The 10 best things to do in London this spring, from parks to pubs with beer gardens

Whether you’re interested in food markets or flower gardens, London comes alive in spring

Zoe Griffin
Tuesday 12 March 2024 14:45 GMT
Blossom in bloom in front of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral
Blossom in bloom in front of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Spring in London is full of excitement and anticipation. The weather’s starting to warm up, the days are getting longer, and blooming trees are scattering pink and white confetti on pavements and in parks.

From April onwards, we can start to enjoy a drink on the terraces or roofs of London’s best pubs and bars without our lips turning blue. It’s an ideal time to soak up some of the city’s cultural attractions before they become rammed with tourists in the summer. And if you’re looking for the best food, you’ll be spoiled for choice by both open-air food markets and the fresh, seasonal produce served up at the capital’s world-beating restaurants.

You don’t even need to spend any money to enjoy London in the spring. Most of the city’s galleries and museums are free to enter, and you can stay inside for as long as you like. Then there are 5,000 acres of historic parkland to explore in London’s eight royal parks; from Richmond Park to Regent’s Park, you’re never too far from a park that’s big enough to get lost in.

Here are 10 of the best activities to tick off your London to-do list this spring.

Cut some rug at In The Round festival

Tirzah will perform as part of the 2024 In The Round Festival (Redferns)

Returning for its seventh year at Camden’s excellent Roundhouse is In The Round Festival. This unique line-up includes emerging and established artists, such as Tirzah, Vashti Bunyan, Lucy Rose, Ezra Collective’s Joe Armon-Jones, and Jlin. Prepare for inspirational and intimate performances on this remarkable venue’s circular stage.

Price: From £10, Roundhouse

Walk the wobbly bridge

The cinematic approach to St Paul’s Cathedral is over the Millenium Bridge (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Millenium Bridge, which spans the Thames from Tate Modern to St Paul’s Cathedral, is known as the “wobbly bridge” as it swayed in the wind when it first opened in 2000. It no longer moves but what you see while walking it will pull at your heartstrings and make you fall in love with London, espcecially on a sunny day. Start on the south side and you’ll see the magnificent dome of St Paul’s Cathedral slowly come into view. You’ll find several blooming cherry blossom trees scattered in St Paul’s Churchyard between the end of March and mid May, giving the historic building a stunning floral frame.

Price: Free

Read more on London travel:

Swim outside in Hampstead

Water temperatures at Parliament Hill Lido start to rise in spring (Parliament Hill Lido)

Hampstead Heath is home to swimming ponds and pools that are open all year round. If you haven’t done much outdoor swimming before, you might want to dip your toe in by visiting Parliament Hill Lido, which is an unheated 60m pool with a lifeguard. By April, the water starts to warm up and become more enjoyable to swim in – rather than just purely good for you. You can simply rock up without booking in advance, and entry is a reasonable £4.50. If you get the bug, you can ask about joining the men’s pond, ladies’ pond or mixed pond.

Price: £4.50, Parliament Hill Lido

Grab a bite in Brixton

Sunshine and snacks at Pop Brixton (Getty Images)

Brixton comes alive when the sun is shining. Easy to reach on the Victoria line, it’s worth heading south to sample a variety of differnt cuisines, which somehow tastes fresher when eaten outside. Pop Brixton is a colourful cluster of shipping containers transformed into a gastronomic wonderland, incorporating countless different restaurants and stalls.

Price: Depends on what you eat or drink, Pop Brixton

Cruise the canal

Take a narrow boat trip on Regent’s Canal (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

See London from a different angle by taking a trip on a narrow boat down Regent’s Canal, from Camden Market to Little Venice. The route takes 45 minutes, passing through the grounds of London Zoo – where you should be able to see wolves and African warthogs without paying for a zoo entry fee. You’ll also float through the echoey depths of the Madia Hill Tunnel. Each boat has large slide-to-open windows, so everyone gets a view (and ventilation).

Price: £15 (concessions available), London Waterbus Company

Smell the flowers in bloom at Kew

Get lost in the colours of spring flowers (Getty Images)

Vivid blooming flowers, unfurling green leaves and the melodious sound of birdsong are all part of a visit to Kew Gardens in south-west London. Spring is sakura season, so you can stroll down a path of Japanese cherry blossom trees if you visit before mid-May. It’s also the best time to see spectacular bluebells, that only come out between April and mid-May. Don’t forget a camera.

Price: Adults from £20 when booked in advance (weekends cost more), children from £5 when booked in advance (weekends cost more), Kew Gardens

Boating on the Serpentine

Make the most of Hyde Park ahead of the summer crowds (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Spending time on the water is a great way to relax. Hiring a pedalo and drifting around Hyde Park’s Serpentine lake allows you to slow down, take in nature and have some fun. It’s a great place for people watching, and you’ll be surprised how quickly the hours slip away. Everyone is given a life jacket and it’s safe for children above the age of three.

Price: Adults £12, children £6, Royal Parks

Enjoy a riverside pint

Drink up while the sun shines down (The Ship)

The Ship is a Wandsworth institution, and has the best beer garden in London, according to Tripadvisor. The huge Thameside terrace is the place to be when it’s sunny. All the biggest rugby matches are shown, there’s a quiz every Tuesday evening, and DJs fill the place with music every Saturday night. Foodies are drawn in by its famous hearty brunches.

Price: Pints from £5, The Ship

See some of swinging London’s best dresses

Biba at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum (Duffy Archive )

Fashionistas will adore this exhibition of Barbara Hulanicki’s influential label, Biba. The Polish designer’s creations came to epitomise swinging London and continue to resonate today. From the first simple shift dresses, to super-glam wraps, trouser suits, sequinned bodices and floppy hats, this exhibition brings together some of the British label’s most beloved looks.

Price: Adults £11.50 (concessions apply), Fashion and Textile Museum

Get a caffeine hit

Get a caffeine hit at London Coffee Festival (London Coffee Festival )

Consider yourself a coffee connoisseur? Head to the London Coffee Festival, which is taking over Brick Lane’s Truman Brewery this April. With over 250 artisan coffee and gourmet food stalls, demonstrations from world-class baristas, workshops, talks and tasting sessions, this is the crème de la crème of coffee gatherings.

Price: Adults £38, London Coffee Festival

Read more on the best hotels in London

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in