Summer in the city: London’s best outdoor spots

by Ellen Curham

Summertime in LondonNothing beats summertime in London. The city can get gloriously hot, putting Londoners and tourists in equally sunny moods. If you are heading to the English capital during these months, the best thing you can do is to make like a local and get outdoors. The Brits know how to appreciate a nice day given the amount of rain they normally get and London is a city that thrives in good weather.

We’ve compiled the best spots to hit up once the temperature starts rising in this top European destination. From sunrise to sunset, you can enjoy the endless outdoor options that London has to offer.

 

Parks and gardens

Like most European capitals, London naturally has a bountiful array of parks and gardens. Every borough has at least one large green space that you can spend the day exploring and lazing about in.

Hyde Park, LondonHyde Park in Westminster is one of the largest and best known parks in London. Here you will find the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial and a beautiful rose garden, along with the famous ‘upside-down tree’.

If nature is your thing then check out Richmond Park which is home to herds of wild deer. It is a national nature reserve had boast what many consider the most stunning landscapes in London.

Trendy locals love London Fields in Hackney. Here you’ll find a farmer’s market where you can pick up some treats for a picnic, along with sports pitches and a cycle path if you feel like being active.

 

Rooftops

There’s something magical about looking down over the city of London on a hot summer’s day or night. The best way to do this is by checking out some of the many rooftop establishments in the city.

Sunset over Frank’s CafeRadio Bar is located on the 10th floor of the ME Hotel in Westminster and is the place to be to sip swanky cocktails while overlooking the Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliament and Somerset House. Make sure you dress to impress the exclusive crowd.

If the East London scene is more your thing, head to Dalston Roof Park. Known for its killer parties, kitsch decor and energetic crowd, it’s great place to spend a balmy summer evening.

Frank’s Cafe will open for its second year this summer. While the idea of a bar on top of a carpark in Peckham doesn’t sound like much, it actually offers a beautiful view of the London skyline and has a young, hip crowd.

Coq d’Argent offers a relatively inexpensive way to enjoy some of the best views in central London along with a top-notch meal (£28 for two courses). From its rooftop location you can see well-known landmarks like St. Paul’s cathedral and The Gherkin.

Not technically a rooftop, but if you want to party until the wee hours outside, then Studio 338 in Greenwich is the place to be. Featuring a covered terrace and amazing DJs, it holds its own against venues in Ibiza and Berlin.

 

Hit the water

One of the best ways to cool down during the summer is to hit the water. Sure, London isn’t a coastal city, but that doesn’t meant that there aren’t plenty of ways to take a dip.

Boat race on the ThamesLondon is famous for its lidos (public pools or beaches) with the biggest being Tooting Bec. It can get pretty crowded but is still a great place for a swim. For something more exclusive, Shoreditch House, a members-only club, has a stunning rooftop pool. If you know somebody in the city with a membership, get them to take you along.

Camden Lock is a popular waterside spot. Grab a takeout from one of the many tasty and cheap restaurants in the area and watch the barges go by or hop on a waterbus and make your way to Little Venice.

If you’re into sports, then why not check out a rowing race on the Thames? There are frequent rowing regattas during the summer months that make for an exciting afternoon, and it doesn’t cost anything to watch.

 

Outdoor entertainment

London is an amazing city for entertainment all year round but it really comes into its own in the summer when there are so many great open air options.

Field Day festivalOutdoor concerts are a regular occurrence during the summer with stages popping up in Hyde Park and other well-known spots. Music festivals are another summertime must and ones to note in London include Lovebox, Field Day, We are FSTVL and Wireless Festival.

Open air cinemas have become increasingly popular all over the world, yet London surpasses standards again by offering a floating cinema that frequents the canals during the summer months. Bring a blanket and some popcorn for a sweet way to spend an evening. Their 2016 schedule has yet to be announced but keep an eye on their website for updates.

There’s also open-air theatres to check out, with a particularly stunning set-up in Regent’s Park. It’s a beautiful way to enjoy the outdoors and some Shakespeare too – this June you can catch an innovative production of Henry V with actress Michelle Terry in the lead role, while the rest of the summer sees Jesus Christ Superstar, Pride and Prejudice and more.

 

What about hostels?

Safestay Holland ParkMany hostels in London make the most of their space to provide lovely outdoor areas to chill out in the summer air and check out the views. St Christopher’s Village has a highly rated location—unsurprising as it’s near London Bridge and has a great view of the Shard from the rooftop terrace. Over in South Kensington you’ll find MEININGER London Hyde Park, perfectly located for the summer festivals—not to mention their spacious rooftop terrace. If you want to actually stay in one of London’s parks, Safestay London Holland Park is set in a gorgeous Jacobean mansion right in the gardens of Holland Park. And if that’s a little too rural for you, Shoreditch’s Dictionary Hostel has a sweet rooftop terrace just off one of London’s trendiest streets.

 

 

Thanks to Andy Roberts, David Fisher, Fabrício de Paula and Philip Cohen for use of their great images under the Creative Commons license.

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