London may not exactly be synonymous with balmy temperatures or even seasonally consistent weather but, as any resident will tell you, there’s nothing better than our capital in the summer. People start wearing shorts, stop being short with each other, and a whole other side of the city comes to life. Parks are populated with more than the occasional dour-looking dog walker, beer gardens and drinking terraces burst into bloom and going to the pub is transformed from a way to keep warm into an outdoor activity.
Now that the thought of doing a lap in a London lido no longer sends chills down our spine and green spaces are playing host to picnic blankets and cinema screens alike, we’ve put together everything you need to make the most of London’s summer in the great outdoors.
Still can't decide where to spend the day? Check out our video of ten of the best parks and gardens in London.
Green spaces and parks in London
Alfresco eating and drinking in London
Explore London’s great outdoors
A little further afield
Lily Jones (aka Lily Vanilli) carved out a solid, celebrity-packed fan base well before opening her own bakery. Her foray into sculptural, macabre cake creations (roadkill cake, gingerbread gravestones, marzipan beetles) gave sweet treats a contemporary, anti-cute makeover and set her far apart from the mainstream cupcake clan. It’s a touch surprising, then, to find her first establishment, just off Columbia Road flower market, completely void of gore. The baker’s experimental creativity, however, remains on show. On our visit, we ogled a towering pomegranate and coconut Victoria sandwich, glistening honeycomb and ganache tarts and individually turned out cherry bakewells. The bakewells – lined up like cherry-topped pork pies – had a unique pastry top concealing buttery, almond-sweet frangipane and a beautifully sharp fruit compote. The more familiar red velvet cupcakes were equally good, as was a heady, deliciously naughty absinthe and mint ice cream. Space is tight (this is a bakery, after all) with not much indoor seating and a courtyard area packed with customers. Vintage styling and rustic touches (wooden boards on the counters and areas of bare brick) make this a cosy teatime destination – one you’d gladly make the effort to visit on Sunday, the sole opening day.
Venue says: “Friendly Sunday cafe with delicious coffee, cakes and pastries. We also offer a fully bespoke cake, canape and wedding cake service.”