Algarve, Portofino, Wahiki? No – Aldwych, Pimlico and Wanstead


The Tower of London (Jon Sullivan - courtesy of
The Tower of London (Jon Sullivan – courtesy of

So it’s summer and you just moved to London. Even in the muggy grey weather we have been having, the trains seem to have started running at half speed, the pavements seem several hundred times more packed than they usually are and everyone seems just that little bit more irritable than usual. It’s why many a Londoner heads off to Spain, Greece or Cyprus at this time of year. But for those of us who stay here, the capital has a lot more to offer than you might think and most of it doesn’t cost a penny. This is ABL’s guide to a reasonably-priced summer in London.


First off there’s the parks. London is the greenest capital city in the world and has eight royal parks for you to go and explore. Whether it be the central location of Hyde Park, the deer down in Richmond or the fantastic views from up near the observatory in Greenwich, each is different and will be a great place to be on these warm summer days.


But if you’re not one for lying in the sun, how about a cruise. The Thames Clipper service runs from North Greenwich all the way down to Westminster and will whisk you along in the cool breeze for a very good price. Why not pick up a day pass and explore the areas around each of the piers at Greenwich, Tower Bridge, the South Bank and Westminster.


If you really don’t want to be outside and fancy wandering round a cool drafty building, then why not head to the Houses of Parliament. Unlike Westminster Abbey outside, they are absolutely free of charge and you can spend as long as you like wandering the public rooms and popping in to get a bird’s eye view of politics from the galleries.


Food more your thing? Then head to the South Bank and explore the food market behind the Royal Festival Hall. Everyday tens of stalls crown the small square packed with goodies from the South of France and Madrid, to Bombay and Thailand. And when you’re done with the eating there’s always the second hand bookstalls round by the river to browse.


Drinks on your mind? Head to Seven Dials, buy an ice cold beer or a cool glass of wine and sit on the small roundabout in the centre. It’s a perfect place for people watching and wiling away those long summer evenings.


And when you’re done with the drinks and tipsy enough to want to flail around a bit and call it dancing, book yourself tickets for Dance Al Fresco in Regent Park. Spectators can go and watch for free, but just £10 will get you up and dancing and involved with one of the lessons.


And so when your friends and relatives come back from their European jaunts, red like lobsters and complaining about the rock hard beds or the dodgy food, make sure you have your photos ready and show them where they should have spent their summer.