London is famous for its architectural marvels (both old and new), vast shopping centres, arenas, churches and other inspiring large indoor venues. However, away from the fluorescent lights, glass and concrete is a whole host of activities outside in the fresh air to discover. Here are some top outdoor activities in London to try on your next trip.
Events at Somerset House
During the summer, the grand courtyard at Somerset House plays host to evening cinema screenings and live gigs following a day of strolling leisurely around London in the sunshine. Skip a season to winter and this historic house is a lively hub of activity once more thanks to its outdoor ice rink – great for all ages.
Shouting at Speakers’ Corner
In the heart of London in Hyde Park is a somewhat quirky feature called Speakers’ Corner. This north east corner is known for its lively debates, open discussions and candid speeches from anyone with something to say. If you are new to Britain, this is a great place to find out what hot topics Londoner’s are really thinking about.
Kicking back at the Southbank Skate Park
For more than 40 years, the Southbank Centre has been the cornerstone of skateboarding in London. Beneath buildings and swanky London hotels, skaters go about their business on the rails, steps, ledges and banks. Head here to let the kids stretch their legs.
Dramatics in Holland Park
This park in west London definitely puts on a show every summer with various operas throughout the season. If you thought that opera was stuffy and inaccessible then think again. The venue with its picnic tables and roofed seating area has an informal atmosphere with around 1,200 free tickets for under 18s and cheaper tickets for the over 60s. Average tickets cost from £46.50 to £63.50.
Biking around the city centre
The Barclay’s Cycle Hire (better known as ‘Boris Bikes’) has been a huge hit since they first hit the streets in 2010. The Major of London, Boris Johnson, and his predecessor hopes for a biking and walking transformation in London. Not only are the bikes practical, they can usually beat heavy congestion within the city and allow you to weave around the backstreets to seek out new treasures.
Swimming in Tooting Bec Lido
London has an array of outdoor swimming pools – or ‘lidos’ – around the city. One of the oldest and largest lidos in the whole of Europe is the Tooting Bec Lido, which is frequented by families and sunbathers from around the city. Some may also recognise the 90m pool from Guy Ritchie’s hit film, Snatch.
Boating in Hyde Park
After you have witnessed some sterling speeches at Speakers’ Corner, you can then wander down to the park’s huge Serpentine Lake for a spot of boating on the gentle waters. Rowing boats and pedalos can be hired from Easter through to the end of October.
Wildlife spotting in the WWT London Wetland Centre
This wetland area in Richmond was voted the UK’s Favourite Nature Reserve in 2012 by Countryfile Magazine. Visitors can wander around its lakes and pools across 150 acres to spot rare bird species and other wildlife, all a stone’s throw away from the Hammersmith tube station.