Don’t let summer fly by without getting outdoors, getting your drink on and making the most of your beautiful city.
1. Go swimming
Here’s a radical thought…swimming outdoors in London. You have to be a member to swim the Serpentine in Hyde Park, but it’s only £20 a year. Or try Hampstead Heath with its Ladies’ Pond, Men’s Pond, Mixed Pond and Parliament Hill Lido. They are open all year around and are life guarded.
The Tooting Bec Lido in south-west London is the largest fresh water open air swimming pool in England. There’s a 90m pool, children’s paddling pool and cafe. Open May to September.
2. Hit the roof top bars
There are dozens of them across the city, here’s three favourites. The Queen Elizabeth Roof Garden Bar & Cafe is an oasis designed by the Eden Project, a garden on high with a cafe and sparkling river views. SushiSamba is the highest outdoor dining terrace in Europe with 360-degree views of the city. It serves an exotic mix of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine. Radio Rooftop Bar sits on the 10th floor of the ME London Hotel in Covent Garden. It’s modern and glamorous with panoramic views and great tapas.
3. Row down the river
Escape the traffic and get a different perspective. Cruises are frequent and popular, though queues can be testing. Launch your own canoe along the Thames, the Wandle in South London or to explore London’s canals in Limehous. You can kayak at night past the splendour of the Houses of Parliament (kayakinglondon.com) or be guided through the sights by British Canoe Union instructors.
4. Enjoy alfresco entertainment
The Scoop is an 800-seater outdoor amphitheatre near London Bridge offering free entertainment, including live music and outdoor movies and theatre production. The Globe shows Shakespeare’s classics as they were meant to be seen. The Regents Park Open Air Theatre offers classics like Peter Pan, The Seagull, Lord of the Flies and Seven Bridges for Seven Brothers.
5. Follow in Olympic footsteps
There’s plenty to see do at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Or you can get physical. Swim in the pool or take a dive off one of the Olympic boards, work out in the gym, take and exercise class or play badminton in the Copper Box Arena or cycle in the VeloPark. Zoom to the top of Britain’s tallest sculpture – the Arcelormittal Orbit.
6. Go farming
Who’d have guessed that London has over a dozen farms. Spitalfields Farm is the closest to the centre. Vauxhall City Farm has plenty of animals, including horses, goats, sheep, geese, rabbits and even alpacas. Possibly the most spectacular is Mudchute Farm, a working farm in East London with the towers of Canary Wharf forming a striking background.
7. Explore the canals
Hop aboard a traditional narrow-boat and explore the magical world of London’s canal network. Boats leave from Little Venice and Camden Lock Market (well worth spending time in itself) and take you on a peaceful journey away from London’s hustle and bustle. You can also walk the towpaths and there are guided tours on Regents Canal through the Islington Tunnel.
8. Take a table tennis challenge
For six to eight weeks in summer there’s a ping pong (or whiff-whaff as Boris Johnson calls it) festival with tables popping up all over the capital. It’s free and bats and balls are supplied – just grab a bat from the side of the table and join in.
9. Take to the sky
London’s only cable car crosses the Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. From April to November you can take a stunning, extended night flight. Watch the sun set and see the city come alive after dark.
10. Join the Primrose Hill Set
The term was coined for a group of actors from the area, including the likes of Johnny Lee Miller, Sadie Frost and Jude Law. There’s great shopping, pubs, cafes and restaurants. Climb the Hill for a wonderfully clear view of Central London. It’s dog walker’s heaven and there’s a playground to keep the kids happy. Meander around the colourful, leafy streets of Victorian terraces and pop into local pub The Queens, at the bottom of the hill, keeping your eyes peeled for celebs.
This article originally appeared on TheSouthAfrican.com
IMAGE: Stock image via Shutterstock.com/Maridav