Wembley Stadium may be the most famous stadium in the world. Pelé once said: “Wembley is the cathedral of football”. As a sports fan, I had been to Wembley before. I went to see my favorite Dallas Cowboys play in London back in 2014. I remember it clearly – the Cowboys won and we had a great time! Being an American, I didn’t know much about the stadium’s history.
I thought taking a Wembley Stadium tour would be a good way to learn and go behind the scenes. Let me tell you more about our experience so that you can decide if a tour of Wembley Stadium in London appeals to you.
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Wembley Stadium History Overview
The original Wembley Stadium was built for the British Empire Exhibition in 1924 and was intended to be a temporary structure. Over the years, they continued to develop the stadium, but by the end of the 20th century, it just wasn’t capable of meeting the demands asked of it anymore. The stadium was too small, old, tired, and the facilities were inadequate. It had reached the end of its usable life. Demolition started in 2002. The towers came down in 2003, which was a poignant moment for football fans across the world. The current Wembley Stadium was finished in 2007.
Wembley played host to the Olympics, World Cup, several European football (soccer) championships, the annual FA (Football Association) Championship game, countless concerts, and even the Pope – just to name a few. Additionally, it was (and still is) known as the home of football. Wembley was the first place to be called “hallowed turf.” Go to enough pub quizzes in England and sooner or later the question will come up – who scored the last goal at the old Wembley? (Keep reading for the answer!)
They did try to incorporate some of the structure of the old stadium into the new Wembley Stadium. It was not possible to move the two famous towers so instead, they used the material from the towers in the foundation. You can also see the plaques with the winners from the 1948 Olympics preserved outside the Wembley Stadium Store.
Currently, Wembley is also the home to Tottenham, who plays in the English Premier League. Their stadium is under construction, so they are using Wembley during the interim.
Self-Guided Tour of Wembley Stadium
The first part of your tour of Wembley Stadium is self-guided. You are given your video/audio guide and headphones after you pass through security. The guide was easy to use and you can repeat sections if you like or even skip any that don’t grab your attention. During this section of the tour, you learn more about the history of the stadium.
It was fascinating to see the models of the old and new stadium. The turnstile on displayed looked like a piece of art. It was fascinating to think about how many people had passed through. The videos during this part of the tour help you feel more engaged. I especially liked the 360 virtual reality ones. The video about the arch was a bit unsettling especially if you are scared of heights.
I didn’t know much about the old stadium, so it was interesting to learn about some of the historic events that took place here. The most talked about one is probably the 1966 World Cup Final between England and West Germany. It was decided by a controversial goal by England in extra time. Not only can you see a video of the goal, but you can see the actual crossbar from that game and marking on the floor where the ball landed in relation to the crossbar and the goal line, calculated using modern technology.
There were also exhibits on some of the other sporting events that have taken place at Wembley like NFL games. For those who are not into sports, the tour also included information about some of the big concerts, the Pope’s visit, and even Evil Knievel’s stunt.
Wembley Guided Tour
After we had finished seeing the exhibits, it was time to join our guide to go behind the scenes at the stadium. First, we went outside onto the middle tier and sat in the seats. He threw out so many fascinating facts about the stadium.
The one that probably surprised me the most was that the designers of Wembley Stadium tilted the glass of all the suites five degrees to help with the acoustics. We all stood up and yelled to test it out.
Then, we had a few minutes for photos. Our guide took a few excellent ones of us. He definitely knew what he was doing!
Down at Pitch Level
Next, we headed down to the pitch (field) level which is actually below ground. After walking down a hallway with lots of memorabilia, we entered the area where the players arrive at the stadium. Then we went into the media room where press conferences happen after games. I appreciated that we had time to go take individual pictures sitting behind the table.
After everyone had their chance to take a photo, we headed to the dressing rooms. The first room we entered had displays for some of England’s heroes and even a few NFL players who had played at Wembley. Next door, we found the England dressing room where each member of the national team had a spot. Their jerseys were laid out in numerical number. Some jerseys were autographed. I wondered why Harry Kane hadn’t autographed his until our guide explained he had autographed the front of the shirt. I was surprised that there weren’t any lockers but these areas are called dressing rooms and not locker rooms.
Then, we got to see the shower block. In addition to the shower, this area also includes some therapy beds, ice baths, toilets, and sinks. I was a bit surprised to also find hair dryers! We had time to take photos in the dressing room and shower area then it was time to go to the tunnel.
The tunnel is where the players line up to walk out on the pitch (what we call field). Our tour guide had us line up so we could pretend to be players. He started playing a video and then opened the doors. As we walked out onto the field, we could hear the roar of the crowd. Since the pitch is natural grass, there is only a small area that you are allowed to walk on (where the managers can stand). We did also get to sit in Gareth Southgate, the England manager’s, seat. Again, we had time to take as many pictures as we wanted.
