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Did you know that over 40% of London is made up of green spaces? Or that there are over eight million trees dotting the city? With so many parks and gardens to choose from, we’ve made it easier and whittled it down to the best 10 to visit in spring!
The park takes its name from the Crystal Palace Exhibition Building, a magnificent Victorian glass and iron building that originally housed the 1851 Great Exhibition but was unfortunately destroyed in a fire nearly 100 years later.
Today, you can still see the surviving Italian Terraces which are flanked by large stone sphinxes. The park also features various facilities and attractions like the National Sports Centre, an athletic stadium, a city farm and one of the largest mazes in the country.
Don’t leave without visiting the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, full-sized Victorian concrete dinosaurs and extinct animal sculptures that are currently listed as Grade I heritage monuments.
The oldest royal park in London, Greenwich Park offers fantastic views of London from the top of the hill by the Royal Observatory. In the heart of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage site, the park is also home to the historic Prime Meridian line.
Start your day with a climb up the hill overlooking the Old Royal Naval College. Here, you can witness the dropping of the bright red time ball at Flamsteed house at 1pm daily – a traditional sign for passing ships.
Later, wander further into the park to see the small herd of Red and Fallow Deer that have been here since the park was enclosed in the 15th century. Or stop to enjoy the open space with a panoramic view of the River Thames to the Docklands.
Rich in biodiversity, this park and National Nature Reserve is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna living harmoniously together – it’s a rare sight to see 650 Red and Fallow deer roaming free amongst 1,000 ancient trees of historic and ecological importance!
Further in the park, native plants and exotics are grown throughout the Isabella Plantation, an organic woodland garden planted in the 1830s. The Victorian plantation also holds several ponds and streams, providing a habitat for a variety of amphibians and invertebrates.
Popular with bike and horse riders for the tranquil and peaceful environment, it is also here at London’s largest royal park that you’ll find an unobstructed, protected view of St. Paul’s Cathedral some 16km away (10 miles) from King Henry’s Mound.
At 790 acres, this large northern London park is great for long walks, making it a popular choice for dog walkers and owners. With a mix of woodland scrub and manicured lawns coupled with an impressive view of London from the Parliament Hill Fields, one feels transported to the countryside at the heath. Here you’ll also find open-air ponds for swimmers willing to brave the cold and a quaint zoo at the neighbouring Golders Hill Park.
The former state home here – the Kenwood House – has also opened its doors, allowing members of the public to view its artworks and enjoy an afternoon at its café.
The home of the London 2012 Olympic Games is now a large public park with lots to see and do. The once-exclusive sporting venues such as the Lee Valley VeloPark and London Aquatics Centre are now open to all. Up for more activity? There are trails to follow to see park’s various artworks and guided walking and boat tours where you can discover more of the 560-acre park. Kids will love the climbing wall and the summer fountains as well as the large Tumbling Bay playground.
If there’s only time for one attraction, let it be the Arcelormittal Orbit. Also known as UK’s tallest sculpture, the looping structure holds a viewing platform 80 metres up in the sky, as well as a 178-metre-long slide that will take you from top to bottom in just 40 seconds!
A World Heritage Site with impressive tropical glasshouses, a treetop walkway, a pagoda and art gallery, a day out at the Kew Gardens will be one you’ll never forget.
Housing the largest and most diverse range of plant and fungi in the world, this Royal Botanical Gardens offers both the curious and academic a fascinating learning experience. For history buffs, check out Kew Palace and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, the home of George III and his wife’s retreat.
If you’ve little ones in tow, the Gardens is also very family-friendly, with plenty of indoor and outdoor play areas and an Explorer Land train that takes you around the park.
Reaching from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square, St James’s Park is a wonderfully central green space to enjoy. Well-known as the venue for royal ceremonies such as the Horse Guards Parade and Trooping of the Colour, the best views of the Palace and ceremonies are from The Blue Bridge.
In the warmer months, there’s plenty to do and enjoy in the park. For a slow afternoon, hire a deck chair or enjoy dining on the terrace at the café. For animal lovers, head to Duck Island near the lake to catch a glimpse of the resident pelicans basking on the rocks and being fed fresh fish. First gifted to the park nearly 400 years ago, there are more than 40 pelicans who have made the park their home today.
Holding the title of the largest Royal Park in London, Hyde Park seamlessly merges with Kensington Gardens to give a sprawling 625 acres of green space in the heart of London.
With its large open space, Hyde Park is a popular choice for big-name concerts and sporting events in the summer months. Visitors can also opt to go horse-riding or watch the Household Calvary travel through the park from their Hyde Park Barracks to the Horse Guards Parade at Buckingham Palace daily. The park also sees regular skate meets, plenty of boat hires out on The Serpentine lake and even a Speakers’ Corner where anyone is welcome to share their views every Sunday.
Searching for a quiet space amidst the many activities? The more formal Kensington Gardens is perfect for more peaceful pursuits such as contemplative walks and family picnics away from the bustling Hyde Park.
This royal park was commissioned by The Prince Regent (later King George IV) in the early 19th century. Designed by architect John Nash, the park covers 410 acres and has the largest grass area for sports in central London. At The Hub – the largest sports facility in London – are a number of pitches for cricket, football, rugby and softball. And at the lake, boats and pedalos are available for hire.
If you just want to wander among flora, the Avenue Gardens and Broad Walk have delightful formal planting, while London’s largest collection of roses can be found at Queen Mary’s Gardens. For much-needed alone time, St John’s Lodge is a wonderful ‘secret’ garden to spend an afternoon in.
If spring is too cold for a park visit, come during the summer instead and enjoy performances at the Open Air Theatre. Otherwise, cosy up to the residents at the London Zoo, which is open all year round.
Vast areas of urban woodland meet with free-roaming wildlife at the serene Holland Park. Located in the heart of Kensington, it is the perfect hideout from the city.
Start your walk from the formal gardens near the ruins of the Jacobean Holland House, which was mostly destroyed during the Second World War. The ruins also form the backdrop for the open-air theatre, where the Opera Holland Park performs every summer.
Later, retreat to the Kyoto Garden and enjoy the show of precise, meticulous gardening in this hidden oasis – even the bushes are shaped to look like waves! Designed with Japanese symbolism in mind, features such as the three-tiered waterfall are influenced by the number 3, an ode to the Buddhist trinity. In spring, the garden is decked out with cherry blossoms in full bloom.
Can’t wait to spend an afternoon at a park this spring? Make any of our properties in London your base and enjoy easy access to these parks while staying in the heart of the city.
And to complete your experience of London, why not take a royal tour of the city with our handy guide?