If there’s ever an outside chance of sun in London…
…you’re going to want to be outside.
And thankfully our capital duly provides on the “alfresco date ideas” front when the good weather hits: consider going for a dip in natural ponds, dining al fresco on a sunlit terrace and playing shuffleboard with frozen slushy cocktails a mere taster of our run-down of things to do outside in London.
Here it be…
1. HIT THE LIDOS
Entry to most of the city’s open-air pools is usually under a tenner – so you can splash out without splashing out. Check out London’s best outdoor swimming spots here
2. PLAY A MINI ROOFTOP OLYMPICS AT SKYLIGHT
Challenge your friends to the noble sports of croquet, pétanque, shuffleboard, ping pong and er, giant jenga.
Details: Open Thurs – Sun | Tobacco Dock, London E1W 2SF
3. GO ON A PUB CRAWL OF LONDON’S FINEST BEER GARDENS
And drink up the sunshine.
4. GO BOATING
Upthrust. It’s what floats everyone’s boat. And you can row, power along in pedalos or just drive your own electric boat at all these great boating spots in London.
5. DINE AL FRESCO
Treat yourself to breakfast, lunch or dinner on one of London’s outdoor dining terraces, gardens or rooftops.
6. WORK UP A SWEAT AT LONDON SHUFFLE CLUB
Then cool down with a Blood Orange Spritz or two.
Details: Open Tues – Sun | 4 Ebor Street, Shoreditch, East London, E1 6AW | £25-42
7. CHILL OUT BY GRANARY SQUARE
Run through the fountains, take a canal boat trip, or just sit on the steps by the canal with a sandwich from Sons + Daughters or ice cream from Ruby Violet.
8. TAKE A HIKE
Or just a leisurely stroll, on these great London walks.
9. JOIN PELICAN FEEDING TIME AT ST JAMES’S PARK
Then see how many London landmarks you can tick off from the Blue Bridge.
Details: St James’s Park, London SW1H 9AP
10. DO EVERYTHING AT THE HORNIMAN MUSEUM GARDENS
Views over the South Downs? Check. Alpaca pens? Check. Grown-up and not remotely amusing name?
Details: Open daily | Horniman Museum, 100 London Road, SE23 3PQ | Free
11. INVITE YOUR FRIENDS OVER FOR A BBQ
On a private BBQ boat that sails around Canary Wharf.
Details: Available daily | Skuna BBQ Boats, Off Hertsmere Road, West India Quay, E14 4AL | £150-250
12. PRACTISE ARCHERY ON AN EAST LONDON ROOFTOP
And crazy golf… and baseball… and car-aoke.
Details: Open Tues-Sun | Roof East, Stratford Multi-Storey Car Park, Great Eastern Way, E15 1XE
13. WATCH A MOVIE BENEATH THE STARS
Bar Elba, Rooftop Film Club and Luna Cinema are just a few of the screens popping up outdoors in London this summer.
14. TAKE PART IN A HIGH OCTANE BOWLS CONTEST
It ends in ‘sudden death’. You have been warned.
Details: Dates throughout summer from 18th May | Finsbury Square Bowling Green, London, EC2A 1RR | £18pp+
15. WATCH COMEDY, MUSICALS AND MORE IN REGENT’S PARK
This year, the Open Air Theatre is staging 101 Dalmatians and Legally Blonde musicals, cabaret from Le Gateau Chocolat, comedy from Tim Key, and more.
Details: Until 24th September | Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, NW1 4NU | £20+
16. STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS AT KEW GARDENS
Stroll through bamboo forest, picnic by a pagoda, and explore the Victorian glasshouses.
Details: Open daily | Kew Gardens, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE | £15+
17. SEE LIONS, TIGERS, AND KOMODO DRAGONS AT THE ZOO
Even better, see them with a cocktail in hand at the Zoo’s twilight lates.
