The time to get planning for summer in London is now and there’s no better place to make the most of it than in this wonderful city.
After what feels like a lifetime of hibernation draws to a close, our sights are firmly set on the summer months ahead. And, as lockdown easing starts to take place, a few of our familiar favourites have reintroduced themselves into our lives; the first beer garden drinks have been drunk, that out-of-control hairstyle has been cut and the first of many barbecues with family and friends has been lit.
The Great Outdoors
Despite not being famous for its good weather, there are few cities more well-equipped for some outside antics than London when the sun does shine. Whether you’re picnicking in the park, taking a dip in a lido or simply embracing Mother Nature in all her glory, the UK’s capital has it all.
Entwined with its skyscrapers and concrete streets, London’s parks offer the perfect countryside contrast to the hustle and bustle of city life. There are plenty to choose from all over the city so we’ve handpicked some of the top spots.
Hyde Park: Bordering Mayfair, Paddington and Belgravia, Hyde Park is famous for a central London picnic and a rowing boat cruise on its stunning lake, the Serpentine, not to be confused with our London aparthotel of the same name.
Regents Park: Journey north of Marylebone to Regents Park and marvel at Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens, get a snap for the ‘gram on Primrose Hill or say hello to some giraffes, zebras and hippos at London Zoo.
Richmond Park: Venture out to west London and explore Richmond Park – the largest of all of London’s parks and home to over 600 wild deer.
Victoria Park: Cross the city to Victoria Park and get a feel for the Orient with a picnic in the Chinese Pagoda or work up a sweat in the tennis courts and skate park.
Read More: What is an Aparthotel?
When it’s time to cool off, take the plunge into one of London’s many outdoor swimming venues and splash away to your heart’s content. Go natural in the north at Hampstead Heath’s swimming ponds or enjoy the heated experience at London Fields Lido (this also comes with delicious post-swim snacks at Broadway Market around the corner). Feast your eyes on Parliament Hill’s mesmerising city views after a swim at Parliament Hill Lido or get out of town for some laps in the crisp waters of Beckenham Place Park swimming lake.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Home to over 60,000 species of plant, Kew Gardens is one of the most eye-catching back yards on the planet. Brimming with natural beauty and rich history, Kew Gardens is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest in London. It has an extraordinary collection of plant species and animals from all over the world and has even saved some plants, such as the Victoria cruziana, from extinction.
Take a stroll by the water and follow Regent’s Canal to Little Venice. Stop off along the way at London Zoo or Camden Town and eat alfresco with some takeaway food from a canal boat. Relax with the ebb and flow of the water and enjoy a canal boat ride with an ice cream or a puppet show in this quaint area of London.
Food and fun in the summer sun
Blessed by its multinational population, London’s food and drink menu covers just about every cuisine the world has to offer. Its edible and liquid delights are served in every which way imaginable, from pop-up stalls on the side of a canal and street food sold out of an Airstream, to rooftop bars overlooking the city and all-time classic Michelin-starred restaurants; there’s simply nowhere better to grab a bite to eat.
London’s food markets
Taking a summertime stroll and stopping for a snack go hand-in-hand, and there are few better places to have a mooch around and satisfy your cravings than London’s food markets. The list of must-see markets is endless and sprawls across the whole city, touching on every type of tasty treat that comes to mind. Here are a few of our favourites.
Borough Market: As one of London’s oldest and largest food markets, the iconic Borough Market has been satisfying hungry customers for almost 1,000 years. Tucked away at the end of London Bridge and bordering the Thames, the current buildings were built in the 1850s and the market continues to draw in locals and tourists alike with its delicious prepared foods and fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Broadway Market: An east London, Victorian market with a trendy Hackney vibe, Broadway Market is packed with street food vendors serving up super-stuffed burritos, oozing burgers, freshly ground Vietnamese coffee and plenty more.
