Friday, 16 June 2006 12:00 AM
Every 1,461 days, 32 countries compete in the World Cup for the title of football world champions. Every day, there is competition of a different type underway - that for tourists.
Travelbite.co.uk takes a football-inspired look at the key tourist attractions of the leading World Cup contenders.
For more information on any of the destinations below visit
www.teletextholidays.co.uk or Teletext Holidays TV on Sky, channel 662.
Star player: The Brazilian rainforest
The bookies' favourite to win, Brazil is home to the Brazilian rainforest, which is to Brazilian tourism what Ronaldinho is to the Selecao. With piranhas, spiders and the unknown around every corner, the best way to explore the rainforest is a boat trip up the Amazon.
No holiday to Brazil should be without a trip to the harbour at Rio de Janeiro, its stunning rock formation making it one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Rio de Janeiro itself is a throbbing metropolis, with must-see-sights, from the famous Copacabana beach, heaving with bikini-clad bodies, to the city's most well known icon, the towering Christ the Redeemer statue on the Corcovado peak looking down over Rio.
To visit Brazil, fly from London to Rio de Janeiro from £534.70 per person and stay at Oceano Copacabana from £280.00 for seven nights, based on two adults sharing B&B (subject to availability).
Star player: The Allianz-Arena
Since the World Cup is being hosted by Germany it seems appropriate that tourism's equivalent to Michael Ballack should be football related. The Allianz-Arena is the $439 million futuristic new home of Bayern Munich and is one of the most state-of-the-art stadiums in the world. Host to one of the semi-finals in the tournament, the stadium's exterior lights up in colour, to match those of the teams playing. Whether you are an ardent football fan or not, as an example of football architecture at its best, the arena is not to be missed.
Famous across the world for Oktoberfest, when the city is flooded with more than six million litres of beer, Munich is also home to all things German and is the best place to sample everything from lederhosen to nude sunbathing in the Englischer Garten!
To visit Germany, fly from London to Munich from £89.20 per person and stay at Eurostars Regent from £540.85 for seven nights, based on two adults sharing B&B (subject to availability).
Star player: Iguaza Falls
Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' is one of the most infamous events in World Cup history. One look at the Iguaza Falls, Argentina's star attraction, might well lead you to believe in another hand of God! The falls are breathtakingly beautiful and, at 269 feet, they stand higher than the Niagara Falls and twice as wide. The falls have provided the backdrop for numerous films, including Moonraker and Robert de Niro's The Mission.
While in Argentina, a trip to Buenos Aires, a vibrant, sophisticated city that has absorbed neo-European culture with an exotic twist, is not to be missed. Visit the spectacular Teatro Colon for a spot of opera, or the tomb of Jose de San Martin, a hero of Argentina's struggle for independence. In the evening, join the local 'Portenos' in late night bars and clubs to enjoy good, cheap wine and tango the night away.
To visit Argentina, fly from London to Buenos Aires from £529.20 per person and stay at Art Deco from £399.00 for seven nights, based on two adults sharing B&B (subject to availability).
Star player: Leaning Tower of Pisa
Italy has a long association with flawed genius - Francesco Totti, the Azzurri's current star, is a case in point, while tourist attractions do not come more flawed than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Now open again to tourists, the Leaning Tower of Pisa offers great views and a superb lesson in the power of gravity - not to mention a unique photo opportunity.
Do not miss the Museo dell'Opera, the Botanico di Pisa gardens and the Piazza dei Cavalieri (Knights Square) for chivalry and romance. Situated in Tuscany, Pisa is a great place to sample fine wines, especially in Piazza Garibaldi, full of shops and cafes, which are open until late to form Pisa's social centre.
To visit Italy, fly from London to Pisa from £124.00 per person and stay at Hotel Ariston from £575.56 for seven nights, based on two adults sharing B&B(subject to availability).
Star player: Amsterdam
In tourism terms, Holland's equivalent to Arjen Robben is Amsterdam. A hedonistic heaven, known as the entertainment capital of the country, you can find everything from diamonds and coffee shops to canals and clogs! Close enough to home for a weekend break, there is also plenty to keep you here should you want to stay longer.
Do not miss the floating flower market along the Singel or the Anne Frank Museum. For evening entertainment head to one of the many pubs to try some fine Dutch beer before heading off to the city's infamous clubs.
To visit Holland, fly from London to Amsterdam from £41.00 per person and stay at Casa 400 from £418.36 for seven nights, based on two adults sharing B&B (subject to availability).
Star player: Millau Bridge
Thierry Henry is every inch a modern French hero, so it is appropriate that the country's star attraction is equally up-to-date. Taller than the Eiffel Tower, the Millau Bridge spans the valley of the River Tarn, near Toulouse. One of the bridge's pillars is only 40ft shorter than the Empire State Building and cars travel a dizzying 270 metres above the ground.
Toulouse itself is France's fourth largest city and the gateway to the Pyrenees. Modern, vibrant and full of culture, Toulouse has everything you could wish for - including a riverside beach on Place de la Daurade - and, for nightlife, head over to the Vieux Quartier.
To visit France, fly from London to Toulouse from £56.30 per person and stay at Kyriad from £275.00 for seven nights, based on two adults sharing B&B (subject to availability).
Star player: Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia
Spain have never set the world alight at World Cups - perhaps their football team should take a leaf out their burgeoning tourist industry's book. The country's star attraction is Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia - an unfinished and breathtakingly beautiful temple, featuring carvings smothering every conceivable surface. The temple reflects Barcelona's cosmopolitan and forward-looking nature in a country of tradition.
Football fans should not miss a visit to Barcelona's famous Camp Nou Stadium. Las Ramblas, Barcelona's most famous street, is full of interesting markets, cafes and shops and you should make time to explore it, along with the warren-like Gothic Quarter and nearby Museo Picasso.
To visit Spain, fly from London to Barcelona from £45.00 per person and stay at the Sagrada Familia Hotel from £382.00 for seven nights, based on two adults sharing B&B (subject to availability).
For further information on any of the above holidays visit www.teletextholidays.co.uk or Teletext Holidays TV on Sky, channel 662.