London is notorious for its beautiful parks. Not only can you enjoy the greenery which makes a pleasant break from the grey of the city, but parks are also the ideal space for socialising, exercise and chilling out.
St James’s Park
If you are after a picturesque park, then you can’t get prettier than St James’s. Just a stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square and Big Ben, it is also on the edge of Horse Guards Palace. The central lake is a great place for watching swans and geese, and there are some lovely flower beds in the area. If you want a great shot of Buckingham Palace, then the bridge offers a great view of it. The pelicans are popular and it is the predecessors of these very birds that inspired the charming Edward Lear poem about these fascinating creatures.
In the warmer months, the lush green lawns are full of deck chairs where people enjoy whiling away the hours with a good book, good company or a tasty picnic. The dense shrubberies make the gardens very popular with a plethora of different variety of birds. Follow the plaques for the seven-mile long Princess Diana Memorial Walk which is a great way to explore the park and the buildings that are associated with it.
Full of gorgeous lawns, spectacular rose beds and some exquisite landscaping. Regent’s Park is especially beautiful. With 100 species of wild bird and the largest free-to-access waterfowl collection in the UK, this is a remarkable park. As well as the waterfowl, boating lake and canal boat excursions, there are some wonderful open air events on during the summer months. The bandstand forms the stage for a rich variety of musical performances, while the open air theatre has a diverse schedule too.
As well as housing the popular London Zoo, Regent’s Park is also home of the stunning Primrose Hill. Climb to the top and you can enjoy spectacular views of the whole of London. While you are on the summit, look out for the majestic oak tree. This tree is known as Shakespeare’s Tree and was planted in 1864 to mark the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.
Situated on the East of Kensington, this is a great park to visit if you fancy something a little less popular or touristy. Boasting some impressive floral displays and with some wonderful open air opera performances in the summer months, this park is certainly worth a visit. In the centre of the park you can find the remains of Holland House that was damaged quite severely during the Blitz.
There is plenty to do in the park with tennis courts, playgrounds, cricket nets and football pitches amidst the rolling green lawns. There is also a very beautiful and serene Japanese garden that is worth exploring.
Just a short journey out of Central London and you are in Hampstead Heath which is the perfect setting to stretch your legs, clear your head and get lost in the beauty of nature.
Within Hampstead Heath is the stunning 18th century Kenwood House. Inside is a very beautiful library as well as some incredible work by some of the world’s most renowned artists such as Vermeer, Van Dyck, Rembrandt and Gainsborough. Over the years Hampstead has been home to a number of celebrated names such as John Constable, Ian Fleming, Elizabeth Taylor, Keats and Agatha Christie.
On the West of the heath is the stunning and secluded Hampstead Hill Garden and Pergola with a lush canopy of overhanging plants, twisted roots and elegant stone columns. This exquisite part of the heath is often overlooked and is definitely worth exploring.
Hyde Park is one of London’s most well-known parks and was once part of Henry VIII’s hunting grounds. It is impressively large, there is plenty to do and it is a very beautiful space. From the serenity of Christopher Wren’s Italian Gardens to the man-made Serpentine Lake where you can take a paddle boat out to explore the calm waters, it is a really lovely space.
Marble Arch is on the North-East edge of the park, near to Speaker’s Corner. The arch was initially built in 1828 and was initially intended to be the entrance gate to Buckingham Palace but it was too narrow for the State Coach and so was moved to the park instead. It is still technically illegal for non-royals to pass through Marble Arch. Speaker’s Corner offers a platform for anyone to get up and speak with a focus on free speech. Orwell and Marx are amongst those who have taken to their soap box here in an effort to convert the masses.
London is full of great parks, green spaces and quiet areas that make you forget that you are in the heart of the capital. Other great London parks include; Richmond Park (especially the stunning Isabella Plantation), London Fields (with its wildflowers), Postman’s Park (with many plaques expressing the stories of ordinary people who lost their lives saving others), Clissold Park (with its butterfly house) Brockwell Park, Morden Hall Park, Crystal Palace (with its park maze), Geffrye Museum Gardens, Camley Street Natural Park and Phoenix Garden.