milan soccer

Feel the adrenaline rush at San Siro stadium cheering on one of Milan’s teams. (Photo: Getty Images)

Health + Fitness

Pitch Perfect: This Is Milan for Soccer Lovers

Home to two historic football (aka “soccer” to most Americans) teams, Milan is a playground for footy fanatics. The heart of the city’s football culture is hard to miss: The massive San Siro Stadium, located northwest of the city center, is the largest stadium in Italy and one of the largest in Europe.

It’s the home field for both A.C. Milan (shortened to “Milan”) and Inter Milan (known simply as “Inter”), which makes the derby match between the two teams a raucous event.

Associazione Calcio Milan and Football Club Internazionale Milano, as the teams are officially named, were founded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, respectively. Both currently play in Serie A, Italy’s top flight of football, and have done so for years.

Aim to visit the city when a match is scheduled, book a room at the nearby Sheraton Milan San Siro and get ready for game day.

Scoring Tickets to a Match

As the Milan and Inter rose to greatness over the course of the 20th century, San Siro Stadium was enlarged to accommodate more and more fans; today it seats around 80,000 people.

San Siro’s large capacity has benefits for the visiting football fan that go beyond its exhilarating atmosphere: Last-minute tickets are almost always available for Milan or Inter matches, with the exception of the Milan derby, when the two rivals play each other, and Champions League fixtures.

milan soccer
San Siro Stadium. (Photo: Getty Images)

Even better, you can purchase tickets on the official Milan and Inter websites, both of which can be viewed in English and are easy to navigate, rather than making the trek out to the stadium.

Once your tickets are booked, the easiest way to access San Siro is by metro — it’s the last stop on the M5 line, which offers connections to the other three metro lines in Milan. The atmosphere around the stadium is carnivalesque, particularly when the weather is good, and worthy of a visit even if you don’t plan on attending the match.

You can buy draft beer and Italian sandwiches and burgers from vans decked out in bright neon lights, pick up some unofficial merchandise from hawkers who have set up makeshift stands, and watch as fans boast about their team in a pre-match fervor of sorts.

Equally as bustling is Baretto 1957 Milano, the only bar on the grounds of the stadium. If you want to snag a seat, it’s best to come early on game day.

If you happen to visit the city outside of the football season but still want to bask in its football culture, San Siro offers tours of the stadium all year round, which can also be paired with a visit to the San Siro Museum.

No Tickets? Here’s Where to Watch

If for some reason you can’t purchase tickets, or you prefer watching televised matches with all their glorious replays and sharp commentary, then there are plenty of football-focused bars and pubs where you can get your fix.

Only a few metro stops from San Siro and close to Corso Sempione, 442 Sports Pub proudly asserts its football fandom — the walls are plastered with scarves from teams all around the world. The other prominent features are the large TVs and the long line of taps, many of which are hooked up to kegs of microbrews.

In the center of town, your best bet is to visit The English Football Pub. Despite its proximity to the Duomo, the bar is tucked away down a side street, so it’s not overrun with tourists. Once you step inside, you’ll be transported to a different time and place — the cozy wooden interior resembles an old London pub, a place where you could easily waste hours just shooting the breeze with your friends. Come for the match, but stay for the cheap beer and delicious burger and fries.

Another bar with the London pub feel is Mind the Gap, close to the Crocetta metro station. With walls covered in football paraphernalia, it’s no surprise that the bar streams matches on its big screens; the good pub grub and solid beer selection are an added bonus.

And, as in most cities, there are the obligatory Irish pubs: Pogue Mahone’s in Porta Romana and Murphy’s Law close to the Navigli are not specifically sports bars, but they often play the matches and are almost always busy, which translates into a lively atmosphere.