The heatwave that has held the UK in its sweaty grip for nearly two months is refusing to let go. A week ago, spectacular thunderstorms suggested an end to the record-breaking weather. But this weekend, temperatures rose yet again – exceeding 30C in some places.
So, as this scorcher of a summer continues, what can London’s increasingly sunburnt residents do to make the most of - or escape - the heat? Here's our list of the 10 things to do in London during a heatwave...
1. Go swimming
From lidos to natural swimming holes, the capital has plenty of water spots where you can cool off. There’s Hampstead Heath's swimming ponds, with their rustic charm, or the iconic Tooting Bec Lido, with its colourful changing rooms. Other options include Brockwell Lido – where you can swim and drink cocktails late into the night – and Britain's oldest swimming club, the Serpentine Lido, actually a lake and ideally located for diving out of the hectic central London heat.
2. Enjoy some ice-cream
If you think ice-cream is just about cones and cream, think again. For one, there are ice-cream crawls where you can roam the city sampling different types of dairy deliciousness from the most renowned and experimental ice-cream parlours in the capital. Or, if you’re after something a bit more intellectual, there’s the ice-cream exhibition at the British Museum of Food. Here you’ll learn the history and science behind ice-cream, and also try some mind-blowing, brain-freezing flavours such as candied fruits or daffodil - as well as ice-cream that fizzes or glows in the dark.
3. Get out on the water
Another place to find refuge from the heat is floating down the city’s waterways. Wakeup Docklands offers a host of water-based activities, including stand-up paddle and cable wakeboarding. Or you could take a boat trip – from the Thames Clippers to kayaking. Even better – what about kayaking to a brewery? Secret Adventures Kayaking offers the chance to paddle down to CRATE Brewery in Hackney so you can feel like you've truly earned that pint. They'll take your kayak away afterwards so you don't have to worry about maintaining your sea-legs as you get to work on the chardonnay.
4. Head to Granary Square
Trade sweating for splashing at Granary Square, a famous London destination during the summer months - and with good reason. The square is known for its 1,080 different fountains whose choregraphed jets are designed to create mesmerising patterns. This is the best place to play in the water – whether you have kids or you're just an adult in need of a cool-down.
5. Sunbathe in a park
Make your getaway from the office and seek out some greenery at one of city’s many beautiful parks. There are eight Royal parks in the capital, from the largest – Richmond Park – with its herds of deer, to Regent’s Park with its open-air theatre. But if you like your parks with a little less aristocratic pomp, head to Clapham Common which has the largest bandstand in London and hosts concerts during the summer months. Or, if you fancy a secret hideaway of sorts, pay a visit to The Phoenix Garden in Covent Garden, a hidden refuge of roses, daisies and dragonflies.
6. Visit an ice-rink
True, ice-skating is conventionally a Christmas-time activity, but who says you can’t do it in August too? Check out the rinks at Alexandra Palace – which also has an ice disco – or the Olympic-sized Streatham Ice Centre. Or you could try ice-karting at Queens Skate Dine and Bowl: sliding and skidding around the rink in a go-kart is ideal for those thrill-seekers – or chill-seekers - among you.
7. Relax on a rooftop
Heading to a rooftop bar as the sun makes its first appearance of the year is classic Londoner behaviour. The options are endless, but a few to take note of include Pergola in Paddington – ideal for the budget-conscious - the legendary Frank’s Café - located on the 10th floor of a multi-storey carpark – and the more glamorous Coq D’Argent, with its beautifully manicured garden and delicious food.
8. Have a barbecue
When temperatures rise, everything tastes better burnt - it’s a scientific fact. So, if your garden is next to non-existent and you fancy legally charring some sausages, head to London Fields, Highbury Fields or the aptly named Paradise Park. Or, if you’d rather leave it to the experts, try one of the city’s many smokehouses, such as the popular Bodean’s or the North-African-inspired Berber & Q, which caters for vegetarians.
9. Escape to the cinema
If soaking up every last ray of sun has lost its appeal, there’s no better place to flee from the heat than to a cinema. Sitting in a dark, air-conditioned room, the sweaty chaos of the city will feel far away. But if this sounds like defeat to you, why not enjoy a film outside? You can do so for free at one of the Royal Opera House’s Big Screens. Or there’s the roaming pop-up Nomad Cinema, where the proceeds go to a development charity in Africa.
10. Visit a crypt
To end, a bit of a weird one. If you’re serious about escaping the sun, there’s always the city’s crypts. Yes, they’re a bit creepy, but nothing cools you off like an underground burial chamber - such as West Noorwood Catacombs, the Guildhall East Crypt - the largest medieval crypt in London - or the Fleet Street Ossuary. Descending below the city’s streets to places that haven’t seen sunlight for centuries is sure to revive your love for summer.