Mercato Metropolitano: Unquestionably a foodie dreamland, Mercato Metropolitano hides its enormous food court behind a classic-looking Italian market selling very Italian cheeses and dried goods. The food court based in Elephant and Castle is diversity personified, feeding diners with Vietnamese Pho, Lebanese falafel wraps, Turkish kebabs and a range of craft beers and Italian wines to top it all off.
Brixton Village and Market Row: Down in the trendy part of south London, Brixton Village and Market Row presents a mix of restaurants, bars, cafes, shops and galleries with both an inside and an outside area. As well as vibrant, hot food vendors, the market spreads its national wings with halal butchers and fishmongers to welcome customers from all walks of life.
Looking for the best breakfast spot in London? We have you covered.
London’s rooftop bars
We can’t think of many better ways to bask in the sun, witness the city in all its glory, quench your thirst and indulge in some delightful alfresco dining than to pay a visit to one (or many) of London’s best rooftop bars.
Coq d’Argent: Located in the City of London, Coq d’Argent is quickly becoming a favourite for City regulars. The stylish, postmodern design of the terrace is playfully smothered in fake grass and gives cracking views of the City. Choose whatever you fancy from the vast drinks list and accompany it with a dish from the French-heavy à la carte menu.
Madison: Sitting atop One New Change shopping centre, Madison is sure to feed both your summer appetite and your Instagram page. Get comfy on the roof terrace with magnificent views of St Paul’s Cathedral and tuck into a two or three-course meal, featuring fillet steak, smoked chicken and roast veg gnocchi; wash it all down with a signature cocktail or something from Madison’s extensive wine list.
Shushisamba: If the best view of London is what you’re really after in a rooftop bar, look no further than Sushisamba London in Liverpool Street. You won’t find a higher bar anywhere in the city, with Sushisamba situated on the 38th floor of the Salesforce Tower (formerly Heron Tower). Enjoy a vibrant fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine, and freshly-made cocktails with flavours inspired by the changing seasons.
Queen of Hoxton: Go bold in Shoreditch with the lively, colourful rooftop of Queen of Hoxton. The venue is open from Monday through to Sunday, serving up juicy burgers, cocktails, beers and wine. The bottomless brunch sessions on Saturdays are about as outrageous as they come, featuring games of bingo, prizes, drag hosts and much more.
Looking for some of London’s Hidden Gems? Check out our guide.
Fantastic festivals and where to find them
Despite being starved of any festival fun last year, there’s no questioning Londoners’ appetite for a full-on, fiesta-filled summer this time around. Whether it’s live music, food, a celebration of culture or a little bit of everything, London’s festivals tick every box for the perfect summertime shindig.
London’s music festivals
Whether you’re north, east, south or west, you’re never far away from one of London’s iconic music festivals. There may have been a few cancellations for summer 2021 but many of London’s finest are optimistic and set to go ahead. We’ve done our best to pick out a few of the best without clashing any dates for this summer in London.
Lovebox (Gunnersbury Park), 11th – 13th June: Founded by the legendary English electronic music duo, Groove Armada, in 2002, Lovebox is always the first of London’s major summer music festivals. The likes of Ed Sheeran, Snoop Dogg, Wu-Tang Clan, Childish Gambino have taken to this west London festival’s open-air and tented stages in previous years.
OnBlackheath (Blackheath), 13th – 14th July: A perfect family festival located south of the city, OnBlackheath delivers some big music names like Jamiroquai and UB40 to its open-air stages whilst also offering Michelin-starred food vans and games and entertainers for kids.
All Points East (Victoria Park), 27th – 30th August: One of London’s up and coming music festivals, All Points East is a four-day music extravaganza in Victoria Park, east London. This year’s edition is set to feature headliners such as Jamie XX, Kano and London Grammar. It’ll have some competition on August bank holiday weekend but it should definitely be your festival of choice if you’re based in the east.
