Aside from those few unfortunate souls who just don’t “get it,” being a sports fan of some kind is probably amongst the most universal qualities a person can have. No matter where one travels, they’re bound to find plenty of locals enthralled by the home team’s latest victories, or lamenting over their struggles if things haven’t been going so great lately. Either way, the most common thing to see on TV at a random restaurant is the current “big game,” and it’s because a huge number of people will always feel inclined to stop and check out the score regardless of what the athletes are playing.
With a love of sports being such a ubiquitous feeling throughout society, a truly well-rounded fan could go almost anywhere in the world and appreciate something about the area’s athletics. Of course, few people have the sort of spare time to hit up every major arena on the planet, so the average sports traveler will have to pick a select few destinations where they think the best exhibitions will be held. Maybe they don’t even want to see games and are just looking for favorite team headquarters or a given sport’s Hall of Fame. No matter what it is athletic enthusiasts seek, they should keep reading to learn about 25 major sports cities around the world every fan needs to visit.
25 Real Sports Fans Need to See Madrid
Heading almost anywhere in Europe would be a good start for soccer fans, and they couldn’t pick a better destination than the capital and largest city of Spain, Madrid. Anyone with a passing interest in La Liga is well aware the success of Real Madrid, perhaps the most iconic team in all of fútbol. With a record 13 European Cups under their belt, Real Madrid have been called perhaps the best club on the continent, a status they definitely hold today after winning the UEFA Championship three years in a row. There’s also Real Madrid’s basketball team, which experiences similarly unrivalled success.
24 Houston Doesn’t Have a Problem with Athletics
While the extreme heat might drive away hockey fans, sport enthusiasts who prefer baseball, football, soccer, or perhaps even rugby will find plenty to love in Houston, Texas. Recently, it’s the Astros and their Minute Maid Park that’s been getting attention since winning the 2017 World Series, which happened to be their first dance in the spotlight. Being the Lone Star State’s self named team, locals will also always have love for the Houston Texans, even if they haven’t won any major titles yet. Of course, the Houston Dynamo and Houston Rockets have, giving plenty of options for visitors looking to check out a winning team.
23 Cooperstown Contains the History of Baseball
Compared to some other major cities on this list, it’s fair to call Cooperstown, New York a fairly small, inauspicious location. It definitely has the smallest population of any town we’re going to mention, and aside from the collegiate level Cooperstown Hawkeyes, there aren’t any huge local teams of which to speak. However, Cooperstown has two things no other major city has: the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the historic Doubleday Field. Especially during the yearly induction period, both of these locations are arguably the hottest destinations on earth for baseball fans everywhere, regardless of team loyalties.
22 Budapest Will Make Sports Fans Hungry
No matter which type of athletics the international sports fan is after, Budapest, Hungary probably has something to offer. Unfortunately for the Hungarian capital, dreams of hosting the Olympics seem to elude the city, but they certainly have the necessary arenas to do so, having previously held championship matches in boxing, wrestling, aquatic sports, fencing, skating, judo, and countless other events. Hungary also boasts the Hungarian Grand Prix, a regular stop on the Formula One World Championship for years. Like many European hubs, though, the real pull is soccer, with the city’s Ferencvárosi TC the top team in the country.
21 Manchester Unites (and Divides) Over Soccer
Real Madrid may have more European Cups overall, but one would be hard-pressed to find a town more interested in soccer than Manchester, England. This is mostly due to the wildly popular Manchester United, ranked by Forbes magazine as the most valuable football club in Europe. Amazingly, Mancs are so in love with soccer, they also house Manchester City, the fifth-most valuable club on the continent, and naturally, there’s a huge rivalry between fans of the two teams, always keeping things interesting. The metropolitan area also boasts rugby, basketball, and cricket teams, plus dozens of arenas for fans of all sorts of racing.
20 Minneapolis and St. Paul Are Twinning Their Sports Appreciation
It might be cheating a little to include Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota as one city, but everyone else does it, so it just makes sense to keep the trend going with their numerous sports teams. Heck, their two time World Series winning baseball team is even called the Twins! Outside of baseball, the Vikings have always been an extremely popular football franchise despite a lack of Super Bowl rings, and the Timberwolves aren’t without their fervid supporters. Surprisingly, though, the real rising star of the area may be the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, which have won four league championships in the past decade.
19 Lions and Tigers Have Detroit Fans Saying, “Oh My!”
While the area isn’t without it’s budgetary issues, Detroit, Michigan remains a huge hub for athletics, being the only metro city in the country to legitimately house teams in every major sport within its downtown district. Each of these teams has also experienced a good deal of success over the years, even if it’s been quite a while since the Lions, Tigers, or Pistons have been in any championship games. Picking up the slack are the Detroit Red Wings, arguably the most successful NHL team in the country with 11 Stanley Cup championships to its name, earning the city’s distinction as Hockey Town, U.S.A.
