How to Embrace the Outdoors in London

As the weather gets warmer, we hide our winter coats and bring out our shorts to bask in the sun. But how does one go about enjoying the outdoors in a capital city? Fear not city traveller. From wild swimming to kayaking and sunbathing, our beautiful capital does not let the lack of seafront spoil the surf. Here is how to embrace the outdoors in London.

THE BASICS

1. Sunbathe in a park

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Basic as it sounds, take a soft blanket, a good book and a little picnic and head to one of London’s many green spaces. Even doing nothing just lounging in the sun will top up your Vitamin D and give you a nice little summer glow.

Royal London Parks

City of London Green Spaces

2. Find a hidden garden

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There are corners of heaven in London that take some finding. But if you fancy something a little less crowded, go searching for one of London’s many hidden gardens. Honestly, they are quite a gem and definitely worth the visit.

Find a secret garden

3. Follow the City Visitor Trail

Short for time? No problem. Why not try the City Visitors Trail? It takes 90 minutes to complete and covers attractions as well as hidden gems. You can pick up a copy from the City Information Centre or download it straight to your iPhone or Android device.

4. Walk one of our Fitbit routes

If you love walking, or are on a mission to hit those 10,000 steps even while away, we have put together four amazing routes that will have you working out without feeling the burn. See some amazing sights, shop or explore museums while you hit your steps target. Around London in Fitbit Steps.

GREEN SPACES & PARKS

5. Go deer and stag spotting

Richmond Park London

There is something really serene and surreal about watching a herd of deers and stags grazing against a city backdrop. That’s Richmond Park! As well as spotting wildlife you can also have afternoon tea in the beautiful Georgian mansion of Pembroke Lodge, wander through manicured gardens and forests planted by plant collectors. A very intriguing day out indeed!

Nearest Tube station: Richmond

Address: Richmond, London TW9 3AB

6. Admire the blooms

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Queen Mary’s Garden in Regent’s Park is home to 12,000 roses, covering most rose varieties and including their own ‘Royal Parks’ species. Around the corner, The Avenue Gardens is a manicured beauty, including a stunning water fountain. And not too far away, The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew will also not disappoint. Make sure to bring a camera!

Regent Park

Nearest Tube stations: Regent Park and Great Portland Street

Address: Chester Road, London NW1 4NR

The Royal Botanical Gardens

Nearest Tube or Train stations: Richmond or Kew Bridge

Address: Richmond, London TW9 3AB

7. Take in the view

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Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath boasts one of the best panoramic views of London. While the whole park is brilliant during the day, it’s really after it goes dark that the view is particularly impressive when the city below switches on its lights. In fact, this viewpoint is so popular, the park is open 24 hours!

Nearest Tube station: Belsize Park

Address: Hampstead, London NW3 1BP

8. Go paddling or kayaking

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A famous hot spot for enjoying the sun, Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park also offers rowing and pedal boats you can hire for a float around the lake. But if you fancy something a little less sedate, go kayaking in the Thames by the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge instead.

The Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park

Nearest Tube stations: Knightsbridge and Hyde Park Corner

Address: London W2 2UH

Learn more about Kayaking London

CULTURE & ARTS

9. Watch an open air performance

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In Regent’s Park you can not only watch a play or movie outdoors, you can also eat al fresco. If you don’t want to sit in the restaurant, you can even order a picnic or barbeque to take away.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

Nearest Tube stations: Regent Park and Great Portland Street

Address: Chester Road, London NW1 4NR

10. Go street art spotting


The streets of London are covered in some amazing street art, including none other than Banksy. So if you are a fan of the genre or just love looking at beautiful things, get your trainers on. You will not be disappointed.

Find street art location

11. Watch a street performance

There is always something going on in Covent Garden, from markets to eating al fresco, but the coolest thing are the street performers. From musicians to magicians and circus artists, you will surely not be short of entertainment. Definitely worth a visit.

Nearest Tube station: Covent Garden

Address: Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RF

12. Visit the Greenwich Line

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Did you know the Greenwich Meridian Line cuts through London? There is even a place where you can physically see it in the city! At the top of Greenwich Park you will find the old observatory and the marker for the Prime Meridian, from where the rest of the world measures its time zones. During the day a line on the floor marks the Greenwich Line and during the night a green laser beam illuminates its path in the sky. The park itself is stunning, so it makes for a lovely day out. Just be aware that you will have to walk up the hill to the Meridian marker.

Nearest Tube stations: Maze Hill and Greenwich

Address: Greenwich, London SE10 8XJ

13. Watch a film outdoors

From Somerset House to rooftop screenings, several outdoor cinema screens come to London during the summer. Showcasing both classic and new releases, you just need to pick your poison.

Find a screening here or with Luna Cinema here.

14. Rooftop bars

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Closed during most of the winter, rooftop bars spring to life as soon as the weather gets warmer and provide the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxed evening with friends, usually with some serious views of the city.

Find a rooftop bar here

15. Enjoy a cocktail on the beach

If there is one thing London is good at it’s being resourceful. While we might not face the sea, this doesn’t mean we have to do without a beach. If we cannot go to the sand, the sand can come to us in the shape of urban beach bars. Why not?

Find an urban beach bar here

PERFECT FOR FAMILIES

16. Roar with the lions

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At the London Zoo you not only get to visit the animals, but you can also watch talks by the keepers and daily shows. Watch out for any new addition to the Zoo family too, they are the cutest! A perfect day out for all the family.

Nearest Tube stations: Camden Town and Mornington Crescent

Address: London Zoo, Prince Albert Road, London NW1 4RY

17. Spot wildlife in the wetlands


An oasis for animals, the Wetland Centre is perfect for animal spotting. Wander around the ponds, lakes and gardens and see if you can spot the many birds, otters and bugs that make their home here. There are also daily talks by the keepers. Another perfect day out for families or anyone with a keen interest in wildlife.

Nearest Tube station: Barnes

Address: WWT London Wetland Centre, Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, London SW13 9WT

18. Visit a farm

Did you know London still has farms? From chickens and ducks to pigs and llamas, it’s all going on in the city farms! Pet the animals, help feed them and enjoy an all-around fantastic day out for kids and adults alike.

Find a city farm

19. Swim outside


There are many outdoor swimming pools in London. And if you are feeling particularly brave, you can even go wild swimming at Hampstead Heath or at the Serpentine Lido!
Find a lido to swim

20. Go to the beach

No, we are not pulling your leg. There is actually a beach in London at Ruislip Lido, where you can also wild swim! Perfect for the kids.

So there you have it! While you will not find the Australian Outback in London you will definitely find our beautiful urban outdoors. From sophisticated cocktails on rooftop bars to wild swimming in lakes, you can be as tame or wild as you want. Go forth, city traveller, and stake your claim on a summer full of outdoor fun.

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