German football is full of magnificent stadiums, packed to the rafters for the big Bundesliga games. But have you thought about watching matches in the division below?
The 2. Bundesliga makes an excellent choice for a football weekend, and for many reasons. Of those 12 World Cup venues in 2006, five currently host second division football: Hannover, Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern, Nuremburg and Munich (TSV 1860, who share the Allianz with Bayern).
Of the other stadiums, four more are home to clubs who have competed in the Bundesliga in the past decade. Beyond that the second tier is where you’ll find some real cult clubs with an astonishing connection with their fans, and an occasional old style ground too.
Crowds in the 2. Bundesliga last year averaged 19,000, the highest for a second division in Europe.
Kick off times are spread over Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes and Monday night so there is every opportunity to add on at least one game to a Bundesliga weekend. Or you could simply forget the top tier and take in a couple from the 2. Bundesliga!
Let’s look at some of the clubs competing in the 2016/17 season!
VfB Stuttgart won the Bundesliga a decade ago. They have been in the Champions League since then, and at times tickets for the Mercedes-Benz-Arena have been like gold dust. In recent years the already impressive stadium, just down the road from the plush Mercedes Benz museum, has been renovated, but relegation has seen them drop into the 2. Bundesliga.
Next door to the ground is the Porsche-Arena, home to tennis tournaments, rock concerts and the like. It is not uncommon for the nearby tram stop to house a mix of VfB fans and heavy metal rockers at the same time!
Visit VfB Stuttgart this season, book at Nickes.Com!
Download our free Swedish guide to VFB Stuttgart and the Mercedes Benz Arena at EventGuides.com!
The city of Kaiserslautern is home to the biggest concentration of American servicemen outside the USA, who call it K-Town.
Kaiserslautern are former Bundesliga champions, twice in the 1990s. Their pedigree goes back much further – the stadium, known as the Betzenberg, is officially titled the Fritz-Walter-Stadion after their former player who captained West Germany to the 1954 World Cup. The stadium sits on top of a hill in the city centre, with three sides holding the majority of the 50,000 capacity. The Westtribüne belts out You’ll Never Walk Alone before kick-off.
Visit Kaiserslautern this season, book at Nickes.Com!
SV Sandhausen have been holding their own in lower middle table of the 2. Bundesliga for the past five seasons and play at the largely terraced Hardtwaldstadion. Their location is ideal for a break – Sandhausen is right next door to Heidelberg, a beautiful German town popular with tourists for its medieval inns and a castle overlooking the river.
Visit SV Sandhausen this season, book at Nickes.Com!
Moving to north Germany, and to Hamburg – St Pauli are perhaps Europe’s best known cult club. In the 1990s they acquired a cult status among left-leaning fans. That cult status continues today when a matchday at the Millerntor, close to the famous Reeperbahn, is an eclectic mix of rock music, passion and pride.
The stadium is largely rebuilt with three impressive new stands housing more modern facilities, and I’m sure the shop does well selling the stylish merchandise sporting the club’s skull and crossbones. But it remains a revolutionary club at heart.
Visit St Pauli this season, book at Nickes.Com!
Download our free Swedish guide to St Pauli and the Millerntor-Stadion at EventGuides.Com!
To see a cult club in slightly more basic surroundings then take the train two hours east to the capital Berlin, and to Union Berlin. They too have fostered a reputation as being a people’s club, and it rings true. The Stadion An der Alten Försterei is a delightful throwback where you can still imagine crowds packing in during the days of the DDR when Berlin was a divided city. Although one new main stand has gone up three sides of the 22,000 capacity ground remain terraced.
Visit Union Berlin this season, book at Nickes.Com!
West of Berlin is Braunschweig. Eintracht were one of the original Bundesliga sides back in 1963 and won the title in 1967. Since then the tale has been largely one of decline, but one bright spot came with a one-season return to the Bundesliga in 2013. Modernisation of the Eintracht-Stadion has taken place removing some of the old school charm, but visitors can still enjoy a 24,000 capacity bowl complete with athletics track.
Visit Braunschweig this season, book at Nickes.Com!
In the Rhine Ruhr region of west Germany, Fortuna Düsseldorf’’s 50,000 capacity ESPRIT Arena is modern and easy to reach. Düsseldorf is a good place to base yourself with excellent connections to the nearby cities of Cologne, Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen.
Visit Fortuna Dusseldorf this season, book at Nickes.Com!
The roots of German football go back to the early part of the 20th Century, and back in the 1920s one region dominated the show. Nürnberg won the league many times, with their closest rivals in every sense of the word being Fürth, a town all of five miles from Nuremburg.
Nuremburg was a host in the 2006 World Cup and its octagonal shaped Frankenstadion is easily recognisable. Holding 50,000, it also houses an athletics track.
Visit Nürnberg this season, book at Nickes.Com!
In the heart of Bavaria are TSV 1860 Munich, former European finalists. Watching TSV at home does, of course, give you the chance to witness a game at the iconic Allianz Arena.
Visit TSV Munich this season, book at Nickes.Com!
The 2 Bundesliga dishes up all the famed ‘fan experience’ that Germany’s top division offers. Check it out!