London is a big city with so many things to do. However, the winter weather is often freezing and requires indoor activities.
This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
In winter Londoner’s decline invites from friends or fake a cold, just so they won’t have to venture outside when it’s cold and grey.
So, come summertime, as the days get longer and brighter, the real fun starts in London. From food festivals, cocktail events, carnivals, Instagrammable picnics (because we aren’t basic over here), pop-ups, late-late night bars and more. Us Londoners just can’t seem to sit still during summer!
There are just so many things to do in London in summer, and we don’t want to waste a minute of those daylight-saving hours.
While a beach day trip from London is fun to do now and then, sometimes you might overlook what’s right in front of you. There are plenty of summer activities in London only a few short tube stops away.
So, whether you’re a born and bred Londoner or fresh off the plane (or boat as Caribbean’s like to say), here are a few top things to do next time you wonder what to do in summer in London.
The average temperatures you can expect from a London summer are quite mild. From June to August, the average highs are about 22°C with occasional rain showers.
Although, in more recent years, London has had a few occasional heatwaves where temperatures rise to 30°C. And Londoner’s have definitely been known to take advantage of these heatwaves by finding the nearest Lido or beach.
At night and in early mornings, the average summer lows are around 15°C. So, it’s good to carry a light jacket, sweater, or cardigan with you to cover up and take off again when it heats up.
The British weather (and rain) is often unpredictable, which is why you should also try to carry an umbrella in London in the summer and check BBC weather.
This British capital has no shortage of fun activities to enjoy when the sun is out, and the weather is warmer.
Relish the sunny weather by enjoying many outdoor activities before chilly autumn and winter rear their heads again.
There are two kinds of open-air theatre to enjoy in London. You can see a screenplay or watch the actors in a live performance.
There are a few places in London to catch an open-air movie screening. From rooftops, fields, festivals, or floating on the docks.
These screenplay spots show movies from all genres and eras, ensuring you’ll find a movie to your taste.
Watch a live rendition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet or the 101 Dalmations Musical at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
This park is only a 10-minute walk from Baker Street Station and in Queen Mary’s Garden in Regent Park.
Guests sit on the semi-circle pavilion around the stage for the best views of the performance under the night sky.
There is also a terrace that offers seated and covered dining options before the show. You also order food from the nearby restaurants, The Grill and The Pizza Oven, and have a picnic.
In summer, the royal palace opens its doors to the public. You can wander through 19 State Rooms and the grandiose garden between July and October.
Central pieces in the Buckingham Palace State Rooms tour include the White Drawing Room, Music Room, Throne Room, and the magnificent Ballroom.
The iconic red and gold Throne Room, with its dramatic red draping’s and two red thrones, is a must-see in the royal palace.
This room displays chairs made for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and King George IV. Queen Victoria’s throne chair from 1837 is also on display.
The Palace Garden is a 16-hectare park that includes a summer house, a rose garden, and the palace tennis court.
It is the largest private garden in London and a favourite venue for the queen’s annual garden parties.
The lake that runs through the garden was originally from the overflow of the Serpentine Lake but is now a central piece that has an ecosystem of its own.
Another colourful garden to visit in London is the Mayfield Lavender Farm. Here you can frolic in the sea of fragrant smells of fresh purple lavender at this flower farm in Banstead, Surrey. This is just 20 km (13 miles) from Central London, but very much worth the visit.
So, get your best frock and straw hat out and get ready to be gone with the wind fabulous!
The purple buds start to appear in June and are at full bloom from July to August. There are hundreds of visitors during this time, so a weekday trip is best to avoid crowds.
Visitors can eat some lavender-infused treats at the Mayfield open-air cafe before taking a tractor ride through the blooming farm.
From the ride, you’ll be able to see three varieties of lavender along with butterflies and bees enjoying the view.
When you’re done, take a bit of the farm home with you by visiting the gift shop.
Here you can find lavender liqueurs, treats, gifts and aromatherapy oils. You can also buy seeds from their nursery to start your own fragrant lavender fields at home.
Kew Gardens is a great place to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and be surrounded by lush gardens. It is also one of the most Instagrammable places in London.
The garden is a living museum of diverse plants and flowers from all areas of the world. While you’re there, visit the Princess of Wales Conservatory to see plants ranging from the dry deserts to the humid tropics.
Then, there are the immense wonders of the ancient trees in the Arboretum and the multi-level rock gardens with flora from mountainous regions all over the world.
There are also a few restaurants and cafes in the park with indoor and outdoor dining options.
Choose between a light meal with your afternoon tea or a heartier Lebanese Barbeque or plant-based burger. Or you can find snacks at the Victoria Plaza Café and have a picnic on the manicured grass.
