It’s finally almost here; the FA Cup final between Wigan Athletic and Manchester City kicks off at 17.15 on Saturday 11th May! And, to make sure you’re as prepared as possible, here’s our ultimate Wigan guide to London!
1. Don’t rush home – stay the night or even the weekend!
With kick-off being at 17.15 this year, if you’re traveling via rail it’s highly unlikely that you’ll make the last train home. So if you are planning on doing this, you’ll probably be best off crashing at a hotel for the night and heading back first thing in the morning.
There are plenty of possible options both around the Stadium itself and throughout London. These hotels offer high standards of accommodation at an affordable price.
Holiday Inn London Brent Cross – (NW2 1LP – 17 minutes taxi drive away) – closest to the stadium
Holiday Inn London Regents Park – (W1W 5EE – 25 minutes taxi drive away)
Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury – (WC1N 1HT – 26 minutes taxi drive away)
Holiday Inn London Mayfair – (W1J 8NE – 28 minutes taxi drive away)
Each hotel offers a number of packages and offers to save you money. Not to mention they recently won the MIDAS breakfast award for their mouth-watering Full English – the perfect hangover cure for a day at the football.
2. Leave the car at home
Wembley Stadium is so well connected by public transport, it really isn’t necessary to travel by car. With parking and traffic, it’s just more trouble than it’s worth. If you really want to travel by car, then make sure you at least book parking in advance with these sites:
From central London the stadium can be reached by driving up Harrow Road (A404) in north-western direction. Harrow Road branches off the A40 at the altitude of Paddington station. At Wembley Rail Station turn right onto Wembley Hill Road to reach the stadium (follow the signs).
Address: Wembley, London, HA9 0WS
If you want to arrive at the stadium in good time, with no chance of getting lost and surrounded by other chanting Wigan fans, taking a coach directly to Wembley is probably your best bet.
National Express is the Official Travel Provider for Wembley Stadium, with direct services from over 55 UK locations. Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct service from Wigan, so you’ll have to depart from Preston, Bolton or if you dare Manchester. Here’s a full service map.
Glasgow Central– London Euston, Virgin Pendolino trains pass through Wigan North Western every hour and they can have you in London in 2 hours. You can pick up an off-peak ticket for around £80.
16-25 year olds are eligible for 1/3 off with a railcard.
From Euston, you can walk to Euston Square station and take the metropolitan line to Wembley Park station. The journey should take no longer than 30 minutes.
3. Plan your tube journeys beforehand
When trying to navigate London’s highly complex, underground labyrinth (aka the Tube), it’s ill-advised to just wing it – that’s just asking for trouble!
It only takes 5 minutes to check your route on the Tfl Journey Planner before you leave. Or, if you have a smart phone there are a bunch of London Navigation apps available for use on the go. i.e.:
The Stadium is serviced by a number of local bus routes: 18, 83, 92, 224
Wembley Park tube station is just a 5-minute walk from the stadium and is served by the Jubilee and Metropolitan lines
Wembley Central station is a 10 -15 minute walk from the station and is accessible via the Bakerloo and London Overground lines.
4. Buy an Oyster Card
Buying an Oyster card is probably going to be the cheapest and most convenient way of getting around London.
Oyster users travel at discounted rates compared to pay as you go passengers:
You can buy a normal Oyster card from any London tube station, Oyster Ticket Stop or Travel Information Centre or buy it online beforehand. They cost £5 and this is totally refundable in cash if you decide to return the card (along with any unused credit).
5. Don’t bother with a Visitor Oyster Card
Tfl introduced a ‘Visitor Oyster card’ for visitors who are only going to be in London for a couple of days.
If you buy an Oyster card from anywhere outside London, you’ll undoubtedly receive a visitor oyster. These come pre-topped up with cash so you just pay for what you think you’ll use, ( £10/£20 etc.) plus a £3 activation fee.
