Packing a picnic has long been a staple of a London spring and summer (weather permitting, of course), but lockdown restrictions have made them particularly special. Gathering outdoors in a beautiful surrounding with friends and food makes a welcome return this summer too. Here are some of our favourite picnic spots in London for rolling out blankets with our best-loved snacks.
Primrose Hill, North London
A short walk over a bridge from Camden and a stroll down the fancy high street and you’ll reach Primrose Hill itself. Renowned for beautiful city views and a large green park, it’s not hard to see what brings so many Londoners here, especially on a sunny day. It’s worth walking to the summit which is 63 metres above sea level, and it’s a protected viewpoint, with low trees.
One notable tree on the slope is “Shakespeare’s Tree” which was planted in 1864 for the 300th anniversary of the Bard’s birth. Primrose Hill is also a short walk from Regent’s Park, you can have a walk and picnic 2-for-1, delightful.
Greenwich Park, South London
The South East London landmark is one of London’s largest green spaces. It’s also one of the oldest in the city, dating to Roman times and the area’s most famous landmark The Royal Observatory is located in the park. There are interesting parts to explore around the grounds including ancient trees, a deer park and a rose garden. Greenwich Park also has three cafés if you need to top up on picnic refreshments too. And if you fancy stretching your legs, head on up to the top of the park for stunning city views.
One of London’s most beloved picnic spots is Hampstead Heath. It is a sprawling, wild park across 800 acres with city view points, swimming ponds, woodland and meadows. Picking your spot requires a little bit of prior knowledge. For those who want to picnic and dip, there are some quiet clearings close to the mixed ponds, which are a short walk from Hampstead Heath Overground.
Sunny days mean lots of people, but one of the most popular parts is the top of Parliament Hill. Kenwood House is often a bit less crowded, and has a mix of wild, long grass and beautiful floral gardens to enjoy. And for somewhere a little different, take a wander over to the West Heath. It’s overlooked by Hampstead Pergola, a Georgian arbour that will make you feel as if you’re somewhere closer to the Mediterranean than the Thames.
Green Park, Central London
The fact that Green Park is practically the Queen’s back garden draws in plenty of tourists and Londoners. But, like nearby Hyde Park, it’s a large green space away from the bustle of central London. And if you’re heading to the West End on a balmy evening, it’s a great spot for a pre-show picnic. There is M&S Simply Food right by Green Park tube for impromptu alfresco snacking too.
Despite the name, there are plenty of other colours covering the park too. Spring is one of the prettiest times to go when it’s covered in around a million daffodils. Most people are happy to pitch up with a picnic blanket and a basket, but if you want a bit more comfort, then you can hire a deckchair from £1.80 for an hour up to £9 for all-day lounging.
Victoria Park, East London
Victoria Park, or Vicky Park as it’s also known, is over 218 acres of green space and home to beautiful lakes, tennis courts, a bowling green, fountains, cafés, summer festivals and a Chinese pagoda. Visit on a Sunday if you want to pick up treats from the market, and stroll around the Victoria Park Memoryscape Trail for stories about the park’s past.
There’s no shortage of places to roll out your rugs, but be warned there will be plenty of others doing the same. Sitting by one of the lakes or around the Old English Garden are picturesque options.
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