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.
Admission: Free. Opens 5am – midnight daily.
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.
Admission: Free. Hyde Park opens 5am – 12am daily, while Kensington Gardens opens 6am to dusk daily.
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.
Admission: Free. Additional fees apply to The Hub and London Zoo. Opens 5am daily, closing hours vary with season.