It is a common practice to list the best, biggest or the most popular football stadiums according to various criteria. There is also a collection of a handful of weird-yet-beautiful stadiums. However, as a brand new football season dawns upon us, we explore some of the most picturesque football stadiums around the world.
There are quite a few of these and we were spoilt for choice; this also made the task of arriving at a shortlist unenviable yet entirely visually pleasurable.
Also read: 20 Biggest Football stadiums in the world
Some of these stadiums are relatively new while others have transcended eras; some have breathtaking views while others are nestled cosily in hitherto unheard of / unseen surroundings; some highlight modern architecture in full flow and few others are at their best while covered in natural beauty.
The recurring theme however, is that all the pictures will make you want to keep going back and forth.
The most challenging aspect of this piece is to rank the stadiums – of course it is subjective; after all, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, doesn’t it? Let us get started then, on an aesthetically appealing tour of football stadiums worldwide.
#20 Sapporo Dome, Japan
Located in Sapporo, Japan, this architectural wonder is home to Japanese football league team Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo. It was completed in 2001 and the Sapporo Dome football stadium can house a crowd of 41,484.
Its roof is fixed but the surface is retractable and the football pitch can be replaced with an artificial turf for baseball games conducted here. The seating capacity is reduced to just over 40,000 for baseball games due to a section being retracted for pitch conversion; the stadium is also home to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters baseball team.
The Sapporo Dome will host football matches for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic games.
#19 Allianz Arena, Germany
Home to the German national team and Bundesliga powerhouse and reigning champions Bayern Munich, the Allianz Arena football stadium captivates the eye and mind instantly with its style and shape. The second-tier Bundesliga team TSV 1860 Munich also play their home games at the Arena.
The stadium was opened in 2005 after completion and was built with an initial capacity of around 69,000; it has been expanded to house over 75,000 fans as per latest numbers.
Nearly 3,000 ETFE-foil air panels were used to build the facade of the Allianz Arena stadium and each of the panels can be lit in white, red or blue. These settings are used to light up the football arena in the colours of the home team or to simply make it breathtakingly attractive.
#18 Hasteinsvollur Stadium, Iceland
The Hasteinsvollur football stadium is a unique intertwining of the natural and the man-made. How else would you explain a volcano forming the backdrop of a football stadium or any sporting venue for that matter!
Iceland Premier League side and three-time title winners Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja (the unpronounceable, we daresay) are the proud tenants at the Hasteinsvollur stadium which has been in existence since 1912.
This beauty has a capacity to seat only a few hundred people but can accommodate an additional 2,300-strong crowd who have to cheer on their teams from a standing position. There are a host of vantage points around the football stadium and given the location and the exclusive settings, we doubt if anyone is complaining!
#17 Rheinpark Stadion, Liechtenstein
One could be forgiven for mistaking the Rheinpark Stadion to be a postcard picture – after all, it is not every day that we come across football stadiums with the Alps providing a perfect background.
The Liechtenstein national football team and the country’s premier club FC Vaduz (which plays in the Swiss league) are cheered on by thousands of fans at this venue. The stadium - built in 1998 and expanded in 2006, can seat 6,127 fans and also includes provision for standing; this elevates the capacity to over 7,500 at any given time.
Situated close to the River Rhine, the Rheinpark football stadium is just metres away from the country’s border shared with Switzerland.
#16 Pancho Arena, Hungary
The Pancho Arena is an architectural marvel as much as it is a football stadium and is home to Puskás Academy FC, a team which plays in Hungary’s top-flight.
Named after the Hungarian legend of the game Ferenc Puskás (whose nickname was Pancho), the stadium was completed in 2014 and is located in Felcsút, Hungary. It’s official seating capacity is around 3,500.
The curved wooden interiors combine with the splendid lighting to provide a treat to the eyes, especially in the evenings. Designed by the inimitable Imre Makovecz, the Pancho Arena is the first major football stadium to be constructed in Hungary since the Albert Stadion was built in 1974.
#15 Victoria Stadium, Gibraltar
One of the most scenic football pitches, the Victoria Stadium is located in Gibraltar and has a capacity of 2000. All of Gibraltar’s football clubs and the national team use the football stadium as their ‘home’ turf.
Mostly used for football, the stadium has also hosted cricket matches and is the regular venue for the country’s annual music festival. The open stadium, surrounded by peaks, plains and covered by a blue sky canopy, has been in use since 1926.
