One of the greatest joys in life is a European Football Weekends. We love them so much that Danny even named his site after them. What could be better than sitting in a foreign football stadium, watching some crap football with a bottle of “Plop” in one hand and a strange looking sausage in another? Nothing I hear you cry, and you are 100% right. We are often asked by virgins (in the football abroad sense) where they should head to break their overseas cherry. Many want to head to the bright lights of the likes of the San Siro in Milan, The Camp Nou in Barcelona or the Estadio Bernabau in Madrid. Sure, these cathedrals of football should be on everyone’s “Stadiums to visit before you die” but for the sheer pleasure in discovering a perfect weekend we always thrown in the venues below. You simply cannot go wrong with the five destinations below (well, you can but it will be enjoyable!). So clear some free weekend time, log onto SkyScanner and Hotels.com and off you go. Remember to send us a postcard!
Nuremberg – Located in the Bavarian region of Germany, about 100 miles north of Munich. So why is it top of my list? Well lets take beer for a start. Hundreds of brews, many of them local. Food – well you cannot go wrong with the local brautwurst (sausage) served in groups of five in a roll – you simply cannot get a better sausage than a Nuremberger one! Culture? miles of it. It was here that Hitler planned to dominant the world, and many of the parade grounds are still here although a few are now city parks. The Nazi museum, simply unpronouncable in English (click here for details) is possible the finest museum on the subject in the world.
Bars and restaurants line the picture postcard streets and lanes, making a great place for a night out. Oh, you want to see some football? Well how about a game watching 1.FC Nurnberg? Back in the Bundesliga and attracting a decent following again. And if they are away then hop on the U-Bahn westwards to Fuerth to see them play in their Playmobil stadium in Bundesliga 2. Read about our adventures in the city here.
How to get there: Daily direct flights from London Stansted with Air Berlin to Nurnberg airport which is 7 miles north of the city and linked by U-Bahn to the centre.
Bergamo – Ryanair aren’t popular with many people but one thing they need credit for is opening up this little gem. Sure, they market it as Milan, but Bergamo is around 50 miles north of Milan, in the foothills of the Alps and sitting close to Lake Como and Iseo. It is a stunning city, with its walled “upper town” or Citta Alta filled with bars and restaurants. The football here is decidedly average – Atalanta are a yoyo team between the top two divisions, and the ground is not the most comfortable BUT the home fans do produce an atmosphere, it is very central and isn’t as expensive as other teams.
You can often combine a trip here with a hop down by train or bus (journey time of around 40 minutes) to the bright lights of Milan. With both AC and Inter in the Champions League they tend to play many games on the Saturday night meaning that it is often possible to take in a game here at the weekend too.
How to get there: Ryanair fly to Orio al Serio airport, aka Milan Bergamo from London Stansted, Liverpool and East Midlands, whilst Jet2 fly from Leeds Bradford.
Bilbao -Northern Spain is so underrated by us Brits, yet it offers such home from homes. Not in the Magaluf, full English breakfasts with Only Fools and Horses playing on the TV but in terms of its landscape. Swim due north for a few hundred miles from Bilbao and you will hit Cornwall, and some of the areas around the Basque Areas will transport you to St Ives if you close your eyes. Add in some of the best food known to man (sorry no Vegetarians here), Rioja by the bucket load and a Sir Norman Foster designed Metro and you are in heaven. For those who cannot travel without a bit of culture there is the Guggenheim Museum sitting on the rejuvenated river side.
Oh, you want football as well – well Athletic Bilbao fans are some of the most passionate in Spain, and throw in Real Sociedad an hour down the road and you cannot go far wrong.
How to get there: Easyjet fly to Bilbao from London Stansted and Vueling fly from London Heathrow on a daily basis.
Details on how to get to the stadium in Bilbao, getting a ticket and a bit more about the club can be found here.
Koln – The centre of Germany as far as I am concerned. So close to so many more places, with so much to offer. It even has its own carnival that rivals Rio and Notting Hill, where they actively encourage you to drink the fantastic locally brewed Kolsch beer for breakfast! And for the ladies? Germany’s longest shopping street, A chocolate museum and a natural spa. Aside from the old town which essentially is one big pavement cafe where waiters, called Jacks, serve beer and then simply mark your beer mat.
