When it’s sunny in London, it’s one of our favourite places in the world. Everyone is in a great mood, locals make the most of the weather and the whole city is injected with life and a newfound energy. From July to August, temperatures can reach highs of 34 degrees! Hard to believe right? Want to know how to spend a hot day in London? From rooftop bars, riverside pubs, outdoor markets, open air cinemas and trendy summer hangouts, we’ve rounded up the best things to do when the sun is shining in the British capital...
These are the best places to have fun in the sun in London…
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DRINK AT RIVERSIDE PUBS AND BARS
Hanging out by the riverside is an integral part of London’s summer culture. Lazy afternoons spent at the city’s riverside pubs and bars eating, drinking and catching up with friends is a popular summer activity where you can enjoy the warmth of the sun on your skin while enjoying alfresco dining. Some of the popular riverside neighbourhoods in London include Richmond, Hammersmith, Greenwich, Fulham, Tower Bridge, Putney and Wandsworth which are all brimming with pubs and bars by the river. On hot days you’ll find that the riverside is buzzing with plenty of young locals using the great weather as an excuse to get sloshed. Pretty good excuse if you ask us. Pictured above is the Blue Anchor in Hammersmith and below is The Ship in Wandsworth.
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A PICNIC IN LONDON’S ROYAL PARKS
What’s summer without a picnic? While people associate London as being cloudy and gloomy most of the time, in the heat it’s an ideal place for a picnic due to the sheer amount of beautiful parks that exist in the city. In fact, 47% of London is made of green space which is almost half of the city!
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There are also 8 million trees in the city to set up a picnic blanket in the shade. Our favourite Royal parks include Hyde Park, St James’ Park, Richmond Park and Regents Park. Then there also the non-Royal parks which are also worth visiting such as Battersea Park and Clapham Common. Buy yourself some food from a local supermarket, get a few drinks, get a picnic blanket and you’re ready for a day in the sun enjoying London’s green spaces.
OPEN AIR CINEMAS
Need a plan for a summer’s evening in London? The open air cinemas in the city are a great choice, especially for Date Night or a fun movie night with friends. The Rooftop Film Club has finally reopened in locations across London including Bussey Building in Peckham and Roof East in Stratford which are both located on the rooftop. Here you can watch all the latest films as well as the much-loved classics and legendary chick flicks surrounded by the warm evening air from a summer rooftop in London. Grab a deck chair, sip on some cocktails and enjoy a great film.
LONDON'S BEST ICE CREAM SPOTS
London's ice cream game is strong, meaning on a hot summer's day your gelato cravings are in for a treat! Dessert cafes and artisan ice cream shops can be found all over the city serving up your favourite classics as well as a few whacky flavour combinations here and there. From creamy gelato to refreshing sorbets and dairy-free tubs of deliciousness, whatever your favourite style of ice cold dessert may be, London won't disappoint. Amorino, Gelateria 3bis and La Gelatiera are a few of our top picks. If you find yourself in one of London's parks on a hot day, or even just near the river, you may be able to find a classic old ice cream van parked nearby ready to rustle you up a satisfying Mr Whippy with a flake. Does anything really beat it?
SEE THE ANIMALS AT LONDON ZOO
If you’re looking for an enjoyable daytime activity that will fill a few hours, then you can’t miss London Zoo, the world’s oldest scientific zoo. The majority of the exhibits are located outside, perfect for a day of mooching around in the sunshine.
One of the highlights is Penguin Beach where you can witness the adorable penguins splashing around in the heat to cool themselves down. There are different areas to explore in London zoo including Rainforest Life, Land of the Lions, Gorilla Kingdom, Butterfly Paradise and Tiger Territory. The giraffe exhibit is also incredible! There’s also a cool cafe where you can grab some lunch, too. Entry costs to London Zoo are £28.64 if you buy online and £25.77 for students.
OUTDOOR STREET FOOD MARKETS
Summer in London is a dream for foodies who can indulge in delicious street food from around the world. Home to some of the best and most trendy outdoor food markets in Europe, enjoy a warm day in the city at Borough Market, Camden Market, Maltby Street Market, Brick Lane, Old Spitalfields Market or Dinerama. There are so many cool street food options in the city where you can sip on some Pimm’s (a British summer cocktail) and your chosen choice of street food outside in the sunshine.
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A DAY TRIP TO WINDSOR
When the sun is out, it’s the perfect time to explore beautiful areas on the outskirts of the city. For a memorable on a hot day, Windsor is a popular destination for visitors where you can easily fill a whole day when the sun is out. This historic town is located in Berkshire, home to the famous Windsor Castle (a Royal residence where the Queen often lives) where you can visit the State Rooms, go inside St George’s Chapel and wander the Royal grounds. Boasting over 900 years of Royal history, you simply must pay a visit to the castle where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married.
