Things to do in London during lockdown

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  • There are still lots of things to do in London during lockdown that are safe and open under current restrictions.

    Museums and galleries aren’t open just yet under the government’s roadmap out of lockdown but London’s plethora of parks, playgrounds and other exciting outdoor spaces certainly are.

    From taking a ride through Hyde Park to visiting the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, these are our top ideas for a staying local and having a Covid-safe day out in London.

    Visit Kew Gardens

    Only 30 minutes from Central London, Kew Gardens is an impressive array of botanical gardens with plants from all around the world. With their huge palm house, sprawling gardens around the pond, kids’ outdoor play area and tree top walk, there’s truly something for everyone.

    Kew Gardens is open during lockdown, with their café serving takeaway coffee and food. The glasshouses, galleries and shops are currently closed under coronavirus restrictions though.

    The Palm House at Kew Gardens, one of the things to do in London during lockdown

    Credit: Getty

    Opening times: 10am to 7pm (last entry 6pm), seven days a week. 10am to 8pm on weekends and bank holidays.

    How to book: Entry to Kew Gardens is via advance booking only, so be sure to book your ticket online.

    Play around at Diana, Princess Of Wales Memorial Playground

    Open throughout the lockdown and pirate-themed – what more could you ask for? This stellar playground sits in Kensington Gardens, close to Hyde Park, and the whole set-up is inspired by the book Peter Pan. There’s a Captain Hook wooden pirate ship, big enough for everyone to play on, plus loads of other climbing frames and apparatus.

    Adults can even take a seat and enjoy something from the Broad Walk Café’s menu while they wait, with stone baked pizzas coming out fresh every day.

    Opening times: Between 10am and 7.45pm, depending on the season. Visit the website for more details.

    How to book: No need to book a spot in this playground, with a capacity for 150 people.

    Go to London Zoo

    Opening on April 12, London Zoo is one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions – and for good reason. Pick from the pink, orange or blue route and get to know some of the thousands of animals that live here, from Asiatic lions to two-toed sloths.

    Giraffes at London Zoo, one of the things to do during lockdown

    Credit: Getty

    Along with the enclosures, there’s also playgrounds for the kids to run around in and keeper experiences to get involved with, where they can follow a zoo keeper around for the day and help them feed the animals.

    Opening times: 10am to 6pm, seven days a week.

    How to book: Visit the London Zoo website to book tickets.

    Take a trip down the Thames on an Uber Boat

    For the sights of London by water, even in lockdown, the Uber Boat is the one to go for. With 23 piers along the river between Woolwich (Royal Arsenal) Pier in East London and Putney Pier in West London, this Thames Clippers service hits most of the major landmarks around the city.

    Opening times: Services run from early in the morning until late at night, 7 days a week. Consult the timetable for specific times.

    The Uber Boat on the Thames

    Credit: Getty

    How to book: Pay-as-you-go on the Uber Boat by Oyster card, via the app or purchase tickets in advance on the website.

    Go Ape at Alexandra Palace

    There are three types of adventures to be had at Go Ape Alexandra Palace: Treetop Challenge, Treetop Adventure and Treetop Adventure Plus. All come with breathtaking views of the London skyline as you navigate your way through the lofty heights and climbs on the course.

    While we reckon adults will certainly want to get involved in this too, one adult is required by the centre to supervise up to two children under the age of six while on the course. Suitable for all those over 1 metre tall with a maximum weight of 130kg.

    Opening times: Now operating again after lockdown, Go Ape Alexandra Palace is open from 9am to 4am.

    How to book: Slots for the spring are available to book now, via the website.

    Visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich

    Home of the historic Meridian Line, the Royal Observatory is a great day out for anyone in London.

    Along with exploring the origins of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and how this location came to be the “home of time”, there’s also the chance to gaze at the stars in one of the planetarium shows and take in amazing panoramic views of the city.

    With a day pass to Royal Museums Greenwich, you can also explore the Cutty Sark, a historic sailing ship, and other museums in the local area.

    Opening times: The Royal Observatory opens again from May 17, from 10am to 5pm.

    How to book: Advance booking is required to visit any of the Royal Museums Greenwich locations, via their website.

    Look for the deer in Bushy Park

    Linked to Hampton Court Palace by the Longford River and famous for being the hunting ground of King Henry VIII, Bushy Park is a great day out for anyone looking to get out of central London.

    Fallow deer seen at Bushy Park in London

    Credit: Getty

    It’s also home to herds of red and fallow deer, which you can spot from a distance if you’ve got a keen eye.

    Opening times: Gates to Bushy Park are open 24 hours, except during the deer cull season (September and November) when pedestrian gates open at 8:00am and close at dusk, Monday – Friday.

    How to book: Bushy Park is free to enter and no booking is required.

    Pick up some lunch at Borough Market

    With over 1000 years of history associated with it, Borough Market is one of London’s oldest sites. And while you won’t find anything there that’s quite that old, there’s plenty of history to explore in the area – and food to eat.

    Packed with market stalls selling everything from homemade pasta and home-brewed cider Middle Eastern meze and Levantine-inspired cocktails, so it’s the perfect spot for lunch.

    Bread Ahead Bakery stall at Borough Market

    Credit: Getty

    Opening times: Open Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm. Open on Saturdays from 8am to 5pm.

    How to book: No need to book to go to Borough Market, just turn up.

    Take a ride around Hyde Park

    Hyde Park is one of the capital’s largest public spaces and ideal for a picnic as the weather gets warmer. It’s also more- or less completely flat and has designated routes around it for cyclists, making it the perfect place to go for a ride around.

    The closest tube stations to the park are Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Queensway and Marble Arch.

    Opening times: The park is open from 5am to 12am, seven days a week.

    People riding bikes in Hyde Park

    Credit: Getty

    How to book: To rent a Santander bike, there’s no need to book. Simply download the Santander Cycles app to find your nearest station and pick one up, with unlimited rides over 24 hours for just £2.

    Even if we go into more restrictions, like a circuit breaker lockdown, activities like these will still be available to do.

    Go to Battersea Park Children’s Zoo

    Tucked away in this huge south London park, alongside the play areas and picnic benches, is Battersea Park Children’s Zoo. Just big enough for a proper family day out, the zoo boasts a range of animals from monkeys and rodents to reptiles, like chameleons and tree frogs.

    After visiting the zoo, take a walk down the riverside and take in views of the Thames, fountains and go looking for the Peace Pagoda. You can also rent boats to row on the lake in the summer months.

    Opening times: The zoo opens from April 12 2021, 10am to 5pm.

    How to book: You can book tickets via the Battersea Park Children’s Zoo website, along with keeper experiences and other exciting opportunities.

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    Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace

    Between August to May, the Changing of the Guard ceremony happens on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. After that, it happens every day of the week – so it’s definitely worth checking out.

    The ceremony, where The Queen’s Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James’ Palace to the New Guard, is across three locations: Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace and Wellington Barracks. It tends to happen between 10:45 to 11:15am but it’s important to check the schedule for when you’re looking to go, as the timings often change.

    Opening times: Check daily timings for the Changing of the Guard ceremony online.

    How to book: No need to book! Simply turn up to Buckingham Palace at the allotted time and watch.

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