We might not be a city next to the sea, looking at you Barcelona, but we do still have beaches and with the heatwave set to continue we need to make the most of what London can offer, so we’ve rounded up eight of London’s beaches to visit from Briton to Ruislip.
What: The UK’s Largest Urban Beach
Why: Taking the crown for the UK’s largest urban beach, the Olympic Park has extended the long jump pit (not really) to make a 2,200sq metre beach – that’s 1000 tonnes of sand. Open from 10am-10pm daily, the area features a funfair, beach volleyball courts, giant deckchairs and, the best bit, beach bars. If sunbathing gets a little boring, why not get tickets to the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide nearby.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Straford, E20 2ST
What: Brixton Village Has A Beach
Why: In the depths of Brixton Market you’ll find the entrance to Brixton Beach. Up some unassuming steps you’ll find the huge space, which spans the rooftops of the market. Expect a day party vibe with palm trees, tropical cocktails, DJs and street food served from 4 pastel coloured shacks; hake tacos, mac n cheese, chips and a range of toppings and buttermilk fried chicken burgers. Entry is free if you get there before the rush – check the website for exact details, and watch out for Morning Gloryville’s morning raves, which take place here on an ad-hoc basis.
Where: Popes Road, Brixton, SW9 8JH
What: A Full Day Out
Why: For a full day out, Ruislip Lido is hard to beat. Half an hour on the Metropolitan or Piccadilly Lines and you’ll find yourself at the edge of a 60-acre lake, with a sandy beach worthy of any British seaside. Although BBQs aren’t allowed, why not pack a picnic or head to one of the cafes or pubs nearby when sunbathing takes its toll. Swimming isn’t allowed in the lake but when the sun is shining, it means you can concentrate on your tan from the shore.
Where: Reservoir Road, Ruislip, HA4 7TY
What: Thameside BYOB
Why: This playful urban beach in Fulham finds a good balance between fun and functional. There’s swings (because you’re never too old) next to free-to-use deckchairs, and sweeping Thamesside views from this patch of Fulham bank. On the functional side, a swathe of street food favourites are on rotation, as well as party cocktails. For £10, you can upgrade to an area with exclusive beach-side huts and things called ‘party beds’ if you’re taking things up a notch…
Where: Wandsworth Bridge Road, SW6 2TY
The Beach Bar
What: The Bahamas In Bloomsbury
Why: In the heart of Bloomsbury, this is London’s most centrally-located urban beach, although you wouldn’t know it by their Bahamian theme. In practice, you can expect BBQ cooking, featuring luxurious interpretations of Bajan food, which is essentially plenty of fish, served with sweet and spiced glazes. Alongside the food there’s tropical cocktails, served from a real sandy beach, and there’s beach huts with thatched roofs for added escapism.
Where: 15 Montague Street, Bloomsbury, WC1B 5BJ
The Beach at Brent Cross
What: Our Family Friendly Pick
Why: Avoid if you’re after tranquility – this beach in Brent Cross has all the bells and whistles of a summer fair. But if hobnobbing with other sun loungers is your bag, this beach is likely to appeal for its abundant list of things to do. There’s cinema screenings, water rides, fairground rides and a diverse range of food options, although we’d stay classic with something from the on-beach fish ‘n’ chip stall. That said, you might be in luck if you’re after a quiet corner: there’s hundreds of tonnes of sand here, probably more than any other beach in London.
Where: Prince Charles Drive, NW4 3FP
What: A Hampstead Ponds Alternative
Why: A range of events are scheduled for July and August at this free-to-enter urban beach. They include the Mad Hatter’s Summer Beach Party, and a Zest Beach Cocktail Special, but don’t miss a low-key visit either, because artisanal food and beach-style cocktails are available daily. The beach is within the Jewish Community Centre London, who sometimes hold ad-hoc private events, so it’s worth checking the website ahead of time. Our pick is Thursdays, because between 5 and 8pm there’s 2-4-1 on cocktails, and more of a beach party vibe, with a party playlist.
Where: Jewish Community Centre, 341-351 Finchley Road, NW3 6ET
Big Screen on the Beach
What: Film Screenings On The Beach In Camden
Why: Camden’s Roundhouse may be more famous for sweaty gigs than film screenings, but that’s all to change this summer as the Camden Beach returns with a twist. The venue are collaborating with Big Beach Screen Events to screen classic films, as well as cults and future classics while you recline in your deckchair on the sand. Before the movie starts, there’s a Beach Bar selling comfort food, and all the requisite beach-style cocktails.
Where: Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8EH