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The 7 Best Parks in London, England, for First-Time Visitors

London Parks
by Matador Creators Mar 27, 2023

London is known for its rich history, culture, and diverse range of attractions, from the Tower of London to the many centuries-old pubs that dot its historic streets. But what many people may not know is that London is also home to an impressive array of parks and green spaces. The city boasts over 3,000 parks, gardens, and other green areas, and some of the most famous ones are also the easiest to reach from downtown.

The history of London is intimately connected with its parks and green spaces as they’ve served as meeting places, performance venues, hunting grounds, and even military training areas over the centuries. As the city grew and developed, these green spaces became increasingly important, providing spaces for relaxation, exercise, and recreation for people of all ages in a place that’s otherwise extremely developed and sprawling.

Where to find the best parks in London

The best parks in London are scattered throughout the city, so there’s a good chance you’ll be close to one regardless of where you stay. Many of the biggest parks in London also have several entrances, making them easy to access from different parts of the city.

London has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses, the Tube, and river boats, plus multiple bike share programs. If you’re planning to use public transportation, buy an Oyster card for touchless payments that work across most modes of publication transportation.

The best parks in London

Hyde Park

hyde park - parks in london view of palace

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Hyde Park is one of the largest and most famous parks in London. It was originally established by King Henry VIII in the 16th century as a hunting ground and was opened to the public about a century later in 1637.

Visitors can take a boat ride on the park’s Serpentine Lake, enjoy a picnic on the grass, or visit some of the park’s monuments and statues. The park is also a great place to go for a run or a bike ride, or explore attractions like the Rose Garden, with more than 4,000 roses. You can rent boats for about $30 for a family.

A popular trail is the Diana Memorial Walk, named for Diana, Princess of Wales (and mother to Princes William and Harry). It’s a seven-mile trail that winds through several of the most famous parks in London, including Hyde Park.

And try to stop by Speaker’s Corner. It’s a well-known location in Hyde Park where people can express their opinions and ideas freely on any topic they choose at any time, provided they keep it more or less civil.

  • Closest Tube stop: Hyde Park Corner
  • Hours: 5 AM – 12 AM
  • Fee: Free

Greenwich Park

Parks in london - greenwich park observatory

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Greenwich Park is in southeast London and is best known for stunning views of the city skyline. The park features a large hill, a flower garden, and the Royal Observatory, which is one of the top sights in London. Greenwich Park has been used for a variety of purposes over the centuries, including a military training ground and an area for the Royal Artillery to practice using anti-aircraft guns in WWII.

Visitors can explore the park’s many walking trails, take in the beauty of the flower gardens, or visit the famous Royal Observatory. The Royal Observatory is famous for its role in determining Greenwich Mean Time (GMT),  the standard time for much of the world. The observatory also houses a museum on the history of timekeeping and astronomy, with telescopes and other scientific instruments used over the centuries.

In the park, visitors can stand on the Prime Meridian line, marked by a brass strip in the courtyard of the Royal Observatory. That means you’ll be standing in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres at the same time. Don’t forget to take a photo standing in both hemispheres.

  • Closest Tube stop: North Greenwich
  • Hours: Varies seasonally
  • Fee: free, but the Observatory is 16 Pounds for adults (about $19), £8 for kids (about $10), and £10 (about $12) for students

Hampstead Heath

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Hampstead Heath covers more than 790 acres and was first mentioned in historical records way back in the 13th century. The park has inspired many famous writers and poets over the years, including John Keats, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. One of Keats’ most famous works, “Ode to a Nightingale,” was inspired by a bird’s song in the Heath. Stevenson, on the other hand, was drawn to Hampstead Heath’s dark, misty ambiance, which inspired parts of his novel “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

This is one of the best parks in London for fans of historical life in England as it’s home to Kenwood House, a historic stately home with an art collection and beautiful gardens. It dates to the early 1600s and was a residence for a number of prominent English individuals before it became a museum. It showcases an impressive collection from artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner, Constable, and Gainsborough.

  • Closest Tube stop: Hampstead Station
  • Hours: Roughly 7 AM – dusk
  • Fee: Both the park and Kenwood House are free, though it’s best to reserve a ticket online in advance

Kensington Gardens

kensington gardens - parks in london

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Kensington Gardens is one of the Royal Parks of London and is adjacent to Hyde Park, making them two of the best parks in London to visit back to back. The park covers 274 acres and is primarily known for its beautiful gardens, statues, and monuments.

It was originally part of Hyde Park, but was separated in 1728 at the request of Queen Caroline, the wife of King George II. When she separated them, Hyde Park stayed public while Kensington Gardens became the exclusive property of the monarchy. It’s public now, of course, and has been the site of many important events, including the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Kensington Gardens is home to many notable attractions, including the Albert Memorial, a grand statue and monument to Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria (who ruled for so long that they named the entire “Victorian” era after her. The park is also home to the 1912 Peter Pan statue, where you’ll sometimes see visitors waiting in line to take photos. Another popular feature of the park are the Italian Gardens, a beautifully landscaped garden area with fountains and statues.

