When you visit London, you might expect to be greeted by gloomy, grey skies and lashings of heavy rain, even in the summer months. But every now and then, London surprises us with warm sunshine and clear blue skies. In fact, it transforms into a completely different city with an upbeat, vibrant atmosphere that begs to be celebrated.
We’ve compiled a list of our favourite ways to make the most of London in the summer, from relaxing at a rooftop bar to experiencing a thought-provoking outdoor performance at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
See a spectacular street performance in Covent Garden
Why it’s hot: One of the biggest appeals of Covent Garden Street Performances is their history; the first recorded performance (noted in Samuel Pepys’s famous diary, no less) took place on the piazza in 1662 and featured a notorious marionette called Punch.
You can still enjoy an extraordinary variety of street performers in Covent Garden today. The astounding array of escapologists, knife jugglers, acrobats and talented musicians make this heritage-rich district a must for culture vultures.
How long should I spend here? It’s up to you really! Hang around for an hour and catch a couple of quality acts, or if you’d prefer to spend more time soaking up the eclectic Covent Garden ambience, why not clock a couple of performances and then grab a bite to eat? There’s plenty to do here, so it’s the perfect place to spend a summer’s afternoon.
How to get there: Covent Garden is just a 5-minute tube journey from King’s Cross St. Pancras Underground Station. Hop on the Piccadilly Line toward Heathrow Terminal 5, get off at Covent Garden, and from there it’s a short walk before you reach the street performances. That said, the best way to discover the secret passages of Covent Garden is to walk – just ask one of Clink’s helpful staff members for the best routes!
Take in the sights on board the Tattershall Castle
Why it’s hot: It’s a floating pub! Who doesn’t want to eat fish and chips on the Thames, whilst taking in all the sights and sounds of London on a summer’s day? You can also enjoy a delicious meal in the Wardroom or a few drinks in the boat’s Lounge, and each room has its own unique character to explore.
But there’s more than just culinary delights to look forward to when you board the Tattershall Castle. Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, this unique venue hosts comedy nights, a guaranteed giggle-fest for group and solo travellers alike. Music fans can look forward to relaxing at the boat’s Jazz on the River event, which takes place on the first Wednesday of every month.
How long should I spend here? Pop down for a couple of hours to enjoy a G&T in the sunshine, or perhaps make a night of it and stay for dinner.
How to get there: You can get to the pub on the Thames by jumping on the tube at King’s Cross St. Pancras, following the Victoria line until you get to Warren Street Station in approximately one minute. From here, get on the Northern line to Kensington and get off around six minutes later at Embankment Station. Then it’s a simple 4-minute walk before you can climb on board the Tattershall Castle and grab yourself a beer!
Visiting London with friends? Have a look at our guide to the best things to do in London as a group.
Lose yourself in a passionate performance at Opera Holland Park
Why it’s hot: Widely deemed one of the UK’s most exciting and innovative opera companies, Opera Holland Park offers performances at different levels, so whether you’re a classical newbie or an opera aficionado, you’ll find something your ears will adore. This summer, you can catch Alice, a spellbinding take on the classic tale of Alice in Wonderland, as well as the intense and passionate Kát’a Kabanová for those looking to feel wholly involved in a breathtaking masterpiece.
How long should I spend here? Running times vary for each performance, but they tend to last for up to 2 and a half hours. This gives you plenty of time to feel immersed in the beautifully canopied surroundings of the venue, and feast upon a delightful selection of picnic-style refreshments. Show times vary depending on the performance, but usually, begin in the afternoon or evening.
How to get there: Get yourself on the Hammersmith & City line from King’s Cross St. Pancras Underground Station, then jump off approximately eight minutes later at Edgeware Road. From here, you’ll need to board the District line until you reach High Street Kensington, then enjoy a 12-minute walk in the sunshine to Opera Holland Park.
Spend a leisurely summer’s day on the Southbank
Why it’s hot: It’s the beating heart of London’s culture. Take a stroll along the riverside, have a little paddle in the fountains or meander around the Southbank Centre’s antique and second-hand book market, all in the open air.
You’re in for a treat if you visit the Southbank this summer, as you can catch toe-tapping cabaret, cutting-edge comedy and entertaining circus acts at this year’s Underbelly Festival. Though you need a ticket to see the shows, entry to the festival is free, so you can take a sip at one of London’s longest outdoor bars and snack on mouth-watering street food at your leisure.
How long should I spend here? Even if you don’t go to the festival, the Southbank grants at least an afternoon’s worth of exploration, especially if you venture around the weekend markets, where you can find more tantalising street food and fresh farmers’ produce.
How to get here: The quickest route is by getting the Honor Oak bus from Acton Street (Stop PO). You’ll only be on for about a minute, then hop off at Snow Hill, take a little stroll to New Fetter Lane bus stop, then jump on the Waterloo bus until you get to Waterloo Bridge South Bank. From here, it’s a four-minute walk to the wonders of the Southbank Centre.
Cost: Free to have a look round!
The Albion: a country garden in the city!
Why it’s hot: Brits love a beer garden, but this one is particularly special as it brings the comforting charm of an English country pub to summer in the city.
You can let the stresses of modern life drift away as you sink into your favourite tipple under the shade of the wisteria in The Albion’s beer garden. With more than 450 square metres of outdoor drinking space, The Albion is the perfect location for a catch up with friends on a balmy summer evening before moving on to experience London’s eclectic nightlife.
How long should I spend here? An hour or two if you’re just here for the sunshine, but if you get peckish, the Albion is famed for its delectable pub grub, particularly their hearty Sunday Lunch menu.
How to get here: The Albion is only around 20 minutes away from both Clink Hostels on foot, and we recommend walking so you get to see London at its most beautiful in the sunshine. All you need to do is ask one of our lovely members of staff to direct you and they’ll be happy to oblige.
Need a place to stay during your trip?
Our central London locations are perfect for get-up-and-go guests who love nothing more than exploring the city. You’ll find both our hostels in the vibrant King’s Cross area, the perfect starting point for your London adventure. To find out more, get in touch today.