Which are the best parks in London?

Which are the best parks in London?

With summer in full swing, what better time is there to write about places to enjoy in London under the sun?

I think many people have an impression that London is rather like a concrete jungle, I often hear people say they couldn’t live in the capital because it’s too busy, too big and too exhausting. On the surface I can see why some have that opinion if they take the tube everywhere and never leave Zone 1.

In reality there’s an abundance of green spaces where you can retreat. These places are perfect for enjoying the good weather when it falls over London. They’re great for picnics, dog walking, going on dates, and something I’m guilty of avoiding all too often: exercise.

Since London is so big I thought it would be useful to highlight various parks that can be easily reached within North, South, East and West London.

North London

Primrose Hill/ Regents Park

Regent's Park - A Blog about the best parks in London

Although Primrose Hill and Regents Park are technically separated from each other by a road, Primrose Hill is usually seen as an extension to Regents Park since they are situated side by side. Primrose Hill offers stunning, panoramic views across the city so you’ll often find people at the summit all hours of the day, especially couples and the odd professional photographer. In contrast, Regents Park is sprawling with various sections, including the Avenue Gardens and Queen Mary’s Garden.

Tip: You can easily walk to Primrose Hill/Regent’s Park from Camden so it’s a great opportunity to combine both of these popular areas. Alternatively, if you’ve already visited Camden (which I’m assuming a lot of you have) then I recommend having a bite to eat around one of the many nice cafes around Primrose Hill.

 

Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath is wilder than many of the other parks, but its association with many of London’s intellectuals is what gives this park its legacy. It was supposedly a favourite of Karl Marx and Colin Wilson slept rough in the park before he became famous with The Outsider. Nearby you will also be able to visit the beautiful Georgian villa where John Keats lived and found inspiration.

Tip: Looking for somewhere else to go before or after? Why not visit the Freud Museum? Inside you’ll find lots of Freud’s personal belongings, including a bookshelf with his favourite books, and the star of the museum is considered to be the couch, where the father of psychoanalysis famously conducted his diagnostics from!

 

South London

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park, London

My favourite of all the parks! I love this park so much, however, because Greenwich isn’t served by an underground there’s a frequent assumption that it’s really difficult to reach. Want to know the good news? it isn’t! Greenwich is fed by not one, but two stations. You can either get the DLR to Cutty Sark or the train to Greenwich Station – essentially both are exactly the same as using the tube but above ground level so you have the added bonus of a view.

Which are the best parks in London? (Photo of Greenwich Park)

Greenwich Park - A blog about the best parks in London

Apart from all the birds and squirrels, what I like most about this park are the various compartments to it, from long and wild grassland to perfectly planted flowers in a myriad of colours and patterns. If that’s not enough to get you excited, the park is surrounded by a wealth of museums including the Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory and the truly delightful Fan Museum (a museum doesn’t get much more niche than that does it?)

To top everything off is the prized view at the top of the park, there really isn’t another view quite like it in London. It’s beyond beautiful.

Greenwich Food Market

Tip: Whilst in Greenwich don’t miss the food market, it has an amazing atmosphere where you can find food from all corners of the world. After you’ve grabbed your food, where better to savour the taste than inside the park? Sorted.

 

East London

London Fields & Broadway Market

London Fields - a blog about the best parks in London

While much smaller than the other parks, this place transforms at the weekend when Broadway Market lines the long street adjacent to the park. I went a few weeks ago and the whole place was basked in sunshine, and the poppies and buttercups were in full bloom. Like many places in East London, this area is more hipsterish so bearded men sporting Trilbys and sleeve tattoos are now part of the furniture, you’ll see.

Tip: As well as Broadway Market which offers sumptuous food for you to enjoy in the park, there’s also Colombia Flower Market less than a 15-minute walk that’s opened on a Sunday, the whole street overflows with flowers, it’s worth seeing but go early if you want the best stuff.

 

Victoria Park

The city’s first public park has a place in London’s history. Opened in the East End in 1845 and presented to Queen Victoria, it has been loved for many years. Spanning across a huge area, I was recently there at a festival with thousands of people and yet it only occupied part of it. Ensure you stroll around to see the different sections, with some areas being more decorative than others with pretty ponds, pavilions, and sculptures.

Regents Canal - Parks in London

Tip: Regent’s Canal stretches right across London so it’s an enjoyable way to cut out the chaos of the city. It runs across Victoria Park as well as Broadway Market so it’s super easy to get on to. Nearby this area you might be able to spot some strange faces (shown above) peaking out from the walls. All in all, it’s a really enjoyable stroll, passing lots of canal boats, cyclists and selection of riverside eateries.

 

West London

Kew Gardens

Photo, Kew Palace

This is the only green space on this list you have to pay for, but your entrance fee helps support scientific research and the conservation of many unique species of plants. If you have the spare cash it’s certainly worth it – Kew Gardens is an area where outdoor beauty stretches as far as the eye can see.

If I lived in West London I’d probably buy a yearly membership as I’d want to visit all the time. It’s opened all year round but the best time to come is certainly during the summer when wild meadows are in full bloom and the Chinese and Japanese Garden are looking their best. One thing that stays the same throughout the year are the Victorian palm houses, each of the glasshouses has a different, maintained climate, designed to nurture everything from the world’s largest water lilies to delicate Alpine flowers and tropical plants to cactus.

