Despite the traffic and the crowds, London is surprisingly green – it actually has more parks and open areas than any other city of a similar size. You won’t have to go far in London to be surrounded by beautiful green spaces. Although most people usually head for the very centrally located Hyde Park, there are many other places to get your fresh air and green space fix. From my many years living in this wonderful city, here is my choice for the best and most beautiful parks in London…
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Richmond Park – an ancient deer hunting park in SouthWest London
Richmond Park can be found in the attractive South-West London town of Richmond. This is the largest of the Royal Parks in London encompassing various landscapes including woodlands, grasslands, ponds and even hills. The park also has an area of 700-year-old Oak trees and Isabella Plantation which is an organically designed woodland garden.
For sport lovers, they have a golf park, bike hire, places to fish and several points where you can enjoy kite flying. You’ll find nearly 600 deer wandering through the wooded areas as Richmond Park used to be an ancient deer-hunting park. There are five locations within the park where you can enjoy a snack or meal including Pembroke Lodge – a Georgian mansion surrounded by an elegantly landscaped garden.
Hyde Park – 0ne of the best and most popular parks in London
Arguably the most famous and most loved park in London, the wonderful green space occupies a space of 350 acres in central London (the nearest tube stations are Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner). It’s also fiercely protected with a Grade I-listed status and also a long history of playing host to rallies and marches as well as the world-famous Speakers’ Corner. It’s also home to over 4,000 trees, a large lake, a meadow, and very pretty flower gardens.
It has a buzzing atmosphere especially during the summer and here is where Londoners come to have some outdoor fun, here you can play tennis, go swimming, boating, cycling, skating and play team games.
Other highlights include the wonderful deckchairs overlooking The Serpentine, the Diana Memorial Fountain, the famous Archiles statue, the popular children’s playground and not one but two lakeside restaurants.
Greenwich Park – a wonderful park in South-East London
Greenwich is a beautiful and sought-after area in London which has a feel of a village within London. One of the most popular hang-out places is its very own large and green park which covered over 74 hectares and is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site.
It was once former hunting but today it’s a lovely kept place with a very special atmosphere, especially during the summer. It overlooks the River Thames and also offers some really fabulous views of the city.
As well as acres of green space to take a picnic or just relax, the London park is home to a Royal Observatory, an eatery, museums, cricket pitch, tennis courts, a deer park, a pretty rose garden, and miles of paths to wander. It also offers a great range of sports facilities including, including cricket, tennis, and boating.
Hampstead Heath – one of London’s most popular open green spaces
Easily one the most cherished green spaces in London, this is a very popular and much-loved area of London which can be found in the well-heeled area of Hampstead. The ‘Heath’ is a natural-looking park with a variety of landscapes including hills, ponds, woodlands and open grassy places. For the more active visitors the area is home to eight playgrounds running tracks, three swimming pools, grassland, woodlands, ponds and sports areas. In some areas, the Heath has been left in its natural state with long untouched wild grass and clusters of ancient hedgerows and old trees.
In the grounds, you can visit the English Heritage property Kenwood House or take in the spectacular views over London from Parliament Hill.
Regent’s Park – London’s most elegant and beautiful park
One of the most beautiful parks in London, Regent’s Park (and the adjoining Primrose Hill) is an elegant central park beloved by locals and overseas visitors alike. It’s known for its incredible rose gardens as well being home to the largest outdoor sports area in London. The hub is the park’s community sports center and on the lake, you can hire a rowing or pedal boat. For kids, there is a separate children’s lake with pedal boats to suit them. Sporty types will also enjoy the park’s tennis courts.
You also won’t go hungry wandering around Regents Park with no less than nine eateries in the park mostly serving lunches, snacks, and coffees. Don’t leave without taking a stroll up the favourite celebrity hangout Primrose Hill where you can catch great views of London.
Ham House Gardens – one of London’s best-kept secrets
Ham House is located in an idyllic spot on the River Thames in Ham (in South West London). The house was built in 1610 and is owned by the National Trust. The beautiful gardens have recently been restored to their former plan from the 1600s. A beautiful open space in London – especially on sunny days – you can enjoy the Cherry Garden with its blossoming cherry trees and the South Terrace which has lush sweeping lawns.
Stop at for a bite to eat at the Orangery Cafe (which has fresh ingredients supplied by the kitchen garden) and wander the picturesque medieval maze. The park borders the River Thames and is an ideal spot for picnics or a trip to the nearby famous Eel pie island. Admission to the gardens alone costs £3 and to both Ham House and the gardens £9.
