Best things to do in London this summer

11 Jul 2019

With rooftop bars, laid-back lidos, parks a-plenty, pop-ups galore and the sunshine bouncing off the banks of the River Thames, London has your summer sorted. So if you fancy a staycation this summer, look no further than our country’s capital.

Urban beaches

London might be 36 miles from the sea, but you can top up your tan at one of London’s urban beaches -- without those coastal breezes. Try a yoga session at Fulham Beach, sip cocktails at Kens Beach Club , enjoy Brunch on the Beach at The Montague on the Gardens’ very own beach bar in Bloomsbury, or salsa on the South Bank at one of its beach-based Cuban Nights. Don’t forget the sun cream!

Rooftop hangouts

There are plenty of rooftop spots to get some vitamin D while you relax and appreciate London’s skyline. Crossrail Place Roof Garden is the perfect oasis in which to unwind in the manic epicentre of London’s financial district. While you’re up there, we suggest you grab some street food at Giant Robot. If you're south of the river, check out Frank’s Café at Bold Tendencies -- a not-for-profit arts organisation in Peckham on the roof of a multi-storey car park -- for arty evenings and restaurant-quality cooking. Meanwhile, Queen of Hoxton’s rooftop bar has been given a Mexican makeover just in time for Mezcal Week (15-21 July).

Take a dip

Dig out those Speedos and take a dip in one of London’s lidos -- with sun loungers and poolside snacks and drinks, they are the perfect place to relax in the summer sun. Some are even heated! Dip your toes in Charlton Lido’s Olympic-size pool, practice your backstroke at the Grade II-listed Brockwell Lido, challenge yourself by swimming a few lengths at Tooting Bec Lido (it's a whopping 90 metres long), or combine two different kinds of lanes at Finchley Lido’s pool and on-site bowling alley. If you can brave a bit of unheated outdoor swimming, then the park views at Hampstead Heath Ponds and Serpentine Lido make it worth taking the plunge.

With the kids

Six weeks can feel like a lifetime with the kids at home, but there are plenty of ways to beat the boredom. Start with a splash at the beach at Brent Cross, go Jurassic with the dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park, make some magical memories at the Whippersnappers Fairyland in Dulwich Park, or tire out your adrenaline-filled teens at Zebra Skate in Kensington and Clapham. If you want to get out of the sun for a while, ride the Mail Rail at the Postal Museum or take advantage of Kids Week, which runs for the whole of August and offers free entry for children to theatre shows when accompanied by a full-paying adult.

Culture vultures

Start your quest for culture with a spot of outdoor theatre at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, The Scoop or Shakespeare’s Globe. Catch one of the Somerset House Summer Series of open-air gigs, see the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace’s summer opening (20 July-29 September), explore Chiswick House and its award-winning gardens, or get reacquainted with a classic film like “The Breakfast Club” or “Back to the Future” at one of the open-air cinemas springing up from Hammersmith to Hornsey.

Fun for free

You don’t have to spend a fortune to make your summer memorable. Pare back your summer spending with some of the free events London has on offer and you’ll have more money for Aperol Spritzes in the sun. Swing by Regent’s Park to see sculptures by Tracey Emin, Robert Indiana and more at Frieze Sculpture 2019 (3 July-6 October), immerse yourself in Caribbean culture at the Notting Hill Carnival (25-26 August), or check out The Colour Palace at Dulwich Picture Gallery, which was created by Pricegore architects and designer Yinka Ilori, and will welcome visitors until 22 September.

Perfect for picnics

Throw down your tartan blanket and dine al fresco. Climb to the top of the hill in Greenwich Park for superb views of the Royal Naval College, the River Thames and Docklands, munch sarnies on Hampstead Heath, grab some street food and a sunny spot by Camden Lock, work up an appetite with a walk up Primrose Hill for a luncheon spot with superb city views, grab some treats at Broadway Market and head to London Fields, or enjoy some sushi in the surroundings of the Japanese-style Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park.

Something different

If you’re looking for something a bit different, sample some basil and chilli ice cream at La Gelatiera in Covent Garden, Stratford, or Crouch End, try an evening at London Zoo or have dinner on a double-decker bus with Bustronome London as you go on a tour of the capital. There’ll also be massaoke -- mass karaoke -- popping up around the city, you can try your hand at shuffleboard at London Shuffle in Shoreditch, or head down to The London Dessert Festival (17-18 August) for some sweet surprises.

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