Things to do in London in Summer
London is an incredible place to visit all year round, but there’s something about spending summer in the city that is super special. Make sure you pack your sunnies, slip on your comfiest sandals and get ready to don your summer wardrobe as you explore the best of what London has to offer (although, it might be a good idea to bring an umbrella too… you know what London is like!)
With food festivals, outdoor cinemas, incredible parks and unlimited alfresco activities, you’ll be spoilt for choice when you visit London in summer. There isn’t enough time in the world to enjoy all the fun things to do in summer in London but this guide should give you an extensive list of some of the best things to do on a sunny day in London, so you can make the most out of your trip, whether you come in June, July or August.
Parks & Gardens
For such a built up capital city, London has its fair share of big green spaces, no matter where you find yourself. In the East, there’s Victoria Park, or the smaller London Fields or Hackney Down, in the North West, you’ve got Hampstead Heath, in the South, you can explore Battersea Park or Clapham Common and if you’re more central, you can explore the adjacent St. James’ Park, Hyde Park and Green Park or Regent’s. Having said that, if you really want to explore the best of London’s greenery, you should get on the tube heading Southwest and head to Richmond Park, Bushy Park or the well-known Kew Gardens.
Kew’s Royal Botanical Gardens
It is suggested that visitors allow 3 hours to explore this 500-acre, gorgeous and wild botanical garden. Its aim is not only to look stunning but also to educate the public about the conservation of flora. While this garden does have an entrance fee, it is totally worth it and can be visited all year long.
Adjacent to Primrose Hill, this green space is one of the Royal Parks of London. There are regular events here including the Open-Air Theatre, but even without these events, this area should be explored. Don’t forget to visit Primrose Hill for an impressive view of London’s skyline.
Right in the centre of London, Hyde Park often boasts the biggest names in the entertainment industry and hosts huge events and concerts all year round. Concert or not, there is always a tranquil place to chill with a picnic in this expansive lush space and Buckingham Palace is close by for a visit too.
If you fancy venturing a bit further out of the centre of London, then Richmond Park is an incredible park to explore. This huge walled park is home to hundreds of deer that you can see roaming around freely. You won’t feel like you’re in London when you visit this little slice of heaven.
Green Park & St. James Park
The other side of Buckingham Palace to Hyde Park, Green Park and St. James Park both allow visitors to forget they’re in the centre of this bustling capital city and gives a respite from the fun buzz of London. They’re both extremely tranquil, a part of London’s 8 Royal Parks and St. James’ has a stunning lake to walk along.
Swimming in London?! No way... That’s what many of you are probably thinking! However, there are many swimming spots to take advantage of in London, and you will not be disappointed. Many of the parks in London offer swimming opportunities in a variety of ways, so whether you prefer a more natural dip or a pool to splash in with the whole of the family, there’s something for everybody. Take Hyde Park, for example, which houses the fabulous Serpentine Lido, which is home to the oldest swimming club in Britain and is open to the public for the entirety of summer! There is also the Lido café bar nearby where you can grab a snack, coffee or glass of wine! This isn’t unusual in London, although to bag yourself a spot, you’ll have to be organised (especially on the weekend!) If you prefer to be at one with nature, there’s everyone’s favourite ponds at Hampstead Heath, where you have the option of the ladies’ pond, the men’s pond or the mixed pond. There are some other spots for a natural dip too, though! Take a look below for our favourites:
Located in Hyde Park, near the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion and the Princess Diana Memorial Statue, this lido is a great outdoor swimming spot that features a sun terrace and a café.
One of the best London swimming spots for swimmers who prefer to immerse themselves in nature. On the Heath, rather than lidos, there are three ponds to swim in – the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond, the Mixed Pond and Highgate Men’s Pond. Spending the whole day exploring the Heath and the ponds is a fun way to spend a summer’s day in London.
Tooting Bec Lido
South of the river, in Tooting Commons, is open-air Tooting Bec Lido. This lido is the largest freshwater swimming pool in the UK, so grab your swimmers and enjoy this incredible swimming spot.
Parliament Hill Lido
Also located on Hampstead Heath is Parliament Hill Lido, an unheated, open-air swimming pool that is open to the public 365 days a year. If you’re in North London, and prefer a pool to a pond, this is the place for you.
Located in a hidden part of Hackney, West Reservoir is a stunning place to go swimming and you can walk around the reservoirs before and have a hot drink or snack to warm you up after your swim.
London Fields Lido
Another one that is better for more serious swimmers, this 50m Olympic size outdoor swimming pool is heated and is open all year round. Be aware, this pool has several lanes and swimmers are expected to do lengths, so if you’re after a quick dip or a casual swim, it’s best to go to Parliament Hill or Serpentine Lido instead.
PRO TIP: Book your tickets in advance during summer months!
We know most people like to be out in the sun on a warm summer's day, but even in London, the midday sun can sometimes be a bit intense! Set inside one of the many incredible art galleries or museums that London offers for a few hours to get some respite from the sun! Whether you’re interested in abstract, modern art or religious portraits, science or history, dinosaurs or architectural design, the array of exhibitions available in London is impressive. Below, check out the exhibitions that we think are a must-see this summer! Most of them are free, and if they’re not, we think that they’re definitely worth the money.
