12 beautifully picturesque sports venues around the world

Posted on 19 August 2013

There are few things I enjoy more than watching live sport. Atmosphere, adrenaline, anticipation, anxiety (I wouldn’t be surprised if the phrase ‘nail-biting’ initiated as the utterance of a sports commentator), abuse (preferably verbal and directed toward the opposition or ref only) and alcohol all combine to make for a perfect day. That is, of course, unless you’re watching a 0-0 draw; unless it’s day five of the test match and the team batting last needs 600 to win with ten wickets in hand; unless it’s tipping rain and knock-ons and box kicks are the order of the day. In any of these scenarios, it helps to have a pretty view.

In no particular order, here are twelve stadiums from around the world with exactly that.


1. The float at Marina Bay, Singapore

Marina Bay Singapore

Photo: Chensiyuan

The world’s largest floating stage can hold 1070 tonnes, which suggests it wasn’t just made for 22 guys and an inflated pig’s bladder. The stage is used for parades, exhibitions, concerts sports events etc. The urban vs. aquatic backdrop of the platform is a dramatic sight for those witnessing even the dullest of contests.

Read here for more ideas for what to see in a short time in Singapore.


2. Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamshala, India

HPCA Stadium

Photo: sriram-unplugged.blogspot.com

Cricket is not a game traditionally associated with snow-capped mountains. Many a cricketer may have spent a soggy, grey day sitting in a changing room in England, waiting for things to dry up and the sun to come out. Generally speaking though, if it’s cold enough for snow, it’s too cold to indulge in the greatest export of her majesty’s empire. The altitude of the HPCA stadium (1,457m) splinters this no-snow notion like a wooden stump at the hands of Dale Steyn.

Check out these great packages for travel to India or read about what you can expect from spending five weeks in India.


3. Hernando Siles Stadium, La Paz, Bolivia

Hernando Siles Stadium exterior

Photo: psyberartist

Hernando Siles Interior

Photo: David Fisher

Set amoungst the ochre high-rises of La Paz, the Hernando Siles stadium puts the altitude of even the HPCA to shame. At 3, 637m above sea level, teams have complained about the prospect of playing Bolivia here in Fifa world cup qualifiers due to what they perceive as an unfair advantage for the Bolivians playing at altitude (Read: Defying death road in Bolivia). I’m not sure which I like better – the view of the building-tops, cut off by the stands of manic fans, or the idea of being in one of those pitch-facing rooms, enjoying the game through the window just because I can.


4. Busch stadium, St. Louis, Missouri

Busch stadium

Photo: Kwong Yee Cheng

As much as I’d like to ignore the existence of baseball altogether, this is the first of a few stadiums which have been beautifully located for the enjoyment of the great American pastime. Home of the St Louis Cardinals, this stadium holds 43,975 people. The silver arch you can see in the background is the Gateway Arch. This monument to the westward expansion of the United States stands 192m tall, and as of 2010 was the world’s tallest arch. Interestingly enough, the highest attendance ever at Busch stadium was at an exhibition game played between Chelsea FC and Man City in May 2013. Presumably a football pitch is smaller than a baseball field and they packed in some extra seating!?


5. Newlands cricket stadium, Cape Town

Newlands cricket stadium

Photo: Paul Maughan-Brown

Newlands is one of my favourite places anywhere, ever. The towering green and grey of Devil’s Peak are matched by the industrial silver brewery (read about the Newlands brewery tour) facade and the bright green, manicured pitch. There are few days better spent than under the oaks, sipping on a cold Castle and admiring the view – you don’t even have to care what’s happening in the cricket. But you probably do, because good people love cricket.

Want to make a trip to the mother city for some cricket, but don’t know where you’ll stay? Have a look at our recommendations for accommodation in Newlands.


6. Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz, Lichtenstein:


Photo: Paul Turner

This is the national football stadium of Lichtenstein. It lies on the banks of the river Rhine, just metres away from the Swiss border. It holds a measly 7,789 people at capacity, but there are beautiful mountain views in all directions. Note the castle on the hill, just visible above the last block of blue seats on the right side of the stand, as we look at it. I wonder what the people who strategically placed their castle up on a mountain for defence against marauders would think of the passionate folly which takes place at the foot of the hill nowadays.


7. Color line Stadion, Alesund, Norway.

Color Line Stadion Interior

Photo: Color Line

Color Line stadium and Alesund

Photo: Svein M

The view may not be equally beautiful for everyone in the 10,778 capacity stadium, but if you are high up enough in the bigger stand to see out to the water and snow-capped mountains beyond, it is quite a sight indeed. The fiery (ginger) John Arne Riise started his career at Alesund, and there is a statue bearing his resemblance outside the ground. Eish – when an obstinate fullback is the pride of your footballing prowess, it’s a good thing you have a decent view.

Interested in the land of vikings? Read this Getaway article on seeing Norway from a cruise ship.


8. Estádio Municipal de Braga, Braga, Portugal

Braga stadium rockface Braga stadium city view

Photos: Leon L

This stadium is carved into the rock face of a quarry. The view at each end of the ground is pictured above, with the stands lining the sides of the pitch. It isn’t the most spectacular of views in either direction, but the open end is definitely quite pretty, and there is something novel about having an entire stadium set into the hillside. I imagine the atmosphere to be quite special, reverberating off the flat rock face – contained and intense. This is almost a case of a stadium making an old quarry beautiful, rather than the other way around. Whichever way you look at it though, the combination of the two results in something special.

9. Stadion Kantrida, Rijeka, Croatia

Stadion Kantrida

Photo: Roberta F

This 12,600 capacity Croatian stadium is sandwiched between steep cliffs, and the shore of the Adriatic Sea. The Croats pipped the Portuguese to the post with this one – it too is located in what used to be a quarry, with the first football ground having been created in the spot in 1911. The stands may be more modest than the Braga stadium, but the blue-view of the sea beyond is, you’ll agree, not to be scoffed at.

Considering Croatia as a holiday destination? Read about this up-and-coming holiday spot to whet your appetite further.


10. PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

PNC Park

Photo: daveynin

Back to Baseball. This is the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, seating 38,362 people. It is on the banks of the Allegheny river, and has a beautiful view of towering downtown Pittsburgh. There seems to be a common thread of leaving one end of baseball stadiums open to admire the view. This may be because of an inherent appreciation of beautiful things, or it may be because baseball is boring enough when you’re right above the mound, let alone watching from the other end of the field. Either way, it makes sense to keep the expensive seats filled all season by providing a view, rather than gamble on people paying small cash to sit a mile away. The stripes in the grass appear to have been cut to lead your eye beyond the game to its powerful backdrop.


11. AT&T Park, San Francisco, California

AT&T Park

Photo: Danny mac

The home of the SanFran Giants holds 41,915 people. In a city with a reputation for being picturesque, this ball-park on the water had to hold up its end, and doesn’t it just!? The picture here shows nicely how Baseball is conveniently organised to be able to build focus-channeling stands. It would be hard to justify a football (or even cricket) stadium which left open one end to admire the bay. The water-side location sets this park apart from the other two baseball stadiums included in the list.


12. Tennis court on the heli-pad of the Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Burj Al Arab heli-pad tennis court

While we’re at it, we may as well get a little ridiculous. This isn’t a stadium, and it doesn’t have stands for fans. It is, however, picturesque. You would think the world’s highest tennis court must have been thought up by the world’s highest man. But not so – this is in Dubai and they don’t go for that sort of thing there. Instead, in the world’s capital for “who’s got the biggest . . .” the Burj Al Arab turned their heli-pad into a publicity stunt of note by having Andre Agassi and Roger Federer knock a ball back and forth, 211 metres above the ground. I don’t imagine they were chasing baseline shots particularly enthusiastically.

Considering an extended stop-over when flying through Dubai? Read about the experience of a couple who did exactly that.

Burj Al Arab front of building

 Images: kootation.com

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