• Depth of Mind

Camp Nou Stadium Tour: Mes Que Un Club

Updated: Jan 5

As someone passionate about football since my early childhood, the opportunity to visit the famous Camp Nou was pretty much top of my list when organising a three-day trip to Barcelona. Admittedly, I was a young child during Real Madrid’s “Galactico” years signing the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo (the original one), Raul and Luis Figo, so my La Liga allegiance has always been with FC Barcelona’s bitter rivals, but that still hasn’t stopped me developing an appreciation over the years for this historic club and their wonderful brand of football.

The tour was to be the climax of my trip, scheduled for 15:30pm on Friday afternoon after I’d spent the morning visiting the Sagrada Familia; from one place of worship to another (depending on your point of view). I’d booked the best-selling “Camp Nou Plus” self-guided tour in advance online, which includes the Barcelona Museum, a tour of Camp Nou and the Barça virtual experience; all supplemented by an audio guide. At €35, I’d weighed this up against the substantially more expensive “Players Experience Tour” at €149, which included walking along the pitch, visiting the Barça changing room, professional photos and an official Barça gift, but really couldn’t justify the fee. So I selected the first option, and prepared to visit this grand old stadium.

Prices (as of December 2019 on the official FC Barcelona website)

  • Basic tour €26

  • Camp Nou Plus €35

  • Camp Nou Guided Tour €45

  • Players Experience Tour €149

Truth be told, I didn’t have any real expectations for the tour; having compared it to the Players Experience option I thought it’d just be a look around the museum and a view of the pitch from up in the stands. How very wrong I was. It starts in a wonderfully interactive museum dedicated to the rich heritage of FC Barcelona; they’ve practically won everything in the game. As an Aston Villa fan, we’ve been a successful club throughout our history (reaching the pinnacle as European Champions in 1982) but compared to FC Barcelona, our trophy cabinet is very scarce! The entire wall is awash with the silver and gold of various league and cup trophies secured from as early as 1902. It really is impressive and demonstrates the calibre of the club and how their DNA is ingrained with success.

Adjacent to the wall are glass cabinets detailing each period of the clubs history from its inception through to the current day, all supported with various artefacts from football boots over 100 years old to a signed Diego Maradona Barça shirt. Each exhibit is expertly curated and is effective in transporting you through the history of the club, including its dark times as well as the highs of success. One of my favourite displays within the museum was of the five European Cup trophies (or Champions League as it’s now known) that the club has won in its history. Seen by many as the premier club competition in the world, there’s something that fascinates me about the trophy, so to see five of them in a row was something special. Each cup was accompanied by facts about the game, including the score, team line-ups and a memento such as a shirt or pair of boots worn by one of the players.

Of course, there’s no way on earth that you’d imagine a Barcelona museum tour not having a section dedicated to the mercurial Lionel Messi, and it duly did not disappoint. Whether you think he’s the greatest player ever or not (Cristiano perhaps?), there’s no doubt he’s a legend and the exhibit demonstrates this. All six Golden Boots can be accounted for (awarded to the top goalscorer across Europe’s five major divisions) as well as five Ballon D’ors of which the player added a sixth in December 2019 for being voted the best player in the world. A phenomenon. In fact, it’s clear throughout the entire tour of Camp Nou that Lionel Messi is the golden boy at Barcelona. There was one part of the tour when this particularly struck me; you walk through a room dedicated to the current stars of the team, with two players to each wall panel posing together - not for Messi, he gets his own!

After finishing the museum, the next stage of the tour takes you up onto the concourse before unveiling the magnificent Camp Nou from a spot halfway up the stands and inline with the centre of the pitch. The vast size of the ground immediately becomes apparent; after all, the official capacity is circa 99,000 spectators with plans afoot to increase this figure to 105,000. It is at this point that you realise that capacity-wise, it is on a completely different level to the homes of the top English clubs such as Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and the Emirates stadium. The famous words “mes que un club” (more than a club) are clearly visible opposite and you get the sense that they ring true. It’s more than a football stadium; it’s a place of worship for thousands of Catalonians week-in, week-out. I spent some time up here absorbing the size of the stadium and imagining what it’s like with a full crowd on big Champions League nights; for opposing teams and their supporters it must be an intimidating, electric atmosphere only complicating the task of dealing with the likes of Suarez and Messi.

Truth be told, my expectations of the tour had been met by this point and I actually thought that’d be it, so you can imagine my surprise when I followed the sign down the stairs and into the depths of the stadium to discover the press area and conference room. I’d thought this would have been reserved for the Player Experience tour, so was pleased to find this was part of the package. After this, you’re taken through to the visitors dressing room; a location where some of football’s most stellar names from around the world have prepared to take on the gladiatorial atmosphere of Camp Nou. This was where the Players Experience Tour differed; our tour only included the away dressing room whereas the other option takes you into the home changing room. Still, it was more than I’d initially expected and things got even better upon turning the corner to find myself being led down the famous tunnel and out onto the hallowed turf of Camp Nou. Okay, so we weren’t able to stand on the actual grass, but it was still a special experience sitting in the dug-out where five-star names have watched the games throughout the years, all whilst taking in the vast bowl of seats surrounding me.

Since I'd booked the "Plus" option, part of my tickets appeal was the opportunity to access special content through the Barça Virtual experience using a Virtual Reality headset. Visitors with tickets for this part of the tour were allowed into a dedicated area of the ground where the VR would immerse you in a swirl of music and visual activity as you take your seat in a packed Camp Nou, listening to the songs of the crowd and watching the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez score some spectular goals. I loved how you could turn your head around and absorb the electric atmosphere of the stadium in full flow, watching peoples reactions at each event occuring during the game.

The final stop of the tour was a steep climb up the steps to the gantry in the heavens of Camp Nou, where you can hear commentary of famous moments throughout the history of this incredible ground. It’s quite a unique experience being able to sit where broadcasters from around the world gather to deliver live feedback on the action down below, frantically describing Messi’s mazy runs and Suarez’ killer finishes. It must be magical seeing them all in full flow. After sitting for a while watching the pitch below fall into shadow amidst the dying light of winter sun, I made my way back down the steps where I found the opportunity to have a picture with the European Cup. Of course, this incurs an additional charge outside of the tour fee, but being a Villa fan, it’s not likely I’ll ever see this trophy again throughout my lifetime, so I couldn’t resist the chance to have a photo holding it! At €20 for the picture it is dear, but I figured I probably wouldn’t be at Camp Nou for a long time so for me it was worth it.

For those looking to purchase souvenirs from their visit to Camp Nou, there’s plenty of opportunity with the tour finishing via the official club shop, where you can stock up on kit and other FC Barcelona-branded sportswear. It wasn’t for me personally but can imagine it being an expensive exercise for those taking their children. All-in, the Camp Nou Plus tour is excellent; I’d highly recommend it. At €35 I felt it was fairly priced, given it took around two hours walking around the facility, learning about the history of the club and experiencing the stadium from multiple viewpoints. Even for non-football fans, I’d still recommend visiting as the ground itself is a fabulous piece of architecture that is mightily impressive. The club is clearly at the centre of the community as it expands beyond football into other sports such as Basketball and Ice Hockey, the latter of which I also visited on the grounds of the stadium.

The message is loud and clear. They’re big. They’re successful. They’re FC Barcelona.

Mes que un club.