Students and senior citizens get a major discount on entry tickets, but if you’re neither of those, you can still save a few pounds by booking your ticket at least two days in advance.
Also, if you are a Londoner and the company you work for is a ‘Friend of Kew Gardens’, you just need to show your work ID, and you and your guest will only pay half-price on your entry tickets.
To find out if your company is a ‘Friend of Kew Gardens, check with your company’s HR department.
June to July is the Wimbledon season in London. Whether you’re a sport-lover or not, watching Rafael Nadal or Serena Williams play a match live is a sight to see.
The Wimbledon Tennis Tournament has been a part of London’s history since 1877. It is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is often frequented by the Queen herself.
There are some dining options between matches in the venue but be prepared to splurge.
A worthwhile dining stop is ‘The Lawn’, which offers private seating with a three-course a la carte menu. The Treehouse is a new concept that aims to be in effect in 2022. It will be an informal experience with small meals and live DJs.
If you miss the tournament, you can still visit the Wimbledon Lawn Museum, shop and cafe. All three are currently only open from Thursday to Saturday.
Here, you’ll explore the history of tennis and Wimbledon itself. There are over 40,000 objects in the museum, from tennis gear to collectables.
This two-day wing fest dedicates itself to all the chicken wing lovers in and around London. There are a few of them throughout the year, so you never have to miss wing day.
This extravaganza is a festivity of flavours and the hunt for London’s best chicken wing recipes.
There are over 50 varieties of wings to try, and each year, a panel of judges decides the UK’s ultimate wing winner.
Although chicken wings are the festival’s main focus, there is other entertainment on offer.
You’ll find craft beers, live music, and Michelin-star quality cooking demos. There are plenty of games, street entertainment, and just colourful celebrations of flavours and fun that wouldn’t be possible in the cold winter weather.
London is a city that loves its rooftop bars. From swanky late-night bars overlooking the city lights to funky colourful bars that instantly lift your mood. London has it all.
A few swanky rooftop spots with 360° views of the city include Radio Rooftop and Aviary. At each of these establishments, you can enjoy the London sunset in opulent style with a sundowner prepared by their top bartenders.
If you’re looking for a more laid-back vibe, then Bar Elba, Savage Garden, Roof East, and Netil360 are probably more to your taste.
Savage Garden is a smart casual venue on top of the DoubleTree by Hilton. They have live music and DJs on their decks every Wednesday to Saturday.
As you can imagine, these places can be in high demand, so bookings are the safest way to secure a seat.
Roof East is like a two-story grown-up playground and rooftop bar. It hosts an occasional rooftop movie night and has a few games like mini-golf and lawn bowl to keep you entertained.
Bar Elba also hosts great entertainment alongside the bar with open-air movies and stand-up comedy brunches.
Netil360 is a rooftop bar, cafe, garden, and workspace all in one. It is very laid-back and a popular spot among the locals.
They serve local craft beers as well as international wines and cocktails. It’s a great place to just chill at and have a panoramic view of the city skyline.
Alfresco dining is the way to go during the hot summer days. London’s temperatures usually don’t swell too high, so an outdoor brunch in London is a great way to spend the morning without the threat of sunburn.
NAC in Mayfair is a cute restaurant with bubble pink walls and blue velvet couches. Sit inside or out and enjoy the flavour-rich menu. It’s the perfect place for brunch with the girls.
If you’re feeling a bit fancy and want to dress up, Circolo Popolare is the place for you. The food here is to die for …. You will dream about their food after your first visit. No joke.
This Italian restaurant opens its Sicilian terrace to 60 outdoor seats in summer.. Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday.
The menu changes every month, so you’ll always have an excuse to come back and order another glass of prosecco at this highly Instagrammable restaurant.
Bar Elba and Crust Bros are great places to stop by in Waterloo. These brunch spots serve food and cocktails for up to two hours in the late morning.
Crust Bros serves the freshest oven-baked pizzas on the outside terrace, while Elba is a great rooftop hangout from brunch to an open-air movie night. However, if you’re on a budget, The Smiths of Smithfield, Islington offers bottomless brunch outside too.
Here you can have two hours of free-flowing prosecco, mimosas and Bloody Mary’s with your breakfast.
Having a barbeque in London is one of the most fun outdoor things to do in summer. It allows you to breathe in some fresh air, gather with friends and family, play a few games, and enjoy a well-cooked steak (or eggplant for the vegetarians).
One of those parks is Waterlow Park in Highgate. This park is aptly nicknamed the ‘garden for the gardenless’ and is a great place to grill a few meals by the pond and play areas.
A few other London parks that have BBQ spots include Burgess Park in Southwark, Caledonian Park in North London, and Lincoln’s Inn Fields in Holborn.
