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34 best things to do in London in May - the ultimate guide for every budget

Looking for things to do in the city this bank holiday weekend? We’ve got you covered

Georgia Brown

London is finally starting to open back up after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap to freedom welcomed a gradual unlocking of the capital. But with so many months indoors and far too many on-screen soirées, is your social schedule looking a little lacklustre? Has your date night inspiration dried up? Have you exhausted all avenues of what do to in London? We've compiled a list of the ultimate things to do in the city that are guaranteed to make you fall in love with London again.

RELATED: 25 best outdoor bars and restaurants to visit in London

Whether you're into fine dining with a view of London's skyline, or visiting the UK's first floating cinema is more up your street - we have got you covered.

Read on to discover the very best things to do in London for every budget, tried and tested by HELLO!'s writers...

 

Best budget activities to do in London this May

Enjoy a picnic, Primrose Hill

primrose-hill-picnic

Enjoy a picnic on Primrose Hill and get the very best views of the city. Stay until sunset for some glorious alfresco views or brave the early morning to get there as the sun rises over the hill.

Your picnic – your rules. Set your own social distancing agenda and stick to your personal picnic blanket if you're wary of busy spaces. Plus, you get the added benefit of enjoying your own delicious food without having to worry about queues or long wait times.

MORE: Royal picnics! The best photos of Duchess Kate, The Queen & more dining alfresco

Emirates Air Line Cable Cars, Greenwich

greenwhich-cable-cars

Who would have thought we would be adding a TfL service to our ultimate guide for things to do in London? But trust us, this one is worth the trip *pun intended*.

Enjoy beautiful views of the Thames, London's skyline, the Greenwich Peninsula, the Royal Docks and The O2 on the Emirates Air Line Cable Cars. Available every 10 minutes, with hitching a ride as simple as tapping your Oyster Card – this skyline adventure is the perfect way to see London's skyline for a price that won't cost you your staycation fund.

Better yet, to enable social distancing only one passenger is allowed per cabin unless a household or group is travelling together. Sounds romantic if you ask me.

For more information, visit emiratesairline.co.uk

Visit The Queen's gardens, Buckingham Palace

buckingham-palace-gardens

Buckingham Palace’s 39-acre garden makes for the perfect royal-inspired day trip. For over 200 years the garden has been used by the Royal Family for official entertaining and celebratory events.

REVEALED: The Queen's garden is full of unknown references – and you'll be stunned

Now is your chance to picnic like the Queen at Buckingham Palace Garden. Open for just a few months, enjoy exclusive access this summer and experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to picnic with views of the Palace. Tickets start at just £9 for children aged 5-16, a royal bargain!

For more information, visit www.rct.uk

Comedy night at Bussey Rooftop

bridget-christie

There are still some tickets left to see Bridget Christie perform stand-up at Peckham's Bussey Building rooftop. With a year we've had, we could all do with a laugh so why not venture down to south London where you'll be guaranteed a night of lols, some delicious cocktails to sip on, mouthwatering pizzas from Share a Slice plus a stellar view to watch the sun go down. Tickets are priced at £16.50 each.

Book tickets at seetickets.com

Free Margarita at The Little Orange Door

margarita-little-yellow-door

To celebrate the second May Bank holiday and the return of hospitality, South London's late night bar and restaurant The Little Orange Door have teamed up with Cointreau and Goya Tequila to offer guests 100 Free Frozen Cointreau Margaritas on Sunday 30th May. With 100 frozen Cointreau Margaritas to giveaway, those lucky (and speedy enough) to visit the flatmates at The Little Orange Door will be able to claim their Frozen Margarita on the house. Guests simply need to quote 'Cointreau Margarita for me’ when collecting their Margarita slushie to go, and head to Clapham Common to celebrate the start of summer 2021 with a free cocktail in hand. Yum!

Best activities to do with kids in London this May

Visit CloudTwelve, Notting Hill

cloud-twelve-notting-hill

Kids have missed out on so much during the pandemic but now that restrictions are easing, many amazing adventures await our little ones – and we have a magical place they should head to first - CloudTwelve.