Details: Thurs & Fri evenings 30th June – 22nd July | ZSL London, Regent’s Park, Regent’s Park, North London, NW1 4RY | £21.50
18. SAY HI TO THE HORSES IN HAM HOUSE GARDENS
Then go for lunch at Petersham Nurseries.
Details: Open daily | Ham House and Garden, Ham Street, Richmond-Upon-Thames, TW10 7RS | £13+
19. WALK ALONG REGENT’S CANAL
One of London’s more picturesque spots. And if there’s space, grab a table at Towpath Café en route.
20. CLIMB THE RIGGING OF THE CUTTY SARK
Then get some liquid refreshment at this Cutty Sark.
Details: Open daily | Cutty Sark, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9HT | £41
21. GET LOST IN THE WALTHAMSTOW WETLANDS
No, seriously, it’s over 200 hectares. You could actually get lost.
Details: Open daily | Walthamstow Wetlands, 2 Forest Road, N17 9NH | Free
22. TAKE YOUR DRINKING UP A NOTCH
At one of London’s many rooftop bars.
23. TALK WITH THE ANIMALS AT LONDON’S CITY FARMS
See goats and pigs in Hounslow, Islington, Battersea and more…
24. PADDLE YOUR WAY TO CRATE BREWERY
And reward yourself with a pizza and a brew by the canal.
Details: Regular dates throughout summer | Canoe Shed, Limehouse Basin, Limehouse, E14 7JZ | £47
25. TRAVEL THE WORLD THROUGH LONDON’S FOOD MARKETS
Build a banquet for each other from your favourite countries you’ve visited.
26. HIT THE BEACH… IN KENSINGTON
Just your typical church beach bar.
Details: Open daily | 90 Cromwell Rd, South Kensington, SW7 4ER | £20pp/h minimum spend
27. PLAY CRAZY GOLF. WITH DINOSAURS.
Check out our run-down of London’s best crazy golf.
28. GO ANTIQUE HUNTING ON PORTOBELLO MARKET
Then grab a bite at Portobello Schoolyard market.
Details: Open Mon-Sat, main day Saturday, Schoolyard market open Saturdays | Portobello Road, London, W10 5TY
29. BRAVE A DIP IN THE PONDS AT HAMPSTEAD HEATH
If you want to cool down, this is where to do it.
Details: Open daily | Hampstead Heath, London, NW3 1AS | £4.25
30. TAKE A TRIP TO KYOTO
Without leaving West London.
Details: Kyoto Garden, Holland Park, Holland Park Avenue, London W11 4UA
31. TAKE A CRUISE… IN A HOT TUB
And try not to get steaming drunk.
Details: Open daily | Off Hertsmere Road, West India Quay, E14 4AL | £225 (but discounts available)
32. DANCE TO GUILTY PLEASURES ON THE SOUTHBANK
At al fresco playground, Between The Bridges.
Details: Open Wed – Sun | Queen’s Walk, South Bank, SE1 7PB | Free entry
33. GET £5 GROUNDLING TICKETS AT THE GLOBE
Shakespeare, as Elizabethan peasants would have seen it.
Details: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, London, SE1 9DT | £5+
34. LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC ROUND A ROARING FIRE
Bring blankets. And a hip flask.
Details: Until 23rd September | Across London | £15
35. WATCH DRAG, DANCE & MUSIC BY THE RIVER
The National Theatre‘s pop-up river stage is making waves again. And this summer, there are lobster rolls.
Details: Weekends from 15th July – 14th August | Outside the National, South Bank | Free
36. HOP ON BOARD A CRAFT BEER CRUISE
And see double the sights.
Details: Saturdays until mid-October| The River Princess, Lambeth Pier, Albert Embankment, Vauxhall, SE1 7SG | £44
37. TAKE PART IN A LITTLE ROOFTOP YOGA
And actually salute the sun in your sun salutations.
Details: From June 2022 | Bussey Building, London SE15 | £16
38. STRETCH OUT AT A PANORAMIC BEER GARDEN
Ally Pally’s terrace is vast. And you could always time a visit with their summer Streatlife and Kaleidoscope festivals…
Details: Open daily | Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, N22 7AY | Book here
39. GO TO TRAPEZE SCHOOL IN REGENT’S PARK
It’s a great place to hang out.
