London is a city with many faces. It’s the seat of power in the UK, it’s the beating heart of the British economy, and it’s packed with centuries of history. It’s also the focal point for much of the country’s sport, with many of its biggest teams and venues being located in the city. With so much athletic competition taking place in London, it’s also the city where the most British bets are placed, especially thanks to the huge selection of free bets and sign-up offers available to its residents.
So if you’re a sports fan planning a trip to the British capital, you might be hoping to see and explore some of its sporting sites and attractions.
London hosted the Summer Olympic Games for the third time in 2012, setting many records, including being the first “public transport games” as spectators were not allowed to travel to almost any of the events by car.
As with all other games in the modern era, new stadiums and facilities were constructed to host the nearly three-dozen different disciplines, and hundreds of individual events. This included a permanent aquatics centre, BMX track, cycling velodrome, a multisports facility, and the main Olympic Stadium.
The Olympic Stadium is located inside the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in the east of the city. Next to it, stands the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a twisted metal structure designed to serve as an observation tower and a piece of public art.
Getting to the park is easy, thanks to the public transport links used during the Olympics themselves, with nine London Underground and train links and dozens of different bus routes.
Sporting events still take place at the park, but even on days when nothing is scheduled, you can still get a sense of the electric atmosphere from the games a decade ago.
Entrance to the park is free, though some of the attractions inside it do charge an entry fee.
If you’re a fan of urban sports, then you’ll want to see the place that is regarded as the “birthplace of British skateboarding”. For more than four decades, the undercroft of the Southbank Centre has been the place to see the best and up and coming urban athletes.
It’s not quite as big as it once was, but it still contains a mix of blocks, stairs, banks, and ramps.
Whether you’re a skater yourself or you just want to admire some insane stunts being performed in the heart of London, then the Southbank Centre is where you want to go.
Unlike more sanitised environments like the ones used in the Olympics, the Southbank Centre has a raw and real feel to it thanks to its 20th-century concrete stylings, undercroft location, and floor-to-ceiling street art.
It’s open 24/7 too, and has lighting so you’ll feel safe no matter what time of day you go.
You don’t have to go far to find a statue or two in London. The city is teeming with these constructions honouring everyone from Admiral Horatio Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill to window cleaners and Paddington Bear.
But among the historical figures and fictional bears, you’ll also find plenty of unique statues honouring sports and athletes right across the city. They all have fascinating stories
One of these is a statue of Laurie Cunningham which can be found in Waltham Forest. He was born in Archway, London, but played in England, France, and Spain and become the first player from the UK to sign for Real Madrid.
Outside the West Stand of Twickenham Stadium, you’ll find four sculptures known as The Spirit of Rugby. Created by Gerald Laing, these statues depict rugby players in various states of play – kicking, running, catching, and diving for the ball.
According to The University of Sheffield, there are around 50 statues in situ or planned to be placed in and around the capital, including famous names like Henry Cooper, Sir Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, and Thierry Henry.
Since they’re scattered around the city, they make great additions to your sightseeing itinerary, alongside more traditional landmarks and attractions like Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London.
London is home to many of the biggest, oldest, and most prestigious stadiums in both the UK and the world. Most offer tours to visitors whenever there aren’t games taking place and some, like the Emirates Stadium, Twickenham Stadium, Wimbledon, and Stamford Bridge all have museums dedicated to their team and/or sport.
Unfortunately, if you’re travelling on a budget, these tours and museums aren’t often accessible since they can cost anything from £10 to more than £50 per person.
However, you don’t need to go inside them to admire their unique architecture, or soak up the atmosphere around them. Of course, game days are when you’ll see the most action, but going when it’s quiet can often give you more opportunity to just enjoy looking at them.
London’s long list of stadiums includes Wembley, the home of English football and the site of many NFL games in recent years; Wimbledon, where the only grass Grand Slam tennis tournament takes place; Lords Cricket Ground, the “Home of Cricket”; and the London Stadium, a former Olympic venue that’s been converted into a football ground for West Ham United.
Motorsports fans might want to check out the ExCel Centre, which now hosts the London ePrix and is the only site of a partially indoor Formula E race.
Pubs and Sports Bars
Getting a ticket to a game at any of London’s stadiums is also a pricey ordeal, but a cheaper option is to watch games from one of its many pubs and sports bars. Since you’ll need to eat and drink while you’re in the city anywhere, it can kind of count as something to do for free.
Watching a football match with a bunch of jubilant supporters in a pub will have a similar atmosphere as watching it at a stadium, with friends and complete strangers coming together to share in the trials and tribulations of their team. This is a great way to see the passion of London’s sports fans on show, something you’ll struggle to find anywhere else in the world.