Summer is the perfect time to visit London, as the city comes alive with vibrant energy and endless possibilities of things to enjoy. The warm weather is a welcome change from the usual clouds and rainy skies, and there are so many things to do that you’ll never run out of options. From exploring the city’s wonderful green parks and gardens to taking a river cruise, dining al fresco, and attending outdoor concerts and events, London has something for everyone in the summer.
So, whether you’re a local or a visitor, here are some of the top things to do in London during the summer, as well as some unique experiences and tips for making the most of your trip.
Top things to do in London in the summer
Here some of the best things to do in London this summer. Perfect for adding to your travel plans if you’re visiting the city during the warmer months.
1. Explore London’s parks and gardens
London is home to some of the most beautiful parks and gardens in the world, and summer is the perfect time to explore them. Some of them worth visiting include Hyde Park, Green Park, Richmond Park and Primrose Hill and these are perfect for relaxing, having a picnic, and enjoy the great outdoors. You can sometimes find boat ride opportunities too which is an nice activity for kids and couples.
One of the most popular parks in London is Regent’s Park, which features the stunning Queen Mary’s Gardens and the London Zoo. The park is also home to the Open Air Theatre, which hosts a variety of performances throughout the summer. Discover all of London’s Royal Parks.
Another must-visit park is Kew Gardens, one of the largest and most diverse botanical gardens in the world. Here, you can explore 300 acres of gardens, glasshouses, and galleries, including the iconic Palm House and the Waterlily House.
When the weather is good then this is a nice way to spend an afternoon and enjoy the London summer.
2. Take a river cruise
A river cruise is a great way to see the sights of London while enjoying a leisurely ride along the River Thames. There are a variety of cruises available, from short sightseeing tours to longer dinner cruises, so you can choose the one that best suits your interests and budget.
The London Eye River Cruise is a top option where you’ll get to see highlights such as the Palace of Westminster, St Paul’s Cathedral and Tower Bridge. You can also combine this with a London Eye ticket which allows you to enjoy awesome views of the city.
Other options include getting a cruise from Westminster to Greenwich where you’ll also pass top attractions. Greenwich is a fantastic place to stop for a while and enjoy the summer and here you’ll find the iconic Cutty Sark ship, lots of cute shops and pubs, Greenwich Market and also the amazing Greenwich Park (our favourite park).
3. Enjoy rooftop bars and restaurants
London is known for its impressive skyline, and what better way to enjoy it than from a rooftop bar or restaurant? There are plenty of options to choose from, whether you’re looking for a casual drink with friends or a romantic dinner with a view.
A popular option is the Sky Garden, located atop the Walkie Talkie building. Here, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city while sipping on a cocktail and sampling some small plates. Other options include Bussey Rooftop Bar or Forza Wine in Peckham, as well as Netil360 Rooftop in Hackney.
4. Go hiking
If you’re looking for a break from the city, London has plenty of hiking trails and nature reserves that are perfect for a day trip. One of the most popular options is the London Loop, a 150-mile trail that takes you through some of the city’s most beautiful countryside, although of course you would only do a few sections at a time.
Hampstead Heath is a nice option and this 790-acre park features ponds, woodlands, and stunning views of the city. Here, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike up Parliament Hill for an unforgettable view of the skyline.
If you fancy getting out of the city then a few options include Chiltern Hills, Surrey Hills or stunning The Seven Sisters Cliffs.
5. Explore the markets
The city is home to some of the best markets in the world, and summer is the perfect time to explore them. From the famous Camden Market to the lesser-known Columbia Road Flower Market, you’ll find tons of opportunities to shop, eat, and discover unique treasures.
A popular market worth visiting is Borough Market, which features over 100 stalls selling everything from fresh produce to cheeses and baked goods. Alternatively, head to Portobello Road Market for a more eclectic shopping experience, with stalls selling everything from vintage clothing to antiques.
6. Enjoy the summer festivals and events
Summer is the season for outdoor concerts and events in London, and there are plenty of options to choose from. With options such as the famous Notting Hill Carnival, Wireless music festival, Greenwich Summer Sounds, British Summer Time Hyde Park and plenty more there is something for everyone.
One of the most popular events is the British Summer Time Festival, which takes place in Hyde Park and features a top lineup of artists. Alternatively, head to Somerset House for their Summer Series, which features a variety of music genres in a beautiful courtyard setting.
Another popular event is the Chelsea Flower Show, a stunning showcase of the world’s best flowers and gardens.
7. See the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace
If you’re visiting the city for the first time then the Changing of the Guards parade is a top London activity that you don’t want to miss. This involves a parade along with music at the front of Buckingham Palace and is very entertaining to see. You can read the schedule here.
Seeing the Changing of the Guards performance is one of the best London summer things to do and perfect if you’re visiting the city. Also around Buckingham Palace is the beautiful Green Park and St Jame’s Park which complements this attraction and these are great places to relax afterwards.
8. Go on the ArcelorMittal Orbit
For those looking for a unique and thrilling experience, head to the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a 114.5-meter-tall sculpture and observation tower in the Olympic Park. Here, you can ride the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide, which takes you on a 40-second journey through the sculpture’s twists and turns.
