There are plenty of opportunities for quality sports fan travel within the United States in 2016, but there are some great trips to make outside of the U.S. as well. There are worthy events that take place every year, but 2016 offers a couple options that only take place every four years. The order of what is the best changes every year because some events change location, some involve participants that could change and other events don’t occur every year, but there’s never a lack of something to travel for. Included here is a list of the 9 best sporting events to travel for outside of the U.S. in 2016.
FA Cup Final
There are few venues more historic than Wembley Stadium and few pieces of hardware more historic than the FA Cup. The FA Cup is England's premier domestic cup because every team in every level of English football gets a chance to play in it. The championship game takes place on May 21st and is rarely lacking for excitement. It could match two stalwarts of English football, like say Arsenal and Manchester United, or it could feature a David vs. Goliath situation like what we saw a couple years ago when Wigan Athletic defeated Manchester City. It also gives you an excuse to spend the weekend in London, which means sightseeing, great Indian food, and a few pints at the local pub.
The sport of golf is trending upwards as a collection of good young golfers help improve the sport’s awareness. Golfers like Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy have captured the attention of sports fans, let alone golf fans. They and others will head to Royal Troon, located about 45 minutes outside of Glasgow in Scotland, for the first Open Championship there since 2004. If the weather holds up from July 14th to the 17th, it’ll make for a tremendous event at one of Scotland’s most historic golf courses and you should go if you have the opportunity.
Tour de France
Professional Cycling isn't what it once because of performance-enhancing drugs and sports fans drifting to other interests, but the Tour de France still holds a special place in the world of sports. Over the course of three weeks in July, the world's greatest cyclists take each other on in an event that's as much a team sport as it is an individual one. Since the route touches all parts of France and occasionally starts in other countries, the Tour de France provides a more wide-ranging opportunity than any other sporting event for fans to witness the action. Seeing one of the stages in the mountain adds an extra level of excitement as fans party the night before then wake up to scream for hours as their favorite riders endure the world’s most treacherous climbs.
Who wouldn't love a trip to Paris? The French Open marks the end of the first half of the tennis season while also crowning a champion for tennis' second major. The red clay tennis courts at Roland-Garros come alive with non-stop rallies and long points. The weather makes both players and spectators happy since it's warm enough to make things more enjoyable, but not too warm to drive away interest. It makes things more interesting ever year Novak Djokovic, the #1 player in the world, comes to the French Open looking for the career Grand Slam. Throw in some wonderful French food, delicious French wine, and the sights of Paris to tie a bow on a fantastic sports getaway. It may start in May, but the final week, taking place in June, is where all the action is.
Grand Prix of Monaco
Step outside the American bubble for a second and you’ll realize the Grand Prix of Monaco is one of the five most spectacular events outside of the United States. It’s all about location when it comes to this race. Monaco has plenty of its high rollers in town with their yachts and bottles of champagnes. It’s an event to see and be seen. The race itself is super unique as the cars whiz through the city streets at 200 miles per hour. The grandstands are right on the track and you can feel the power of the cars as they drive by. Now you know why it’s a thing.
The best clubs in Europe (arguably the best clubs in the world) compete every year in the UEFA Champions League. This year's final takes place at the San Siro in Milan, Italy on May 28th and will likely feature two great clubs. Elite clubs like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, Paris Saint Germain and Real Madrid are all still in contention to make the final. The Saturday night game brings great atmosphere as large hoards from both competing fan bases take over the town with the winning clubs' fans celebrating through the night. Then the next day you can enjoy some fine Italian food and shop the streets of Milan. There are always airfare deals to Milan from Emirates, so this would be a perfect opportunity to use one of them.
Wimbledon is the greatest Grand Slam tournament on the tennis calendar. It’s rich with history and unique due to its grass courts. The atmosphere is elevated by the rules of the facility including the attire players are required to wear. On the last weekend in June and first week of July (with the exception of the first Sunday of the tournament when no matches are played), the best tennis players in the world take to the courts of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, also known as the All-England Club. It’s a quick 20-30 minute trip outside of London and it's the toughest ticket in the sport. However tough it may be to attend, it's still the greatest spectacle on every tennis fan's bucket list. This year is as good as any for you to join in on the fun.
The World Cup only comes around once every four years, so it’s nice to have other great soccer events to fill the void. The UEFA European Soccer Championships (the Euros) is second to only the World Cup in terms of international soccer competition and falls perfectly two years before and after every World Cup. Consider for a second that a different European nation has won the last three and four of the last five World Cups. No offense to South America, but there’s no greater continental collection of international soccer talent than in the Euros. The fact that Euro 2016 is being played during June and July in France makes the opportunity to go even more appealing. It’s the last Euros that will be contested in a single country (at least for the time being) because the new model has games spread out across multiple countries. It’s also very easy to get around France via the train and the country itself has so much to offer. It should be easy to sign yourself up for a trip to France in the summer of 2016.
The Olympics are great for so many reasons. Just look at the size of the event for starters. The Summer Olympics features over 10,000 athletes from 204 countries participating in 302 events. You never get so many of the best athletes in their sport in one place. You can see so many great events and be amazed by enjoying sports you've never seen before. Then there's the obvious play of national pride as fans embrace their country's colors, while athletes are quick to grab their country's flag following a successful performance. It's also a showcase for the hosting city as they welcome incoming fans with open arms. This year that honor falls on Brazil as the 2016 Summer Olympics take place in Rio de Janeiro. Rio was a great host for the 2014 World Cup, so we can expect it to be enjoyable for the Olympics as well. If you can't see the enjoyment of attending the Olympics then you're not a fan of sports. Gymnastics, swimming, and track & field will be the major events that everyone’s there to enjoy, but you can have fun watching any sport. Of course the marquee event is the men’s 100-meter dash, so get there if you can.