What does Brexit mean for travellers?

What does Brexit mean for Brits travelling abroad?

What does Brexit mean for travellers?

So Britain has voted to leave the EU (you might have heard about it!) and nobody quite seems to know what happens next. On this page we’ll aim to briefly answer the question of what does Brexit mean for travellers?


Short-Term Consequences of Brexit for travellers

Freedom to Travel

Initially at least this isn’t likely to change anything in terms of visas or entry requirements for UK travellers. If you have trips booked over the next 12 months or are planning on travelling in the near future, you can relax. Britain first has to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to commence a 2 year negotiation period on exactly how it will leave the EU and even that can be extended. Therefore it is almost impossible for Britain to leave the European Union before 2019 and many experts have suggested it could take 5-10 years before Britain is actually out.

Therefore for the next 2-3 years at least, Brits can travel abroad as they do now and can move freely around the European Union countries, staying as long as they want and even working there if they so wish. There is no need to get a new passport or anything like this as Britain will remain a European Union country for the next few years.

Cost of Travel

The most serious short-term consequence of Brexit for UK travellers is the decrease in value of the British Pound. It crashed in the messy aftermath of the referendum and two weeks on is still trading considerably down against the Euro and particularly the US Dollar. £1 is now worth $1.30 (compared to around $1.45 in the weeks before the vote) and €1.17 (compared to €1.27 in the weeks before the vote).  When you consider 12 months ago £1 would get you around €1.40 and $1.55, you can see the economists are not talking out of their arses when they say there has been a huge fall in its value.

Although currency markets clearly can be quite volatile, for Brits travelling abroad in the near future this almost certainly means one thing. Your trip is going to cost more. In the Eurozone, you may find yourself spending 15-20% more than a comparable trip just one year ago. Travelling outside the EU is also likely to be more expensive as the British Pound has lost value on almost all currencies over the few weeks since the vote. A trip to the United States is also likely to be 15-2o% more expensive now and given many currencies around the world are either pegged to the US Dollar or closely linked to it, a strong dollar and weak pound is generally bad news for Brits travelling abroad.

Many budget airlines have also indicated their prices will go up as a result of the Brexit vote but there has been no real evidence of this so far and nor should there be until Britain actually leaves the EU. That said the depreciation of the Pound will make flights on European airlines like Ryanair or Vueling slightly more expensive as they calculate their fares in Euros and convert them to Pounds for British customers.

Working & Living in the EU

While Britain remains an EU member, which as mentioned previously it will do for the next few years at least, you are still free to go and work and live abroad in the EU. This means teaching English on the continent or taking jobs at summer camps or ski resorts is still very much possible in the immediate future.


Long-Term Consequences of Brexit for travellers

Freedom to Travel

One of the greatest misconceptions about this whole Brexit thing is that Brits are suddenly going to need visas just to go on short trips to Europe. That simply is not going to be the case. Even now you can visit almost every non-EU European country without any need for a visa (Russia being the most obvious exception). Places like Norway, Switzerland, Serbia and Macedonia are not in the EU and there is no need for a visa to visit them.

Will you have to go through passport control when you head to/from Europe? Yes but you already do! Britain is not in the Schengen Zone which allows borderless travel across much of Europe but not between the UK and the continent. The only change could be between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland which currently has a special agreement which may need to change if and when Britain leaves the EU potentially leading to border checks in Ireland. Likewise were Scotland to vote to leave the UK but stay in the EU, border checks may come in on the England-Scotland border as it would become an EU border.

If and when Britain finally does leave the EU, you most likely won’t even have any longer waits at passport control. You may have noticed signs saying things like ‘EU citizens & Swiss Nationals’ at passport control and that may well just be extended to ‘& British nationals’ depending on the terms of Britain’s eventual exit.

Will I need a new passport if Britain leaves the EU?

You may also have noticed that your current passport contains very clear markings indicating that the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland is an EU member state. Most likely these will just be phased out with new passports issued without EU markings.

Working & Living in the EU

If Britain wants full access to the free market, it will almost certainly have to agree to open borders, one of the main reasons why 52% of people voted leave. If it does then it would mean EU citizens would remain free to come and work in the UK and Brits could still live and work or continue working in the EU.

If it doesn’t then the UK will most likely have to reach a new agreement with each individual member state, which clearly could take a while.  At the very least there are likely to be more bureaucratic obstacles in the way of Brits wanting to live and work abroad such as work permits and work visas. It’s highly likely that Brits will still be able to live and work in the EU particularly somewhere like Spain, which is pretty broke and has around 750,000 Brits already living there, something that helps generate money for the Spanish economy.

Cost of Travel

The long-term effect of Brexit on travellers is somewhat less clear. Certainly currency markets are very hard to predict but there is a good chance that the Pound will recover to some extent as the turmoil settles down and things become a bit clearer.

