Summer in London: 76 top things to do in London

Pack your shades and get ready to rock your summer wardrobe. Sunny days are coming and it's time to get planning!

Say hello to summer vibes in London. From rooftop bars and outdoor cinemas to music festivals and picnics in the park, discover 76 ways to make the most of the summer with this ultimate guide.

Many of London's outdoor attractions, shops and outside hospitality venues have reopened in line with the phased easing of coronavirus restrictions. Indoor attractions, entertainment and hospitality venues, and non-self-contained accommodation options are due to reopen from 17 May at the earliest.

Be aware that some venues listed may still be closed after this date, and some events and venues require advanced booking.

Summer school holidays 2021

  1. Take your pick of cool museums for kids, iconic buildings and action-packed adventures with the best family attractions in the capital.
  2. Tick off the capital's top 10 attractions, including family favourites Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, the SEA LIFE London Aquarium and the London Eye.
  3. Feel the wind in your hair as you glide down The Slide at ArcelorMittal Orbit, the world's longest and tallest tunnel slide.
  4. Inspire the little ones with a trip to Kidzania, where they can take part in immersive play and try out different careers as journalists, doctors, firefighters and more.
  5. Plan a London break with a stay in London's best hotels for families, and find plenty of ideas to do each day with these family activities.
  6. Or keep coming back to make memories that last forever by working your way through these 101 things to do with the little and not-so-little ones.

Find more things to do with kids this summer holiday in London.

The great outdoors

  1. Wander the Great Broad Walk Borders, seek out Japanese gardens and spot roses in bloom at Kew Gardens. Can you find the Gruffalo? 
  2. Marvel at pretty city views from an iconic double-decker bus on one of London’s best bus tours.
  3. Grab a blanket and a bottle of fizz, and head to the city’s leafy parks when the sun shines. Enjoy a picnic and have a go on a pedalo in Hyde Park, or spot the resident deer in Richmond Park.
  4. See the variety of exotic animals and hang out with penguins at the famous ZSL London Zoo by Regent's Park.
  5. When the mercury rises, take a dip in one of the city’s azure-blue lidos or venture north for a swim with leafy views in Hampstead Heath.
  6. Snuggle up during a summer film at one of London’s great outdoor cinemas, including Rooftop Film Club’s iconic venues, or hop in the car for a drive-in cinema experience. 
  7. Hop on your bike and ride some of London's best cycle paths
  8. Get some of the best uninterrupted views in London and scale The O2 with the Up at The O2 climb.
  9. Sing along to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel or enjoy Shakespeare's acclaimed Romeo and Juliet under the stars at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre this summer. 17 Jun-25 Sep

London festivals

  1. Celebrate iconic Royal Albert Hall’s 150th anniversary with performances from multi-award-winning composers and performers, from David Arnold to Patti Smith, Jon Hopkins, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and more. 19 Jul
  2. Or see Groove Armada perform high up on a hill, at Ally Pally’s one-day Kaleidoscope Festival, also featuring comedy, immersive theatre and more. 24 Jul
  3. Experience the magic of some of the most popular Studio Ghibli films, including ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, with Joe Hisaishi Symphonic Concert, live at Wembley’s SSE Arena this summer. 6-7 Aug
  4. See one of the prettiest parts of town transform into Europe's biggest street party during the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival. TBC
  5. Bag yourself tickets to some of London's hottest music festivals to see your favourite bands perform as the sun sets over incredible venues, such as Hampton Court Palace Festival (13-24 Aug).
  6. Celebrate Black culture at YAM Carnival in Clapham Common, a new festival featuring some of the biggest names of afrobeats, hip-hop and R&B across the globe and London's best African-influenced street food vendors. 28 Aug
  7. Celebrate London's LGBT+ community at the colourful Pride in London parade. Sing and dance along, as more than 300 floats wind their way through central London. 11 Sep

