During the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games, London was rapidly transformed into the sporting capital of the world, but the capital has always had a sporting side to it. London is a hub of athletic activity; home to a number of world-class stadiums and locales, sports bars and shops, all of which are as much a part of London as the bright lights of the west end or its black cabs and double-decker buses. So whether you're an amateur athlete, someone who has been inspired by Britain's summer sporting successes or just a die-hard fan of a particular team, here's a breakdown of London's must-see sports hotspots:
Sports stadium museums and tours: London is of course home to a multitude of professional football teams: some well-known, some not-so-well known. Fortunately, some of the giants of world football such as Arsenal and Chelsea offer stadium tours, providing a glimpse into the world of two of the Premier League's top teams.
The Emirates Stadium and Stamford Bridge are first-rate facilities and serve clubs with illustrious histories, and these are highlighted in their respective club's museums which are open year-round depending on fixtures. Fans are also able to tour Wembley Stadium, the home of the English national team, in which they will be able to experience the England dressing room and walk through the player's tunnel onto the hallowed turf.
Chelsea stadium tours (with museum) are £12 for children, £13 for concessions and £18 for adults.
Arsenal tours are £9 for children, £17.50 for adults and £42 for families. The Arsenal museum is £4 for children and £7 for adults. Wembley stadium tours are £9 for concessions, £16 for adults and £41 for families.
Twickenham, the home of English rugby, also has a museum. The World Rugby Museum is located in the East Stand of Twickenham stadium and contains over 25,000 objects, all of which have huge significance to the formation of the game of Rugby or the modern game.
The World Rugby Museum is a unique experience, being one of the only museums of its kind in the world, and is well worth the trip to suburban London. Whether you are a diehard rugby fan or not, there is something for everyone, and it is highly recommended that visitors combine their trip with a tour of the stadium and a visit to the extensive Rugby Store.
Entry to the Rugby museum is £7 for adults and £5 for concessions. When combined with a stadium tour it costs £15 for adults, £9 for concessions, and £45 for a family ticket.
But that's not all. London is home to two or more of the world's most iconic sports stadia. The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon houses the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, which is the largest tennis museum in the world and offers an extensive look into the history of tennis in the country as well as the history of the championships themselves.
Similarly, Lord's Cricket Ground is home to the MCC Museum which is the oldest sports museum in the world and one of few museums in the world dedicated to the sport of Cricket. The Marylebone Cricket Club established the museum in 1864 and their collection now includes some incredibly historic pieces. Like the museum at Twickenham, the MCC Museum can be incorporated as part of the stadium tour, or visited on match-days by spectators with a ticket.
Admission to the Lawn Tennis Museum ranges from £6.75 and £11, and when combined with the tour prices range from £12.50 to £20. Tickets to the MCC museum cost £7.50 and £5 for concessions.
The Emirates, Stamford Bridge, Wembley, Twickenham, Wimbledon and Lords all provide the ideal opportunity to escape the busy streets of central London, and are easily accessible via mainline and underground rail services.
Visitors are advised to check the respective Arsenal, Chelsea, Wembley, Twickenham, Wimbledon and MCC websites for details on prices, opening times, events and closures.
Swimming Lidos: Feeling inspired by the Olympics? Great Britain might have fallen just short of their expectations in the pool at the Olympics, but that shouldn't put a damper on the Olympics' promise to 'inspire a generation'. London offers a huge range of indoor and outdoor sporting facilities, but the best are arguably the outdoor swimming lidos that are easily accessible to the public.
Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds are the only life-guarded open-water swimming facilities open every day of the year, and offer a range of different pools for men and women of all abilities. In the heart of London, and now a former Olympic venue, The Serpentine Lido offers a great opportunity to swim in an iconic location. The Serpentine is open to the public between June and September and yearly for members of the Serpentine Swimming Club.
Oasis Sports Centre is within another iconic London location, but is considerably more tucked-away than the lido at the serpentine. Located in Covent Garden, the pool itself is on a rooftop and makes for one of the most unique leisure experiences in the whole of the capital. The Oasis Sports Centre is open until 9pm throughout the year.
London is often listed as one of the shopping capitals of the world, and with good reason. But sports fans shouldn't feel left out in the cold. Whether you're running through London's streets or one of its many parks, playing football or standing in the terraces on a Saturday afternoon, it is somewhat of a necessity nowadays to wear the right gear. London offers a huge range of sports stores but the best is unquestionably Niketown in Oxford circus. The biggest of its kind anywhere in the world, Niketown is ideal for fashion, fan apparel, and equipment for sports such as football, rugby, basketball, running, tennis and golf.
Niketown is located in Oxford Circus, and can be reached by tube via Oxford Circus station.
If playing sports is not for you then the Sports Cafe is the next best thing. It's hard to imagine a sport that hasn't been shown on their many TV screens, and their upcoming schedule contains a plethora of sports including live football, rugby, athletics, Formula 1, tennis, baseball, collegiate and professional American football, and boxing. These can be watched in a number of different areas and are ideal for group bookings so guests can watch their game uninterrupted.
As if all that wasn't enticing enough, the Sports Cafe also offers a menu full of predominantly American-inspired food ranging from the familiar – burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings – to the less familiar: Philly cheese steaks. Simply put: if you're in the capital and looking for a place to watch live sport and grab a drink or something to eat, there is nowhere better than the Sports Cafe.
The Sports Cafe is located on Haymarket, and is a short walk from a number of famous London locations: Trafalgar square, Leicester square, and Piccadilly Circus. The nearest tube stations are Charing Cross and Piccadilly Circus.