The foggy capital of England has more than just architectural monuments and lush buildings. The city has a big green heart—the famous gardens and parks. The cosy London gardens and parks hide away in the city centre and outer boroughs and are open to visitors who appreciate the tranquillity of nature. If you dream of seeing London up close and outside of all its tourist attractions, take the time to unwind in these natural gems.
There are many London gardens and parks where you can relax and enjoy the wonderful surroundings while staying in the UK capital. Some of these were once royal hunting grounds that have now become part of the city as it grew!
Breaking down the best London gardens and parks, here is our list of where to go to enjoy some quality time in the green heart of London!
1. St James’s Park
The first on our list of the best London parks is St James’s, the oldest of the royal parks. It was marshland until drained by King Henry VIII and is now in the heart of ceremonial London.
The grounds cover 23 acres and are surrounded by three royal palaces, the oldest of which is Westminster—now the Houses of Parliament—, St James’s Palace, and Buckingham Palace.
This tranquil park is perfect for relaxing, not to mention it is home to the famous pelicans, which are fed daily between 2:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., so take the chance! Plenty of other water birds also make their home on the lake’s two islands.
The park is open from 5:00 a.m. to midnight all year round. There are plenty of refreshment points, as well as two cafes to treat yourself to a cup of coffee or tea while surrounded by rich flora and fauna.
2. The Green Park
The smallest of the royal parks and London gardens, the Green Park, is a small, peaceful triangle of mature trees and grass right next to Buckingham Palace. It is the only place where thousands of daffodils bloom every spring, making the area gloriously yellow for the whole season.
Royal Gun Salutes take place in Green Park throughout the year to celebrate multiple royal occasions. The park is open from 5 a.m. to midnight every day of the year, and there are plenty of deck chairs to relax in from March to October.
3. Hyde Park
Hyde Park is the biggest of the royal parks in central London. It dates back to 1536 when Henry VIII took Westminster Abbey’s land and turned it into a hunting ground. Hyde Park is among the most fabulous London gardens and parks. It covers more than 142 acres and has more than 4000 trees, a large lake, a meadow, and flower gardens.
Hyde Park has a lot to offer everyone; you can swim in the Serpentine Swimming Club, go boating, and play tennis. There are horse riding tracks, such as the famous ‘Rotten Row,’ and a wonderful children’s playground. The park is also popular with cyclists, skaters, walkers, and joggers.
It is home to many fascinating buildings and monuments, including the Diana Memorial Fountain, and has a long history as a protest site. We recommend visiting Speakers’ Corner on a Sunday morning to hear people from all walks of life share their ideas and opinions.
Hyde Park is also the place to enjoy world-class concerts and events throughout the year, from BST Hyde Park to Winter Wonderland. The park is open daily from 5 a.m. to midnight. You can rent deck chairs and have a meal at one of the two restaurants by the lake.
4. Kensington Gardens
Another one of the spectacular London gardens is Kensington Gardens. The gardens were once private gardens of Kensington Palace, but they are now open to the public all year round from 6 a.m. to sunset daily. The royal park covers 100 acres and is planted with formal paths of marvellous trees and ornamental flower beds.
Kensington Gardens is the setting for JM Barrie’s book Peter Pan, and a bronze statue of Peter Pan has been the garden’s favourite feature since 1912. You can find the Italian Gardens on the north side of the park near Lancaster Gate. These ornamental water gardens were allegedly constructed in the 1860s as a gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria and are similar to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, her summer home.
The royal park is also home to the ‘Diana Memorial Playground’, which opened in 2000 in memory of the late Princess. It is a lovely place for children to play with a pirate ship in the middle and plenty of seating for adults to relax and watch their little ones play. With its cafés and plenty to see and do, Kensington Gardens is a great place to spend time and connect with nature during your visit to London.
5. Regent’s Park
In the 1810s, Regent’s Park was designed by renowned architect John Nash. Initially, it was constructed to be the site of a new palace that was never built. The 166-acre park is named after the Prince Regent, who became King George IV.
One of the distinctive gardens of Regent’s Park is Queen Mary’s Garden, with more than 12000 roses, a boating lake, and the largest outdoor sports area in London with opportunities to play football, softball, rugby and cricket. Regent’s park is home to the world-famous ZSL London Zoo—the oldest and most popular zoo in England.
