As the official travel partner of the UEFA Champions League, we’ve journeyed to the homes of the clubs that are through to the final 16 to give you the lowdown on the hotspots for your next away trip. For this article, we head to Madrid home of Real Madrid FC and Club Atlético de Madrid.

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Real Madrid CF is one of the world’s most successful soccer teams, while relative underdog Club Atlético de Madrid has plenty of bite, beating its local rival to lift the UEFA Super Cup in 2018. When it comes to fan enthusiasm, however, it’s an even draw—and that passion for soccer isn’t confined to the stadiums.

From tiny squares to tapas bars, the streets of Madrid are packed with fans on game days, with the atmosphere nothing short of electric whenever either team wins a title, signs a new player, or even scores a goal.

With stadium tours, supporters’ bars and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, it’s easy for visiting soccer fans to join in the celebrations, too. Make like a Madrileño and discover the best places to see and things to do in Madrid, local-style!

Image Credit: Tourism Media

It goes without saying that Real Madrid CF is one of the world’s most successful soccer teams. Meanwhile, relative underdog Club Atlético de Madrid has plenty of bite, beating its local rival to lift the UEFA Super Cup in 2018. When it comes to fan enthusiasm, however, it’s an even draw—and that passion for soccer isn’t confined to the stadiums.

From tiny squares to tapas bars, the streets of Madrid are packed with fans on game days. The atmosphere is nothing short of electric whenever either team wins a title, signs a new player, or even scores a goal.

With stadium tours, supporters’ bars, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, it’s easy for visiting soccer fans to join in the celebrations. Make like a Madrileño and discover the best places to see and things to do in Madrid, local-style!

Meet the teams: Real Madrid CF and Club Atlético de Madrid

Real Madrid CF

Real Madrid CF is a sure thing when it comes to lists of the world’s top clubs. Many (especially the fans) would argue that it’s the best team in the world. Its trophy haul is second only to Barcelona FC in Europe, and it holds more UEFA Champions League titles than any other team. Few would doubt the credentials of those who have graced the field wearing the all-white kit: former players Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, Luís Figo, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, not to mention current player Sergio Ramos…

FUN FACT

The current moniker was established in 1920, when King Alfonso XIII added the word “real”, meaning “royal”, and a crown emblem became part of the team’s shield.

Image Credit: Tourism Media

Club Atlético de Madrid

The city’s “second team”, founded in 1903, has also achieved some pretty big wins. Club Atlético de Madrid’s 2018 victory over Real Madrid CF in the UEFA Super Cup was the team’s third time lifting that particular trophy.

Among the biggest names to don the distinctive candy-striped shirt are Christian Vieri, Sergio Agüero, Fernando Torres, and Diego Costa, who returned to the club in 2018 after a three-year spell with Chelsea FC. More illustriously, perhaps, King Felipe VI of Spain is a fan, and has been the club’s honorary president since 2003.

FUN FACT

One of the club’s many nicknames is “Los Colchoneros”, or “The Mattress Makers”, because the stripes apparently bear a resemblance to old-fashioned bed toppers!

Rayo Vallecano de Madrid

That’s right—Madrid counts a third team among its impressive soccer heritage! It might lack the silverware of its bigger rivals, but Rayo Vallecano de Madrid’s fans (“Rayistas”) are certainly committed, with the club yo-yoing between La Liga and the Segunda (second) División. Rayo Vallecano de Madrid’s stadium, Vallecas, is located in the working-class district of the same name, south-east of Madrid’s city center, and has a capacity of around 15,000.

Image Credit: Tourism Media

Visit Madrid’s soccer stadiums: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu and Estadio Metropolitano

Plan your Estadio Santiago Bernabéu stadium tour (MSV 320) in Chamartín district

The atmosphere around Real Madrid CF’s stadium is electric even on non-game days. It’s the third largest in Europe, seating more than 81,000 fans, and has three hospitality areas. Visitors can take a self-guided tour with an interactive audio guide, seeing exhibits on the club’s history, admiring the silverware, and even peeking into the locker rooms and royal box. Tours are discounted for season ticket holders, while game tickets can be purchased online or at the gate—though the biggest games, during big tournaments or on so-called “derby days”, when the local rivals play each other, do sell out.

