If you live in London and you work hard, the chances are that your surroundings are mostly pretty dull – your office walls and the Tube.
But London is truly worth all the songs, books, films and plays that have been written about it – can you believe these places are in London?
Kew Gardens – incredible botanical gardens in West London
Kew Gardens are 121 hectares of gorgeous gardens and botanical glasshouses positioned between Richmond and Kew (in southwest London). The gardens are on a mission not only to be beautiful (which they are) but to contribute to research and nurturing of the plant kingdom. The gardens are used as a source for scientific advances in horticulture, and the Park is also a UNESCO site.
Within the gardens, you can visit the glasshouse, rainforests, tree-themed playground, landscaped gardens and even take a guided tour of the Park. The Riverside zone runs beside the Thames where you can see the 17th century Dutch House, the Herbarium and the formal Queen’s gardens. You can also visit several museums within the gardens, and other highlights include the aquatic gardens, Sackler Crossing, Waterlily Pond, a pagoda, Bamboo Garden, Japanese Gateway and several temples.
Mayfield Lavender Farm, near Croydon
Who wouldn’t want to drive on a red tractor through fields of lavender?
Take a trip to Mayfield Lavender Farm to immerse yourself in the calming scent of the field, not to mention the stunning views into London.
The idyllic scene is situated just outside of Croydon, in Banstead, and it is open from June to September for the summer run.
Not only can you wander through 25 acres of lavender fields, but you can fully immerse yourself in the world of lavender, trying out the farm’s lavender ice cream and lavender cider.
Richmond Park – an ancient deer hunting park in SouthWest London
Richmond Park is located in the Southwest London town of Richmond. It is the largest of the Royal Parks in London, including various landscapes, woodlands, grasslands, ponds and even hills. There is also an area of 700-year-old Oak trees and Isabella Plantation which is an organically designed woodland garden.
There is a golf park, bike hire, places to fish and several points where you can enjoy kite flying. Nearly 600 deer wander through the wooded areas as Richmond Park used to be an ancient deer-hunting park. There are five locations within the Park where you can enjoy a snack or meal, including Pembroke Lodge – a Georgian house surrounded by an elegantly landscaped garden.
Hampstead Heath – one of London’s most popular open green spaces
Easily one of the most cherished green areas in London, this is a trendy and much-loved area of London which can be found in the well-heeled area of Hampstead. The ‘Heath’ is a natural-looking park with a mixture of landscapes including hills, ponds, woodlands and open grassy areas. For the more active visitors, the site is home to eight playgrounds running tracks, three swimming pools, grassland, forests, ponds and sports areas. In some places, the Heath has been left in its natural state with long untouched wild grass and clusters of ancient hedgerows and old trees.
In the grounds, you can visit the English Heritage property Kenwood House or take in the spectacular views over London from Parliament Hill.
Regent’s Park – London’s most elegant and beautiful Park
One of the most beautiful parks in London, Regent’s Park (and the adjoining Primrose Hill) is an elegant central park beloved by locals and overseas visitors alike. It’s known for its incredible rose gardens as well being home to the largest outdoor sports area in London. The hub is the Park’s community sports centre, and on the lake, you can hire a rowing or pedal boat. For kids, there is a separate children’s lake with pedal boats to suit them. Sporty types will also enjoy the Park’s tennis courts.
You also won’t go hungry wandering around Regents Park with no less than nine eateries in the Park mostly serving lunches, snacks and coffees. Don’t leave without taking a stroll up the favourite celebrity hangout Primrose Hill where you can catch great views of London.
Ham House Gardens – one of London’s best-kept secrets
Ham House is located in an idyllic spot on the River Thames in Ham (in South West London). Built-in 1610, it is owned by the National Trust. The beautiful gardens have recently been restored to their former plan from the 1600s. A beautiful open space in London – especially on sunny days – you can enjoy the Cherry Garden with its blossoming cherry trees and the South Terrace which has rich, sweeping lawns.
Stop at for a bite to eat at the Orangery Cafe (which has fresh ingredients supplied by the kitchen garden) and wander the picturesque medieval maze. The Park borders the River Thames and is an ideal spot for picnics or a trip to the nearby famous Eel pie island.
Kensington Palace Gardens – one of the most expensive addresses in London
The elegant Kensington Gardens surround the Kensington Palace, a royal residence located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Built-in 1689 the palace was home to Princess Diana and was also the birthplace of Queen Victoria.
A stunning green area in London, the formal landscaped gardens was once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, but now they are part of the Royal Parks of London Kensington Gardens. You can view waterbirds on the pond opposite the palace or follow the Long Water and Serpentine Rivers through the Park. At the end of the Long River is the pretty Italian Water Garden, with fountains, ponds and statues. Kids will love the bronze statue of Peter Pan, and the Diana Memorial Playground, which has a Peter Pan theme.