Many have speculated that the Brexit could lead other EU countries to hold referendums and potentially leave the EU, which may struggle to survive were another major power like France to leave. Events like that could send the Euro spiralling which would in theory make Europe cheaper again for Brits although regional instability isn’t likely to do wonders for the Pound either so it could lose ground on other currencies around the world.

This is all speculation to an extent so perhaps the most important thing for budget travellers would be to keep an eye on exchange rates and Brexit-related news and bear them in mind when budgeting for your next trip. Most of our travel budgets were published or updated a few months before the Brexit vote and although we will ultimately update them all again, you may be wise to use the US$ figure for now as your reference. Use xe.com to convert it to Pounds at the latest rate and calculate how much your trip might cost.

If you are worried about not having enough funds, you might be wise to put off booking trips too far in the future as the markets are still quite volatile and any further depreciation of the Pound could leave you with a big hole in your budget by the time your next adventure comes around.

The Cost of Flights

If Britain does ultimately leave the single market then it is highly likely that Brits will have to pay more for flights to the continent. EU free market rules encourage competition and have helped contribute to the emergence of dirt cheap fares to the continent.

Even the cost of flights further afield could potentially go up with some airlines suggesting they may opt for major European airports like Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris as the base for their inter-continental flights rather than UK airports meaning Brits may have fewer destinations they can fly direct to and would need more connecting flights.

Duty-Free

This one is a bit of a double-edged sword. Brexit is likely to mean a return to the days of Brits bringing in Duty-Free goods from the EU but with more limits on what you can bring in. Currently you can bring in an almost unlimited quantity of goods from the continent but you have to pay duty on them. So Brexit will mean cheaper prices for things like alcohol and cigarettes when bought abroad but more restrictions on how much you can bring back into the country.

Roaming Charges

The EU recently agreed to scrap roaming charges making the cost of using your mobile across Europe considerably cheaper when it fully comes into effect in June 2017. When Britain finally leaves the EU, the UK government may well scrap that along with many other EU regulations making the cost of using your mobile across Europe more expensive again.

 


This article was published in July 2016.


Italy Backpacking Budget

backpacking budget Italy

(Map of Italy from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Italy on a Shoestring Budget

US$60 | 55 Euros 

Even though Italy has experienced some pretty serious economic problems in recent years like Mediterranean neighbours Spain and Greece, it hasn’t really got any cheaper as a result and is still overall an expensive place to visit and it has more in common with France than those two countries in that regard.

Like France it is full of tourist traps and many of its finest cities are very hard to visit on anything like a shoestring budget. In somewhere like Venice for example it is almost impossible to get by on just 55 Euros a day with accommodation alone taking up over 50% of that while eating out is also expensive in the Northern tourist cities like Venice, Florence and Pisa.

However if you try and get out and spend more time in the real Italy and perhaps just visit those places as part of a day trip or perhaps a one night stay then our Italy backpacking budget of 55 Euros/day becomes much more realistic. There is a fair degree of regional variation in prices too and generally the further South you go the cheaper things get with even Rome perhaps a fraction cheaper than the likes of Milan in the North. Certainly if you head into the more rural South you should be able to see your money lasting longer.

See where Italy ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable Italy Backpacker Budget

US$75 | 70 Euros

As is the case in many countries, the expensive places are generally the ones that are most worth visiting. The problem with Italy is that there are so many of them and a city like Venice really doesn’t need budget travellers to make a huge amount of tourism and as such does little to cater for them. By pushing your budget up to 70 Euros a day, you can afford to spend more time in the pricier destinations but you will still have to be a bit smart with where you eat and drink in order to stick to that.


Sample Prices in Italy

Train from Pisa to Rome (4 hours) – from €24

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – €12-15

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – €4

Dorm Bed in Rome or Florence – from €15

Private Double or Twin room in Venice – from €60

Entrance to Rome Colosseum – €15.50 ($10.50 for 18-24 year olds from EU countries)

Compare Italy prices with the cost of travel in Greece.


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.16

US$1 = €0.95

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)


MFT Recommends

It’s no secret that the majority of the fairly limited budget accommodation that exists in Rome is not of a great standard. The centrally located Hard Rock Rooms is a rare exception.


street art in Italy

street art in Roma, Italy (via Claudio VaccaroCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Italy recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016. Exchange rates were updated in January 2017.


Ireland Backpacking Budget

Ireland Backpacking Budget

(Map of Ireland from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)

This article refers to the Republic of Ireland rather than Northern Ireland which is covered in our United Kingdom backpacking budget. That said prices are pretty similar in Northern Ireland to Southern Ireland although the currency is different.


