As you might suspect, soccer is really important in Spain, really really important, massive even. It is by far the most popular sport in the country, followed fervently by millions of people. It’s more the a sport for Spaniards, it’s a tradition, if you family supports a team, you support that team or risk ostracization. If you support team A you must hate team B and vice versa. It is a big deal.
To make matters worse, the local Spanish league (La Liga) is the strongest in the world according to official and unofficial sources alike. Spain is also home to some of the best and most storied football clubs around the globe: Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Atletico de Madrid, Atletic de Bilbao, etc. and all of them have their own rich history, legendary players and of course mythic stadiums.
These sacred temples of soccer are spread all across Spain, so no matter where you are visiting there is probably an amazing stadium near you. So for all the soccer fans out there, lets go over the top 5 stadiums to visit in Spain and why:
The Benito Villamarín stadium is located in the heart of Seville and home to the Real Betís Balonpie soccer club. Seville has two top tier soccer teams: Betis and El Sevilla who share a bitter rivalry. If you are from Seville you either support Betis or Sevilla and you dislike anyone that supports the other team.
When it comes to stadiums, Betis has the upper hand. The Benito Villamarin currently sits over 60.000 fans after the stadium was upgraded in 2016. The stadium is sleek and modern, decked out in the characteristic “bético” green. It is the largest of the two Sevillano stadiums and also offers tours of the installation including a visit to the teams museum.
The stadium is designed to amplify the sound of the crowd, making it one of the most imposing places to play for rival teams.
The old San Mamés stadium was one of the oldest and most storied stadiums in the country and was demolished in 2013. Known as La Catedral (the cathedral), the old stadium hosted a first division game every single year since the stadium was built in 1928. Suffice to say that there San Mamés has witnessed a fair share of soccer history, all of which is on display in the teams museum.
The Wanda Metropolitano is home to one of Europe’s top teams and the second best team in Madrid: Atlético de Madrid. Like Sevilla and Betis, there is a deep rivalry within the city of Madrid between supporters of both teams.
Atletico recently made the move from the mythic Vicente Calderon stadium that was located in the center of town, to the Wanda which is slightly outside the city center. The Vicente Calderón had been the teams stadium since 1966 but the team moved to the sleek and ultra-modern Wanda in 2017.
There has been a stadium in the same place where the Wanda now stands since 1994, but is wasn’t until 2017 that the installation was properly renovated that the team made the permanent move. The stadium currently sits 68,456 fans, the third largest in the country and second largest in the city of Madrid.
Like all of the stadiums on this list, the Wanda offers visits to to the stadium and the teams museum, you can even walk out onto the pitch and see the stadium as the players do.
Camp Nou is home to one of the teams in the conversation for “the best ever”: FC Barcelona. The club is easily one of the best in the world and has a long and interesting history that you can check out here.
The Camp Nou or “New Field” has been home to the Azul-granas since 1957. The stadium was built slightly outside the city center in 1957, but today, due to Barcelona’s expansion, it’s right in the heart of the city near the famous Les Cortes neighborhood.
The Campo Nou is the largest stadium in Spain and in Europe, seating over 99.000 fans ! The stadium is part of a massive sports complex which also includes a basketball stadium and a hockey rink among other amenities.
The Camp Nou also features one of the best, if not THE best soccer museums you can visit. The team has been playing since 1899 and has witnessed most of the history of professional soccer in Spain and a good chunk of the modern history of the country as a whole. If you have a chance, it is definitely one of the things you should check out when visiting Barcelona.
Real Madrid is another of those “best ever” teams. The club has almost too many titles to count: 13 Eurocup titles, 7 world club titles, 34 spanish league titles, etc. the list goes on and on. Real Madrid is one of the most successful and storied franchises in any sport. You can read more about Real Madrid here.
Their home pitch is the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Located in downtown Madrid, in the Chamartín district, right off one of the city’s main arteries (La Castellana) this mammoth edification seems to spring out of nowhere between the apartment buildings on either side.
The Bernabeu has been Real Madrid’s field since 1947 and currently can seat over 80.000 fans. It features several top notch restaurants, the teams official store and an extensive team museum. There is no way you can miss out on visiting this most sacred soccer ground if you are in the city. Even if you aren’t a soccer fan, the sport is so tightly wound into the fabric of the modern history of Spain that it is still a very interesting visit.