Recommendations on Where to spend World Cup

We planned to travel to Brazil for World Cup 2014 (soccer), but lodging prices are higher than insane. So now thinking why not spend World Cup somewhere else? We want to rent a flat for 3-4 weeks for a home base in a city/town/village that has pubs for watching the matches, has locals who understand the game of football, and allows the opportunity for daytrips and/or few days' away getaways. It would be ideal if we didn't need a car constantly (better: not at all). Obviously England, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy are contenders, but where? We're pretty open to any country, not just those mentioned. Open budget too; just not into paying skyhigh prices just because they can charge it. Do you know a fun smaller city? a larger town?

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
702 posts

Purely from a soccer/football/calcio standpoint I would recommend England however I'm not sure how good of a toursit destination it would be, especially with out a car in the smaller towns. I'm obviously biased towards Italy and you could do a lot worse; not only are they one of the better teams at the World Cup but the country is packed with some of the world's best tourist destinations. And pubs are actually very popular here - there are many great pubs in Venice, Florence, Rome, Milan, etc. I'm a huge soccer enthusiast and some of my favorite memories in my 15 years in Europe have been watching matches in pubs with fans from different countries. It really can be quite a memorable experience. Germany would be a great option too, they figure to be one of the favorites, there are pubs all over Germany and just about everybody speaks English. Spain might be a good option as well, they are defending champs and should be in the top 3 or 4 again. Ireland will not qualify this year, I would avoid going there.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2695 posts

Hi, My votes go to London and/or Berlin in Europe. In 2010 I was in both cities during the World Cup. In North America I agree with Toronto as an ideal place.

Posted by David
Basingstoke, England
46 posts

I advise waiting first to be sure your chosen destination qualifies for the finals. I am with Rik on England as a proper football country where the fans will be obsessed with the football at least as long as England stays in the competition. I would suggest Liverpool which is a soccer city with legendary supporters. Also there are players from both teams based in the city who will feature for teams all round the world such as Suarez from Uruguay who will attract support from local fans. You can take the Ferry across the Mersey with the iconic You'll Never Walk alone playing on the Tannoy. Trips to Manchester would be easy; not such a pleasant city but with the National Football museum and the possibility to visit Old Trafford. Both cities have great ,indeed legendary, night life.
Also Art Galleries, museums and culture in abundance. If you want a country with a climate more like Florida and a team to follow that might go all the way the obvious answer is Spain. Either Barcelona or Madrid would fit the bill.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
702 posts

Good point David - Only Italy and the Netherlands have actually qualified at this point. England have two very tricky matches left against Montenegro and Poland and could still crash out. Germany should qualify with ease, they would have to lose both of their remaining matches and even then would still have to lose a playoff. That won't happen. France are tied with Spain in their group but Spain have a match in hand and Belarus and Georgia left so they should qualify easily. France will have to win a playoff match. Ireland are technically not yet mathematically eliminated but might as well be. They stand no chance.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6835 posts

I would go with Germany. They seem to be more into the large outdoor viewings/fanfest type experience. To me that's more fun, being crammed into a small pub gets old after a while. Also, I'm legally obligated to state the following: For the next 8 1/2 months the USA is officially better at soccer than England, France, and Italy.

Posted by Larry
Elkins Park, PA
575 posts

In 2010, we had planned a trip well in advance. We were in Prague during the 1/4s and semis, and the crowd viewing in front of the big screen set up in the Old Town Square was great, as well as various restaurants/bars around there. And the CR was not in the tourney. The second part of our trip was back to Amsterdam -and this happened to coincide with the finals - which the Dutch were in. I do not know if they added screens, but there were 3 large screens in Museumplein, and according to police about 300,000 people there, with the city closed about2 hours before-hand, you were not allowed out of Centraal Station with proof of residency or lodging. No cars were involved for this.
Of greater importance than who is in would be to find out what times these matches will be scheduled for, you might not want to see an 8PM match from Brazil plus 5 hours your local time (at least we couldn't do that timing!)

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8755 posts

England is a contender? When did they ever get past the opening rounds? Did you see that disaster a couple of weeks ago? Even if they go forward they'll go out on penalties. Even if they have somebody with a name like golden balls!!!

