10 best summer football breaks

Best places for summer football fun, sun and sea

Pack a beach towel, flip-flops and your trusty rattle for a fixture with a holiday atmosphere

With pre-season friendlies now over and the big clubs back from the States and Singapore, it’s time to think about that late-summer break and catching a game by the Med or at a lakeside resort.

Here are ten great suggestions for seeing a random match in Europe, with sun, beaches and beer all thrown into the mix. Some are in top leagues, others swimming in the shallows of the second flight, meaning you can just show up, shove a few euros through the ticket window and join the long-suffering faithful.

Welcome to Larnaca/Peterjon Cresswell


Chania FC/Tom Gard

The first thing that strikes you when strolling into the Perivolia Municipal Stadium on the southern outskirts of Chania, Crete, is the view. Upon paying your €7 admission in cash, and hearing the satisfying clink of the old-school turnstile, you’re as likely to be drawn to the panorama as the football on display. The rolling green slopes and snow-topped White Mountains towering behind the goal make for a particularly serene distraction.

Another €7 brings you here to the sleepy suburb of Mournies from the Old Town and Venetian harbour by taxi, meaning you can be sipping Mythos on a sandy beach and taking in a Super League 2 fixture within 15 minutes. Chania’s Gate 4 massive, of course, come here by roaring moped.

The solidly-built and functional Perivolia otherwise welcomes a mix of locals, expats and holidaymakers to its one main stand. Sadly, the local derby with Irodotos is now a thing of the past since the doomed side from nearby Heraklion scored only six (!) goals in the 2022-23 campaign. In their place, the green-and-whites of Giouchtas provide Cretan groundhops this season. Barnaby Gard


Stadion Miejski/Peterjon Cresswell

The name ‘Polish Riviera’ may seem a contradiction in terms but this long seafront served by the cheap, fast and reliable SKM train from Gdańsk is where many Poles bring their buckets and spades in summer.

Gdynia hasn’t the cachet of Sopot but it does have a popular football team, Arka the Polish Cup winners in 2017 and twice finalists in 2018 and 2021.

Sadly relegated from the Ekstraklasa in 2020, the Herrings have been battling to reclaim their rightful spot in the top tier. Right in town, by the Gdynia Redłowo stop on the SKM line, the Stadion Miejski co-hosted the U-20 FIFA World Cup in 2019 and is blessed with one of Poland’s finest stadium bars, the Olimpijska.


Welcome to KoperPeterjon Cresswell

Close to winning the Slovenian title in 2022 only to blow it in the last week, seafront Koper is a convivial place to spend a few days. Restaurant terraces look out over the Adriatic, Italianate architecture characterises the Old Town and, best of all, the football stadium is right in the centre.

Modern and compact, the Bonifika is set between the bus and train stations and the sea, a short walk from everywhere. Scotland fans may remember it from a friendly here with Slovenia in 2012.

Built into the stadium, Pub 33 is a great bar whatever the occasion, with live music and TV sport.


Welcome to Larnaca/Peterjon Cresswell

The port, resort and airport hub of Larnaca on the southern coast of Cyprus is usually host to three teams in the 14-strong top-flight Cyta Championship.

Home of 2022 league runners-up AEK, Larnaca has also been a haven for two clubs from the nearby port of Famagusta since 1974, when its majority Greek population fled the Turkish invasion. Revered Anorthosis have won 13 Cypriot titles and never been relegated.

Populist Nea Salamis, with their left-leaning fan base, have played in the top flight most seasons since 1949. These three clubs play at stadiums away from Larnaca’s tourist-friendly, palm-fringed, beach-lined city centre. Anorthosis and Nea Salamis built their grounds some 15 years after their enforced exile. Both were used for the final stages of the 1992 European Under-16 Championships, hosting the likes of Francesco Totti and Iván de la Peña.

It was also at the Antonis Papadopoulos, home of Anorthosis, that Cyprus beat Spain 3-2 in a Euro 2000 qualifier. Nea Salamis named their ground Ammochostos – the Greek word for Famagusta. Formed in 1994, AEK Larnaca moved into the new-build AEK Arena in 2016. All are short taxi journeys from the seafront strip of Athenon and streets behind dotted with lively bars, most showing TV football.


