The Spanish capital has been described as the ‘football capital of Europe’ in recent years and there’s certainly something to that. It is the perfect destination for a football city break with loads of clubs packed into a relatively small area, almost all easily reached by public transport. In this Madrid football guide, we will aim to give you the lowdown on the game right across Spain’s largest metropolitan area.
The Madrid Football Map
The locations of all the main Madrid clubs feature above. Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid and Rayo Vallecano are in the city proper, although Atleti are now out not far from the airport following their 2017 move from the Vicente Calderon to the Estadio Metropolitano.
You can also see a cluster of four clubs to the southwest of Madrid in the commuter belt that includes the towns of Getafe, Alcorcón and Leganés, all of which are represented by either Primera or Segunda teams as of the 2023/24 season.
There are also a few smaller third or fourth tier teams that are found to the north and west of the city.
Madrid Football Travel – The Clubs
The Big Two
Stadium – Santiago Bernabéu
Capacity – 81,000
Nearest Metro Station – Santiago Bernabéu
For any football visitor to Madrid, a trip to the Bernabéu is still likely to be at the top of the to-do list despite the recent rise of their very noisy neighbours. This after all, is arguably the biggest football club in the world and they are way out on their own as the most successful team in the history of the European Cup/Champions League with 14 titles, the most recent of which came in 2022.
Their home is found in an affluent northern area of Madrid and is easily reached from the centre. The Bernabéu has its own metro station and lies right on one of the city’s main thoroughfares – the famous Paseo de la Castellana.
How to buy tickets for Real Madrid matches:
Tickets are easily bought online via the ticketing section of the official website. You can find release dates for all the upcoming matches and once bought, you simply need to download the mobile-friendly version of the ticket to your phone and show it at the gate.
Note that some tickets are released later on when members decide not to take their place for certain games so keep checking for the bigger matches if you don’t have any initial luck finding spare seats. For lesser games, it should be simple to buy tickets with prices generally starting at around 40-50 Euros for regular league fixtures. You can also buy them at the stadium on the day of the match when it is not a sell-out (it rarely is unless it’s the Clásico or a big Champions League game).
You may also wish to do a stadium tour which costs from €19 for children and €25 for adults when booked online. Some sections (such as the dressing rooms) may be off-limits on or the day before matches though and at the time of writing, major renovation work is still ongoing, although that’s due to be finished by the end of 2023.
Stadium – Metropolitano
Capacity – 68,500
Nearest Metro Station – Estadio Metropolitano
Atlético Madrid emerged in the 2010’s as a genuine European superpower under the guidance of Diego Simeone. It was a decade in which they won every major competition they competed in besides the Champions League, despite two agonising near misses in Finals against none other than their fierce city rivals. They also moved from their historic old home on the banks of the Rio Manzanares to a shiny new stadium on the outskirts of the city but so far have done a pretty good job of recreating that special Vicente Calderon atmosphere at their new ground.
How to buy tickets for Atlético Madrid matches:
Given the stadium can take up to an hour to reach from the centre of Madrid, you’re better off buying tickets online via the official Atleti website to avoid a wasted journey, not to mention a long queue.
Ticket prices are typically marginally cheaper than those at the Bernabéu with prices starting in the region of €30-40 for league games and more for Champions League matches or league games against Barcelona or Real Madrid. They do also sometimes run promos for certain games when tickets can be slashed to as low as €20.
Stadium tours cost €16 for children and €22 for adults when booked online. The Metropolitano is great but it was only completed in 2017 so doesn’t have quite the same level of history or stories when compared to the Bernabéu. It’s also located in a fairly uninspiring part of Madrid.
For a side trip, take a walk along the river in Central Madrid between Puente de Segovia and Puente de Toledo for a feel for Atleti’s traditional heartland. The old stadium is sadly no more but was located here, close to the Puente de San Isidro.
