London in the summer is glorious, even if most years we don't get as many hot and sunny days as we might like. The city is also full of exciting summer events and activities, from music festivals to great places for walks and picnics, activities on the Thames, and fab ways to admire the city views on a clear day. If you're ready for a summer of fun we know lots of great ways to stay busy all season – this is our guide to summer activities in London.
Guide to summer activities in London
In this guide
- Ruislip Lido – London's own beach
- Wireless Festival – Huge North London event
- Clapham Common – Music in the park
- Serpentine Lido – Swimming in Hyde Park
- BBC Proms – Celebration of classical music
- Skuna Boats – Fun floating experiences
- Regent's Park Open Air Theatre – Award-winning seasonal theatre
- Camden Market – Canalside market
- Walthamstow Wetlands – 211 hectares of nature
- Rooftop Film Club – Relax with a film
- Hackney City Farm – A real working farm
- Little Venice – Canals in West London
- Southbank Centre Food Market – Global street food
- Buckingham Palace – Iconic London attraction
- Up at The O2 – Thrilling climbs
- The Shard – Unparalleled viewing platform
- Go Ape – Adventure through the trees
- The Wimbledon Championships – World's oldest tennis tournament
- Highgate Wood – Walking in the woods
- Active 360 – Paddleboarding experiences
- London Zoo – Friday night at the zoo
- Uber Boat by Thames Clipper – Get around by boat
- Kew Gardens – Botanical paradise
- Royal Academy of Arts – Major summer show
- London Waterbus Company – Scenic canal cruises
- London Cable Car – Travel above the Thames
- Thames RIB Experience – Exhilarating speedboat rides
- The Churchill Arms – Stop and admire the flowers
- Greenwich + Docklands International Festival – Discover the performing arts
- GoBoat – Drive your own boat
- Hampton Court Palace – Historical royal palace
- Opera Holland Park – Open-air operatics
- London Eye – Popular observation wheel
- Notting Hill Carnival – Massive Caribbean party
- Regent's Canal – Waterside walking routes
- Primrose Hill – Impressive city views
London's own beach
At the end of the Piccadilly Line you'll find Ruislip Lido, a sandy artificial beach for swimming, boating, fishing, and catching some sun. This summer hotspot also has play areas for children, an outdoor gym for adults, and is surrounded by woodland if you fancy a nice shady walk.
Huge North London event
Taking place every summer in Finsbury Park, Wireless Festival attracts a lively crowd and some of the biggest names in hip hop. Acts including Drake, Rihanna, and Jay-Z have performed in previous years and the 2023 lineup features names like 50 Cent and Travis Scott. VIP tickets are also available for this three-day non-stop party.
Music in the park
London has plenty of great spots for a picnic but one option in South London is Clapham Common, measuring over 85 hectares. This green space combines open land, meadows, woodland, and avenues of trees, with lots of room for walking or picnicking. During the summer there's a music programme at the Victorian bandstand to make your visit more enjoyable.
Swimming in Hyde Park
Cool off with a dip in the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. This lake is a hotspot for birds and nature but also has a designated swimming area in the summer months. People have been swimming in this outdoor spot since the 1860s and if it does get chilly you can warm up in the café afterwards.
Celebration of classical music
Founded in 1895 and running from July until September, the BBC Proms is a massive annual classical music festival. Concerts, talks, workshops, and events take place at various locations, with some events also broadcast on the BBC. Diverse classical styles are included such as opera, symphonic music, and contemporary compositions.
Fun floating experiences
Enjoy the summer by cruising along the Thames in your own floating hot tub or barbecue boat. Ideal for families and groups of friends, you'll enjoy a two-hour self-driven cruise. Alcohol is permitted on board but the designated driver has to stay sober. For barbecues you can bring your own food or order a food package.
Award-winning seasonal theatre
Enjoy a show at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. This award-winning theatre is one of the city's largest, and it's open for 18 weeks per year, including the summertime. Arranged in a fan shape amongst towering trees, it's an atmospheric place for plays, musicals, comedy, and shows aimed at children.
