Springtime in London is one of the best times to visit the city with plenty to see and do. As the colder, greyer days of winter retreat, the weather starts to warm up and with it, crocuses, daffodils, tulips and bluebells scent the air of every park and garden. Here are some of our favourite things to do in London in spring whether you’re a local or a visitor.
Spring is the perfect time to explore London’s beautiful parks and gardens. One of the best places to start is the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (better known as Kew Gardens), a UNESCO World Heritage site housing over 68,000 plants from around the world in its magnificent gardens and stunning glass houses. The gardens are particularly beautiful in the spring when the cherry blossoms and magnolias are in bloom. But even if you don’t make a trip to Kew Gardens, throughout spring and summer you’ll find bright and perfumed floral blooms across London’s streets. Whether it’s the daffodils in St James’s Park, the roses of Chelsea Physic Garden, the crocuses of Wimbledon Common or the wisteria that adorns many of London’s historic houses, you’re spoilt for choice. For fans of floral decadence, a visit to London in spring means only one thing: The Chelsea Flower Show (runs from the 23–27 May 2023), which brings together world-renowned garden designers, plant specialists and florists to stage one of the most prestigious horticultural events in the world. Make sure to wear your finest garden-party outfits (see how many designer hats you can spy) for a day of scented walking, healthy eating and luxurious shopping. If you are tired out then we recommend a truly relaxing day just lounging in Hyde Park, one of the largest Royal Parks in London. In the spring, the park is filled with colourful flowers and blossom trees, making it the perfect place for a picnic or a leisurely stroll. Discover the life of a Hyde Park resident here.
Warm weather and longer days means more fun outside and London doesn’t miss any opportunity to provide this. For thespians and culture vultures make sure to soak up some Shakespeare with a £5 standing ticket under the open air of the historic Globe Theatre, staging performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors and more. You can also buy covered seats around the edges of the wooden theatre, which is an icosagon (a 20 sided polygon) and the only thatched building in London! If Shakespeare isn’t your cup of tea then each year the Underbelly Festival pops up across London in spring and summer to bring comedy, cabaret and lively entertainment to the capital. Outdoor bars, delicious street food and circus acts take over different areas for a few months each year, so keep your eyes open for twinkling lights and merriment.
For something a little off the beaten track, the Dulwich Festival is a celebration of the arts, culture and history of the local area, where picturesque streets and unique boutiques bring a slice of village life to the big city. On 22 April 2023 visit Trafalgar Square for the Vaisakhi festival, a celebration of Sikh tradition, heritage and culture. Performances include Gatka, a spectacular Sikh Martial Art, and attendees can enjoy free light bites and Indian tea accompanied by cooking demonstrations and art exhibitions. If you end up overindulging in all the delicious food, have no fear – the London Marathon is the very next day. Although it might be too late to sign up to compete, sports fans love the buzz that the event brings to the city’s streets and it has inspired many joggers on their morning run to raise money for charity in their own way.
The metropolis is famous for its markets, and London in spring is the perfect time to explore them. One of the most popular is Borough Market, bordered by London Bridge and Southwark Cathedral. The market features a variety of food stalls including mind-bendingly good sausage rolls from the Ginger Pig, the salty tang of fresh seafood from Richard Hawards Oysters, freshly baked bread and doughnuts from The Bread Ahead Bakery and a myriad of cake stalls including vegan options. Alfresco dining includes Spanish tapas from Brindisa, 100 percent plant-based dishes from mallow, Persian sharing dishes, stews, kababs and mazeh plates from Berenjak Borough, pasta made in front of you at Padella and grilled lobster, oysters and fish pie at Fish!
If you want a good walk between markets, then head over London Bridge, past the Monument (built to commemorate the origin of the Great Fire of London in 1666 – which has its own foodie connection as it began in Farynor’s bakery on Fish Street Hill) up to Spitalfields Market. Here you’ll find vintage clothes alongside individual fashion designers, antiques, arts and crafts from around the world and gourmet street food trucks catering to (almost) every taste. Spitalfields isn’t far from Columbia Road Flower Market, which takes place every Sunday. Huge masses of flowers and plants crowd the small street, and over the throng you’ll hear the constant chant of the barrow boys calling “Everthin’ a fiver!” The market’s famously reasonable prices do make it tricky to leave without a bonsai tree under one arm, a bouquet of tulips under the other and a small sago palm tucked into your tote bag…
But for the most infamous and iconic market in spring, don’t miss mile-long Portobello Market on a Saturday, with its pretty pastel-painted Georgian terraces, antiques traders and fresh produce. It’s a wonderful place to people watch, find a bargain and soak in the bustling atmosphere of the city. You may even find yourself starring in a film, as many have been shot here, including Love Actually, Notting Hill and Paddington.
Walking through any city is always exciting, but with the history, culture and buzz of London in spring combined, we recommend being adventurous. There are a number of world-famous routes, including the Thames Path, which follows the Thames river and offers stunning views of the city’s skyline. In spring and early summer the river is alive with birds and its banks are full of wildflowers as you get further out of the city. The Regent’s Canal Walk is one of our favourites as it winds a gentle path through some of London’s most picturesque neighbourhoods, including Little Venice and Camden.
If you’re struggling to pick an area to explore, this article exploring some of London’s most famous streets will help you decide. Although in our opinion, you can’t do much better than discovering what’s on offer in Mayfair.
Perhaps you need to fuel your next adventure, or maybe you just want to sit back and take it easy. Regardless of reason and whatever your tastes, London’s culinary scene is in a world of its own. With many restaurants and cafes offering outdoor seating, you can find a spot overlooking the Thames, a quiet square for a coffee and a read, or sample cuisine from around the world at one of the four branches of Mercato Metropolitano. Discover our local favourites for quick bites, unforgettable dinners and delicious cocktails in our guide to the best restaurants in Mayfair.
Of course, no trip to London is complete without a pitstop in one of the innumerable pubs that line the streets. For a proper Londoner’s experience, join the crowds that spill out onto the streets for a pint after another jam-packed day in the city. It doesn’t really matter where you are, or which pub, as long as the drinks are cold and the company is friendly!