Whether you're footy mad, crazy about cricket, or a rugger, tennis or rowing devotee, London's sport museums have something for you. Most of the major sporting venues offer behind-the-scenes tours, so you can walk in the players' footsteps, and increasingly high-tech museums mix historical artefacts with interactive exhibits that put you right at the centre of the sporting action.
Check out the best sports museums and stadium tours
Arsenal players themselves provide the commentary on a stadium tour here, whether that’s a Legends tour, guided by a former player (such as Lee Dixon, Kenny Sansom or Charlie George) or a self-guided audio tour with anecdotes from Robin van Persie and Jack Wilshere and a motivating pre-match speech from Arsène Wenger. On both you’ll see the home changing room, the players’ tunnel, the dug-out, the directors’ box and the press lounge – on the interactive audio tour you can have a go at conducting your own post-match interview.
Chelsea's new high-tech museum is the largest football museum in London, with all manner of interactive gadgetry, games and videos to inform and entertain as well as memorabilia collected across the club’s 107-year history. You can visit the museum on its own or as part of an hour-long stadium tour which takes visitors behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge.
Guided tours of Fulham FC's Craven Cottage ground begin at the Johnny Haynes statue and follow a route that includes the tunnel and pitch-side dugouts, TV studio, home team changing room and Chairman's Club. The 11.15am tour runs on selected dates; at busy times a 1.15pm tour may also take place. Children must be accompanied. Booking essential.
The big draw here is actually something very, very small. The legendary Ashes Urn draws tens of thousands of visitors each year, as the centrepiece at the world’s oldest sporting museum. Aside from the Ashes, you can see a wide range of cricket-related exhibits, including the stuffed sparrow that was ‘bowled out’ by Jehangir Khan in 1936 and displays dedicated to the life of WG Grace.
For a sporting venue known for its strict adherence to tradition, the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum is impressively futuristic, with its 3D cinema explaining the science of the game and a holographic John McEnroe (yes, seriously) roaming the dressing room. Interviews with players are broadcast on TV screens and an interactive area allows visitors to handle racquets, test their reaction skills in simulation games and have their picture taken with the singles trophies.
The impressive Twickenham stadium is the home of English rugby union. It houses a multimedia museum that uses touch-screens, video clips and film to chart the history and worldwide growth of the sport. Star exhibit must be the Calcutta Cup, the intricately engraved trophy made of silver rupees that England and Scotland have been competing for since 1879. Other exhibits include a programme from the 1924 Olympics, the last time rugby was featured in the Olympic Games.
Henley’s family-friendly museum explores the history of the Thames, the sport of rowing and the community of Henley-on-Thames, and makes a good out-of-town jaunt. A virtual reality exhibit allows visitors to experience the cox’s view of a race, but the top attraction is probably the Sydney IV boat in which Steve Redgrave won his fifth Olympic gold medal in 2000 – visitors apparently never fail to comment on the size of the rowers’ shoes, which are still in the boat.