There may be less than two weeks until the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, but procrastinators can still get to the Games, which run July 27 to Aug. 12, if they're to spend a little more money, be flexible when it comes to flight times and , and don't wait a moment longer.
Here are answers to some of the questions the last-minute Olympics-bound traveler might have.
Can I still get tickets?
Yes. Though most tickets have been , some are still available for certain competitions, including some basketball, gymnastics and volleyball tournaments, according to a recent search at CoSport.com, the website of the Games' official ticket agent in the U.S. The company also sells packages that include tickets to some popular events like certain men's and women's swimming finals and , from about $4,700 a person for three days and two nights.
Even without tickets, visitors can watch several events live by a good on the . The Olympic marathon will pass such as the Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. The men's and women's road cycling races will begin on the Mall in central London and southwest through the city and out to Surrey for several circuits around Box Hill. And Weymouth will be welcoming 60,000 to 70,000 visitors a day to watch sailing events from its shores, according to VisitEngland.com.
If all else fails, the BBC is running official "big screens" around the country - from Norwich to Plymouth and from Dover to Middlesborough - with live coverage of the events.
Whant about flights?
Flights are still available to London during the Olympics, but are high, with most round-trip costing around $1,100 to $1,400, according to Farecompare.com. That's about 13 percent higher than this time last year. Act fast, as fares are only expected to rise as the Games near.
Travelers can usually find some by flying to an alternative European airport and making their to London by train or a low-cost like Ryanair - although if you're late booking your ticket, even this strategy will .
Warren Chang, vice president of Fly.com, a flight search engine, noted that Berlin and Madrid are two exceptions. "Flying to Berlin from New York City instead of direct to London is a potentially good option," with fares about $650 in late July through mid-August, he said. "Same goes for Madrid from Dallas. The rest of the fares are either more expensive to other cities, or just aren't cheap enough to offer savings."
Are affordable hotels sold out?
"It's not difficult to find a room," said Tom Meyers, founder of EuroCheapo.com, which reviews inexpensive hotels in dozens of cities and recently about 425 London hotels with availability for the Summer Games. "It's just difficult to find a ."
Even at accommodations, prices are up considerably, with many charging double the standard rate or more, he said. The Seven Dials, for example, which Eurocheapo describes as "a cramped two-star hotel in just about the best location possible," on Monmouth Street in London's West End, is offering rooms from 230 pounds (about $362 at $1.56 to the pound) a night, up from 115 pounds on average. But for the , there are other options, from apartments to home stays to hostels. To avoid , check VisitLondon.com for a database of lodging companies recognized by the London Olympic organizing committee.You can even a at designated sites in the city. Camp In London, a campsite on a field in Walthamstow, East London, is just four miles from the heart of the city and a less than 10-minute free bus ride from the Olympic Park. Pre-erected tents cost 40 pounds a person or you can pitch your own for 15 pounds a person. For more campsites visit 2012camping.co.uk.
Wherever you decide to stay, be sure to consult a map before booking. London has more than 100,000 hotel rooms throughout the city and its 32 boroughs, according to VisitLondon.com, and the Olympic Games are taking place across the city. In fact, some destinations like parts of southern Essex or even Hertfordshire, which is north of London, are more conveniently located in relation to the Olympic Village than parts of West London.
Also, while London is the host city, events will be taking place across England, including soccer matches in Coventry (an hour by train from London), Manchester (two hours away) and Newcastle (three hours); sailing events in Weymouth (two and a half hours away); and cycling in Essex (an hour away). So, you may want to make sure you are near the event you are interested in, or at least near a train station.
What about the crowds?
Whether you're a procrastinator or not, you're going to have to deal with crowds. The huge number of spectators, combined with the usual tourist and people using the transport system, means that London will be significantly busier than normal. Heathrow is for the , with a temporary terminal dedicated for Olympic athletes and with 1,000 volunteers to help travelers. Approximately 80 percent of spectators are estimated to be traveling by rail, placing extra demand on an already network, according to London2012.com, the official Olympics site.
At this point there is still time to map out a strategy for getting around so you're not watching Jordyn Wieber's balance beam routine on a TV in an overcrowded bar.
Getaheadofthegames.com, developed by Transport for London, offers an interactive map that shows how mass transit will be affected in London during the Games by date and time so you can plan your trip accordingly. In general, allow extra time to get where you need to go. Mass transport will be particularly busy before the start and at the end of sporting sessions. You can also for free travel alerts for warnings of Tube and Docklands Light Railway service delays at the Transport for London website, tfl.gov.uk. Walk whenever possible, or consider biking. Although demand for bike rentals is expected to be high, parking stations may be within walking distance of events. For more information, visit the London Cycling Campaign at lcc.org.uk.
Tom Hall, editor of LonelyPlanet.com, and a lifelong Londoner, recommends the Thames Clipper, a scheduled ferry that tends to be less congested than the Tube or buses. For about 6 pounds, he said, "you can ride from the London Eye to Greenwich, getting a great view of the capital's main along the way."
Museums, monuments and other tourist attractions are also expected to be mobbed, so try to buy any tickets online in advance. The London Pass, which starts at 46 pounds per adult and 29 pounds per child for one day, gives you free admission to more than 55 attractions and the ability to the lines at various tourist sites, including the Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral, Windsor Castle and the London Zoo. And festival.london2012.com offers ticket information for the Cultural Olympiad, a series of live concerts and events - some of which are free - from Juneto Sept. 9. *