Fodor's Expert Review Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Park/Playground
Free Fodor's Choice
Couple, Hampstead Heath, Hampstead, London, England, Europe

For generations, Londoners have headed to Hampstead Heath to escape the dirt and noise of the city, and this unique 791-acre expanse of rus in urbe ("country in the city") is home to a variety of wildlife and habitat: grassy meadows, woodland, scrub, wetlands, and some of Europe's most venerable oaks. Be aware that, aside from the Parliament Hill area to the south and Golders Hill Park in the west, it is more like countryside than a park, with signs and amenities in short supply. Pick up a map at Kenwood House or at the "Enquiries" window of the Staff Yard near the tennis courts off Highgate Road, where you can also find details about the history of the Heath and its flora and fauna. An excellent café near the Edwardian bandstand serves Italian food.

Coming onto the Heath from the Savernake Road entrance on the southern side, walk past the Playground and Paddling Pool and head uphill to the top of Parliament Hill. At 321 feet above sea level, it's one of the highest... READ MORE

For generations, Londoners have headed to Hampstead Heath to escape the dirt and noise of the city, and this unique 791-acre expanse of rus in urbe ("country in the city") is home to a variety of wildlife and habitat: grassy meadows, woodland, scrub, wetlands, and some of Europe's most venerable oaks. Be aware that, aside from the Parliament Hill area to the south and Golders Hill Park in the west, it is more like countryside than a park, with signs and amenities in short supply. Pick up a map at Kenwood House or at the "Enquiries" window of the Staff Yard near the tennis courts off Highgate Road, where you can also find details about the history of the Heath and its flora and fauna. An excellent café near the Edwardian bandstand serves Italian food.

Coming onto the Heath from the Savernake Road entrance on the southern side, walk past the Playground and Paddling Pool and head uphill to the top of Parliament Hill. At 321 feet above sea level, it's one of the highest points in London, providing a stunning panorama over the city. On clear days you can see all the way to the Surrey Hills beyond the city's southern limits. Keep heading north from Parliament Hill to find the more rural parts of the Heath.

If you keep heading east from the playground instead, turn right past the Athletics Track and you'll come to the Lido, an Olympic-size outdoor unheated swimming pool that gets packed on all-too-rare hot summer days. More swimming options are available at the Hampstead ponds, which have been refreshing Londoners for generations. You'll find the "Mens" and "Ladies" ponds to the northeast of Parliament Hill, with a “Mixed” pond closer to South End Green. A £2 donation is requested.

Golders Hill Park, on the Heath Extension to the northwest, offers a good café, tennis courts, a duck pond, a croquet lawn, and a walled flower garden, plus a Butterfly House (May–September) and a small zoo with native species including muntjac deer, rare red squirrels, and a Scottish wildcat.

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Park/Playground Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook Green Views Free Fodor's Choice Family

Quick Facts

London, Greater London  NW3, NW5, N6, NW11, England

020-7482–7073-for Super

www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/hampstead

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Rate Includes: Free

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