It’s coming. The Drumstick Squashie arms after carelessly concluding that you don’t need sun cream, the head shoved in the fridge beside the Flora in an attempt to cool off, and the weakly uttered words “it’s too hot”.
Yep, summer’s here. And as we’ve established a few too many times, we know it can get pretty bloody hot. But this is the time to live your best life! With this in mind, here are the best things to do in London in summer that’ll keep you cool, entertained, or both.
Cannonball into an outdoor pool
Photo: Brockwell Lido on Facebook
With sweat racing down your face and no sign of any cooling breeze, nothing will beat a massive cannonball into a cool body of water. And there are loads to choose from. There’s the Serpentine Lido, Brockwell Lido, Beckenham Place Park's lake, Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds, Hampton Pool, London Fields Lido, Hillingdon Lido, and a fair few others.
Have a barbecue in the park
It’s summer and we’re British. It’s an unspoken rule to have a barbecue the second there’s some sun. And you could do it at home, but why do that when you can head out to a park, sprawl out under the sun, and sink a few gins in tins while you’re at it? It’s much more sociable, fun, and one of the cheapest things to do in London in summer.
But first ensure the park allows it so you don’t get in trouble or disturb nature. Royal Parks such as Hyde, Richmond and St James’ allow barbecues and alcohol.
Have a picnic in a park
Failing that, have a picnic. Little cocktail sausages, a few flavours of crisps, a bottle of bubbly, sandwiches, and some cake - you can’t beat it. And what better way to welcome back the sorely missed British summer than by basking beneath it, forgetting how powerful it is and waking up the next day with a slight sunburn? As British people, it’s our duty.
Hit a beer garden. Obviously.
Photo: The Axe on Facebook
Like salt and pepper, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, beer gardens and summer are a match made in heaven. No matter your tipple of choice, it tastes a million times better under the sun in a beer garden while you laugh your way to a six-pack with some mates. It’s everyone’s go-to for a reason!
Find tickets for London pub and bar events - here
Chill at the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park
Photo: Akbar Iskandar, Holland Park - Kyoto Garden on Facebook
If you haven’t been already, the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park is insanely beautiful and incredibly serene. In fact, we reckon visiting is the best free thing to do in London in summer. In this traditional Japanese garden, you can expect waterfalls, a pond full of koi carp, Japanese maple trees and the occasional peacock. It’s the perfect place to escape the hecticness of the city, and there’s shade so you can hide from the sun.
Eat yourself into a food coma at a food festival
Photo: HRP Festivals on Facebook
As we’ve just established with the barbecue and picnic ideas, few pairings complement each other as well as food and good weather (except alcohol and good weather, obviously). And as humans are creatures of habit, we can fall into the habit of eating the same foods all the time without even noticing. Attending a food festival is a great way to get out, learn about other cultures, enjoy delicious scran, and introduce some mouth-watering dishes to your taste buds.
Find tickets for food events - here
Or drink (ir)responsibly at an alcohol festival or an alcohol tasting event
Two brilliant choices include the Gin and Rum Festival in July and the London Craft Beer Festival in August. And if you can't find a festival for your tipple of choice, why not head to a tasting event? Tasting events aren’t just for wine. They include whisky, gin, vodka, beer, and more. It might be the best way to discover your summer ‘22 bev.
Find tickets for food and drink events - here
Check out an open-air cinema
Photo: Rooftop Film Club on Facebook
Imagine sitting down with mates, a bag of popcorn, and a drink as the sun sets and your favourite film starts. It sounds like heaven. And you can get your slice at a fair few places, including the Sunset Screening Sessions, the Rooftop Film Club, Kew Gardens, and the Barbican Outdoor Cinema. With romcoms, musicals, action, comedy, and everything in between there's genuinely a film for everyone.
Tear it up at Notting Hill Carnival
Photo: Notting Hall Carnival on Facebook
Going down in August, Notting Hill is probably the most fun cultural celebration on the planet. Expect incredible costumes, traditional street food, steel drums, Caribbean tunes, dancers, singers, and smiles everywhere at this huge, electric annual street festival.
Breathe some fresh air at Kew Gardens
Photo: Kew Gardens on Facebook
Kew Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage site with 500 acres of trees, plants, and more, including a Japanese garden and a pagoda. Expect all sorts of whacky wildlife such as towering bamboo, carnivorous plants, tropical plants, a rock garden, and more. If you love getting away from the city and getting in touch with nature, Kew Gardens is the perfect place to do it.
Find tickets for events at Kew Gardens - here
Taste test London’s ice cream until you find the best
Photo: Udderlicious on Facebook
Do you know what’s great? Ice cream. Do you know what’s even better? Ice cream when it’s so hot your thighs feel like they've been superglued to the chair you're trying to get up off. And as London has lots of places to get ice cream from, now’s the perfect time to begin your quest to find the city’s best.