Visitor Cards are a pain because they make it so much more difficult to claw your un-used money back than with the standard Oyster! Your £3 activation fee is refundable, and any balance you have left over at the end of your trip will be posted to you via cheque, rather than being given in cash there and then at the station.
6. Don’t bother with a Day Travelcard!!
Day Travel Cards are expensive and unnecessary and a rookie mistake when traveling to London. If you’re taking the tube to Wembley, (which is in zone 4) you’ll need a Zone 1-6 Travelcard.
These cost £8.90 for off-peak and £16.40 for Anytime. However, if you’re using an Oyster card, your journeys will be capped at £10.60 during peak times and £7.70 during off-peak times. Meaning you’ll never have to pay more than the price of a travel card! Completely unnecessary.
7. Get to grips with the Stadium beforehand
Wembley Stadium is absolutely HUGE, so it’s worth getting accustomed to it before the match – just so you don’t waste any precious time looking for the toilets or an ATM.
The Official website has a really detailed map here.
They also have this cool ‘view from my seat’ feature which shows you a photograph of your view of the pitch when you scroll over your seat number.
And here’s a full virtual tour of the stadium:
8. Find somewhere decent to drink before hand
Half of the fun’s the build up! Kick-off’s at 17.15 on the day, so if you’re planning on getting into London for around lunchtime you’ll have plenty of time to have a drink or bite to eat before-hand.
The area surrounding Wembley is mostly residential or office-based but there are a couple of good local boozers.
The Green Man
With its enormous beer garden and wide selection of beers on tap, The Green Man’s a firm favourite with footie fans –not to mention it’s less than a 10 minute walk from the stadium.
A world away from The Green Man, The Parish is a tiny Irish boozer on largely residential Wembley Park Drive. It may have a less-than-impressive real ale collection, but the duke-box is comprehensive and it has a great buzz about it; the perfect spot to sink a few pre-match pints.
The stadium is very well connected via public transport, so If you do want to venture out of Watford a little before the match, this shouldn’t be a problem. Wembley Park is on the Jubilee line, so you may want to stick to places along here: Baker Street, Great Portland Street, Euston.
If you’re coming into London, Euston, be sure to stop off at The Euston Tap before you head off. This blink-and-you’d-miss-it boozer is always heaving with students and after-work types during the summer months and there’s a really great buzz about the place. Better yet, they really, really know their beer. They’ve got cask, keg and bottle beers on a sliding scale from a very reasonable £2.70 per pint.
They don’t have an affiliation with any breweries so their beers are constantly changing. Keep updated with what’s on by following @eustontap on Twitter.
Prefer cider? No worries –The Cider Tap’s just opposite.
If you aren’t happy about paying London prices, this handy JD Whetherspoons Locator could help you track down cheaper boozers.
FancyaPint.com has a pretty comprehensive guide to local pubs too.
9. Eat a big meal before the match
Match-day’s a long day and Stadium food is expensive. So it’s best to fill up on a big meal beforehand.
Food-wise, there are plenty of options around Euston, Kings Cross and the surrounding area.
If you want to stick to somewhere within walking distance, you’re better off heading to Bloomsbury, Camden or Goodge Street.
The Brunswick Centre, Bloomsbury:
About a 10 minute walk away, if that. This cute little shopping centre close to Russell Square has got a few good chain-options: Nandos (incase you didn’t fancy the one right outside Euston), Strada, Giraffee, YO! Sushi and GBK.
Or if you fancy something independent, there’s a nice Italian, Barflour opposite that do a very reasonable lunch menu for between £7-10 per person.
There are a few good local pubs too like the Marquis Cornwallis next to the post office.
Start heading down Eversholt street and you’ll come across a medley of cheap-and-cheerful diners, all-day breakfast joints and pubs where you can grab something to eat. The Blues Kitchen and Camden Head both have quality, but reasonably priced selections.
If that’s not enough, head down Tottenham Court Road a bit and there’s plenty to choose from around Goodge Street Station: