The Best Parks in London

Unlike some other big cities in the world, London is lucky to have lots of green spaces.  These are what my NYC friends miss most – the best parks in London:

(Pollen levels vary year to year, they can be high as early as April in some years.  Take an antihistamine or eye drops if you’re eyes are watering – mine start to sting sporadically which is really annoying!).

Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

For a few hours each year, the sun comes out in London, and Hyde Park is deluged with half naked people sunbathing and throwing frisbees.  There’s plenty to see – the golden Prince Albert Memorial, statues of Queen Victoria and Peter Pan, the Diana Memorial Fountain (great for children who want to paddle and there’s also an adventure playground on the north side of Kensington Gardens).  You can take a boat out or even have a swim in the Serpentine, feed the ducks in Kensington Gardens, hire a bike and cycle around, and if you’re lucky, catch a speech at Speaker’s Corner.
Hyde Park, London
Probably the most colourful and manicured flower gardens in all of London’s parks.  Walk up Primrose Hill and you have a fabulous view of London.  Take in the beautiful views from Clarence Bridge, or if you want some exercise, take out a wooden rowing boat out on the lake.  It’s also home to the excellent London Zoo with gorillas and dancing penguins.
The Royal Observatory and the views from the Wolfe Statue are definitely worth a visit.  There is also a deer park too.
 
This place is huge.  For me, it’s best explored by bike (which you can hire from Roehampton Gate).  The cycle paths are traffic free and you’re almost guaranteed to come across some deer.  The rutting season during autumn  is particularly interesting if you want to see some some antler bashing action as the male deers fight to have sex with the ladies.  Don’t miss King Henry’s Mound and the protected view to St Paul’s Cathedral (very cool).  From there, it’s a nice walk to the river where you can walk to Richmond town.
Cycling in Richmond Park, London
Compact  but worth visiting for the Japanese inspired Kyoto garden – not something you’d expect to see in the middle of London.
Very leafy and tranquil with a great view of Buckingham Palace and lots of pelicans – you can get some beautiful photos from Blue Bridge.
Take a picnic and enjoy the beautiful views from Parliament Hill.  Watch the kite flyers, or in summer you can enjoy a concert near Kenwood House.  On a hot day, there’s no better place to be for the lido or a dip in one of the ponds.  Don’t neglect the West Heath either, perfect in autumn when the leaves are changing.
If you like trees and open spaces then you will love this place.  I’m not a huge fan but it’s great if you just want to get out in the open and see some greenery.  Don’t miss the nineteenth century windmill.  If you’re in the area, go visit the lovely Buddhapadipa Thai Temple nearby which is a lot more interesting.
Right next to the Thames, and worth visiting for the London Peace Pagoda and the Old English Garden.  If you have children, the Battersea Park Children Zoo is worth visiting.
Not what it used to be about a century ago but worth a visit if you’re in the area.  You have decent views of London from the top of the hill and there is also a dinosaur park.
For a real challenge, this is a 78 mile circular walk around London.  It’s split up into sections so you don’t have to do it all in one go.  Signage is not great so it’s worth getting some sort of map or having an idea of where you’re going.  It will definitely take you to parts of London that you might never have visited otherwise.  The most picturesque sections are Richmond Park to Osterley Lock (section 7); South Kenton to Hendon Park via Harrow-on-the-Hill (section 10); and Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick (section 13).
Finsbury Park in the North East, Walpole Park in the West and Victoria Park in the East of London are also worth a visit.
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