Details: Until 11th September | Regent’s Park | From £36.25
40. KICK BACK AT THE LIMIN’ BEACH CLUB
Jerk chicken, jugs of rum punch, and actual sand.
Details: Open daily | Gabriel’s Wharf, 56 Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PP
41. EXPLORE LONDON’S BACKSTREETS ON A CRYPTIC HUNT
It’s like an escape room, in the sunshine.
Details: Runs daily | Across London | £25pp
42. GO OTTER SPOTTING AT THE WETLANDS CENTRE
Yeah, so this is just in Barnes.
Details: Open daily | WWT London, Queen Elizabeth Walk, Barnes, London, SW13 9WT | £15.50
43. GO ON AN ICE CREAM CRAWL
Because crawling is really the only way you’ll be able to do it.
44. GO ON A DEER SAFARI IN RICHMOND PARK
Then try your hand at ‘power kiting’. Which should be a breeze.
Details: Open daily | Richmond Park, TW10 5HS | Free
45. RUN THROUGH LAVENDER FIELDS IN VAUXHALL
Luise and Nic/Unsplash
Details: June – August | Vauxhall Park, 12 Lawn Lane, London SW8 1UA | Free
46. WALK THE LINE (SCULPTURE TRAIL)
Stretch your legs and expand your mind, with artwork by Rana Begum, Anthony Gormley, Tracey Emin and more…
Details: Open daily | Between Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and The O2 | Free
47. EXPLORE A HIDDEN, 350 YEAR-OLD APOTHECARIES’ GARDEN
And sip rosé on the lawn. Just as the apothecaries would have done.
48. ESCAPE TO EPPING FOREST
You can go on long walks, hire rowboats and spot deer – but you may not, according to local bylaws, chase commoners’ cattle.
Details: Open daily | Epping Forest, Loughton | Free
49. TAKE SOMEONE SWINGING AT GO APE
The views from Ally Pally are pretttty spectacular.
Details: Tues-Sun | Alexandra Palace, Battersea & Cockfosters | £34+
50. GO STAND UP PADDLEBOARDING
And try not to go swimming while you’re at it.
Details: Open year round | Across London | £48+
51. STORM SEVERNDROOG CASTLE
The view from the top’s insane, and on Friday nights they stage al fresco live music…
Details: Open Sundays & occasional Fridays | Severndroog Castle, Castle Wood, Shooters Hill, London SE18 3RT | £4
52. CHECK OUT THE CRYSTAL PALACE DINOSAURS
And if you’re not terrified to the core, go boating afterwards.
Details: Open daily | Crystal Palace Park | Free
53. HIT THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN CEMETERIES
Less creepy, and probably more Ancient Egyptian, than you’d expect. Check out our guides to Abney Park Cemetery, Highgate Cemetery, and Kensal Green Cemetery.
54. TAKE A STROLL DOWN COLUMBIA ROAD FLOWER MARKET
Then hit The Marksman‘s terrace before you wilt.
Details: Sundays 8am-3pm | Columbia Road, London, E2 7RG
55. LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC IN THE PARK
Regent’s Park and Greenwich Park bandstands have live bands every Sunday afternoon throughout the summer.
56. PLAY PING PONG OUTSIDE
Canary Wharf currently has artist-designed ping pong tables, minigolf and basketball courts.
Details: Open daily | Montgomery Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 | Free
57. PERUSE POP BRIXTON
Take a gong bath, stock up on street food, or dance till the wee hours.
Details: Open daily | 53 Brixton Station Road, London, SW9 8PQ | Free entry
58. HEAD UP (THEN DOWN) THE ARCELORMITTAL ORBIT
The views at the top are great. But it’s all downhill from there.
Details: Friday – Sunday | 3 Thornton Street, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 2AD | £11.50+
59. SEE THE SIGHTS BY BOAT
Get a load of the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and Greenwich, without any of the crowds.
