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101 things to do outdoors in London

Find the best outdoor activities and things to do outside in London, from exploring parks and gardens to alfresco dining.
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.

London became the world's first National Park City in 2019 thanks to its abundance of parks, woodlands, nature reserves, canals and rivers. With so much green space to enjoy, there are plenty of things to do in London outdoors. 

Take a look at the 101 best things to do outdoors in London, from outdoor entertainment and drive in cinemas to London's best beer gardens and rooftop bars. Or, explore the best parks in London, plan a picnic outdoors or wander around gorgeous gardens.

Top outdoor things to do in London

  1. Watch Changing the Guard: Stroll down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace in time to see the iconic ceremony.
  2. Walk across the Abbey Road zebra crossing: Follow in the footsteps of The Beatles at the spot captured on their album cover.
  3. Find free entertainment at Covent Garden: Marvel at the street artists and performers in the Piazza and market building.
  4. Visit Piccadilly Circus: Snap a picture of Eros and the neon billboards.
  5. Wander Chinatown: Look for the Chinese-style gates, decorations and pagodas in 
  6. Cross London’s iconic bridges: From the magnificent Tower Bridge to the modern Millennium Bridge.
  7. Get a head for heights at The View from The Shard: Spot London landmarks from the outdoor viewing gallery on level 72.
  8. Wander the self-guided City Visitor Trail: Pass 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: See many London icons in one go, or hop on and off to discover more on foot.
  10. Explore famous Trafalgar Square: Get up close and personal to Lord Nelson and the bronze lions. 

Stroll through London's Royal Parks

  1. Hire a deck chair in leafy Green Park: Or explore the smallest of London's eight Royal Parks.
  2. Take time for reflection in Hyde Park: Visit memorials including the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and Britain's first memorial garden for victims of the Holocaust.
  3. Prepare your senses for Queen Mary's Garden in Regent’s Park: See more than 12,000 roses of 400 varieties.
  4. Go bonkers for conkers at Chestnut Avenue in Bushy Park: The park is also home to roaming herds of red and fallow deer.
  5. Visit the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens: 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. Snap away at blooms in Richmond Park's Isabella Plantation: Look out for the hot pink azaleas (which bloom in late April and May), reflected in ponds and streams.
  8. Climb the hill in Greenwich Park: Experience sweeping views of London and visit Royal Museums Greenwich's attractions.

Discover London's history

  1. Learn about the capital’s history on a walking tour: Whether uncovering the City of London's compelling past, delving into Sherlock Holmes’ London or more.
  2. Discover historic timepieces at the Royal Observatory: Make sure to straddle the Meridian Line in the courtyard.
  3. Spot the London Wall: Be transported to London's Roman past with these ancient ruins.
  4. Get a glimpse of London’s political history: Visit Speakers' Corner, Downing Street and Parliament Square where you'll find the Houses of Parliament.

Explore waterside routes and canals

  1. Walk along Regent's Canal: From pretty Little Venice to bustling Camden, passing Regent's Park, ZSL London Zoo and Camden Lock on the way.
  2. Meander along Richmond's charming riverside: Venture past Petersham Meadows to Ham House making sure to stop off at Petersham Nurseries for garden essentials and delicious cakes.
  3. Stroll along the South Bank: See some of London's most famous sights, including the London Eye, iconic Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
  4. Cycle beside the Thames: Hire a Santander Cycle; or go on a guided tour with The London Bicycle Tour Company.

Learn about London's naval scene

  1. Marvel at the Golden Hinde: See a full-scale reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake's world-famous sailing galleon, in Bankside.
  2. Relax at tranquil St Katharine Docks: Watch modern yachts coming and going in as you enjoy a drink or meal in one of the many eateries.
  3. Walk the decks of HMS Belfast: The Second World War battleship is moored on the Thames.
  4. Take the helm of Cutty Sark in Greenwich: Learn more about the world's last remaining tea clipper.

Meet animals in London

  1. Search for wildlife: Get your binoculars out to search for rare birds at WWT Wetland Centre in Barnes or creatures among the wet grassland of Lee Valley.
  2. Meet the residents at London's city farms: Check out the latest arrivals and time your visit for feeding time.
  3. De-stress during a horse riding lesson: Stag Lodge and Wimbledon Village stables offer options for various abilities. 
  4. Enjoy daily shows at ZSL London Zoo: Learn more about the penguins, lemurs and more cute critters.

Relax on London's commons and heaths

  1. Climb to the top of Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath: Enjoy panoramic views of the city and enjoy a picnic.
  2. Look for the elusive Wombles on Wimbledon Common: And don't miss the chance to visit one of London's few remaining windmills at the Wimbledon Windmill Museum.

