Looking for something to do after your language class has finished for the day? Something for the weekend?
Trying to avoid the crowds? Below are some suggestions of how to enjoy the start of the great British summer in London.
London has a huge number of parks. Some are small enough that you can walk around them in 10 minutes and some you can explore all day. Richmond Park is a conservation area so it’s a great place to see wildlife like deer and birds. Hyde Park is right in the middle of Central London and bike friendly, so consider renting a bike and bringing a picnic with you. You can also swim in the Serpentine River in Hyde Park so bring your swimming stuff! Kew Gardens is a huge botanical garden in South London with loads to see but think about Chelsea Physic Garden too: it’s not so far from central London and the entry price is a lot cheaper.
Fancy something more urban? There’s loads of street art (nice graffiti) in and around Brick Lane and Spitalfields (where there’s a great outdoor market too, Old Spitalfields Market). You can find some murals by Banksy in this vibrant area; there’s also plenty of food here, both authentic East End grub and street food from all over the world. Covent Garden is always worth a look, where you’ll see the beautiful Opera House and Flower Market and only 5 minutes walk from there is the Seven Dials where there’s lots of little boutique shops. Don’t miss Neil’s Yard here, a lovely little lane with colourful shops and cafes.
There are too many music venues to count in London, but July marks the beginning of festival season so why not grab the chance to see some live music right in the city?
Wireless Festival: catch all the best new rap and hip-hop in Finsbury Park from the 7th to the 9th of July.
Greenwich Sounds: world-famous pop, rock and funk acts right next to the Thames in historic Greenwich from the 4th to the 8th of July.
The BBC Proms: mostly classical music but this year there’s also Jazz, Northern Soul and funk. 14th of July to the 9th of September at the Royal Albert Hall.
There’s also loads of little music festivals throughout the city all through the summer. Look out for posters in your area and Google has comprehensive listings.
Fancy a break from the summer sun? Head indoors for some fantastic exhibitions, lots of them for free!
The British Museum: a vast collection of artifacts from all over the world. There are special exhibits which you’ll need a ticket for but there’s more than enough to see without paying a penny. The Ancient Egypt exhibition is great but go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid school trips. The Atrium of the main building is a lovely, bright space to have a cup of tea or coffee.
The National Gallery: if art is your thing, there’s thousands of paintings to see here, mostly for free, from the Renaissance to contemporary art. There’s also temporary exhibitions for which you’ll need a ticket, and online tours and talks.
The National History Museum: fascinating exhibitions about the animal kingdom. The dinosaurs are definitely worth a visit, but try to avoid school trips while schools are still in session. Free except for special exhibits. There are loads of museums in London, catering to any taste: www.timeout.com has comprehensive listings.
Theatre and musicals
All the big shows run throughout the summer. Tickets aren’t cheap. The best way to get a decent seat for a reasonable price is to book online months in advance. Alternatively, many shows offer day tickets (you’ll need to queue at the box office on the day) and some shows – like Hamilton - run a lottery.
Oxford Street is the most well-known place for shopping in London. Many global brands have their flagship stores here, like Marks and Spencer’s and Selfridges. Regent Street and Jermyn Street have more up-market, designer boutiques if that’s your thing. If you prefer a bargain, consider wandering around one of London’s many street markets: the most famous (and busiest) are in Camden and Notting Hill, but there’s probably one in your area too. Keep an eye out for local markets on Thursdays and/or Saturdays.
The highlight of th
e summer in London is Wimbledon. Thousands of tennis fans head to south London to watch the world’s greatest tennis players take part in this prestigious tournament. There are a number of ways to get hold of tickets for Wimbledon: head to this website for more information https://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/tickets/index.html. You can also watch the competition for free on a huge outside screen on Henman Hill (named after Tim Henman, Wimbledon semi-finalist). The atmosphere is always great on Henman Hill, with families enjoying the