Camden Market has warren-like passages filled with vendors selling alternative fashion, jewellery, and gifts, as well as a waterside food market section that's fab for a lazy summer lunch. Bars and sit-down restaurants are also in the area.
211 hectares of nature
Discover nature at Walthamstow Wetlands. This 211 hectare site is a nature reserve and reservoir of international importance, home to thriving and diverse wildlife. Walk around in the spacious and peaceful setting here and join events like bush-crafting workshops. On-site you'll also find a gift shop and a café.
Relax with a film
Watch a great film paired with great views of the city at Rooftop Film Club. This seasonal open-air cinema runs at two locations, showing films ranging from iconic classics to new releases. Sit in a comfy deckchair with wireless headphones so you don't miss any action. Drinks, food, and classic cinema snacks like popcorn are also available.
A real working farm
Visit Hackney City Farm to see a working farm in the heart of East London. This is a fun day out for all ages. Explore the farmyard and gardens, meet the animals, visit the sustainable farm shop, and enjoy a meal at the on-site Italian restaurant. A range of workshops and activities for kids and adults take place too.
Canals in West London
With its picturesque network of canals, Little Venice is a delightful place for a walk in the summertime (or any time). This idyllic part of West London comes with tons of photo opportunities and unique businesses running from barges like cafés and bookshops. You can take canal cruises to other parts of the city too.
Global street food
If you want some tasty food for a summer weekend, grab something to eat at Southbank Centre Food Market. Picnic tables are set up so you can enjoy an al fresco meal, or you can take your food closer to the river for picturesque views. The stalls here showcase eclectic global cuisines like Ethiopian, Italian, and Japanese.
Iconic London attraction
Home to the British monarchy, Buckingham Palace is an iconic landmark. You can view the building from outside all year round but in the summer you can head inside to visit the State Rooms. The famous changing of the guard ceremony takes place here and happens every day during June and July, so that's the best time to catch it.
Thrill-seekers can climb to the top of the O2 Arena with Up at the O2. You'll scale the roof and at the top you'll be rewarded with clear views of Greenwich, Canary Wharf, the Olympic Park, and beyond, looking especially impressive on a nice summer's day. Daytime, twilight, and sunset climbs are available.
Unparalleled viewing platform
The Shard is home to London's tallest viewing platform, situated on the 72nd floor. This dramatic modern landmark also houses restaurants, bars, and a hotel. Head to the viewing floor to enjoy sweeping 360 degree views of the capital and beyond, up to 40 miles away. Views are particularly good on clear sunny days and make great photo opps.
Adventure through the trees
Go Ape adventures take place in all weather conditions but it's a great outdoors activity for the summer. These treetop experiences run at several parks around London and are fun challenges for all ages. Explore plunging zip wires and adventures at a height – groups and parties are welcome too.
World's oldest tennis tournament
One of the biggest fixtures in London's sporting calendar is The Wimbledon Championships. Tennis players and fans from all over the world descend on the city each summer for the oldest tennis tournament in the world. The tournament is broadcast by the BBC but you can also enter ballots for tickets or purchase on-the-day tickets to see the action in person.
Walking in the woods
Explore 28 hectares of ancient woodland in North London with a stroll around Highgate Wood. This natural woodland is a haven for wildlife and attracts plenty of walkers too. A range of facilities are available here as well including a playground, sports facilities, and a café.
A variety of paddleboard experiences are available with Active 360, suitable for all levels of experience. You can learn the basics if it's new for you, get private tuition to improve your skills, take paddleboarding tours, or try yoga or pilates on your board. You can also rent a paddleboard and go off on an independent adventure if you're experienced.
Friday night at the zoo
London Zoo is the world's oldest scientific zoo and is still home to a varied range of wild creatures. During the summer the zoo is open late for adults on Friday nights, where you can see the residents, join informative tours, and play animal-themed games. Pop-up bars and street food vendors are there too.
Get around by boat
Avoid getting stuck on the sweltering tube in the summer by travelling with Uber Boat by Thames Clipper. This is a fun and scenic way to get about, whether you're sightseeing or commuting. You're guaranteed a seat and refreshments are sold on-board. A number of different routes operate along the Thames.
