London’s top five ways to see the Olympics for free

{ Posted on Aug 13 2013 by B-man }
Categories : Travel news

Watch live coverage on big TV screens

There are screens showing live Olympic events in some of London's major parks as part of the London Live celebrations (

Hyde Park has four screens and Victoria Park three. There's also the chance to try different sports and enjoy live music from stars such as Feeder and Tom Jones. You can book guaranteed entry to each venue (?3.50 per booking) in advance or wander in free of charge if there's space.

There are plenty of screens in locations outside central London, including Blackheath Common in Lewisham and the Town Square in Walthamstow. Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Derry, Dover, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Swansea, and Swindon also have big screens.

Watch the Olympic cycling road race
Road Cycling test event on The Mall on August 14, 2011. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images

This weekend you'll have a chance to spot competitors in the Olympic cycling road race ( The men's event runs on Saturday 29 July from 10am to 4pm, while the women's race is on Sunday 29 from noon to 4pm.

Download a map of the route at the link above – 250km (155 miles) for men, 140km (87 miles) for women – which runs from The Mall into Surrey and back again.

The start and finish sections are ticketed, but free viewing spots include outside the Natural History Museum, Richmond Park, and Bushy Park north of Hampton Court Palace, as well as the rural stretches. Trains from London to Surrey are likely to be very busy.

See the triathlon in Hyde Park

See three events in one here as some of the Games' hardiest competitors tackle the triathlon ( a 1.5km swim, followed by a 40km bike ride and a 10km run.

The women's competition takes place on 4 August (9am-11.30am), while the men's will take place on 7 August (11.30am-2pm).

Arrive early to grab a place at the best viewing spots, which include the Hercules monument, Wellington Arch, south side of the Serpentine bridge, the Serpentine, along South Carriage drive, and just inside the park near Knightsbridge and Marble Arch tube stations.

Watch the Olympic marathon loop around London

All three marathons start and finish on The Mall. Download a map of the route (, and plan to camp out at some of these free viewing spots: Cannon Street, Cheapside, St Paul's Cathedral, Victoria Embankment, and St James's Park.

The women's marathon takes place on 5 August (11am-1:45pm) and the men's event on 12 August (11am-1:30pm). The paralympic marathon is on 9 September (8am-2:15pm).

Watch the open water swimming in Hyde Park

Forget boxing, this is one of the most brutal events in the Games. The 10k swim is on 9 August (women) and 10 August (men). The scramble for position at the start often results in black eyes, bloody noses and broken ribs, and then the real pain starts – two hours of racing. Swimmers will complete six laps of the Serpentine, culminating in a sprint finish. The prime position for spectators in the grandstand on the north side of the lake is ticketed, but the south side is open to everyone. Arrive early or prepare for some jostling of your own.

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Fiona Quinn and Mark Henshall are editors of Frommer's travel guides

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