101 things to do outdoors in London

Find the best outdoor activities and things to do outside in London, from exploring parks and gardens to alfresco dining.
Reflections of trees in the water surrounding the Sackler Bridge at Kew Gardens.
Discover beautiful bridges and tree top walkways at Kew Gardens. Photo: visitlondon.com/Jon Reid.

London became the world's first National Park City in 2019 thanks to its abundance of parks, woodlands, nature reserves, canals and rivers. With so much green space to enjoy, there are plenty of things to do in London outdoors.

Many outdoor attractions and hospitality venues have reopened following the proposed easing of coronavirus restrictions. Be aware some spots listed may still be closed and you may also need to book tickets in advance, even if entrance is free. Make sure you check before you visit.

Take a look at the 101 best things to do outdoors in London, from outdoor entertainment and drive in cinemas to London's best beer gardens and rooftop bars. Or, explore the best parks in London, plan a picnic outdoors or wander around gorgeous gardens.

Top outdoor things to do in London

  1. Stroll down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace in time to see the Changing the Guard ceremony.
  2. Follow in the footsteps of The Beatles at the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing.
  3. Marvel at the street artists and performers in Covent Garden.
  4. Snap a picture of Eros and the neon billboards at Piccadilly Circus.
  5. Look for the Chinese-style gates, decorations and pagodas in Chinatown.
  6. Cross some of London’s iconic bridges, from the magnificent Tower Bridge to the modern Millennium Bridge.
  7. Spot London landmarks from the outdoor viewing gallery at level 72 of The View from The Shard.
  8. Wander the self-guided City Visitor Trail, passing some of the City of London's architectural gems such as St Paul's Cathedral.
  9. See the sights on an open-top bus tour of the capital.
  10. Get up close and personal to Lord Nelson and the bronze lions in Trafalgar Square.

Stroll through London's Royal Parks

  1. Hire a deck chair in leafy Green Park, the smallest of London's eight Royal Parks.
  2. Take time to ponder the memorials in Hyde Park, from the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain to Britain's first memorial garden for victims of the Holocaust.
  3. See more than 12,000 roses of 400 varieties at the fragrant Queen Mary's Garden in Regent’s Park.
  4. Go bonkers for conkers at Chestnut Avenue in Bushy Park, which is home to roaming herds of red and fallow deer.
  5. Add some magic to your day in Kensington Gardens with a visit to the Peter Pan statue Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie lived close to the gardens.
  6. Spot the pelicans in St James’s Park – don't miss feeding time between 2.30pm and 3pm every day.
  7. Look out for the hot pink azaleas (which bloom in late April and May), ponds and streams at the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.
  8. Climb the hill to experience sweeping views of London in Greenwich Park, which is also home to Royal Museums Greenwich.

Discover London's history

  1. From uncovering the City of London's compelling past to delving into Sherlock Holmes’ London, learn about the capital’s varied history on a walking tour.
  2. Straddle the Meridian Line in the courtyard of the Royal Observatory.
  3. Be transported to London's Roman past at the London Wall.
  4. Get a glimpse of London’s political history at Speakers' Corner, Downing Street and Parliament Square where you'll find the Houses of Parliament.

Explore waterside routes and canals

  1. Walk from pretty Little Venice to bustling Camden along the Regent's Canal, passing Regent's Park, ZSL London Zoo and Camden Lock on the way.
  2. Stroll along Richmond's charming riverside past Petersham Meadows to Ham House making sure to stop off at Petersham Nurseries for garden essentials and delicious cakes.
  3. See some of London's most famous sights on a walk along the South Bank, including the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
  4. Cycle alongside the Thames on a Santander Cycle; or go on a guided tour with The London Bicycle Tour Company.

Learn about London's naval scene

  1. See a full-scale reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake's world-famous sailing galleon, the Golden Hinde in Bankside.
  2. Watch modern yachts coming and going in tranquil St Katharine Docks.
  3. Walk the decks of Second World War battleship HMS Belfast, which is moored on the Thames.
  4. Marvel at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, the world's last remaining tea clipper.

