Camp Nou, A Must-do for Soccer Fans Visiting Barcelona
Barcelona, the beautiful capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, has a long list of attractions to wow its visitors. There are mind-blowing architectural masterpieces by Gaudí, the city’s history rich Gothic Quarter, bustling Ramblas and colorful Mercado de la Boqueria, incredible music and art scene and miles of beautiful beaches, not to mention mouthwatering tapas, pintxos and sangria. For our soccer devoted family, however, there was another important item on our Barcelona itinerary: Camp Nou, home of the Futbol Club Barcelona.
FC BARCELONA, “MÉS QUE UN CLUB”
Barcelona is home to the highly acclaimed FC Barcelona, one the most famous soccer clubs in the world, recognized for its extraordinarily successful history and incredible roster of world famous soccer stars like Lionel Messi, Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. and Luis Suarez.
Barça, as the club is affectionately called by its fans, is also known for its signature slogan Més que un club, which in Catalan, the region’s language means “more than a club.” The phrase points to FC Barcelona’s involvement in initiatives which go well beyond soccer such as its historically strong ties and commitment to the Catalan community, and in more recent years, its strong support of worldwide community programs that promote human rights and democratic freedoms such as UNICEF.
Barça’s home base is Camp Nou, a spectacular stadium which has served as the club’s headquarters since 1957. Able to hold almost 100,000 fans, Camp Nou is the largest soccer stadium in Europe and second largest soccer stadium in the world (only surpassed by the Pyongyang stadium in North Korea, which is a multi-purpose stadium).
In addition to regularly hosting La Liga (Spanish soccer league) games, Camp Nou has held a long list of acclaimed international soccer matches including the FIFA World Cup semi-final in 1982, two European Cup final games and several games during the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. Due to its capacity, the stadium also serves as a venue for large events and has, for example, hosted three famed U2 sold out rock concerts and a mass held by John Pope II during his 1982 visit to the city.
Dressed up in the club’s iconic red and blue colors and displaying its famous slogan in bright yellow letters, Camp Nou is truly a spectacular sight, be it empty or filled with thousands of passionate soccer fans.
ATTENDING A GAME at CAMP NOU
Attending any kind of a sports event in a foreign country and cheering along the local fans is, in my opinion, a unique and superb cultural experience. When it comes to soccer, this is especially true in a country as passionate about the beautiful game as Spain and in a city as obsessed with their home team as Barcelona.
The European soccer season runs August through May with a short break in the winter (around Christmas time). If you are visiting Barcelona during those months and have a chance to see an actual game at Camp Nou, you should absolutely do it.
Here are a few helpful tips if you are considering attending a match:
- Purchase your Camp Nou tickets as far in advance as possible. Many games sell out quickly, particularly the “El Classico,” which refers to matches between FC Barcelona and their arch rival, Real Madrid.
- There are several ways to obtain Camp Nou tickets, but for those of us outside of Barcelona, online is the easiest and most convenient option. You can visit the club’s official website or try one of the many ticket booking sites. Footballticketnet.com, for example, specializes in soccer ticket sales for international audiences and came highly recommended by a friend.
- It is important to know that game dates change occasionally for any number of reasons (such as the weather or simply club conflicts), and it’s your responsibility to stay on the top of the game schedule. Most online ticket sellers are NOT required to notify you should there be change in schedule. A reliable source to confirm the date and time of your match is the official Spanish Football Federation site. It is a very good idea to check their website periodically before making final plans to attend your game. If the date of your game does change, your ticket will be automatically valid for a new date, but will not be able to obtain a refund.
- For this reason, it is best if you can plan to see a match early during your stay in Barcelona (assuming you will be there for a few days). Games are often moved by a day or two, so should there be a schedule change, you can hopefully still attend during your visit.
CAMP NOU TOUR, THE “CAMP NOU EXPERIENCE”
If you plan on visiting Barcelona during early summer months (like many tourists and which was the case with our family), there will unfortunately be no games, but I assure you that visiting Camp Nou is still a highly memorable experience.
Camp Nou is “more than a stadium,” just like FC Barcelona is “more than a club.” Its visitors can enjoy a highly memorable tour, marketed as the Camp Nou Experience, which provides great insight into the club’s rich history and allows soccer fans several exciting behind the scenes experiences.
The museum part of the tour showcases a number of interesting historical items, a dizzying amount of Barça’s trophies and a special display dedicated to the club’s biggest star, Leo Messi. Afterwards, the Camp Nou tour takes you through the visitor locker rooms, the FC Barcelona chapel, the players’ tunnel to the pitch (you will be able to walk down to the pitch, though not ON it), the benches, the club’s press room, commentator boxes and even the president’s box.
The Camp Nou tour is easily self-guided (there is ample signage and information), and you can tailor it to your particular interests and time. If you prefer, an audio guide in several languages is also available. Finally, a visit to the FC Barcelona official merchandise store is a great way to end your Camp Nou Experience.
A FEW HELPFUL TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT
Getting to Camp Nou
The Camp Nou stadium is located in the northwest part of Barcelona, outside the city center; however, it is easily accessible in several ways:
- By taxi: It should cost you roughly 20 Euros one way from the city center.
- By metro: Take Line 3 (the Green line) and exit at either Palau Reial or Les Corts or Line 5 (the Blue line) and exit at Collblanc or Badal. There is a 10-15 minute walk to the stadium from either station. Several street signs will help you navigate or simply follow fans proudly wearing Barça jerseys.
- By Barcelona tourist buses: If you purchased tickets for one of the two Barcelona’s hop-on/hop-off tours, you’ll be happy to know that Camp Nou is one of the stops on either route (Blue Route for Barcelona Bus Touristic and West/Orange Route for Barcelona City Tour).
- By city buses: Another option, but due to frequent stops, your trip will likely take a long time.
Visiting the Stadium on Non-Game days, for the Camp Nou Experience
- Many sources will urge you to buy tickets for the Camp Nou tour ahead of your visit (online), but if you did not have a chance, don’t worry too much. We didn’t and and there were almost no lines and the price is same.
- Try to schedule your visit as early in the day as possible. It gets very crowded quickly (and perhaps there ARE lines for tickets later in the day) and also very hot. The summer temperatures in the stadium during the day easily reach well over 100° F. I have serious admiration for the folks maintaining that beautiful green turf.
- There are several food stands and a tapas restaurant on the premises to help you refuel after your tour. Alternatively, you can find many small restaurants and tapas places in all directions from the stadium.
Official Merchandise Store
The FC Barcelona official merchandise store is amazing, but it might leave your wallet significantly lighter, especially if your tween is a die hard Barça fan. Yes, speaking from experience.
Here is something to help you save a few dollars:
- Make sure to ask for the tax refund forms at the register. Any tourist who is not a EU citizen can get a tax refund for their purchases as long as they are over certain amount (91 Euros at the time of submission of this article).
- All you need to do is fill out a tax-free form and have it stamped at the airport when you are leaving the EU.
- Typically, the tax refund is obtained at the airport, but the FC Barcelona official store will actually give your refund money right there on the premises if you show them your passport, so make sure to bring it with you (or have a picture of the page displaying your personal data on your phone). For more detailed information on obtaining tax refund in Europe, read here.
Wishing you a great time visiting Barcelona and Camp Nou. Barça, Barça y nada mas!
You may also enjoy:
- If you’re looking for a hotel near Camp Nou, Hilton Barcelona is less than a mile away.
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