The best London outdoor areas

London's outdoor areas offer something for everyone this summer.

7 July, 2023

London is well known for being one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. So it might surprise you to find out that it's also one of the greenest. The Capital has an incredible 3,000 green spaces, and in 2019 was named as the world's first National Park City. London's outdoor areas truly come alive in the summer. Read on for all the best picnic spots, views of the city, and places you can get close to nature.

The Regent's Park and Primrose Hill

Perfect for: sports enthusiasts

Located in the heart of the city, Regent's Park is a true urban oasis. One of London's eight Royal Parks, it was named after the Prince Regent, who was sometimes known by the cheeky nickname 'the playboy prince'.

The park truly offers something for everyone, with beautifully manicured rose gardens, a boating lake and four children's playgrounds.  It has central London's largest outdoor sports area and offers a plethora of options for sporting enthusiasts such as football and cricket. It’s also home to the world-famous London Zoo. Animal lovers of all ages can encounter wildlife up close here – from majestic lions to mischievous monkeys. In the heart of the park is the renowned Open Air Theatre – a magical venue that brings classic plays, musicals, and performances to life against the backdrop of nature.

And just a stone’s throw away is Primrose Hill. Famous for its panoramic views of London’s skyline, it’s the perfect spot to see iconic landmarks such as the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Shard. Primrose Hill’s streets are lined with pastel coloured houses, boutiques, cafés, restaurants, and pubs. The charming neighbourhood is a popular destination for al fresco dining in the summer.

Kensington Gardens

Perfect for: art aficionados

A peaceful escape from the buzz of the city, Kensington Gardens is known for its lush greenery, immaculate flowerbeds, and tranquil lakes.

Kensington Palace, birthplace of Queen Victoria, is situated within the grounds and is a major tourist attraction. With exquisite architecture, history enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to its numerous exhibitions to learn all about its royal roots. The Serpentine Galleries are also well worth a visit. With innovative artworks and installations from renowned artists, the venue also hosts an exciting programme of events in the summer.

And for little Londoners, a trip to the Diana Memorial Playground is a must. Inspired by the adventures of Peter Pan, there’s a giant wooden pirate ship to explore, as well as slides, swings, climbing frames, and sculptures.

Hyde Park

Perfect for: music fans

Spanning over 350 acres, Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in the Capital and seamlessly merges with Kensington Gardens. Its central location makes it the perfect sightseer’s escape from the city’s buzz.

The vast green space is only a stone’s throw away from landmarks including the Natural History Museum, the Royal Albert Hall, and Harrods. And although its lush gardens make it a beautiful spot to rest and relax, it’s also known for an exciting line up of summer events. From concerts and music festivals to cultural celebrations and sports activities, there’s always something happening. The park is also home to several notable memorials and monuments including the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, the Holocaust Memorial, the Animals in War Memorial, and the Achilles Statue.

Battersea Park

Perfect for: animal lovers

One of south London’s most treasured gems, Battersea Park was designed by the renowned architect Sir James Pennethorne in the mid 19th century. Today, the lush green space continues to captivate locals and visitors alike with its timeless beauty and vibrant atmosphere.

The perfect place to unwind and relax in nature, Battersea Park boasts a dazzling lake, picturesque boating ponds, and breathtaking gardens. Sports enthusiasts will find their playground here, while the little ones can delight in the wonders of the children’s zoo. Plus, the park hosts a fantastic line up of events and festivals that will keep you entertained all summer long.

Clapham Common

Perfect for: little ones

Londoners from all corners of the city flock to Clapham Common for its brilliant events. From music festivals and outdoor concerts, to food markets and community gatherings, there’s something happening all summer long.

The common is in the heart of the neighbourhood, with plenty of cafés, restaurants, pubs, and shops in close proximity. It’s also a great area for families, with an award-winning playground, wildlife area, and ample picnic spots. For the sporty, there’s facilities for football, cricket, tennis, basketball, and netball, as well as fitness stations, and open spaces for running, cycling, or simply enjoying a stroll in nature.

