The question of whether or not to tour Camp Nou may seem like a no-brainer to FC Barcelona football fans. If we put emotions aside for a second though, what are the main differences between the Camp Nou Experience and say its rival, the Santiago Bernabéu stadium tour in Madrid? Trophies tick! Memorabilia tick! Pitch tick! Changing rooms tick! Is it just a generic stadium tour and money-making scheme?
Let’s tour Camp Nou right now, in the same order you would if you were to go on a Camp Nou Experience. Of course, only a real tour of Camp Nou (or Bernabéu) can give you a full taste of what’s on offer. I’ll compare some of the tours’ main features, however, to find out which is better and which is worth going to. Let’s ‘kick off’!
Camp Nou: Located west of the district 'Sants' and south of 'Sarria', the Barcelona stadium is relatively central. There are 7 metro stations within walking distance, take your pick! The closest is Les Corts on Line 3.
Bernabéu: Bernabéu is in Chamartín, a very popular and easily accessible district in the north of Madrid. The metro station, Santiago Bernabéu, is located right next to the stadium, on line 10 which connects with major stations such as Puerta del Sol and Atocha train station.
Camp Nou: The club shop is spread over three floors. The top floor is dedicated to fashion, the second floor is the players sections and the third has merchandise, sports equipment and games for children. Here, you can get yourself a personalized shirt, if you wish. During the tour, you can also get a professional photo taken of you with a backdrop of the FC Barcelona team!
You then make your way into the Camp Nou stadium via a tunnel/bridge. As you enter, you’ll see Sergio Roberto on a screen above inviting you into Camp Nou. As you walk through the tunnel, you’ll pass iconic FC Barcelona photos hanging along the walls.
Bernabéu: While the shops offer more or less the same experience and professional photos are also available, the tunnel access gives Barcelona the edge on this one.
Winner: Camp Nou
Camp Nou: When you’ve crossed the bridge into Camp Nou, you’ll enter the first room of the Camp Nou museum. Trophies adorn the right-hand side, taking you back through the club’s history (see no.4 below). If you’re a Messi fan, you’ll also find a dedicated ‘Messi area’ in the trophy room. Lionel Messi is the club’s greatest ever footballer (and perhaps the best in the world)!
Barcelona has an incredible football history to celebrate and, before you exit, there’s a room devoted to glorious moments from FC Barcelona’s past. There are lots of HD TVs replaying club highlights; sit back and relax on one of the benches and soak it all up.
Camp Nou’s history is not just limited to football, however. During the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, the Catalan language was banned amongst other repressive acts. The Barcelona football stadium (then at Les Corts, very close to the current site) was the only place where Catalans were allowed to express their grievances. Many of its past games were as much about politics as sport.
Take note if football isn’t your thing: football is intrinsically connected with the history, culture and politics of a nation. The club is a symbol and not only in times of civil conflict. Immigrants to Barcelona quickly find a connection with the locals through their mutual passion for FC Barcelona.
Bernabéu: When you tour Bernabéu you’ll find an incredible history, on its path to become one of the best-known football stadiums in the world. Camp Nou has had a much more active involvement in national and international history, however.
Winner: Camp Nou
Camp Nou: FC Barcelona have won 89 major titles, including 3 FIFA Club World Cups, 4 UEFA Cup Winner’s Cups, 5 Champions Leagues, 25 La Ligas and 30 Copa del Reys.
Bernabéu: Real Madrid have won 90 major titles, including a record 33 La Liga wins, 19 Copa del Rey, 10 Supercopa de Espana, two UEFA Cups and 4 UEFA Super Cups.
*not every trophy is displayed in the trophy room
Could it be any closer? Real Madrid wins this round but Barça fans don’t need to feel intimidated. The size of your trophy cabinet clearly isn’t everything, when you take a look at the El Clásico stats (matches between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona):
Total Matches: 275 I Real Madrid wins: 99 I FC Barcelona wins: 115 I Draws: 61
Skip-The-Line Santiago Bernabéu Tour and Touristic Bus with Tapas
Camp Nou: Following the museum, you’ll be able to enjoy a panoramic view from the halfway line (the best place for a view of a football game)! From here, make your way down to the press conference area. Sit where Iniesta, Neymar, Xavi, Guardiola and the manager, Ernesto Valverde, have. You can even speak through the same microphone as them. Think of all the people who have been in that room!
