The power of soccer moves people. Not only does the world’s favorite sport move fans emotionally, it also moves them out of their chairs, out of their homes, and often out of their countries, to experience the one-of-a-kind sensation that only the world’s greatest stadiums can provide.
And for true soccer fans — regardless of the team you cheer for — there are some you simply cannot miss.
Maracanã Stadium in Río de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro, lined with its iconic black and white mosaic sidewalks, is built on one of the most breathtaking coastlines in the world. From Ipanema to Copacabana, the unforgettable ambience offers idyllic views of the ocean lapping at the feet of mountains. Elements of the beautiful game, or the jogo bonito, live on the sands of these beaches in the form of Futevolei, a sport that combines the skillsets of volleyball and soccer.
Brazilians have always had a love affair with soccer. A tribute to this passionate love is the Maracanã Stadium, which was built as a temple to the sport.
The famed statue of Cristo Redentor overlooks the stadium, where players like Ronaldinho and Ronaldo went from rookies to legends. Not only is it one of the largest structures of its kind in South America, but is also the home to Pelé’s legendary 1000th goal in 1969.
If you are looking to spend time in Río de Janeiro to witness the next wave of future soccer legends, a great option is the JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro. The luxury hotel offers elegant accommodations and sweeping views of Copacabana beach.
JW Marriott Hotel Rio de Janeiro
The Bombonera in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, the glamorous Argentine metropolis, is a hub of vibrant architecture, bustling restaurants, and a passionate culture that brought tango to the world.
La Boca, one of the city’s neighborhoods, represents Buenos Aires’ cultural richness particularly well. The colorful streets are alive with local music and an infectious energy that lead all the way to Diego Maradona’s old stomping grounds, La Bombonera. At the famed stadium soccer fans will discover the Pasión Boquense Museum, a magnet for true admirers of the sport.
Gameday in “La Bombonera” is a unique experience, filled with colorfully painted faces shouting out emphatic chants. These fans also sing hinchas, which are wildly creative remixes of popular, contemporary songs that reflect the fans’ loyalty to their team.
The architecture of the stadium itself is a unique attribute as three sections are built almost vertically, putting fans as close as possible to the action.
For those wishing to participate in this unforgettable energy, the Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel & Convention Center offers stunning views of Buenos Aires right in the heart of the city’s action and culture.
Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel & Convention Center
Centenario Stadium in Montevideo, Uruguay
Montevideo is recognized for its easy-going lifestyle, where quaint neighborhoods meet miles of beautiful, sandy beaches. To discover the city’s diverse environment, take a stroll along La Rambla, the longest continuous sidewalk in the world.
Despite these moments of tranquility, the love for soccer that runs through Uruguayan veins is fervent and passionate in nearly all parts of Montevideo.
This passion developed after the population experienced exponential growth in the early 20th century. Soccer gave many immigrants their own identity and further united them, serving as a common interest among the new citizens.
This history is on display in the Centenario Stadium, the site of the first World Cup in 1930. Here, soccer fans can not only witness today’s highest echelons of soccer talent, but also delve into Uruguayan soccer’s rich past, at the adjoining Museo del Fútbol.
Ideal for world travelers, the Aloft Montevideo Hotel boasts modern facilities and is located only a few minutes away from La Rambla and Centenario Stadium.
Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City is one of the most fascinating capital cities in the world, offering incredible diversity forged through a long history stretching back to ancient times. There is much to see, and many ways to see it. Visitors can experience the city on bicycle, for example, riding through beautiful streets like the Paseo de la Reforma. They can also visit spectacular museums like the Museo del Templo Mayor to appreciate the remains of the original Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. However, perhaps no aspect of Mexican culture is quite loved as much as soccer. Mexico City is home to three major professional teams and an iconic stadium, known as Estadio Azteca. A pilgrimage to Estadio Azteca is a required stop for soccer fans and curious travelers alike. With a capacity of 105,064 people, the stadium is one of the largest in the world.
Estadio Azteca is home to one of the greatest moments in soccer history, the Hand of God goal, infamously scored by Diego Maradona against England in the World Cup of 1986.
Watching a match at the Azteca is a one-of-a-kind experience true soccer fans should not miss.
A good option for soccer pilgrims is the St. Regis Hotel Mexico City, located at the center of the capital, a vibrant area ideal for exploring.
Regardless of where the pilgrimage takes you, you are sure to discover an array of soccer experiences throughout Latin America. From the historic grounds of Maracanã to the bright lights of Estadio Azteca, each soccer mecca moves fans in a unique way, immersing them in the rich history of the game.