We know, we know; we’ve already told you our invaluable insider insight into London’s best parks, but we also know that not every park is right for every occasion. Kind of like how you could be an avid fan of Diet Coke but every now and then you just have to reach for the full-fat, full-sugar regular, sometimes one park won’t have that something our former EU family would call je ne sais quoi (don’t worry Europeans, you’re still welcome in London!).
So thinking of it this way, join us as we delve deeper into the best parks in London – but not in a George-Michael-on-Hampstead-Heath way – and explore the parks that serve the best purpose.
Just a walk in the park – The best parks in London for a walk
Sometimes all you have to do is walk it off. Walk off a bad mood, a bad day or maybe the complete opposite; walk because you’re not having a bad day. The thing about heading to a park for a walk is you don’t want to end up picking the one littered with tourists, or just littered full stop.
Once known as ‘the jewel in the crown’ this park has a lot to live up to; luckily it walks the walk as much as it talks the talk. What makes this park so ideal for a good stroll is the landscaping and architecture that went behind it. It is considered one of the more formally organised parks in London, and it has been designed in a way to create the perfect absent-minded path to amble along. Stunning flower beds, structured gardens, a boating lake and a zoo – yes, a zoo! – give it that special combination of things to see and think about whilst also allowing you to wander off into your own thoughts.
What makes this huge, 800 acre park a perfect walking spot, other than the fact that there’s 800 acres of it to walk around, is the all the hidden spots and areas of woodland that remain within. The Heath is one of London’s greatest all-round parks as you could enjoy an unspoiled walk, go for a dip in the ponds and take in perhaps one of the best views in all of London.
Let’s Get Physical
A park in London provides the perfect space to keep fit and avoid the stagnation of jogging in a stuffy, sweaty overcrowded gym.
Based in South East London, this park not only benefits from being less central and crowded than others, but a gluttony of recent renovations make it a prime spot to sculpt those abs and squat it down low. They have a selection of free workout areas that include sit-up benches, pull-up bars and machines that will improve your cardio workout. They are also in the process of reopening their new-and-improved professional running track. There are also several tennis courts to book out and a little café on sight if you need to replenish after a hard workout.
Crystal Palace Park:
Not only does this park have the Great Maze – one of the largest in the country, covering nearly 2000 square yards – Crystal Palace Park is a great place for joggers and cyclists with masses of open areas to get the heart racing and the park is home to the National Sports Centre, making it a destination stop for the fitness fanatics amongst us.
Park yourself in front of that view – The best views in London
We would be remiss to not include this, and perhaps only this, park as the best of all views of London. Primrose Hill offers a staggering panoramic view of the city that could soften the mood of any jaded city-slicker and have your heart swooning for this great city all over again. What’s even more of a bonus is that Primrose Hill does not close like many other parks; catch the sunrise and the sunset and get some Instagram shots bound to rake in the likes and have people desperate to move to London too. (Just tell them to download our app and they could be instagramming with you next time).
An unusual, lesser-known attraction, this South East London hill sits just on the outskirts of Russia Dock Woodland and boasts an unbelievable skyline for such a low-key destination. When you climb the steps of Stave Hill, you have both the city skyline with all major attractions directly visible in front – the Gherkin, the London Eye, the Shard – and if you just look behind you you will also get undisturbed views of Canary Wharf.
Parks and Recreation: The best parks near attractions
The following parks offer little tastes exclusive to London so escaping to the green space doesn’t feel like you’ve left London.
St. James’ Park:
One of the smaller Royal Parks, St James’ Park is a 57 acre piece of serene, fairytale-worthy heaven sharing close quarters with the likes of Buckingham Palace, The Mall, Horseguards and Birdcage Walk. Just across the way from Green Park station, this park is a great spot for tourists and sightseers – or a perfect, accessible dose of nature for those who are working centrally and just fancy a quick five minutes with the great outdoors.
Consider St James’ Park to be like the Jekyll of London’s Royal Parks – small, gentle, unassuming – and consider Hyde Park to be the, er, Hyde – big, loud and unavoidable. Pretty much in the heart of London sandwiched between Marble Arch and Kensington, Hyde Park is a multi-purpose park. Cyclists love it, tourists love it, politicians and demonstrators alike come here to fight it out at Speakers’ Corner, music lovers come for the huge festivals. Hyde Park is London’s way of saying yes, we do actually have green spaces and yes, we know how to use them.
Bring a book, catch some rays, walk your dog – the best of the rest:
Some of London’s other parks generally fulfil a lot of these in one – not to brag to the rest of the country, but London is 47% green space after all.
The oldest purpose-built park in the city – built back in 1845 – Victoria Park is a picture-postcard park which offers a tranquil window into the London of yesteryear for the Londoners of today.It’s still considered to be one of the best parks in London (and one of the most popular), winning numerous awards over the years and developing a reputation for amazing live music festivals such as LoveBox and Field Day, as well as being a perfect spot to sit quietly with a good book, sunbathe in peace or just switch your brain off and enjoy being still.
Impossible to leave off any ‘best parks in London’ list, this is one park that is the jack of all trades. It fills its 200 acres well with a stunning boating lake, extensive grounds you are free to explore, an art gallery, views of the Thames and a zoo – yes, another one, this time with a donkey! Great if you want to get away and catch some alone time, but even better if you want to impress a love interest – a one kilometre promenade along the river front is one of the most romantic places in London and will have you feeling like you’re in a Nicholas Sparks novel.
Ignore what outsiders say about ‘the Big Smoke,’ we’ve proven that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. London’s grass is plenty green, thank you very much.