A Summer Break in London

[wide]IMG_1819[/wide]To be fair, London is not a city that would come top of many people’s lists when you mention “summer mini-break destinations”.

It’s rare that London is blessed with heat-waves of uninterrupted warm, sunny days.

However if you do manage to strike it lucky with the weather, it takes a bit of local knowledge to really enjoy the best that London has to offer in the summertime.

Here’s a quick guide to some of the highlights:

 Hampstead Heath

This vast park in the north of London is hugely popular with locals. It can be a bit of a mission to get to (especially when the Northern Line of the underground transport system isn’t running – which seems to happen frequently on weekends), but at the first sign of sunshine the Heath’s endless grassy fields are awash with groups of friends picnicking and working on their tans.

The Parliament Hill section of the Heath provides spectacular views across the city, but our favorite spot is the outdoor swimming ponds. Constructed in the 18th Century, there are three swimming ponds – one for mixed swimming, one for women-only, and one for men-only.

Naturally we head straight for the men-only pond which features a large grassy bank for sunbathing, a small changing area (with a nude sunbathing section), and a diving board off the wooden jetty. The water is surprisingly fresh and clear and there is nothing better than floating around in the water, watching everyone take their turns on the diving board

 Regent’s Canal

London has an extensive canal network – the largest is Regent’s Canal which runs from Paddington to Limehouse.
 
Enjoying the sunshine beside London's canals 

For most of the year the paths alongside the canal are the preserve of cyclists, joggers, and dog-walkers, but once the sun comes out this is a popular destination for keeping cool by the water.

Our favorite section is just near Hoxton where the Towpath Cafe serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner – all with an Italian twist.

Southbank
 
Riverfront bar on London's Southbank
 

On the south side of the River Thames, between Blackfriars Bridge and Embankment, the Southbank precinct provides the perfect place for some romantic promenading.

Bars, restaurants, and theaters line the river bank, and couples wander along dreamily hand-in-hand.

 
Wahaca restaurant on London's Southbank
 

We’re loving pop-up cafe Look Mum No Hands which is beloved by cyclists, or Wahaca’s Mexican street food, or pulling up a deck-chair outside the British Film Institute and watching the world go by over a drink or three.
 
Towpath Cafe on the Hoxton Canal
 
London definitely finds its groove when the sun comes out – just check the forecast before you book your flights.

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