The city streets are no place to spend a sunny summer’s afternoon, so grab a Frisbee, a few mates and a picnic and join the locals at your nearest park – London has no end of green spaces, but here’s a rundown of the best.
1. Primrose Hill (Best for: celebrity spotting): With its epic views of the city and gently rolling grasslands, this North London haven earns its stripes not only for its impressive scenery, but for the abundance of celebrities resident in the area – Jude Law, Gwen Stefani and Kate Moss have all been spotted taking their kids for a stroll in these parts.
2. St. James Park (Best for: a view of the Palace): While you won’t be alone in choosing to picnic in the idyllic St.James Park, this beautifully manicured section of Royal greenery offers some of the best views of the palace – grab a bench by the lake or spread out a tartan blanket for an alfresco afternoon tea.
3. Richmond Park (Best for: outdoor activities): With over 2,000 acres of winding walkways, vast grassy lawns and shady enclaves, London’s largest Royal Park is deserving of its stellar reputation. Hire a bicycle or some roller-blades to make the most of the vast space, go horseback riding or tee off at one of the park’s 18-hole golf courses.
4. Kew Gardens (Best for: keeping the kids busy): While this is the only park on the list with a paid entry fee, it’s a worthwhile day out and aside from the stunning botanical gardens, there are some fantastic facilities for the young (or young at heart). A treetop walkway, aquatic displays, tree-houses and a badger Sett are all on offer, alongside numerous in and outdoor play zones and an arboretum.
5. Greenwich Park (Best for: something educational): London’s oldest royal park affords some wonderful city views and a refreshing change of pace from the inner city, but the real draw is the world-class sights on its doorstep – the Royal Observatory (where Greenwich Mean time is sourced) makes a worthy side trip and the fascinating Royal Maritime Museum is right nearby.
6. Alexandra Park (Best for: great food): The Alexandra Palace Farmers Market (Saturday mornings) is a great spot for those lacking in sandwich-making skills. Grab freshly baked bread, a slab of homemade cheese and a punnet of glistening strawberries from the market, then head off to spot wild-roaming deer in the hills.
7. Hampstead Heath (Best for: hot summer days): One of London’s most popular parks, Hampstead Heath has great lookout points from Parliament hill as well as some great outdoor swimming ponds, where locals descend to once the weather starts to hot up.
8. Hyde Park (Best for: all-round entertainment): It’s hard to avoid London’s most central park, especially as the 140-acre space is often used for music concerts and summer festivals. Not only that but the park plays host to a number of seasonal activities from free summer dance and music performances, a winter ice rink and Christmas market and many major sporting events broadcast live from giant screens.
9. Kyoto Gardens (Best for: a change of scenery): Tucked away in the depths of Holland Park, Kyoto garden is a traditional Japanese water garden erected in 1991 and features a stone temple, idyllic pond and water cascades. This is a rare piece of urban tranquility to escape the hustle of the city.