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London Travel Guide

The 10 Best Parks in London

From Venice-like canals to open-air theaters, London’s best parks and gardens will surprise you.

London is a vibrant city that can get crowded, which is why finding peace at one of its many parks is essential. Step away from the hustle and bustle to visit one of the city’s green spaces. There are sprawling parks like Hampstead Heath, Green Park, and Hyde Park or romantic spots like the canals of Little Venice. You have the panoramic views in Primrose Hill, a deer-friendly stroll through Richmond Park, or an open-air show at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre—plenty of parks to recharge your batteries in no time.

Related: The Best Things to Do in London

1 OF 10

St James' Park

WHERE: Central London

With stunning views of some of the capital’s most world-famous landmarks, including the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the ceremonial Horse Guards Parade, St. James’s Park is the oldest of London’s eight Royal Parks. A stone’s throw from Westminster, right in the heart of the capital, this ancient marshland is now a charming green oasis and animal reserve. The park is home to spectacular wildlife, like the much-loved resident pelicans and 41 different species of waterfowl, but also gorgeous vegetation, like the cherry blossoms near Buckingham Palace and the Queen Elizabeth Memorial Gardens flower beds in front of its gates. Head over for a picturesque picnic or a romantic stroll after witnessing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace: it’s the perfect spot to relax after hours of sightseeing in the area, especially for families with young children.

INSIDER TIPIf you want to see the pelicans during their lunch break, head to Duck Island Cottage to keep them company as they feast on fresh fish every day between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Related: The Complete Guide to London’s Neighborhoods

2 OF 10

Hyde Park

WHERE: West London

Spanning over 340 acres, Hyde Park is a Grade I-listed Royal Park (meaning: a “site of exceptional national importance”) in Westminster and a popular favorite for tourists and locals alike. From playing a game of tennis or padel at the Park Sports Café to honoring the “People’s Princess” by dipping your toes in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain or going for a bucket-list swim in the iconic Serpentine Lido, there’s plenty to entertain yourself with in central London’s largest park. Then, when you’re tired of walking, cycling, boating, and horse riding, you’ll find tasty refreshments at The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, The Serpentine Lido Café, and The Lodge Café. Plus, the park hosts concerts by legendary headliners in the summer, and the city’s biggest Christmas event, Winter Wonderland, from mid-November to early January.

INSIDER TIPThe north-easter corner of Hyde Park has seen the likes of Marx, Orwell, and Lenin present their ideas in the name of free speech: head to Speakers’ Corner on a Sunday morning to hear modern thinkers follow in their footsteps still to this day.

3 OF 10

The Regent's Park and Primrose Hill

WHERE: North London

Named after King George IV, formerly the Prince Regent (or “the playboy prince”), The Regent’s Park is one of the most striking of London’s eight Royal Parks. Spanning an area of 395 acres in North London, The Regent’s Park is brimming with tree-lined walking trails and elegantly landscaped flower beds, including the 12,000 roses in Queen Mary’s Garden and the Delphinium elatum whose planting garnered the park full National Collection status. Plus, a boating lake, a waterfall, and the little-known jewel that is Japanese Garden Island. The park’s Open Air Theatre is the oldest permanent outdoor theater in all of Britain and one of the largest auditoriums in London: don’t miss out on the chance to catch one of their many events from May to September. The park also offers spectacular views of the city’s skyline from its highest point, Primrose Hill, one of the clearest panoramic spots in all of London and one of only six protected viewpoints.

INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the William Blake inscription at the summit of Primrose Hill, which reads: “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.”

4 OF 10

Hampstead Heath

WHERE: North London

Sprawling across more than 800 acres of woodland, Hampstead Heath is one of London’s biggest “green lungs” and most popular inner-city escapes from the bustling heart of the city. Only a short underground ride from the center, the Heath boasts sweeping panoramic views from Parliament Hill, wonderful walking trails through the woods, and 18 ponds, including three natural bathing ones and a 60m lido. Over centuries, Hampstead has stolen the heart of many artists and poets walking its charming streets––most of all the Romantic poet John Keats, whose Regency home at the south-west edge of the park was turned into a museum and community library, Keats House. Perfect for a summer day or any lazy Sunday before heading to one of the area’s most beloved pubs, The Holly Bush or The Spaniards Inn.

INSIDER TIPCovered in wisteria, The Hill Garden and Pergola is a criminally underrated jewel and the perfect spot for a scenic fairytale photoshoot.


5 OF 10

Richmond Park

WHERE: South West London

Richmond Park features lush rolling hills, wide open grassland, and enchanting lakes, but what it’s best known for is the more than 600 deer roaming freely around the park. As a home to protected wildlife and rare species of birds, beetles, bats, and fungi, Richmond is both London’s largest National Nature Reserve and a European Special Area of Conservation, with miles upon miles of sweeping paths to explore. Head to the park’s highest point to visit Pembroke Lodge and its stunning landscaped grounds, the perfect spot for an afternoon break in the elegant Georgian Tea Rooms. You can sign up for a horse riding lesson or join a yoga in the park class, take in the views from the top of King Henry’s Mound or Sawyer’s Hill, have a barbecue in one of the designated open flame areas, or catch an open-air performance at The Holly Lodge Centre ––seeing a Shakespeare play while surrounded by wild nature is sure to be a bucket-list item to remember.

