Spring’s in full swing and London’s full of life, so make the most of this vibrant time of year by spending a part of the early May bank holiday weekend in London. There are plenty of fun activities, events and outdoor experiences to add to your bucket list.
London's attractions, leisure venues, pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops are due to reopen on phased dates following the proposed easing of coronavirus restrictions. Check the latest coronavirus information and be aware that some venues listed may still be closed after these dates.
Also, check out more ideas for the spring bank holiday later in the month.
What's reopening this month?
Provided the coronavirus restrictions ease as planned on 12 April, the following attractions have indicated they will reopen their doors to visitors this month:
- Shakespeare's Globe Theatre reopens for guided tours. Get ready to explore 400 years of Shakespearean history.
- Admire the city on an open-top London bus tour, complete with a live guide.
- Some of London city farms are reopening their doors! Find cuteness overload in the form of new spring arrivals.
- Many London restaurants and rooftop bars are reopening their outdoor dining areas, perfect for a family catch up in the sunshine.
- The Drive In and more outdoor cinemas await you with a whole programme of movies to chill with.
- Outdoor dining, art exhibitions and entertainment is popping up at King's Cross, with crazy golf to play between shopping stops.
- London's shopping scene is reopening, just in time for a summer wardrobe refresh.
Virtual activities to do from home
- Take a virtual tour through Game City with the Museum of London, and learn about some of the most popular games and their characters.
- Catch up on Natural History Museum's programme of online events with past recordings as part of Our Broken Planet.
- Indulging over the weekend? Dance it off at a virtual dance class, dance-themed workout or virtual fitness class.
- Cosy up to one of London’s virtual exhibitions. From blockbuster art shows in the capital’s top galleries, to intriguing exhibitions at museums, you get your culture fix from home over the weekend.
- While some theatres are planned to reopen later this month, you can enjoy online shows and performances, both streamed live and recorded.
- Tune into some classical music with Southbank Centre's online programme, featuring La Vie Parisienne (until 5 May) and Steven Isserlis (until 7 May).
Refresh your wardrobe for summer
- Out with your heavy wintry coat, in with snazzy summer dress… Revamp your look in time for summer at one of London’s best shops.
- Hunt down items of all kinds at the capital’s department stores, including Selfridges, John Lewis, Liberty, Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
- Spend a day exploring top shopping areas – many also have plenty of places for pit stops between flashing the plastic.
- Peruse unique, second-hand and vintage items on May bank holiday markets in London.
Enjoy leisurely meals
- Fuel up for more family fun at one of the capital’s family restaurants.
- Macarons, dainty sandwiches, scones with jam and cream… Yeah, bank holiday definitely calls for some afternoon tea action. Stick with traditional options or try something quirkier.
- Bank holidays are for lazing around, so a long May bank holiday brunch in London is a match made in heaven. Go bottomless for added value – after all, you’re not in a rush…
- Venture out of zone 1 to find diverse London neighbourhoods. Try Tooting for south Asian food and quirky markets, Peckham for hipster hangouts or Highgate for green spaces and cosy pubs.
Find more London food and drink ideas.
Venture outdoors in London
- See some of London’s most famous bridges lit up at night as part of the Illuminated River art installation – wander the riverbanks for the perfect shot or find a unique viewpoint from an evening river cruise.
- Snap away at some of London's top attractions while enjoying the warmer weather on an open-top bus tour.
- Get a bird’s eye view of Kew Gardens from its treetop walkway – the gardens look stunning at this time of year carpeted with spring flowers in full bloom. Don’t forget to hashtag #londoninbloom!
- Be surrounded by cute critters and wild landscapes at the city’s nature reserves and woodlands, including the London Wetland Centre, Walthamstow Wetlands and Epping Forest.
- Check out the latest spring arrivals at city farms – and no, you can’t take any home with you!
Most attractions remain closed this early May bank holiday, but take a look at what you can usually enjoy on this spring weekend below, and plan ahead for next year.
Family-friendly attractions in London
- Spend the three days visiting London’s top attractions – you can save time and money by buying a sightseeing pass. Choose from The London Pass, London Explorer Pass and Merlin London attractions pass, depending on what you want to visit.
- Take a seat at a top London musical: The Lion King, Wicked and Phantom of the Opera are among the popular picks.
- Put your feet up as you see the sights on a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, or venture along the Thames on a river cruise. If you’re feeling brave why not take a speedboat tour?
- Watch a Shakespearean play during Shakespeare’s Globe Summer Season, which usually starts in late April.
Treat the kids to memorable experiences
- Let the teens loose with Instagrammable spots, adrenaline-fuelled fun and immersive experiences – follow our tips on things to do in London with teenagers.
- Check out London’s top family attractions, including an underwater world at SEA LIFE London, London engineering icons at the London Transport Museum and a kids’ city in the form of Kidzania.
- Treat the little one to one of London’s top shows for kids – or visit one of London’s dedicated children’s theatres.
Enjoy bank holiday days out
- Discover lesser-known areas of London’s West End between shopping sprees: soak up the relaxed vibe at St Christopher’s Place, try worldwide cuisines in Shepherd Market, or have some “me time” with yoga and spa treatments in St Martin’s Courtyard.
- The City of London is quieter at the weekend while the workers are away, so it’s the perfect time to discover ancient churches, traditional British pubs and modern skyscrapers topped with pretty roof gardens. Climb the 311 steps for views from The Monument, explore the Guildhall Art Gallery for artworks, or venture into Roman temple, the London Mithraeum.
- Don your best sailor’s outfit and take the boat to Greenwich. Continue the nautical theme by visiting maritime attractions including Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum.
- Rub your eyes in disbelief as you check out peaceful places you’d never think were in London – from ornate Neasden Temple to quirky Crystal Palace Park.
- With three days in hand, why not fill one of them with a day trip from London? These include the chance to go behind the scenes of the Queen’s residence, Windsor Castle.
- Head to Richmond Park’s Isabella Plantation for the perfect photo opportunity among hundreds of hot pink azaleas, which are in full bloom at this time of year.
What is open on bank holiday in London?
Most attractions, shops and restaurants are usually open during the bank holiday weekend, or open with amended times. Check with the individual venue before you go. This year, most attractions are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Some transport services may be affected, so check the latest information for Transport for London services and rail networks before you travel. You are advised to explore your local area and walk or cycle where possible.
More spring inspiration
For more weekend inspiration, find our top tips on things to do on a Saturday and Sunday in the capital. If you’re staying for longer, make sure to see what else is on during spring, including key events in May.
Stay for the whole weekend to make the most of the bank holiday vibes – discover where to stay in London.