Bernabéu: You can’t speak through the microphone (or it won’t be on at least!) but otherwise they’re a very similar experience.
Camp Nou: Next on the Camp Nou Experience is the visitor changing room. It’s pretty impressive and is sure to blow memories of your school changing rooms out the water! There is even a physio area with bathtubs, jacuzzis, massage tables: the works! Apparently, the home changing room is even better, but you’ll never be able to see for yourself. You’re only allowed into the visitor changing room, as players leave personal possessions there!
Bernabéu: You can go into both (equally impressive) the home and visitors’ changing rooms at the Bernabéu! When I went, I got a photo next to James Rodriguez’ locker (because my name is James too!). Perhaps you’d rather stand beside Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos or Gareth Bale’s locker? It’s a personal experience standing where your heroes do before and after every game!
Camp Nou: Walk up the iconic steps leading onto the pitch and let your imagination run wild. Enjoy the fantastic views around the stadium, as you stand in the very spot where the manager stands! It’s a perfect opportunity for photos. You’re not allowed on the pitch of course but without becoming one of the greatest footballers in the world overnight, this is the closest you can get!
Camp Nou: High up behind you, as you stand on the pitch, you’ll be able to see the commentary box. Also called the “sky view”, the commentary box, is notorious for having the best view of the games. The windows there don’t even have glass to make sure the vision of the commentators isn’t impaired at all. How has no one fallen out? Anyway, the Camp Nou experience allows you inside the commentary box too!
Bernabéu: On a Bernabéu tour, you can go into the presidential box but not the commentary box (and the commentary box wins on view).
Winner: Camp Nou
One exciting thing happening to both Camp Nou and the Bernabéu stadiums are that both are preparing to undergo massive renovations.
Camp Nou: Renovations will cost €600 million and the capacity will increase from 99,354 to 105,000. It will have a futuristic look and is being referred to as the “Nou Camp Nou” (literally, "New New Field"). The completion date is “before the 2021 season” and there are plans for the stadium to be “5G ready”.
Bernabéu: The Santiago stadium budget has been escalating over the last few years. An increase in the budget occurred once in 2011 and then again in 2014. It is currently due to be completed in 2022 for a cost of €575 million. Could they be competing with Barça? I wouldn’t put it past them! Both stadiums are going for a futuristic look but the Bernabéu even looks a bit space-age! That’s all very well but with no new seats planned, has the money been well spent.
Winner: Camp Nou
Here’s a comparison of the most popular ticket option and their current prices (subject to change):
Camp Nou Basic tickets: €21
Bernaéu Basic Tickets: €25
Both stadiums have higher priced tour options as well. For example, here are some other tickets Camp Nou has available:
Camp Nou Tour Plus (includes virtual Barça experience and audio guide): €35
Camp Nou Guided Tour: €55
It’s impossible to compare all the tickets as the components vary. The basic tickets to tour Camp Nou is a clear winner, however!
Watching a game is significantly more expensive than getting a tour (at both): ticket prices usually start at around €90 at Camp Nou. Combining a stadium tour with one of the many great Barcelona sports bars would make a big saving!
Winner: Camp Nou
Camp Nou 5.5 - 4.5 Bernabéu
Camp Nou has won but we may have to cut the celebrations short! Whether you choose to tour Real Madrid’s stadium or visit Camp Nou, they do have roughly the same setup. Objectively, there’s not much in it! The vast majority of visitors are not going for objective reasons, however. They’re going because it’s what’s beneath the surface which counts!
The truth is, if you strip away the emotions, Messi’s signature becomes a ‘messy’ squiggle on a football. When you add them back in, however, you have a powerful emotional and memory trigger for thousands! The same is true for the trophies and relics of the past: a boot is a boot until it has scored the winning goal in the final of La Liga. Emotions should be taken into account because that’s what makes both Camp Nou and Bernabéu unique.
Admittedly, if you’re not a fan, you’re unlikely to experience this to the same degree (apart from connection with popular history, perhaps). I truly believe, however, you would be hard pushed to not empathize and be inspired by the passion dripping from the walls and flooding the floors of the Camp Nou Experience (or the Bernabéu tour)! Remember, Camp Nou isn’t the only reason to visit Barcelona, check out these great Barcelona activities, rooftop bars and its market scene for starters!
Barcelona Tapas Tour - Cava and Wine Tasting Tour
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