Details: Daily | Departs from 24 piers along the Thames | £7.70+
60. RACE THROUGH THE HAMPTON COURT HEDGE MAZE
See if you can beat the average time of 20 minutes…
Details: Daily except 24-26th December | Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Court Way, East Molesey KT8 9AU | Inc. with palace admission (£26.10+)
61. GO UP THE MONUMENT
311 steps, but the views are totally worth it. Plus, you can recover at Tacos Padre afterwards.
Details: Open daily | Fish St. Hill, London, EC3R 8AH | £5.80
62. TACKLE THE BERMONDSEY BEER MILE
Over a dozen craft breweries to check out, most of which have outdoor seating.
Details: Saturdays | Check the route for the Bermondsey Beer Mile here
63. THEN TACKLE THE BLACKHORSE BEER MILE
Probably not on the same day, though.
Details: Across Walthamstow – recommended route here
64. PLAY THE ULTIMATE HIDE & SEEK GAME BY GOING GEOCACHING
Tiny little boxes and messages hidden around the city, which you can track down with your phone.
Details: Whenever, wherever
65. LISTEN TO JAZZ BY THE CANAL
But don’t wade in the water.
Details: Thursday evenings | Grow, Main Yard, Hackney Wick, E9 5LN | £5/6
66. OR LISTEN TO JAZZ ON A PALACE LAWN
606 Club pops up at Fulham Palace for Champagne-laced jazz nights every summer, and they’re excellent.
Details: 15th & 17th July | Fulham Palace, Bishop’s Avenue, London SW6 6EA | £18.50
67. TOAST MARSHMALLOWS IN A ROOFTOP GARDEN
And sip botanical concoctions from the Cocktail Gardener.
Details: Thurs-Sun | The Midnight Apothecary, Brunel Museum Rooftop Garden, Railway Avenue, SE16 4LF | £8+
68. SPEND A DAY AT NIGHT TALES
Yeah, there’s a club indoors… but outside is this tropical paradise with multiple cocktail bars, a pizzeria and huge bookable areas.
Details: Open Friday & Saturday | Night Tales, 14 Bohemia Place London E8 1DU
69. GO ON A MEWS CRAWL
Window shop for dream houses along London’s prettiest mews streets.
70. THEN GO HORSE RIDING IN HYDE PARK
It’s a thing you can do! And they’re conveniently based in a mews, too.
Details: Rides daily | Hyde Park Stables, 63 Bathurst Mews, London W2 2SB | From £115
71. LEARN TO TANGO OUTDOORS
Free beginners classes, followed by a couple of hours of dancing.
Details: 23rd June; 3rd, 17th & 28th July; 14 & 18th August; 15th & 25th September | Amphitheatre Canopy, Bishops Square, Spitalfields Market, 37 Brushfield Street, London E1 6AA | Free
72. TAKE UP GARDENING AT DALSTON CURVE
Or just drop in for the live music nights on Tuesdays.
Details: Volunteer gardening on Saturdays (apply here), gigs on Tuesdays from 31st May | 13 Dalston Lane, E8 3DF | Free entry to garden but donations are encouraged. Gigs from £5
73. GO AXE THROWING BY THE CANAL
And yes, somehow you can BYOB.
Details: Open daily | Skeeter’s, Hamlet Industrial Estate, 96 White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN | From £20
74. THEN HEAD TO BARGE EAST FOR POST-THROW REFRESHMENT
They have loads of outdoor seating, right next to the ingredients they grow for their dishes.
Details: Gardens open on weekends | Sweetwater Mooring, River Lee, White Post Lane, Hackney Wick, East London, E9 5EN | Book here
75. PICK YOUR OWN PICNIC
Harvest your own strawberries, sweetcorn, and sunflowers.
Details: From 1st June | Garsons Farm, Winterdown Road, Esher, Surrey, KT10 8LS | Charged by weight
Like discovering the best things to do in the city? Check out our 101 London Date Ideas