The sun is shining, it’s warm enough for dresses and shorts, and the vibes are UNREAL. That’s summer in the city for ya, so if you’re looking for some fun and unique things to do in London in the summer, this list will give you plenty to do.
I’ve included ideas for what to do for both when the temps are comfortable and when it’s *really* hot and you actually just want to cool off. The latter is rare, but we usually get a week or two of this every summer here in London.
Image Courtesy of London Fields Lido
Go for a swim in one of London’s outdoor pools
We’ve got quite a few public pools here in London (with small entrance fees), and two private ones at swanky hotels (for guests and members only). So if you find yourself needing a refreshing dip, find the pool nearest to you and head there early if it’s a hot day, to beat the queues!
Some of the city’s most popular public pools are:
- London Fields Lido, London Fields
- Brockwell Lido, Brixton
- Hampton Pool, Hampton
Here’s a list of all of the outdoor public pools in London.
Image Courtesy of Soho House
If you’re visiting London, you can choose to stay at one of two hotels with a pool. Have a look at booking into:
- The Mondrian London, Shoreditch (opening Spring 2021)
- The Berkeley, Knightsbridge
If you’re a Soho House member, the White City, Shoreditch and 180 Strand houses all have rooftop pools.
Additionally, Hampstead Heath has a few swimming ponds, great for summertime and they cost just a couple of pounds to get access to.
Have a pint in a pub garden
If it’s a sunny evening after work or a weekend, London’s many pub gardens will be PACKED with Londoners having drinks with their friends and families. It’s truly one of the best things to do in London in the summer, and most Londoners would agree.
Pub gardens vary in size and “vibe”. Some might just have a few seats in an internal garden, while others can hold hundreds of people. Some pub gardens are family-friendly, while others tend to be more popular with the city’s 20-and-30-somethings in larger groups.
There are SO many great pub gardens around the city, so here are some favourites that are worth a visit if you’re in the area. Don’t travel far to get to these though, because unless you’re in central London, where pub gardens are few and far between, then you’ll never be too far from a pub garden. Londoners call their favourite pub near to their home “my local”, so you might be able to do the same if you find a good pub garden near to where you’re staying.
Image Courtesy of The Duke of Edinburgh
Some fun adults-only pubs with gardens:
- The Duke of Edinburgh, Brixton – *huge* garden, good for large groups.
- The Abbey Tavern in Camden – plenty of space in the back patio space for drinks with friends.
- The Avalon, Clapham South – has a hidden garden at the back of the pub.
Image Courtesy of People’s Park Tavern
Some family-friendly pubs with gardens:
- People’s Park Tavern, Victoria Park – has mini-golf for both kids and adults.
- The Crabtree, Hammersmith – on the River Thames and filled with local families during the day.
- The Scolt Head, Dalston – front patio area framed by greenery, serves a mean Sunday Roast.
Visit one of London’s swanky rooftop bars
Actually, they’re not all swanky, so don’t worry if that’s not your vibe!
Head up to one of London’s many rooftop bars and soak up the sunshine with views of the city.
Image Courtesy of The Culpeper
Some suggestions to start you off:
- Netil 360, London Fields – popular local spot for skyline views and chill vibes.
- Bar Elba, Waterloo – little rooftop spot with Instagram-worthy cocktails.
- The Culpeper, Spitalfields – teeny rooftop spot lined with growing herbs and greens that the pub’s kitchen utilises
Check out this article for all of the hotels in London with rooftop bars, and watch the video below for more recommendations for rooftop bars in London.
Image Courtesy of Granary Square Fountains
Cool off in a fountain
Even if you’re not that keen to go full-on swimming, there are a few fountains around the city that are specifically for playing in (read: fairly clean). This is a great option for kids as these fountains are usually full of little ones having the *time of their lives* but there’s nothing saying you can’t have a play around in the fountains too as a grown-ass adult.
- Diana Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park
- Granary Square Fountains, Kings Cross
- Appearing Rooms, Southbank
Here’s a list of other fountains you might want to pretend to be three years old in.
Explore London’s canals
Sometimes the River Thames overshadows London’s beautiful canals that traverse the city. But in the summer, they’re hubs for canal-side dining, boathouse parties, exercising, and the loveliest transportation journey in all of London. You too can appreciate the canals in a few ways.
Image Courtesy of GoBoat
Drive a canal boat
My preferred way to do this is through GoBoat, they lend you a motorboat to steer yourself and your party down the Regent’s Canal. Don’t worry, it’s super easy to do, and the non-drivers are welcome to host picnics with booze during the ride. There are also various kayak rental companies like Moo Canoes that lend out kayaks, SUPs, and canoes.
Go to The Canal Museum
No better way to learn about the history of the city’s canals and appreciate them in all their glory. The Canal Museum is located in Kings Cross.
Walk or cycle, and make a day of it
Regent’s Canal is the most famous of the London canals and if you wanted a very summery thing to do, you could start your day near The Waterway pub in Paddington and work your way east along the canal, passing parks, cafes, pubs, and markets where you can stop off and explore. Take your time and make a day of it!
Image Courtesy of The Canal Museum
Visit a museum
Pop inside a museum for a couple of hours of learning and cooler temps. You already know the obvious choices like the British Museum, but I’ve got you covered for more obscure and interesting museum options.
Read: 15 Unique Museums to Visit in London
Go to the theatre or cinema
Is it too hot to function? You might have noticed that we aren’t super keen on air con here in London, and that’s because we only need it a week or two a year usually. But if you happen to find yourself with a hot-as-balls day, you would not be judged if you spent some of it in a dark, cold theatre.
Book last-minute theatre tickets on a site or app like TodayTix.
See a film at local cinemas like Rich Mix in Shoreditch or Peckhamplex in Peckham.
Have a picnic in a park
You know what’s fun about parks in London? For the most part, you can drink without getting arrested 🙂 When the weather’s agreeable, Londoners LOVE to take some wine, beers and nibbles to their local park and have a picnic with friends.
Where to picnic (a few favourites):
- London Fields – you can grab drinks and food from local shops and food stalls on Broadway Market and from Netil Market when it’s open.
- Primrose Hill – there are plenty of various food shops and cafes in the immediate area, then head up the hill for beautiful views of London. Go early on the weekend as it gets busy with people doing the same.
- Victoria Park – if going on a Sunday, get some hot foods and nibbles from the Victoria Park Market and then park up on the grass nearby to enjoy it.
Get a preview of Victoria Park in my video guide.
Whether you’re visiting London or are a local, this list should give you PLENTY of ideas of things to do in London in the summer. Now grab a drink and your sunglasses and go enjoy this amazing city.
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