Take to London's theatres

  1. Book ahead for returning and new musicals this summer, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella, time-travelling Back to the Future: The Musical and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
  2. Southbank Centre is reopening with Solstice by English National Ballet at the Royal Festival Hall (16-26 Jun) and Under Milk Wood (16 Jun-24 Jul) and After Life (2 Jun-24 Jul) at the National Theatre
  3. Take the teens to hit show Everybody's Talking About Jamie, a coming-of-age musical about a high-school student who beats the bullies to follow his dreams.
  4. Tracy Turnblad is coming back to London's theatre scene, with Hairspray reopening this June at the London Coliseum. From 21 Jun
  5. Peek at the life of a superstar at TINA – The Tina Turner Musical at Aldwych Theatre. From 24 Jun
  6. The Lion King is making a comeback this summer, so take a chance to see this iconic musical at the Lyceum Theatre. From 29 Jul

For the 'gram

Summer in the city

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  1. Hop on the Emirates Air Line cable car for a selfie with a backdrop. Top tip: travel through the London sky at sunset for perfect snaps.
  2. Snap colourful floral displays and see impressive garden designs at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show (21-26 Sep) and RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival (6-11 Jul).
  3. This year, the Queen's annual birthday parade, Trooping the Colour, has been cancelled. Instead, join a Buckingham Palace tour to exclusively visit the State Rooms during its summer opening, or explore the royal gardens and hear more about its history at Buckingham Palace Garden Tours. 10 Jul-19 Sep
  4. Get the perfect shot of the city, more than 500ft (152m) above the streets, in Sky Garden. Enjoy the show-stopping views alongside summer dishes at its restaurant Darwin Brasserie.
  5. Soak up knockout views of the capital from high up at the classy Sushisamba City, located on the 38th and 39th floors of the Heron Tower.
  6. Walk up Primrose Hill for sweeping views of Regent’s Park and the London skyline. For the perfect shot, don’t miss the William Blake quote eetched into the stone at the top: “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.”
  7. Get creative with your snaps at Somerset House's stunning courtyard, which is home to the dramatic Forest for Change installation highlighting sustainability, as part of  the London Design Biennale.

Summer food and drink in London

  1. Love a good food market? Sink your teeth into street grub at Mercato Mayfair, one of the city’s coolest outdoor markets and order a glass of Pimm’s at Seven Dials Market.
  2. Discover some of the city’s best rooftop bars for sunset drinks with killer views, including The Nest at Treehouse London Hotel, catch a sunset at Bar Elba with views of the London Eye and The Shard or at laidback Frank’s Cafe atop a multistorey car park in Peckham.
  3. Head to Lost in Brixton and satisfy all your cravings with food from downstairs Brixton Village. Chill with a local beer or a colourful spritzer, while waiting for your food to be brought straight to your table. Who said you couldn't have it all? 
  4. Experience high-dining in a literal sense! Have a meal 100ft (30m) above ground at The O2, with London in the Sky. 1 Jul-26 Sep
  5. Sit outside and enjoy a meal in the summer sunshine at some of London's best alfresco restaurants.
  6. Work your way around as many of the food and drink stalls and cooking demonstrations as you can at Taste of London in Regent's Park, the capital’s ultimate alfresco feast. 7-11 and 14-18 Jul
  7. Feast on all things Italian at new food hall Eataly in Broadgate – featuring a huge market area, three restaurants, a winery and a cooking school.
  8. Or, try locals’ favourite food markets, including Mercato Metropolitano on Borough High Street, trendy east London street food hub Dinerama, lively Pop Brixton and foodie haven Maltby Street Market.

Life by the water

  1. Fill your Instagram feed with snaps of Little Venice’s charming canals. Stroll along the Regent’s Canal towards Camden and Regent’s Park, or float down the waterways on a canal boat.
  2. Chill out in the sunshine at one of the hip drinking spots close to Camden Market. If you’re feeling peckish, browse the tasty bites on offer at the market's food stalls.
  3. Soak up the sun and wave at passers-by while cruising down some of London’s canals in a hot tub with Skuna Boats, from West India Quay. That’s right, a floating hot tub!
  4. Unleash your adventurous side and explore Hammersmith or Richmond during a stand-up paddle boarding session with Active 360 on the river Thames.
  5. Sip on a craft beer from Hackney’s trendy canal-side microbrewery Crate, or head to one of the riverside pubs and bars lining South Bank for a socially distanced drink, including the BFI Riverfront.
  6. Hop aboard a riverboat for a relaxing ride along the Thames to one of London’s most charming neighbourhoods: Greenwich.

