Let’s get physical: best summer activities to do in London
Now that the summer weather is finally here, it's time to enjoy the great outdoors
Rooftop yoga: stretching in the sun
Few things will make you appreciate the summer sun more than a spot of yoga on a rooftop. And the good news is London isn’t short of places to do it. For early risers, KXU at The Trafalgar St James, Yogarise on the top of Bussy Building, Fat Buddha Yoga and Summer Rooftop Yoga (with an impeccable view of St Paul’s Cathedral) offer yoga sessions where you can stretch and bend whilst taking in the sunrise. If the sky is looking threatening, though, you might fare better at Yogasphere at the Shard or Sky Garden’s Sunrise Yoga, both of which run indoor sessions with unparalleled views.
Outdoor swimming: London's lidos
Beat the heat by taking a dip in one of London’s many outdoor swimming pools. If you or a friend is a member, head to Shoreditch House’s rooftop pool, otherwise join the rest of us at Brockwell Lido (featuring Grade II-listed art deco architecture) or Tooting Bec Lido, the UK’s largest outdoor swimming pool. Fresh water swimming can best be enjoyed at the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds or the Serpentine in Hyde Park, but if you’re looking for a change of scenery, aim for the newly restored Georgian lake in Beckenham Place Park (open from 20 July).
Croquet and pétanque: Skylight at Tobacco Dock
Since its launch in 2017, Skylight has made a name for itself as a rooftop destination offering more than just drinks and bar snacks. Those in search of a vaguely sporty date spot, or those as much a fan of the booze as the getting fit, can book in a round of pétanque or a spot on Skylight’s croquet lawn. In-between the drinks and nibbles (and, of course, the exercise), take a breather on one of Skylight’s daybeds or garden booths.
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Cycling: London’s green spots
While you might not expect it, London is actually home to many a beautiful cycling route. Battersea Park to Greenwich is a 16km cycle ride largely along the river Thames that will see you ticking off various tourist hotspots (the London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe and Cutty Sark) along the way. While Big Ben to Richmond Park offers a more challenging 38km cycle with lots of steep climbs, culminating in the beautiful Richmond Park. For those who prefer an easy, scenic route, King’s Cross to Notting Hill is a gentle 10km along Regent’s Canal, with plenty of pretty places to stop along the way for a coffee or bite to eat while soaking up the surroundings.
Don’t own a bike? No problem, because Santander Cycles can be rented for as little as £2. Just remember to make a note of where the nearest docking stations are to your route, as charges go up the longer you keep the bike.
Park workouts: Lindahls Outdoor HIIT – FRAME
There are many advantages of taking your workout outside: whilst fresh air naturally reduces stress, using unconventional equipment (we’re talking benches and trees) on uneven grounds makes you work out your muscles – including some you didn’t know existed – even harder than before. This July, Move Your Frame is offering 60-minute sessions of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to really get your endorphins pumping – and as the company has partnered up with the Swedish dairy brand Lindahls, you’ll even be served a Kvarg (a healthy, high protein dairy product) after your workout.
Meeting point: FRAME Fitzrovia
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Climbing: socialising on the rocks at London's climbing centres
Did watching the Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo, which follows Alex Holland as he becomes the first and only person to scale El Captain (a 3,000ft granite monolith in Yosemite Park) with no ropes or harnesses, inspire you to take up climbing? There's no need to risk your life by climbing free solo, head to one of London’s climbing centres and you can practice your skills in a safe environment. Vauxhall Climbing Centre and The Arch in Bermondsey run lessons for beginners and intermediates throughout the summer, and with hundreds of routes you can do on your own, both centres offer ample opportunities for bringing friends along for a bouldering session. Reluctant to spend a summer day indoors? Head to the outdoor boulders at The Castle’s community garden, and be sure to get a glance of the gothic-inspired, Victorian building which houses the indoor facilities.
Night Kayak: glide through London’s waters after dark with Secret Adventures
You might end up doing more shivering than sweating on this one, but you’ll return to dry land having seen truly unique views of the capital. A chance to see all of London’s landmarks lit at night, Night Kayak offers guided paddling tours past the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s, Tower Bridge and the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. For those who value their beauty sleep, Secret Adventures also organises daytime and evening kayak outings combined with a visit to the pub or a brewery.
London walks: pretty promenades across the capital
Embracing the great outdoors with a power-walk through London’s central parks is scenic escape from the city’s hustle and bustle – keep an eye on the Royal Parks website for themed walking tours in July and August. Longer hikes can be taken in Hampstead Heath or Richmond Park, where the thick woods and free-walking deer make you feel truly at one with the wild. If gentle strolls are more your thing, head to the beautiful Holland Park, one of London’s lushest and most secluded green spaces.
Whichever route you choose, check your phone's fitness tracker after your walk: you will have almost certainly reached the recommended daily goal of taking 10,000 steps – not bad for an office-based worker in the capital.