More about our football trips to La Liga and Spain
Spain has long been the home of some of the world’s most exciting players. Over the decades many of the finest footballers have spent some of their career competing in La Liga and the same is true today.
Surely none of them are as admired as Lionel Messi. The amazing Argentinian has been stunning the crowds ever since he first pulled on the famous Barcelona jersey. His scoring record – and his magical skills – are simply outstanding and if you haven’t seem him live, don’t delay!
Nickes.Com has been organising hassle-free trips to La Liga matches for decades – including El Clásico, the great match up between Barcelona and Real Madrid - so book now for great fixtures in 2020/21!
Messi is just one of the many players you can see live on a trip to a La Liga match. Any visit to Spain is special, with fantastic weather to enjoy all the year round. Throw in stunning cities and beaches, tasty tapas and a laid-back café culture and it is simply perfect for a football weekend in the sunshine!
Real Madrid’s galaxy of stars have won more than a dozen European Cups and are the undisputed kings of European football. Barcelona are the current La Liga champions and have secured seven of the last 10 Spanish league titles. Both club’s stadiums are simply jaw dropping. Real’s Santiago Bernabéu holds 81,000 and its multiple tiers surge into the sky. Meanwhile Barcelona’s vast and legendary Camp Nou is the biggest football stadium in Europe with a capacity of 99,000.
Spanish football is renowned as one of the most skilful and beautiful to watch and this extends beyond the big two clubs. Sevilla have achieved major success in Europe in recent times, and they enjoy a big derby in the south of the country with their city rivals Real Betis.
Real’s city neighbours Atlético Madrid have been challenging the Real-Barca duopoly in recent times, winning the title in 2014 and consistently finishing in the top three. What’s more they have a new home, the impressive Wanda Metropolitano that was the venue for the Liverpool vs Tottenham Champions League final in 2019.
Valencia and Bilbao are just a couple more of the amazing clubs competing in La Liga, both with iconic stadia and passionate fans.
La Liga clubs
La Liga has 20 clubs and matches take place across the weekend – one on Friday night, a number through Saturday and Sunday, and one on Monday night. Barcelona and Real Madrid fixtures are generally scheduled for Saturdays or Sundays. It has the third highest attendances in Europe, behind the Bundesliga and Premier League, averaging 27,000 per game, but not many matches sell out.
The Segunda Division has 22 clubs, and crowds average 10,000 but range from 2-20,000. One game is moved to Friday night, with the rest spread over Saturday and Sunday, with an occasional fixture on Monday. The third tier is called Segunda B and for 2020/21 it is split into five regional leagues, each comprising 20-21 clubs, that are then each split into two sub-groups. Although a few larger clubs, languishing lower in the league than they would like, may pull in decent crowds the average gate at this level tends to be 1-2000. Games tend to take place on Saturday and Sunday, a number around lunchtime, but these are only scheduled a week or two in advance.
The Tercera Division sits below this and is again regional, with most games taking place late afternoon on Saturdays and Sundays – again these are scheduled a week or so ahead. Further restructuring is scheduled to take place for next season.
Travel to Spain from UK and Europe
Plane has to be the default option to reach most parts of Spain. The good news is that the two biggest cities – Madrid and Barcelona – have numerous services, as do the many coastal venues who welcome holidaymakers throughout the year.
Airports in south western France could provide another gateway to the Basque region, while Porto Airport in northern Portugal is an option to the north west destinations of Vigo and La Coruna. You could consider getting the train but the axing of sleeper services from Paris to Spain do make this a little less desirable. You’ll probably need to break your journey with an overnight stop in southern France instead.
Where to stay in Spain?
Spain is a big country. Be in no doubt, this is not a country you can criss-cross with great ease so the chances are your football excursion will take in just one, or maybe two, cities. The best railway links are, unsurprisingly, to and from the capital.
Indeed, if you want to have the maximum number of decent football options with the minimum of travel fuss your number one option is Madrid. The Spanish capital does of course double, as many believe, as the European capital of football with the mighty Real and Atletico Madrid in town. But there’s lots more here besides with Getafe and Rayo Vallecano leading the list of other clubs in the first and second division worth checking out.
Madrid’s primary role as a business city means there can be good bargains to be had on accommodation over the weekend. Much of this is north of the centre, handy for Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium and indeed relatively close to the airport, however bear in mind you will be a couple of miles from the city’s historic heart and much of the nightlife. Luckily Madrid’s public transport system is excellent with a fast and efficient metro system so you can take your pick.
Want some real character in an authentic Spanish city? Valencia has it all – an historic city centre, great cuisine, a beach coastline plus the magnificent Mestalla stadium. The sheer sides of this arena have to be seen to be believed, and you won’t have lived until you clamber up them for a match. Plus there’s Levante in town as well.
