Summer in London: an ambiguous phrase. The dates for summer are set, but the weather has a mind of its own. Still, going to London is always a good idea, just be prepared for all sorts of weather conditions!
I’ve recently been to London twice for work meetings. Once the weather was glorious: sunny and warm with clear skies. The other time it was grey and rainy. Luckily, there’s plenty to do in London in all circumstances.
Here are seven things to do whether rain, shine or both!
1 – Take in some culture in the museum
There seems to be a museum for just about everything in London. Which one you choose is highly personal. My favorites are the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert museum. The latter is huge, so I suggest you only choose part of the exhibition and focus fully on that instead of trying to see the whole museum in one go. Most museums in London don’t charge an entrance fee, apart from special exhibits, so you can simply pop in for an hour and go back some other time if your schedule allows it.
2 – Get a taste of royalty
When Queen Elizabeth is out of town in summer, you can visit the State Rooms in Buckingham Palace. There are special exhibits, but honestly, the State Rooms are a sight to behold on their own. This is where international VIPs are received. You can be there too!
This year I visited Kensington Palace for the exhibit Lady Di, Her Fashion Story. The palace is certainly not as impressive as Buckingham Palace, and though they live there, don’t even think you can get close to young royals Harry, William and Catherine. One can dream…
3 – Go to the park
London boasts tons of parks and gardens. Some small like the one on Tavistock Square, some big like St. James Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. If you have a bit more time, go to Kew Botanical Gardens just outside of the city.
Sunny days in London can be scarce, so if the sun is out, people flock to the green areas of the city to enjoy the pleasant weather. Enjoy it while it lasts!
4 – Walk
Stroll along the Thames and you’ll walk by many of the city’s highlights. Start with a coffee at St. Katherine’s Docks, continue on to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The Shard, Borough Market, Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tate Modern, then cross the Millennium Bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral, walk to Somerset House, then continue along if you’re still energetic to Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben*. I recommend skipping the London Eye. It is very expensive and the view is not that great due to the curvature of the river.
You can also book a walking tour via London Walks†. They have tons of different guided walks for ten pounds per person.
5 – Enjoy the view
Go to the Primrose Hill viewpoint for a breathtaking view of London’s skyline. You can see all the way from the City’s high-rise buildings on the left to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, the London Eye and Houses of Parliament. From here you can walk to Camden Market for a bit of shopping and food. There is a food festival there every day!
Rain or Shine:
6 – Shop
Besides high street fashion heaven Oxford Street where you’ll find the Topshops and Marks & Spencers, there are many areas for some more unique offerings. My favorite shop is 52 Greek Street in Soho. I especially like it for my husband: somehow he has accumulated many shirts with animal prints, and he can always find a quirky design in 52 Greek Street. For ladies they have vintage style dresses and cardigans.
I also like Seven Dials (Covent Garden) and Camden Passage in Islington.
7 – Eat
This is a no-brainer, obviously. Who needs an excuse to eat? We all have to, no matter what. The area around Gerrard Street makes up London’s China Town. Head there to sample sumptuous dumplings, Beijing duck, egg waffles or bubble tea. You can do your exotic grocery shopping in this neighborhood too.
Londoners seem to be conscious about their food choices. There’s a thriving healthier-than-usual fast food scene. You will find restaurant chains like Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants, Carluccio’s, the Real Greek and tons of Pret a Mangers and Eat’s for a fuss-free, affordable lunch or dinner.
You won’t get bored easily, I promise!
*Partially based on a walk from Time to Momo Londen
†As tipped by my colleague Anna.
Also of interest: other European city trip destinations.