Visiting Twickenham For The Day: What To Do Before The Rugby Kicks Off

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Twickenham, with its quaint charm and bustling atmosphere on match days, is a destination that offers more than just the thrill of rugby. Standing proud in the heart of (and somewhat presiding over) its own corner of South West London, this suburban enclave is pretty much synonymous with the sport, its iconic Twickenham Stadium the largest dedicated rugby union venue in the world. With a capacity of 82,000, it’s really something to behold when England play a home international. 

Although it is the home to the England national team, fans of all rugby union teams regularly make the pilgrimage to this cathedral of rugby. But there’s a wealth of experiences to be had before the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Here’s how to make the most of your day in Twickenham before the big game.

Where To Stay In Twickenham

Twickenham offers a variety of accommodation options that cater to different preferences and budgets, ensuring your stay is comfortable and convenient.

The Alexander Pope Hotel

A standout choice, this elegant pub and hotel combines comfort with history, offering guests a unique stay. Its proximity to Twickenham Stadium makes it an ideal spot for rugby fans; its location on the Thames ideal for the morning stroll we’re going to suggest in a minute or so. The pretty beer garden certainly does no harm. 

London Twickenham Stadium Hotel

Situated within the iconic Twickenham Stadium itself, this hotel, which was recently taken over by the Radisson RED brand, offers an unparalleled experience for sports enthusiasts. With 156 guest rooms overlooking the rugby pitch, it’s a dream stay for any rugby fan. If you’re flush with cash and thinking well in advance, you could even book a Pitch View Suite, which has, yep, views of the actual pitch. There are six of them, and cost £240 a night. Wow!

Be warned; it’s pretty much impossible to book on actual match days. 

Premier Inn London Twickenham Stadium

Known for its reliability and comfort, the Premier Inn near Twickenham Stadium (around a 20 minute walk) is perfect for those looking for a familiar stay without breaking the bank. It’s also conveniently located, making your trip to the game hassle-free. Rooms start from £87 a night.

The Red Cow, Richmond

For a more traditional English experience a little further from the ground in leafy Richmond, The Red Cow offers cosy, well appointed rooms with a warm pub atmosphere. It’s a great option for those looking to soak up some local culture. Though it’s around an hour’s walk to the stadium, it’s one beautiful stroll. Rooms start from £104 a night.

Twickenham Guest House

The Twickenham Guest House is ideal for travellers seeking a homely environment. It’s affordable and located close to local attractions (and just 500 metres from Twickenham Stadium), making it a smart choice for budget-conscious visitors. Rooms start at just £45 a night.

20 The Barons Luxury Serviced Apartments

If you prefer a more self-sufficient stay, these luxury serviced apartments offer space, privacy, and all the comforts of home, wrapped up in an elegant package. A half hour walk from the stadium, you’ll pay for the privilege here; apartments start at £220 a night.

A Beautiful Day Spent Exploring Twickenham

Assuming you’ve woken up in this leafy suburb of London, then, here’s how to spend a lovely day in Twickenham…

A Morning Stroll Along the Thames

Begin your day with a leisurely stroll along the River Thames. The Twickenham Embankment is a picturesque spot, perfect for soaking in the serene riverside views and watching the rowers glide by. If you’re feeling peckish, there are plenty of cafes where you can grab a coffee and a bite to eat while enjoying the tranquillity of the river. Just be warned; it can get a little windy along here!

By Purple Images via Canva

Explore Twickenham’s Historic Heart

Twickenham is steeped in history, and a visit to its historic heart is a must. Take a walk through Church Street and immerse yourself in the charm of its independent shops, boutiques, and antique stores. Don’t miss the Twickenham Museum, where you can delve into the local history and learn about the area’s connection to rugby.

Twickenham Museum is closed until mid-May for renovation work.

A Pint (& Perhaps Even A Pie) At The Eel Pie Pub

Too early for a drink? It’s match day, so it might be alright to let your hair down (responsibly). Assuming you have hair, of course…

Anyway, no visit to Twickenham is complete without experiencing the warm hospitality of a traditional pub here. The town boasts several historic inns where you can enjoy a pint of real ale and – if the mood takes you in that strange, liminal pre-lunch slot – a hearty pie. The Eel Pie Pub, named after the famous Eel Pie Island, is a favourite among locals and visitors alike. It’s the perfect spot to mingle with rugby fans and soak up the pre-match atmosphere.

Eel Pie Island by Bernard Allum via Canva

Visit The World Rugby Museum

Rugby enthusiasts should not miss the chance to visit the World Rugby Museum, located within Twickenham Stadium itself. Here you can explore the rich history of the sport, see memorabilia from legendary matches, and even test your rugby skills in the interactive gallery.

Lunchtime

As lunchtime approaches, Twickenham offers a variety of dining options. From gastropubs serving up modern British cuisine to cute cafes with a selection of sandwiches sliced on the diagonal, as it should be, and salads, there’s something to satisfy all members of the squad here. 

Perhaps our favourite place to eat in Twickenham itself is Masaniello, a Neapolitan restaurant that does great, blistered pizzas alongside some gorgeous shellfish pasta dishes. Get the spaghetti alle vongole here; it’s marvellous!

For a more upscale experience, Dysart Petersham, just across the Thames on the peripheries of Richmond Park, holds a Michelin star.

A Walk in the Park

After lunch, take a stroll in one of Twickenham’s green spaces. Marble Hill Park is a popular choice, with its Palladian villa and sprawling grounds. Alternatively, York House Gardens offers a more secluded experience with its stunning statues and ornamental garden. Should you have followed our advice and headed to Dysart Petersham, then a long and leisurely amble through Richmond Park makes sense. Mind those deer!

Read: An insider’s guide to foraging on Hampstead Heath

Pre-Match Festivities at Twickenham Stadium

As match time approaches, head to Twickenham Stadium and join in the pre-match festivities. The atmosphere is electric, with fans from all over the world coming together to celebrate their love of rugby. Enjoy the fan zone debauchery in the West Fan Village (you’ll need a valid ticket), grab – or even buy, if you’re feeling fancy! – some official merchandise, and perhaps indulge in one last pint before taking your seat.

The Bottom Line

Twickenham is more than just a venue for rugby; it’s a welcoming community that offers so much entertainment beyond the ol’ oval ball. 

Whether you’re a die-hard rugby fan or simply looking for a day out with a difference, you might just find it at Twickenham. Just don’t ask for any further clarification on the rules of the damn sport.

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