There’s just something about the best soccer tournaments that brings out some of the most passionate fans anywhere. The atmosphere is always incredible, the soccer is top notch and the host cities are fascinating to explore. If you love soccer, here are the 12 best soccer tournaments you’ll want to experience in your lifetime:
The World Cup
The 2018 World Cup played out in Russia this past summer. With modern cities, incredible architecture, incredible culinary experiences, and a love for sport, Russia made a tremendous host nation. The soccer was outstanding too. Great goals, skills, shocking wins and even greater upsets, it provided everything that makes soccer so incredible, and emphasized the very things that contribute to the passionate fanbase. At the end of the thrilling tournament, France emerged victorious, having displayed the most measured and sustained performances throughout – it was a thoroughly well-deserved victory. If you’d like to learn more then check out our World Cup Ultimate Guide and our World Cup Facts blog post.
We are already looking forward to the – what will be history making – 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Qatar offers a wide array for any soccer fan. Gorgeous beaches, enticing markets, world-class museums, stunning architecture and unique landscapes. Not to mention the weather! This will be the first World Cup tournament to take place in Winter, so as to allow for the climate.
It was recently confirmed that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with take place in eight venues that are all within one hour of each other. And with so many things to do in Doha, this is a tremendous opportunity for soccer fans to base themselves in Doha and experience a match every day if they want. If the 2022 World Cup is anything like the 2018 event, then it is going to be nothing short of spectacular. Will France make it two in a row?
The Summer Games
One of the biggest soccer tournaments in the world, the Summer Games tournament is unique in that it features both a men’s and women’s competition. While the tournament dates way back to 1900 for the men, the women’s competition wasn’t introduced until 1996. With both winners decided in just over 2 weeks, it’s an action-packed tournament and lots of fun to watch. It’s also one of few sports at the Summer Games that allows guests to see events outside of the host city. In 2020, soccer matches will be played in 6 Summer Games venues, including host city Tokyo.
Our favorite thing about the Summer Games Soccer Tournament is that it affords fans the opportunity to see more than just soccer. At the 2021 Summer Games in Tokyo, soccer fans will have the opportunity to supplement their experience with 32 other sports. Not only is it an incredible soccer experience, it’s one of the biggest sporting events in the world, hosted in one of the most fascinating countries on the planet.
Related: Tokyo Travel Guide
UEFA Champions League
Another of the world’s best soccer tournaments, the UEFA Champions League sees the top clubs in Europe battle it out to earn the European Champion Clubs’ Cup. As the most watched annual sporting event in the world, it’s incredibly popular not just in Europe but around the globe. With over 60 years of history behind it, it continues to grow in popularity.
The 2021 Champions League Final will take place in Istanbul, Turkey on May 29th 2021 and there’s never been a better reason to visit this historic city. Ataturk Olympic Stadium will make an excellent host for the 2021 Champions League Final. Regardless of who wins it all this year, we know this will be one exciting tournament.
UEFA European Championship
The UEFA European Championship (also known as the Euros) is another quadrennial event and takes place on the even-numbered years between World Cup years. As one of the best soccer tournaments on the continent, it determines the champion of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). A total of 24 national teams qualify to compete for the elusive title of European Champion.
While the Euros are usually hosted by one or two countries, Euro 2021 is going to be a historic one. To celebrate 60 years of the tournament, Euro 2021 will be played in 13 different countries, something we’re not likely to see again any time soon. Each host country offers something unique to spectators, especially England, which will showcase the semi-finals and final at Wembley Stadium in London. It promises to be a spectacular event and one not to miss!
Related: London Travel Guide
Along with the Summer Games Tournament, this is one of the biggest and best soccer tournaments in the world for women. Like the men’s tournament, it is held every four years and always highly anticipated. Twenty-four of the best women’s national teams compete over the course of a month for bragging rights to the title of World Cup Champion.
The next Women’s Worlds takes place between June 7th and July 7th 2019 and it’s going to be a good one. Why? Well, it always delivers great soccer and this edition will be held in one of the most beautiful countries in the world: France. Nine amazing cities throughout the country will act as Women’s Worlds venues, hosting games and providing a spectacular backdrop to the popular tournament.
Copa America Finals
Perhaps the most passionate festival of soccer in the world, the Copa America Finals is an international tournament primarily for countries in South America, with a reputation for games with stunning atmospheres. Many of the greatest players in soccer history have competed in the tournament, which is the longest-running international competition in the world, predating even the World Cup.
The Copa America has been hosted in many of South America’s most stunning destinations, and the 2019 tournament is no exception. Brazil will be the hosts, meaning the final will take place on July 7th 2019 in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which is among the most historic sporting venues in the world. The Copa America always features some of the best soccer games in the world, but this year will be even more special, as Brazil aims for redemption after their crushing defeat in the 2014 World Cup, which they also hosted.
Related: Rio Travel Guide
The Copa Libertadores is the most prestigious prize in South American domestic soccer, an annual tournament to decide the best club team on the continent. It has always been the biggest competition in South America, but some high-profile and dramatic recent tournaments have seen even more global attention placed on it, in particular the 2018 final which saw historic rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors, from Buenos Aires, battle it out for the trophy.
The final of the 2019 tournament will take place in November 2019, and for the first time it will be a single, winner-takes-all match, whereas previously it has been over two games, one in each of the finalists’ home stadia. This year, the final will be held in the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile, and while River Plate are the current holders, this is one of the most open and exciting tournaments in the world.
UEFA Europa League
The sister tournament to the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League has gone through many guises in its history but has developed into one of the most open and exciting annual soccer competitions in the world. While the Champions League is home to most of Europe’s established superpowers, the Europa League features a much wider range of new and interesting teams and destinations.
The final of the 2020 Europa League is due to take place in the historic Polish city of Gdansk on May 27th 2020, and the winner not only earns the Europa League trophy, but a place in the following year’s Champions League. Spanish and English teams have dominated the Europa League in recent years, but this is a thrilling soccer tournament that anyone can win.
Africa Cup of Nations
The Africa Cup of Nations is a biennial tournament to decide the best international team on the continent of Africa. A total of 24 teams battle it out to determine who is the finest team in Africa, with Egypt the most successful team in the competition’s history with seven wins, and current holders Cameroon not far behind them with five.
The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Egypt from June 21st to July 19th 2019. The tournament will be held in four cities, with three stadia in the capital Cairo and three venues in nearby cities Alexandria, Suez and Ismailia, making it a perfect way to take in not only one of the best soccer tournaments in the world, but also easily explore a historic country.
The FA Cup is English soccer’s most prestigious knockout tournament and the oldest soccer competition in the world. The first tournament took place in 1871, and in the nearly 150 years since it has remained the biggest and most coveted prize in domestic soccer. This is the best tournament in the world for an underdog story, as the FA Cup is famous for its upsets, with the smallest teams in the country frequently defeating the biggest and richest.
Manchester City are the current holders, while Arsenal are the most successful team in the competition’s history with 13 victories, closely followed by Manchester United with 12. The final is always held at London’s Wembley Stadium, often regarded as the ‘home of soccer’, which was rebuilt into one of the biggest and best modern sporting venues in the world, in 2007. The 2020 final will take place on May 23rd 2020.
Copa Del Rey
Founded in 1903, the Copa del Rey – or King’s Cup – is the oldest tournament in Spanish soccer and is one of the best and most historic knock-out competitions in the world. For over a century, it has seen some of the biggest and most successful clubs in world soccer compete for the historic annual prize, which predates even Spain’s domestic league competition.
Barcelona are the current holders and most successful team in the competition’s history, having won the Copa del Rey an amazing 30 times, while their historic rivals Real Madrid have won it 19 times. The final of the 2020 Copa del Rey will be held in one of Spain’s many glamorous destinations, which combine a rich sense of soccer history alongside some of the greatest and most desirable cities in the world, like Madrid, Barcelona and Seville.
You could say that the Asian Cup is the biggest regional soccer competition in the world, because it determines the best international team from Asia, the biggest continent on the planet and home to over 7.6 billion people. Held for the first time in 1956, the competition is held every four years in a different Asian country each time. Previous hosts have included Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia, who are part of the Asian Football Confederation.
The current holders are Qatar, who won the 2019 edition held in the United Arab Emirates, while the most successful country in the competition’s history is Japan, who have been successful four times. The 2023 Asian Cup will be held in China, with the final likely to take place in Beijing. Big soccer tournaments like this are often great ways to explore countries you might not otherwise find easy to visit, so there really is no better opportunity to visit China in 2023.
If you want to hear more about any of the best soccer tournaments in the world, we’d love to help you out. Our amazing luxury soccer travel package experiences include the best of the best in each host city; from accommodations to match day experiences to transportation, we’ve got everything covered so you can relax and enjoy the beautiful game. Contact us to start creating your ultimate soccer itinerary to your preferred tournament.