Windsor is also home to a beautiful High Street filled with independent shops, restaurants and bars, pretty walks and green spaces like Windsor Great Park and the Long Walk, afternoon tea cafes, cobbled streets and beautiful architecture. Everything is better in the sun right? From London you can get to Windsor by train from London Paddington or Waterloo via Slough.
Top tip: If the flag is up on the Windsor Castle tower, it means the Queen is in!
GET YOUR THRILLS AT THORPE PARK
If you consider yourself a bit of an adrenaline junkie then get your friends together and visit Thorpe Park for a day of fun. This famous theme park is located on the outskirts of London in a small town in Surrey between Chertsey and Staines. When the sun is shining, it’s the best time to visit to make the most of the fast rides, ice slushies and activities. There are water rides to cool yourself down in the scorching heat; our favourites are Tidal Wave, Rumba Rapids and Loggers Leap. Thorpe Park is also home to the UK’s fastest roller coaster called Stealth. Can you brave it? To get to Thorpe Park from London you have to catch a train from Richmond station to Staines. There is a shuttle bus link (number 950) which operates directly from Staines to Thorpe Park approximately every 15-20 minutes.
SUNBATHE ON PRIMROSE HILL
One of our favourite place to relax in the sunshine to catch some rays is Primrose Hill, close to Regent’s Park and London Zoo. This large grassy space is located high on a hill boasting some incredible views of central London where you can see the London Eye in the distance. The hill is actually one of the six protected viewpoints in the city with the top almost 63m above sea level. The best sunbathing spot in the city! Just buy a couple of beers and you’re ready to relax.
COCKTAILS AT ROOFTOP BARS
Fancy a refreshing cocktail at one of London’s coolest affordable rooftop bars? Enjoy the summer sun with other Londoners who pack out the city’s rooftops in the summer months for some alfresco drinking. Not all rooftops in London are super expensive; we’ve rounded up the .
Not exactly a rooftop bar but an awesome terrace in the city, we also recommend visiting Somerset House in Covent Garden where you can enjoy the terrace bar overlooking the river, a great place to enjoy the sunset.
There is no better place to visit in London for nature lovers than Kew Gardens, a world-famous botanical garden and UNESCO World Heritage Site in West London. With 300 beautiful acres to explore, visitors can enjoy the flora and variety of plant species, wildlife, Victorian greenhouses, a beehive installation and the stunning Rock garden. Making for a charming summer day out, enjoy this colourful slice of heaven inside of London. Adult tickets are from £16.50.
HANG OUT AT BOXPARK
One of the most hipster summer hangouts in London is Boxpark in Shoreditch, popular with young Londoners who swarm here to enjoy the atmosphere. Set inside a massive shipping container, this open top pop-up is full of cafes, bars, restaurants and independent shops. Whether you like acai bowls, dirty buffalo chicken burgers, bao buns or vegan pittas, Boxpark excels when it comes to street food and inventive snacks. During a hot day, relax in the chillout seating areas where you will find bench seating under the sun with a drink. For a spot of shopping, enjoy the environmentally friendly pop-ups including homeware, clothes, shoes and gifts.
TAKE A PEDALO OUT ON SERPENTINE LAKE
Looking for a relaxing water activity? Get serious tan goals from a pedalo which you can hire out from Hyde Park and take out onto the vast Serpentine Lake. Pedal along amongst the ducks and swans, soak up the heat a enjoy a few ice creams afterwards. The pedalos can hold up to 6 people and to hire one out it costs £12 per person per hour or £10 for 30 minutes. The perfect activity on a hot day in London and a great way to experience Hyde Park.
A GAME OF MINI GOLF
One of the best activities on a hot day has to be crazy golf or mini golf. It always gets a bit competitive and it’s a fun way to be outdoors with your mates. The cool thing about London is that you can play mini golf all year round with its indoor and outdoor venues. For a hot day, we’d recommend Putt in the Park which has mini golf locations in Battersea, Wandsworth and Acton Park. For a spot of crazy golf, you can test the fun holes at Plonk in London Fields. Make sure to book your slot in advance online.
EXPLORE LONDON SOUTHBANK
Stuck on what to do when it’s hot in London? Have no idea where to go? Just head to London’s Southbank, the city’s cultural district where you’re sorted for a day of enjoyment. Right beside the River Thames London Southbank is a fun area to explore in the city when the sun is shining. There’s always something fun going on including top-notch dining and nightlife, summer bars, picnic areas, street food markets and street performers. It’s essentially an adults playground in the summer with awesome views overlooking the River Thames.
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