Kensington Palace Gardens – one of the most expensive addresses in London
The elegant Kensington Gardens surround the Kensington Palace, a royal residence located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Built in 1689 the palace was home to Princess Diana and was also the birthplace of Queen Victoria.
A stunning green area in London, the formal landscaped gardens was once the private gardens of Kensington Palace but now they are part of the Royal Parks of London Kensington Gardens. You can view waterbirds on the pond opposite the palace or follow the Long Water and Serpentine Rivers through the park. At the end of the Long River is the pretty Italian Water Garden, with fountains, ponds and statues. Kids will love the bronze statue of Peter Pan, and the Diana Memorial Playground which has a Peter Pan theme.
Kew Gardens – incredible botanical gardens in West London
I may be biased because I live very near here but I believe beautiful Kew is the best area to stay in London and Kew Gardens is one of the best attractions here. Kew Gardens are 121 hectares of beautiful gardens and botanical glasshouses located between Richmond and Kew (in southwest London). The gardens are on a mission not only to be beautiful (which they are) but to contribute to research and nurturing of the plant kingdom. The gardens are used as a source for scientific advances in horticulture and the park is also a UNESCO site.
Within the gardens, you can visit the glasshouse, rainforests, tree-themed playground, landscaped gardens and even take a guided tour of the park. The Riverside zone runs beside the Thames where you can see the 17th century Dutch House, the Herbarium and the formal Queen’s gardens. You can also visit several museums within the gardens and other highlights include the aquatic gardens, Sackler Crossing, Waterlily Pond, a pagoda, Bamboo Garden, Japanese Gateway and several temples. There is an admission fee of £13.90 for adults while kids go free.
St. James’s Park – a beautiful park in the City of Westminster, central London
Close to London’s center, this is a relatively small Royal Park bordering the Mall – the red road which leads to Buckingham Palace. The Mall is also the Queen’s ceremonial route. On the other side of the park is the Horseguard Parade, where you can see the annual Trooping of the Color as well as the palace guards practicing their moves.
The stunning London park is dominated by the lake in the center which can be crossed on the Blue Bridge. The central lake is also the perfect place to see water birds, especially the resident pelicans which get feed every day at 2:30. Among the five refreshment points is the ‘Inn the Park’ which was built using Green technology.
Green Park – a beautiful and tranquil central London park
Enjoying a privileged position right next to Buckingham Palace, Green Park is one of eight Royal Parks and covers over 40 acres. It’s filled with grasslands, mature trees, a range of memorials, fountains, and statues – a peaceful oasis and a quiet refuge away from the everyday craziness of London life. Although it’s not peaceful here on special royal occasions as this is where the Royal Gun Salutes fire their ceremonial guns!
Also located next to St James’ park, it offers a laid-back place for relaxing, sunbathing having a picnic or just enjoy a spot of people watching.
Hampton Court Gardens – superb gardens which were once Henry Vlll’s favourite hangout
This is Henry VIII’s favourite Royal hangout located in London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London. Hampton Court is definitely worth a visit and the gardens are outstanding. In fact, they are internationally renowned for being amongst the most beautiful gardens in the world. You can view the original Victorian garden walls and canals outlining the landscaped flower beds. In the kitchen garden, see fruit and vegetables grown organically; take the challenging maze to reach the Gothic tower in the center, and then explore the underground tunnel which leads to a waterfall and sunken garden.
The garden has repeatedly been updated and restored, the latest part being the Lower Orangery Garden. If it’s a sunny day you should get a boat from Westminster (central London) which takes you along the Thames to the gardens. Admission is £15 for entrance to the gardens and the castle or a lot less if you just want to visit the gardens.
Bushy Park – another beautiful London Park in South West London
Beautiful Bushy Park lying just north of Hampton Court Palace in South West London, it’s a sprawling and rugged expanse of over 1000 acres, meaning it’s the second-largest of London’s eight Royal Parks. It’s a special place which was once given to King Henry VIII by his close adviser Cardinal Wolsey. It has an almost medieval feel even today with plenty of bracken, expanses of open heath, and wandering herds of red and fallow deer.
It’s also noted for its 17th-century water gardens, (look out for the Diana Fountain designed by Sir Christopher Wren), the very distinctive neoclassical decorative features, and the wonderful wildlife. There are also a few onsite cafes and plenty of parking spaces too.
The Kyoto Japanese Garden in Holland Park – a tranquil oasis perfect for stressed-out Londoners
Holland Park is both a popular district and a gorgeous public park in West-central London. These pretty Japanese Kyoto Gardens are based within Holland Park. The Kyoto Garden was designed to celebrate the Japanese garden culture and garden specialists flew from Kyoto, Japan to plan the layout of the park. The Kyoto Gardens are small and intimate and create a real haven from the bustle of London. There is a Maple tree next to a mini-waterfall which runs into a pond with Japanese carp fish as well as rock gardens and manicured flower beds. Visit for some Zen meditation!