It is so easy to start a fire (just don’t burn the place down) surrounded by lush greenery and trees, so these parks have strict rules to abide by.
Coal barbeques aren’t allowed in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, so bring along your gas griller with you.
There are also designated spots to dispose of your disposable barbecue supplies and trash.
Some parks don’t allow visitors to barbeque after 9 pm, so please check with the park’s website before starting the grill.
It wouldn’t be summer in London without sinking your toes in the sand or tasting the salty air on your lips. Therefore, a beach trip in and around the city is in order.
Ruislip Lido Beach is in Ruislip Woods Nature Reserve in Hillingdon, North London. It’s very popular among Londoners to cool off at, especially on a Bank Holidays.
But unfortunately, it’s not safe to swim in due to the blue-green algae in the water. However, there is still so much to do at this 60-acre beach on the lake.
Lush woodlands, play areas, and a miniature railway surround the calming Ruislip Lido Beach. There are also a few places to fish in summer and some nearby restaurants to grab a bite.
If you’re hoping to party at night and take a dip in the ocean, there are a few more wonderful beaches just a short tube ride from Ruislip Lido.
Fulham Beach and Dock Beach are artificial urban beaches that host a variety of activities every summer in London.
At Fulham Beach, or rather Neverland, you’ll find a few alfresco restaurants and bars. There are also a few beach games, DJs and more to enjoy throughout the day.
On the other hand, Dock Beach has fantastic open-air cinemas on the dock, swimming spots, and street food vendors daily.
London has 196 public swimming pools in the city, so you don’t have to look far to find one. Unfortunately, some public pools require memberships. Here are a few that don’t.
Take a dip in the sky at Jumeirah Carlton Tower’s second-floor swimming pool. You don’t need a membership to use this pool, but you do need to book a treatment at the wellness spa.
Luckily, spa treatments are pretty low in price, and it’s never a bad idea to get a massage, so it’s actually a double treat.
Pools on the Park is open seven days a week at Old Deer Park in Richmond. This park has an indoor and outdoor pool priced at 45-minute swimming sessions.
There is also a hydrotherapy pool in summer and a gym nearby.
London Aquatics Centre is another membership-free public pool. Instead of a membership, you only pay for the services you’re using – like the gym, fitness classes or the swimming pool.
There are three pools available, guarded by trained lifeguards. Bookings are encouraged.
The Thames River, or the River Iris, runs through London and is the second-longest river in the United Kingdom.
It flows past a few cultural landmarks in the city, so a boat ride with live commentary is a perfect way to get a fast-track tour of the city.
These include the London Eye, The Shard, House of Parliament and the Tower Bridge.
While you’re cruising, you’re served a delicious meal of roasted chicken with seasonal vegetables. For dessert, sink your teeth into a decadent chocolate fondant with coffee or tea.
There is also a paid bar on board for those who would like something a little stronger.
You can also take a River Thames dinner cruise, if you prefer a later tour. This three-hour sunset tour greets you with a welcome drink and shows you the sparkling city from a new perspective.
You’re served a four-course meal while a cabernet singer serenades you and night falls. There is ample time to dance the night away near the end of the tour.
You don’t need to go to the London Eye or visit The Shard for a 360° view of the big city. The Sky Garden gives way better city scenes – for free. It also isn’t as packed with tourists as the other places can be.
The Sky Garden is a beautiful glasshouse full of dense plants. Free access tickets are released every Monday, and guests are encouraged to book reservations well ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
However, if you haven’t booked ahead, you can take a chance as a walk-in –they might have a few spots open.
London has many museums, and luckily, many of them are free to enter. The Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum are both massive, with impressive art and design exhibits from throughout history.
Here, you can see age-old artefacts from century-old East Asian relics to 17th-century Caribbean antiques.
The city doesn’t only have cultural and historical museums. It has a few fun and experimental museums, too.
The Science Museum shows everything from biology to astronomy-related exhibits. It also has a few interactive exhibits and immersive 3D videos in the Ronson Theatre.
The Natural History Museum and the Horniman Museum and Gardens show the odd peculiarities of human and animal biology.
Note:Even though tickets are free, you must book a ticket beforehand on their websites to reserve an entry.
Although it is a bustling city, London still boasts numerous free open urban parks. Hyde Park is probably one of the more well-known parks in the city.
This green park is an excellent place for a picnic or relaxing under some trees between sightseeing.
It gets extra plus points because you can also swim in the Serpentine Lido – for free, seven days a week – from July to September.
A few free parks you should visit for amazing views are Regent’s Park, Holland Park, and Hampstead Heath.
Hampstead Heath allows scenic views of the urban city, while Regent’s Park and Holland Park offer more tranquil views of nature.
