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March 07, 2011

Your Travel Primer for the 2012 London Olympic Games

February was a busy month for the planners of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, with the release of the final competition schedule and a flurry of press images showing construction progress on the Olympic Stadium, athletes' village, and other venues around the 500-acre Olympic Park in east London. March promises to be no less action-packed, with tickets to the 300-plus Summer Olympics' events (across 26 sports) being released worldwide on March 15 (distribution will be made via lottery). Residents of the United Kingdom and designated European countries can apply for tickets at the official London 2012 website. Residents from all other countries should apply for tickets through their local National Olympic Committee, National Paralympic Committee, or an authorized ticket reseller. U.S. and Canadian residents can apply for tickets from CoSport, the group appointed by the London Organising Committee to distribute tickets in Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and the United States.'s London Travel Guide

So you've got your dream ticket to the 100-meter final (or, as is more likely, Greco-Roman wrestling qualification heats). What next? As with any major worldwide sporting event, it's a safe bet that airfares won't be going south anywhere on or around the Summer Olympics competition dates (July 27 to August 12, 2012). If you can, book well in advance to lock in reasonable prices as well as available seats. Look, too, for charter flights and special Olympics travel packages through an airport such as London Gatwick, which can often uncover cheaper fares than comparable scheduled services to bigger, busier London Heathrow. The Olympic Park is located close to London's City Airport, plus lies within easy range of Luton and Stansted airports, all smaller airports that are serviced by low-cost carriers including easyJet, Ryanair, and CityJet. So instead of flying directly to London, scour for cheaper transatlantic offerings to European hubs like Milan, Dublin, or Frankfurt and then tack on the best low-cost extension to one of London's "secondary" airports.'s Guide to London Hotels

Like airfare, accommodation in London will be at a premium throughout the Olympics. Happily, London is a huge city with a vast range of accommodation choices. If attending Summer Olympics events is the primary purpose of your trip, consider booking accommodation on the east side of town so you don't have to spend your entire trip commuting to and from the Olympic Park on the Tube or Docklands Light Railway. Places like Greenwich, Canary Wharf, neighborhoods around London Bridge, and the Islington/Finsbury Park area offer a range of lodging choices that will get you closer to the Olympics action than traditional West London hot spots like Kensington, Chelsea, and Notting Hill. If you're planning your trip to the London Olympics now, you should also research listings on vacation-rental sites like and iStopOver. Sites like AirBandB and require a little more commitment on your part (reciprocal hosting as opposed to just paying a weekly rental fee, for example), but open up a world of London cultural exchanges that will truly get you into the Olympic spirit.

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