The Hipster’s Choice
Stadium – Estadio de Vallecas
Capacity – 14,700
Nearest Metro Station – Portazgo
Rayo are certainly the hipster’s choice in Madrid and perhaps all of Spain. Their Ultras are fiercely left-wing and they pride themselves on their anti-racism, anti-homophobia stances. They have historically been something of a yo-yo club between the Primera and Segunda divisions and their stadium is certainly one of the quirkiest to have graced the top flight.
At one end, there is nothing but a wall and a couple of tall apartment blocks, the balconies of which fill up whenever there’s a big game on with residents effectively getting a free season ticket. At the other end, the small Fondo is where the Rayo Ultras gather and it’s where the cheapest seats are to be found, although it’s rare that much sitting is done with a good atmosphere pretty much guaranteed. It’s easy to reach with Portazgo Metro Station literally on the doorstep of the stadium, in the working class barrio of Vallecas.
How to buy tickets for Rayo Vallecano matches:
Tickets for Rayo matches can start at as little as €15 in the exposed Fondo (behind the goal) or from €20-25 for one of the two main stands on either side of the pitch. It’s pretty good value for a team that has also been a really good watch in recent years, beating both Real Madrid and Barcelona at home in the 2022/23 season under Andoni Iraola.
The club is known for its horrendous organisation though and tickets are not available online and usually only go on sale two or three days before each match from the club’s small ticket office. Expect queues and don’t leave it until the day of the game if you want to secure a ticket as the capacity is low and matches often sell out.
Pricing details are usually published in the main section of their website a few days before each game.
The South Madrid clubs
Stadium – Coliseum Alfonso Pérez
Capacity – 17,700
Nearest Metro Station – Los Espartales*
*It is usually quicker to take a Cercanías train to El Casar or Las Margaritas Universidad.
Getafe were just one place off the bottom of the Segunda División when Pepe Bordalás took over in September 2016. They went on a wild ride to briefly become genuine top four contenders in LaLiga utilising a combative style that has rubbed many bigger names up the wrong way. Standards have dropped slightly over the past couple of years but Bordalás is back in permanent charge for the 2023/24 season and the early signs are that his approach has not changed.
Like most of the South Madrid teams, they are based in an unremarkable commuter town which experienced rapid population growth during the latter half of the 20th Century. It has taken time for the club, which was re-founded in 1983, to really kick on and grow their fanbase but they have established themselves as the most successful of the South Madrid clubs.
How to buy tickets for Getafe matches:
Tickets for Getafe matches start at €40 even for the least glamorous games and the club does a pretty poor job of promoting themselves to the extent that you wonder if they even want people to come to their games. Crowds have increased at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez but sell-outs are still quite rare. Unless it’s Barcelona or Real Madrid visiting, you should be able to buy a ticket at the gate or online in advance.
Stadium – Butarque
Capacity – 12,450
Nearest Metro Station – Julián Besteiro*
*It is usually quicker to take a Cercanías train to Zarzaquemada.
Just three miles to the west of Getafe’s Coliseum Alfonso Pérez, you will find Leganés’ Estadio Municipal de Butarque. The duo contest what has risen to be the biggest South Madrid derby, a fixture that has graced the top flight stage in recent years after Leganés reached the top flight for the first time in 2016.
Like their neighbours, Lega also had a reputation for direct football during a four year stay in the top flight, but they’ve been in the second tier since 2020.
How to buy tickets for Leganés matches:
Leganés are a friendlier and more open club than Getafe and one that does seem keen to accommodate visitors from abroad and draw in new fans. In theory you can buy tickets online although there are often problems with foreign debit and credit cards. Your best bet may be to buy tickets at the stadium on matchday in that case with Segunda Division games rarely sell-outs.
They tend to offer some of the most affordable football tickets in Madrid with prices starting at around €20 for most fixtures.
The Other South Madrid clubs
There are five commuter towns to the south of Madrid and they are all connected by Line 12 of the Madrid metro. While Mostoles doesn’t currently have a team in the top three divisions, all of the other towns have clubs that have flourished in recent years.
