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Booking.com Shares Seven Destinations Around the World for Every Rugby Fan to Visit

One of the biggest competitions in rugby kicked off on September 8th as twelve host cities across France welcomed 20 teams from around the globe. With both the opening match and final taking place in Saint-Denis, this Parisian suburb is set to be abuzz throughout the tournament. With competition just as fierce for tickets as it is on the pitch, not all will be able to see their favorite team play in France. For those enthusiasts unable to travel to France this fall, but who still want to tackle a rugby atmosphere, Booking.com has compiled a list of seven destinations around the world that are top scorers for fans. With over three-quarters (78%)* of global travelers reporting their motivation to travel is to boost their mood, travelers can get into the sporting spirit and cheer their teams from afar with these incredible destinations, home to some of the best rugby teams in the world. 

Saint-Denis, France

Just to the north of Paris, Saint-Denis is set to host both the opening game of this fall’s tournament and the crucial deciding final match on October 28. Home to the Stade de France, which was built for a worldwide football tournament also hosted in France back in 1998, Saint-Denis is now a popular destination for sporting competitions and traveling fans. Just 30 minutes by train from the center of France’s capital, a visit to Saint-Denis wouldn’t be complete without taking in some of the sights, whether by boat from the River Seine on a City Sightseeing Cruise, or by road with a flexible City Hop-on, Hop-off Bus Tour

Where to stay: Close to the Stade de France, which is now the base of the home national rugby team, travelers can stay at the Charmant logement aux portes de Paris. Within walking distance to the action at the stadium, this modern one-bedroom apartment has all the mod-cons and amenities rugby fans might need, and is just a short stroll to the La Plaine-Stade-de-France Metro Station for easy access to the rest of Paris.

Fukuoka, Japan

A favorite with Japanese and overseas tourists alike, Japan was the welcoming host of the last rugby international tournament with matches played across the stunning country. Fukuoka is located in Kyūshū, the southernmost island in Japan celebrated for its abundance of places to eat and ideal for the 66% of global travelers who say that trying new food is a key motivation to travel.* The city is home to the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium where the Japanese national team, nicknamed the Brave Blossoms, have been practicing ahead of the world tournament. Rugby-goers keen to immerse themselves in the local scene should head to the stadium to try local delicacies such as chicken gullet hotpot, pork-broth ramen and the island’s famous large, sweet Amaou strawberries. For active travelers keen to explore the city by foot, a Fukuoka Personalized Private Walking Tour will allow visitors to stroll around the city’s vibrant neighborhoods and discover Japanese culture and heritage, from the magnificent Fukuoka Castle to the tranquil Maizuru Park. 

Where to stay: Located just a short walk away from Hakata Shinkansen Station, THE BASICS FUKUOKA offers a comfortable, luxe stay fit for a world-class athlete or sports fan seeking a fantastic stay. The hotel features elegant architecture with sleek and stylish interiors, while its restaurant serves local Japanese favorites as well as western-inspired dishes from delicious spicy stir-fries to nourishing spinach quiche. The stay is also just a short subway ride away from the lively neighborhoods of Nakasu and Tenjin where visitors can indulge in a celebratory or commiseratory drink after a big game in the tournament. 

Twickenham, United Kingdom

Rugby fans who are unable to get to the upcoming tournament in France will not be disappointed with a trip to Twickenham Stadium in southwest London. Travelers can follow in the footsteps of their favorite rugby players and take a legendary tour of the stadium as well as visit the World Rugby Museum. With an impressive capacity for 82,000 spectators and a history dating back over 100 years, Twickenham Stadium is known as ‘the home of England Rugby’ and is the largest dedicated rugby union venue in the world.

Where to stay: Just a short drive away from Twickenham Stadium, Richmond Riverside offers stylish accommodation overlooking the River Thames. With both a one-bedroom apartment and a three-bedroom villa available, it’s a great option for rugby fans in groups of all sizes. Richmond Riverside is a Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay, supported by its investment of a percentage of revenue back into community projects or sustainability projects. As well as soaking up the sights of Richmond, the property is also close to London’s Royal Botanic Gardens and travelers looking to visit and book Admission to Kew Gardens.

Hamilton, New Zealand 

Located on the banks of New Zealand’s longest river, Hamilton is a city hub surrounded by natural beauty from luscious green hills and black sand beaches. New Zealand’s national rugby team. Home to the FMG Stadium Waikato can fit more than 25,000 fans who can experience the ceremonial haka firsthand – a ceremonial Māori war dance where the New Zealand teams traditionally intimidate their opponents. Fitness fans visiting Hamilton can enjoy some scenic hikes around the Waikato Waterfalls to feel match-fit-ready for the upcoming tournament. 

Where to stay: Located just outside the city center, this Spacious Modern Two-Bedroom Apartment is situated in a cute and welcoming neighborhood. Just a short drive away from FMG Stadium Waikato, the apartment is cozy, modern and has a homely feel, with an outdoor patio that guests can relax on after the buzzing atmosphere around an exciting rugby game. Travelers can enjoy some nail-biting games on the apartment’s TV and support their own local team during the long-awaited international tournament. 

