The capital city of England and the United Kingdom, London has a rich sporting history. Home to many top professional teams and venues, the city is well known for hosting a number of high-profile sporting events.
The city became the first to to host the modern Olympics three times (1908, 1948 and 2012), with the 2012 Olympics leaving a sporting legacy in the East area of Stratford with the development of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Sport in London
Football in London
Football is very popular in London and the capital is home to many of the country’s top clubs and stadiums. Wembley Stadium (Wembley, North-west London) is the national stadium of England, the largest stadium in the UK and the second largest in Europe with a capacity of 90,000. The stadium has hosted a number of major events including the FA Cup Final, the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final, two European Championship Finals (1996 and 2020) and two UEFA Champions League finals (2011 and 2013).
Arsenal (Islington, North London) are the third most successful club in England based on trophies won, winning 13 league titles and 14 FA Cups. The club was formed in 1886 and played at Highbury Stadium from 1913 to 2006 before moving to the 60,000 capacity Emirates Stadium. The club shares a North London rivalry with Tottenham Hotspur and set an English record for the longest top-flight unbeaten league run of 49 games between 2003 and 2004, being known as The Invincibles.
Arsenal Women Football Club are the most successful club in English women’s football, having won 15 League titles and 14 FA Women’s Cup. They play at Meadow Park, the home of Borehamwood.
Chelsea (Fulham, West London) were the first English club to achieve the UEFA treble and are the only club to have won all three major European competitions twice – winning two European Cups (2012 & 2021), two UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups (1971 & 1998), two UEFA Cups (2013 & 2019), two UEFA Super Cups (1998 & 2021) and one FIFA Club World Cup (2021). Domestically, they are the fourth most successful club having won six league titles and eight FA Cups. The club was formed in 1905 and have always played at Stamford Bridge which today has a capacity of over 40,000.
Chelsea Women Football Club became the first team to win the WSL title for three seasons in a row in 2022, to take their total haul to six league titles as well as 4 FA Women’s Cup. The club play at Kingsmeadow, the former home of AFC Wimbledon and Kingstonian.
Tottenham Hotspur (Tottenham, North London) were formed in 1882 and have won two league titles (1951 & 1961), eight FA Cups, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups (1963), two UEFA Cups (1972 & 1984) and finished runners-up in the 2019 UEFA Champions League final. Since 2019 the club has played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the 62,850 ground which replaced their former home since 1899 at White Hart Lane.
West Ham United (Stratford, East London) were formed in 1900 and currently play in the Premier League. The club has won the FA Cup three times (1964, 1975 and 1980) and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cups once (1965). Three West Ham players were part of the 1966 FIFA World Cup winning England team – captain Bobby Moore and goalscorers Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters. The club has a fierce rivalry with Millwall and played at the Boleyn Ground from 1904 to 2016, before moving to the 2012 Olympic Stadium – now known as the London Stadium with a capacity of 66,000.
Crystal Palace (Croydon, South London) currently play in the Premier League and were formed in 1905. The club have played at Selhurst Park since 1924 and finished runner-up of the FA Cup twice (1990 & 2016). The club has a fierce rivalry with Brighton & Hove Albion which after began Palace’s relegation to the Third Division in 1974.
Fulham (Fulham, West London) were formed in 1879 and are London’s oldest professional football club. The club currently plays in the Premier League and have reached two major finals – in 1975 they lost the FA Cup Final as a second division side and in 2010 lost the UEFA Europa League final 2-1 to Atlético Madrid. The club have played at Craven Cottage since 1896, which currently has a capacity of 19,359.
Brentford (Brentford, West London) won promotion to the Premier League in 2020, the first time they had played in the top division since 1947. The club were formed in 1889 and played at Griffin Park since 1904 before moving to the 17,250 capacity Brentford Community Stadium in 2020.
Watford (Watford, Hertfordshire) currently play in the EFL Championship and were founded in 1881. The club has finished runner-up of the FA Cup twice (1984 & 2019) and have played at Vicarage Road since 1922, which today has a capacity of over 22,000.
Queens Park Rangers (Shepherd’s Bush, West London) were formed in 1886 and currently play in the EFL Championship. The club has had several spells playing at Loftus Road but have now been there continuously since 1963. The club has won the League Cup once (1967) and finished runners-up of the FA Cup in 1982.
