London

The Perfect London Summer

July 28, 2016
Image Tower Bridge on London summer day

Summer in London is a funny thing – over half the time is spent moaning about the lack of sun and summery vibes. Then, there’s a period of pure happiness and outdoor adventures. And then the “London summer” hits – and moaning is suddenly motivated by lack of A/C, too much sweat, and miserable Tube rides.

However, at the end of the day, this is the place that we chose to make our home, through all weather conditions. And we’ve learned to make the most of it. Cozy pubs help us survive winter. Sturdy umbrellas and Netflix help us survive rainy days.  And this list right here helps us make the most of our love/hate relationship with London summers, when we can’t get to all of the big Great British Summer events, of course! Who needs a summer vacation when you have all this?

Here are our recommendations for a perfect London summer. There’s plenty of time in the summer to squeeze all of these in. Well – time, yes; sun, hopefully!

Visit Duke of York Square’s food market

Duck Sandwich from Duke of York Square food market

Don’t forget to pick up the “best duck sandwich in London”

This Saturday market is open year round and is by far my favorite food market in London. In part, this is because of it’s small size, which makes it easy to try everything. Also, they serve champagne and cocktails. And above all, there is the incredible duck confit sandwiches – the best sandwich in Chelsea, as they like to say! Mix up your Saturday shopping day with a quick visit to this market. In the summer, they usually have other events going on as well, or you could make a quick trip to Saatchi Gallery.

Have a picnic in St. James’ Park

View of Buckingham Palace from St. James' Park

You really can’t complain when you’re enjoying a picnic with a view of Buckingham Palace!

With views of Buckingham Palace and the London Eye, St. James’ Park is one of my favorite spots in London. I think I could stand on the bridge in the center for hours each day and be at peace with the world. Put together a picnic basket, grab a blanket, and pick a spot in the shade as the day comes to a close. St. James’ Park is great for the three most important parts of a picnic – beauty, space, and people-watching!

Spend the entire day in a pub’s beer garden

Balham's Avalon Pub back garden

The Avalon in Balham has great seating areas in their back garden. If you get a good spot, you can really stay there all day and into the evening!

There is nothing better than a summer day spent in the garden of your favorite pub with friends. With pitchers of Pimm’s flowing and hearty pub food to accompany them, there is literally no reason to leave. Most pubs move TVs outside for the summer, as well, so you do not have to miss any sport. Sit in the sun or opt for the shade – just make sure you pick a spot you are ready to sit in all day! Some of our favorite summer pubs include The Falcon, The Windmill, The Ship and The Anchor.

Walk along the Thames

Image of Big Ben and Westminster on London summer day

When you arrive to Westminster and walk out to Big Ben, you already feel accomplished for the day!

Walking along the river in London gives you plenty to see and do. There are museums, pubs, tourist attractions, and some incredible architecture! Westminster and London Bridge are both great starting points – just walk until you become bored or distracted!

Try one of London’s many pop-up rooftops

Image of Secret Garden entrance at John Lewis Summer Rooftop

It seems that, when summer rolls around, buildings suddenly have restaurants on their rooftops. I don’t know when they get built, or why they are not there all year, but know that they appear in the summer. From pop up roof restaurants (like at John Lewis) to rooftop parties (like Brixton Beach Boulevard), there is so much to do in London above street level.

Ride bikes in Hyde Park

Boris bikes, Barclay bikes, Santander bikes – whatever you want to call them, these things are actually really cool They’re rather heavy and hard to get going (if you haven’t been on a bike in a while!) but it’s a cool alternative for a sunny day. Pick them up at any docking station and ride around Hyde Park, or venture into Notting Hill. Alternatively, choose a different area – it’s great exercise, a great way to discover new things, and a lot of fun!

Take a boat to Greenwich

View overlooking London from Greenwich

When I studied abroad, we were forced to take the Greenwich boat tour as our “welcome” tour. However, it’s not a bad thing to be forced into (except ours was in January!). It’s fun to see London by water, and Greenwich is a lovely area. Head that way on the boat, wander around, pop into a pub for a pint, and then jump on the DLR back. It’s an easy day away!

Bask in the sun at Brighton Beach

Image of Brighton beach and Brighton Pier on the seafront

A warm summers day calls for a day trip to Brighton. It is such a fun and easy day trip from London. Better yet? You end up at the beach! Go bask in the sun or have a picnic or just wander for hours.

Plan a day in the park with all of your friends

There’s nothing better than getting all of your friends together, grabbing some snacks and drinks, and going to the park. London’s green spaces become absolutely packed in the summer with groups. Some play sports, some barbecue, and some just sit there with some corner shop drinks. The atmosphere in the park is usually great, and it’s a fun (and cheap) weekend activity with friends.

Attend a festival

Cider Tent at London summer Foodies Festival 2015

There are food festivals, cocktail festivals, music festivals, and so much more! There are small festivals and big festivals. One day festivals and week long festivals. London and it’s surrounding areas turn into festival grounds all summer long! I swear everywhere you look there is something else going on. Find one that matches your style, buy a ticket (if required) and go!

If you’re going to be in Edinburgh as well this summer, our friends at Eternal Arrival have published a great list of free things to do in Edinburgh. Most can be done year round, but why not take advantage of the sun?


What are your favorite summer activities?

Let us know in the comments below!


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A mini bucket list to help you make the most of London summers!

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11 Comments

  • Reply marie July 29, 2016 at 10:41 am

    There are some great ideas here! I always love a picnic from Fortnums.

    • Reply apairofpassports July 30, 2016 at 10:41 am

      We recently bought a hamper from John Lewis to start putting together our own picnics, and are having too much fun with it. It comes with cutlery, wine glasses, and everything!

  • Reply Anisa July 30, 2016 at 10:56 am

    I haven’t heard of the Duke of York’s Square market, will have to check it out. I love Borough Market.

  • Reply Tara July 30, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I’ve been in London on one of those rare summery days and I couldn’t believe how fast everyone stripped off to sun bake

    • Reply apairofpassports July 31, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      It honestly becomes such a different place! We just don’t get enough quality time outside!

  • Reply Laura @ Grassroots Nomad July 30, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Great tips! I grew up not far from Brighton so I love it when people include it in travel lists!

    • Reply apairofpassports July 31, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      It’s such a lovely place, it’s hard not to include it!

  • Reply Happy Coconuts Travel Blog July 30, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Seems like an easy place to enjoy a summer! I have never been but it’s on my list!!

  • Reply Happy Coconuts Travel Blog July 30, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Looks like an easy place to spend a summer, I have never been but it’s on my list!

  • Reply Sarah August 6, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Oh this brings back so many memories (and yet so much more I want to return to London to do!). I love festivals, pop up bars and generally just drinking in the sun in summer!

  • Reply Hyman Balwin August 27, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Become your own party planner. Host a day party under the sun and arrange a cocktail competition for you and your friends. May the most refreshing summer cocktail win! Cotton candy, magic castles, balloons and exhilarating roller coasters. Who doesn t love living in a fairytale if only for one day?

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