Association football (or soccer, as it’s known in Canada and the United States) is the biggest sport in all of Europe, and the UEFA European Championship is one of the continent’s biggest football events, second only to the UEFA Champions League.
Every four years, the best teams from around Europe meet on the pitch to not only take home the Henri Delaunay Trophy – named in honor of UEFA’s first General Secretary, who came up with the idea for the tourney, but died in 1960, five years before the first matches – but to then go on to the FIFA Confederations Cup the following year, if they so choose.
UEFA Euro 2016 will be the first to host 24 national teams on the card, jumping from the 16-team format used between 1996 and 2012. The month-long tournament begins this afternoon, 10 June, at 15:00 (3 p.m.), and will be held in 10 cities around France, which was chosen to be the host nation in late May 2010. The competing teams for this year’s tourney include England, Austria, France, Russia, Ukraine and Sweden, with France the favorite.
As UEFA Euro is always a huge draw, tickets to the various pitches can be hard to find, if not impossible, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Don’t fret: the next best thing to watching a match in person is watching a match with a few hundred or thousand of your closest friends at City Hall, a train station, or, of course, a pub.
(You won’t be surprised to learn that the Union of European Football Associations, the sanctioning body, charges fees to any business or organizations hosting more than 300 people … fees that are likely to get passed on to you unless they’re absorbed by municipalities.)
No matter where you are in Europe during UEFA Euro 2016, Dispatches Europe has you covered with a brief, curated guide to some of the venues where you can enjoy the beautiful game:
Before we begin, you might soon wonder why Eindhoven, Amsterdam and other major cities in the Netherlands aren’t on this list. It wasn’t for a lack of effort: Oranje failed to qualify for Euro 2016 back in October 2015, coming in fourth in their group following a 3-2 loss against the Czech national team; why hold a public viewing if your team’s not in the show? However, the Dutch have traded in their orange kits for the red and black of De Rode Duivels of Belgium, whose first match will be against Italy Monday, 13 June. Expect lots of Belgian soccer chants and songs coming from the pubs and bars of Holland for the month of Euro 2016.
Berlin: No walls will keep you from seeing Euro 2016 in Berlin. The biggest crowds will be on the Fan Mile in Berlin (Fanmeile) in Berlin, Straße des 17. Juni between the Brandenburg Gate and Siegessäule in the heart of Berlin. The Fan Mile has multiple screens down a mile-long stretch of roadway. There is no seating, so you’ll be standing with like 100,000 of your closest friends.
The Fanmeile will be screening all group matches of the German national team (12, 16, 21 June 2016), the last sixteen matches, the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, and the final match of the tournament on 10 July 2016.
If you’d prefer something more intimate (and indoors), head over to Die Berliner Republik along the River Spree. Enjoy a few beers and some sausages while Die Mannschaft begins its march to the Henri Delaunay Trophy against Ukraine 12 June at 15:00 (3 p.m.)! The matches will be shown on the screens inside the bar, and along the riverside terrace. Other public viewing venues in Berlin are listed here.
London: You better believe most pubs and bars will be cheering on The Three Lions, Norn Iron, and Y Dreigiau during Euro 2016. Our pick for public viewing in London, however, is a boat on the River Thames: Bar&Co. The floating bar is moored at Temple Pier outside of Temple Station, where five screens downstairs (including a projector) and a single screen on the top deck will be filled with nothing but soccer bliss. Tickets are available directly through Bar&Co, while the Evening Standard has a list of their picks for viewing the championships.
Istanbul: Were our Turkey-loving Director of Content Terry Boyd in Turkey’s capital, he could watch Ay-Yıldızlılar battle Croatia at Harvard Cafe in the neighborhood of Etiler. Patrons can watch the matches on a big screen on each floor, while enjoying a wide selection of beers, wines, cocktails, and an equally wide selection of menu items. There’s also a second Harvard Cafe location in Ataşehir, a neighborhood on the Anatolian side of Istanbul. Here are a few more places to catch Euro 2016.
Paris: If you don’t have tickets already to watch Euro 2016 in person – especially when Les Tricolores goes up against Romania to kick off the month-long tourney at 15:00 (3 p.m.) 10 June – why not take in the matches under the shadow of the Eifel Tower? The City of Paris and UEFA’s organizing committee have created a fan zone on the Champ de Mars at the foot of the famed structure for the competition, where 90,000 fans can watch every match live for free on a 420m² giant screen, the largest ever for a UEFA Euro public viewing. If it’s too much, though, here’s a list of Parisian bars and pubs showing the championships in a more intimate setting.
Reykjavík: Much like in Paris, fans of Strákarnir okkar will be able to cheer on their 11 at the UEFA Euro 2016 FanZone at Ingólfstorg in downtown Reykjavík beginning 10 June. The national team is one of European soccer’s minnows, and is one of the smallest teams to compete in the championships. Their first match is set for Tuesday, 14 June, against Portugal.
Stockholm: What’s the best way to watch Blågult battle Ireland at noon Monday, 13 June? At the stadium where the team punched their ticket to Euro 2016, of course! The big screens at Stockholm’s Friends Arena will be lowered onto the pitch for viewing every match the national team plays, and admission is free. All you need to do is rock your finest ensemble of yellow and blue! Here are a few more places around Sweden to consider, as well.
Vienna: Should you be in Vienna, you can say hello to our own Ivana Avaramovic at Rathausplaz in front of the city hall. The largest of all the venues in the city, thousands will converge upon the town square from 11:00 to 00:00 every day to watch Das Team on the 100m² LED screen. The full list (in German) of Viennese venues can be read here.
Zurich: Heroes never die in Switzerland, and the Rossocrociati are no exception. If you’re in Zurich, you can watch the Swiss army of 11 take on Albania Saturday, 11 June at Maag Areal. The concert venue hosted a public viewing of the 2014 World Cup, considered one of the most successful viewings in Zurich at the time. More venues can be found here.