The Notting Hill-based company offers an amazing Kids Club set within a magical forest. The playground entertains, challenges the mind and stimulates the imaginations of the little ones.

And the best bit? After months of home-schooling and endless hours at home, parents can watch and relax in their comfortable lounge, while their team of experienced assistants take care of the children with a host of fun activities.

To discover more about memberships, visit cloudtwelve.com

Best alternative activities to do in London this May

GoBoat, Paddington

goboat-london

Ahoy there! GoBoat is the fun self-drive boating experience that takes you all along London's stunning Regent's Canal. Bring your own picnic and cruise along the river for up to three hours.

This family-friendly boating experience is the perfect way to see some of London's best sights – you'll even sail past London Zoo and catch a glimpse of some animals if you're lucky. Hire a boat at sunset for the ultimate date night trip, or enjoy a floating picnic with friends. Dogs are welcome aboard too!

From 17 May onwards up to 8 people can climb aboard, so decide on your Captain and get booking.

To book, visit goboat.co.uk

Picnic Popup, Hackney

heaps-stacks-picnic-popup-may

This bank holiday, experimental and environmental creators, Heaps + Stacks will be popping up at Love Blooms in Hackney for ’The Picnic Project’, a fully sustainable and environmentally friendly rentable ‘picnicscape’ for customers to level up their alfresco dining experience. Guests will be provided with an exclusive hamper, carefully curated by the design studio to include deluxe blankets, napkins, upcycled cups made from glass bottles, candles and complete with a Love Blooms dried floral bouquet for the ultimate Instagram shot. For those looking for a bite to eat over the long weekend, incredibly indulgent picnic food will be available via Pique, the gourmet picnic pros. All collaborators on the project are female-owned with all funds raised going towards The Young Women’s Trust - what's not to love?

Pets Yoga, London

pet-yoga-london

Ah, London. Nothing captures the quirkiness of this city quite like a yoga class with pets. That's right, you can now book a yoga-come-cuddle class that aims to combine the relaxation virtues of yoga with cuddling pets!

So many of us that live in flats without gardens long for the emotional support of a four-legged friend. If you're on the hunt for the ultimate relaxation experience and a chance to pet a pooch, we've found just the place.

For more information, visit petsyoga.com

Floating Cinema, Merchant Square

open-air-cinema-london

After making a splash last year, the UK’s first and only floating cinema by Häagen-Dazs is set to return to Merchant Square this summer, so you can live out your Grease drive-thru movie fantasy, with a twist.

Guests will ditch the cars and instead take a relaxing meander along the Regent’s canal and through Little Venice in an eco-boat, before mooring in front of Merchant Square's big screen. Waterside deckchairs will also be available so you can sit back and watch your favourite movies in comfort. Guests will be able to order their favourite Häagen-Dazs ice cream along with a selection of food and drink from artisan pasta chef RaviOllie by scanning a QR code, with their order being delivered straight to their boat or deckchair.

To book, visit openaire.co.uk

Rooftop and Drive-in Film Club, London

drive-in-film-club

With cinemas set to reopen on 17th May, you'd be tempted to hop right back into your nearest screen to catch the latest film. However, why not enjoy one of the classics in the great outdoors at the Drive-In Film Club?

With locations at Sandown Racecourse, Alexandra Palace and Brent Cross, simply book online, park up and experience everything from 80s favourites through to modern blockbusters, all from the comfort of your car. With your own private speaker to hear the film's audio given to you upon entry and food and drink delivered straight to your car, what's not to love?

For the non-drivers and those based in the Big Smoke, there's also the option of catching a film from one of London's most buzzy rooftops - Roof East in Stratford and Bussey Building in Peckham. As the sun sets on the city's iconic skyline, get comfy on your lounger and enjoy films such as Notting Hill, The Greatest Showman and Dirty Dancing.

For more information, visit rooftopfilmclub.com

Immerse yourself in some action 

samsung

Racing fans can now discover a full-motion driving simulator exclusively at the Samsung KX experience space in Coal Drops Yard. The combination of AXSIM’s Formula Simulator paired with The Wall Biz, the 1.2m pixel new luxury and super-sized bespoke Samsung display, delivers an unbeatable esports experience. 

