European football breaks: why it pays to see games in Berlin and Brussels

January 3, 2015

With Premier League ticket prices in another division, try a trip to continental Europe where the fans are good-natured and the cheap admission means plenty of money left over for fun

Bundesliga fans start early. It’s 11am on the normally sombre walkway between Berlin’s central station and the Brandenburg Gate, a route that is home to several dignified memorials commemorating the city’s darkest days. But sombre is not on the agenda for the legions of Hamburger SV supporters who have descended on the German capital for this afternoon’s encounter with Hertha Berlin. Almost everyone has a bottle of beer on the go. Several have two. We’re barely past breakfast.

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But such prodigious intake carries no cause for alarm. German domestic football is renowned for its happy-go-lucky, celebratory atmosphere, where clashes between opposing fans are rare. German football is also applauded for its inexpensive admission prices. For instance, entry to a Bayern Munich home match – one of the top three teams in Europe, no less – can cost as little as €15. The cheapest ticket for one of Arsenal’s top home games is more than £65. In search of more affordable matches, I’m taking my nine-year-old son Finn for a half-term short break to see how Europe does football. Our tickets, bought in advance from the club website to avoid disappointment on the day, are burning a hole in our pockets. Four days of father-son bonding, with lashings of football, trains and pizza. We’re as excited as each other.

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