Go to a music festival
Photo: Hospitality Weekend In The Woods on Facebook
In case didn’t know, London is full of cracking music festivals. Especially in summer. This year, the city will hold major events such as the hotly anticipated Peggy Gou's Pleasure Gardens, electronic fest Hospitality Weekend In The Woods, drum and bass fest Electric City, Elrow Town, and Titan Festival for fans of hip hop and RnB. Sun, pints, tunes, it’d be daft not to.
Find tickets for London music festivals and gigs - here
Watch an outdoor theatre performance
Photo: Regent's Park Open Air Theatre on Facebook
When the sun’s out, you don’t really want to be stuck indoors. So heading to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre to get your theatre fix while enjoying the summer air is the perfect solution. This year's performances include Legally Blonde, 101 Dalmatians, and Antigone. If they don't pique your interest, you could check out Shakespeare’s Globe instead.
Find tickets for theatre events in London - here
Hang out on a farm
Photo: Vauxhall City Farm on Facebook
Why not pet a cow, ride a horse, or be spat on by an alpaca? Actually, fair enough if you don’t want an alpaca’s slobber all over you, but checking out a farm is still top fun. And it’s often important to many farms as they receive donations from the public during visits that help them keep the farm going. There are loads of farms in the city that will make a lovely day out, nut if you want alpaca slobber, head to Vauxhall City Farm.
Sing your heart out at Bearpit Karaoke
There are open-air cinemas and theatres, and now there’s open-air karaoke too. If you head down to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens on the 16th of July, 13th of August, or the 10th of September, you'll see members of the public serenading the park with Dancing Queen and Don't Stop Me Now. Think about it. Is there really a better way to spend a summer afternoon?
Check out the Columbia Road Flower Market
Photo: Columbia Road Flower Market on Facebook
The fragrant smell tingling in the air and all the beautifully vibrant and pastel colours of the flowers will basically be paradise this summer. Or any time of year, really. Stroll through, breathe in, and maybe take a few home with you.
Pick your own strawberries at Parkside Farm
Photo: Parkside Farm Pick Your Own on Facebook
Strawberries are obviously an elite-tier fruit, and ones that have been grown with love are just a million times better. When you get home and lift one to your mouth, the smell alone will make you glad you went. And when you tear into it and feel your taste buds invigorated by a sweet, rich strawb, you might even shed a tear. And we wouldn’t blame you. We've all done it.
Hit the beach!
Photo: London City Beach on Facebook
Okay, no London beach will beat a beach you might find in Spain or Croatia due to the fact London doesn’t actually have any beaches. But damn, when the hot weather hits, you’ll be grateful you ventured out to one of these almost beaches. Head over to Camden Beach, London City Beach, Ruislip Lido or Brixton Beach for sand, sun, and holiday vibes.
Get on your bike
Photo: Santander Cycles on Facebook
London is only getting better and better for cycling around. So when the sun burns so bright it’s sticky, and the air feels heavy, getting on your bike (or a rental) and heading downhill is a shout. As the wind smashes against your face, the relief from the blistering sun will be immense.
Feel proud at London Pride’s 50th anniversary
Photo: Pride in London on Facebook
March with thousands of others in pride or solidarity through London on Saturday the 2nd of July. There’ll be four stages of music with artists such as Ava Max, Emeli Sande, Drag Race stars, Beyoncé Experience and many more, as well as loving vibes, and all the rainbows. Always a cracking party, London Pride is always one of the best things to do in London in the summer, no matter what year.
Find tickets for other Pride events - here
Party on a party boat!
Photo: DnB Brunch on Facebook
Partying on a boat in summer? We really don’t think we need to explain this one to you. There are a crazy amount of boat parties going down in London this summer. From house music to ABBA to glam to brunch, there are lots of themes to choose from.
Find tickets for London boat parties - here
Stroll through Little Venice
The extra serotonin the sun gives us really does make the simple things a million times better. Little Venice is a lovely little canal area with cafes, pubs, restaurants, theatres, and shops. You could just walk along peacefully or you could see what hidden treasures you can find.
Sit on Primrose Hill, and soak in the sun and the views
As we said, it’s the simple things. Primrose Hill has some of the best views of London. Why not just head up there and soak in the sun and the view? Nothing to do, nowhere to be, ultimate peace.
Get wavy on a floating bar
Photo: Tamesis Dock on Facebook
As mentioned, we all know alcohol and sunny weather were made for each other. Add a boat into the mix and you’re laughing. Head over to Darcie Green, Feng Shang Princess, Barge East, Alfred Le Roy, Tamesis Dock, Tattershall Castle, or The Barge House for a few tipples on the waters.
Or hit a club
Photo: Egg London on Facebook
You can’t beat a club every now and then. And summer solves some of the issues that people might have with clubbing. For one, cloakrooms can be expensive. But who needs cloakrooms in the summer? And walking home can get cold, but not in the middle of August! We have to take advantage of these benefits while we can.
Find tickets for clubbing events in London - here
And those are the best things to do in London in summer. If you’re a bit strapped for cash, check out what free activities London offers. And if you’re looking for a gig, festival, club night, food and drink experience or something else entirely, Skiddle’s got you covered.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.