Wireless (Finsbury Park), 10th – 12th September: Shifting from Hyde Park to north London’s Finsbury Park, Wireless has been one of London’s biggest star magnets since 2005. Over three days of music, Wireless stages up and coming talent as well as music superstars. Previous headliners have included Jay-Z, Drake, Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas, and Justin Timberlake.
Notting Hill Carnival
Far from the scenes of Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts frolicking around this charming district, Notting Hill Carnival sees one of London’s most iconic areas become an explosive street party of food, floats, music and colour. Follow the pumping parade and soak yourself in Caribbean culture with a can of Red Stripe lager and a plate of jerk chicken rice and peas as you go. The carnival is free to enter and caters for big groups of friends and families with children alike.
Taste of London
Taste of London food festival in Regent’s Park is a foodie’s paradise. Self-proclaimed “the world’s greatest food festival”, Taste of London sees its central London park base become an exhibition of the culinary world with chefs from across the city scrapping to win the hearts of hungry customers. As well as exhibiting flavours through hundreds of food vendors, Taste of London also hosts live cooking demonstrations, the chance to meet some of the city’s most well-known chefs and cookery classes to participate in.
A slice of culture and the big screen
London’s culture and the history of its entertainment is one of the most famous in the world. From Shakespeare’s works on stage at the Globe to legendary displays at the National Gallery, there’s plenty to absorb in the city.
Summer at London’s theatres
Demand will be high for this summer’s theatre tickets as the West End and South Bank look set to lift the curtain and welcome performances old and new. You’ll need to be on the ball to book Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella at the Gillian Lynne on Drury Lane or the stage interpretation of the 1980s hit Back to the Future at the Adelphi, Covent Garden; not to mention the mighty return of The Lion King at the Lyceum, just off the Strand. For a full summer theatre experience, get cosy under the starry sky and witness the star-crossed lovers of Romeo and Juillet at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
London has one of the greatest populations of museums in the world, with 170 brain-growing venues littered around the city. You can walk with dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington or pull on your lab coat and get experimenting at the Science Museum down the road. Sit in a Spitfire at the Imperial War Museum or explore contemporary design and architecture at the Design Museum. London’s museums are great for a visit with kids as well as with friends and family, we can’t think of too many better ways to spend a summer in London!
London’s summer exhibitions
Continue your wholesome cultural exploration with a visit to one of London’s summer exhibitions. The Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly is showcasing David Hockney’s iPad artwork created during the European Covid-19 lockdowns in Spring last year. Hockney’s work is available to see from 23rd May – 26th September. Head to Trafalgar Square and immerse yourself in Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery. The exhibition dives into the origins of the classic Alice in Wonderland tale, working through its history and adaptations in an aptly surreal fashion. There’s plenty of time to see how far the rabbit hole goes with the collection open from 22nd May – 31st December.
Summer in London isn’t complete without an Outdoor cinema visit
As the summer sun sets, grab your popcorn and brace yourself for a movie viewing experience like no other. Aloft on rooftops, on the screen in car parks and even floating on the water, London likes to get creative with the ways in which we watch our Hollywood faves. Here are some of the places you can visit in the warmer months.
Rooftop Film Club: Take your seat on a choice of two rooftops in Stratford or Peckham and put your peepers on all-time classics and brand-new must-sees with Rooftop Film Club. The wonders of the silver screen come partnered with skyline views of London, scrumptious street food and tonnes of drinks and sweet treats.
Drive in Film Club: Brought to you by the fabulous people at Rooftop Film Club, Drive in Film Club takes you back to the 1950s with a huge 40-foot LED screen beaming onto an automobile audience. Sit in or on your car and enjoy a pic and mix of films from way back when as well as new releases. You’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for the next location but popular spots include Alexandra Palace and Brent Cross.
Openaire Float-In Cinema by Häagen-Dazs: Taking the drive-in experience to a whole new level, Openaire Float-In Cinema does exactly what it says on the tin. Board your boat and travel down London’s canals before laying anchor at Merchant Square in Paddington. Bob along to your big screen treasures and wallow in some delicious food and drink.