. George’s Hall is a must see.

St. George’s Hall

 

England for Sports Fans: Where to Go and What to See

When thinking of England and sports the first thing that comes to mind may be soccer/football, and while footy is the national staple on TVs around the world many other venues provide up close and personal experiences not necessarily available elsewhere. While select soccer stadiums are recommended, the scope of sport in England is much wider than that of North America given its proximity to other nations. Leaving no sport untouched (except for the beloved cheese-rolling event), take a trip through England to visit the best venues and sports the country has to offer.

8.  Horseracing: Aintree Racecourse – Sefton, Merseyside, England

This track is home to the Grand National steeplechase, one of the most prestigious horseraces in the world. Over 4.5 miles, the Grand National is considered one of the most difficult in terms of stamina and jumping, in some cases resulting in less than a quarter of the horses that started actually finishing the race. Motor racing, music and golf are other events that are known to take place at the grounds; however the steeplechase is the premium draw. A fine day can be had at Aintree; dress up, place a few bets, and enjoy the sophistication of this venue.

Lesley Rigg / Shutterstock.com
Lesley Rigg / Shutterstock.com

7.  Hockey: National Ice Centre – Nottingham

Ask anyone what sport they expect to see in England and almost no one will answer “hockey”. Following the demise of the Ice Hockey Superleague, the Elite Ice Hockey League was born in 2003 and consists of 10 teams. With teams scattered across the U.K., the Nottingham Panthers’ venue is the place to visit as the most dominant English team in recent years. The $70 million arena holds 7, 500 seats and is a great way to take in the cold-country sport. The Panthers have won 3 out of the last 4 play-off tournaments, making them a sure bet for the most exciting matches in England.

hockey rink

6.  Tennis: All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club – London

Most popularly known for hosting the Wimbledon Championships, it goes without saying that the members of this iconic club are rather prestigious. To shed some light on how prestigious; the club’s patron is Queen Elizabeth II and the club President is the Duke of Kent, Prince Edward. Amazingly, most of the financial surplus from this venue funds the development of tennis in England, which is said to be around $47 million USD per year. As the only Grand Slam tennis event still played on grass (and demands that players wear white) attending Wimbledon there is like being a part of history. Want to become a club member? Obtain letters of reference from four existing members and go from there.

Stuart Slavicky / Shutterstock.com
Stuart Slavicky / Shutterstock.com

5.  Darts: O2 Arena – London

A friendly game for pubs and rumpus rooms in some places, darts is a nationally loved sport in England. Premier League Darts launched in 2005 and is currently a 10-player tournament with matches held at various venues in the United Kingdom and Ireland. O2 Arena was selected however, as it has hosted the Championship finals the last 3 years. Drinking a beer with 20, 000 other fans is exactly the way to take in one’s inaugural professional darts competition. With foreign players entering/being selected for the tournament more often in recent years, the competition has only grown and the crowds become more raucous. Try taking a drink every time someone yells “One hundred and eighty!”

Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB / Shutterstock.com
Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB / Shutterstock.com

4.  Cricket: Old Trafford Cricket Ground – Trafford, Greater Manchester

Just half of a mile from the Old Trafford used for soccer lies the cricket ground, England’s second-oldest cricket venue. Use had slowed down from 2009 to 2012 due to poor quality facilities, but developments to the grounds have changed that. International cricket matches continue to be played there each year as national support has never wavered for the sport. The venue is currently home to Lancashire County Cricket Club, which plays its home games there April through September. Old Trafford Cricket Ground also finds income through music, and while sparingly used for such, attracts big-name artists.

Old Trafford Cricket Ground

3.  Formula One Racing: Silverstone Circuit – Silverstone, Northamptonshire

Forget NASCAR, these are the fastest drivers on the planet. Silverstone Circuit hosts The British Grand Prix which (along with the Italian Grand Prix) is the oldest Formula One World Championship Grand Prix in existence. Contracted as the venue for the event until 2026, there is still plenty of time to see these athletes whiz around a complex track at speeds up to 220 MPH. The track itself is exciting with several large straightaways as well as tight turns. This venue will not only have spectators holding their hats, but guessing how fast those blurry objects whizzing by are going.