The Glasshouse in Kew Gardens

Tip: Don’t miss the Tree Top Walkway where you get a bird’s eye view of the whole park. Standing heads and shoulders across centuries-old trees, you might want to give it a miss if you’re scared of heights though!

 

Richmond Park

The largest of the capital’s eight Royal Parks and the biggest enclosed space in London. The park is a National Nature Reserve and a European Special Area of Conservation so expect to see all kinds of wildlife. It’s most well known for its deer which freely roam and graze across the grassland.

Tip: If you’re taking a dog along, you might want to keep it on its lead… or this could happen!

 

In your opinion, which are the best parks in London?



A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.


'Which are the best parks in London?' have 11 comments

  1. August 22, 2016 @ 8:40 am Sarah

    Great post Shing! We should all go spend a day at Richmond Park soon to shake up out usual Greenwich routine – and you can get super close to the deer. You should mention the deer, the rose garden and the orchard for Greenwich park as those are the parts most people don’t know about. The orchard does important conservation work in maintaining heritage varieties of fruit and vegetable :) also yay for mentioning the Keats house – I think it’s one of my favourite museums in London! Have you been?

    Reply

    • August 23, 2016 @ 8:59 pm Shing Yoong

      We should definitely go to Richmond Park together soon!

      Yep, I’ll edit this post with more information and I’ll continue to add a few more parks once I visit them. You know… I wouldn’t usually recommend somewhere I haven’t personally been but I’ve heard only positive things about the Keats Museum and I visited the one Keats-Shelley Memorial House in Rome so I know I’ll love this museum in London. I’ll visit it soon!

      Reply

  2. August 22, 2016 @ 12:13 pm Chris Booth

    Good list! In addition I’d probably go for:

    South – Crystal Palace Park for its dinosaurs, maze, views, ruins, petting zoo, nearby second hand markets.

    North – Trent Park next to Cockfosters Tube as it’s big, varied, and rural feeling. Plus, obelisk!

    Central – Kensington Gardens as it’s not the desert that is Hyde Park next door. There’s always some dappled sunlight to recline in without someone falling over you.

    West – Horsenden Hill for the views, nearby Grand Union Canal, and pleasant woodland.

    East – the amazing strip of woods from Chingford to Wanstead Flats. You never feel close to the city at all but it’s so varied and quiet there. Apart from when you have to cross roads..

    Reply

    • August 23, 2016 @ 9:12 pm Shing Yoong

      Wow, thanks for your input Chris! You’ve given me a few to get through which I’m pretty excited about now – what better way to spend the last few weeks of summer? Thank you so much.

      Reply

  3. August 22, 2016 @ 3:00 pm Eddie Hewitt

    Great selection of parks, Shing!
    My favourite parks are those where I have enjoyed some truly life-enhancing experiences. Hence I would commend Regent’s Park for an open air performance of Romeo and Juliet, Hyde Park leading into Kensington Gardens on the way to Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall, and Alexandra Park in front of Alexandra Palace for an even more momentous and memorable occasion. But that one’s a secret! I like the look of Greenwich Park and hope to spend time there soon.

    Reply

    • August 23, 2016 @ 10:51 pm Shing Yoong

      Hello Eddie! Associating a place with a positive experience is always a nice way of looking at things. I would like to watch an open air performance of Romeo and Juliet in Regent’s Park, or any play of that matter. I’ve not been to Alexandra Park yet, but will remedy this matter soon and then update this list.

      Greenwich is always a good idea 😉

      Reply

  4. September 8, 2016 @ 12:19 pm Dan Fryd

    Top list, Shing. Two additions from me in the North/North West for very different situations:

    – Highbury Fields – Not much to look at on its own but in the Summer it absolutely comes alive with people enjoying barbecues, picnics, and rolling around in the grass. Take your friends down, or meet some new ones down there.

    – Highgate Cemetery – OK, so it’s not a park, and it’s probably not the best place for a picnic, but it is an utterly stunning tree-lined walk in its own right. Includes the grave of Karl Marx, as well as some of the grandest Victorian graves you will see.

    Reply

    • September 9, 2016 @ 3:13 pm Shing Yoong

      Thank you for your additions, I trust they are worthy to belong in this list. Let’s go to Highgate cemetery soon. From Karl Marx to Jeremy Beadle – it really doesn’t get much better than that.

      Reply

  5. September 26, 2016 @ 12:14 pm Batuhan Kayhan

    Greenwich Park is unique. Everyone is in love with the view around Observatory (for sure that is fab), but my favourite is: When you walk downhill road from observatory towards Greenwich, when you approach to main gate; you see Cutty Sark over King William Walk. That scene is so unique. I am lucky to be local there..

    Reply

    • October 10, 2016 @ 11:02 pm Shing Yoong

      Hi Batuhan, aren’t we lucky to live in Greenwich? I went to the food market yesterday and ate my food outside Cutty Sark :)

      Reply

      • October 13, 2016 @ 9:52 am Batuhan Kayhan

        Sure, and what you have done is ritual for everyone who has been to Greenwich :)

        Reply


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