This post is part of Viator’s coverage of the London Olympics. Leading up to the Games and every day during the Games, we’ll be posting tips from our London-based blogger, Philippa. Be sure to check back often for the latest updates on happenings around London, news on special events and tips for what to see and do in London and the surrounding area while you’re visiting!
The Olympic Torch’s arrival in and journey around the UK leading up to the 2012 Olympics is not only symbolic of peace, unity, and friendship but is a way for millions to be involved in the games, especially those of us not lucky enough to get tickets or talented enough to actually be competing.
Lit in Greece as tradition demands, the torch will arrive in the UK on May 18th at Land’s End in Cornwall and spend 70 days visiting 1024 cities, towns and villages borne by 8000 specially selected torch-bearers. The route has been drawn to ensure that the torch comes within 10 miles of 95% of people in the UK, including the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. Following a route which heads from Cornwall up through Wales, to Liverpool, across to Northern Ireland, to Scotland, to northern, central, eastern, and then southern England, and finally to London, arriving in Greenwich on July 21st.
For the following week, the torch will visit every London borough, so no matter where you are in the city, you have a chance to see it pass by. On July 27th, the day of the opening ceremony, the torch will travel from Hampton Court Palace to the Olympic Stadium by boat, traveling like royalty used to on a barge between palaces, passing down the Thames River through Richmond, Chelsea, Westminster, past Southbank, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and on to Stratford, home of the Olympic Stadium.
In London, good places to see the torch are Greenwich Royal Observatory (July 27th at 7:42am), All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon (July 23rd at 5:13pm), Kew Gardens, Richmond (July 24th at 10:45am), and then Hampton Court Palace and riverside on the July 27th. If you prefer to avoid the crowds of London, head for the Eden Project in Cornwall on the afternoon of May 19th, York on June 19th, Cambridge on July 8th, or Brighton on July 16th and 17th.