In Portugal soccer is a religion, and in recent years most of the big football stadiums (with the biggest in Lisbon and Porto) have been spruced up considerably. The impetus for much of this renovation was Euro 2004, hosted by Portugal.
Portugal's football stadiums now all have excellent transport links connecting to them, plus a choice of accommodation nearby. (see Porto and Lisbon city centre accommodation on this website).
The mammoth Estadio Do Algarve Football Stadium situated in S. Joao da Venda between Loule and Faro was built with an eye towards Euro 2004. You can't miss it, situated around 8km to the Northwest of Faro on the way to Loule. See the Parque das Cidades and Estadio Algarve weblink right for details. Faro's own football team, SC Farense and Louletano - Loule's football team both play here.
Estadio Do Algarve saw just around 3 fixtures for Euro 2004, none of which included the Portugal team. They're being rather clever here now though at Estadio Do Algarve Stadium - they're diversifying. They ripped up the grass and had a big car rally here, which was packed out. (see car rally weblink right for details). After the success of this event they'll probably be more of the same, so if you're into car rallies, and or indeed want to catch a football game whilst in the Algarve, check the links right.
Apparently other Portugal football stadiums like Coimbra are thinking of following the Loule/Faro Stadium's lead on this one.
The Estadio da Luz (Stadium of Light) is a legendary soccer stadium not just within Portugal, but also within Europe. It's home to one of Portugal's most famous football teams - SL Benfica and has a mammoth capacity seating of 65,000. This stadium took centre state in the Euro 2004 football championships. Benfica, alongside Porto, has dominated Portuguese football up until recent times, and financial troubles. It's still up there with the best in world class football however. Estadio da Luz is also situated in the northern area of Lisbon.
Smaller Football Stadiums in Lisbon are to the west of the city centre. Estadio Nacional is home to National Portuguese football, whilst Estadio do Restelo is home to footbal team CF Belenenses. Both these have capacity seating around 30,000 which is still pretty big. Reach them via road links, or Lisbon mainline rail links.
The huge Estadio Jose Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon is to the North of the city centre, just 4km to the west of Lisbon Airport. It's a swish football stadium this one, purpose built for the European Championships hosted by Portugal in 2004. Estadio Jose Alvalade has a capacity seating of 52,000 and the official football club here is Sporting Clube de Portugal otherwise known as Sporting Lisbon. Sporting Lisbon is Lisbon's premier team - they've been outperforming nearest rivals Benfica at one of Lisbon's other stadiums Luz in recent times. (see Sporting Clube de Portugal stadium weblink right for details).
Two of Portugal's mammoth super football stadiums are in Lisbon - Estadio Jose Alvalade, home to big team Sporting Clube de Portugal and Estadio da Luz, home to legendary Portugal soccer team SL Benfica. Both of these Lisbon soccer stadiums are two the north of Lisbon city centre, and both have capacity seating over 60,000. It's easiest to get to them via nearby Lisbon Metro links.
Porto has two stadiums that have been spruced up in the run up to Euro 2004. The two big hitters are FC Porto's home ground, Estadio do Dragao, and Boavista's home ground Estadio do Bessa. As Porto was one of the host towns for Euro 2004 in Portugal and football is something of a national obsession, a lot of money has been thrown at both of these stadiums.
Both football stadiums are on the edges of Porto, easily accessible by Metro, bus and road. Hotels nearby mean you won't have to jostle with tourist crowds to get there. Being something of a national obsession you can be guaranteed of a passionate game whether you're watching home games or international play-offs.
FC Porto is one of the big three football club's in Portugal. Their stadium Estadio do Dragao is north east of Porto's centre and is easily accessed from the A1, A3 and A4 motorways and then via the VC1 ring road round Porto. Buses and the metro all stop nearby, with the Antas Metro Station being the closest. Porto's Francisco Sa Carneiro International Airport is only about 15 kilometres from the stadium and Line E (Violet) of the Metro runs from the Airport Station to Estadio do Dragao Station. Check out FC Porto's website (in English as well as Portuguese) for more details.
Boavista is the smaller and poorer cousin to FC Porto, but has a longer history. It's a compact 30,000 capacity stadium and is similar in style to British grounds with four separate roofed seating stands. Boavista were the only club that carried on playing during the Euro 2004 venue construction process. Work began on the Bessa stadium in the summer of 1998, and finally finished more than five years later, rounding off the club's centenary celebrations. It is part of a sports complex which includes a gymnasium, tennis courts and hotel.
Coimbra's football stadium, Estadio Cidade de Coimbra, lies ten kilometres south-east of the town centre. It is home to division one club Academica Coimbra. Like most stadiums in Portugal it was refurbished in 2003 and is a 30,000 capacity stadium that also houses a nine-lane running track. It is clearly signposted from the A1 and is about 140 kilometres from Porto's Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport.
Braga's football team, Sporting Clube de Braga's home ground is the relatively new Estadio Municipal de Braga 30,000 seat stadium. It was built to host the 2004 European Football Championships (Euro 2004) designed by Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. Address: Estadio Municipal de Braga, Parque Norte, - Dume - 4710 Braga. Tel: 351 253 206 860.
Football is very much a part of Guimaraes modern culture. Vitoria de Guimaraes is the city's team, which plays in Portugal's Premier League. The Estadio de Afonso Henriques, just north-west of the city centre, is the 30,000 capacity stadium refurbished for Euro 2004.
Guimaraes is 52 kilometres from Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport in Porto so is within easy travelling distance either straight up the main motorways from Porto or as Guimaraes is within the Porto suburbano network, trains travel every hour or two from Porto. Buses link to Braga every 30 minutes to two hours and Porto every hour on weekdays.
If you're traveling in and out of Aveiro and you see what looks like a gigantic child's toy, that s Aveiro's football stadium! It is a fantastically different stadium like no other with huge of multicoloured blocks around the outside and a hotch potch of multicoloured seats on the inside. It is a 30,000 capacity stadium home to the town's team SC Beira Mar. Aveiro hosted 3 games of the 2004 European Football Championship.
Estadio Municipal de Aveiro is located in Parque da Cidade, five kilometres north-west from the city centre. If you're driving leave the A1 at junction 16 and follow the IP5 main road in the direction of Aveiro. The stadium is located next to the IP5. The nearest airport is Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport near Porto about 75 kilometres north, easily accessible via the main A1 motorway.
In more recent history Leiria was a host town in the Portugal 2004 European football championships as part of Euro2004, the town received a facelift as a result.
Leiria Football Stadium, Estadio Municipal Dr Magalhes Pessoa, has a 30,000 capacity. Leiria's home team is Uniao de Leiria, a solid first division side in the Portuguese domestic league. The stadium was remodeled for the Euro2004 matches. It is in the city centre in the southern part of the town near the river. The nearest airport is Lisbon, 150 kilometres away to the south, easily accessible via the main A1 or A8 motorways.