Alternatively, take the elevator to the top for stunning views of the city, including the Olympic Park, Canary Wharf, and the Shard.
Also very close to the ArcelorMittal Orbit you’ll find Hackney Wick and just along the water are bars restaurants and other places to relax. Perfect for London in the summer.
9. Experience Up at The O2: Climb the roof
Another unique experience is the Up at The O2 climb, which takes you on a 90-minute expedition over the roof of the O2 arena. Here, you can enjoy stunning views of the city from 52 meters above ground, including the River Thames, Canary Wharf, and the Olympic Park. As you climb the guide will point out various landmarks that you can see as well as provide some interesting facts. There are accessible options available too, including for wheelchair users.
10. Dine al fresco
One of the best things about summer in London is the opportunity to dine al fresco. Whether you’re looking for a casual lunch or a romantic dinner, there are plenty of options to choose from.
A few options to consider include St Christopher’s Place which is very central and just off Oxford Street (a busy shopping area), as well as around Covent Garden. Alternatively, head to Coppa Club which is along the river and offers great views of the River Thames and the city. Just make sure you call in advance and book a table.
11. Relax in a beer garden
Relaxing in a beer garden is one of the top things to do in London in the summer and the perfect way to spend an afternoon. You’ll find various beer gardens all over the city with some large options at Vinegar Yard and Flat Iron Square, as well as smaller ones such as The Gipsy Moth in Greenwich, The Princess Of Wales in Blackheath and The People’s Park Tavern to name just a few that you’ll find.
You can often look on a pubs website to find out if they have a garden or not, or search online for more options. Google Maps can also help you find them too.
12. Go on a guided walking tour
London is rich in history and culture, and there’s no better way to discover it than on a walking tour. On walking tour of London you’ll get to see some of the top attractions, while learning more about the city’s history.
There are free walking tours available, as well as themed guided options that includes the likes of a famous Jack the Ripper tour to Harry Potter tours.
13. ..Or on a self guided photo walk
If you don’t fancy a guided walk, then why not go on a self-guided photo walk?
The city is home to some of the most incredible landmarks in the world and you can easily enjoy these from the outside. So, if it’s a nice day then why not go on a photo walk along the river and see many of these attractions. You could start around Tower Bridge (below) and then walk west along the River Thames and will get to enjoy Millennium Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, The London Eye, and finally Westminster. There are plenty of other additions that you could add too, such as around Greenwich, or near Battersea Power Station.
Exploring the city on a photo walk is perfect when the weather is nice, and is one of the best summer activities in London.
14. Go on an open top bus tour
For a more relaxed and leisurely tour of the city, hop on an open top bus tour. Here, you can sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of London while learning about its rich history and culture.
One of the most popular options is the Big Bus Tour, which offers a hop-on-hop-off service that stops at major landmarks such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye. Alternatively, head to the Original Tour for a comprehensive tour of the city, with audio guided commentary in various languages.
15. Unique experiences in London during the summer
In addition to the top things to do in London during the summer, there are also plenty of unique experiences to discover. From watching a movie in an outdoor cinema to taking a helicopter ride over the city.
One of the most unique experiences is the Camden Beach, a pop-up beach in the heart of Camden that features sand, deck chairs, and beach huts. Alternatively, head to the Serpentine Pavilion, a stunning architectural installation in Hyde Park that features a different design every year.
16. Go on a day trip from London
If you’re looking for a break from the city, then there are plenty of day trips from London that are worth exploring. From the stunning Cotswolds to the historic city of Bath, there are endless possibilities for adventure.
One of the most popular day trips is to Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument that is over 5,000 years old. Alternatively, head to Oxford for a tour of the famous university and a stroll through the city’s beautiful parks and gardens.
Tips for visiting London in the summer
When visiting London in the summer, there are a few tips to keep in mind to make the most of your trip. First and foremost, be prepared for the weather, as it can be unpredictable. Bring a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings, and don’t forget your sunscreen.
Another tip is to book your activities and accommodations in advance, as summer is a popular time to visit and things can fill up quickly. Consider purchasing a London Pass, and using an Oyster Card or Contactless for the cheapest and most convenient travel around the city.
Accommodation options in London during the summer
There are plenty of accommodation options in London during the summer, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels. You’ll find top place to stay all over the city, although we’d recommend station in zones one or two (quite central) and also close to a Tube (subway) station, or an overground train station. This will make it much easier to get around and explore.
One of the most unique options is to stay in a houseboat on the Thames, where you can enjoy stunning views of the city and a unique experience of living on the water.
London is a city that truly comes alive in the summer, with endless possibilities for adventure and exploration. From exploring the city’s beautiful parks and gardens to taking a relaxing river cruise, dining al fresco, or attending outdoor concerts and events, there’s something to keep everyone happy.
So, whether you’re a local or a visitor, be sure to make the most of your summer in London and discover all that this exciting city has to offer.
Here are some tours and activities you may be interested in during your visit. Click the blue button for even more ideas.
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