Posted by David
Basingstoke, England
46 posts

My point was not the current England side is a contender , for that look no farther than Brazil, Spain and possibly Germany or Argentina, but that they are only a bit better than fifty fifty to reach Brazil at all. If they don't reach Brazil the atmosphere would be very downbeat indeed in England. As for USA's FIFA ranking, maybe they are better than England but to believe they are better than the other countries' quoted says more about the credibility of the ranking system than anything else.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
912 posts

Michelle, to rescue your thread from quarrelsome football fanatics, here is an off-the-wall suggestion: Toronto. The city is so multi-cultural that fans from almost all the competitors will gather in pubs to go crazy when the "home" side scores. The city is accustomed to international soccer frenzy. Police crowd control officials pay close attention to game schedules. They know where fans will be spilling into the streets to celebrate, and co-ordinate traffic accordingly. You could even eat appropriate food for each game you want to watch. Plus the city is in the Eastern time zone; that's just an hour or two behind the Brazilian game sites, depending on daylight savings time.
Toronto has plenty of other attractions too and is rather closer to Tacoma than the trans-Atlantic countries you are considering. Plus its MLS team plays against Seattle and I read that Tacoma wants to get in on that action.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

We were in Italy during the 2010 World Cup. We really enjoyed watching the games in bars in the small towns ( specifically, Verona and Lucca). Either town would make a great base for exploring a region--- the Veneto for Verona, Tuscany for Lucca.

Posted by Bob
Gettysburg, PA
1364 posts

I would 2nd Michael's pick of Germany. I still recall a mid 80's World Cup, at which time we heard radio or TV coverage blaring from nearly every house as we walked along for several miles. Aside from the WC, our town at that time was a Class B team. On game days, the crowd ( especially after a hometown score ) noise was shattering & could be heard across town several miles from the stadium.

Posted by Michelle
Tacoma
2 posts

Thank you for the replies. Liverpool, Lucca, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires are on our list. The suggestions of Toronto, Verona, and Prague are excellent additions! We don't really care if the home-country team is in or makes it to the final; we're looking for a place where the tourney has interest, not just the home team. It is a bonus if the country is in. Being up for 5am matches at home means any time change/match time is not a factor; late nights are easier than early mornings. Any other specific places fit our wants?

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6835 posts

As for USA's FIFA ranking, maybe they are better than England but to believe they are better than the other countries' quoted says more about the credibility of the ranking system than anything else. I'm not referring to the Coca-Cola rankings. At the 2010 WC in South Africa the US came out on top of England, Italy , and France: http://tinyurl.com/pljq8ab here is an off-the-wall suggestion: Toronto. The city is so multi-cultural that fans from almost all the competitors will gather in pubs to go crazy when the "home" side scores. The city is accustomed to international soccer frenzy. There are lots of other multicultural cities in the USA where you will see the exact same scene: LA, NYC, Boston, DC, KC, San Fran to name a few. I happened to be a Disney World Orlando during the 98 France WC, and they had even placed big screens all around Epcot showing the matches.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3205 posts

We were in Sorrento, Italy for the 2006 World Cup and it was unbelievably fun. First of all, Sorrento itself is wonderful and all the day trip possibilities. But secondly, the whole town was so into it. All over town they had big screen tvs outside and everyone was watching. Lots of pub type bars, everyone friendlier than usual, lots of Brits, singing.. just so fun. We were in Paris for the 2010 WC and it wasn't the same at all. Big Screen tv at Trocadero but that was it. Not the same fun energy at all. We enjoyed it but it was nothing like Sorrento. Compared to Sorrento, it was a let down. I think the smaller towns would be way more fun than any city.

Posted by Mme Eli
XXX
1170 posts

Anywhere but the US for World Cup FOOTBALL! I hate the pathetic coverage we get. Last time we were in Brighton for the final match. It was awesome being in a pub. One time we were in Mexico. Great experience. Didn't matter whether Mexico was playing or not.

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6835 posts

I hate the pathetic coverage we get. Huh? European Soccer is now available on free TV via NBC (Premiere League), and Fox (Champions League). In addition there are no less than five different soccer channels available on most cable/satellite systems in the US. When you add ESPN's streaming service into the mix, there is literally no major soccer match anywhere in the world you can't view in the US, and in HD to boot. Head here for a master schedule: http://tinyurl.com/m47were For those at home Fox Sport 1 (which isn't even a soccer channel) is currently showing Barcelona vs. Ajax.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3336 posts

Analysis of possible destinations: England is a bad option. The English National team sucks, they will be eliminated after the first round. The French don't have much of a chance either. Since Zidane and co. retired, they haven't been the same. Holland has generally a good team. However they are unlikely to get to the final two years in a row. Besides, even when they do, they always lose the final. They are the eternal second. Food is not that great either, so I wouldn't bother. Germany is a favorite and likely to get to the final if they don't meet the Italians along the way. Somehow Germany doesn't do well against the Italians. The Italians are their Bete Noir. Choose Germany if you like beer better than wine. Spain is a good option. They have a good chance of making it to the final. When they win they can throw a party too. Statistically however it is unlikely they will win the World Cup for a second time in a row, after winning also 2 Euro cups in a row. If they managed that, they will go down to history as the best team of all times. Italy is the best option. They have a good team, it's already qualified ahead of time. They also have a good chance to get to the ending final game and if they do they can certainly throw a party. In the event they don't win, you can always find some solace in the great food and wine. Which is something you can't do in Germany or England. All other national teams in Europe have next to zero chance of getting too far ahead in the tournament, let alone winning the world cup, therefore why bother. Those places will be dead after the first round when their teams are eliminated. Wherever you go the best street party (if and when the national team wins) is in the bigger towns. Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Florence, Munich etc. In smaller towns things will be quieter.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2695 posts

On finding "some solace in great food and wine:" Of course you can do that in Germany, very easily done, esp if you're in Berlin.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3205 posts

Roberto, it definitely was not quiet in Sorrento.

