Why the Euros should be a bucket-list destination for even non-soccer fans

Why the Euros should be a bucket-list destination for even non-soccer fans

Updated Jun. 10, 2024 4:51 p.m. ET

For millions of soccer fans across Europe, there are only two acceptable places to be this summer.

The choices are to either be plunked on the couch for delightful, indulgent, excessive, wall-to-wall viewing of the star-studded European Championships featuring footballing celebs like Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane.

Or to be basking in the sonnenschein of cities like Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt, then trekking through the turnstiles, having made one of the beautiful game's biggest bucket list pilgrimages.

Yet it's not just the most hardcore of soccerphiles who will dip into the nest egg to fund such daring adventures in the pursuit of crunching tackles and nerve-shredding penalty shootouts, or to cheer themselves hoarse for Kylian Mbappe, or Jude Bellingham, or Rodri, or whoever.


The soccer tournament travel market has exploded in post-COVID times, with major events such as the Euros becoming a deliciously enticing magnet for tourists looking for something a little bit different.

A whole industry catering to the drop-in fan who might this year be swapping the trails of Machu Picchu or the beaches of the Balearics for the concrete magnificence of the Olympiastadion, has sprung up.

The trend toward tournament travel has become such a thing that for the first time ever, National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine's highly-regarded "Cool List," abandoned its previous policy of typically listing cities or regions to accept a new entrant for 2024.

Alongside the Albanian Alps and the rich history of Italy's Pompeii, there it was …. The Euros.

"We put months of effort and research into the list, and we listen carefully to how travelers' tastes are evolving," Pat Riddell, the magazine's editor told me. "It was a neat way of saying ‘here are 10 cities in Germany,' some iconic and well-known and some you might not know much about. The trains make the whole thing easily accessible and the beauty of it is that you don't even need a ticket, as an event like the Euros creates a public atmosphere of its own."

For those of you thinking that a vacation centered around a soccer tournament might be very different from your standard break, well, you'd be absolutely right. But it is special for that very reason and the Euros, particularly this Euros, is the perfect choice for such a quirky kind of journey.

Alexi Lalas gives his round-by-round predictions for the Euros

For visiting fans of varying levels of passion, there may be no better location for the tournament than Germany, which boasts a tourism infrastructure easily big enough to cope with an event of this magnitude, yet is more than accessible enough to make things easy for fans.

For example, a visitor staying in the picturesque city of Cologne would be able to reach seven of Euro 2024's 10 venues in around two hours or less via Germany's famously punctual public transport system, with a wide range of accommodation at little more than $100 a night.

The opening game kicks off on Friday, with the hosts taking on Scotland in Munich in Group A (3 p.m. ET on FOX), with the final in Berlin exactly a month later.

"Germany has a lot more going for it than people think," Riddell added. "Berlin is one of the top European city breaks, and it has an artsy, young, creative vibe. Our readers have a high interest in food and drink, and the country has hundreds of breweries that are world renowned, and some great restaurants.

"People are realizing they can piggyback on a tournament and don't even need to be a big football fan for a great experience. We are seeing this a lot more, coinciding a trip with an event, be it something like the Euros or a Taylor Swift concert."

Would the USMNT be able to win the Euros if they played in it this summer?

For many Americans, the savvy and financially prudent play this year will be to stick at home will be treated to a Summer of Stars on TV, with Euros games televised from the early morning and Copa America fixtures from June 20 onward,  all during waking hours. The Copa starts with Lionel Messi's Argentina tackling Canada in Atlanta (8 p.m. ET on FOX).

Yet, for those who have a spontaneous streak, there is a window before the Copa begins, and somewhat shockingly, flights from New York to Frankfurt can be snared for as little as $540.

If jet-setting to a big tournament is on your bucket list, now might be the time to do it. World Cups are much more logistically challenging to navigate than this, and will be even more so when the increase to 48 teams kicks in.

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Qatar in 2022 was an outlier, a country so small that any game was accessible to fans on any day, or even more than one per day. That wasn't the case at any other recent tournaments, and getting to more than one location when the United States, Mexico and Canada co-host in 2026 will likely involve air travel.

The Olympics offer a single-city feel and the chance for a piece of sporting history, but prices are gouged up to painful levels, as evidence by the Paris Games this summer, where $1000 a night may only be good enough to get you a mediocre hotel room.

UEFA makes no secret of the fact that it regards the Euros as the second most important tournament in world soccer, behind only the World Cup. The flood of fans, from the traditionalists to the curious, to those who saw the Cool List and thought it was a good idea, is part of what makes the event one of soccer's most compelling spectacles.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.


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