London shopping

  1. Head to elegant Regent Street for world-class dining, lifestyle and shopping, with high-street fashion brands like Burberry, Kate Spade and Mango, plus there are plenty of independent shops to discover on the side streets.
  2. Browse Oxford Street, the world’s biggest high street, for fashion, beauty and tech items at iconic brands and department stores, including John Lewis, Lush and Microsoft.
  3. And don't miss world-famous Bond Street in Mayfair, home to ultra luxury fashion just around the corner from Oxford Street.
  4. Hop around artisan shops and boutiques in St James's, known for high-end fashion and numerous stores with the Royal Warrant.
  5. Shop for high-street fashion at One New Change's collection of more than 60 stores.
  6. Carnaby Street is ideal for fashion lovers looking for concept stores, designer clothes, trendy footwear and colourful shop fronts. And if you’re not in a retail-therapy mood, there is also plenty of food to enjoy from Carnaby’s restaurants.
  7. Not only is Covent Garden a foodie paradise, it is also one of the best shopping destinations in London's West End. Look for classy items in the market while soothed by the sound of opera singers performing or find the latest in beauty and fashion.
  8. Take a wander around Seven Dials, where independent boutiques, classy cafes and picturesque courtyards collide. 
  9. Stop by Coal Drops Yard in King's Cross to shop for niche brands and enjoy a latte and cakes at its many cafes. 
  10. Peruse London’s top markets for food, flowers, modern art and clothes.
  11. London is a temple for second-hand fashion, so make sure you rummage through charity shops and the city’s best vintage fashion shops for one-of-a-kind items. 
  12. Looking for something slightly different? Once you’ve hit the big shopping destinations, take a look at the many art and antique shops and hidden shopping gems in London.

Find more inspiration for London shopping.

For art and culture buffs

  1. Summer Reunion at the Southbank Centre celebrates music, dance, literature and art with events across Southbank Centre's venues, from indoor concerts to outdoor events featuring world-class artists. 17 May-30 Aug
  2. See Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at the V&A, an immersive exhibition retracing the history and cultural impact of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 22 May-31 Dec
  3. David Hockney's works created in the midst of the pandemic are exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts. 23 May-26 Sep
  4. Step into acclaimed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms at Tate Modern, two immersive installations that will transport you into a world of endless reflections. 18 May-12 Jun
  5. London Design Biennale is coming back after being gone for three years, with a focus of Resonance. 1-27 Jun
  6. If they're into works of Van Gogh, spend a day out at Van Gogh Alive at Kensington Gardens. 4 Jun-26 Sep
  7. Nearly a 100 galleries make up the stunning Photo London exhibition, one of the best annual photography events in London. 9-12 Sep
  8. Don’t miss the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition, an annual celebration of art and creativity showcasing works from up-and-coming artists and academicians. 22 Sep-2 Jan
  9. Are you a fan of true crime? Then head over to CrimeCon UK to hear documentary makers, podcasters, detectives, forensics experts and law enforcement professionals in the crime genre. 25-26 Sep

Make your summer quirky

  1. Catch a live Sunday street performance on one of Seven Dials' streets after 2pm as part of Seven Dials Unplugged. Until 26 Jun
  2. Discover fascinating facts about insects and small mammals at the BioBlitz Weekend of Nature, hosted in Wimbledon and Putney Commons. 25-27 Jun
  3. Head to Ernie’s Yard in east London, a new outdoor venue which is buckling up for 12-hour dance parties and delicious nosh all summer long. From 25 Jun
  4. Charge into the summer with Chaos Karts, a video game experience which is opening a central London location in July. Date TBC
  5. Get yourself a ticket to the London Wonderground, an epic "staycation sensation" in west London, bringing vintage fairground rides, family-friendly activities and even a city beach to Earl's Court. 15 Jul-26 Sep
  6. Spicy sauce aficionados will find their safe haven in Peckham, where London's Original Hot Sauce Festival pops up for a chilli-fuelled weekend. 21-22 Aug
Find out what's open and when across the city, or check out Visit London app for more London inspiration.