18 Rio de Janeiro Has an Olympic Appreciation of Soccer
The best time to be a sports fan in Rio de Janeiro was probably the 2016 Summer Olympics, yet there are still plenty of reasons to visit Brazil’s capital long after those particular games have ended. Unsurprisingly, the number-one athletic pastime for Brazilians is still soccer, with the country’s five World Cup victories a record to this day, and the Brazilian Football Confederation is naturally housed in Rio. Outside of the national team, no less than seven other football clubs exist within the city, the major ones easily seating tens of thousands of fans with every game. Beautiful climates also make just about any outdoor activity extremely popular.
17 500 Reasons Every Sports Fan Should Check Out Indianapolis
Believe it or not, in a country filled with more football, basketball, and baseball teams than we have space to name, the most popular single-day sporting event around actually belongs to racing. Even a sports fan with a poor grasp of geography knows where it takes place, too, as the Indy 500 has Indianapolis, Indiana’s nickname right in the title. Of course, this distinction is in part because the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is also the highest-capacity venue in the world, able to seat a quarter-million people on the day of the big race. Outside of racing, the town also houses the Colts and Pacers for more mainstream fans.
16 Boston Sports Fans Are Always intense
For nearly a century, to be a sports fan in Boston, Massachusetts was literally to be cursed. Sure, there was a stretch in the '80s when the Celtics and Bruins were doing pretty good, but the Curse of the Bambino marred the Red Sox all the way from 1918 to the team’s huge resurgence since 2004. Similarly, the Patriots were struggling for some time until the turn of the millennium, after which they shot straight to the top of contention as one of football’s greatest teams. With both teams now firing on all cylinders, the city’s perpetually rabid fans are happier than ever.
15 Atlanta Bravely Prepares to Hold Super Bowl LIII
No matter what teams end up playing there, chances are some 80,000 football fans will flock to Atlanta, Georgia in early 2019 when the city hosts Super Bowl LIII. Considering the Falcons played in last year’s big game, there should be no surprise a huge number of football fans already live in the city, as well. Despite slightly less success in recent years, the Braves also remain a top franchise in baseball thanks to decades of promotion on TBS back when Ted Turner owned the team. It’s almost enough glory that residents never even think about the dubious status of the Hawks.
14 Hockey Fans Need to Run to Toronto
When it comes to the entire country of Canada, the number one sport is and always has been ice hockey. Fittingly, the nation’s most populous city, Toronto, is thus home to the Hockey Hall of Fame, not to mention the Maple Leafs, designated by Forbes as the second-most valuable team in the NFL. More impressively, Toronto is in fact the only Canadian city with basketball, baseball, and football teams, as well, with the Raptors, Blue Jays, and Argonauts all equally successful in their own right. Newer franchises like Toronto FC and rugby’s Wolfpack are also building momentum, proving just how much this town cares about athletics all over.
13 Baltimore Sports Are For the Birds
From equines to avian enthusiasts, Baltimore truly has it all. On a mainstream level, Maryland’s largest city is probably best known for the Orioles and Ravens, with the latter team especially gaining prominence in recent years with multiple Super Bowl appearances and victories. To a more high-brow type of sports fan, Baltimore is also known for the Preakness Stakes, one of the most important annual events in horse racing and part two of the Triple Crown. Still, it’s a love of football and baseball that has lead to many sports fans referring to Baltimore as “Birdland,” noting how rabid and feathery audiences can get in their devotion.
12 Denver Offers Plenty of Nuggets for Sports Enthusiasts
Bucking with the spirit of a Bronco, Denver, Colorado has something to offer fans of just about any athletic contest. Most notable is of course the city’s NFL team, having won three Super Bowls in relatively recent history, one of them coming only two years back in 2016. The next oldest group in town is the Nuggets, yet a general lack of success might make them a little less memorable with fans. On the plus side, the newer Avalanche already have two Stanley Cups to their name, and the Rockies at least have their impressive Coors Field as they struggle to gain prominence.
11 Dallas is a City with the Spirit of a Cowboy
Technically speaking, it could be argued Arlington, Texas deserves to be on this list instead of Dallas, since that’s the actual location to the Cowboys, their massive AT&T Stadium, and the Texas Rangers. However, there’s a reason these locations choose to keep “Dallas” in the title even after moving down the block, as their history will forever be connected to the larger metropolitan area. More directly, Dallas is genuinely home to the Mavericks and Stars, so visitors won’t need to leave city limits to enjoy professional grade sports. Nonetheless, it’ll always be the Cowboys that serve the real drawing point as Forbes’ most valuable sports franchise in the world.
10 Seattle Sounds Like a Rising Hub for Soccer
With World Cup fever still fresh in everyone’s minds, it’s relevant to point out Seattle, Washington is probably the number-one soccer city in the country today. This is surprising considering the Sounders FC was only recently founded in 2007, yet the team has already been wildly successful, reaching the MLS Cup playoffs every year since they’ve been in competition, winning once in 2016. Naturally, having been around a lot longer, it’s still the Seahawks that get all the attention, especially with a 2013 Super Bowl victory still fresh in fan’s minds. Perhaps the less said about the Mariners the better, but at least fans have those other two big options.
