People travel the world for all sorts of reasons and in search of all sorts of attractions. But in Europe, some of the best events for those who like to experience a country’s culture are those that revolve around sports. From international competitions and annual events to individual club games and matches, Europe’s stadiums and sports venues are packed with incredible spectacles all year round.
Here’s a look at five of the very best sports tourism destinations in Europe.
Roland Garros – Paris, France
The centre court at the French Open is an incredible place to witness a match, particularly if you’re lucky enough to see Rafael Nadal, the undisputed master of the clay courts, in live action. The beauty of the four tennis Grand Slams is that they’re all very unique in character, and what you get at the French Open is the chance to see top players. In a detailed comparison of the Grand Slams, GrandSlamGal notes that the French spreads out top player matches on its main two courts, rather than putting the stars on centre court and making them more exclusive. But beyond this, it’s the joy of seeing such a spectacular event in a destination as stunning as Paris! There aren’t many cities in the world where it’s more fun to spend down time between sporting events. Although most will tell you Roland Garros has a uniquely “French” vibe, the city itself is where you’ll find the famous sights and tastes.
Aintree Race Course – Liverpool, England
The Aintree Race Course in Liverpool is home to the Grand National steeplechase race, which is undeniably one of the most thrilling horse racing competitions in the world. Any high profile horse race will have festive elements to it‚ the gaudy fashion, the champagne, the live music‚ but what stands out at Aintree is the race itself, and that makes it great for the true sports fan. It is, however, best to visit Aintree prepared to place a few bets, as this is common practice by fans looking to connect themselves to the competition. For the 2014 event in April, the Betfair sports reference site has a page of running updates and tips on this year’s field of competitors. With that in mind, it can keep you informed on the favourites on the track. All that’s left is to pick your horse and enjoy the races, which is where you’ll find an enthusiastic British crowd
getting into the spectacle as only the Brits can.
Allianz Arena – Munich, Germany
Frankly, there are too many incredible football stadiums in Europe to list. Spain and England tend to get the most attention, and with good reason. L’Estadi Camp Nou in Barcelona, Wembley Stadium in London, and even more specific club venues like Manchester United’s famed Old Trafford stadium all make for incredible visits. But for something more unique that you haven’t seen in films or on television, Allianz Arena in Munich‚ home of the mighty Bayern Munich club team, and host of several matches during the 2006 World Cup‚ is an incredible venue. In fact, it’s interesting to note the TripAdvisor reviews of the stadium, several of which point out that Allianz Arena is stunning enough to merit a visit or tour even if a match isn’t being played!
Circuit de Monaco – Monte Carlo, Monaco
If you have any interest whatsoever in professional racing, you’re no doubt familiar with the Monaco Grand Prix, which is arguably the most famous sporting event in Europe. Located in the incomparably beautiful and unique Monte Carlo, the Circuit de Monaco offers an iconic Formula 1 racing experience that’s positively overflowing with tradition. This is yet another event for which it can be fun to do a bit of research ahead of time so that you can join in on the busy betting scene and have a stake in the race. Yet, even if you’re just there to watch, you’re in for a treat. Meanwhile, the destination is as mentioned unlike any other. A trip to the Monte Carlo Casino is a must, but the walks, cafes, and even swims along the French Riviera are what make the experience.
All England Club – London, England
The venue for the Wimbledon Championships is one of the most iconic in all of sports and houses what many people see as the most significant of the four tennis Grand Slams. There’s frustration attached to the tournament, as rain frequently delays matches, but in fairness the folks at Wimbledon handle this well. There are restaurants and bar areas where fans can wait out delays, and rescheduling tends to be quite clear (which isn’t true everywhere). But when the matches are on, Wimbledon simply has an aura to it like few sporting events in the world. If you want to get the most out of the event and venue, CNN Travel also has an excellent list of 10 attractions aside from the tennis, including the lovely Lawn Bakery that makes for a great pre-match breakfast. But above any tennis match or attraction, it’s the raw class of the All England Club that’s most memorable.