Meet animals in London

  1. Get your binoculars out to search for rare birds at WWT Wetland Centre in Barnes or wildlife among the wet grassland of Lee Valley.
  2. Check out the latest arrivals at London's city farms.
  3. De-stress during a horse riding lesson at Stag Lodge or Wimbledon Village stables. 
  4. Learn more about the cute penguins and lemurs with daily shows at ZSL London Zoo.

Wander London's cemeteries

  1. Go on a guided walk of Brompton Cemetery, where you'll see the grave of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.
  2. Spot famous names in Highgate Cemetery, including the grave of philosopher Karl Marx.

Relax on London's commons and heaths

  1. Climb to the top of Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath for panoramic views of the city.
  2. Look for the elusive Wombles on Wimbledon Common, or see the workings of its resident Wimbledon Windmill.

Go swimming and boating in London

  1. Take a dip in London's public lidos in the summer months, from the art deco Brockwell Lido to the colourful Tooting Bec Lido.
  2. Limber up for a leisurely boat ride on Hyde Park's Serpentine Lake, in the sprawling boating lake in Regent's Park or south of the river in Battersea Park.
  3. Paddle your way down the city's waterways with London Kayak Tours, captain your own GoBoat or cruise down in one of Skuna Boats' floating jacuzzis.

Visit popular London parks and gardens

  1. Take to the treetop walkway in the world-famous Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew for magnificent views of the gardens.
  2. Find a tranquil haven at Chelsea Physic Garden, which is home to hundreds of medicinal plants, or spend time in quiet contemplation at the Japanese-style Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.
  3. Explore the gardens at stately homes and palaces, from the maze at Hampton Court Palace to Capability Brown's gardens at Syon House.
  4. Have a go at pitch-and-putt golf within the spectacular parkland and gardens surrounding Alexandra Palace.
  5. Explore the gardens of Buckingham Palace, discover its history and stop off for a picnic, as they open to visitors for the first time for self-guided tours. 9 Jul-19 Sep

Find outdoor hidden gems in London

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Secret Garden 🍂

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  1. See the Watts Victorian memorial in Postman's Park in the City of London, where acts of heroism are marked.
  2. Sit down with a book in quiet City of London gardens, including a spot amongst the ruins of St Dunstan in the East or beside the London Wall at the Barber Surgeons Garden.
  3. Say hello to the resident frogs and relax in a hidden oasis nested between Soho and Covent Garden at the Phoenix Garden
  4. Discover Westminster Abbey's sedate green spaces, including College Garden which has been in cultivation for more than 900 years.
  5. Look out for herons and koi carp in the beautiful Kyoto Garden in Holland Park.
  6. Explore more of London with Discovering Britain’s self-guided walks, from ambles around leafy Epping Forest to riverside wanders in North Woolwich
  7. Walk The Line sculpture trail from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to The O2, and look out for artworks from the likes of Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Abigail Fallis.

Delve into London's outdoor culture

  1. Snuggle up to a summer film at one of London's outdoor cinemas  and admire spectacular venues citywide with Luna Cinema.
  2. Experience a show at the magical Regent's Park Open Air Theatre or see one of the Bard's classic works in the authentic open-air playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
  3. Uncover the next Banksy on a self-guided street art tour.

Attend London's biggest festivals

  1. Look out for lion dances and enjoy Chinese food and drink during Chinese New Year celebrations.
  2. Head to Trafalgar Square for fun-filled annual celebrations, including St Patrick's Day, Chanukah, Diwali and Eid.
  3. Get into the Caribbean rhythm during the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival.
  4. Dress up and party during the summer Pride in London Parade.
  5. Go green-fingered at London's flower shows, including RHS Chelsea Flower Show and RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
  6. Celebrate the Queen's official birthday in style at Trooping the Colour.
  7. Explore rarely seen green spaces during the Open Garden Squares weekend.
  8. Eat your way around Regent's Park at the Taste of London festival.

