Best football stadiums in the world – ranked

We rank the best football stadiums in the world – from Europe to South America

Dortmund

Football stadiums have become so much more than mere grass and terraces with towering coliseums in hundreds of cities around the world.

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The beauty of a football arena lies in the fact that there’s no exact science as to what makes a stadium great. Sometimes it can be state-of-the-art features – such as Tottenham’s VIP cheese room or Manchester City’s mirrored viewing tunnel – that elevates a ground to the next level.

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It could also be the shape and layout of the stands, designed for maximum volume inside. Exteriors have also become more grand as the years roll by, each new stadium trying to outdo the last. Sometimes it’s just the sheer size of a stadium that sends shivers down the spine.

As you can see, there’s a whole lot of criteria that can be weighted subjectively depending on what you enjoy in a stadium, but here are our absolute favourites from around the world.

12. Estadio Azteca

Azteca

Location: Mexico City, Mexico

Team: Club America, Cruz Azul, Mexico national team

Capacity: 87,523

First opened: 1966

This behemoth structure actually saw a considerable reduction in its capacity in 2016 following renovations that added additional hospitality suites and media facilities. It had previously topped 105,000 in terms of official seating capacity, but the fearsome size and name of the ground, rocking with passionate fans, has ensured the Azteca remains one of the most intimidating places to play the game.

11. Old Trafford

Old Trafford

Location: Manchester, UK

Team: Manchester United

Capacity: 74,879

First opened: 1910

The UK’s largest club stadium isn’t referred to as The Theatre of Dreams without just cause. The ground has undergone several transformations since its opening but has retained its fear factor throughout the decades. A huge tick in the box for most British stadiums is the proximity to the pitch. While running tracks and large divides are commonplace across the world, Old Trafford manages to be both enormous and relatively compact with the pitch.

10. Maracanã

Maracana

Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Team: Flamengo, Fluminense

Capacity: 78,838

First opened: 1950

The record attendance for the Maracanã is less than a thousand shy of 200,000 should tell you everything you need to know about this iconic pantheon of sport. Nestled in Rio, the stadium feels like a temple in a football-mad nation. It comprises of two complete rings stacked on top of each other, a perfect circle, and while that creates a gap between fans and the pitch, the atmosphere doesn’t escape.

9. Signal Iduna Park

Dortmund

Location: Dortmund, Germany

Team: Borussia Dortmund

Capacity: 81,365

First opened: 1974

This deceptively large ground boasts the finest single stand in Europe, responsible for taking the breath away from millions around the world. From the outside, Westfalenstadion is a sharp, mechanical, industrial design, fairly standard but the South Stand’s capacity for 25,000 standing fans is a sight to behold. Twenty five thousand standing behind the short side of the pitch. It’s a pulsating experience, a giant connecting chain of shoulder rubs from the guy at the very back left to the front right. If you decide to trade your personal space for a European football pilgrimage like no other, you won’t regret it.

8. Wanda Metropolitano

Wanda Metropolitano

Location: Madrid, Spain

Team: Atletico Madrid

Capacity: 68,456

First opened: 2017

One of the most recent stadiums to be built on this list belongs to the noisy neighbours in Madrid. Atletico’s recent success has clawed them into the European elite, and now they have a stadium to boast about. The stadium is designed with fans in mind. You can find a superb view anywhere in the ground with zero restrictions, while the more enclosed roof keeps the noise bubbling away in the cauldron while still feeling light and airy.

7. Allianz Arena

Allianz Arena

Location: Munich, Germany

Team: Bayern Munich

Capacity: 75,024

First opened: 2005

The Allianz Arena is by no means an old stadium, but the exterior design was so far ahead of its time and continues to put most new-builds to shame. The glowing spaceship is a glorious sight in full daylight or at night, with an array of colours able to dance across it. Inside, the stadium is open and airy with masses of space for fans to roam freely about the concourses, while the arena itself provides stunning angles from every seat.