Heading to the Wembley Royal Box
Then it was time to head back up. We took the same route that the players who won the FA Cup would take to claim the trophy. It’s a little more than 100 steps through the stands to the Royal Box. When we got to the Royal Box, we had the opportunity to take a photo with the replica of the FA Cup. This time though they have a professional photographer to capture the moment and they do not let you take any pictures. You get the opportunity to purchase the photo after the tour. It is rare that I ever buy these type of photos, but we did this time. The photo turned out to be amazing and it was only £10. I wish Russell would have worn his Liverpool scarf though!
After we left the Royal Box, we went into the Royal Restaurant. Prince William is the head of The FA, so when he is in attendance, this is where he and his guests dine. Our tour guide said it would normally be a five-course meal. It’s the Royal Family so I wouldn’t expect anything less!
Our last stop on the tour was the Three Lions sculptures. The Three Lions are the symbol of the national team. Each one was impressive in its own right and made out of a different material – paper, steel, and plastic. The plastic one was my favorite, it was actually made from cups from drinks consumed at the stadium.
Wembley Tour Review
I have to admit I am not a big soccer fan, although I have come to appreciate the sport more now that I live in England. Still, I found the tour interesting and informative. The stadium is an impressive piece of engineering and the history is remarkable. I loved being able to go behind the scenes and see the dressing room, media room, pitch, and more.
The virtual reality videos helped to bring the stadium to life. There were no virtual reality glasses like I had on the virtual reality tour in NYC (that would not have looked good in the pictures anyway) but some of the videos were 360 images so that the perspective changed as you moved the guide around. The guide was easy to use. Plus, I liked that you could choose to listen to more in-depth information or skip depending on your interests.
We had a large group for the guided tour of about 30 people. Our tour guide did a great job keeping everyone together and engaged. I never had any issues hearing the commentary and I was able to ask questions. Additionally, everyone had plenty of opportunities for photos.
Wembley VIP Tour
If you would like a more intimate experience, you might want to try the Wembley VIP tour. Groups are usually 5 people or less and you get a dedicated guide from start to finish. You also get to see a few stops that aren’t on the normal route. The VIP Wembley Stadium tour option also includes a free gift and The FA Cup photo.
When you visit Wembley for your tour, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Dress for the weather. The roof of the stadium was open when we were there, so some parts of the tour were basically outside.
- Don’t bring any large bags. They do not have any place to store them and you will have to carry them with you as you tour Wembley Stadium.
- There is a security check when you enter the stadium. They did not have any issues with our snacks or water bottles.
- The guided portion of the tour runs every 30 minutes throughout the day. You join once you have completed the self-guided part.
- You can take pictures throughout the tour except for pictures of the FA cup in the Royal Box. They have a professional photographer to take your picture there.
- There are stairs on the tour. Our tour guide asked us if anyone had problems with stairs because there is an elevator.
- The tour is well-suited for children especially those that like soccer. They will also enjoy the virtual reality features.
- The whole experience took us about 2 hours. This can vary depending on how long you spend on the self-guided portion of the tour.
Purchasing Wembley Stadium Tour Tickets
The Wembley Stadium Tour tickets are included as part of the London Pass and the London Explorer Pass. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, the London Pass gives you access to 80+ of the top attractions. Get more information on the London Pass here. The London Explorer Pass allows you to buy access to either 3,5 or 7 attractions. Get more information on the London Explorer Pass here.
If you are not going to get one of the passes, you can book your tickets online in advance here. For the regular tour, you choose a timeslot and can arrive any time during that period and start with the self-guided exhibitions. The VIP tour has a set start time. You will get an email confirmation when you book and all you need is the confirmation code to check in for the tour.
How to Get to Wembley Stadium
It’s best to take public transportation to Wembley Stadium. We took the Metropolitan line to Wembley Park. (The Jubilee line also goes to the Wembley Park Station). You see the stadium as you approach the stop and then it’s a short 10-minute walk to get there. It’s a straight line so you don’t have to worry about getting lost.
You can also take the Bakerloo line or the London Overground to Wembley Central but it’s a 20-minutes walk from there to the Stadium.
If you are visiting London from overseas, consider getting a Visitor Oyster Card to save money when you use the tube. Click here for more information on the Visitor Oyster Card.
To take the tour, enter through the Bobby Moore entrance on the north side of the stadium. You need to walk up the ramp. You will see the stadium store. Then take the stairs up to the next level and enter right behind the Bobby Moore statue.
Note: Do not confuse Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena – they are different. Wembley Arena is a smaller indoor venue also located in Wembley Park. It is the 2nd largest indoor venue in London. Only The O2 is larger.
Have you had the chance to visit Wembley Stadium or tour another sports venue? You might also be interested to read about my tour of the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
And if you are wondering who scored the last goal at the old Wembley Stadium it was Dietmar Hamann of Germany.
Expert Tips for Your London Wembley Stadium Tour
- Bring along your camera, there are a lot of great photo opportunities on the tour. Don’t try to bring large bags, they do not have a place to store them during the tour.
- Wear the gear from your favorite team. It will make the photo with The FA Cup even better.
- Consider purchasing the London Pass or the London Explorer Pass if you plan on doing other sightseeing while you are in London.
Disclosure: Thanks to Wembley National Stadium Limited for providing us with complimentary Wembley Tour tickets so that we could share the experience with our readers.
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