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

As much as I love being in Germany for a World Cup, I'd worry about time zone issues for the upcoming world cup. There won't be much public viewing outdoors if a game is scheduled for 2 am European time !!! From that perspective I think Toronto is probably your best bet in Northamerica. Buenos Aires would be great, too. Though I need to be able to cheer for my German team and would not dare doing it amongst a fanatic Argentinian crowd ....

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17776 posts

Michelle, I was in several cities in both Germany and Switzerland during the World Cup in 2010, and both places were in full party mode. I had some interesting travel moments (especially in Germany) related to the games, but that's another story. I don't know a lot about Soccer, but it was a lot of fun to watch and I've never seen such enthusiastic fans cheering for their home teams (which almost caused a riot in Chur!). Those goofy plastic horns were blaring everywhere. Unfortunately, as I recall both countries lost. I'm not really an expert on the subject, but I have to agree with Roberto's excellent and well reasoned analysis, so either Italy or Spain would be great locations to enjoy the games. Happy travels!

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
912 posts

Toronto's MLS team filled its stadium for the first few years and still has a television broadcast contract. Fan support has fallen off because the team has shown a woeful inability to score goals and win games. But interest in international play is flourishing. Anyhow, the original question was about watching the World Cup, not local teams. It's out-of-date to assume that Europe must be the most congenial place to enjoy the games on TV.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3336 posts

Games are always scheduled to be at a reasonable time for Europeans, because of obvious commercial reasons, being the largest and richest soccer audience located in Europe. Brazil is 3 hours behind GMT while CET will be GMT +2 and the UK GMT+1 (because of Daylight Savings). Games will take place at the following local times: 13:00 16:00 17:00
19:00 So most games will take place when in Central Europe is before Midnight, except for the 19:00 games which will start at exactly Midnight (CET) or 11pm in the UK.

Posted by Andre L.
Tilburg, Netherlands
2176 posts

Michelle, if I were a soccer fanatic, I'd do the following: plan a itinerant trip in Europe where I'd be watching matches on different countries with their "fan gatherings". I'm not sure about 2014 schedule (since Brazil, like US, is several hours behind on time zones than Europe, 5 or 6 depending on the area, to be exact), but assuming they will be not held very late at night for European standards, I'd try to plan some trips to follow fan gatherings around. Last WC many sponsors found that putting these "fan gatherings" is a good way to galvanize people in countries far away from actual venues, so they will probably repeat the initiative. Especially on play-off games, you can certainly find some larger events on whatever European team is playing at them. Complete schedules for WC 2014 will be known by mid-December. Big cities with large international expat communities like London or Berlin usually have different sports' clubs/pubs where people gather to follow sports from their home countries. Assuming your budget is "open" within reason, a good plan might be define a schedule for the group stages, than get a car and "chase" around good fan fests for the play-offs. If your favorite team advances you stay put to watch next play-off, if not you move on to the territory of a team that qualified :)

Posted by Ian
Marseille
105 posts

As long as you are in a large city with a multicultural mix of population, you will be able to enjoy matches in bars where there is a large enough following of the people who are immigrants/expats of that country to find yourself in a lively atmosphere, even if the country you are in does not get far. Also I'd add - just because the national side of a country gets eliminated doesn't mean that people will lose interest in the competition. As long as you are in a country where soccer is a mainstream past-time, people will gather in bars to watch the games, especially the knock-out rounds. Wherever you are, there are few places that will pass on a Argentina-Italy or Germany-Brazil game (for example). In fact just about any city in Europe will have a large gathering of people in bars during the whole competition. Of course, if you choose to vacation in some of the more powerful footballing nations (Germany, Spain etc...) you have a greater chance of seeing celebrations in the streets than in some of the countries that are not favourites to get very far.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
683 posts

Go to Spain, as they will probably win it (or at least make the final), so local interest will remain longest. English interest will drop markedly once we are quickly eliminated. Italians can't play football properly and only make any progress because they cheat.

Posted by Rik
Vicenza, Italy
702 posts

"Italians can't play football properly and only make any progress because they cheat." Four World Cups, second only to Brazil. I'd say they play the game fairly properly.