Immerse yourself in botanicals at Kew Gardens. This riverside space is an ideal way to escape the hectic pace of the city. You'll see a huge variety of plants, flowers, and trees here. The Princess of Wales Conservatory is a popular spot, with different climate-controlled zones and fascinating ecosystems.
Major summer show
Based in the heart of Piccadilly, the Royal Academy of Arts puts on blockbuster exhibitions by contemporary and historical artists throughout the year. Every summer the galleries are taken over by the Summer Exhibition, which anyone can enter and which features rooms curated by some of today's top artists like Bob and Roberta Smith.
Scenic canal cruises
Beat the heat with a scenic cruise along Regent's Canal with London Waterbus Company. Each trip takes about 45 minutes, with cruises throughout the day in both directions between Little Venice and Camden Town. Along the way you'll get commentary from your friendly and knowledgeable guide, revealing some of the capital's hidden gems.
Travel above the Thames
Originally built for the 2012 Olympics, the London Cable Car has now become a unique way to see London's sights. The journey takes you over the Thames between Greenwich and the Royal Docks, showing you gorgeous panoramic views. Daytime trips take about 10 minutes but there are slower journeys during the evening.
Exhilarating speedboat rides
With Thames RIB Experience you'll blast along the river in a high-powered RIB – these are the fastest speedboats available in London. A variety of routes are offered and each boat is equipped with a powerful PA system so you don't miss anything. You can also remember your experience with a souvenir photo.
Stop and admire the flowers
Famously floral-laden pub The Churchill Arms is often regarded as one of the most attractive pubs in the UK. It gets fitted out with festive decorations at Christmas, but visit in the summer and you'll be able to see it full of colourful blooms. Inside the pub you'll find a wide range of drinks as well as Thai food.
Discover the performing arts
Every year, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival brings performing arts and extraordinary outdoor events to Greenwich. The festival runs over nine days and the events are free to enjoy. Visitors can expect a diverse array of outdoor performances and experiences that transform the area's public spaces.
Drive your own boat
GoBoat lets you explore the river or canal at your own pace. These self-drive boating experiences are suitable for groups of up to eight and you don't need any prior experience. Several routes are offered. Each boat is equipped with a picnic table and you're free to bring food to enjoy on the way.
Historical royal palace
Known for being the home of Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace is an impressive Grade I listed palace that's still owned by the royal family today. As well as the building, there are acres of grounds to explore, including the palace's maze that's fun to wander through on a sunny day.
Opera fans can visit Opera Holland Park, an open-air auditorium with opera performances every summer. This elegant venue surrounded by attractive gardens also has picnic areas, a bar, and terraces and mezzanines. You can also order luxury picnic baskets so you don't need to bring your own food. A variety of operas are performed during the season.
Popular observation wheel
Even during the summer, London's weather is unpredictable but the clear pods of the London Eye mean you can enjoy sightseeing in all conditions. Located on the South Bank, this is the city's famous observation wheel, attracting millions of visitors per year. A leisurely journey takes about half an hour and offers fab city views.
Massive Caribbean party
The Notting Hill Carnival is a huge event on London's calendar and has been since 1966. Taking place during the August bank holiday weekend, thousands of people descend on Notting Hill's streets for this Caribbean celebration. Expect music, dancing, costumes, street food, sound systems, and a serious party vibe.
Waterside walking routes
Stroll along picturesque Regent's Canal for an enjoyable summer walk. The canal snakes across the city connecting areas like Little Venice, Camden, Islington, and Bethnal Green. A walk here can be as long or short as you'd like, but wherever you are you'll see barges cruising gently by and idyllic canalside scenery.
Impressive city views
Camden's Primrose Hill is a great place to take a walk, enjoy a picnic, or sit down and take in uninterrupted views down into central London. The summit of Primrose Hill is one of London's protected viewpoints, and even the trees here are kept below a certain height to ensure views aren't obstructed.