Brockwell Park

Perfect for: expansive green space

With its vast hilly landscape and wide range of recreational facilities, Brockwell Park has something for everyone. Originally the private residence of John Blades, a famous London glass merchant, it is now a network of ponds, trees and a walled Old English flower garden, making it the perfect spot for picnics or a peaceful Sunday stroll.

The popular outdoor lido has been open since 1937 and is a haven for families as well as those looking to stay active or for somewhere to sunbathe. The park is also home to a miniature ride on railway and BMX track, both run by the local community, providing delight for children and adults alike.

Every summer Brockwell Park plays host to a series of events, including the Lambeth country show where over 12,000 people congregate to enjoy live music, local street food and traditional events like sheep shearing and horse jousting.

Greenwich Park

Perfect for: space explorers

Overlooking the River Thames, the iconic Greenwich Park offers breathtaking views of the city’s skyline. The historic green space is one of the oldest enclosed Royal Parks in the UK and dates all the way back to Roman times.

The beautiful landscape was designed by André Le Nôtre (the mastermind behind the magnificent gardens of Versailles) in the 17th century. With lush green meadows, ancient tree avenues, and tranquil flower and herb gardens, the park offers an unparalleled escape from the bustle of the city.

And if culture is your thing, there’s plenty to take in. The birthplace of Greenwich Meantime (GMT), visitors can learn all about time and space at the Royal Observatory. Stand on the Prime Meridian to capture a unique photo – with one foot in the east and the other in the west. The Peter Harrison Planetarium is also not to be missed, with stargazing, astronomy and science sessions for kids.

Hampstead Heath

Perfect for: wild swimmers 

A sprawling expanse of untamed natural beauty, Hampstead Heath is known for its rolling hills, ancient woodlands, and serene ponds. At 98m, it’s also one of the highest points in London, offering unparalleled views of the city.

‘The Heath’, as it’s fondly known to locals, is steeped in history and has been an inspiration to poets, writers, and artists for centuries. Its rugged yet romantic landscape is a favourite with dog walkers, runners, and kite flyers alike.

The area has approximately 30 ponds thanks to artificial dams that were constructed over 300 years ago. A must-visit during the summer months, three ponds are open for outdoor swimming. It’s one of London’s most unique and unforgettable ways to relax and experience nature.

Kew Gardens

Perfect for: budding botanists

Kew Gardens is a botanical paradise boasting a collection of over 50,000 living plants from around the world. Well worth the admission ticket, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its meticulously curated gardens, educational exhibits, and conservation of endangered plants.

You'll need a whole day to even scratch the surface of the wonders of Kew Gardens. If you do only one thing whilst you're there, make sure you visit the iconic glasshouses. A stunning feat of Victorian engineering, The Palm House is home to towering palm trees, and lush tropical plants. Whilst the Temperate House, the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse in the world, showcases an astounding array of plants from temperate regions.

Also teeming with wildlife in the summer months is the Treetop Walkway. This elevated walkway allows you to stroll among the canopy of trees, offering breathtaking views. It's a truly immersive experience that will leave you feeling like you're walking amongst giants.

Richmond Park

Perfect for: wildlife enthusiasts

Richmond Park is one of the best places in London for wildlife encounters. It's one of the largest Royal Parks in the city and is famous for its majestic, free-roaming deer, as well as being home to a variety of bird species.

A favourite of monarchs throughout history, the park is also renowned for its breathtaking vistas – with rolling hills, ancient woodlands, and expansive meadows as far as the eye can see. Enjoy sweeping views of the city from King Henry's Mound, and the River Thames meanders through the landscape. Be sure to check out the stunning display of azaleas in the Isabella Planation come late April and early May.

From walks and runs along its expansive trails, to horse riding, cycling, and picnicking, there's an activity to please everyone.

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