There’s plenty to do for the whole family in Regent’s Park. The view from Primrose Hill, which stretches up to 63 m above sea level, is one of the best in London, offering a great panorama of the city.
6. Bushy Park
Near Hampton Court Palace, there is another London natural gem, the Bushy Park. This park is the second biggest of the royal parks, with an area of 445 acres. One of its features is the 320+ stunning fallow and red deer that roam freely in the land, amongst other wildlife and habitats. This historic park is also known for its ancient trees, woodlands, ponds, and streams, as well as a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Cycling and horse riding are popular here, as well as fishing and playing tennis. Bushy Park is open all year round, so pick a time and get in touch with nature by experiencing all of the park’s glory.
7. Richmond Park
We can’t have a list of London gardens without mentioning the largest royal park, Richmond Park, west of central London. The park covers an area of 1000 acres with wide open spaces, grassy areas, and mature trees and is home to over 650 deer. It is a very peaceful place to unwind and is close to central London.
Richmond Park has a protected status as an important wildlife habitat and is a National Nature Reserve. It’s a popular family park with plenty of space for various activities. You can rent bikes, go fishing, and even enjoy a round of golf at Richmond Park Golf Club.
8. Greenwich Park
Situated on a hill overlooking the River Thames, Greenwich Park is the oldest enclosed London royal park covering 74 acres. It is the largest green space in South East London and offers panoramic views of the city and the River Thames.
In addition to the gardens, you’ll also find the Royal Observatory, which had a memorable impact on the history of navigation and astronomy. It is known worldwide as the site of the Prime Meridian that served as the reference point for Greenwich Mean Time.
Greenwich Park is open all year round from 6 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. and hosts many events throughout the year, including a 5k or 10k race.
9. Ham House and Garden
Scenic gardens surround the 17th-century Ham House, set on the banks of the River Thames. One of the property’s iconic spaces is the Cherry Garden, home to the garden’s only original sculpture, a statue of Bacchus, the god of wine. Walking through the green tunnels designed by John Sleser and Jean Wyck, you are guaranteed to forget about the hustle and bustle of the city.
The local air is full of aromas of lavender and Santolina. Queen Victoria herself is said to have loved strolling through the cherry orchard. Nearby is the South Terrace, which in summer is full of the colours of the lemon and orange trees. Further, you’ll find seclusion among the hornbeam walls leading to the summer houses.
This luxurious garden is located at Ham Street, south of Richmond, in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The nearest Richmond tube station is a half-hour walk away. Admission to the garden costs £3 for an adult and £2 for a child. A family ticket can also be purchased for £8.
10. Phoenix Garden
Whatever time you enter the Phoenix Garden, it will delight your eye with its evergreen trees and flower beds. Visitors who are passionate about gardening and appreciate the beauty of nature are always welcome here.
Even in the hottest weather, Phoenix has a pleasant coolness. Although the size of the garden is smaller than that of London gardens, everyone will find their own cosy corner here, watching the fish in the pond, hiding in the shade of tall trees, or admiring the colourful flowerbeds.
Volunteers take care of this place; thanks to that, every inch of it feels like home. They are ready to share the secrets of caring for these plants if you plan to design a similar garden.
Look for the ornamental Phoenix Garden at 21 Stacey St, London WC2H 8DG. The garden is open 24 hours a day. It is just a short walk from Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square, and Covent Garden tube stations.
11. Jubilee Gardens
The gardens on London’s South Bank opened on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s golden jubilee on the throne. Since then, they have grown noticeably, and in preparation for the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, they have been reconstructed into a full-fledged park.
Visitors can enjoy a magical view of the Thames while sitting between the plantings of trees and flower beds. If you’re bringing your little ones, don’t worry! The garden also has a separate playground for children. You can get a bird’s eye view of it by climbing up on the wheel nearby.
Jubilee Gardens is always open, and you can get there from almost any part of the city, as there are five metro stations: Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross, Blackfriars, and Westminster. The address is 122 Belvedere Rd, South Bank, London.
12. Victoria Embankment Gardens
On the north bank of the Thames, you can find Victoria Embankment Gardens. They were created back in 1874 and consisted of 4 sections; this planning is still in place today.
The place is a popular location for picnics in good weather. Parents with children and employees of the surrounding offices love to sit in the shade over the Thames. The garden boasts a tidy appearance with smooth walking paths, manicured lawns, and trimmed bushes.