Millwall (Bermondsey, South London) were founded in 1885 and since 1993 have played at The Den. The club reached the FA Cup Final in 2004 as a First Division side, playing in Europe the following season for the first ever time and currently compete in the EFL Championship. The club has a reputation for being associated with hooliganism and share a fierce rivalry with West Ham.
Charlton Athletic (Charlton, South-east London) were founded in 1905 and currently play in EFL League One, despite several spells in the top division. The club won the FA Cup in 1947 and have played at The Valley since 1919.
AFC Wimbledon (Merton, South-west London) were formed in 2002 by supporters of Wimbledon F.C. after the former club moved to Milton Keynes and were renamed MK Dons. The club has had a meteoric rise, starting in the ninth tier of English football before reaching EFL League One in 2016. They currently compete in EFL League Two and ground shared at Kingsmeadow before returning to their spiritual home at the new Plough Lane in 2021.
Leyton Orient (Leyton, East London) are the second oldest professional football club in London having been formed in 1881 and have played in the first division just once, in 1961. Today the club plays in EFL League Two and their home ground has been Brisbane Road since 1937. They now share the ground with Tottenham Hotspur F.C. Women who play in the WSL after being promoted in 2019.
Sutton United (Sutton, South London) won promotion to the Football League for the first time in 2021 and currently play in EFL League Two. The club formed in 1898 play at Gander Green Lane.
Barnet (Edgware, North London) currently compete in the National League, the fifth tier of English football. The club was formed in 1888 and has spent the majority of its existence in non-league but has been promoted to the Football League on several occasions, reaching the third tier in 1993. The club has played at The Hive since 2013, which has a capacity of 6,500.
Dagenham & Redbridge (Dagenham, East London) also compete in the National League and were formed in 1992 following a merger of Dagenham and Redbridge Forest. They were first promoted to the Football League in 2007 and reached the third tier in 2010. The club play at Victoria Road which first opened in 1917 and also the home of West Ham United F.C. Women who currently play in the WSL.
London is also home to a number of other non-league clubs including Bromley, Kingstonian. Hayes & Yeading, Carshalton Athletic, Dulwich Hamlet, Hampton and Richmond and Tooting & Mitcham.
Cricket in London
London is home to Test cricket grounds. Lord’s Cricket Ground (St John’s Wood, Central London) is widely known as the ‘Home of Cricket’, having hosted cricket for over 200 years since 1814. The ground is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and is home to Middlesex County Cricket Club and has hosted the Cricket World Cup Final on five occasions, (1975, 1979, 1983, 1999 and 2019).
The Oval (Kennington, South London) was the first ground in England to host international Test cricket in September 1880. The ground has a capacity 27,500 and is the home of Surrey County Cricket Club.
Rugby Union in London
Twickenham Stadium (Twickenham, South-west London) is the world’s largest rugby union stadium with a capacity of 82,000 and is the home of England Rugby. Twickenham regularly hosts major rugby events, including the London Sevens and has hosted the Rugby World Cup Final on two occasions (1991 and 2015).
Harlequins (Twickenham, South-west London) were founded in 1866 and were one of the original members of the RFU. The club has won the Premiership Rugby title twice (2012 & 2021), the European Challenge Cup three times (2001, 2004 & 2011) and the domestic cup on three occasions. The club has played at the Twickenham Stoop since 1963, which currently has a capacity of 14,800.
Saracens (Hendon, North-west London) were formed in 1876 and currently play at the Barnet Copthall, having moved their in 2012 from Vicarage Road in Watford. The club has won the European Rugby Champions Cup on three occasions (2016, 2017 & 2019), Premiership Rugby five times and the domestic cup twice.
London Irish (Brentford, West London) were formed in 1898 and currently play in the Premiership Rugby. Between 2000 and 2020 the club were based at the Madejski Stadium in Reading but returned to its London roots by moving to the Brentford Community Stadium following the stadium’s opening.
Several other clubs based in London compete in the RFU Championship – Ealing Trailfinders, London Scottish and Richmond.
Tennis in London
The Wimbledon Championships is one of the most prestigious tennis events in world tennis, famed for its traditions such as the all white dress code, eating Strawberry’s and drinking Pimm’s. It is one of professional tennis’ four Grand Slam tournaments and first played in 1877. Held on grass courts at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (Wimbledon, South-west London), the event takes place every year over two weeks in late June and early July.