James’s Park – a beautiful park in the City of Westminster, central London
This is a relatively small Royal Park bordering the Mall – the red road which leads to Buckingham Palace. The Mall is also the Queen’s ceremonial route. On the other side of the Park is the Horseguard Parade, where you can see the annual Trooping of the Color as well as the palace guards practising their moves.
The lake dominates the stunning London park in the centre which can be crossed on the Blue Bridge. The central lake is also the perfect place to see water birds, especially the resident pelicans which get feed every day at 2:30. Among the five refreshment points is the ‘Inn the Park’ which was built using Green technology.
Cruising down a Venetian lagoon in The Floating City of love and bridges.
Exactly! Who needs a gondola ride when they can sail through London’s most picturesque narrowboat haunt? This tranquil spot, just north of Paddington, packs in just as much romantic charm as its Italian counterpart. Why not treat yourself to a cruise up the river in one of the quaint narrowboat tours, or enjoy a spot of water-borne theatre on the Puppet Theatre Barge. Rialto Bridge, eat your heart out.
You could easily be on a tropical island. A gentle breeze is wafting through the palm trees as you wiggle your toes in a pond full of exotic fish.
Ah, sounds like heaven!
Joke! You’re in the Barbican, and you aren’t allowed to dip your toes into the fish pond. In the maze of this brutalist masterpiece, the Barbican Centre’s conservatory is a hidden oasis. Filled with over 2,000 species of exotic plants that tumble over the concrete balustrades, it’s made all the more brilliant by how amazing it is. There are few better places to escape London for a bit of tropical serenity.
Dutch architecture in a flower-filled field in Holland.
Didn’t we just passed Brockwell Park?
We may still be in Zone 2, but that won’t stop you missing out on ogling at a bit of Dutch-style engineering. Ashby’s Mill or ‘Brixton Mill’ was standing tall in Lambeth even before Queen Victoria was a nipper. It supplied wholemeal flour to West End hotels and restaurants until 1934 before it fell into disrepair. It’s since been treated to a £60,000 restoration and you can now snoop around all its nooks and crannies in one of the mill’s regular tours. You can even buy freshly ground flour there when you visit.
Hampton Court Gardens – superb gardens which were once Henry Vlll’s favourite hangout
This is Henry VIII’s favourite Royal hangout located in London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Greater London. Hampton Court is worth a visit and the gardens are outstanding. They are internationally renowned for being amongst the most beautiful gardens in the world. You can view the original Victorian garden walls and canals outlining the landscaped flower beds. In the kitchen garden, see fruit and vegetables grown organically; take the challenging maze to reach the Gothic tower in the centre and then explore the underground tunnel which leads to a waterfall and sunken garden.
The garden has repeatedly been restored, the latest part being the Lower Orangery Garden. If it’s a sunny day, you should get a boat from Westminster (central London) which takes you along the Thames to the gardens.
The Kyoto Garden in Holland Park – a tranquil oasis for stressed-out Londoners
Holland Park is both a popular district and a gorgeous public park in West-central London. These pretty Japanese Kyoto Gardens are based within Holland Park. The Kyoto Garden was designed to celebrate the Japanese garden culture, and garden specialists flew from Kyoto, Japan to plan the layout of the Park. The Kyoto Gardens are small and intimate and create a real haven from the bustle of London. There is a Maple tree next to a mini-waterfall which runs into a pond with Japanese carp fish as well as rock gardens and trimmed flower beds. Visit for some Zen meditation!
The rest of the Park surrounds Holland House and is free to the public. The Park consists of a large pond with a waterfall garden, playgrounds, a sports areas and has many places to buy refreshments.
Lee Valley Park – a beloved London green space northeast of Greater London
This is an enormous stretch of parkland that follows the River Lee from Ware to the Thames East India Dock Basin. The Park lends itself to plenty of sporting activities in the river (white water rafting, fishing, kayaking) and on land (camping, bird watching, cycling, golf, horse riding, ice skating). There are many examples of fine architecture within the Park, including Myddelton House and the remains of the Augustinian Waltham Abbey. There are also three mills in the Park including the oldest tidal mill in Britain.
Lee Valley Park holds its heritage sites and a nature reserve which is home to wildlife such as otters. Also, the 23-mile Park was chosen as part of the site for the 2012 Olympic Games (they own 20 per cent of the Olympic Park).
If you are looking for even more green spaces in London, then you should also try Battersea Park, Greenwich Park, Clapham Common, Wimbledon and Putney Commons, Streatham Common or the medieval gardens of the Art Deco Eltham Palace. Also have a look at some amazing places for stunning london walks.