If some winter sunshine is a real must for you then Seville is definitely worth considering, particularly as either Sevilla or Real Betis will be home each weekend. Malaga is often seen as a gateway for holidaymakers but it’s a beautiful destination in its own right, and you should bear in mind the islands too – Parma in Mallorca is one to think about.
For something completely different the Basque region in the north east of the country gets rave reviews. Bilbao has a spirit all of its own and the football club is a real emblem of the region, with a few others in easy reach.
Have we forgotten anywhere? Ah yes – Barcelona. Perhaps the original football weekend, it still ticks every box with a buzzing city, spectacular architecture, coastline, a cathedral that’s still not quite finished and of course the vast Camp Nou with its array of footballing talent. Just bear in mind most of your options for a second game in the city will be several tiers down the leagues – Barcelona and, to a lesser extent Espanyol, dominate football proceedings in Catalunya.
How to get around in Spain?
Spain has invested massively in its transport infrastructure and now offers some of the finest public transport connections around. There’s a decent, although fairly pricey, high speed network between the major hubs, while most cities have an excellent metro and/or tram system. The best are undoubtedly in Madrid and Barcelona. Note that in Madrid there are effectively two metro networks - the main one, plus a second one serving the southern suburbs that include Getafe, Alcorcon and Leganes. Make sure you buy the correct ticket that either covers you for just main Madrid or the whole of the city.
It may well be worth buying city tickets online in advance as some include transfer from the airport.
Spanish La Liga Ticket Prices
With a few notable exceptions – the main one being El Clasico, and a few big derbies – not many Spanish games sell out before the day.
Most La Liga club websites will allow you to buy tickets in advance. However, most club websites are only written in Spanish and this can be tricky to navigate. You should also be aware that tickets frequently only go on sale a week or two before the match. This can be when members release their tickets for general sale.
There is also the option of arriving at the stadium early as you should be able to buy on the day. Many ticket office staff may only speak Spanish so you need to have a good idea what you want to buy. Queues for tickets can also be long in the hour before kick-off. Please note you may find La Liga tickets surprisingly expensive with prices often around €30-€50, and if you want to have a seat under cover it will often cost you much more.
At the big stadiums there can be cheap tickets available but bear in mind the views from the back rows of the Bernabeu, the Nou Camp and the Mestalla are a long way from the pitch!
You may want to check that you are on the bottom two tiers for a better experience. So if you want to avoid the hassle you can book a ticket through us for many clubs including Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and….
Below the top leagues you shouldn’t have any problems getting into stadiums on the day, and at levels three or four tickets are likely to be a more reasonable €5-€10.
What’s La Liga matchday like?
A major La Liga game is an occasion. Most matches at Real, Atletico and Barcelona attract crowds of 70,000 or more, and the likes of Bilbao, Seville and Valencia aren’t far behind. For these destinations expect the usual buzz around the ground several hours before kick-off. There are local bars doing decent trade, but they are nowhere near as busy as you would expect in the likes of England, the Netherlands or Germany – there is definitely more of a family feel around games in Spain and alcohol plays a much smaller part of the matchday experience.
If you’re looking for a vaguely edible burger with ketchup you’ll probably be disappointed. The default foods of choice are sweets and, in particular, nuts and there are market stalls set up outside loaded down with them. The average Spanish fan eats nuts during a game with the determination that Fergie or Big Sam chewed gum in the dugout and by the end of the game the floors under the seats are simply covered in empty shells.
The concourses in Spanish grounds tend to be barren and uninviting. TV screens are rare, there’s no alcohol sold inside the major venues and the snacks usually don’t stretch beyond nuts and popcorn so you may not want to rush through the turnstiles too early.
When you’re trying to find your seat Spanish stadiums have an odd quirk. The numbers on seats stretch one way from a gangway in odd numbers, and the other way with evens. So when you print off your tickets and find you’ve got 22, 24, and 26, or 3, 5 and 7, they’re actually next to each other. The same can go for numbering of the sectors outside which can throw you the first time.
Outside of the main, or more modern, Spanish stadia the vast majority of grounds tend to follow a simple theme – one covered main stand, with the other three sides entirely exposed to the elements. The VIPs and wealthier fans pay a premium for the shade and protection from their roof, so unless you do too you’ve got to put up with the sun – or the occasional downpour. A seat in the sun sounds far more attractive but plan carefully before soaking up the rays as a few hours without shade in the afternoon may see you end up looking like… well, as red as the average holidaymaker abroad!
The atmosphere at the bigger clubs can be subdued, certainly against lowly opposition and often until they’ve scored a few. These clubs do attract a number of tourists – yes, I do get the irony of that statement in a football tourism magazine – so you will find better matchday atmospheres at smaller, more regional clubs. But wherever you choose to visit, the quality of football on show usually makes it an excellent experience.
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