For more information, visit samsung.com

Travel to Thorpe Park

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Not quite London – but just a 30-minute train ride away, head to Thorpe Park. The place is truly an island like no other and a must-visit for those looking to embark on an exhilarating adventure with friends and family.

Book with confidence and enjoy a change of scenery with your family in one of our popular self-contained Cabins, conveniently located right on THORPE PARK Resort so you're always just a stone's throw away from the thrills. Overnight stays in the Shark Cabins also include two-day theme park entry, complimentary parking and Wi-Fi.

From 21st May, guests will also get absorbed by the UK’s first Black Mirror experience the park launches the hotly anticipated Black Mirror Labyrinth. This twisted, sensory-defying maze puts you at the core of the Black Mirror universe and it wants to keep you there…

To book tickets, visit thorpepark.com

San Miguel's River Terrace, Somerset House

san-miguel-terrace

If there's nothing we love more at HELLO!, it's a London pop up. Holidays abroad might be off the cards for now, but you're in luck. San Miguel has teamed up with Somerset House to offer Londoners a little taste of Spain at its River Terrace Bar - a perfect retreat to escape to and imagine you’re on the Spanish Isle itself!

The sheltered and heated open-air bar will bring a lively, warm and inviting atmosphere to the alfresco River Terrace at Somerset House. With its riverside location, views across the London skyline and a jam-packed schedule of inspiring culture to discover around the rest of Somerset House, thisexperience at Somerset House is not one to be missed.

To book, visit somersethouse.org.uk

Book a class at FLOW LDN

flow-ldn

Who said you had to be wined and dined to have a good time? If you're looking for a serious booty burn and a class that will get your blood pumping, the newly launched FLOW LDN studios in Fitzrovia are the place to go if you want to get your sweat on.

Find your flow at just £10 a class and enjoy reformer pliates, bootycamp, barre classes and more. 

To book, visit flowldn.co.uk

Best luxury activities to do in London this May

Enjoy a five-star brunch at Eastway Brasserie

Eastway-Brunch-bottomless

Available every Saturday, Eastway’s new brunch is the perfect way to start your morning. Situated in the heart of London's trendy Shoreditch, the brasserie is part of the luxe five-star hotel Andaz London Liverpool Street. 

With a delicious brunch menu in the heart of the vibrant East London community, diners can also diners can enjoy a selection of bottomless drink options, including prosecco, classic mimosas, wine, soft or hot drinks.

To book, visit eastwaybrasserie.com

Afternoon Tea at Taj 51, Buckingham Gate

Alices-Queen-of-Hearts-Detail

Calling all Alice in Wonderland fans out there - this afternoon tea is for you! Dine like the Queen at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate - just a stone's throw away from Buckingham Palace. Enjoy the ultimate luxurious sweet treats and indulge in the decadent 'Alice's Queen Of Hearts' spread.

No afternoon tea is complete without scones - with chocolate, sultana and plain all on the menu. Sandwiches range from cucumber and cream cheese on beetroot bread to chicken and sultana on carrot bread - and there is also a complete vegetarian and vegan menu on request.

To find out more, visit buyagift.co.uk

SEE: The best afternoon tea venues in London you need to book now for summer

View from the Shard, London Bridge

view-from-the-shard-london

With an offer combining incomparable views of the capital and three exquisite courses of top quality cuisine, this experience certainly won’t be a Shard-knock life for you.

Enjoy London's spectacular skyline at The View from The Shard, with three-course dining at Marco Pierre White’s London Steakhouse Co. and a cocktail each. This unforgettable experience is currently on offer for less that £100 – don't miss it!

To book, visit wowcher.co.uk

Champagne rooftop experience

perrier-jouet-terrace

This summer, Perrier-Jouët Champagne and the AllBright Members Club, created by women for women, are launching an exclusive summer garden experience. A French-inspired dining escapade called the 'Wild Jardin' is opening on Maddox Street townhouse's rooftop, which boasts amazing views across London. The secluded oasis will be adorned with bright wisteria and delicate floral displays including the signature Perrier-Jouët white Anemone. The Perrier-Jouët Wild Jardin at AllBright will launch on 20 May and be open daily Monday through to Friday, until the end of August.

