Written by Carly Freestone | 26th June 2023


The best parks to visit in London

London is one of the greenest cities in the world. The capital was declared the world’s first National Park City in 2019 and around 47% of the city is dedicated to natural habitats and green space. The following parks are all free to visit and open all year. Pack a picnic and enjoy the feeling of countryside in the city.

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Richmond Park

Richmond Park is the largest urban parkland in Europe offering everything from formal gardens and ancient oaks to breathtaking views of central London 12 miles away. Herds of more than 600 red and fallow deer roam freely amongst the trees, but they can be ferocious in rutting season (September and October) and when the does have their young (May to July), so keep your distance during these times. The view from Richmond Hill takes in St Paul’s Cathedral 10 miles away and has inspired painters and poets for centuries. It’s the only view in the country to be protected by an Act of Parliament.


Regent's Park

The largest of central London’s eight Royal Parks, Regent’s Park is one of the capital's loveliest green spaces. Among its many attractions are London Zoo, Regent’s Canal and a boating lake. Queen Mary’s Gardens, towards the south of the park, have rose gardens and are the location for open air theatre performances from May to September. Primrose Hill to the north has views over the city skyline and is a lovely spot for a stroll or a picnic.. 


Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath has woodlands, meadows and wildlife galore and feels a million miles away from the city, despite being only a few miles from Trafalgar Square. There are three bathing ponds, two of them open all year-round. The heath is home to a variety of butterflies, bats and bird species, and is a wonderful place for a ramble, especially to the top of Parliament Hill which offers panoramic views across London. Good walks often end up at the pub and there are plenty to choose from around the heath.


St James's Park

At 57 acres, St James’s Park is the second-smallest of the eight royal parks after Green Park. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty with its flower beds, lake and fountain. As well as views of the London Eye, Horse Guards Parade and Buckingham Palace, this park is famous for its pelicans, which were introduced to the park in 1664 as a gift from the Russian Ambassador to King Charles II. The pelicans are fed between 2:30pm and 3pm near Duck Island cottage.


Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was created when London hosted the Olympic Games in 2012. As well as the main Olympic venues, this vast expanse includes playgrounds, walking and cycling trails, gardens and a diverse mix of wetland, woodland, meadow and other wildlife habitats. There are public artworks throughout the park, the largest being the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture which has a viewing platform and opportunity to slide or abseil down it. The main focal point is London Stadium, now a concert venue and the home football ground for West Ham. 


Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

Hyde Park is London's largest green space and summer here means festivals with a large section of the park dedicated to open-air concerts. There are sweeping lawns and tree-lined avenues in Kensington Gardens, part of Kensington Palace, and if you have children in tow, visit the Princess Diana Playground. You can hire deck chairs and take peddle-boats out on the Serpentine from March to October.


Holland Park

Holland Park in west London has woodland, lawns, sports fields and gardens. These include the restful Kyoto Garden, a gift from the city of Kyoto to mark the friendship between England and Japan. The park’s majestic peacocks are a sight to behold and there's an adventure playground to keep children occupied.


Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park has picturesque walks, a sixth-century Anglo-Saxon burial ground and views of Canary Wharf from the top of the hill. There is a large children’s playground and a trail leading to a viewpoint for spotting red or fallow deer. The Royal Observatory here is the home of Greenwich Mean Time. If you don't want to pay to enter the Meridian Courtyard, the continuation of the prime meridian line is marked in metal just outside the fence, where you can be in two hemispheres at once. 


Crystal Palace Park

The name Crystal Palace Park comes from the glass-and-iron palace erected for the Great Exhibition in 1851 and moved here from Hyde Park in 1854. The palace burned down in 1936 and nothing remains today except the Victorian terrace and its crumbling Sphinx statues. The park has plenty to offer including a skatepark, woodland, a maze, a small boating lake and Grade I-listed dinosaur sculptures dating from the mid-19th-century.


Battersea Park

Battersea Park stretches along the Thames between Albert Bridge and Chelsea Bridge. Near the river is the Peace Pagoda, showing Buddha in the four stages of his life, and sculptures by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth are dotted around. The park has sporting facilities, bicycle hire and lakes with paddle boats, plus the Pump House Gallery and a small children's zoo. If you’re feeling brave, get a panoramic view with a Treetop Challenge on the high ropes at the Park’s GoApe outdoor adventure park.

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