Access to the Victoria Embankment is daily from 07:30. Closing times, however, vary according to the seasons and dusk. The address of the gardens is Victoria Embankment, Covent Garden, Villiers Street, London WC2N 6PB. The nearby tube stations, Charing Cross and Embankment, are just 2 minutes from the location.
13. Bernie Spain Gardens
Can a place near the cafes and boutiques of OXO Tower live a mundane life? Bernie Spain Gardens certainly doesn’t. The place is buzzing with events, festivals, and concerts. There are various fairs, sports games, and entertainment almost every day.
The gardens host special meetings and workshops for avid gardeners. Everyone can learn how to grow vegetables, herbs, and other plants there. A bonus is that you can eat lunch, try organic food, share cooking secrets, and meet many like-minded people.
Bernie Spain Gardens is located at South Bank, London SE1 9PH. It is open to the public every day from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., except on Mondays. Nearby tube stations are Waterloo and Southwark.
14. Brown Hart Gardens
If you happen to be on Duke Street, make sure you pay a visit to Brown Hart Gardens. The gardens are located a few minutes away from the tourist-infested street. Despite the crowds, you’ll be surprised by the gardens’ tranquillity and peacefulness.
Although the gardens were created in the late nineteenth century, not all Londoners have heard of them. At Brown Harts, you can relax with a book while sipping a coffee or have lunch at the cafe next door.
The gardens are open Monday to Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00. The nearest subway station is Bond Street.
15. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
While Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park isn’t London’s largest park, it’s certainly one of the most modern. It was created especially for the 2012 Olympics. Although it is not a royal park, it was named after the Queen’s diamond jubilee on the British throne.
The place is best known for its sporting facilities. There are volleyball, basketball, and water polo arenas, water sports centres, ice hockey and tennis venues, a bike park, and many other iconic venues for sports. The Olympic Park is gradually becoming the capital’s scientific and business centre. There, you can find East Bank, a powerhouse for artistic excellence, learning, researching, and much more.
The nearest underground stations are Stratford and Stratford International. There are no communal parking areas, as in many of London’s gardens and parks, but there is one near each building.
16. Bishops Park
The park takes its name from the residence of the Bishop of London in Fulham. It stretches over the Thames and enchants visitors with its picturesque scenery. The most famous part of the park is the clearing of a 500-year-old oak tree where London families have picnics.
Nearby is an orchard of fruit trees under which you can cool off in the summer. Another popular structure at Bishops Park is Craven Cottage, the home stadium of Fulham Football Club. There are also bowling and tennis facilities and a purpose-built pool for children, dating back to the 20th century.
Bishops park is located at Bishop’s avenue, SW6 6SX. The nearby underground stations are Putney Bridge, Parsons Green, and Fulham Broadway. The park can be visited between 9:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.
17. Battersea Park
Talking about London’s gardens and parks, it’s impossible not to mention Battersea Park. It’s located on the South Bank of the River Thames and provides a spectacular view. You can enjoy a boat trip around the lake or relax in the shade by the pond. Stroll through the park alleys, and you’ll find a variety of sculptures and art objects.
For more art, visit the Pump House Gallery in Battersea Park. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the Millenium Arena and the nearby sports fields. If weather permits, you can take in a game of cricket or tennis or rent a bike for a spin. The zoo and the playground are great for kids.
Find all these attractions at Albert Bridge Road, Battersea, London SW11 4NJ. Nearby tube stations are Vauxhall and Stockwell. The park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until sunset.
18. Osterley Park
Osterley Park is part of the magnificent Tudor estate of the same name. In the morning, there’s a mysterious mist on the lakes, and in the afternoon, you’ll see proud white swans. In spring, the lawns are decked out in flowerbeds, providing a feast for visitors’ eyes.
Although the estate is located in the heart of Isleworth, the park and its gardens are set back a little further. This spot serves as the perfect escape for some peace. The wide paths are ideal for jogging and cycling, while the large meadows provide a cosy setting for a picnic.
The address of Osterley Park is Jersey Road, Isleworth, Hounslow, London. There is an Osterley underground station nearby and a Hounslow station a little further. The park is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until sunset.
If you get tired of strolling around the city and want to experience something new, check out our list of unusual things to do in London!