Málaga CF shop/Harvey Holtom

Underrated Málaga, with its long seafront, buzzy bar life and Picasso Museum, has lost its mojo as far as football is concerned but still attracts the solid fan base of Brit expats from along the Costa del Sol. Marbella is just along the coast.

Don’t let this put you off. La Rosaleda is one of Spain’s most atmospheric stadiums, with a great pre-match drinking scene at impromptu outlets outside despite the Anchovies recently losing a relegation battle to stay in the Segunda.

To see where Málaga CF first played, head east of town to El Balneario, sadly recently gentrified, a seafront restaurant and former baths steeped in local history.


Welcome to Montpellier/Éva Nagy

Economic powerhouse of the south, Montpellier owes its footballing success in modern times to a corpulent rubbish collector obsessed with the game. An avid collector of football shirts, Louis Nicollin took a local amateur club and made them league champions by bringing in the support of the local council. Making his money in waste collection, Nicollin even helped bring the World Cup to Montpellier in 1998.

MHSC remain a top-tier proposition based at the Stade de la Mosson, an easy tram ride from the main station. A university town with a historic centre, Montpellier lies close to the beach resort of Palavas, busy in summer, relaxing in autumn.


Welcome to Ostend/Peterjon Cresswell

The Kusttram follows the coast and whisks you on the 15-minute journey from Ostend station to the Albertparkstadion, home of KV Oostende, the Kustboys. To one side is sandy beach, to the other, five minutes away, a compact ground where a loyal and lively fan base gather for top-flight matches in the Belgian First Division A.

Until 2022-23, that is. Now they welcome the likes of Deinze, Dender and Maasmechelen in Belgium’s newly expanded second division.

Walking from town is another option, following in the footsteps of Marvin Gaye along the seafront, past the holiday hotels, Japanese gardens and Wellington golf club. Once you get to the ground, make sure to pay a visit to the Club 31, a fine stadium bar if there ever was one.


Welcome to Palma/Peterjon Cresswell

Before you make the long, long trek to the justifiably maligned Estadi Son Moix, you might want to consider a visit to Real Mallorca’s poorer neighbours, Atlético Baleares, just across from a down-at-heel barrio in east Palma, a club long in need of some TLC.

A European finalist in 1999, Real Mallorca immediately moved out of their quaint, cramped Estadi Lluís Sitjar to an out-of-town, multi-sports arena, never a good combination, all the while retaining their support from Palma’s considerable Brit and German expat community. For the past few years, they’ve been treated to visits by Spain’s best, while the running track has been removed, the conversion of the unloved stadium for football casting aside all talk of a return to the bar-ringed Lluís Sitjar.

There’s plenty of choice for beer and sport in town, however, a foreigner-friendly port long versed in pulling pints.


Welcome to Siófok/Peterjon Cresswell

Let’s face it, only the keenest groundhopper would trek to Siófok, on the south shore of Hungary’s holiday getaway of Lake Balaton, purely for the football. The club’s Révész Géza utcai stadion can best be described as modest, although is only a short walk from the station, where cheap, frequent trains arrive from Budapest in 1hr 20mins.

Everyone else goes to Siófok to party, at a strip of bars along a street parallel to the lake, and a nightlife zone at the waterfront. Hotel stock is plentiful and delightfully retro, and the overall experience feels like walking into the Hungary of the 1980s – which is exactly when Siófok won their only trophy to date, the Hungarian Cup.

Top-flight football is also a thing of the past, so you’ll be settling down to the delights of second-tier NBII – which actually involves Honvéd and Vasas this season.


Hotel Park/Peterjon Cresswell

On the up after years of trailing far behind domestic rivals Dinamo Zagreb, Hajduk Split won the Croatian Cup in 2023, beating Šibenik in the Dalmatian Derby. It was the kind of footballing occasion this football madhouse rises to so well, setting up a fan zone on the seafront Riva in town and organising a march up to the Poljud, Hajduk’s revered stadium overlooking the waterfront.

League runners-up, too, in a best finish for ten years, Hajduk have momentum behind them and the loyal Torcida, whose fan culture dates back to locals watching newsreel footage of the Brazil World Cup of 1950. Split has its own beach, Bačvice, a short walk from the bus and train stations, the Wembley of the Croatian sport of keepie-uppie, picigin.