Our pick of the best outdoor activities in London (weather permitting…)
By Philippa Thomas
London is known for its fantastic free museums, luxurious shopping destinations and incredible restaurant scene. It also has a reputation for rain, but on fair days there’s plenty of fun to be had in the fresh air. From paddle boating to sculpture trails, here are 14 ideas.
Go on an Interactive Treasure Hunt
For a unique way to explore the sites of London, consider signing up to an interactive treasure hunt. HiddenCity’s list of immersive games invite players to journey across the city whilst solving a list of clues sent directly to their phones. Each trail is based around a theme and includes built-in break points where participants can stop for food and drinks.
Bathe in the Serpentine Lido
Londoners love a lido. Outdoor swimming pools can be found all around the city, from Hampstead Heath to Parliament Hill. One of the most picturesque is the Serpentine Lido. Nestled in the heart of Hyde Park, this pond is the perfect place to do a spot of al fresco bathing. It is open all year long and has a nearby playground, paddling pool, and deckchairs where you can chill out all day.
Follow a Sculpture Trail
If you fancy getting your culture fix outdoors, visit The Line in East London. This is the Capital’s first dedicated public art walk and connects the Boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets, and Greenwich with a trail of monumental sculptures by leading international artists. Along the three-hour route are plenty of canal-side pubs and restaurants for walkers to stop and refuel.
Horseride in Richmond
Grab some fresh air by visiting Stag Lodge Stables in Richmond. This riding school, situated on the borders of both Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common, offers punters the chance to explore the beautiful natural surroundings on horseback. Their 17th century stables are home to more than 70 well-trained horses suitable for all levels of riding and their experienced team of instructors will help guide you and your riding experience.
Climb a Treetop Rope Course
Go Ape in Alexandra Palace is a treetop adventure with unparalleled views across the City. Their high ropes course features tightropes, challenging obstacles, and whizzing zip wires that will test out your jungle skills. There are different adventures for different levels of experience, so whether you are a newbie or a thrill seeker you will find the activity to excite you.
Visit Columbia Road Flower Market
For something a little closer to the ground, visit Columbia Road Flower Market in east London. This Sunday market is transformed every weekend into a bustling oasis of foliage and flowers, with everything from carnations to cacti up for grabs. The surrounding streets are full of independent shops with small art galleries, cupcake shops, vintage stores, and Italian delis.
Kayak on the River Thames
If you are a fan of both kayaks and craft beers, there is no better way to explore the city than by joining in of Secret Adventure’s boating tours. They will guide you through London’s oldest canal from Limehouse to Crate Brewery’s bar on the water’s edge in Hackney Wick. The 5km route follows the Limehouse Cut and River Lea and is suitable for all levels of experience.
Bike Around London
A fun and efficient way to see some of London’s most iconic sites is by getting on a saddle and cycling around the City. The London Bicycle Tour Company helps riders navigate the streets and make the most of the fresh air. Their Classic Tour is one of their popular rides, covering notable places including Westminster Abbey, Covent Garden and Banksy Tunnel.
Visit London Zoo
London Zoo is the world’s oldest scientific zoo, having opened to the public in 1847. It is situated on the northern edge of Regent’s Park and is home to a collection of over 755 species of animals. Visitors can spot a whole host of furry faces including llamas, lemurs, and giraffes. Tickets must be booked in advance.
Explore Chelsea Physic Gardens
Nestled behind stone walls by the Thames is Chelsea Physic Garden. It is the oldest botanic garden in London and houses around 5,000 different medicinal, herbal, and edible plants. The river’s warm air currents give it a unique microclimate that allows a large variety of greenery to grow. This year they are celebrating the power of plants as medicine by building a trail that highlights flowers beneficial to a healthy lifestyle.
Browse Southbank Book Market
Southbank Book Market is one of the most iconic sites along the river Thames. The open-air stall tucked under Waterloo Bridge on Queen’s Walk sells a wide selection of paperbacks and hardcover books that entice all manner of passers-by to a quick nose. There are hundreds of classics, contemporary titles, comics, maps, and prints for you to choose from.
Go Paddle Boating
What better way to enjoy a spot of nice weather by taking to the water? Alexandra Palace in north London is home to a lake packed with a whole fleet of rowing and pedal boats for visitors to climb aboard on. They each hold up to four people and are available in fun and playful colours and designs. There is also a Lakeside Café where you can enjoy great coffee and wholesome food before or after your ride.
Play Rooftop Crazy Golf
Sitting alongside Peckham Levels and Skylight in a converted multi-story carpark, Roof East is an energetic playground for adults. Their pop-up bars and restaurants are a great spot to hangout with friends whilst their batting cages are the perfect place to practice your baseball swing. Head to the rooftop to try your hand at golf in a 9-hole course set in London’s skyline.
Visit Vauxhall City Farm
Vauxhall City Farm is a lovely day out for families. The petting zoo houses all manner of furry creatures including rabbits, ponies, and even alpacas which visitors can look at and learn about. There is a quaint dairy café where you can grab a cuppa and a community garden where you can explore different plants and flowers. A range of horseriding lessons are also available at their stables.
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