1. Paris, France
Calling all Paris Saint-Germain fans! Most recently host to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019, the famous Parc des Princes Stadium should be on every soccer fanatic’s bucket list. Take this tour for a premium all-access pass to the stadium, trophy room, and virtual reality exhibition. And don’t worry if you’re traveling with a group — the tour has something for everyone (even people that can’t tell the difference between a sweeper and a goalie).
2. Milan, Italy
Soccer rivalries don’t get much bigger (or intense) than the Derby della Madonnina, Milan’s bi-annual battle between the red and black of AC and the blue and black of Inter. Over 80,000 Milanese watch these icons lock horns in their shared gladiatorial stadium, the San Siro. While it might be tricky to secure tickets to the big match, tours of the ground and trophy-laden museum are available throughout the year.
3. Istanbul, Turkey
Now, if the Milan derby is intense, any meeting of Istanbul’s Big Three (Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe, and Galatasaray) is a mind-blowing assault of the senses that any true soccer fan needs to experience. The stands are packed with unbridled passion as fans shatter noise records. A 2011 meeting between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe clocked an ear-ringing 131 decibels, which was then a world record for the loudest roar in a sports stadium. Best bring your earplugs.
4. Barcelona, Spain
Nobody needs an excuse to visit the sun-soaked city of Barcelona — especially fans of the Beautiful Game. The Catalonian city has long been established as a soccer wonderland thanks to the tika-taka on display at Camp Nou. Once you’ve had your fill of tapas, head straight to the stadium and learn about the likes of Messi, Ronaldinho and Cruyff as you tour the largest stadium in Europe and the club’s interactive museum.
5. Manchester, UK
Two great teams, one truly great city. Life in England’s northern powerhouse of Manchester revolves around a couple of soccer giants, Manchester United and Manchester City. Head to the Etihad or Old Trafford to watch the world’s best in action or indulge in England’s rich history at the National Football Museum. You can even enjoy a soccer-themed meal at Cafe Football, which is located just a stone’s throw from United’s famed stadium.
6. Dortmund, Germany
While most destinations on this list house some of soccer’s fiercest inner-city derbies, Dortmund is a one-team city of epic proportions. No city in the world gets behind their team like the locals of Dortmund, so it’s easy to see why a trip to the Westfalenstadion (especially the Yellow Wall) is near the top of every soccer fan’s bucket list. Like Manchester, Dortmund is home to a national soccer museum, which is a great place to get your geekery on.
7. Buenos Aires, Argentina
If the city of Dortmund has one of soccer’s most united fan bases, Buenos Aires can claim to have one of the most divided. Home to the Superclásico between Boca Juniors and River Plate, Buenos Aires eats, sleeps and breathes soccer (with a side of tango, of course). The derby pits two of South America’s most successful clubs against each other in a true feast for fans.
8. London, UK
London is arguably the sporting capital of the world. From the traditional tennis tournament in Wimbledon to all-action rugby matches in Twickenham, the city has something to satisfy every sporting fanatic. But it’s soccer where London truly excels. Six of England’s 20 Premier League clubs are located in the city, and you can tour their stadiums, including the homes of Arsenal and Chelsea. You can also take a wander around the architectural gem of Wembley, the home of the English national team.
9. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio lives for soccer. Every street corner, patch of grass, and sun-soaked beach is treated as mini Maracanã by locals of all ages. The real Maracanã, perhaps soccer’s holiest cathedral, is more than just home to the Brazilian national team. It’s a stadium steeped in history, and you can experience the captivating stories of this iconic stadium with a behind the scenes tour.
10. Lisbon, Portugal
The people of Lisbon agree on plenty: pastéis de nata are the best pastries around, their native city is the prettiest of them all, and their seafood is to die for. However, one thing that divides them like no other is the small matter of soccer. Benfica vs. Sporting. Red vs. Green. Eagles vs. Lions. It’s a rivalry that defines life in the Portuguese capital, and one that you can get to know better with a stadium of the tour Estádio da Luz or the Estadio José Alvalade.
11. Madrid, Spain
You can’t have a rundown of the world’s greatest soccer cities without mentioning Spain’s capital city. Home to both Real and Atlético, Madrid is a city that has defined the game for over 100 years. Head to the Bernabeu to see Real’s ridiculous amount of trophies, including 13 Champions League titles. Or if you fancy something a little more modern, check out the Wanda Metropolitano, Atlético’s state-of-the-art stadium.