101 things to do outdoors in London

London is set to become the world's first National Park City in 2019 thanks to its abundance of parks, woodlands, nature reserves, canals and rivers. To celebrate, here are 101 of the best things to do outdoors in London.
Reflections of trees in the water surrounding the Sackler Bridge at Kew Gardens.
Discover beautiful bridges and tree top walkways at Kew Gardens. Photo: visitlondon.com/Jon Reid.

Top things to do in London

  1. Stroll down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace in time to see the Changing the Guard ceremony.
  2. Follow in the footsteps of The Beatles at the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing.
  3. Marvel at the street artists and performers in Covent Garden.
  4. Snap a picture of Eros and the neon billboards at Piccadilly Circus.
  5. Look for the Chinese-style gates, decorations and pagodas in Chinatown.
  6. Cross some of London’s iconic bridges, from the magnificent Tower Bridge to the modern Millennium Bridge.
  7. Spot London landmarks from the outdoor viewing gallery at level 72 of The View from The Shard.
  8. Wander the self-guided City Visitor Trail, passing some of the City of London's architectural gems such as St Paul's Cathedral.
  9. See the sights on an open-top bus tour of the capital.
  10. Get up close and personal to Lord Nelson and the bronze lions in Trafalgar Square.

Visit London's Royal Parks

A post shared by Juliana Lauletta (@julauletta) on

  1. Hire a deck chair in leafy Green Park, the smallest of London's eight Royal Parks.
  2. Take time to ponder the memorials in Hyde Park, from the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain to Britain's first memorial garden for victims of the Holocaust.
  3. See more than 12,000 roses of 400 varieties at the fragrant Queen Mary's Garden in Regent’s Park.
  4. Go bonkers for conkers at Chestnut Avenue in Bushy Park, which is home to roaming herds of red and fallow deer.
  5. Add some magic to your day in Kensington Gardens with a visit to the Peter Pan statue Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie lived close to the gardens.
  6. Spot the pelicans in St James’s Park – don't miss feeding time between 2.30pm and 3pm every day.
  7. Look out for the hot pink azaleas (which bloom in late April and May), ponds and streams at the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.
  8. Climb the hill to experience sweeping views of London in Greenwich Park, which is also home to Royal Museums Greenwich.

Historical places in London

  1. From uncovering the City of London's compelling past to delving into Sherlock Holmes’ London, learn about the capital’s varied history on a walking tour.
  2. Straddle the Meridian Line in the courtyard of the Royal Observatory.
  3. Be transported to London's Roman past at the London Wall.
  4. Get a glimpse into London’s political history at Speakers' Corner, Downing Street and Parliament Square where you'll find the Houses of Parliament.

Naval greats

  1. See a full-scale reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake's world-famous sailing galleon, the Golden Hinde in Bankside.
  2. Watch modern yachts coming and going in tranquil St Katharine Docks.
  3. Walk the decks of Second World War battleship HMS Belfast, which is moored on the Thames.
  4. Marvel at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, the world's last remaining tea clipper.

Animal attractions

View this post on Instagram

#sunday #london ☀️☀️

A post shared by Knelle87 (@knelle87) on

  1. Get your binoculars out to search for rare birds at WWT Wetland Centre in Barnes or wildlife among the wet grassland of Lee Valley.
  2. Check out the latest arrivals at London's city farms.
  3. Learn more about the cute penguins and lemurs with daily shows at ZSL London Zoo.

Explore London's cemeteries

  1. Go on a guided walk of Brompton Cemetery, where you'll see the grave of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.
  2. Spot famous names in Highgate Cemetery, including the grave of philosopher Karl Marx.

London commons and heaths

  1. Climb to the top of Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath for panoramic views of the city.
  2. Take a frisbee or football to Clapham Common, and cheer on the sports teams in action at weekends.
  3. Look for the elusive Wombles on Wimbledon Common, or see the workings of its resident Wimbledon Windmill.

Swimming and boating in London

  1. Take a dip in London's public lidos, from the art deco Brockwell Lido to the colourful Tooting Bec Lido.
  2. Limber up for a leisurely boat ride on Hyde Park's Serpentine Lake, in the sprawling boating lake in Regent's Park or south of the river in Battersea Park.
  3. Paddle your way down the city's waterways with London Kayak Tours or captain your own GoBoat.

Popular London parks and gardens

  1. Take to the treetop walkway in the world-famous Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew for magnificent views of the gardens.
  2. Find a tranquil haven at Chelsea Physic Garden, which is home to hundreds of medicinal plants.
  3. Explore the gardens at stately homes and palaces, from the maze at Hampton Court Palace to Capability Brown's gardens at Syon House.
  4. Have a go at pitch-and-putt golf within the spectacular parkland and gardens surrounding Alexandra Palace.
  5. Spend time in quiet contemplation at the Japanese-style Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.

