Whether you’re visiting for a short time and want to see as much as you can or you’re an old-time Londoner looking to unsurp something new, this top 10 list of things to do in London should keep your calendar colourful until the close of summer.
1. See London’s heritage in style. History is hidden around every corner in London, most mignificantly so in the grand royal structures which pepper its streets such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace and Buckingham Palace. Although these are a delight to wander aimlessly around, do look out for special late nights or events which take place in these buildings and you’ll see the city in a whole new light. The Enchanted Palace at Kensington Palace makes for a mystical experience where you’ll witness magic, dance and story-telling all with the sumptuous palace as a backdrop.
2. Make a splash at a lido. You can’t call yourself a true Londoner until you’ve been to one of the outdoor swimming pools that are dotted around the capital, including Brixton Lido or Hampton Pool in South London, or if you’re feeling particularly at one with nature, head to the Serpentine pools on Hampstead Heath. Here you can choose from single sex swimming or a mixed pool. Make a day of it and take a picnic to enjoy after you’ve had enough swimming in those chilly temperatures.
3. See a play in an outdoor theatre. From Shakespeare in Regent’s Park and at the Globe or a more modern performance at the South Bank and Secret Cinema, take advantage of the incredibly cultural side of London and see actors doing what they do best, under the English summer sun (or rain). We’re looking forward to seeing the magical Brothers Grimm’s Into the Woods play in Regent’s Park.
4. Watch films under the stars at an outdoor cinema. Just because it’s warm out doesn’t mean you can’t go to the cinema; visit one of the many outdoor screenings of classics and new releases alike in luxurious outdoor spots such as Somerset House or Richmond Park. Do book in advance to ensure you nab that last grassy knoll with the best view.
5. Embrace culture at a festival. Although most of the big music festivals have finished, they tend to only attract the young hipsters. For a more mixed crowd head to one of the festivals which celebrate London cultural life, such as the Festival Brazil on the South Bank which celebrates all things Brazilian until 5 September, the Thames Festival from 11 – 12 September which is a colourful carnival that winds its way along the Thames, or even the Notting Hill Carnival over the August bank holiday. Notting Hill Carnival is regarded as the most exciting event in the city and sees hoards of steel drums, spectacular floats and huge sound systems as well as delicious Carribean food, so it’s not to be missed if you’re in London on 29 and 30 of August this year.
6. Visit the traditional tourist attractions of London. Though you’ve probably pencilled in a long list of the main tourist hot spots to see on your trip around London - and they certainly shouldn’t be overlooked – one of the best ways to see the big sites is with a Trafalgar tour, or an independent walking tour of some of the lesser-known historical locations. Make sure you don’t miss the Tower of London, London Dungeons, the London Eye and Madame Tussauds.
7. Discover London’s great outdoors. On first glimpse London is a modern landscape of towering skyscrapers and busy commuters, but look past the concrete you’ll find an array of lush green spaces. Relax in the Royal Parks like Hyde Park, Green Park and Regent’s Park, or venture into other great green escapes including Holland Park and it’s Japanese Gardens, Little Venice near Marylebone, Kew Gardens and Greenwich park which offers stunning views of the city skyline. If you have children in tow, there are also a handful of farms dotted across the city, include Mudchute Park and Farm on the Isle of Dogs, and Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, not to mention London Zoo. Don’t forget to take a Thames River Cruise too!
8. Have fun for free. Of course taking a stroll in a park or along busy Oxford Street is free too, but there are a number of exciting events taking place this summer which are completely free of charge too, such as the performance of Toad Hall which runs until 5 of September, mass yoga classes at The Scoop along the Thames River or you could visit one of the many fascinating art, history and science museums where you can learn a little something as you save money! Our favourites include the National Gallery, Science Museum, British Museum, V&A, Tate Modern and Natural History Museum.
9. Take a day trip out of London. Although there is an abundance of activity to be had in London, don’t forget that it’s cheap and easy to make short and sweet day trips out to nearby towns and villages, such as Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s birth place), Oxford the University town or even kick-back at the beach in Brighton or Essex. A coastal area you might not have considered is Thanet, where you can watch old black and white movies at the Powell-Cotton Museum, take a St. Peter’s Village Tour or if you love a good bargain, hunt for a unique vintage finds at RG Scott’s Furniture Mart (Tracey Emin’s favourite), Junk Deluxe or Helter Skelter Boutique.
10. Shop at a London market. There are plenty of fabulous traditional and quirky markets which have stood the test of time in London. Feeling peckish? On Saturdays you should head to world-famous food market, Borough Market for locally sourced delicious treats. For clothing and trinkets, your best bet is Spitalfields Market, Broadway and Colombia Road Flower Market on Saturdays or Brick Lane’s Upmarket on Sundays. You’ll get lost amongst the boutiques along Portobello Market and find truly individual treats to take home and treasure forever; a mark of your adventures in England’s capital, London.
Where do you like best in London? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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