Game on: Europe’s best football experiences
Whether it’s a pilgrimage to a ground you’ve always wanted to go to or a memorable addition to boys’ (or girls’) weekend away, Europe has some proper football treats in store. Match tickets don’t always come cheap, but hey – you’re saving money on a cheap hostel room, so why not splash out on an experience you’ll never forget?
San Siro, Milan
Inter v AC Milan both playing at home in Milan’s other cathedral, San Siro, is something every footy fan needs to see in his or her life. A football mecca (with incredible views across the city for the casual fan), this is the place to come if you want to experience football at its best. From the roar as the players come out of the tunnel to the lung-busting singing, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Go big or go home. The beautifulCamp Nou, seats nearly 100,000 – more than any other stadium in Europe – and renovation will see it get bigger and better. A derby game between Barca and Espanyol delivers an atmosphere you’ll never forget, but any match in this huge cauldron of a stadium will give you goosebumps. On a tour, you’ll walk the hallowed turf trodden by legend Leo Messi, and end up in an amazing merch shop you could spend hours in.
Allianz Arena, Munich
AKA The Inflatable Boat or the UFO, this is the most modern stadium in Europe and home to one of Germany’s best teams, Bayern Munich. The stadium is something else, and has a famous colour-changing external wall: when Bayern Munich is home, the whole building glows red; if it’s second division former giants TSV 1860 Munich playing, it’s blue. And when the German national team comes home, it radiates white.
Emirates Stadium, London
The basic-level self-guided tour of Arsenal’s hallowed ground takes you to the Director’s Box and the changing rooms, and you can also walk out of the players’ tunnel and grab a selfie in the dugout. Step it up a notch and you can snap a shot of you with the FA Cup 2015 trophy or even be guided by an ex-Arsenal hero on a Legends Tour. With so many options, you could just keep going back, tour after tour.
This one doesn’t make the list because it’s super-famous, but because resident team FC St Pauli is just really, really nice. This is arguably the most welcoming, inclusive ground on the continent. St Pauli fans love football not just for the game but for the community, belonging and joy it brings them. If you want a smile on your face, head here – and you can pop off to the nearby Reeperbahn for some choice nightlife afterwards.