The rest of the park surrounds Holland House and is free to the public. The park consists of a large pond with a waterfall garden, playgrounds, a sports areas and has many places to buy refreshments.
Holland Park – one of the loveliest Parks in London
The gorgeous Japanese Kyoto Gardens aside the rest of Holland Park deserves a mention on this list too. It’s the Royal Borough’s largest park and is a particularly beautiful London park located in a sought-after area. It is well laid out and well kept too, and as well as the very stunning Kyoto Gardens it offers a great range of facilities including children’s play facilities, sports facilities, and a cafeteria.
Walk your dog, go for a summer picnic, play outdoor games, or just take time to explore the large areas of woodland which are abundant with wildlife.
Battersea Park – a popular must-visit park in South London
This is a very popular green space which is often said to be one of the best parks in London. It covers a large 200 acres and is situated on the south bank of the River Thames in Battersea (the London Borough of Wandsworth). Dating back to 1858, the park has a Grade ll listed status and is a beautiful place full of great features.
The park is home to a riverside promenade, a large lake, some notable trees, and ecological areas, a ceremony venue, children’s play areas the Pump House Gallery, a great range of sports facilities too and London’s famous Peace Pagoda.
Alexandra Park – an award-winning elegant park in London
This is a wonderful hillside public park set in the grounds of the spectacular and historic Alexandra Palace. Located near Muswell Hill in North London, the 80–hectare park dates from 1863 and has a Green Heritage status and a Green Flag Award.
The wonderful London park offers locals a place to relax and escape from city life. It also offers some great facilities including lots of great eateries, a pitch, and putt course, a boating lake, a skate park, a deer park, ornamental walkways, landscaped gardens, a soft play adventure playground and even a weekly Farmer’s Market.
Crystal Palace Park – a Victorian pleasure ground located in the south London suburb
This is a large park located in South London which has some great quirky and distinctive features. It’s located in South London in the suburb of Crystal Palace and the park surrounds the site’s former glass exhibition centre which stood between 1854 and 1935.
It has the feel of a Victorian pleasure ground today and even includes models of full-size dinosaurs which were built by the Victorians. Other stand-out features besides the acres of green space include Crystal Palace museum, a national sports centre, a children’s farm, a playground, a maze, an outdoor concert stage, and a lake which attracts some great birdlife.
Victoria Park – the best park to visit in East London
Often known as the People’s Park this is the third-largest park, but it remains under the radar for most tourists visiting London probably due to its location in East London (situated between South Hackney and Bow’s Old Ford locality). But it’s a great place for locals to go and offers 218 acres of well-kept green space and wide parkland dotted with recreational facilities such a tennis courts, a bowling green, cricket, fountains, cafes, and lakes.
In the summer it’s also famous for hosting popular festivals and events such as the LoveBox Festival and All Points East.
Finsbury Park – a London park located in a busy North London neighbourhood which is great for sporty types and music lovers
This is a well-kept London park located in the bustling multicultural neighbourhood in North London. Tourists don’t often venture this way as it’s out of central London but music lovers will probably know this park well though as it’s hosted a large number of outdoor festivals including the Wireless festival, Iggy Pop, and the Community Festival.
For locals, it serves as a great place to exercise, walk their dogs and soak up some green space. The London park is home to an outdoor gym, a lake, walking paths, a running track, tennis courts, a skate park, a baseball field and even an art gallery!
Lee Valley Park – a beloved London green space northeast of Greater London, Essex and Hertfordshire
This is an enormous stretch of parkland that follows the River Lee from Ware to the Thames East India Dock Basin. The park lends itself to plenty of sporting activities in the river (white water rafting, fishing, kayaking) and on land (camping, bird watching, cycling, golf, horse riding, ice skating). There are many examples of fine architecture within the park including Myddelton House and the remains of the Augustinian Waltham Abbey. There are also three mills in the park including the oldest tidal mill in Britain.
Lee Valley Park holds its own heritage sites and a nature reserve which is home to wildlife such as otters. Another reason it has made the list is because the 23 mile park has been chosen as part of the site for the 2012 Olympic Games (they own 20 percent of the Olympic Park).
If you are looking for even more London green spaces then also try beautiful Wimbledon Common, Putney Common, Clapham Common, Brockwell Park is a 50-hectare park located south of Brixton or the medieval gardens of the Art Deco Eltham Palace and Gardens. All you need now is a sunny day (or at least a day where it isn’t raining)!