A Soccer Lover’s Guide to Madrid

The new Santiago Bernabéu stadium will be 12 meters larger, coming in 2018
The new Santiago Bernabéu stadium will be 12 meters larger, coming in 2018 | Madrid Destino Cultura Turismo y Negocio
Lori Zaino

Madrid is paradise for soccer lovers. With three teams in the first division: Real Madrid C.F., Club Atlético de Madrid and Club Deportivo Leganés, there’s always a game on to watch or players to idolize. Though opinion can be divided, Real Madrid is often considered to be the best soccer team in the world – they’re one of the most profitable enterprises in Europe, they’ve won 32 La Liga titles (eight more than rival Barcelona) and have 11 European Cup/Champions League trophies, which is a record. They also boast some of the best players in the world, such as Cristiano Ronaldo. Whether you think Real Madrid’s the best team or not, you can’t argue that Madrid is a great city to check out if you’re a soccer fan, and here’s why.

There’s never a shortage of games

The regular season usually runs from the second half of August to the end of May. You can see La Liga, Kings Cup, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. The Liga games are always on the weekends and the Kings Cup, Champions and Europa games are typically on weekdays. If you want to see the games in person, make sure to buy tickets and book travel well in advance to get the best prices.

A Real Madrid game

You can tour some of the coolest stadiums

Santiago Bernabéu is not just a place to take in a Real Madrid game. You can also tour the stadium, including the dressing room, the Presidential Box, a history room, a trophy room, a sensations room and more. Tours are self-guided and you can purchase tickets at the stadium. For more tour info, email tour@corp.realmadrid.com.

The Vicente Calderón stadium, which is currently home to Madrid’s Atlético team, also offers tours, though this will be the last year you can do so as there will soon be a new stadium built for the team. This tour includes a visit to the field, the bench, the changing rooms, the press room and the President’s Box. For more info, email museo@atleticodemadrid.com.

These tours are some of Madrid’s most popular tourist attractions, so make sure to get your tickets organized in advance and avoid waiting in lines. Both tours have discounted prices if you are a member or season ticket holder.

The famous Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid

Celebrate at the bar… or in the fountain

There’s plenty of sports bars in Madrid to watch a game in, however, the neighborhoods of Santa Ana and Barrio de Las Letras are known for having a vibrant crowd during game days. Of course, any bar near the stadiums should be full of fans before, after and during games. Players and managers of Real Madrid are known to frequent fancy restaurants Asador Donostiarra and Mesón Txistu, so if you want to be a real super fan, become a regular customer at either and keep your eyes peeled for soccer ‘celebs’.

When Real Madrid or Atlético wins the Liga finals or a big tournament, the team and all the fans often come out to celebrate. There’s a big party in the streets until the bus with the team rolls through holding the trophy, even swimming the Cibeles (when Real Madrid wins) or Neptuno (when Atlético wins) fountains sometimes.

Placa Espanya: a fountain celebration when Spain won the World Cup in 2010

Get cultural about it with a museum visit

The Spanish National Team’s Museum is perfect for the fanatical soccer fan. Starting with the early years of the Spanish national team, the museum goes through and highlights epic historical moments, like winning the European title in 1964 and winning the three major tournaments in a row: two European Championships (held in Austria and Switzerland in 2008, and Poland and Ukraine in 2012) and the FIFA World Cup (held in South Africa in 2010). Plus, there’s information on some of the most famous players, like Iker Casillas, and the most famous coaches, like Luis Aragonés and Vicente Del Bosque.

A little lighter, the Museo de Cera, Madrid’s wax museum, will give you the chance to meet famous (wax) players Iker Casillas or Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrés Iniesta, David Villa and Fernando Torres.

Shop until you drop on gear

If you’re dying for official Real Madrid gear, you can check out the giant megastore at Santiago Bernabéu stadium near Gate 55 or the Real Madrid Tienda Oficial store in Madrid’s city center. For official Atlético Madrid gear, run over to the 1903 Atlético Madrid Megastore at the Vicente Calderón stadium, between gates 25 and 26.

The official Atlético Madrid shop

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