Many of us have become accustomed to having air conditioning when travelling so it can be concerning when you start reading that most of London does not have air-conditioning available.
Let’s get to the important question, do you need air-conditioning in London? No, you don’t, unless London is experiencing a heatwave. The temperature during summer is an enjoyable mid 20’s (70°F) during the day and mid 10’s (55°F) in the evening. Most British housing will not have air-conditioning and will opt for heating instead.
Along with British houses don’t expect air-conditioning when you walk into cafes, pubs and restaurants. It’s always a surprise when a place does have air conditioning with the exception of shops and workplaces.
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If you do need air-conditioning then you will need to research your hotels well. It will be harder to find Airbnbs for the above reasons and hostels that are equipped with this facility.
London Temperatures During Summer
London is generally in (the) mid-20s (70°F) as you can see in the table below but low 30s (86°F) isn’t unheard of. When London does get hot it can get stuffy and a bit humid).
21°C / 13°C or 70°F/ 55°F
23°C / 15°C or 73°F / 59°F
23°C / 15°C or 73°F / 59°F
In 2018 London and the UK had a massive heatwave with temperatures over 30°C / 86°F that lasted for quite a few weeks. An unusual event for the UK – where the grassed died in parks, Londoners melted from the heat, shops sold out of fans and trains struggled to run.
As an Australian I don’t find these heatwaves too bad, I actually quite enjoy them! It’s a nice break from the normal drizzly days. If you are from a cold country or used to air-conditioning then this weather could be a challenge for you.
How To Survive A Heatwave In London
Found yourself in a London heatwave? I’ve got some practical tips as well as fun activities to make the most of summer!
Let’s Start with the Practical Tips!
Fans Are Your Saviour
Get a little fan to take around with you, like those ones you get in Asia or a little electronic one.
Ask your hotel for a fan if they don’t have air conditioning. In my experience hotels will have these available.
During a heatwave you will have constant messages from the London Underground reminding you to carry water. The messages can get pretty annoying but when you are stuck at a red signal dying from the heat you will be thankful. Some of those lines can get pretty hot!
Lately, I have noticed a rise in water fountains available at National Rail stations which is great for refilling your bottles. At main attractions, there is (are) generally water fountains too!
Avoid Public Transport at Rush Hour
The tube can be almost unbearable in the summertime. The central line has been recorded to have a temperature of 40°C (104°F) with no air-conditioning or ways to cool the train down it can be unbearable. Then when you mix the heat with rush hour you get lots of hot sweaty people! Imagine the fun of summer rush hour is. It’s a major complaint amongst Londoners. P.s. Air conditioning varies on the public transport you are taking so sometimes you luck out but most times there will be none. It will change on some lines when they finally roll-out the new trains.
Look for other alternatives like buses or travelling in non-peak times. Sometimes I will head out for a drink until the peak hour has died down a little.
Invest in a Mist Spray
The adult version of running in the sprinklers! Facial mist spray! It is great for when you are overheating and need something to cool you down.
Fun Activities to Stay Cool in London Summer!
London has lidos located around the city which are ideal for cooling down during the heat. It’s a popular way to cool down so during peak times you’ll have to queue to get your cold-water fix.
Here are a few lidos in London:
- Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds – Hampstead Heath
- Oasis Sports Centre – Covent Garden
- Tooting Bec Lido – Streatham Park
- London Fields Lido – Hackney
- Serpentine Lido – Knightsbridge
- Brockwell Lido – Herne Hill
Have a Picnic
Londoners love having a picnic and head to the park when it’s warm. At any chance during summer I will grab my dinner, picnic blanket and head to the park to catch the sun, light and fresh air. Some recommendations:
Most popular with tourists, it’s a London attraction in itself and close to other London Landmarks so great if you are a tourist and only have a short time to explore.
Amazing view of the city while you enjoy a drink or some cheese, yes please! The hill is perfectly located to give you views of the London skyline.
The best thing about Richmond park is the deer! Instead of people watch you can deer watch while enjoying your lovely picnic.
Crystal Palace was once a holiday destination for Londoners and was home to the famous Crystal Palace until it burnt down. You’ll discover the foundations of the Crystal Palace, the first illustrated statue version of dinosaurs, a maze, a local farm plus the kids can interact with the animals and lots of park space for a picnic.
Enjoy a Drink at a Rooftop Bar
All the advice says to avoid alcohol when it’s too hot! Boo, frozen cocktails on a rooftop is a magical way to cool down in my opinion.
A few recommendations:
- Bussy and Franks – Slightly outside of the tourist area (still in zone 2) these two rooftop bars give amazing views of London
- Queen of Hoxton – Located in Shoreditch, this bar is transformed twice-yearly into some cool themes.
- Skylight London – A new addition to the rooftop bars in London. In summer it’s an urban lawn club with Croquet, Pétanque and Street Food.
- Bar Elba – Has a happy hour every day until 6 pm and then from Sunday to Thursday from 9 pm to 11 pm.
Enjoy a Cold Beer in a Beer Garden
Green space can be hard to come by in some areas of London so the next place we flock to is pubs with beer gardens or riverside pubs. Sitting in a lovely garden enjoying a cold beer to cool down is the best way to enjoy the summer.
Pub with beer gardens:
- Canonbury – Canonbury
- Alwyne Castle – Canonbury
- The Albion – Barnsbury
- Earl of Essex – Islington
- The Edinboro Castle – Camden
- Magic Garden – Battersea
- The Ship – Wandsworth
- The Half Moon – Herne Hill
- The Duke of Edinburgh – Brixton
- The Faltering Fullback – Finsbury Park
- The Sun – Camberwell
- The Rose Pub and Kitchen – New Cross
- The Windsor Castle – Kensington
- Crate Brewery – Hackney Wick
- Cutty Sark Tavern – Greenwich
- The Lighterman, King’s Cross – King’s Cross
- Lockside Lounge – Camden
- Mason & Company – Hackney Wick
- The Narrowboat – Hoxton
Find the Best Ice-cream
London is a foodie’s destination and there is nothing better than enjoying a nice cold ice-cream when the weather is sweltering.
- Milk Train Cafe – Covent Garden: Most famous for its cones wrapped in fairy floss and delicious matcha ice-cream
- Udderlicious – Barnsbury: I first discovered this place when I was living in Islington and went back almost every hot day it was acceptable to eat ice-cream! The ice-cream flavour is amazing!
- Yorica – Soho: A vegan’s dream place! or anyone on a plant-based diet. It’s the first dairy, egg, nut and gluten-free ice-creamery.
Do you have any recommendations to survive the heat or any accommodation you found that has air-conditioning? Let me know in the comments below!
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Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.