Daily Travel Costs in Ireland on a Shoestring Budget

US$60 | 55 Euros

The cost of travel in Ireland like much of Europe depends on the strength of the Euro at the time you visit. It has fluctuated considerably over recent years and Ireland briefly became quite a bit cheaper than the UK for example but is evening up again now. Dublin in particular is known for being quite an expensive city to visit with the cost of the main attractions regularly around 20 Euros while the city’s famous pubs are by no means cheap so if you are someone who likes a drink then you might struggle to stick our suggested Ireland backpacking budget of 55 Euros.

However you can still have quite a lot of fun on that sort of budget with costs generally a fair bit lower outside of the capital. It’s a relatively small country and the cost of travelling around isn’t that much so that is one positive and in terms of overall costs in ranks probably as an average Western European country. Accommodation and food prices are certainly more reasonable than somewhere like Scandinavia or France and given the large number of visitors the country receives, Ireland is pretty well equipped to cater for budget travellers.

See where Ireland ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable Ireland Backpacker Budget

US$75 | 70 Euros

The Irish are known to like a drink and although the country has plenty to offer in terms of rural charm, unquestionably the pub culture is a big appeal for many visitors to the country. Budgeting for 70 Euros per day will give you a lot more freedom to immerse yourself in that and with some form of live music and lively pubs almost every night even in the smaller towns, you will find plenty of temptation. Certainly if you are only on a short trip to Ireland you might want to allow for this sort of budget which will allow you to pack a lot more in. If you don’t drink then you can certainly get by on less.


Sample Prices in Ireland

Train from Galway to Dublin (2 hours 20 minutes) – €25

Meal at an inexpensive pub or restaurant – €12

Pint of lager or Guinness – €5-6 (a bit less outside Dublin)

Dorm bed – from €15/night

Cheap private double or twin room – from €50/night

Entrance to the Guinness Storehouse – €20 (includes a free pint of Guinness)


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.16

US$1 = €0.95

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)

If you head north of the border, remember that British Pounds are used in Northern Ireland.


MFT Recommends

Dublin’s enormous Generator Hostel is one of the best places to stay in the Irish capital with budget beds, good conditions and a lively and pretty cheap bar that is nice for meeting other travellers.


ireland street art

street art in Dublin, Ireland (via Guiseppe MiloCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Ireland recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016. Exchange rates were updated in January 2017.


Iceland Backpacking Budget

Iceland backpacking budget

(Map of Iceland from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in Iceland on a Shoestring Budget

US$75 | 8500 Icelandic Krona

Iceland is a country high up on many a bucket list but its isolated location makes it somewhat difficult to fit into any other trip. The bad news for shoestring travellers is that Iceland is getting expensive again after a brief hiatus when the country’s three main banks all went bust during the economic crisis and Iceland suddenly became somewhat more affordable.

For starters there is the cost of getting to Iceland which can be quite high given it’s closer to Greenland than continental Europe and that isn’t even factored into our high suggested Iceland backpacking budget of US$75/day. A good chunk of that goes on accommodation which is very expensive and the cost of eating and drinking out is at least in line with any expensive country on mainland Europe. Then there is the cost and hassle of using the limited public transport. Given the population of Iceland is little over 300,000, the services are far from regular and quite costly so many travellers prefer to rent out a car to explore the island, which has many advantages in that you can stop off at any of the abundant natural wonders that catches your eye.

The only real good news for budget travellers in Iceland is that almost all the main places to see are free to visit. If you are travelling as a group, you might be able to get by on less than $75/day by renting out a car and preparing your own food. Camping and perhaps hitch-hiking are also good options in the warmer months and doing a fair bit of that could see you slip well below $75/day but it’s not for everyone.

See where Iceland ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable Iceland Backpacker Budget

US$100 | 11400 Icelandic Krona

To see the best of Iceland, you really want to be renting your own car for a few days, which certainly if you are a solo traveller is going to be expensive. Many of the best places to visit are some way off the main highway and not linked by public transport. On a budget of $100/day even a solo traveller, should be able to afford to do that for a few days at least to explore the more remote parts of the island and then perhaps spend a bit more time based in Reykjavík without a car and doing trips to the nearby places of interest that are more accessible.


Sample Prices in Iceland

Car Rental with full protection – from 8500kr/day (€60) + petrol

Large beer in Reykjavík bar or restaurant – 1000kr  (€7)

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 2000kr (€14)

Camping in a designated campground (there are many) – 1500kr/night (€11)

Dorm bed – from 3500kr/night (€25)

Budget private double or twin room – 10500kr/night (€75)

Entrance to Þingvellir National Park – Free!


Money

Currency – Icelandic Krona

£1 = 139 Krona

€1 = 120 Krona

US$1 = 114 Krona

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)

Some shops that cater to tourists do accept Euros and maybe US Dollars but it’s unlikely to be at a very good rate so get yourself some krona!