Book a table at allbrightcollective.com

Sip on Aperol in style

deckchair

Fighting the holiday blues? The Refinery Bankside has a picture-perfect terrace that could seriously convince you that you were in fact on holiday. Summertime and Aperol go hand in hand right? So relax on a deck chair with an Aperol Tree and unwind! We’d seriously recommend the brownies too!

To book, visit therefinery

Sip George Clooney-approved cocktails

botanist-pizza-on-the-square

Nothing says summer in the city quite like a pop-up bar, and the bustling Pizza on The Square from The Botanist does not disappoint. Fine days in Sloane Square are made even better by woodfired pizzas and punchy drinks. Don't leave without trying a George Clooney-approved tequila cocktail by his own brand, Casamigos. When the sun shines in the city, this is the best place for a faux holiday feel!

To make a reservation, visit thebotanistonsloanesquare.com

MORE: 8 idyllic holiday destinations you won't believe are in the UK

Best foodie activities to do in London this May

Indulge in steak night at M Restaurant

m-steak

If you've been craving a beautiful cut of steak in lockdown, then you'll want to head down to M Restaurant, based in Victoria and the City. Both branches have an outdoor terrace but will be opening their doors to their stunning interior spaces from 17 May in accordance with government guidelines, so get booking fast. The luxury restaurant is also offering a special deal, open to anyone who has spent a birthday in lockdown. If you're in your twenties, you are entitled to 20 per cent off the whole food bill, people in their thirties receive 30 per cent off and so on; simply quote The Lost Year campaign when booking. The offer is bookable in both M restaurants from 17 May, as well as across their sister group, Gaucho. For those who've never indulged in an M Restaurant steak, take it from us - it's like dining on a slice of heaven.

To book, visit mrestaurants.co.uk

Hit up this new tapas restaurant

tapas-room-peckham

Love tapas? Then make a beeline for The Tapas Room in Peckham, which has just opened this month. Part wine bar, part deli, part amazing tapas restaurant, the eatery - which already has sites across Deptford, Brixton, Battersea and Tooting - is the place to go for delicious Spanish-inspired sharing plates. From the classic chorizo, jamon, Padron peppers, and king prawns in garlic oil, to the more unexpected confit fennel, duck breast with pickled pear, and tenderstem broccoli with piquillo pepper, it'll be hard not to order everything on the menu. 

Make a booking at thetapasroom.co.uk

Kick back with some good music and great food

pop-brixton

From Friday, South London's leading cultural space, Pop Brixton, will be hosting a free DJ night with resident radio station Reprezent. From 1900 - 23:30, four of the station's best young DJs will be playing sets - SHAY B2B NICKY SUMMERZ | AMIKA B2B KAYLEE. The event marks a welcome return for Pop Brixton, which has reopened following a five month hiatus and a seasonal revamp. As well as colourful murals from local artists and a new garden dining area, the space has welcomed four new food traders - Whisht, Dough Thyme, Singhé Kitchen, Only Food And Courses).

For more information, visit popbrixton.org

Indulge in delicious Greek food at Souvlaki Street

souvalaki

If you're on the hunt for your next Greek food fix, Souvlaki Street at Pop Brixton serve delicious Greek souvlakis. Using the very best quality, flavourful ingredients, Souvlaki Street’s traditional Grecian wraps source ingredients locally such as the meat from Flock & Herd butchers in Peckham. Provincial ingredients come from Greece, like the pita bread which is handmade in Athens - it doesn't get much fresher than this. 

For more information, visit souvlakistreet.co.uk

Enjoy a Krispy Kreme

krispy-kreme

This starts from 10th May and is running all week! Krispy Kreme wants customers to share a message of connection (social media post, photo message or even a hand-written note) that you have received from someone with #SmilesAsCurrency written on and claim a free Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut - so everyone can celebrate the easing out of lockdown on 17 May.

For more information, visit krispykreme.co.uk

Enjoy the seasonal summer menu at Wahaca

wahaca

Packed with all the flavours of a Mexican summer, Wahaca's new summer menu has just launched - and you have to try it. Taking inspiration from the freshness and vibrancy of Mexican street food and with a menu that’s now over 50% veggie,
there are brand new dishes as well as summery new takes on existing favourites. Nachos, anyone?

