More and more people are coming to realise that the Bundesliga experience is one of the best, but how do you go about planning your first trip? As a Bundesliga regular, hopefully I can pass on a few tips to get you started.
WHERE TO GO?
Germany is a large country, so my first recommendation would be to base yourself in one region. While Berlin is the capital city and Munich home of the most famous club, I would recommend the West German region of North-Rhine Westphalia, which sits next to the Belgian and Dutch borders. Here you will find a concentration of many of the countries biggest clubs, including the famous names of Borussia Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Schalke 04.
GETTING THERE AND AROUND
There are plenty of budget flights to the region, the main airports being Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorf Weeze (someway from Düsseldorf!), Düsseldorf Flughafen (somewhat closer) and Dortmund.
An alternative is to take the Eurostar to Brussels, buy some cherry beer and then take the ICE train onto Cologne. The journey from London takes about five hours, print at home tickets start at €49 at http://bahn.de.
Once in Germany, the local transport is excellent. If there are a group of you, a Länder Karten or a Schönes Wochenende is a good investment. These provide budget travel on all local transport for groups of up to five people. Bear in mind that match tickets usually also provide free travel to the game in the local area.
http//www.kicker.de is a good place to check the fixtures. The usual schedule is:
1. Bundesliga – 2 Friday, 6 Saturday, 1 Sunday
2. Bundesliga – 3 Friday, 2 Saturday, 3 Sunday, 1 Monday
3.Liga – 9 Saturday
How to buy a ticket varies from club to club. Most of the 1st division games sell out so it’s a good idea to buy tickets beforehand, but in the lower leagues you can usually buy them on the day.
As a first bet, I would recommend visiting the club’s website. If you don’t speak German, the Facebook group European Football Weekends has lots of people who can help you out.
Many people who go to Germany want to buy standing (Stehplatz) tickets – though they are usually quite difficult to get for the top clubs because they have modern stadiums where the percentage of standing room is quite small. Smaller clubs like Bochum and Oberhausen have much more standing room, so you should be fine.
IN THE STADIUM
The Ultras usually stand directly behind the goal, at the front. The atmosphere is best among the Ultras, although if you don’t know any of the songs it is perhaps best not to stand right among them. Usually, they will wave flags all game, so if you are right at the front, you don’t actually see much of the game.
Unlike in England, you are allowed to have a beer in the stadium, and because of ancient Germany purity laws, it’s always very good. Vendors will walk around with crates on their back to top you up. Bear in mind, there will often be a deposit of €1 on the cup, so make sure to take it back, unless you want to take it home as a souvenir.
By Chris Nash