We asked staff at CityLibrary about their favourite London places and things to do in summer and, despite the recent weather, they mostly like to be outside, listing a number of favourite spots.
Although, of course, we feel you should take a break and get and about to see these places when in London, a number can also be visited in a virtual manner via CityLibrary’s collections – so click those links to find out more!
Pretty Places and Views
A clear favourite place to go is Hampstead Heath with two librarians mentioning how close it feels to being in the countryside. Other highlights on the heath include Kenwood House, swimming in the lidos and ponds and the view from Parliament Hill. Although a bit depressing as I recall it, the film Scenes of a Sexual Nature was shot on Hampstead Heath and is a good way to visit it in the sun when it isn’t actually sunny for reals.
Speaking of views, Catherine picked out the view from Shooter’s Hill for its “great views of the City” that provide “inspiration that anything is possible in this great City.”
Providing another beautiful view across London, and looking back south toward Shooter’s Hill and Crystal Palace (and not far from Hampstead Heath) is Alexandra Palace, where Lynn likes to take a “jaunty bus ride” in order to view “beautiful flowers and plants” as well as enjoy its tea shop.
Perambulating and Promenading
Another theme was walking in London, with the South Bank of the Thames a popular place to visit. It’s an area that provides a lot, with Alex saying, “There’s always something going on for free. You can sit inside or outside the Festival Hall. Browse book stalls, have a drink, walk along the river;” while Lyn picked out its “History, street performers, shops, pubs and a good breeze from the river” making it worth a visit; and Samantha addded that it’s a “lovely place to while away time – there’s usually something on… there’s the Tate Modern, lots of nice places to eat, food stalls… you can take a boat trip, [and] plenty of things to see and people to watch, [with] lots of lovely bars to break up your work in.”
A further, anonymous, walk lover shared their love of meandering alongside the Regent’s Canal and even gave this suggested walk:
“Start your walk by Goldbourne Road (at the better end of Portobello Market – good for North African food and vintage shopping).
“Walk down the canal through Little Venice and peer at the house boats and the million pound mansions.
“Carry on your walk east past Regent’s Park, through the zoo to Camden Town for a spot of people watching. Then carry on to King’s Cross, Islington and Hackney‘s vibrant Broadway Market.
“If you still have fuel in your legs continue east past Victoria Park then Mile End Park, avoiding speedy cyclists, then end up in historical Wapping where you can go to an old river side pub before limping home. Nice day out.”
Inside and Outside
London Zoo in Regent’s Park got a mention there and is another favourite place for Samantha who, “really, really, really like[s] chilling out in the giraffe house. They’re very peaceful animals. But also the zoo funds animal conservation work around the world and is a wonderful place to spend a day off. Also penguins.”
Other enjoyable outside activities mentioned were reading in the park, cricket on the lawn, barbecues and garden parties, visiting Hyde Park and riding in Swan boats.
It wasn’t all about being outside, though. Galleries on the South Bank have already been mentioned, as were The Barbican and the British Museum. Alongside the cinema, these are great places to escape the rain and provide a good tip for students in London through the winter.
Finally, and perhaps controversially, London is not for all. One Librarian stated that they like to get out of London during the summer.
But to where? Well, our next CityLibrary Summer post will let you know where us CityLibrary people like to go to on holiday.
Until then, look out for us with a book and a flask of tea underneath the bandstand.