As one the biggest and most vibrant cities in the world, London is famous for many reasons.
The city’s most common nickname ‘The big smoke’ gives an indication as to one of its most well known features: the financial district with distinctive skyscrapers such as The Gherkin and The Shard.
However, if you leave the ‘square mile’ and head away from its bustling centre, you’ll discover that there’s another, more peaceful side to the city.
London is home to some of the world’s finest parks. In their serene beauty, the parks offer a different insight into London life, and for many locals they showcase the city’s best side.
Here’s our list of the best parks to visit for those wanting to experience the quiet side of London.
1. Hyde Park
Where better to start than with perhaps the most famous of all of London’s parks? Hyde Park is a massive expanse of green located alongside some of the city’s most expensive areas: Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Belgravia to name just a few.
The park is also home to London’s oldest boating lake, The Serpentine, which was used in Olympic events in 2012.
Although it has a rich history of demonstrations and free speech (check out ‘speakers corner’), Hyde Park is now often used as a location for concerts, with groups such as Queen and The Rolling Stones having performed here.
2. Green Park
Another very centrally located, wonderfully picturesque open space. The northerly entrance to Green Park is less than a hundred metres from the famous Ritz hotel, and to the south is Buckingham Palace.
Despite being less than half the size of Hyde Park, Green Park is equally as popular and can be easily spotted on any map due to its distinctive triangle shape.
With its cool striped deck chairs and so many great restaurants nearby, it’s the perfect location to stop for lunch on warm summer’s day.
3. Hampstead Heath
If you’re looking for somewhere to go for a picnic in the North of London, then look no further than Hampstead Heath. The fields provide the perfect playground for nature-lovers, dog-walkers and anyone who simply wants to relax.
The undulating hills and heavy woodland give it a wilder feel than most of the other perfectly manicured London parks, whilst its swimming ponds provide a challenge for the more daring of swimmers. The ponds are open all year round but, be warned: even in summer they’re too cold for most!
4. Clapham Common
From North London to South, and that’s where you’ll find Clapham Common. Surrounded by busy roads and shops, the Common offers a welcome break from the rush of London life for many of Clapham’s residents with its calm atmosphere.
Home to a number of cafes, it is a great option for an early morning coffee overlooking one its several ponds.
If you happen to be in London between the 13th November and 23rd December then be sure to check out Clapham’s Winterville, similar to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland but slightly smaller (and cheaper!).
5. Richmond Park
The final park on this list, and also the biggest of all London’s parks, is Richmond Park. This huge mass of hilly green is the perfect place for those looking for somewhere to exercise, with cycling and running tracks going all the way round. Whilst being home to hundreds of red and fallow deer, it’s also the best park in London to spot wild animals.
The park’s highest point, Pembroke Lodge Gardens, offers stunning views over central London, and makes it the perfect place for a long stroll whether it’s the peak of summer or Christmas day.