ZRyzner / Shutterstock.com
ZRyzner / Shutterstock.com

2.  Soccer/Rugby: Old Trafford – Trafford, Greater Manchester

Home to one of the most popular soccer teams in the world, Manchester United, Old Trafford is a piece of sports history that seats over 75, 000. While Manchester United may not be the most dominant team in the country anymore, the ambiance and tension in the crowd is as exciting as ever while this team attempts to recover its powerhouse reputation it had just a few short years ago.  Nicknamed the “Theater of Dreams” Old Trafford also hosts the rugby league’s Super League Grand Final each year.  Whether for soccer or rugby, this living, breathing piece of history will always be worth visiting.

mrmichaelangelo / Shutterstock.com
mrmichaelangelo / Shutterstock.com

1.  Various Sports: Wembley – London

Whether soccer, football, rugby or boxing, Wembley is a massive stadium and the centerpiece to English sport that seats up to 90, 000 fans. Traditionally the host of the Football Association Cup (FA Cup) final each year, the stadium holds a plethora of other sporting events and the list is constantly growing. While rugby has been played here for a number of years, the NFL began playing regular season games at Wembley in 2007, and has been scheduling more each year since. Boxing put its name on the list in 2014, setting a post-war British attendance record for boxing at 80, 000. Connected by 2 underground rail stations, and with more than 5 buses going by, Wembley is easy to get to, and well worth braving the large crowds that congregate here in the name of sports.

Tadeusz Ibrom / Shutterstock.com
Tadeusz Ibrom / Shutterstock.com

10 of the World’s Oldest Active Sports Stadiums

Sporting events over the last century have been an integral part of the human experience. They have inspired millions of athletes and fans all over the world. As a result, some of the most fantastic architectural creativity has gone into the construction of sporting arenas. These stadiums are a tribute to the memory of the players and fans alike, harboring the ghosts of spectacular victories and devastating defeats. They are dedicated to the unrelenting pursuit of pride and greatness.

1. Melbourne Cricket Ground (Melbourne, Australia)

The oldest continuously operating sports arena in the world is also one of the largest, with a capacity of over 100,000. Built in 1854, it has grown into an enormous spectacle, hosting events for one of the fasting growing sports in the world. It also boasts the world record for the highest light towers in a sports arena.

Melbourne Cricket Ground
Neale Cousland / Shutterstock.com

2. Churchill Downs (Louisville, Kentucky)

The grandfather of American horse racing venues, Churchill Downs is a truly historic landmark. It has been in operation since 1875, and has played host to hundreds of breathtaking high stakes finishes in the crown jewel event of the Triple Crown.

Churchill Downs
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

3. Anfield (Liverpool, England)

Home to the world famous Liverpool Football Club, Anfield is one of the world’s sports meccas. Constructed in a stalwart square shape in 1884, the stadium has undergone several modern upgrades, but has stayed true to its original form.

Anfield Liverpool
mrmichaelangelo / Shutterstock.com

4. Old Trafford (Manchester, England)

The name says it all. The home ground of Manchester United, Old Trafford is one of the oldest and most fabled sports arenas in the world. Many famous players and key events in English and world football have graced its pitch. Built in 1910, it has become one of the most advanced and appealing stadiums in the world.

Old Trafford Stadium
Debu55y / Shutterstock.com

5. Fenway Park (Boston, Massachusetts)

Constructed in 1912, Fenway Park is the oldest major league baseball stadium in America. Fenway is famous not only for the Boston Red Sox, but also for its unique architectural features. Its left field wall, known as the Green Monster, is the product of limited building space and strange angular dimensions.

Fenway Park
JASON TENCH / Shutterstock.com

6. Wrigley Field (Chicago, Illinois)

Wrigley Field ranks just behind Fenway Park as the second oldest MLB ballpark, built in 1914. Its field is a vast green expanse shadowed by remarkable views of the Chicago skyline.

Wrigley Field
Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com

7. Wimbledon (London, England)

Known as the cathedral of professional tennis, Wimbledon was erected in 1922 at the site of the All England Racquet Club. It only plays host to public events for two weeks out of the year, during the Wimbledon grand slam tournament. Its new center court is a marvel to behold, featuring comfortable 360 degree seating under a retractable roof.

Tennis

8. San Siro (Milan, Italy)

The San Siro, named after its neighborhood in the city of Milan, Italy, is the home of two world famous football clubs, AC Milan and Inter Milan. Built in 1925, it underwent a major renovation in 1990 when Italy hosted the World Cup. Its brilliant and unique features draw thousands of visitors every year, including sports fans and architecture buffs.

San Siro
Bokic Bojan / Shutterstock.com

9. Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)

Home to the University of Alabama’s legendary football team, Bryant-Denny was built in 1929, and has hosted over 200 home wins for the resident Crimson Tide. It is the home of the most national championships in NCAA football, and the legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Bryant Denny Stadium

10. Notre Dame Stadium (South Bend, Indiana)

One of the most historic sites in college football, Notre Dame Stadium, built in 1930, is one of the most recognizable stadiums in the world. Its field, surrounded by its huge bowl-shaped coliseum, has hosted countless legends in college football.

Notre Dame Stadium