To book, visit wahaca.co.uk

Go for fusion cuisine at Fatt Pundit

fatt-pundit

If you haven't been to Fatt Pundit yet, trust us – you're missing out! The casual Soho eatery is one of those places where everything on the menu looks so good you don't know where to start, and you can take our word for it, it's all delicious. Originating from Kolkata, the menu incorporates traditional Chinese cooking techniques with the spices of India, so if you're a fan of either cuisines, you're in for a treat.

The momos (steamed dumplings) are an absolute must to start, in particular the goat and garam masala dumplings, followed by the crackling spinach drizzled with yoghurt, pomegranate, and date and plum sauce. The vegan Bombay chilli mock chicken is a fantastic, finger-licking good vegan option, while the charred lamb chops rubbed with masala, and the rib eye beef strips smothered with red chillies are a meat lover's dream. There's also a monkfish curry, shredded venison and Kolkata duck on the menu, as well as an abundance of rice and noodle dishes for your sides.

Whatever you order, you can't get it wrong, although the staff are very good at pointing out their understated, best-selling dishes. Oh and if you're wondering about the name, it's a combination of the common Chinese surname Fatt with the Indian word Pundit (a scholar).

To book a table, visit fattpundit.co.uk

Dine in style at Pali Hill

pali-hill

Following a halting start, Pali Hill has opened its doors and is welcoming diners back to feast on dishes inspired by India's diverse culinary heritage, in the heart of Fitzrovia. Bringing together the regional flavours of Mumbai's vast culinary communities, Head Chef Avinash Shashidhara has created a spring menu featuring Mangalore Bun, Papadi Chat, Chettinad-style veal shin and a traditional Saag paneer.

To book a table, visit palihill.co.uk

Book a table at Between The Bridges

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Located on London's Southbank, this foodie haven will be open for both walk-ins and event bookings across 4,000 beautiful sq ft lined with street-food, music, and a programme of infinite fun. Food stalls will include festival favourites, Club Mexicana,  the Latin-inspired El Pollote, prime-cut specialists Burger and Beyond, instagram-ready The Cheese Wheel, barbecued jackfruit from Club Mexicana and many more exciting options across the entire duration. Entry is free apart from on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5pm when entry is £5.

Book a table along with activities, here betweenthebridges.co.uk

Cocktails in the City’s Summer Series

Cocktails

Back for a series of summer parties – with three weekends, three themes, live entertainment, London’s top bars and more cocktails than ever before! Cocktails in the City will be returning to London once again ready to celebrate the reopening of London’s world-class bar scene. The popular drinks festival will be expanding its annual cocktail festival into a summerlong series, running one weekend per month throughout the summer, in London’s largest private Georgian Gardens.

To book for June, visit: cocktailsinthecity

Enjoy the bustling vibes of Yauatcha City

yuatacha

With terrace dining stretching all the way around Broadgate Circle, tuck into some dim sum, noodles and, our personal favourite, the Mongolian lamb clay pot, while dining at their gorgeous Chinese restaurant. Don't forget the try a cocktail, with the Rose Fortune with peach being a particularly tasty choice!

To book, visit yauatcha.com/city

Take in the views at Madisons

Madison-t

If you're not quite ready to go indoors yet, you couldn't do much better than a trip to Madison's rooftop terrace for drinks and dinner. Not only is the outdoor area well covered with plenty of toasty space heaters, it also boasts of some of the best views in the city. So pop on your best outfit and enjoy the resuming your social life at this vibing eatery.

To book, visit madisonlondon.net

Cook with a Michelin-starred chef

paella

Enjoy a virtual cook-along session with multi-Michelin-starred Spanish chef, Quique Dacosta, next Thursday 13 May at 6pm. Quique and his head chef, Richard de la Cruz, will teach you how to make a proper paella with a British twist, using sustainably sourced UK produce. The ticket price of £98 includes all the ingredients (everything serves two, delivered nationwide), including premium pork belly from Berkshire, the all-important handmade stock, sofrito oil, a paella pan, traditional serving spoon and more. A bottle of English white wine from Sussex's Bolney Estate - a great match for the juicy pork dish - is included in the price – or you can tune in for free if you're interested in watching the tutorial.

