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Parks, demos and markets: The international student’s checklist to summer 2020 in London

London in the summer
There are plenty of cool things to do in London without hurting your wallet. Source: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP

Put your shades on because summer is here in London. 

The country is still not over the COVID-19 pandemic. Many restrictions are still in place — social distancing is still a must and no large gatherings are allowed, with the Buckingham Palace and British Museum are still closed at the time of writing.

Despite that, there’s still plenty to see and do in London in the summer. Here are some suggestions:

Visit the best parks 

London in the summer

Cyclists stop with their bikes in the afternoon sunshine in Hyde Park, London, on May 19, 2020, following the relaxing of lockdown restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

What’s summer in London without witnessing all its green spaces in all its glory?

London is home to numerous parks. Hyde Park, for instance, covers a whopping 142 hectares and has over 4,000 trees, a large lake, a meadow and ornamental flower gardens, according to Visit London.

Swim, cycle, skate, ride a horse, or even go on the pitches for some team games. When peckish, head to the two lakeside restaurants serving coffee and three-course meals. Or bring your own picnic — we recommend doughnuts (aka pillows of joy) from St John Bakery in Bermondsey or pastries from Richoux restaurant nearby.

Other parks worth paying a visit include Richmond Park. Expect to see deers — it has 650 according to Visit London and “pastoral landscape of hills and woodlands set amongst ancient trees, with plants, animals and butterflies”.

For the best views of London, hike north to Hampstead Heath to take in Parliament Hill and Golders Hill Park from a cool distance.

Take part in a demonstration

London in the summer

Activists, some wearing face coverings or face masks as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, hold placards as they attend a Black Lives Matter protest in Trafalgar Square, central London on June 20, 2020. Source: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP

Trafalgar Square, London’s centre of national democracy and protest, frequently holds rallies and demonstrations for different political, religious and general issues. Grab a placard, meet some activists and learn more about important issues rocking UK and the world today — now that’s a productive day in London.

Once you’re done, hop over to the nearby galleries, historic buildings, cultural spaces and statues and monuments. If you’re hungry, there’s also a café on the square for a convenient pick-me-up.

Explore London’s markets 

You don’t need to be a big spender to shop in London. While some popular places such as the Southbank Centre Book Market and Food Market are currently closed, there are still plenty of other options to choose from.

Brick Lane Market, for instance, has shops and restaurants to keep you occupied. You can find some gems on Sundays from the second-hand wares on offer. A bit of digging and you could end up with some good bargains.

Check out the street performers and murals too, which are constantly changing.

For more shops, cafés and restaurants, explore Broadway Market. For gourmet street food and bars, Maltby Street Market has plenty.

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