Veltins Arena visitor guide
By the city of Gelsenkirchen in western Germany is Veltins Arena, home of Bundesliga football club Schalke 04 and one of the most technologically advanced, authentic and enjoyable stadiums in the world. With a capacity of just over 62,000 fans, Veltins Arena combines technology and sport, exposing fans to a futuristic and unique sporting experience.
Opening in 2001, the Veltins Arena (originally named Arena AufSchalke) has hosted a variety of world class events including matches from the 2006 FIFA World Cup and performances by musicians such as Coldplay, Pink and Ed Sheeran. This is reflective of its impressive facilities, large capacity and technological functionalities that allow the stadium to transform from a football ground into a concert arena, among other things. Most notable is its ‘Video Cube’, a 4-panelled LCD screen display that drops down over the ground from the roof and is the largest of its type in Europe.
Getting Your Tickets
Having planned your trip to Germany (or even Amsterdam or Brussels, which are closer to Gelsenkirchen than many German cities), head to Sports Where I Am to find tickets for a match at Veltins Arena.
Where to sit at Veltins Arena
At Veltins Arena, the most passionate and rowdy Schalke fans sit in the Nordkurve (‘N’ sections on the map below as well as sections G, H, I and K).
Similarly, the Südkurve – the opposite short side of the pitch – contains passionate Schalke fans, too. They’re a little less rowdy than the Nordkurve, at least according to Schalke fans online. In my personal experience, sitting around section 18/Logen of the map above, I was surrounded by 60,000 fans almost all going for the same team, so it was a little hard to distinguish between the noise and activity levels at either end of the ground1.
The V and W sections on the map above are for the Away fans. This can be expanded to include other nearby sections if the matchup requires.
Getting to Veltins Arena from Gelsenkirchen
The Veltins Arena is located in one of the more obscure parts of Germany and thus getting there can be a little more difficult than the Allianz Arena in Munich or the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
The stadium itself is surrounded by a variety of public transport facilities including trams and buses.
I would most recommend taking tramline 302, especially if you are coming from Gelsenkirchen’s main train station (Hauptbahnhof). Take the tram (Stadtbahn) in the direction of GE-Buer and you will arrive at the Veltins Arena after approximately 15 minutes. The tram is definitely the best way to get to the stadium, and the method a lot of people take home as well so you might find it is quite a wait to get a tram back into central Gelsenkirchen.
There are also two bus stations located near the Veltins Arena on lines 380 and 381. There is also a bus station next to the tram stop where a lot of buses wait for the game to finish, that is also a viable means of transport home from the game. Personally, I stayed about 20 minutes walk from the stadium and thus walking was an easy and cheap solution!
Driving is also a viable means of transport for getting to the Veltins Arena. There is a generous amount of unofficial parking locations situated around the ground itself and the arena is located in close proximity to motorways in the area. However, keep in mind that the offical parking locations close to the ground are quite busy and you will want to arrive early to get a park for certain. If you are driving, I would recommend parking in one of the towns (like Erle) located close to the Veltins Arena and then walk from there. You should be able to find a park around 20 minutes walk away, and that is what a lot of locals do.
Watching a match at Veltins Arena
At the Veltins Arena you are only able to purchase food and drinks using a special Veltins Arena card that you must purchase from within the stadium. It is really easy and simple to do, even on match day. Once you are inside the stadium you will be able to find small kiosks with 2 people inside. Here you can purchase a Knappen card and deposit as much money you deem necessary for the evening. These cards work for any Veltins Arena event and the credit is maintained as long as you don’t lose your card!
What to do before and after a match at Veltins Arena
If you’re looking for a great place to have a drink before and after the game, go no further than the Destille Buer. This was recommended to me by a local in the Schalke team store earlier in the day.
Destille Buer is a bar located about 20 minutes walk north of the stadium and is home to an incredible pre-and-post-match Shalke atmosphere. The beers are affordable and the people are more than friendly, you will find it very easy to make Shalke friends who will walk with you to the stadium and provide you with enough to drink! During my visit there, I was welcomed by an English-speaking bartender who found me a place to sit and a drink, and from there I was able to introduce myself to a German family who were very big Shalke supporters.
I would recommend arriving at the bar a few hours before kick-off. For me, kick-off was at 8:30pm on a Friday night and I arrived at the bar just before 6pm. This provided me with plenty of opportunity to make some new friends as well as get a seat inside, away from the cold. If you arrive at a time closer to kick-off there is a bar area out the front as well. In the warmer months this is a great area for a drink, they also provide beers in plastic cups allowing everyone to buy a beer for the walk to the stadium.
There are more options a bit closer to the stadium. A variety of bars and stalls surround the Veltins Arena, and they accomodate a lot of the other Shalke fans. These locations are great, too – but speaking from experience, I definitely recommend the Destille Buer.
Stadium Tour, Museum & Fan Shop
Stadium Tours and the Museum are a great way of getting a true understanding of the club and the Veltins Arena itself. They are very easy to get to and are quite cheap as well! For adults a tour and entry into the museum is €9 and Under-21’s are €5. Unfortunately the stadium tours and the museum are closed on match days so make the effort to go to the Veltins Arena on a week day if you want to experience the stadium in a more raw environment.
The fan shop is located about 800m from the stadium itself. You will find it in a building that has a rotating Shalke 04 logo on the roof. This is the perfect place to go before the match if you want to kit yourself out with some Shalke 04 merchandise! Note – you’ll definitely want a Shalke 04 scarf to hold up during the pre-game chanting and singing with all of the fans! The staff there are also very friendly and can provide you with any tips or advice if you need.
Anything we missed about Veltins Arena?
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Note: The header graphic for this post has been adapted from a number of images, including Dominik Kuhn’s photo that can be found here.