Order before Sunday 9 May at eventbrite.co.uk

The Ivy Soho, Summer Of Love

summeroflove

The Ivy Soho Brasserie will reopen for indoor dining from 17 May, and in celebration the restaurant has launched a ‘Soho Summer of Love’ campaign which will see a series of entertainment play throughout the summer season. The Ivy are celebrating good times ahead, with a new and refreshing cocktail menu and brand new seasonal dishes. Whether its weekend brunches, lazy lunches or drinks with the girls, they've got you covered. With DJ sets playing 1960s inspired beats and 60s inspired cocktails, what better place to celebrate the lifting of lockdown?

To book, visit: theivysoho

Enjoy a fusion menu at Tokyo Pizza, Little Venice

tokyo-pizza

Calling all foodies! London's most hyped Fusion restaurant newly launched in West London's Little Venice is ready to take bookings from 17 May. Tokyo Pizza has just 38 indoor seats and an open set for live music, set to provide an intimate yet relaxed dining experience with soul.

Serving an eclectic menu of fusion inspired puffy-crust pizzas, traditional Japanese side dishes and a tempting list of contemporary sake cocktails, if you're a sucker for sensational food don't miss out on booking at this exciting spot.

In the spirit of Tokyo, signature dishes include wagyu, lobster and Japanese mushroom pizza, salmon mochi and Mochi nin’niku, a world-exclusive garlic bread, made with mochi and glazed in spicy mayo.

To book, visit tokyo-pizza.co.uk

Disco Isn't Dead Bottomless Brunch

waffle

Grab your five favourite groupies and boogie on down to Devonshire Terrace for its Disco Brunch – running every Saturday from 29th May. With tables available to book from 12pm-4pm,outdoors on the covered terrace and inside, expect smoke machines, disco balls, throwback tunes and plenty of glitter! Enjoy 90 minutes of bottomless cocktails and fizz as well as your choice of brunch dish: avocado with poached eggs, crispy duck salad, or buttermilk chicken waffles - yum!

To book, visit: devonshireterrace

Discover an al fresco haven

hawks-nest

Emerge from Goldhawk Road tube station and you could easily miss the entrance to The Hawk's Nest in Shepherd's Bush. With festoon lights and foliage galore, the atmosphere at this secret city haven is top notch and the food and drink is even better. Punchy cocktails and soughdough pizzas are always a great combo, right?

To book visit: the-hawks-nest.co.uk

Enjoy a boozy brunch with a live music

wardour-street

Bottomless brunch is back with a bang at 11 Wardour St! The legendary Soho venue is raring to go with indoor bookings from 17 May, as a jam-packed summer of live music awaits.

Pop the bubbly and polish your playlist at the 100 Wardour St Jukebox Brunch, taking place every week on Saturdays and Sundays. If you're into live music, this is the place for you. Tuck into brunch classics like eggs benedict and avocado on toast to enjoy an eclectic, fizz-fueled afternoon!

To find a table, visit 100wardourst.com

Focus on the drinks as much as the food at The Distillery Bankside

the-distillery

If you're looking for a restaurant where the focus is as much on the drinks as the food, then The Distillery Bankside is just the ticket. Located within the Hilton London Bankside hotel, the restaurant is on the former site of 19th century Stevenson & Howell's Fragrance Factory and pays homage to its heritage by serving cocktails using aromatics, infusions, bitters and syrups. There's also a whole section dedicated to gins from around the world including vintage tipples. As for the food, you can opt for sharing platters and flatbreads, with the Spanish ham, figs and toasted walnuts a favourite. There's a selection of classic, crowd-pleasing dishes from the delicious and healthy grilled seabass with asparagus and warm potato salad, to the sirloin steak served with French fires and chimichurri sauce. The naughty 'Foxy fries', which are slathered with melted cheese and sweet and sour pork belly chunks, are another must-try.

To book a table, visit thedistillerybankside.co.uk

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