However, in 2013, Gibraltar was admitted as a full member of the UEFA and therefore, an upgrade of football facilities had been sought. It led to the potential construction of a new venue – known as the Europa Point Stadium – which is eventually set to replace the iconic and naturally beautiful Victoria football stadium as the national team’s home ground.
#14 Eco-Estádio Janguito Malucelli, Brazil (Eco-Stadium)
The Estádio Janguito Malucelli football stadium is layered in different shades of green all across the pitch, stands and surroundings. One of the most eco-friendly football venues in the world, the stadium is surrounded by thick, tall trees covered in the darkest of greens.
While the grassy pitch is the usual lush shade, recycled wooden seats (also covered in grass) have been planted onto the sides of the cliff which serve as stands and provide a clear view of the game.
Built in 2007 and serving as home to the J. Malucelli Futebol club, the stadium has the capacity to hold a crowd of about 6000. Players’ dugouts are built from bamboo and solar panels are used to electrify the stadium.
#13 Cocodrilos Sports Park, Venezuela
The Cocodrilos sports park is a multi-utility sports venue but is most commonly used as a football stadium. It was completed in 2005 and can house 3500 fans during a match.
The Caracas Fútbol Club are the tenants of this football stadium and use it as their part-time home venue. The stadium is both unique and strange in terms of location – it is naturally fenced as it is surrounded mostly by mountains / cliffs but a part of it opens onto the busy freeway.
#12 Estádio Municipal de Braga, Portugal
Built more than a decade ago in 2003, the all-seated Braga football stadium is the home ground of Sporting Clube de Braga which competes in the Portuguese top division. The stadium can seat 30,154 fans.
The Monte do Castro quarry which overlooked the town of Braga was carved into, to build the stadium. The stone and ruggedness are clearly visible from both stands located at opposite ends.
Each of the stands is covered by a roof and these are interlinked using steel strings which serve as a stylish ceiling to the pitch below.
There is provision under the pitch to facilitate spectator movement between the stands of the stadium.
#11 Beijing National Stadium, China
The Beijing national stadium, also known as the ‘bird’s nest’, was completed in 2008 and served as the venue for the Olympics held the same year. It is also scheduled to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and Paralympics.
The country’s national football team plays at the stadium and it is currently used to host football games. It has a capacity of 91,000 seats, of which 11,000 are temporary.
The plan to include a retractable roof was shelved and the stadium came to be known as the ‘bird’s nest’ due to its external appearance. It gives the look of a series of steel columns which come together and intersect appropriately to give the appearance of a ‘nest’.
#10 Stadion Gospin Dolac, Croatia
The Gospin Dolac football stadium is the home ground of Croatian club NK Imotski (tier 2, Croatian league) and has provision to seat 4000 viewers.
The pitch is located towards the edge of a cliff and the surrounding ruins provide the perfectly picturesque backdrop.
Built in 1989, the football stadium has stands across three of its sides, with the fourth covered by the ruins. The aerial view from the stands combined with the open-air arena and an old world ruin forms a beautiful spectacle.
#9 Stade Omar Hamadi, Algeria
The Omar Hamadi football stadium in Algeria was built in the year 1935, prior to its independence, and served as the home ground for l’Association Sportive Saint Eugénoise. In 1962, the country became free and a new arched platform was built connecting the two existing platforms of the stadium.
The USM Alger football club uses the Hamadi football stadium as their home ground and has invested in the renovation and infrastructure upgrade of the stadium. The ground has the capacity to hold about 17,500 spectators.
Algerian club Mouloudia Club d'Alger also use the Omar Hamadi stadium as a temporary home venue for their matches.
#8 Estádio Municipal de Aveiro, Portugal
The Aveiro municipal stadium is the home ground of Portuguese second division side Sport Clube Beira-Mar and can accommodate 30,200 spectators.
Built in 2003 for the Euros to be held the next year, the Aveiro football stadium is unlike most of its counterparts. It has no beams interspersing the stadium with long, red steel pylons serving as the support for the curvilinear roof.
The colourful stadium has a Lego-like feel to it, with small pockets of varied hues bringing about a collective sense of fun and joy as intended by the stadium’s architect Tomás Taveira.
#7 Stadion Kantrida, Croatia
Another quarry turned into a football stadium!
