The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park opened in 2014 on the site of London 2012 Olympic Games in Stratford, East London; a whole new neighbourhood has been created with its own brand new postcode: E20. Some of the temporary structures used during the Games were dismantled and the remaining buildings have been made accessible to the general public.
The Aquatics Centre, designed by Zaha Hadid has lost its “wings” built to accommodate the spectators; the wave-shaped building is the first of the iconic Olympic venues that visitors to the Park see when accessing the area from Westfield Shopping Center. Inside there are two Olympic pools, a diving pool and boards, a gym and a crèche. They can be accessed daily either by joining a membership scheme or on a “pay-as-you-go” basis.
Leaving the Aquatics Centre, a bridge crossing the Waterworks river leads to a a nice tree-lined promenade, a short distance away from the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
Created to celebrate the London Games, it is the tallest sculpture in the UK (114.5 meters); a lift takes visitors to its viewing platform from where there are good views of the Olympic Park and the London skyline in the distance.
There are 455 steps to get back on the ground and for the more adventurous ones, a slide will be installed transforming the Orbit in a giant Helter-Skelter. An Olympic venue undergoing a major renovation, is the Olympic Stadium where many sporting events of London 2012 took place including the spectacular Opening and Closing ceremonies. It will reopen in 2016 as the new home of West Ham United FC.
On the North side of the Park, is the Copper Box Arena, a sports and entertainment complex with a 7500 capacity and a short walk away is Lee Valley VeloPark where the velodrome can be visited. The Olympic Rings, a favourite photo spot, can be seen on a hill close to the velodrome.
The area includes a BMX track, mountain bike trails and the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. Like in the Aquatics Centre, all the facilities here are accessible to the public with the chance to cycle in the steps of Sir Chris Hoy on the velodrome track.
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has many facilities to keep everyone entertained including playgrounds for the little ones, a number of kiosks selling food and drinks, cafes and restaurants and plenty of spaces to enjoy a picnic (weather permitting!). Many green spaces of the park original design have been kept including wetlands, gardens and meadows. Access to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is free and the park can be visited independently or by joining one of the guided walking tours on offer; another option is to board a boat for a brief cruise on the river Lee to see the Olympic venues from a different prospective.
The redevelopment of the area around the Olympic Park continues, new buildings have been constructed and the former Olympic Village has been transformed to provide accommodations in a highly sought after location next to Westfield Stratford City, one of the biggest shopping centers in Europe.