A great gallery showcasing the best of international modern & contemporary art. Housed in an old power station, there are multiple floors of permanent display (which is totally free to visit!), a terrace that overlooks the Thames and some incredible temporary exhibitions (available at an extra cost). The temporary exhibitions currently on are Surrealism Beyond Borders and Lubaina Himid.
South of the river, this gallery which is a part of the same family as Tate Modern, exhibits British artwork throughout the years specifically, as well as other art. Similar to Tate Modern, most of the collection is completely free to visit. They are holding two temporary exhibitions over summer, which cost visitors extra. These focus on two artists: Cornelia Parker and Walter Sickert.
Comprising two galleries, called North and South, these spaces are smaller but their exhibitions pack a punch, and really make the visitors think. The North Gallery is currently showing Back To Earth, about the fragility of our planet, and The South Gallery has more of an immersive experience on at the moment, allowing visitors to imagine what it would be like to be faced with extra-terrestrial creatures.
Located in Shoreditch, this space focuses its exhibitions on artists who use photography to create a visual dialogue around race, representation, social justice and more. Until 22nd October, they’re exhibiting Monica de Miranda’s The Island.
This gallery should be visited for not only it’s impressive exhibitions, but also for the interesting brutalist architecture that makes it so recognisable, making it the perfect place to explore in summer. It is an event space, hosts film nights but also has exciting temporary exhibitions focusing on art & design, such as Our Time On Earth, which will be displayed until 29th August 2022.
Please note that isn’t an exhaustive list of all the great art galleries in London, as there are too many incredible galleries in London to list them all. We’d also suggest Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, the V&A in South Kensington, The Hayward Gallery in Southbank and the British Museum & National Gallery of London near Soho, as well as many more.
Whether it’s a food festival, a music festival, a film festival or the fabulous and famous Notting Hill Carnival, London has a festival to celebrate everything under the sun... and we’re here for it! If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the Covent Garden’s Ice Cream Festival is a must-visit, whereas if you’re a fan of savoury food, then Hampton Court Palace Food Festival or Pub in the Park will have you rolling home.
If you want to mix good food with an all-day (and all-night) boogie, Notting Hill Carnival is the place to be. Take a look below to find the festivals that you shouldn’t miss this summer:
Notting Hill Carnival
The largest street festival in the whole of Europe, this iconic carnival returns to West London between 27-29th August.
Hampton Court Palace Food Festival
Make sure you come with an empty belly to this festival, you’ll be drooling at all the incredible options of street food available and will wish you had 5 stomachs. Sip on a cocktail or a beer to make it all go down a bit easier. 28-29th August.
Ice Cream Festival
It is summer after all, so cool yourself down with a delicious ice cream! Stay safe with a high quality, smooth classic flavour or mix it up a little by trying a brand new flavour! 19th August – 4th September at Covent Garden.
Walks and trips
It’s summer... what better thing is there to do in summer in London than take a relaxing stroll around one of its many parks or along some of its picturesque streets. Walk around in the dappled light and shade of a wooded park or meander the edgy paths of the canal, ending up at one of London’s best markets. There’s one thing for sure – make sure you’ve got your comfiest shoes on and get out and about.
Camden Town & Primrose Hill
Start your walk at Mornington Crescent and walk up Camden High Street. Explore edgy Camden Town and wander around the Camden market before grabbing some delicious street food. Sip a beer by the canal and then pick up some snacks for later. Pass Amy Winehouse’s statue and walk down Regent’s Park Road to get to Primrose Hill, which has a completely different atmosphere to Camden. Admire the view from Primrose Hill, as it has one of the best panoramas of London’s skyline and depending on the time, watch the sunset with the picnic snacks you bought earlier or head over to Regent’s Park and explore more of London’s stunning greenery.
Start at Angel Station (or any other station along the canal, such as Kings Cross) and walk along the canal, stopping wherever you feel like it along the way. No matter which side of the canal you’re on, there are great food and drink options. Take the Plaquemine Lock, which offers Creole and Cajun cuisine and live jazz, or Narrowboat, which has fantastic views of the canal, both of which are close to Angel Station. Further down, you have Towpath, a waterside restaurant which serves locally sourced food and then you’ll reach Broadway Market, full of amazing food options. From here, spend the rest of your evening relaxing on London Fields or at one of the incredible restaurants or bars nearby.
Whether you walk along the River Thames or take a river boat, one thing is certain - a trip to London isn't complete without seeing this impressive river. Marvel at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, float alongside the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (which is finally scaffolding-free!) before seeing St. Paul's Cathedral and having an unrivalled view of the Shard. Why not go one step further and take a lunch cruise, so you can admire these sights while enjoying some delicious lunch?
So there are a few activities that should be on your list for your trip to London this summer, but there are so many other attractions and things to do in London all year long, so don't miss out on them either. No matter where you want to visit in London this summer, we have the perfect location for you! Visit any of our easyHotel London locations so that you have a super easy, super priced stay in London and can spend more money on activities and ensuring you have the trip of a lifetime.