Outdoor hidden gems in London

View this post on Instagram

Secret Garden 🍂

A post shared by Daisy (@daisybailes) on

  1. See the Watts Victorian memorial in Postman's Park in the City of London, where acts of heroism are marked.
  2. Sit down with a book in quiet City of London gardens, including a spot amongst the ruins of St Dunstan in the East or beside the London Wall at the Barber Surgeons Garden.
  3. Say hello to the resident frogs and relax in a hidden oasis nested between Soho and Covent Garden at the Phoenix Garden
  4. Discover Westminster Abbey's sedate green spaces, including College Garden which has been in cultivation for more than 900 years.
  5. Look out for herons and koi carp in the beautiful Kyoto Garden in Holland Park.
  6. Explore more of London with Discovering Britain’s self-guided walks, from ambles around leafy Epping Forest to riverside wanders in North Woolwich

London's outdoor culture

  1. Snuggle up to a summer film at one of London's outdoor cinemas  admire the grand backdrop of Somerset House at the Film4 Summer Screen or spectacular venues citywide with Luna Cinema.
  2. Experience a show at the magical Regent's Park Open Air Theatre or see one of the Bard's classic works in the authentic open-air playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
  3. Enjoy the last night of the BBC Proms season with a special concert in Hyde Park.
  4. Uncover the next Banksy on a self-guided street art tour.

London music festivals

  1. Soak up the summer sunshine at a top music festival in London.
  2. Book tickets to world-class acts at British Summer Time in Hyde Park.
  3. Let your hair down at dance music festival South West Four.
  4. Discover new talent alongside top headliners at The Ends Festival.
  5. See international megastars in North London at Wireless Festival.

Annual festivals

  1. Look out for lion dances and enjoy Chinese food and drink during Chinese New Year celebrations.
  2. Head to Trafalgar Square for fun-filled annual celebrations, including St Patrick's Day, Chanukah, Diwali and Eid.
  3. Get into the Caribbean rhythm during the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival.
  4. Dress up and party during the summer Pride in London Parade.
  5. Go green-fingered at London's flower shows, including RHS Chelsea Flower Show and RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
  6. Celebrate the Queen's official birthday in style at Trooping the Colour.
  7. Explore rarely seen green spaces during the Open Garden Squares weekend.
  8. Enjoy a host of river-themed events during the Totally Thames festival.
  9. Eat your way around Regent's Park at the Taste of London festival.

Sporting fun

  1. Tuck into strawberries and cream while watching the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships either at the legendary venue, or in front of one of the big screens dotted around London.
  2. Saddle-up and enjoy London on two wheels during Prudential RideLondon.
  3. Grab a place on the banks of the Thames to cheer on Cambridge or Oxford during The Boat Races.
  4. Cheer on your favourite teams during the NFL International Series in London.
  5. Sign up and take part in the London Triathlon starting at ExCel London.

Alfresco food and drink in London

  1. Eat outside in London's best alfresco restaurants, from the River Cafe to Le Pont de la Tour.
  2. Enjoy a pint in secluded pub beer gardens, such as wisteria-cloaked The Albion or the historic Spaniards Inn.
  3. Relax long into the night at a lively rooftop bar, some of which also host nightly events and film screenings.
  4. Pack (or order!) a hamper and find a quiet picnic spot.
  5. Dine moored on the Thames aboard restaurant ship R.S. Hispaniola; take an a afternoon tea cruise with City Cruises; or have a floating dinner with Bateaux London.

Things to do with kids 

  1. Hitch a ride at one of London's theme parks.
  2. Be the king of the swingers at treetop adventure park Go Ape, with locations in Battersea, Alexandra Palace and Cockfosters.
  3. See the Covered Bridge from Hogwarts, the Knight Bus and Harry’s House in the outside area of Warner Bros. Studio Tour.
  4. Let your kids loose in London's adventure playgrounds; from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Hyde Park, to Timber Lodge and Tumbling Bay in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Adrenaline adventures

View this post on Instagram

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

A post shared by James Ellis (@jellisflambe) on

  1. Get a head for heights by climbing over the famous white dome with Up at The O2.
  2. Brace yourself for an adrenaline rush on the river with a speedboat tour with Thames Rockets, Thames RIB Experience or Thamesjet.
  3. Abseil down ArcelorMittal Orbit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
  4. Go white-water rafting or BMX biking in Lee Valley Regional Park.

Boat trips in London

  1. Hop on and hop off the handy Thames Clippers river bus service.
  2. See some of London's top sights from a different perspective on a sightseeing cruise with City Cruises.
  3. Experience a sedate side of London with a canal trip on the Regent's Canal with Jason’s Trip or Jenny Wren.

Top London markets

View this post on Instagram

would be rude not to🌻

A post shared by Erin Stevens (@eriinstevens) on

  1. Grab a bite to eat from street food vendors at one of London's many food markets, from famous Borough Market to lesser-known Maltby Street Market.
  2. Shop for clothes and more at London's best markets, including Portobello Road Market and Greenwich Market.
  3. Treat yourself or your loved one to a bunch of beautiful blooms at Columbia Road Flower Market.

Go camping

  1. Stay in the great outdoors at one of London's campsites during the summer.

Things to do in winter in London

  1. Evoke the spirit of Guy Fawkes at Bonfire Night firework displays across London.
  2. Get your skates on at London's best pop-up ice rinks in the winter months.
  3. Hunt for stocking fillers at London's top Christmas markets.
  4. Be wowed by twinkling Christmas lights and Christmas trees from November until January.
  5. See London sparkle during the Mayor's spectacular New Year’s Eve Fireworks.
  6. Embrace the winter spirit with rides, markets and festive fare at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.