  • Closest Tube stop: High Street Kensington
  • Hours: Roughly 7 AM – dusk
  • Fee: Free, but there’s a fee to tour Kensington Palace. Adults are £25.40 (roughly $31), kids are £12.70 (roughly $15).

Victoria Park

parks in london - statue on pond

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Victoria Park is in East London and is known for its beautiful lakes, walking paths, and picnic areas. The park covers 212 acres and with several monuments and a popular children’s playground. It’s also the site of London music festivals like Lovebox and Field Day, plus outdoor art exhibitions and summer movie screenings.

Victoria Park was the first public park in the world to install lighting for night-time use, which was quite high-tech at the time. This innovation was introduced in 1872, and was soon followed by an aviary for exotic birds (which is no longer there).

The Victoria Park Memoryscape Trail is a self-guided walking tour of Victoria Park with informational signage and exhibits on the park’s history. It’s £10 to rent a headset, which is refunded when you return it. Most people spend about 90 minutes walking the route.

  • Closest Tube stop: Bow Road Station
  • Hours: Roughly 7 AM – dusk
  • Fee: Free

Crystal Palace Park

crystal palace parks in london dinosaurs

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Crystal Palace Park opened in 1854 on the site of the former Crystal Palace, a large glass-and-iron structure built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 (the World’s Fair). The park was designed to showcase the Crystal Palace and its extensive collection of sculptures, fountains, and other decorative elements.

And if you like quirky things to do see, listen up: the park is also known for its famous dinosaur statues. They were created by the artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins in the mid-19th century and were some of the first scientifically accurate (ish) depictions of dinosaurs ever created.

The maze in Crystal Palace Park was designed by the landscape architect James Pennethorne in 1853, and is one of the oldest mazes in the country. If you solve it, stand atop the central viewing platform for a bird’s-eye view of the maze.

The park has a PDF you can download to find the art and displays throughout the park, including the famous dinosaurs.

  • Closest Tube stop: Crystal Palace Mainline Station
  • Hours: Roughly 7 AM – dusk
  • Fee: Free

Regent’s Park

Regencts park London flowers

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Regent’s Park is home to the London Zoo as well as many beautiful gardens and walking paths — but it’s very well-known for gardens.

In fact, Regent’s is one of the best parks in London if you love flowers. One of the most unique features of Regent’s Park is the Avenue Gardens, a formal garden with several rare and exotic plant species. It’s also home to Queen Mary’s Garden, a sprawling area with 12,000 roses from 85 varieties (and one of the largest collections of roses in London). It also has other flowers and plants including delphiniums, pansies, and fuchsias. And don’t forget to stop by the Wildlife Garden, with plants designed to attract a variety of birds, insects, and other wildlife to the area.

Regent’s Park is home to several hiking and walking, like the Outer Circle trail, a 2.4-mile loop that takes visitors past some of the park’s most iconic landmarks, including the London Zoo and the Open Air Theatre.

  • Closest Tube stop: Regents Park
  • Hours: Varies seasonally
  • Fee: Free

Where to stay in London

We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

The Hoxton, Shoreditch

parks in london - hoxton hotel bedroom

Photo: Expedia

The Hoxton Shoreditch is a trendy hotel in the vibrant Shoreditch neighborhood of London, one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods known for street art, food markets, and nightlife. The hotel is in a former factory and has stylish rooms, an on-site restaurant and bar, and a rooftop terrace with views over the city. Rooms start at $219 per night.

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The Treehouse London

parks in london - treehouse hotel bar

Photo: Expedia

The Treehouse London is a unique boutique hotel with a playful street-art design in Marylebone, one of the most picturesque and central neighborhoods in London. The 95 guest rooms are designed with fun, bright decor inspired by nature, featuring handmade furnishings, and eclectic, whimsical touches.

One of the hotel’s key features is its incredible rooftop bar on the 16th floor, with stunning panoramic views of the London skyline — hence the hotel name. It’s the perfect spot for a post-sightseeing drink or a night-cap under the stars. Rooms start around $390.

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NoMad London

parks in london the nomad

Photo: Expedia

NoMad London Hotel is a high-end hotel in Covent Garden in London’s West End. The hotel occupies the historic Bow Street Magistrates’ Court and Police Station, and has been thoughtfully restored to preserve its original architectural features and character.

One of the standout features is the three-story atrium. Designed with a stunning glass roof and adorned with hanging plants, it’s the perfect place to relax with a cocktail or enjoy a leisurely breakfast. The hotel also has a pretty outdoor terrace with plush seating, fire pits, and beautiful views over the city. Rates start at $655 per night.

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