Watch world-class sporting events

  1. Tuck into strawberries and cream while watching the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships either at the legendary venue, or in front of one of the big screens dotted around London.
  2. Grab a place on the banks of the Thames to cheer on Cambridge or Oxford during The Boat Races.
  3. Cheer on your favourite teams during the NFL International Series in London.
  4. Experience an electrifying cricket competition at The Hundred in the Kia Oval and Lord's Cricket Ground.
  5. Celebrate all things football as UEFA EURO 2020 comes to the capital, and visit one of London's top stadiums for exclusive behind-the-scene tours.
  6. See the highlight of the Rugby League calendar as the world’s best teams battle it out to be winners of the Rugby League World Cup 2021.
  7. Watch six of Europe’s best tennis players take on six tennis stars from the rest of the world, as John McEnroe and Björn Borg captain the two teams at the Laver Cup London 2022.

Savour alfresco dining in London

  1. Eat outside in London's best alfresco restaurants, from the River Cafe to Le Pont de la Tour.
  2. Enjoy a pint in secluded pub beer gardens, such as wisteria-cloaked The Albion or the historic Spaniards Inn.
  3. Relax long into the night at a lively rooftop bar, some of which also host nightly events and film screenings.
  4. Visit one of London's best breweries, many of which have cool alfresco spots by a canal or a beer garden.
  5. Go up to the 14th floor of The Hoxton’s Southwark hotel and dine in Seabird while enjoying the stunning views of the City in the distance.
  6. Take an afternoon tea cruise with City Cruises, or have a floating dinner with Bateaux London.
  7. Get cosy and unwind in the alfresco dining area in the quaint courtyard at Hush Mayfair
  8. Choose from a vast range of international street food at Mercato Metropolitano in Elephant & Castle.
  9. Pick up tasty treats from the open-air Southbank Centre Food Market.

Explore things to do with kids

  1. Hitch a wild ride at one of London's theme parks, including the epic Chessington World of Adventures.
  2. Be the king of the swingers at treetop adventure park Go Ape, with locations in Battersea, Alexandra Palace and Cockfosters.
  3. See the Covered Bridge from Hogwarts, the Knight Bus and Harry’s House at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
  4. Let your kids loose in London's adventure playgrounds; from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Hyde Park, to Timber Lodge and Tumbling Bay in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Plan adventure days out

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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

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  1. Get a head for heights by climbing over the famous white dome with Up at The O2.
  2. Brace yourself for an adrenaline rush on the river with a speedboat tour with Thames Rockets, Thames RIB Experience or Thamesjet.
  3. Abseil down ArcelorMittal Orbit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
  4. Go white-water rafting or BMX biking at Lee Valley Regional Park.

Take a boat trip around London

  1. Hop on and hop off the handy Uber Boat by Thames Clippers river bus service.
  2. See some of London's top sights from a different perspective on a sightseeing cruise with City Cruises.
  3. Experience a sedate side of London with a canal trip on the Regent's Canal with Jason’s Trip or Jenny Wren.

Marvel in street food at London's top markets

  1. Grab a bite to eat from street food vendors at one of London's many food markets, from famous Borough Market to lesser-known Maltby Street Market.
  2. Shop for clothes and more at London's best markets, including Portobello Road Market and Greenwich Market.
  3. Treat yourself or your loved one to a bunch of beautiful blooms at Columbia Road Flower Market or Chiswick Flower Market.
  4. Visit the West End’s South Molton Street Market on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for delicious street food.

Find things to do in winter in London

  1. Get your skates on at London's best pop-up ice rinks in the winter months.
  2. Hunt for stocking fillers at London's top Christmas markets.
  3. Be wowed by twinkling Christmas lights and Christmas trees from November until January.
  4. See some of your favourite movie stars with Scenes in the Square at Leicester Square, including Paddington Bear, Mary Poppins and Harry Potter.
  5. Take a trip into a glittering wonderland with Christmas at Kew at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

Set up camp at London's campsites

  1. Stay in the great outdoors at one of London's campsites during the summer.

For more outdoor activities in London, check out the best alfresco restaurants across the city and top spots for swimming, boating and lidos, as well as all the best London activities after lockdown. Download the Visit London app for more inspiration while out and about in London.