MFT Recommends

Possibly the cheapest dorm beds in Iceland at a fraction under €20/night are found at the Grábrók Hotel and Holiday Homes near to the crater of the same name. A good option if you’d rather stay in natural surroundings than in the capital.


street art in Iceland

street art in Reykjavik, Iceland (via Rob YoungCC BY 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Iceland recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016. Exchange rates were updated in January 2017.


Spain Backpacking Budget

Spain backpacking budget

(Map of Spain from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 2.5)


Daily Travel Costs in Spain on a Shoestring Budget

US$50 | 45 Euros

Spain is cheap by Western European standards and considerably cheaper than neighbouring France while it is roughly the same as its neighbour to the West, Portugal. There is a good deal of regional variation though with the Southern part of the country certainly the cheapest, particularly Andalusia. Prices are a bit higher in Barcelona and Madrid than in the smaller towns but not considerably so and the same is true of some of the more tourist-orientated resorts, which line the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca and Costa Brava.

Backpacker accommodation is plentiful and pretty good value but it is a good idea to book in advance during peak times and certainly national holidays and festivals of which there are many. Eating and drinking out is cheap if you are a bit savvy and head away from the tourist areas but a night out anywhere can still set you back close to our suggested Spain backpacking budget of 45 Euros with entry to clubs alone typically 10-20 Euros including a drink or perhaps two. On the plus side, drinking in squares and parks is generally tolerated and you can get a litre of beer for little over a Euro in the supermarkets.

Getting around Spain is fairly straight forward with plenty of budget flights around the country for longer trips and an excellent if quite expensive high-speed rail network that links the main cities. On a shoestring budget though you are probably best to stick to the inter-city buses which are almost always the cheapest way to get from A to B.

See where Spain ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable Spain Backpacker Budget

US$65 | 60 Euros

If partying is likely to be a big part of your trip or you are restricted on time and want to fit a lot in then you might want to consider stretching out to a 60 Euro daily budget. This will allow you to go out regularly and perhaps take the odd flight or train for those longer trips.


Sample Prices in Spain

Flight from Madrid to Barcelona (1 hour) – €35 + baggage fees (more at weekends)

Bus from Sevilla to Granada (3 hours) – €23 with Alsa

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant – €8-10

‘Jarra’ (large beer) in a Cerveceria Montaditos – €1.50

Dorm bed in Barcelona – from €15/night

Dorm bed in Madrid – from €12/night

Budget private Double or Twin Room – from €25/night (more during peak times)

Entrance fee for Granada’s Alhambra – €14

Compare that to the cost of travel in Italy.


Money

Currency – Euros

£1 = €1.16

US$1 = €0.95

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)


MFT Recommends

In Barcelona, stay at Factory Gardens, a good value hostel close to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

Read our full guide to seeing Barcelona on a budget.


street art in Madrid

street art in Madrid, Spain


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to Spain recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016. Exchange rates were updated in January 2017.


UK Backpacking Budget

UK Backpacking Budget

(Map of UK from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in the UK on a Shoestring Budget

US$60 | £50

The UK is well known as being as an expensive country to visit but our UK backpacking budget of £50/day is by no means unrealistic. The biggest expense is generally accommodation which is not cheap. Couchsurfing is a good idea here and you can get by on much less than £50 per day if you do a lot of it. Travelling around isn’t that expensive as it is a pretty small country and flying is recently necessary at any point unless you want to visit Northern Ireland, in which case there are a host of budget airlines that cater for that with flights from £20 or less plus £10-15 for your backpack.

Getting around in the UK can be very cheap too, but it really does help to book trains and buses in advance. This can all be done online via The Trainline, while Megabus offer some extremely cheap coach travel between the big cities. Eating and drinking out remains expensive though and you can easily blow £45 on a night out alone in most UK cities. If you’re looking to save a bit of cash, then start your night in Wetherspoons, which is a popular chain of pubs that has the best deals on drinks and can be found all over the country, with most cities having several.

As a general rule London and the Southeast is considerably more expensive than the rest of the country but you can still get stung badly in cities like Edinburgh, which receives plenty of visitors.

See where the UK ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.

Backpacking costs in all European countries


More Comfortable UK Backpacker Budget

US$80 | £65

£65 per day is a lot of money to spend as a budget traveller but on this kind of budget, you can afford to stay in the best hostels and be a bit less rigid with your planning and just buy transport tickets on the day which is normally considerably more expensive than doing it in advance. One of the good things about the UK is that a lot of museums are free to visit, but many attractions can cost in the region of £20 for entry so you can afford to visit a few more of them on this kind of budget.