6. San Siro

San Siro

Location: Milan, Italy

Team: Internazionale, AC Milan

Capacity: 80,018

First opened: 1926

If we’re talking about nicest stadiums, the San Siro doesn’t come close. If we’re talking about top facilities, exquisite comfort and universally friendly angles, the San Siro doesn’t come close. If we’re talking about utterly terrifying, intimidating, daunting stadiums, San Siro takes the gold. It could well be the most threatening building you’ve ever seen from the outside, the spiralling walkways aren’t practical, but they’re stunning. The iconic red roof frames aren’t pretty, they’re scary. The whole thing looks like a chunk of a spaceship crash-landed in a Milanese suburb. The toilets consist of little more than concrete holes in the ground, nets prevent flares and other such objects from being fired onto the pitch and there are barely any light to illuminate the fans during night games. As an experience for watching football though, it’s pure drama, the aura of history palpable. The San Siro is due to be torn down to rebuild a sanitised, safe new-build, so get yourself to see the ruins before they go.

5. Santiago Bernabéu

Santiago Bernabeu

Location: Madrid, Spain

Team: Real Madrid

Capacity: 81,044

First opened: 1947

The Bernabeu feels like a tantalising blend of the old and the new. Its old-school, no frills charm remains in the perilously steep stands. It actually feels bigger than the Nou Camp in some respects because it’s built more like a traditional stadium. Picture the average Premier League ground, a relatively ordinary bowl with two tiers all the way around, fairly safe and standard… then place a duplicate directly on top. That’s the Bernabeu. It feels familiar and regular, but the size of the thing is eye-watering. A block dedicated to the

4. La Bombonera

Bombonera

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Team: Boca Juniors

Capacity: 49,000

First opened: 1940

The smallest on this list, but my word does it pack a punch. One side is smaller yet vertical, the other three quarters sweep around a curve in this Buenos Aires suburb like an artist’s paintbrush. From rugged concrete blocks to wooden seats, it’s a no frills affair, and the ground literally trembles beneath once the fans begin to bounce. It’s more a living, breathing organism than a stadium.

3. Nou Camp

Nou Camp

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Team: Barcelona

Capacity: 99,354

First opened: 1957

Big. It’s really big. There is absolutely no excuse not to visit the Nou Camp before Lionel Messi’s career draws to a close. If you haven’t already, you should. If you already have, you should go again. The atmosphere doesn’t quite rock and roll like at other grounds, but if you’re there for the football on offer, the Nou Camp offers a stripped back magical experience. It’s due for a radical overhaul – featuring a roof and evening out of the currently lop-sided bowl – but for now, it’s the closest thing to the coliseum in Europe (barring, y’know, the actual coliseum). It’s both steep and sweeping, tall and wide. This stadium has seen things, man.

2. Wembley

Wembley

Location: London, UK

Team: England national team

Capacity: 90,000

First opened: 2007

Delayed? Yes. Overbudget? Oh, boy. Worth it? Absolutely. Wembley is an unbelievable arena to soak up football at every level. The views, no matter how high or far you sit away from the pitch, are tremendous, the ease of access, the concourses, the space and the enormity of the place all roll into one outstanding package. Initial controversy over whether to incorporate a fully retractable roof or the iconic, static arch seems foolish now the 133m curve towers over the ground, supporting the northern portion of the roof. It was an iconic project that is now recognisable around the globe. Wembley feels like the home of football and is starting to create history, with the next European Championship finals to be held there despite newer stadiums being constructed all the time. In 50 years, the place may not have aged a day.

1. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Tottenham Stadium

Location: London, UK

Team: Tottenham Hotspur

Capacity: 62,303

First opened: 2019

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Hear me out. Wembley appeared unbeatable, but the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium feels like the perfect blend of a number of stadiums on this list, a complete package. It has the full works, the full range of hospitality boxes and corporate suites to accommodate world events. It has a retractable pitch to reveal an artificial NFL playing surface beneath. It has spacious concourses and all the mod cons but most importantly, it boasts closeness to the pitch, a noise-reverberating roof and a Dortmund-esque stand that extends all the way from the pitch to the heavens. It is a stadium truly built for club football. Wembley is stunning, and could easily top this list, but the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has a certain compactness and intimacy with the pitch. Everything about that stadium has been designed to cater to every single person in it, with no complaints or quarrels, everyone will be satisfied.