What are the best outdoor activities in London?

Answers from Our Experts (3)

Jo Caird
  • Jo Caird

  • Correspondent

  • London, England, UK

London

I hope I'm not speaking too soon, but it really feels like spring is here, making this the ideal moment to share my tips for what to do and where to go for outside fun in London.

Walking
Now that warmer weather has arrived and spending extended periods outdoors doesn't involve battling the elements (well, less so anyway), walking is a great way to explore the city. Stroll around at your leisure or join a walking tour. London Walks offer around 300 different routes in the capital.

Cycling
Hire a Barclays Cycle Hire bike from one of the 15,000 docking points across London. For a longer ride that doesn't involve playing in the traffic, head to Richmond Park, an enormous green space in West London where you can hire bicycles, including tandems, by the hour from Park Cycle.

Horse riding
You can also ride horses in Richmond Park (Queen Victoria rode here), but the ultimate location for equestrian pursuits in London is Hyde Park. Rotten Row, the stretch of track running along the south side of the park, was the place to be seen for wealthy 18th-century Londoners. Hyde Park Stables offer group and private rides there today.

Theatre, opera and film
Catch a play or musical at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park (from 16 May), an opera performance at Opera Holland Park (from 4 June) or a movie screening at the Queen of Hoxton or Kensington Roof Gardens courtesy of the Rooftop Film Club (from 1 May and 30 April respectively). All except Opera Holland Park are open to the elements, so make sure you go prepared!

Joseph Reaney
Open Air Theatre, Photograph: David Jensen

Let's face it – London doesn't have the finest year-round weather of the great world capitals. But that just means you really need to make the most of when the sun is shining.

You can always enjoy the architecture at the city's heart, take in a stroll in a Royal Park, or enjoy an al fresco meal, but there are also some more unique outdoor activites in London. Here are three of them:

Take in a show
The award-winning Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park boasts a spectacular 1,240-seat auditorium – one of the largest in London – set under the open sky. There are multiple shows put on every year, and if you're in the city in summer 2013 you can enjoy Pride and Prejudice followed by The Sound of Music.

Go for a swim
Hampstead Heath's swimming facilities may be open every single day of the year, but it's only in the summer that these unheated pools really come into their own. Of all the pools in the complex, we would recommend the Parliament Hill lido for serious swimmers who want to enjoy a magnificent view over the city.

Dance 'til you drop
Whether its the muddy madness of Glastonbury or the glorious glowsticks of Creamfields, England is famous for its music festivals – and its capital doesn't disappoint. Head to Field Day in May, the O2 Wireless Festival in July, the Last Night of the Proms in September... or any of the others in between.

Helen Ochyra

As the weather hots up in London, get outside and get active. Here is my pick of the best outdoor activities the city has to offer this summer:

Open-air theatre
Throughout the summer there are numerous outdoor shows and concerts around town. The pick of the bunch is the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, for everything from classical music to stand-up comedy, while at Somerset House you'll find a series of pop concerts and a season of film screenings.
For more information on summer concerts in London see our blog post on this topic.

Horse riding
Take a trot along Rotten Row with Hyde Park Stables. Rides take you past the Serpentine, the Albert Memorial and Marble Arch, making this a great way to explore the park. Group lessons start from £69 an hour, private tuition from £95.

Skating
Every Friday night and every Sunday afternoon, a mass of skaters meet for an informal skate through the heart of the city. Join the Friday Night Skate for a 10- to 15-mile marshalled run through the city (routes change each week) from Wellington Arch or roll along to the Sunday Stroll in Hyde Park for a relaxed slow-paced skate.

Outdoor swimming
Cool off in the heat at the Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds, the only life-guarded open-water swimming facilities open to the public every day of the year. There are separate ladies, mens and mixed ponds as well as the 60-metre Parliament Hill lido. Alternatively head to the gorgeous Tooting Bec Lido, a 91.5-metre outdoor swimming pool seen in many a film.

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