World Cup Hosts and Winners

Drinks fridges are being filled, the snack cupboard is being stocked up and Netflix is loading its portfolio with box sets. This can mean only one thing – the World Cup is fast approaching and there is nothing more impressive than being the host country for the competition.

Qatar is the host nation this year but we’re taking a trip down memory lane to look at some of the previous host countries, most of which you can explore on one of our touring holidays…

The first World Cup was held way back in 1930 and Uruguay had the honour of being its first host. As a leading nation on the football stage at the time, it came as no surprise that they not only hosted the competition but also won it. France and Italy were also both early hosts.

In 1950 Brazil was the host nation, with tens of thousands of their followers descending on their bright and lively city of Rio de Janeiro. Brazil is famed for its carnival in Spring, as well as the magnificent Iguaçú Falls, which it shares with Chile and Argentina.

The next World Cup took spectators to the cold, snow-capped mountains of Switzerland. Sadly, the hosts didn’t secure the cup for themselves, and the winner in 1954 was Germany.

Sweden and Chile were the next two hosts with Brazil winning on both occasions.

Finally, in 1966, England were given the chance to shine, hosting the World Cup in several major cities, with the final held in London. Fans from all around the world visited the UK and as well as enjoying the football, hopefully they also had the chance to explore the beautiful countryside UK has.

In 1978 Argentina hosted the competition, with the final taking place in the exciting city of Buenos Aires. The Argentinian capital is famous for its brightly painted houses and age-old love of Tango – a dance that is deeply poetic and tells a wonderful story about the city, its history, and its people. It goes without saying that the team danced their way to victory.

Spain got their turn in 1982, a country boasting an array of Ancient churches, Gaudi-designed architecture, Rioja vineyards, golden beaches and Picasso’s birthplace. Italy went on to take the cup for their third time.

In 1990 it was “Ciao Italia!” as the World Cup returned to Italy for a second time. Italy is one of our most popular destinations for solo travellers and it’s easy to understand why. With its beautiful weather, delicious food and wine, incredible history, and stunning countryside what more could you ask for from a holiday destination!

The USA was probably more well-known for baseball than football when it hosted the competition in 1994. Games were played in nine of its major cities and because of the size of the country, players and spectators had to travel far and wide to get from one game to another. In fact, some teams covered 2,300 miles and four time zones to play some of the group stages. We cover many miles with our wide selection of USA tours, but the pace is slightly more relaxed.

The competition returned to France in 1998 and in 2002 the competition was hosted by two nations for the first time when South Korea and Japan joined forces.  In 2010 the World Cup headed to sunny South Africa. Players sweltered in the heat, but the Spanish team took it in their stride and dribbled their way to victory.

The country with the most wins so far, Brazil, hosted for a second time in 2014 however they were humbled in the semi-final by eventual winners Germany.

Russia was next host in 2018 and put on a fabulous opening ceremony with Brazilian World Cup-winning striker Ronaldo entering the pitch with the official match ball which had recently returned from the International Space Station (we travel the globe but haven’t quite made it as far as space yet!). France was the overall winner of the competition.

And that brings us to present day, with Qatar hosting this year’s World Cup. Their opening ceremony will undoubtedly be a showstopper but who do you think will be this year’s winner? And which of the hosting countries would you most like to visit?

Here’s a selection of our tours to whet your appetite.

  1. Experience South Africa

    Ascend Table Mountain, search for the 'Big Five' on safari in Kruger National Park and tour the garden route on this unforgettable South African tour.

    • Return flights
    • 11 nights in 3 & 4-star hotels, 2 nights in flight
    • 19 included meals: 11 breakfasts, 8 dinners

    14 days from
    was £4,299
  2. Coastal Town Ravello on the Amalfi Coast

    Italy's Cilento Coast

    Explore the historic sites and rolling countryside of the undiscovered Cilento Coast then take time out to unwind in your hotel.

    • Return flights
    • 7 nights in a 4-star hotel
    • 16 included meals: 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 7 dinners

    8 days from
    was £1,999
  3. travel memorable moment

    French & Italian Riviera Splendour

    Soak up the elegance and glamour of both the French and Italian Rivieras as you discover medieval villages and laze on golden beaches.

    • Return flights
    • 7 nights in a 4-star hotel
    • 15 included meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 7 dinners

    8 days from
    was £1,849
  4. Walking the Camino de Santiago

    On this walking tour like no other, you’ll experience charming towns and cities showcasing Spanish culture as you take the Pilgrim’s Road to Santiago de Compostela.

    • Return flights
    • 7 nights in 3 & 4-star hotels
    • 13 included meals: 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners

    8 days from
    was £2,149
  5. Walking in the Lake District & Hadrian's Wall

    There's so much spectacular scenery to be enjoyed on this walking holiday as you explore parts of the Lake District and follow in Roman footsteps along Hadrian's Wall.

    • 4 nights in a 4-star hotel and 11 meals
    • All highlights included

    5 days from
    was £1,199
  6. Rouen's Jardin de Plantes

    Chateau Weekend & Monet's Garden

    The famous gardens of the artist Claude Monet are at the centre of this short break, which also gives you the chance to head to the gardens of the Château de Versailles.

    • Return rail travel
    • 3 nights in a 4-star hotel and 4 meals
    • Many amazing experiences

    4 days from
    was £949
  7. Pagoda overlooking Mount Fuji, Japan

    Japan Revealed

    From the natural beauty of Mount Fuji to the spectacular skyline of Tokyo, enigmatic Japan offers a unique holiday experience. Discover ancient temples, scenic landscapes and travel on the famous Bullet Train.

    • Return flights
    • 9 nights in 4-star hotels, 2 nights in flight
    • 17 meals: 9 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 7 dinners

    12 days from
    was £6,599
    Selling Fast

    Pompeii, Sorrento & the Bay of Naples

    Discover the ruins of Pompeii and marvel at Mount Vesuvius from the comfort of your 4-star hotel in the beautiful Bay of Naples.

    • Return flights
    • 7 nights in a 4-star hotel
    • 12 included meals: 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners

    8 days from
    was £1,999
  9. travel memorable moment

    Lake Garda, Verona & The Hidden Gems of the Veneto

    Relax and enjoy lakeside life with spectacular mountain scenery and enchanting towns and cities with castles, piazzas and medieval markets to explore.

    • Return flights
    • 7 nights in a 3-star superior hotel
    • 11 meals: 7 breakfasts and 4 dinners

    8 days from
    was £2,299