One other bit of good news for budget travellers in the UK is that since Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016, the Pound has taken several serious hits so visitors from around the world should now find it slightly more affordable.


Sample Prices in the UK

London to Birmingham by train – from £6 (booked in advance), £15 on the day

London to Manchester by train – from £20 (booked in advance), £80 on the day

Day Travelcard on London Underground – £12

Pint of Beer in a pub – £3-4 (£4+ in London)

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant or pub – £8+

Cheap dorm bed in a city – £12-15+ (often considerably more at busy times)

Stonehenge admission fee – £15.50 adults, £13.90 students


Money

Currency – Great British Pound

€1 = £0.86

US$1 = £0.82

(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2017)

Apart from the odd retail store with dubious exchange rates, Euros are not accepted anywhere in the UK with the exception of a few parts of Northern Ireland which are close to the border to the Republic of Ireland, which uses the Euro. If you are considering hopping over the Irish Sea then read about the cost of travel in Ireland.


MFT Recommends

Stay at a proper British pub! The Exmouth Arms, conveniently located near Euston Station has 6 and 8 bed dorms above the bar.


street art in bristol

street art in Bristol, England

(photo may be re-used with a link to this page)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve travelled in the UK recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016. Exchange rates were updated in January 2017.


Funky 100 – 5 Things to do in London

ACCRA | LONDON | LISBON

Send in your contribution to the Funky 100!


Funky 100 – Number 19

5 Funky Things to do in London


Why you should Visit…

Steeped in history and swamped in culture, it’s no secret that London is an incredible city to visit. So on your next sojourn to the Big Smoke, here are a few of the lesser-known landmarks that also deserve a spot on your itinerary.


1. Highgate Cemetery

funky things to do in London

Get lost in a labyrinth of Egyptian sepulchres and Gothic tombs in Highgate Cemetery. The final resting place of painters, poets, princes and paupers, this crumbling necropolis has many famous occupants, including the grandfather of communism Karl Marx and the author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams. Just watch out for vampires.


2. Bagels on Brick Lane

different things to do in London

If you fancy a late night bite, ditch the dodgy kebab and head to a 24-hour Jewish bagel bakery on Brick Lane. Hordes of hungry Londoners flock to these East End institutions for freshly prepared bagels stuffed to their deliciously doughy rafters with either salt beef or smoked salmon.


3. Sky Garden

visiting London's Sky Garden

For the finest views of London’s landmarks head to the Sky Garden, the city’s highest public park. Sitting on the summit of the distinctive “Walkie-Talkie” skyscraper, the Sky Garden offers a 360° panorama of the city, uncrowded by taller neighbours, as well restaurants, bars and an open-air terrace. Entry to the Sky Garden is free, but booking in advance is essential.


4. The Good Mixer

Camden Pub

More dive than bar, join the ranks of tattooed skinheads slugging pints and potting snooker balls for a quiet drink at the Good Mixer. Once the epicentre of Britpop, The Mixer claimed Amy Winehouse, Blur and Oasis as locals and stories of raucous punch-ups between pop gods still do the rounds. This buzzing old boozer is as classic as a Camden pub gets.


5. Welcome Collection

weird things to do in london

Explore what it means to be human at the Welcome Collection. This free museum provides an in-depth look at how science and medicine connects with art and our lives. On display are thousands of fascinating, and often grisly, curios ranging from Napoleon’s toothbrush to Darwin’s walking stick.


BIO

Thanks to Lizzie Shephard for these great tips on different things to do in London.


PREVIOUS CITY | FUNKY 100NEXT CITY


Read about the cost of travel in the UK!

This article was published in April 2016.


Top 10 Cities for Watching Football (Soccer)

Note these cities are in no particular order! They are all great places to take in some football for different reasons and each offer unique experiences, which are hard to rank.

Best Cities for Watching Football


1. Dortmund

Dortmund - One of the best cities for football
The Yellow Wall

Truth be told, Dortmund isn’t one of the world’s great travel destinations but the experience of taking in a match at Westfalenstadion is a must for any hardcore footy fan. The enormous single tier Südtribüne (South Bank) is the largest terrace in European football with 24,000 packing it on matchdays and creating the famous Yellow Wall, which generates an incredible atmosphere. British supporters, who long for the days of standing at games arrive in their thousands every matchday to experience it and it is certainly one of the continents growing football tourism venues. The on-field action isn’t bad either with Borussia playing an attacking brand of football that usually produces plenty of goals. With fellow Bundesliga clubs Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen, FC Köln and Borussia Monchengladbach not far away you might even be able to squeeze two games into your trip.

2. Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires football
A mini Maradona looks out colourful La Boca

The Argentine capital is home to more professional football clubs than any other city in the world and to say the sport is taken very seriously here, would be an enormous understatement. 16 of the 30 teams in the Argentine top flight are based in Greater Buenos Aires with Boca Juniors and River Plate the most famous within the city itself. River fans may think otherwise but a trip to La Bombonera in the colourful working class district of La Boca is a real highlight. It is one of the iconic football stadiums and produces an incredible matchday atmosphere with club legend Diego Maradona often in attendance in his own private box. For the ultimate South American football experience make sure you’re in town for the Superclásico when River Plate and Boca Juniors meet in perhaps the biggest local derby in world football.

3. Glasgow

Visiting the Old Firm Derby
Rival fans at the Old Firm Derby

Forget London, Liverpool or Manchester, British football’s most passionate supporters can be found North of the border in Glasgow. Scottish football may have fallen on hard times and that is especially true of Rangers, who are still fighting their way back having been relegated 3 divisions for severe financial troubles. However the Old Firm Derby will be back in the top flight before too long and Rangers against Celtic is unquestionably the biggest rivalry in British football with deep political and religious divides providing a sometimes ugly under-current. Glasgow is a city that lives and breathes football and it’s another city that avid football fans need to tick off their list.

4. Barcelona

The Nou Camp from the sky
More than a club – FC Barcelona

The Camp Nou almost certainly receives more tourists each matchday than any other football stadium in the world and that can take the edge off the atmosphere a little bit. Apart from El Clasico against Real Madrid or big European games, it certainly isn’t anything like as intense as some of the other clubs on this list but when you’re watching one of the great football sides of the modern era and in Leo Messi, one of the best players to have ever graced the game it is certainly worth the entry fee, which can be as low as 20 Euros for most matches. A stadium tour of the 99,000 capacity Camp Nou and visit to the wonderful museum can take up an afternoon too and with an abundance of budget airlines flying into Barcelona from around Europe it’s a very easy place to get to. Oh and it’s a great city too!

5. Istanbul

Watching football in Istanbul
Pre-match atmosphere at Galatasaray

The Istanbul football experience is unlike anything else in Europe. Fans often arrive and start unveiling flags, flares, banners and chanting as much as 3 hours early with the atmosphere reaching boiling point by kick-off. The city is home to 3 major clubs in Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahçe, who play on the Asian side of the city at the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium. Traditionaly Galatasaray against Fener is the biggest rivalry in Turkish football but the 3 clubs tend to dominate the domestic game and all are regulars in European competitions. Visiting fans and teams at Galatasaray’s old Ali Sami Yen Stadium used to be welcomed with ‘Welcome to Hell’ banners and although all the clubs now have new modern stadiums, Istanbul is still widely regarded as having the most intimidating atmospheres in European football and a visit is not for the feint-hearted.

6. São Paulo

Sao Paulo fans
Corinthians fans and a fairly large flag

Rio de Janeiro may be the first city that springs to mind when you put the words football and Brazil together. However the São Paulo clubs are traditionally the more successful and even the Campeonato Paulista (São Paulo State Championship), which precedes the Brazilian Serie A, is an incredibly tough competition. Brazilian clubs play an enormous amount of football which only very briefly pauses for a few weeks around Christmas and with so many clubs you won’t find it hard to find a match to attend in the city. The National Football Museum is also excellent and is located at Pacaembu Stadium. Corinthians, São Paulo FC and Palmeiras are the biggest teams but if you head 35 miles out of town to the coast, you find Santos, which acts like a conveyor belt of the world’s best footballers with the likes of Pele and Neymar having risen through the clubs academy.

7. Rosario

Rosario Central supporters
Rosario Central fans and an enormous flag!

Rosario is another Argentine city that is fanatical about football and is home to Newell’s Old Boys and Rosario Central, who both provide the biggest challenge to the virtual monopoly that the capital region holds on football in the country. The two clubs both attract large crowds to their old-fashioned English style stadiums, with fans right on top of the action. If you’ve already made it to games in a lot of the places on our countdown of the best cities for watching football and want something old-school then head to Rosario, which is a real throwback to how football was decades ago in Europe. You might be the only tourist but you’re sure to get an unforgettable match-day experience.

8. Hamburg

St Pauli flag
The iconic skull and crossbones flag of St Pauli.

Hamburger SV might be the city’s most successful club with a bigger stadium and regular Bundesliga action but it is Hamburg’s other club, FC St. Pauli that is of most interest here. Over the decades it has developed a real cult following and despite only playing in the 2nd tier of German football, it boasts fans from all over the world. The matchday experience is more akin to a rock concert with Hells Bells by AC/DC greeting the teams onto the field and a crowd that is a little bit punk-rock. The club is very left-wing and supporters pride themsevles as being strong opponents to racism, sexism, fascism and homophobia. A visit to the Millerntor-Stadion is certainly a refreshing change in a sport that is often slow to take a stance against some of those issues.