Go swimming and boating in London

  1. Take a dip in London's public lidos in the summer months: Whether art deco Brockwell Lido or colourful Tooting Bec Lido.
  2. Limber up for a leisurely boat ride: Hire a pedalo at Hyde Park's Serpentine Lake, enjoy the boating lake in Regent's Park or go boating south of the river in Battersea Park.
  3. Paddle your way along the city's waterways: Canoe with London Kayak Tours, captain your own GoBoat, or cruise down in one of Skuna Boats' floating jacuzzis.

Visit popular London parks and gardens

  1. Navigate Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew's treetop walkway: See magnificent views of the gardens from the viewpoint.
  2. Find a tranquil haven at Chelsea Physic Garden: The tranquil spot is home to hundreds of medicinal plants, or spend time in quiet contemplation at the Japanese-style Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.
  3. Explore the gardens at stately homes and palaces: Try out the maze at Hampton Court Palace or be amazed by Capability Brown's gardens at Syon House.
  4. Perfect your golfing skills at Alexandra PalaceHave a go at pitch-and-putt within its spectacular parkland and gardens.
  5. Explore the gardens of Buckingham Palace: Learn more about the grounds and even stop off for a picnic, as the gardens open for self-guided tours for the first time. 9 Jul-19 Sep

Wander London's lavender fields

  1. Grab a selfie at Mayfield Lavender Farm: Don't miss the red phone box among alluring fields of purple blooms. Jun-Aug
  2. Sniff out more fragrant flowers at Vauxhall Park: a great spot for lavender lovers. Jun-Aug

Visit glorious London garden centres

  1. Shop for gardening essentials at London's garden centres: Explore Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, The Nunhead Gardener near Peckham, W6 Garden Centre in Hammersmith and Neal's Nurseries Garden Centre in Wandsworth.

Find outdoor hidden gems in London

  1. Visit the Watts Victorian memorial in Postman's Park: Acts of heroism are marked at the City of London park.
  2. Sit down with a book in quiet City of London gardens: Find a spot amongst the ruins of St Dunstan in the East or beside the London Wall at the Barber Surgeons Garden.
  3. Find a hidden oasis at the Phoenix Garden: Say hello to the resident frogs at this tranquil space between Soho and Covent Garden. 
  4. Discover Westminster Abbey's sedate green spaces: Don't miss College Garden, which has been in cultivation for more than 900 years.
  5. Get a taste of Japan at Kyoto Garden in Holland Park: Look out for herons and koi carp in the beautiful garden full of maples.
  6. Explore more of London with Discovering Britain’s self-guided walks: Amble around leafy Epping Forest, go on riverside wanders in North Woolwich and more.
  7. Walk The Line sculpture trail: Look out for artworks from Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Abigail Fallis on this route from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to The O2.

Delve into London's outdoor culture

  1. Snuggle up to a summer film at one of London's outdoor cinemas: Don't miss spectacular venues citywide with Luna Cinema.
  2. Experience an outdoor theatre show: Visit 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. Go on a self-guided street art tour: Uncover the next Banksy with colourful works or spot public art sculptures across the capital.

Attend London's biggest festivals

  1. Join Chinese New Year celebrations: Look out for lion dances and enjoy Chinese food and drink.
  2. Head to Trafalgar Square for fun-filled annual celebrations: Learn more about the history, culture and food of festivals such as St Patrick's Day, Chanukah, Diwali and Eid.
  3. Unwind at world-famous Notting Hill Carnival: Get into the Caribbean rhythm with music, food, afterparties and parades.
  4. Get the party started at Pride in London: Dress up, watch the colourful parade and visit Trafalgar Square for live entertainment. 
  5. Get green-fingered at London's flower shows: World-famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show and RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show showcase plenty of blooms and feature gardens.
  6. Celebrate the Queen's official birthday at Trooping the Colour: Enter the ballot ahead to secure tickets to this iconic event.
  7. Time you visit for the Open Garden Squares weekend: Explore rarely seen green spaces and lesser-known squares and gardens not usually open to the public.
  8. Eat your way around Regent's Park at the Taste of London festival: Top chefs and restaurants from across the capital serve up special treats each summer.

