London is one of my favourite cities – there is so much to do and see that you can never get bored. London in summer is particularly great as the city comes alive with food and music festivals and outdoor events. You’ll be surprised by how ‘green’ London is, with so many beautiful parks to enjoy the warm British summertime.
Visitors flock to London from all corners of the world to experience England’s capital city – one of the most vibrant, quirky cities in Europe with an abundance of culture, heritage and history.
Today in this guest post, Lisa tells us everything we need to know about visiting London in Summer. From the secret city lidos which you can visit to cool off to the best festivals, carnivals and street markets. So read on to get help planning the perfect London city break in summer!
If you enjoy this post, make sure to read the other ‘Interview with a Local‘ articles – there’s everything from Paris to Lisbon to San Diego featured here.
Now over to Lisa to tell us all about summer in London…
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Why should we visit London in summer?
London has something to offer all year round, but there are two big perks of London in summer: our often grumpy Londoners are practically cheerful, and there are loads of events going on – big and small, weird and wonderful.
Is there any part of London where you recommend basing yourself?
You can’t really go wrong – every neighbourhood has its own character, and as long as you’re near a Tube station, everything is accessible.
I live in Islington, north London, so I’ll always recommend that! Upper Street is buzzing with bars and restaurants, and Highbury Fields is a great park for a game of five-a-side football and a barbecue.
What do you love most about London in summer?
A good summer’s day in London is like one big party! The city is filled with outdoor spaces to enjoy the sunshine and the atmosphere – parks, squares, riverbanks, rooftops and best of all, pub gardens.
What is the weather like in summer in London?
Variable! It’s usually between 16°C and 23°C, but it reached over 30°C last year. Just don’t believe the stereotype about London rain – it’s actually one of the least rainy places in the UK, and mostly dry between June and September.
Can you suggest some things to do in London in summer?
There are too many events to name – keep an eye on Time Out, the free weekly listings magazine, to see everything that’s going on.
I like going to open-air cinemas, where rooftops and courtyards are kitted out with cinema screens, deckchairs and popcorn vendors for the pedestrian version of a drive-in movie.
Probably the best thing to do, though, is just to explore. Take long walks, stop at cafés and pubs along the way, and browse London’s markets – my favourite are the markets in Camden, Brick Lane and Portobello Road.
For an iconic walk, follow the South Bank from Waterloo to London Bridge, or for a more off-the-beaten-track insight on London, walk along Regent’s Canal from King’s Cross to Little Venice.
Are there any parks where you recommend having a summer picnic in London?
I’d recommend Primrose Hill for views, Hampstead Heath for wilderness, Richmond Park for the feeling that you’re not in London at all (don’t miss the Isabella Plantation.) Also, Regent’s Park for lovely formal gardens and quieter open spaces compared to Hyde Park.
One of the best things about London is that you can walk straight for over an hour without ever leaving a park (from St James’s Park to the Diana Memorial in Hyde Park)!
Anywhere you suggest going to cool down in London in hot weather?
Londoners usually head for the coast (you’ll find us overcrowding Brighton on a bank holiday weekend), but for a uniquely British experience, check out a lido.
Lidos are public outdoor swimming pools, and they’re hidden all over the city – try the swimming ponds in Hampstead Heath, the historic Tooting Bec Lido in Streatham or the art deco Brockwell Lido. There’s even a corner of the Serpentine in Hyde Park where you can plunge in if you don’t mind sharing with the ducks.
Are there any cafes, pubs, restaurants or bars in London with outdoor areas which you recommend?
It sounds weird, but Frank’s Café is a bar on top of a multi-storey car park in Peckham, open in summer only, and one of the city’s most popular drinking spots!
Also worth a visit are Sushisamba for the view (it’s on the 38th floor of the Heron Tower), Chiltern Firehouse for celebrity-spotting, the OXO Tower Brasserie for the chance to see London from a South Bank landmark, and any of the lunch spots inside Kingly Court, off Carnaby Street.
After years of regeneration, the King’s Cross area also has fantastic restaurants and outdoor areas. My favourite is Caravan for brunch.
Are there any exciting events or festivals in London in the summer?
Again, too many to list! A few of the biggest music festivals are British Summer Time in Hyde Park, which hosts some of the world’s biggest names in pop music; Wireless Festival for R&B, hip-hop and dance music in Finsbury Park, and Lovebox in west London’s Gunnersbury Park, with a mix of DJs, quirky pop and indie bands.
Or for something more retro, check out the Brixton Disco Festival, an ode to disco with live music, screenings, talks, a roller disco and record fair in the venues around Brixton’s iconic Windrush Square.
Another unique venue is Somerset House in the Strand – don’t miss the Somerset House Summer Series, a series of outdoor concerts in its beautiful historic courtyard.
I can’t end a post about London in summer without mentioning the Notting Hill Carnival – a street party on a mind-boggling scale, and a brilliantly colourful celebration of London’s Afro-Caribbean culture. It’s the biggest street party in Europe, with over a million visitors and 50,000 performers in the parade! Arrive early, try not to need the toilet, and hold on tight to whoever you’re with.
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With thanks to Lisa for this fabulous insight into what summer in London is like. I’m loving the sound of the lidos and The Notting Hill Carnival is high on my own bucket list!
Have you been to London in summer? What was your favourite thing to do? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below!
In the meantime, here are some pretty pins for your Pinterest boards…