London has so many markets that it’s sometimes hard to know where to go or start. There are several vintage clothing markets, antique furniture markets, art markets, and food markets in London.
One good thing about these markets is that you don’t have to spend a penny to visit one.
Sometimes the fun is in window shopping and weaving through the different parts of the city. Occasionally, live bands play at various markets to add to the whimsical summer atmosphere.
A few good markets to check out in London are the Leadenhall and Borough Markets. These two markets are near where many scenes for Harry Potter were shot.
If you’re a Potter fan, take a stroll down the street to see if you spot any recognisable location shots in the movie.
Leadenhall Market features as the entrance to Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban was filmed nearby Borough Market.
There are countless lists of the top tourist spots in London. But those places become oversaturated with tourists and high prices.
Some of the best places to visit are the city’s hidden gems that only a select few know about.
One of the best free and non-touristy activities in London is a visit to God’s Own Junkyard. This art showroom is a splash of neon light exhibitions at the Leadenhall Market. You don’t have to order anything, but the venue is also a bar and cafe.
No DSLR cameras or even GoPros are allowed here, but you can take pictures with your mobile phone for social media or personal use.
Like God’s Own Junkyard, London has many free art and galleries scattered along the busy streets. It is especially enjoyable to spot some street art on warm summer days and nights with a cold treat in hand.
If you know what to look for, you might even spot a few Banksy graffiti murals.
The National Gallery and Tate Modern Gallery are two free galleries in the city that exhibit local and international artists’ works and paintings.
If you’d like to celebrate British Art, the Tate Britain and The National Portrait Gallery are free galleries celebrating British culture and history.
One of the top London summer events is jamming out at a music festival all day (or weekend) long.
There are many music festivals happening in summer, but here are a few top ones to try for a great party.
A ‘Mighty Hoopla’ is a great way to describe this rainbow festival that happens every summer in London.
This inclusive music festival welcomes over 25,000 attendees each year. All coming to see 200 of their favourite pop and alternative performers across seven stages.
Each year, the festival steps up to be bigger and better than the last. They also emphasise giving emerging artists, especially those from the LGBTQ+ community, a platform.
Expect to see a few vogueing troupes, mass karaoke and secret discos among the main stage performers.
The headliners change every year, but previous headliners have included big names like TLC, Chaka Khan and Cheryl Cole.
If you love dancing and dressing up like a Caribbean QUEEN!, joining in on the Notting Hill Carnival in London is one of the top things to do in summer.
This street festival is a big musical celebration and usually takes place on August’s Bank Holiday weekend.
The Notting Hill Carnival is London’s biggest street celebration, but it is more than a large street party. It started in the mid-60s to celebrate the British West Indies and Caribbean community in the city.
Still, today, participants dress up in colourful feather and jewel-adorned costumes to dance and perform in the streets of west London.
The festival is enjoyed over two days and follows the same route each year – from Great Western Road to Kensal Green Cemetery.
Along the route, it is a celebration of colours and sounds from marching bands, DJs, and street performers, all showing off their best acts.
This is a great way to see and celebrate Caribbean culture through music, food, dance and just overall happy vibes.
Junction 2 is a long House and Techno music festival in London. It became so popular that in 2019, the organisers announced that the festival would now be over two days instead of one.
The festival is in August and takes place in Boston Manor Park, underneath a motorway – which is the inspiration for the name.
The open-air festival is innovative and immersive and has a mix of music acts from both established and up-and-coming acts in the industry. Previous headliners include Adam Beyer, Tale of Us, and Dixon.
The venue has beautiful bars, eye-catching stalls, and vintage vehicles selling mouth-watering street food. These street food menus cater to all diets, from vegan and vegetarian to gluten-free treats.
Field Day is an annual outdoor music festival in London. This festival was initially at Victoria Park in East London, but venues do occasionally change, so keep a lookout on their website for venue updates closer to the date.
The festival’s genre is diverse, but mainly for alternative and electronic music lovers. Their line-up changes every year but features new and established artists who are just as passionate about their craft as the festival organisers.
There are food and drink traders available inside the venue as well. You can also set up a small picnic blanket in quieter areas.
Besides music, the festival has a few rides, games and attractions to keep you busy while you wait for your favourite artists’ set.
Summary of London Things To Do In Summer
London weather in summer is mild with occasional showers. The warmth makes it a great time to explore the city without being in a constant sweat – because you’ll be roaming around quite a bit.
London has an abundance of stuff to do this summer regardless of your budget.
If you’re an art lover, you’ll enjoy the city’s many free art galleries and museums. There are also a few free parks and gardens to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the wonderful city.
If you’re feeling overheated, cool down by splashing at the beach or at the many free public pools.
Whatever activity you choose, you’re bound to find something to enjoy in the big city.