Top 10 sports stadiums to visit worldwide

Even if it's not match day when you're in town, these hallowed venues exude history and atmosphere.

For travellers who love sport, there's no better way to combine two passions than a visit to a famed stadium while you're on the road. There doesn't even need to be a game on – these edifices seem to breathe the sports that have made them famous. You need only pause in their empty stands to soak up the history and energy of these shrines to sporting passion. These are 10 of the world's best. 

Wrigley Field, USA

The home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team can sometimes feel every one of its 100 years – the seats are plain wooden benches, and the roof looks like it could collapse at any minute. But the stadium was nicknamed "The Friendly Confines" for a reason: this is one of the most historic and welcoming sports venues in the US, a place of big cold beers and smiling fans, and with hundreds of games hosted annually there's a good chance you'll be able to catch some action. chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/ballpark

La Bombonera, Argentina

Without doubt the most intense sporting experience you could hope to see occurs at the home of the Boca Juniors football club: La Bombonera. The entire working class suburb of La Boca comes to a standstill when this much-loved local club takes the field; flares are lit, drums are beaten, firecrackers are thrown, umbrellas are twirled, confetti is showered, and somewhere deep within the noise and celebration and chaos, a game of football is played. Tours are also available. bocajuniors.com.ar 

MCG, Australia

The 'G is well known across not just Australia, but the world. Sports fans can get their hit any time of year by touring the stadium facilities and visiting the National Sports Museum housed under the stands; however, the true greatness of the MCG can only be felt at events like the Boxing Day Test, and the AFL Grand Final. That's when 100,000 fans pack the huge stands to see Australian sport at its finest. mcg.org.au

Maracana, Brazil

If it's atmosphere you crave, and passion you want to see, then you could do little better than pay a visit to Rio de Janeiro's 80,000-capacity Estadio do Maracana, the host of the recent FIFA World Cup final. Tours are available on non-match days, but if you are lucky enough to visit when there's a game on, the sight of Brazilian fans indulging in what crosses over into religious fervor is something that will stay with you for a very long time. maracana.com

Madison Square Garden, USA

Sporting venues don't come much more iconic than Madison Square Garden in New York, home of the Knicks basketball team, the Rangers ice-hockey team, and the singer Billy Joel, who has a residency there. The Garden has hosted NBA finals, Stanley Cup finals, the first ever bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, and concerts by the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones. It doesn't get much bigger than this. Tours run daily. thegarden.com/tours.html

Anfield, UK

There's barely a sports fan alive who doesn't dream of one day standing in the home of the Liverpool Football Club and hearing their famously passionate fans in "The Kop" sing You'll Never Walk Alone. One of England's most famous and historic stadiums is a notorious cauldron of noise, an intimidating place that's always packed to the rafters with the Reds faithful. Outside of match days it's possible to tour the facilities, including a visit to the Liverpool dressing room and a chance to touch the famed "This is Anfield" sign. liverpoolfc.com

Azteca Stadium, Mexico

What's so great about the Estadio Azteca? How about the capacity: 105,000 people. This is one huge stadium, the sixth largest in the world, and it services Mexican fans of the most popular sport in the country - football. The Azteca has hosted two FIFA World Cup finals, was the site of Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" and "Goal of the Century", and still regularly hosts domestic and international matches. Tours are available on non-match days. estadioazteca.com.mx

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Eden Gardens, India

Cricketers – and cricket fans – generally dream of playing at or visiting two grounds in their lifetime: the MCG, and Kolkata's Eden Gardens, a Colosseum-like behemoth that's usually filled well beyond capacity with passionate local fans. The stadium plays host to Test matches, one-day internationals and Twenty20 games, as well as the local Indian Premier League. Empty it's not much to look at, but filled with people it's one of the most intimidating stadiums in the world. cricketassociationofbengal.com

Westfalenstadion, Germany

You're probably thinking: where? Westfalenstadion might not run off the tongue like Camp Nou or San Siro, but if it's atmosphere you're after, you can do little better than the home of the Borussia Dortmund football club. There's standing room for almost 25,000 fans in the "Sudtribune", the southern stand, which helps create the most imposing and deafening atmosphere in European football. You have to see this place with your own eyes. Tours daily.  signal-iduna-park.de 

Croke Park, Ireland

While it's easy to become obsessed with the soccer kind of football in Europe, it's worth remembering that there's another code that, in Ireland at least, stirs the passions of the masses: Gaelic football. And there's no better place to immerse yourself in the local game than Dublin's Croke Park, an 82,000-seater stadium that hosts the All Ireland Football Final each year. Even if you don't make that huge day, the stadium is a must for any sports fan, with its history stretching back to 1880, and its stands filled with some of Ireland's best characters. Stadium tours run daily. crokepark.ie

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