It is one of the most popular discussions to have with your friends in the bar: Where is your favourite football stadium?
Well, UK readers of Football Weekends magazine are no different. These travelling football supporters took part in a survey of stadiums they had visited on the continent – excluding Great Britain and Ireland – and nominated more than 100 venues.
Once all the votes were counted up, we had a top 30. In the first of three articles, we profile those arenas that finished in positions 30 to 21.
30. Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid, Spain (54,907)
It may not be the plushest stadium in Madrid but from the outside the Estadio Vicente Calderón cuts a striking pose. Sat next to the river, a road runs underneath the main stand. Meanwhile the other three sides curve round to form an incomplete bowl, with the red, white and blue coloured seats on these sides open to the Spanish elements.
With Atlético’s huge recent success in challenging the Real/Barça duopoly, the time has come to move and work is well underway on renovating the Olympic stadium on an open plot of land across Madrid. So don’t delay in enjoying a match here, in a typically Spanish stadium in the heart of the capital, just walking distance downhill from the city centre.
For two nights in a 3-star hotel in central Madrid in a double room (including breakfast) and your match ticket, the price per person (excluding flight) is from 1 795 SEK/165 GBP.
Book your trip to see Atlético with Nickes.Com!
29. Parc de Princes, Paris, France (48,583)
PSG’s rise to become one of the most powerful sides in Europe has put the Parc firmly in the spotlight.
Matchdays at the Parc have a certain edge, perhaps largely due to the feisty reputation of PSG’s fans over the years. They can certainly make a noise and, although stands at each end are a little way from the pitch, they generate an incredible noise. It’s certainly worth visiting if you find yourself in France’s capital city.
For two nights in a 3-star hotel in central Paris in a double room (including breakfast) and your match ticket, the price per person (excluding flight) is from 2 095 SEK/190 GBP.
Book your trip to see PSG with Nickes.Com!
28. Vonovia-Ruhrstadion, Bochum, Germany (29,299)
Bochum is barely ten minutes away from the city of Dortmund, home to one of Europe’s most popular clubs. But while Westfalenstadion (Signal Iduna Park) understandably attracts visitors from around the world, VfL Bochum is most definitely a traditional German club.
The stadium, with a new sponsor this year, is striking from the outside, and the lively Bochum fans ensure there’s a decent atmosphere inside. It is definitely one to combine with a trip to other clubs in the cluttered Ruhr region.
27. Stade Joseph Marien, Brussels, Belgium (8,000)
This may be the least known and most obscure venue to make our top 30. It’s certainly the smallest with a modest 8,000 capacity. However, it makes a deserved appearance among Europe’s elite homes.
And why is it so popular? This is old school, traditional terraces and atmosphere, in a country with quite a few of them still in use. Opened in 1919, it feels like somewhere from a former time and sits nicely with host club Union SG, who were Belgium’s most successful club – before the Second World War. In more recent times they’ve been in the Belgian Second Division.
26. Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Seville, Spain (42,500)
There’s nothing quite like watching football in a beautiful warm climate. That may well be part of the reason why the sun-kissed city of Seville makes an appearance in our top 30, with the open expanses of the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán the perfect place to top up on your suntan while enjoying a game.
It’s a big, largely open bowl – very Spanish in style, and currently the host of a team that’s been winning European trophies for fun. Seville’s a football mad city – there’s a deep rivalry with city neighbours Real Betis.
For two nights in a 3-star hotel in central Seville in a double room (including breakfast) and your match ticket, the price per person (excluding flight) is from 1 995 SEK/181 GBP.
Book your trip to see Seville with Nickes.Com!
25. ESPRIT arena, Düsseldorf, Germany (54,600)
From the outside the ESPRIT arena looks like a gigantic plastic box – very modern and stylish, in keeping with the city of Düsseldorf. Inside the stadium is brightened up by the seats being randomly coloured – apparently it lends the appearance of feeling full even when it isn’t. The stadium was packed during Fortuna’s recent season in the Bundesliga, and they still attract a decent number now.
It has a retractable roof and excellent transport links in the city’s trade area, so the stadium is most certainly multi-use – major music acts have appeared here, and it also hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011.
24. Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy (41,500)
Not many clubs – particularly ones the size of Juventus – move out of an old stadium and build a smaller new one. But that’s exactly what happened here. The 69,000 capacity Stadio delle Alpi was never popular among fans, and frequently the stadium was barely even half full.
The new stadium may be smaller but it’s packed, and the atmosphere when Juve are at home is electric. And well done to the club for holding the inaugural match in 2011 against Notts County, the club that inspired Juve’s famous black and white striped shirts.
For two nights in a 3-star hotel in central Turin in a double room (including breakfast) and your match ticket, the price per person (excluding flight) is from 2 995 SEK/275 GBP.
Book your trip to see Juventus with Nickes.Com!
23. Municipal Stadium of Braga, Braga, Portugal (30,286)
This deserves to be on any list of great stadiums. Unique. Awesome. Extraordinary. Ever since Braga’s ground first came on to our radar in the Euro 2004 tournament it’s been a must-do destination for many foreign football followers.
Put simply, SC Braga’s stadium is carved out of a quarry. There are just two big stands, one either side – and one end is dominated by a quarry rock face. There’s a plaza underneath the pitch to allow movement between the stands. So if the match isn’t catching your imagination, just admire the scenery and the architecture.
22. Stade Matmut-Atlantique, Bordeaux, France (42,115)
It is always good to see some imagination going into a new stadium and for that reason Bordeaux’s new venue should rightly appear in this survey. The roof is supported on the outside by 1,000 white poles that are meant to symbolise the pine forest that dominates the landscape around the city. It’s been a worthy winner of several design awards.
But it doesn’t just look good. The stands are close to the pitch, the seats are spacious and offer everyone a decent view. Now it just needs Girondins de Bordeaux to deliver Champions League football to this beautiful corner of France to complete the dream.
21. Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey (50,500)
The atmosphere at Turkish matches is legendary – fans arriving hours before the game to get the party started – and that has certainly helped the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium make our list. The home of Fenerbahçe has been completely rebuilt in modern times, with each stand built closer to the pitch – something you don’t usually find in grounds in Turkey.
It dates from 1908 but the recent refurbishment made it one of the most modern in the country, with a number of seats including a TV monitor to follow live coverage and see action replays.
This is an edited version of a feature in Football Weekends magazine, a fan’s guide to watching football around Europe. To order a copy, visit www.footballweekends.co.uk