Madrid is a soccer lover’s dream. Home to arguably the best team in the world, Real Madrid C.F (that has a record 33 La Liga titles and 12 Euro Cup / Champions League trophies under their belt), as well as soccer heavyweight Club Atlético de Madrid, the city lives and breathes soccer. In addition, the city has two other clubs, Rayo Vallecano and Real Madrid Castilla (a.k.a. Real Madrid Reserve), making a total of four teams and four stadiums in one single city and football fever all round. Whether you’re a devoted soccer fan or just enjoy watching the game and soaking up the excitement, here are six reasons why Madrid is the place to be if you love soccer.
1. There’s always a match to watch
You’re spoiled for choice with the schedule of games during soccer season that runs from mid August to the end of May, with games scheduled nearly every night of the week for your viewing pleasure. Spain’s first division league La Liga’s matches usually take place on the weekends, while the Kings Cup, UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues are mostly held during the week. If you’d like to watch any of the games live, be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time, particularly with the most popular matches, as they sell out fast. You might also save a buck or two by purchasing tickets in advance. Check the club’s official pages for match dates and prices.
2. Visit some of the greatest stadiums
If your student budget doesn’t allow you to see a Real Madrid game live on home turf, you can still visit The Vikings’ historical home stadium Santiago Bernabéu located in the Chamartín neighborhood and imagine the scene before you from the 81,000-seater auditorium (that, by the way, is currently undergoing renovations, including the addition of a roof and a growth in height of 10 meters). The stadium offers comprehensive self-guided audio tours that take you behind the scenes around the dressing room, through the tunnel and coaching area and onto the pitch, as well as to the trophy room, President Box and more. Tickets are around 25 euros and you can book them online here. If you’re not a Real Madrid fan, you can check out Madrid’s Atlético team stadium instead that also offers guided tours around the site while the tour guides share anecdotes about previous games and team players. Both tours are popular things to do in Madrid so be sure to buy your tickets in advance.
3. The city goes wild when Madrid’s teams win
Photo credits: David, Flickr
Whenever one of Madrid’s teams wins an important match (or even a friendly), the euphoric fans takes to the streets to celebrate, partying and splashing about in fountains. During major league wins, the bus with the winning team aboard will often drive through the streets waving their trophy to crowds of cheering fans vying to catch sight of their favorite player. Even if you’re not a football fanatic and haven’t even seen the game, it’s fun to go out and enjoy the aftermath. It’s the perfect excuse for a party. On the other hand, if one of Madrid’s teams loses, steer clear of the disappointed, angry crowds and stay indoors.
4. There are sports bars aplenty to watch the games with fellow fans
Nobody likes to watch a game solo at home and there are plenty of sports bars in Madrid that televise the games. If you’re after a rowdy, excited atmosphere then head to any bar near the stadium where the game is taking place, as they’re sure to be full of devoted fans with their eyes eagerly glued to the big screens. For a buzzing atmosphere, check out La Cervecería Deportiva (Costanilla de los Ángeles, 12), La Fontana de Oro (Calle de la Victoria, 1) or Preciados 38 Sports Bar (Peciados 38).
5. Stock up on fútbol paraphernalia
If you want to snag yourself some genuine Real Madrid gear, head to the Santiago Bernabéu stadium own giant store near Gate 55 or the Real Madrid Tienda Oficial store in Madrid’s city center. For official Atlético Madrid merchandise, run over to the 1903 Atlético Madrid Megastore at the Vicente Calderón stadium, between gates 25 and 26. Otherwise you can find fake soccer scarves, jerseys, figurines and tourist tat galore in the numerous market stalls around central Madrid.
6. Rub shoulders with Cristiano Ronaldo at the Museo de cera
If you’re not lucky enough to get a real-life sighting of footballing legend Ronaldo about town, the next best thing is to visit his waxwork at Madrid’s Museo de Cera (no-one will ever know the difference in photos). According to the tabloids, Ronaldo sends his hair stylist to coif the hair of his wax doppelganger once a month.
Got any other good tips for soccer lovers in Madrid? Share them with our readers in the comments section below.