Such was the popularity of our post from Monday about our suggestions for a fantastic European Football Weekend, we are pleased to include two more suggestions from fellow football travellers Andy Hudson from the blog Gainnin’ Away and his brother Michael from the Accidental Groundhopper both of whom like nothing better than a budget airline, a few foreign beers and some decent atmosphere at a football match somewhere unpronounceable. First up is Michael with his two favourites:-
Plzen – Half the price of Prague and only ninety minutes away by bus, Plzen has never achieved anything in Czech football – until now. FK Viktoria won the Czech Cup in May and are nine points clear of Sparta Prague at the top of this season’s Czech Liga. Their ground’s not much above Conference-standard, with a 7,500 capacity and athletics track around the pitch, but it’s only a few minutes’ walk from the city centre and next door neighbours with the Pilsner Urquell Brewery and the Czech Republic’s biggest pub. With a winter break between mid-November and February, the Czech season runs right through to the middle of June. Still to come at the Štruncový Savy Stadium: both of the big teams from Prague, and Banik Ostrava in the final home game of the season.
Buses to Plzeň leave from Florenc Station in Prague and cost less than four Euro. Click here for more info on how to get to the stadium.
Split – Cheap bars, beautiful people, beaches and party islands just a boat ride away, and a city centre that’s been squatting in a Roman emperor’s palace for one and a half thousand years. What more could you want from a city except for some of Europe’s most wildly passionate fans and football graffiti on almost every street corner?
Hadjuk versus Dinamo Zagreb is the biggest game in Croatia, the two clubs fighting it out (sometimes literally) for first and second place in the national league. The Torcida, Europe’s first organised fans’ group, head for the north stand of the Poljud Stadium. After three successive promotions, RNK Split, the Workers’ Football Club, are the Blackpool of this year’s league. The Split Derby is in early- March.
Jet2.com and easyJet fly to Split from various UK airports including Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh and East Midlands, Gatwick and Stansted. There’s a full guide to football in Split here.
Andy Hudson takes up the baton and flies us north for his two.
Hamburg – Gemany’s second-largest city, home of the Reeperbahn and seven football teams, six of which are more than 100 years old, providing plenty of choice for a weekend double-header. FC St Pauli are currently holding their own in the Bundesliga and their recently redeveloped Millerntor home offers one of the best atmospheres in German football. The Sankt Pauli neighbourhood is an ideal location and offers FC St Pauli, the Reeperbahn, the famous harbour and plenty of bars, including the Jolly Roger, Karo Ecke and Knust which are all located a minute or two from Millerntor.
Ryanair flies to Lubeck from Stansted and Prestwick with a connecting bus service taking an hour to transport you into Hamburg.
Stockholm – Expensive but incredibly beautiful and offering a choice of many football matches, Stockholm is my favourite European destination. Three of the most famous Swedish clubs are based in the capital city, and if you’re quick you’ll be able to see AIK play at Rasunda before planned demolition of the stadium takes place in 2012 when all football activity will be transferred to the Swedbank Arena. AIK are based in Solna, north-west of Stockholm but connected to the city centre by the efficient T-Bana subway system.
Other football options are Djurgårdens, who play at the Stockholms Stadion (opened for the 1912 Olympics) in Östermalm, the affluent part of Stockholm just outside of the city centre, and Hammarby, who play at Söderstadion in Södermalm and soon to move to the new Stockholmsarenan.
Stockholm has a number of great pubs, but beer is expensive. Try Debaser on the Gamla Stan side of Slussen for cheaper beer and great live music, The Tudor Arms on Grevgatan in Östermalm, popular for football fans as plenty of sport is shown on TV and it won the Daily Telegraph’s Best Pub In The World (outside Britain) 2010 award, or Fåfängan, an outdoor bar and restaurant on top of a hill a short distance along from both Slussen and Södermalm which offers great views on a summer evening.
You can fly direct to Arlanda Airport, Stockholm, from Heathrow (using British Airways) or from Edinburgh and Gatwick (using Norwegian Air). Regular Ryanair flights are available from Liverpool, Gatwick, Stansted and Edinburgh to Skavsta which is near Nyköping and an 80 minute bus journey away from Stockholm. Ryanair also have a flight from Stanstead to Vasteras which is 90 minutes away from Stockholm on the bus.