The tranquil, bucolic vision of Britain to be evoked in Danny Boyle’s pastoral opening ceremony will likely be a far cry from the hubbub consuming London during the Olympics (July 27 to Aug. 12) and the Paralympics (Aug. 29 to Sept. 9). Most London events this summer, be they cultural, social or sporting, have been absorbed into the larger Olympic festivals, and a number of institutions have chosen to take the summer off for renovation rather than compete for attention. In a city as rich and complex as London, however, it is still always possible to escape and find breathing space, even a mere discus throw away from the Olympic Park. In town for the Games? Here are five hideaways that will give you a respite from the crowds. And make a note of the Transport for London website, tfl.gov.uk. — it will be invaluable during the festivities, helping you plan your route and giving rolling updates of any bottlenecks.
(MORE: Welcome to London 2012: We Apologize for the Delays in Your Journey)