9. Sevilla

Real Betis fans
Real Betis fans at the Seville derby

Sevilla is perhaps a surprise inclusion but anyone who has taken in a game at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan or Estadio Benito Villamarín will testify to the fact that attending a game of football in the city is a special experience. It is the only city in Spain outside the capital to have two Primera Division clubs that both regularly attract crowds of over 30,000. If you’re in town for the Seville derby between Sevilla FC and Real Betis, you will experience Spanish football’s most fiercely contested local derby but regular matchdays are also pretty lively affairs. Another interesting facet to football in the Andalucian capital can be the kick-off times which are sometimes as late as 11:00pm to avoid the heat in what is mainland Europe’s hottest town. Check out this Spanish football blog for more on soccer in the country including a handy guide to catching a game in Seville.

10. Rio de Janeiro

Rio beach soccer
A beach football game in Rio

Last but by no means least Rio de Janeiro makes it in as one of the best cities around the world for watching football or soccer for the benefit our American friends. The iconic Maracanã hosted the World Cup final in 2014 and hosts domestic action virtually every week throughout the year with Flamengo and Fluminese playing most of their home games at the ground. In Rio though you don’t even need to be at a stadium to take in skillful footy action. Just head to the Copacabana beach or indeed any of the beaches that circle this amazing city and it won’t be long before you encounter a game of beach soccer and witness locals demonstrating the slickest of skills.


 

These sort of lists are always controversial. If you think we’ve missed a city out, let us know by commenting below and explaining why it is a great city to watch football!

 


This article was published in October 2015.


The definitive top 10 places to visit in Germany this summer

The definitive top 10 places to visit in Germany this summer

(Sponsored Post)

Plan your perfect German vacation

 With fairy tale landscapes, white beaches and cultural cities, Germany offers something for everyone. We’ve rounded up some of the best places to visit.

In comparison to its Mediterranean neighbours Spain and France, Germany is somewhat underrated as a holiday destination. However, with its stunning countryside, rich history and fascinating cities, Germany is actually a fantastic location for your next summer holiday. With so much variety, it can be difficult to decide where to go. We’ve put together a list of the top ten places you should visit in this beautiful country.

Rugen Island

Rugen Island in Germany

Germany is not traditionally associated with beach holidays, but Rugen Island in north eastern Germany offers visitors beautiful white sand beaches and charming seaside resorts. Away from the beach, the island has its own national park for you to explore, and each summer, visitors can experience the island’s theatre festival.

Berlin

Berlin has soared in popularity in recent years, earning itself a reputation as a hip, edgy city packed full of culture. The city has a wealth of galleries and museums to explore, including the five institutions located on ‘Museum Island’. Visitors can also get an insight into the city’s history by visiting famous landmarks such as the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate. As well as history and culture, Berlin is also a great place for foodies and revellers alike, making it the perfect city break location.

Romantic Rhine

Rhein River in Germany

Between Bingen and Bonn, the Middle Rhine – or the Romantic Rhine as it’s commonly known – flows through the dramatic Rhine Gorge. With its stunning scenery, terraced vineyards, castles and medieval villages straight out of a fairy tale, it’s little wonder that the area has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best way to explore this beautiful part of Germany is with a riverboat cruise.

Cologne

Located on the banks of the River Rhine, Cologne is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany – and with good reason. The city is home to impressive landmarks including the famous gothic Cologne Cathedral and the Twelve Romanesque Churches. Cologne is also viewed as a cultural centre with a wide array of art galleries and museums, and, with its many bars and clubs, visitors will find plenty to do when the sun goes down.

Black Forest

If you love the great outdoors, head to the Black Forest near the borders of France and Switzerland. Its romantic setting inspired many of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales and it offers numerous opportunities for hiking, cycling and boating. Base yourself in the nearby famous spa town of Baden-Baden, or if you’re a fan of medieval architecture, head to the ancient university town of Freiberg.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg Castle

Located in south western Germany, the town of Heidelberg attracts thousands of visitors with its picturesque appearance and old-world charm. Heidelberg Old Town houses a number of historic treasures including the Church of the Holy Spirit, the medieval Old Bridge and the magnificent Heidelberg Castle which towers over the town. Heidelberg also offers a variety of nightlife options with more than 300 bars, pubs and clubs.

Schoenau am Koenigssee

Another great destination for active, outdoorsy travellers, Schoenau am Koenigssee in Bavaria offers amazing views of the Berchtesgaden Alps. Enjoy the scenery while hiking or mountain biking, or choose the more relaxing option of a boat trip on the clear, emerald waters of Koenigssee Lake. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a gondola ride to the top of Jenner Mountain for an unparalleled view of the stunning landscape.