Watch world-class sporting events

  1. Watch the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships: Tuck into strawberries and cream while watching the action at the legendary venue, or in front of one of the big screens dotted around London.
  2. Cheer on the teams at The Boat Races: Grab a place on the banks of the Thames to watch Cambridge and Oxford battle it out.
  3. See American football at the NFL International Series in London: Cheer on London regulars the Jacksonville Jaguars and other famous NFL teams. 
  4. Experience electrifying cricket competition The Hundred: Matches take place at the Kia Oval and Lord's Cricket Ground.
  5. Support your national team as UEFA EURO 2020 comes to the capital: Check out fan parks for live action and activities. 11 Jun-11 Jul
  6. Take tours of London's top stadiums: Gain behind-the-scenes access to see changing rooms, go pitchside and more.
  7. Grab tickets for the Rugby League World Cup 2021: The highlight of the Rugby League calendar includes many matches in London. 23 Oct-27 Nov

Savour alfresco dining in London

  1. Eat outside in London's best alfresco restaurants: Grab a table at the River Cafe, riverside Le Pont de la Tour and more.
  2. Enjoy a pint in secluded pub beer gardens: Top spots include as wisteria-cloaked The Albion and the historic Spaniards Inn.
  3. Relax long into the night at a lively rooftop bar: Some also host nightly events, film screenings and fun activities.
  4. Visit one of London's best breweries: Many have cool alfresco spots, including terraces by canals and cosy beer gardens.
  5. Venture up to Seabird in The Hoxton’s Southwark hotel: Enjoy stunning views of the city from the 14th floor hangout.
  6. Unwind in the quaint courtyard at Hush Mayfair: Its alfresco dining area is perfect for a long lunch or chilled-out evening meal.
  7. Be spoilt for choice at Elephant & Castle's Mercato Metropolitano: Choose from a vast range of international street food stalls and find a spot to eat in its outdoor areas.
  8. Explore open-air Southbank Centre Food Market: Pick up tasty treats each weekend from the market behind Royal Festival Hall.

Explore things to do with kids

  1. Hitch a wild ride at one of London's theme parks: Options include epic Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park, home to Derren Brown's Ghost Train.
  2. Be the king of the swingers at treetop adventure park Go Ape: Locations include Battersea in south London, and Alexandra Palace and Cockfosters in north London.
  3. Spot Harry Potter film locations at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter: Head outside to discover the Covered Bridge from Hogwarts, the Knight Bus and Harry’s House.
  4. Let your kids loose in London's adventure playgrounds: Captain a pirate's ship at Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Hyde Park, or splash in the fountains at Timber Lodge and Tumbling Bay in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Plan adventure days out

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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

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  1. Climb the famous white dome with Up at The O2: Try out its sunset climbs for an extra special treat.
  2. Brace yourself for an adrenaline rush with a speedboat tour: Options include Thames Rockets, Thames RIB Experience and Thamesjet.
  3. Abseil down ArcelorMittal Orbit: The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park venue also boasts the world's longest tunnel slide.
  4. Pick from many activities at Lee Valley Regional Park: Go white-water rafting, BMX biking, horse riding and more.

Take a boat trip around London

  1. Hop on and hop off Uber Boat by Thames Clippers: The handy river bus service serve 23 piers. from east to west London.
  2. See the sights from a different perspective on a sightseeing cruise: Indulge in an afternoon tea with City Cruises, or feast on a floating dinner with Bateaux London.
  3. Experience a sedate canal trip: Cruise along the Regent's Canal with Jason’s Trip or Jenny Wren.

Marvel in street food at London's top markets

  1. Grab a bite to eat at one of London's many food markets: You'll find street food vendors throughout the capital, from famous Borough Market to lesser-known Maltby Street Market.
  2. Shop for clothes and more at London's best markets: Popular hangouts include Portobello Road Market and Greenwich Market.
  3. Pick up antiques, jewellery art and more at Covent Garden Market: Traders vary depending on the day at its three markets.
  4. Treat your loved to beautiful blooms from London flower markets: Columbia Road Flower Market and Chiswick Flower Market are among the largest.

Set up camp at London's campsites

  1. Stay in London's campsites: Experience the great outdoors under canvas or in glamping spots during the summer.

Find things to do in winter in London

  1. Get your skates on at London's ice rinks: You'll find many popping up at iconic spots in the winter months.
  2. Hunt for stocking fillers at London's top Christmas marketsThey're also great places for warming food and festive drinks.
  3. Be wowed by twinkling Christmas lights and Christmas trees: Keep an eye out for displays from November until January.
  4. See some of your favourite movie stars with Scenes in the Square: This sculpture trail in Leicester Square includes Paddington Bear, Mary Poppins and Harry Potter among others.
  5. Explore a glittering wonderland with Christmas at Kew: The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew are turned into a winter wonderland with a spectacular light trail.

For more outdoor activities in London, check out the best alfresco restaurants across the city and top spots for swimming, boating and lidos, as well as all the best London activities after lockdown. Download the Visit London app for more inspiration while out and about in London.