The Queen’s Club Championship features many of the world’s top players and is one of the key warm-up events for Wimbledon. The tournament is held annually, usually in mid June one week before the start of Wimbledon and has been held at the Queen’s Club (West Kensington, West London) since 1890.
The ATP Finals, the end of year championships for the top 8 men’s players were played at The O2 Arena (Greenwich, South-east London) from 2009 to 2020.
Athletics in London
The London Marathon is one of the world’s largest mass-participation marathons with over 40,000 participants taking to the streets of London since 1981 and held annually usually in April. The London Triathlon until 2015 was the largest triathlon in the world.
Despite now predominantly being used for football, the London Stadium (Stratford, East London) retained its running track following the 2012 Olympics and in 2017 hosted the World Athletics Championships. The stadium also annually hosts the Anniversary Games (formerly known as the London Grand Prix), a Diamond League event that had previously been held at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre (Crytal Palace, South London) from 1953 to 2012.
Rugby League in London
One of the most prestigious matches in Rugby League, the Challenge Cup Final is held annually at Wembley Stadium (Wembley, North-west London).
There are two professional rugby league clubs based in London – the London Broncos who as of 2022 play at Plough Lane (Merton, South-west London) and currently play in the RFL Championship, and the London Skolars who play at New River Stadium (Wood Green, North London) and compete in RFL League 1.
Rowing in London
The River Thames hosts The Boat Race, the world’s most famous rowing race between the rowing clubs of Cambridge University and Oxford University that was first held in 1829.
American Football in London
Since 2007, London has hosted an NFL regular-season game which has become known as the NFL London Games, part of the NFL International Series. Wembley Stadium (Wembley, North-west London) hosted at least one match each year from 2007 to 2019, with Twickenham Stadium (Twickenham, South-west London) holding games in 2016 and 2017 before Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (Tottenham, North London) began hosting two games a season from 2019.
Basketball in London
The NBA hosted a regular season game at The O2 Arena (Greenwich, South-east London) from 2011 to 2019. The venue also hosted the Euroleague Final Four in 2013.
The only professional team in the capital are the London Lions, competing in the British Basketball League and based at the Copper Box Arena (Stratford, East London).
Cycling in London
The Grand Départ of the 2007 Tour de France was held in London, whilst Stage 3 of the 2014 Tour finished in London. RideLondon is a mass cycling event launched in 2013 featuring a 30, 60 and 100-mile route that goes out into the Essex countryside and featuring a professional race.
The Lee Valley VeloPark (Stratford, East London) was built for the 2012 Olympics and continues to host events, with the velodrome hosting the 2016 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Travelling to London
Air: The two busiest airports in the UK serve London and between them have flights to most of the world’s prime destinations – Heathrow Airport is 21 miles west of The O2, with Gatwick Airport approximately 29 miles south of the arena.
Heathrow Airport sits on the London Underground Piccadilly line, you can change to the Jubilee line at Green Park to travel to The O2’s closest station at North Greenwich (see below). Or you can catch the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station and use the Underground to reach North Greenwich from there.
From Gatwick Airport, you can use the Gatwick Express to reach Victoria Station and use the Underground to reach North Greenwich from there.
Alternatively London City Airport is on the DLR which runs to Greenwich station, or the Stansted Express runs from Stansted Airport to London Liverpool Street.
Thinking of flying to London? Search & book your flights through Skyscanner here.
Coach – Megabus offers cheap travel to London and offers over 10 routes from Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Norwich and Sheffield. You can search and book your tickets here.
Train – London is the hub of the British railway network, with trains available to most of Britain via major stations such as Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Marylebone, Paddington, Victoria and Waterloo. High speed trains from St. Pancras International travel to Amsterdam, Brussels, Lille and Paris.
Thinking of travelling by train to London? Search and book your journey through the Trainline here.
Hotels in London
Use TripAdvisor to find some great places to stay in London by clicking here.
Food & Drink in London
Use TripAdvisor to read other travellers reviews of bars and restaurants and find some great places to eat and drink in London by clicking here.
What to do in London
London’s most famous attractions include the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace to name just a few.
Last Updated on September 14, 2022 by Sports Tourist