Aside from Geta and Lega (featured above), second tier Alcorcón and third tier Fuenlabrada are also currently enjoying relatively successful periods, giving groundhoppers in Madrid plenty of options in terms of football on the southern fringes of the capital.
Alcorcón and Fuenlabrada both have tiny stadiums (capacities around 5,000-6,000) which can make getting tickets marginally trickier but it shouldn’t be impossible to get one unless it is a big play-off game or something of that ilk. Alcorcón play at the Estadio Municipal de Santo Domingo while Fuenla’s home is the Estadio Fernando Torres, named after the legendary Spanish striker who was born in Fuenlabrada but never played for the club.
The Best of the Rest
Along with Fuenlabrada, Rayo Majadahonda also represent Madrid in the 2023–24 Primera Federación.
Heading down to the Segunda Federación, San Sebastián de los Reyes, Navalcarnero, Ursaria and Unión Adarve are your options in the Madrid Community. Adarve is easiest to reach given they are based in the city proper, close to the giant Cuatro Torres which are visible from all over the city.
If you’re really desperate to squeeze in another game, you might also want to check out the fixtures for the B teams of Real Madrid or Atlético who both play in the Primera Federación. Real Madrid Castilla are based at the Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium (Valdebebas Cercanias Station) which also hosts the club’s female team.
Groundhopping in Madrid – Getting Around
The three main clubs in the city itself (Real, Atleti & Rayo) can be reached by the Madrid metro via the stations listed above. You can buy the multi-card from any metro machine and can then load on tickets. The 10-trip option (€6.10) is currently great value and is eligible for use on the Metro, TFM, Metro Ligero 1 and Metro Ligero Oeste as well as city buses. This should be fine for seeing the city and getting to Atleti, Real Madrid or Rayo matches.
To reach the South Madrid clubs, it’s generally quicker to take the Cercanias which is a suburban rail network connecting Madrid to nearby towns and outer districts. The stations of Sol and Atocha in the centre of Madrid are well connected. The nearest Cercanias stations to the South Madrid football clubs are as follows:
Getafe: El Casar or Las Margaritas Universidad (15 minute walk to stadium)
Leganés: Zarzaquemada (15-20 minute walk to stadium)
Alcorcón: Las Retamas (5 minute walk to stadium)
Buy single or return tickets in each case from any of the Cercanias (RENFE) machines – these are different from the Metro machines.
Fuenlabrada‘s Estadio Fernando Torres is a little harder to reach. The closest metro stations are Hospital de Fuenlabrada and Loranca but a bus from Madrid is typically quicker. In both cases, your 10-trip ticket will not be eligible as it is outside of the city limits so again buy individual tickets for these journeys.
Away from the Football
Madrid has an enormous amount to see and do away from the football. While it is a capital, it still retains a friendly and relaxed vibe and most things to see are reachable on foot if you are based centrally.
Highlights include the glorious Parque Retiro, built around a large lake and one of the biggest leisure areas for Madrileños. Nearby to the park, there are several world class museums and galleries including the Reina Sofia and El Prado.
Madrid is also a city of many famous squares. Puerta del Sol is very much the centre-point in the city and it’s useful to have this in mind for getting your bearings. Nearby is Plaza Mayor, possibly the most attractive square in all of Spain but expect to pay tourist prices if you eat and drink in any of its restaurants and bars. Plaza de España is less attractive but has played a big role in the recent history of the city.
If you want to get away from the more touristy parts and experience the city like a Madrileño, head to Malasaña. This district immediately to the north of the centre is full of small independent bars, restaurants, shops and little plazas. If you come to Madrid at the weekend, head to Calle de la Palma and the adjacent streets (Tribunal Metro) for a night out away from the over-priced bars and clubs near Puerta del Sol.
This is only really scratching the surface when it comes to things to do in Madrid. Other options include a trip on the Teleferico which will offer you great views of the city from the enormous Casa de Campo. If you come in the scorching hot summer, cool down at one of the city’s many outdoor pools.
This Madrid football guide was last updated in August 2023.
If you have any questions about visiting Madrid for football reasons, feel free to get in touch.