Seeing Stadium Bernabéu was not originally something I planned to do.
Traveling is continuously evolving. Leaving the airport during a layover is truly a way to maximize trips and see attractions you maybe didn’t anticipate seeing. And it can create fantastic opportunities for the sports fan.
This is exactly what I did when traveling from Denver, Colorado to Belgium. Of course, t, I booked the cheapest one I could find, taking me to three different places, before reaching my destination.
With layovers in Chicago (5-hour layover) and Madrid (7-hour layover), I wanted to leave the airport and check out a few things in the Windy City. But I was worried about missing my connection. However, when I arrived in Madrid, I could not resist leaving for a quick adventure.
Being the huge sports fan that I am, a quick Google of sport-related activities led me to Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid FC and one of the most storied football clubs in all of Europe. Immediately I was obsessed with the idea of seeing where the most recent European Cup champions played.
A bonus was the potential walking in the same area that Cristiano Ronaldo walked in. He is easily one of the greatest football talents of our generations, so being able to see his locker and memorabilia had me beside myself.
When I landed in Madrid, after clearing customs I wandered around the airport until I eventually found the train station. Prior to leaving the states I had downloaded subway maps for Madrid and plotted my route from the airport to Stadium Bernabéu. (The airport subway stop is “aeropuerto T4” and the stadium subway stop is “Santiago Bernabéu (Dark Blue Line, L10). When you come out the subway you have to walk about 15 minutes, you can follow the street signs to find the stadium.
I had also gone online to the stadium website to book my tickets for the tour.
I felt it would be better to show up with tickets in hand in order to avoid any potential language barrier issues. It was about $24 American dollars for a ticket, which wasn’t bad at all considering all the access you get and things you get to see.
The tour itself didn’t begin until 10 am, which for me was gave me a little time to absorb my surroundings a little and catch my breath from the walk. When I was finally able to go inside I was asked if I wanted to purchase a guided audio tour. I elected not to just because I was penny pinching at the time. However I wish that I would have done it because there were some things that would have been better had they been explained. Nonetheless, despite not having an audio guide I still learned a lot and saw a lot of cool football artifacts.
It began at the top, in the upper levels, where we could walk around and see Stadium Bernabéu from that vantage. Then you were directed down the stairs and onto another level, where you could walk and see the multitude of trophies won by their football club. It was absolutely unreal to see all of the championships and tournaments Real Madrid had won. The trophies were massive and ranged from a wide variety of different events, the most recent being the European Cup. After the trophy presentation room, you were then guided to a video room where the “sounds of Real Madrid FC” blared loud and proud.
Already extremely satisfied, but wanting to take things a step further, I was directed back into the stadium and out onto the lowest level. I could go onto the pitch and walk past the area where coaches and substitutes sat. The tour continues to the locker-rooms, where Ronaldo once spent time changing and preparing for games. It was cool to see the European style locker room and how it differs from those for professional teams in America. The tour concluded looping around into the team store, where you can purchase the picture that is taken when you immediately enter the stadium and some other Real Madrid gear. I bought my picture and a hat, when will I ever be back in Madrid you know?
I would always recommend taking advantage of layovers when traveling. I had a great experience and I would recommend this tour to any sports fan in the Madrid area. Although Ronaldo no longer straps up for that club, the greatness of that club cannot be denied.
For more of our reviews of stadiums, go here.