And the football? Well 1.FC Koln (the 1 stands for the fact they won the first ever Bundesliga) have possibly the best newly built stadium in Europe with 4 huge stands and impressive floodlights which they almost fill to its 50,000 capacity on a regular basis. Less than thirty minutes away by the hugely efficient transport system is Leverkusen and their newly redeveloped Bayer Arena, and if you stay on the train a bit longer (10 minutes or so) you will be in Dusseldorf where you can sample some delicious Alt (dark) beer and the LTU Arena, another 50,000 new stadium which hosts 3rd division Fortuna. You want more? Well Duisburg, Borussia Monchengladbach, Alemmina Acchen and Bochum are all within an hour so you are laughing…Did I mention tickets start from €10? Details of our last trip to the city, and a game at the fantastic LTU Arena in Dusseldorf can be read here.
How to get there: Easyjet fly to Cologne Bonn from London Gatwick, Germanwings fly here from London Stansted and Manchester, and BMI fly here from London Heathrow on a daily basis.
Details on how to get to the stadium in Cologne, getting a ticket and a bit more about the club can be found here. Within an hour you can also reach Leverkusen (20 minutes), Dusseldorf (30 minutes) and Monchengladbach (45 minutes).
Copenhagen – My second home now and what a place to be based. If you ignore the fact it is one of the most expensive cities on earth to eat and especially drink in, then you will have a marvellous time. Small enough to walk around and get to see anything, but big enough to have bars galore especially the one at the Carlsberg brewery where people buy tickets for the museum and simply head straight for the bar as its cheaper that way to get two beers down your throat that cannot be bought in the bars outside.
In the summer the Danes strip off and dive in the harbour, ignoring the oogling tourists, and in the winter they skate on the rivers and canals. And there is the huge cross city rivalry between FCK and Brondby IF fans – both teams created for convenience by merging over clubs together. FCK are seen as the “rich man’s” team, receiving some favourable decisions from the city’s governing body such as location them at Parken, the national stadium. But Brondby also has its passion and a nice newly developed stadium of their own in the west of the city. Add in 11, yes 11, lower division teams who play at times ranging from 11am on a Saturday all through the weekend and you cannot fail to have a great football, beer and sausage munching weekend. Details of our last couple of days out in the city watching football can be found here and here.
How to get there: Easyjet now fly up to three times per day from London Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester, Sterling Cimber and Nowegian also from Gatwick and of course BA and SAS from London Heathrow.
Details on how to get to the stadiums in Copenhagen, getting a ticket and a bit more about the club can be found here.
Danny Last, from European Football Weekends adds his fourpennith worth..(pictures here with Brian Barwick)
Glasgow – Two teams that you might have heard of and loads that you won’t be familiar with but will welcome you with open arms. Again, if you like a beer with your football then Glasgow will tick all of your boxes. A pub for every occasion. Details of how to get to the stadiums, get a ticket and get around can be found here.
Antwerp – Is there a better way to approach an EFW than by relaxing on the Euro Star? Get yourself up to Royal Antwerp and take in any number of other games nearby. Old skool terracing coupled with a fantastc selection of beers. Often feels like stepping back into the 80’s but hey, what’s wrong with that? Mod£rn football is rubbish remember.
Madrid – Experience superb football with a shocking atmosphere (Real Madrid) or shocking football with a superb atmosphere (Atletico Madrid). Factor in Getafe, AD Alcorcon, Real Madrid Castilla, Leganes and the fantastic Rayo Vallecano and we have the perfect European Football Weekend destination. Details of how to get to the stadiums, get a ticket and get around can be found here.
Cologne – Take your pick of any of the German cities in this area. They all offer great pubs. superb beer and are within a gnat’s crotchet of tens of football clubs. You really can’t go wrong. Germany rules in terms of football and beer. Cheap as chips as well.
Istanbul – You won’t get the biggest crowds but you just have to go there to drink in the atmosphere at the games. At Besiktas you can’t take your eyes off the crowd, good job to as the football is often mediocre. See games in Europe and Asia in the same weekend – tick. Details of how to get to the stadiums, get a ticket and get around can be found here.
So there are 9 ideas for you for the perfect Romantic Weekend away. Don’t say we never inspire you!