Cape Town, South Africa

Situated against the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain, Cape Town is widely considered one of the most naturally beautiful cities in the world. Visitors can kayak off beaches, climb mountains and cool off with a swim in a tidal pool all in one day. Famous for its spectacular landscapes, delicious seafood, and diverse culture, South Africa is also widely known for their strong and tactical national rugby team, nicknamed the Springboks. Rugby lovers can soak up the local buzz around the sport with a visit to Newlands Stadium which has a capacity for over 51,000 fans and was built in 1888. For visitors looking to swap the rugby pitch for the ocean on a sunny afternoon, travelers could book a Water Bike Tour for a unique experience to pedal on the ocean around the coast of Simon’s Town, a town with stunning views on the Western Cape. Travelers will be treated to panoramic views of the coastline and even have a chance to spot Cape fur seals, sea birds, and other species of marine life like whales. 

Where to stay: Located at the foot of Table Mountain and just a short drive away from the city center and Newlands Rugby Stadium,  Hedge House Guest House offers a warm and welcoming stay in Cape Town. The charming and homely guest house is nestled in the peaceful Rondebosch suburbs and guests can awake to a freshly served breakfast outside on their patio or also in their rooms for a breakfast-in-bed treat. This Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay uses locally sourced food and organizes local tours and activities in the area. After an adrenaline-filled day keeping tabs on the rugby wins and losses of the day, guests can unwind with a dip in the pool to cool off after a day of exciting rugby. 

Limerick, Ireland

The quaint and medieval city of Limerick is home to Thomond Park, a rugby stadium with  the capacity to host over 25,000 spectators. During the rugby season, fans can watch teams such as Munster Rugby, Shannon RFC and UL Bohemian RFC, with the Munster Experience Museum open year-round for visitors. After cheering on rugby teams, travelers can experience other popular sights and activities in Limerick including the Cliffs of Moher, King John’s Castle and the Milk Market. To embrace the Irish heritage, visitors can enjoy a Cultural Show and Dinner at Bunratty Castle where they will be treated to a delicious four course meal made with locally sourced ingredients and a sweet glass of Irish cream liquor to toast the tournament. Dinner is followed by a show of Irish musicians, dancers and singers who will perform beautiful instrumental pieces and ballads for a memorable evening.

Where to stay: Stay in the heart of Limerick at The Bedford Townhouse & Café, a trendy hotel located just one mile from Thomond Park. This boutique property offers guests a rooftop garden, steam room, daily wellness breakfast and a gym, making it the perfect accommodation for wannabe rugby players. 

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The sprawling Argentine capital city of Buenos Aires is popular with visitors for its impressive colonial architecture, lively Latino culture and vibrant nightlife. While the country is well known for its football, rugby is also a beloved pastime for locals. The José Amalfitani Stadium is home to Los Pumas, the national team that will soon be making their way to France for the international tournament. Jaguares also call this club home, so a trip to Buenos Aires could line up well with a local rugby fixture for travelers wanting to see the action in real life. Beyond rugby, Buenos Aires has lots to offer visitors, from visiting La Boca, the birthplace of tango known for its colorful streets, and even taking to the dancefloor, or taking a walk through Recoleta, a cemetery famed for its large tombstones and mausoleums that is the final resting place for many famous faces including Evita (Eva) Perón.

Where to stay: To the north of the city lies Palermo, the largest barrio (neighborhood) of Buenos Aires. This hot spot is popular for its artsy vibe and great food spots. Deluxe Apartments in Palermo – both a Travel Proud and Travel Sustainable accommodation – offer a sleek stay in an ideal location for exploring the nearby area. Well equipped with must-have amenities, the Deluxe Apartments in Palermo are also a Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay with policies against the use of single-use plastic and 100% renewable energy used throughout. The modern apartments are just a short drive or journey on public transport from the José Amalfitani Stadium. Or for those without tickets to a local game, not far from Sullivan’s Irish Bar in Palermo, a local sports bar known to show the international rugby games.

*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 42,513 respondents across 33 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,008 from Canada, 2,000 from Mexico, 1,000 from Colombia, 2,000 from Brazil, 1,000 from Argentina, 2,000 from Australia, 1,000 from New Zealand, 2,000 from Spain, 2,000 from Italy, 2,000 from France, 2,000 from UK, 2,000 from Germany, 1,000 from Netherlands, 1,000 from Denmark, 1,000 from Sweden, 1,000 from Croatia, 1,000 from Switzerland, 1,000 from Belgium, 1,000 from Ireland, 1,000 from Portugal, 1,000 from Israel, 2,000 from India, 1,000 from China, 1,005 from Hong Kong, 1,000 from Thailand, 1,000 from Singapore, 1,000 from Taiwan, 1,000 from Vietnam, 1,000 from South Korea, 1,000 from Japan, 500 from UAE). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2023 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January and February 2023.