From Barcelona to Brazil, the best holidays for football fans

Chris Leadbeater
Brazil, the true home of football - This content is subject to copyright.

The World Cup is finally upon us, in case you hadn’t noticed. With that in mind, we've tracked down some suitably themed breaks.

1. Straight to the final

The World Cup is upon us. A month of football. A sporting extravaganza that is entirely sold out. OK, not quite. If you are feeling flush, you can still bag a posh-seats ticket for the final on July 15 (fifa.com/hospitality) – yours for a mere US$5,500 (£4,119). Add a four-night stay with breakfast (£691pp; expedia.co.uk) at the three-star Slavyanka Hotel, flying direct from Heathrow on July 13, and you’re going to Moscow, baby. Oh, you’ll need a Fan ID (fan-id.ru) too – it’s free, and in lieu of a visa.

2. 52 years of hurt

Of course, England will be in the final. Undoubtedly, undeniably and indubitably. But on the ever so tiny chance that they aren’t, you can get a rehydrated fix of World Cup glory by heading to the National Football Museum in Manchester (free; nationalfootballmuseum.com), where artefacts include the match ball from the 1966 final. Obviously, there will be a new exhibition there in August on the “Boys of 18”. Obviously.

Here's the man who will score the final-winning goal for England at Russia 2018 Credit: Getty

3. United we sleep

If you’re in the city for the museum, you may as well stay over at Hotel Football (hotelfootball.com), the 133-room retreat, next to Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, which is part-owned by five of the club’s ex-players (Messrs Scholes, Giggs, Butt and the Neville brothers, if you’re interested). A good place to catch a World Cup match? Indeed.

4. What a messi

There’s no need to go to Russia to watch football’s best player. Lionel Messi of Argentina will be back in his Barcelona shirt by August. Football Break (footballbreak.co.uk) offer a two-night package to see Barcelona at home to Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup on August 14, starting at £358pp.

Get yourself to the Camp Nou Credit: globalvision 360

5. Samba serenade

Football may have been born in England, but Brazil whisked it to South America, seduced it, gave it a cool haircut and now it never rings its parents. Huh? Basically, if you want a first-rate football-related holiday, hop to Rio – where Journey Latin America (journeylatinamerica.co.uk) will add a match at the Maracana stadium (from £30) to its 12-day “Signature Brazil” tour of the country. From £3,002 per person, flights extra.

6. Real deal

Letter just in from Cristiano Ronaldo’s “people”. Its says that Cristiano, while a god among men, is hurt by talk of Messi as “football’s best player”. It adds that he has made Real Madrid champions of Europe for the last three seasons, and suggests a visit to the museum at Real’s stadium (€18/£16; realmadrid.com) to bask in his glory. Three nights at the four-star Emperador start from £679pp, with flights, via kirkerholidays.com.

Celebrate CR7 in Madeira Credit: AFP or licensors/PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA

7. Love island

Another missive from “Team Ronaldo”. It says that “CR7”, although a humble man, bleeds like mere mortals when Messi is unduly praised as football’s kingpin. Recompense could come in the form of a visit to the Museu CR7 (€5/£4; museucr7.com) – the museum to his genius on his home soil of Madeira. Four nights at the five-star Cliff Bay in Funchal, flying from Gatwick on June 28, starts at £885 a head (ba.com/holidays).

8. Paris match

Arguably, the pre-tournament favourites for the World Cup are France. Why? Lots of good players, no rubbish ones. So your best chance of celebrating with the locals when the trophy is lifted may be via a weekend in Paris. A three-night room-only stay at the four-star Le M hotel, with a train out on July 13, is £299pp – via eurostar.com.

Moscow is much nicer without the football Credit: Getty

9. Just wait

I despise football. But I like the idea of going to Russia. Can I wait until all the cheering tomfoolery is finished, then pay a visit? Why yes. Try Cox & Kings (coxandkings.co.uk), and its eight-day “Classic Russia” itinerary, which ticks off Moscow and St Petersburg – and never mentions “soccer”. From £1,285pp – with flights.

10. Repeat viewing

Actually, what will inevitably happen is that Germany will win the tournament again. So forget Manchester. Book a trip to Dortmund – three nights at the four-star Radisson Blu, flying from Luton on July 13, starts at £230pp via easyjet.com – and go to the German Football Museum (€15/£13; fussballmuseum.de), which has lots of nice trophies.