See Europe at its rowdiest on a tour of the world’s best soccer matches.
A beer, Alps, and BMW-filled weekend in Munich with the top clubs in Europe.
The European Champions League is an annual tournament of the best club teams from across Europe. Last year’s final featured the top team in Spain (Barcelona) and the top team in England (Manchester United). This year’s finalists won’t be determined until late April. Regardless of which teams actually play, late May (finals are on 5/19) is an ideal time to visit Munich.
Explore: In the shadow of the Alps, Munich is known for its outdoor activities. Bike the Isar Trail, a beginner-friendly single-track that starts in the heart of the city and follows the Isar River. For a day trip, the Partnach Gorge, about an hour south of Munich, is a stunning canyon near dozens of short hikes in the Alps.
Stay: Downtown at the Charles Hotel, just a few stops on the U metro from the recently redesigned BMW Museum, which has nearly every BMW ever made on display.
Food & Drink: Visit an out-of-the-way beer garden. Zum Aumeister is hidden in the wooded northern end of English Garden park.
FROM MANCHESTER TO MORECAMBE
England’s clubs battle in the quaint British countryside.
The northwest is England’s most soccer-loving region. Industrial Manchester is home to England’s most-acclaimed clubs while the countryside north of the city has some of the most lively fans. Over a busy Easter week of matches, you can visit 50,000-seat-plus stadiums to catch Manchester United and Manchester City playing Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich Albion. Then head to the most entertaining club in England, in Morecambe, where the local side, “the Shrimps,” play their closest matched rival, Port Vale. The Manchester tickets will set you back several hundred, but Morecambe is cheap — tickets are about $25 — and intimate, with Morecambe’s Globe Arena holding fewer than 7,000 people. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the Shrimps’ famous mascot, Christie the Cat, get into one of his infamous scraps with players from opposing teams. Pies at the stadium — think mince and curry — were also voted the best in all of English soccer.
Explore: Rent a car and head an hour north of Morecambe to spend a few days at B&Bs in the Lake District.
Stay: The Midland, a sleek Art Deco hotel right on the harbor, feels more like London than Lancashire County.
Food & Drink: Try a Lancashire hot pot, a hearty lamb-and-potatoes concoction, at just about any restaurant in town.
This article originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Men’s Journal.