9 The Heat is Always on in Miami
Despite slightly cooling down since LeBron James left the fold, Miami, Florida will never forget the recent incredible success the Heat experienced in the NBA. Plenty of LeBron’s old teammates are still tearing up the courts and bringing in millions of fans, and that’s just one-quarter of the action the city has for sports tourists. Next in prominence is probably the Dolphins, a team that hasn’t won a Super Bowl in decades, yet remains extremely beloved by fans for its perpetually-friendly image of the sport. Aquatic enthusiasts also have the Marlins to cheer for, a true wild card that always knocks it out of the park when least expected.
8 Soccer Fans Will Never Forget a Trip to Barcelona
Although staggering behind in terms of European Cup victories, Spain’s second-most popular soccer team in FC Barcelona is neck and neck with perennial rivals Real Madrid in terms of overall value. There’s even one area where Barcelona wins overall, with their home arena Camp Nou boasting nearly 20,000 more seats than Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, meaning way more fans going wild for whatever game it is a tourist traveled to see. Outside of soccer, Barcelona is also home to major tennis and Formula One events with the nearby Montmeló hosting several major racing championships.
7 Paris is for (Sports) Lovers
Since the French national team won the 2018 World Cup, the country is naturally destination number one for any truly rabid soccer fans looking to witness the best in the sport on their home turf. Of course, that team’s players are scattered around the globe in league football clubs most of the year, though three of them happen to call Paris’s Saint-Germain FC their full-time home. Unsurprisingly, said group is also the top team in the country’s history. Outside of soccer, Paris is also notable as the finishing point to cycling’s top event the Tour de France, where spectators can watch riders pass through Champs-Élysés.
6 Liverpool Boxes Out British Competition
Ultimately, while Manchester will always be where the money is for English soccer hooliganism, it’s actually Liverpool, England that boasts the most successful franchise in the game when it comes to actual championships. In addition to the city’s very popular self-titled club, there’s also the Everton FC, each boasting centuries-old stadiums that still host wildly popular games. Representing England’s overall approach to sports outside of soccer, Liverpool also quietly, yet, respectfully contains pro baseball and basketball teams with growing fan bases, not to mention a vibrant scene for boxing.
5 Los Angeles Is More Than Flashing Lights and Movie Stars
By and large, Los Angeles, California is seen as a media city, home to Hollywood, movie studios, and a gigantic number of celebrities, making it a massive tourist destination with or without sports being in the picture. However, people looking for athletic entertainment exclusively shouldn’t rule LA out, as the city is famously home to a large number of major sports teams, as well. Leading the charge are the iconic Dodgers and Lakers, both of which are easily among the most successful and iconic teams around. The Clippers, Angels, and Kings are nothing to sneeze at, either, and even the Galaxy is gaining national prominence.
4 Chicago Has All "Da" Sports A Super Fan Could Want
When a given city has more than one team in a single sport, there’s usually a clear winner between the two. That’s not the case for Chicago, Illinois baseball fans, as both the Cubs and the White Sox have been very successful historically and recently, with iconic stadiums in Wrigley Field and the former Comiskey Park to show for it. Of course, the diamond isn’t all the Windy City has to offer, with the Bulls remaining an iconic force in basketball since they dominated the sport in the '90s. The Bears haven’t seen the same success lately, but that hasn’t slowed down fans' devotion in the slightest. And we have to give it the Blackhawks that have taken over the ice rink season after season in the last few years.
3 Cleveland Rocks When it Comes to Pro Sports
The mere fact a city is “cursed” when it comes to winning championships hardly hurts it’s status to a tourist. If anything, fans always coming close to the prize and missing out on it only makes them more rabid for a new chance to do so, which Cleveland, Colorado sports teams continued doing for decades without winning any major trophies. Finally, the streak ended in 2016 when the Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, the same year, the Indians most recently played in the World Series. The Browns are, well, still the Browns, but maybe the Pro Football Hall of Fame being an hour drive away in Canton makes up for it.
2 Philadelphia Shares a Brotherly Love of the Game
According to GQ, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has “the meanest sports fans” in the game, with baseball legend Pete Rose allegedly adding the city’s residents “would boo the crack in the Liberty Bell.” That’s probably going a bit far, as longtime supporters of the Phillies, Eagles, 76ers, and Flyers have all had plenty to cheer over the years as their teams achieved great success. That’s not even mentioning one of Philly’s most iconic sons in Rocky Balboa, a fictional athlete who nonetheless inspired as many or more fans than any real one by running up the entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a scene countless sports fans have and will continue to mimic.
1 New York City Knocks It Out of the Park
Similar to LA, when tourists venture to New York City, the sporting aspect may only play a small role. Unless, of course, sports are the only reason they came, which is very possible considering the Big Apple hosts two or more teams for every major sport around. Ultimately, the Yankees and will probably always reign supreme as the most valuable team in baseball, yet surprisingly, the Knicks are close behind as basketball’s top earners despite significantly less success. The Giants are up there for football as well, and these are just a few of NYC’s many reasons even a tourist would root, root, root for the home team whenever visiting the area.