Getting there: If you want to rent a car in Madrid, it’s a 20-minute drive from the center and 15 minutes from the Madrid Barajas International Airport. By Metro, catch line 10 and alight at Santiago Bernabéu.

Where to eat and what to do in Chamartín

You’ll want to spend a bit of time in the area before and after the game, and not just because it will be buzzing with fans. The Chamartín district is dotted with tapas restaurants and cute bars, and there are several hotels in the vicinity.

Long-standing steakhouse Asador Donostiarra is a popular Real Madrid CF haunt, just 15 minutes’ walk from the stadium. Or look out for players, and their glamorous other-halves, in the shops and restaurants of Salamanca, one of Madrid’s poshest areas that’s just a short walk away from Chamartín district.

Asador Donostiarra, Calle de la Infanta Mercedes, 79, 28020 Madrid

Image Credit: Tourism Media

Visit Club Atletico de Madrid’s new stadium, Estadio Metropolitano, in San Blas-Canillejas district

Club Atlético de Madrid’s stadium opened in late 2017, and was quickly announced as the host of the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final. The brand-new stadium can welcome around 68,000 spectators. Visitors can tour the stadium, which has a striking wavy roof and bright red seats, with or without a guide. Game-day tickets can be purchased from the club website or at the gate, though big games often sell out—so it’s worth buying in advance if you can.

Getting there: It’s around 20 minutes from the city center by car, or you can catch Metro line 7 to Estadio Metropolitano. You’ll have to change lines when coming from the city center. It’s a five-minute drive from Madrid-Barajas Airport.

Where to eat and what to do in San Blas-Canillejas

This is an industrial and up-and-coming area, so it’s worth making time for a trip into central Madrid if you have enough time. If you don’t manage to get tickets for a game, the Madrid Wax Museum is “home” to soccer legends including Zidane and Ronaldo—definitely worth a visit! If you’re looking to grab something to eat before the game, head into the northern part of San Blas-Canillejas district and enjoy traditional Spanish fare at El Goterón, a local neighborhood restaurant.

El Goterón, Calle Aliaga, 12, 28022 Madrid

Image Credit: Tourism Media

Partying in Madrid after the game

Celebrating after the game: Madrid’s fountains

When either team has a victory, the bars will be buzzing and impromptu street parties will erupt throughout the center. To find your team’s firmest fans, though, you need to know which fountain to head to. That’s right—dancing and splashing about in fountains is the fans’ celebration of choice, with mini water parties occurring whenever there’s a major (or even a minor) victory.

Real Madrid CF supporters gather around Cibeles Fountain by the City Hall, while Club Atlético de Madrid fans prefer Neptuno Fountain, overlooked by a statue of Neptune. For Rayistas, it’s the fountain outside the Assembly of Madrid. However, when the Spanish team wins, local rivalries are set aside and all fans gather in the central Plaza de Colón!

Image Credit: Tourism Media

Going out in Madrid

The concentration of nightlife options increases as you head south down Paseo de la Castellana, towards the city center. If you can’t get a stadium ticket, there are plenty of alternatives with just as much (and sometimes more) atmosphere on game days. In the center, Sol’s pubs and wine bars fill up fast with lively fans craning to see the nearest screen, while Barrio de Las Letras, the Literary Quarter, is a (slightly) quieter option.

Practical information

You can fly direct to Madrid from some U.S. airports—it’s around seven hours from Boston, eight from Chicago, and nine from Dallas.  Alternatively, you can fly via several European cities such as London or Amsterdam. In terms of accommodation, the best option might be to stay in a hotel close to one of Madrid’s stadiums, especially if you’ve got tickets for a game. There are plenty of hotels close to Estadio Santiago Bernabéu and Estadio Metropolitano.

So, are you ready for your soccer trip to Madrid? From fancy hotels and bustling bars to quiet cobbled streets, the Spanish capital has it all. The only question is, which team will you support?