Alfresco Ice Skating
Outdoor ice rinks are a relatively recent addition to the winter city, and it's fair to say that Londoners have taken to them like ducks to frozen water -- which is to say enthusiastically, if not always gracefully. The king of the rinks remains the original, in the grandiose courtyard of Somerset House, Strand (tel. 020/7845-4600; www.somersethouse.org.uk/ice_rink; Tube: Temple). The rink is open annually between late November and late January, with tickets generally costing £10.50 to £13 for an hour-long skate. Named DJs spin sounds for the weekend evening sessions.
Every year more rinks appear, and today visitors to London can skate, spin, step, and stumble in a number of beautiful locations, including the Natural History Museum and the historic grounds of the Tower of London (www.toweroflondonicerink.com). Tickets for both are usually around £10 to £15 and can be booked in advance.
London has never been the most bike-friendly city, but thanks to a pedal-powered mayor things are starting to change. In 2010 London's public bike hire scheme launched, and these blue "Boris bikes" are now a common sight on the city streets. Anyone can rent one for anything from 30 minutes upwards.
London's many parks offer stress-free cycling routes. Best of the lot for cyclists is probably Richmond Park. Alternatively, cycling west along the river Thames from Westminster offers scenic views. Be warned that the cycle path along the river is patchy, and you will often need to detour onto main streets to finish your journey.
Riders of all ages and abilities are welcome at Hyde Park Stables, 63 Bathurst Mews, W2 (tel. 020/7723-2813; www.hydeparkstables.com; Tube: Lancaster Gate), where horses and ponies are selected for their temperament. With more than 5 miles of bridleways, the Royal Park is a great place to spend an hour or two on horseback. Prices start from £59 per hour for group rides and £64 per hour for semi-private lessons.