INSIDER TIPPack a picnic bag and head to the Isabella Plantation, a hidden slice of paradise known for the evergreen azaleas lining the ponds and streams.

6 OF 10

The Green Park

WHERE: Central London

Sitting right next to Buckingham Palace, The Green Park is perhaps the ultimate Royal Park. While small compared to next-door’s Hyde Park, it remains a much-appreciated retreat from the capital’s daily buzz, and many Londoners working or living in the swanky Mayfair or Belgravia areas prefer it to its more impressive neighbors. The Green Park is brimming with history, as its many monuments and memorials attest: the grand Canada Gate is a striking sight as soon as you enter, followed by the Canada Memorial, the Memorial Gates, and the Bomber Command Memorial, which honor the brave soldiers who fought in WWI and WWII. Check out the unique design of the Watering Holes drinking fountain, and don’t be surprised if you hear guns being fired, as The Green Park hosts the Royal Gun Salutes on occasions such as Royal parades and State visits.

INSIDER TIPIn the 17th century, the legend goes, King Charles II’s wife, Catherine of Braganza, had all every last flower removed from the premises after she caught him picking flowers for another woman.


7 OF 10

Greenwich Park

WHERE: South London

Overlooking the River Thames, Greenwich Park has been offering breathtaking views all over London since it was established in the 15th century, but its history goes back to Roman times. Greenwich Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its outstanding value as the point of reference for the longitude of every single place on Earth. It doesn’t get much cooler than that, right? The Royal Observatory, home of the Prime Meridian, encases the Astronomy Centre and London’s planetarium: an unmissable visit for all science lovers. If you can’t get enough of Greenwich’s rich history, you can explore British naval history —with a ship simulator!— at the National Maritime Museum at the park’s edge or check out the art at the first classical building in England, the Queen’s House. Greenwich Park also showcases ornamental flower beds, elegant rose gardens, and a variety of fruit trees dating back to the 1500s in The Queen’s Orchard, an unmissable oasis of peace.

INSIDER TIPStand on the Prime Meridian line, Longitude Zero (0° 0′ 0″), which divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the Earth.

8 OF 10

Holland Park

WHERE: West London

Holland Park is a true hidden gem a stone’s throw away from Notting Hill, Kensington High Street, and the Design Museum, which sits right on the southern edge of the park. One of the most colorful and romantic green oases in the capital, Holland Park remains a secret gem and the perfect spot if you’re looking for London’s quieter side. Nestled inside the heart of the park also sits the enchanting Kyoto Garden, a Japanese garden donated to the city by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991 to celebrate the close friendship between the two countries. This meditative zen corner features a koi fish pond, a waterfall, stone lanterns, and an abundance of colorful cherry blossom and maple trees for some tranquil —and often much-needed— city escapism.

INSIDER TIPSummer is your chance to see an open-air opera surrounded by woodlands and gardens at the Holland Park Theatre for an evening of atmospheric excellence.

9 OF 10

Victoria Park

WHERE: East London

The history of “The People’s Park,” Britain’s oldest public park, goes back to the 1840s. This large stretch of green in London’s East End (the closest stations are Mile End and Bethnal Green) was voted the UK’s favorite park in 2014 after it was renewed on the occasion of the 2012 London Olympics. Victoria Park features ponds and canals galore, but also a tennis court, a pavilion, and sports grounds for families and fitness enthusiasts to enjoy. Enjoy a leisurely brunch at The Pavilion Café —that Sri Lankan breakfast, yum— or visit Victoria Park’s Sunday Market every weekend to enjoy a full day of fun, food, and live music, then explore the neighboring Hackney, Dalson, and Stoke Newington areas. Summer is when the park hosts festivals like All Points East, concerts, and events that attract Londoners from every borough. Then when the day of fun is over, head to the most iconic pub in the area, People’s Park Tavern, for some well-deserved refreshments.

INSIDER TIPCheck out the ​​Chinese pagoda island on the lake next to Pavilion Café.

10 OF 10

Kew Gardens

WHERE: West London

The Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew are one of the most wonderful green spaces in London. Although it’s not as central as most other parks on the list—hop on the District line, you’re only about 40 mins away from Central London—it’s worth a visit if you’ve got some extra time on your hands. Stretching 500 acres, Kew is one of the largest botanical gardens in the world. You could spend a whole day exploring its grounds between the Palm House, Marianne North Gallery, Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, the Princess of Wales Conservatory, and the Waterlily House, the Great Pagoda, and Kew Palace, a former Royal residence! You can bring your own food for a scenic picnic or pick your favorite spot between the quaint Orangery café, the formal dining room Botanical Brasserie, or the relaxed Pavilion Bar and Grill.

INSIDER TIPIf you’re visiting around winter, don’t miss Christmas at Kew, when the whole garden lights to celebrate the festivities.