Munich

Munich is perhaps most famous for the Oktoberfest festival which takes place each autumn. However, people visiting the city during the summer months will not be disappointed. A great destination for culture-vultures, Munich is home to many art galleries, theatres, royal palaces and historic churches, and its attractive city centre is the perfect blend of modern and traditional architecture.

Rothenburg

Rothenburg Germany

Rothenburg, with its preserved medieval old town, is popular with tourists from all around the world. Visitors can walk along the top of the city walls, or, alternatively, climb to the top of the 200 foot town hall tower for views of the entire town. For something a little different, those with a strong stomach should head to the slightly gruesome, yet extremely interesting, Medieval Crime Museum.

Seebad Heringsdorf

Another destination for beach lovers, Seebad Heringsdorf is a popular resort town on Usedom Island in Western Pomerania. One of three ‘Emperor’s Spas’, the area is known as the ‘Bathtub of Berlin’ and features long sandy beaches and scenic architecture. It has a history of attracting the upper classes and even royalty, including Emperor Wilhelm II.

With so many must-see destinations in Germany, it’s really difficult to narrow it down to just ten. Whether you want to spend your summer relaxing on a beach, exploring medieval villages, taking in the country’s rich culture, or hiking through the mountains, Germany really does have something for everyone.

 


This article was published in August 2015.


Backpacking in Tallinn, Estonia

Life After the Iron Curtain in Tallinn

Tallinn is the small but enchanting capital of the Baltic nation of Estonia. Estonians have lived through centuries of foreign rule in various forms interrupted by brief periods of independence. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Estonia once again became an autonomous country in 1991.

Medieval Tallinn

Toompea CastleToompea Castle

Built in the 13th Century, the impressive castle looks over the city from the upper part of the old town. Admission is by guided tour only but if you don’t fancy it this it is still a great place to wander around with your camera taking in the views from Toompea Hill.

Old Town

The medieval old town is still in fantastic condition and easily one of the most impressive in Europe. As you wander around the cobblestone streets which are at their best in the bitter winter when snow turns the old town into a medieval winter wonderland. There are plenty of cathedrals, quaint squares and mysterious little archways which make this a beautiful yet eerie city.


Life behind the Iron Curtain

Museum of Occupation

Museum of OccupationsFor just 2 Euros will give you a good idea of Estonia’s long battle for independence. It focuses on the period of Nazi and especially Soviet rule with various video screens with real footage from the era. You can also visit a replica of a gulag (Soviet labour camp) where many Estonians were sent to a life of hardship in desperate conditions which killed the majority of them.

Ex-KGB Headquarters

This building is now owned by the Estonian government and generally not open to the public. It was once a hugely significant place that rightly generated fear amongst the residents of Tallinn. Suspected dissidents were sent here where they were inflicted to torture and beatings before often being sent to the labour camps in Siberia.

Song Festival Grounds

This was the place where Estonia’s peaceful Singing Revolution took place. As the Soviet Union began to fall apart, Estonian nationalism grew and large crowds gathered here to sing traditional Estonian folk song and wave the national colours. Nowadays it hosts the All Estonian Song Festival which attracts thousands of performers from across the country.

 

Tallinn Today: Party in the Baltic

For a city of under 500,000 people the nightlife is incredible. It is also very cheap which makes backpacking in Estonia all the more enjoyable. Weekends are by far the liveliest when dozens of late opening cellar bars and night clubs party on well into the small hours. There are also some excellent and very friendly hostels in Tallinn with great local staff and these are good places to party or at least meet travellers to hit the bars with.
Tallinn Old Town
The Estonian capital does have some more unsavoury elements. Sex tourism is quite big here with a large number of strip clubs and it attracts many large groups of men from Western Europe and especially the UK. Some of the nightlife is a bit tacky and occasionally tries to rip off tourists but you won’t have to wander far to find somewhere cool to spend the evening. There is occasionally trouble between Estonians and Russians who still make up a large chunk of the population, many of whom don’t speak the native language.


Backpacking in Tallinn – Fitting it in to a trip around the region

Overall Tallinn is a great place to go for a few days. Its size makes it easy to navigate and experience all the main sights. Locals are very friendly and welcoming of travellers and seen as Estonia is only a small country it’s easy to fit in with visiting others in the region. Helsinki is only a short ferry ride across the freezing Baltic Sea from Tallinn taking a couple of hours or so. You can get a 50% discount with a Euro Rail Pass.

You can also head south from Tallinn to the countries second city, Tartu a popular university town. Keep going and you can check out the other two Baltic nations of Latvia and Lithuania. If you’re finding the Soviet period fascinating, you might want to head into Mother Russia with St Petersburg, only a short hop over the border.

Check out our backpacking route in the Baltics for an idea of how to do this!


This article was published in June 2011.