The Kantrida football stadium is an exceptionally located scenic venue, with steep cliffs on one side as it is built into the mountain terrain. The opposite end overlooks the Adriatic Sea in Croatia.
The stadium is more than a century old and was opened in 1913. It has been refurbished multiple times before and is all set for a fresh round of renovation which is set to commence in 2018.
Croatian club HNK Rijeka play their home games at this splendid avenue since 1946. Prior to that, the Unione Sportiva Fiumana (1926-1945) and the HŠK Victoria (1912-1919) teams’ home games were played on these grounds.
The stadium can seat about 10,600 spectators and also includes a provision to allow around 2000 visitors to watch the games standing.
#6 Soccer City / First National Bank Stadium, South Africa
The First National Bank (also referred to as the FNB) football stadium is situated in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was built as ‘Soccer City’ in 1989 and underwent significant refurbishment in 2009 prior to South Africa hosting the 2010 football World Cup.
The stadium’s look was modified to look like a calabash, an African pot, and the lighting was made to resemble a fire under the pot. It began being referred to as the FNB stadium due to naming rights.
With a capacity of 94,736 spectators, it is one of the largest football stadiums across the world and the biggest advantage is that there are no seats with restricted views in the stadium!
South Africa’s national football and rugby teams use the FNB as their home ground along with premier league club Kaizer Chiefs F.C. The stadium has been utilized for the 1999 All Africa games besides the 2010 World Cup.
#5 Estadi Comunal d'Andorra la Vella, Andorra
An orange-pink-lavender multicolour hue in the sky symbolizing the sunset occurring in the backdrop of the Pyrenean mountains while the pitch is illuminated by floodlights is a stupendous sight to behold, and one certainly rare at any sport venues.
Andora la Vella is the capital of the Andorra principality and the Andorra la Vella football stadium, along with the Camp d’Esports d’Aixovall grounds, hosts the first and second divisions of football in the region.
The la Vella has a capacity of 1300 people and also a running track.
#4 The Float at Marina Bay, Singapore
The Float at Marina Bay is the largest floating platform in the world and is located off the Marina Bay in the Marina reservoir in Singapore. The Singapore Sports Council is the primary tenant of the floating stadium and it has also played host during the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics.
Built in 2007, the floating platform presents an image of being anchored to the shore just close to the stands at the stadium using three link-ways which are steadied by specially integrated joints. These stands have a seating capacity of 30,000 while the platform can carry the weight of around 9000 persons.
#3 Eidi Stadium, Faroe Islands
One more hit off the Faroe Islands – the Eidi stadium is home to multiple semi-professional football teams on the archipelago. It is situated on the north-western tip of the town of Eysturoy.
The Eidi football stadium is located just off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the proximity to the water makes it extremely likely for the ball to end up in the water if the players shoot waywardly or a heavy breeze blow along. The town’s population is just 669, and some of them have room to stand in the area around the pitch at the stadium.
The hills on the other side of the island are home to another football stadium, constructed especially for international games.
#2 Svangaskarð Stadium, Faroe Islands
The Svangaskarð football stadium located on the Faroes archipelago is the home ground to the islands’ national team as also Faroese premier league club B68 Toftir. The stadium, which first opened in 1980, has the capacity to accommodate around 6,000 fans.
Svangaskarð has played host during several qualifying games leading up to the Euros, with the national team manager opting to use the rugged terrain to the advantage of the local players. The football stadium is uncovered and chilly; the view around it is ethereal and mesmerising.
The hour-long scenic yet arduous journey from the town of Torshavn, under tunnels and over bridges to get to the stadium, is not ideal preparation from an opponent’s perspective. It is also exactly what has helped the team win games – gain a psychological edge first, then play the physical advantage and wrap up in style.
P.S.: Potential warning to set-piece takers – the ball could end up in water!
#1 Ottmar Hitzfeld Stadium, Switzerland
The scintillating view of the sun shining high over the Alps and the silver light streaming onto the football pitch is what dreams are made of!
At 2000 metres above sea level, the Ottmar Hitzfield football stadium in Switzerland is the highest ground in Europe. The FC Gspon village football team use the pitch for their home games.
The altitude at which the pitch is located makes it difficult for grass to grow; as a result, Gspon play on artificial turf which is 75% of the size of a regular pitch – because only as much flat land was available!
It is also difficult for vehicles to reach that height and also remain functional as a consequence of which all the players and employees are required to arrive by cable car.