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20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces

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If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of London, then you’re in luck. London is home to a plethora of parks and green spaces, ranging from the grandiose Royal Parks to smaller and more intimate community gardens. These parks offer not only respite from the city’s chaos but also a chance to witness some of the city’s most beautiful natural spots.

With eight Royal Parks in London, you’ll be spoilt for choice. From the world-renowned Hyde Park to the beautiful St. James’s Park, each park has something unique to offer. If you prefer something a little less crowded, then the smaller parks dotted around the city could be perfect for you. These parks offer a more peaceful and quieter atmosphere, and some even boast hidden rooftop gardens.

Whether you’re looking for a place to read a book, relax under a tree, or take a moment to reflect at one of the memorials, these parks offer a tranquil and serene retreat. So, next time you’re in London, make sure to take some time to explore the beautiful parks and green spaces scattered throughout the city.

Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Hyde Park

Hyde Park. Credit: The Royal Parks

Hyde Park, one of London’s most iconic green spaces, has a rich history dating back to 1536 when it was acquired by King Henry VIII. Originally used for hunting, it became a popular venue for public events in the 17th century. The park underwent significant landscaping in the 18th century under the direction of Queen Caroline, turning it into the beautiful, sprawling space it is today. Serpentine Lake, a prominent feature, was created by Queen Caroline as a recreational lake for boating and swimming. Hyde Park has been the site of numerous historical events and protests, including the famous Reform League demonstration in 1866, advocating for the extension of voting rights.

Clapham Common

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces

Established in the 17th century, Clapham Common has evolved from a village green to a vibrant public space in southwest London. The park was initially used for grazing cattle and as a meeting point for local fairs and gatherings. In the 19th century, it became a popular destination for Victorian leisure activities, such as cricket matches and horse racing. The bandstand, built in 1890, is a notable historical feature that hosted concerts and events during the early 20th century. Clapham Common played a role in World War II as an air raid shelter and later became a focal point for anti-nuclear protests during the 1980s. Today, the park is a haven for locals and visitors, offering a diverse range of recreational facilities and hosting various cultural events throughout the year.

Bushy Park

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Coloeus monedula -Bushy Park, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, England -several-8 (1)” by Maxwell Hamilton from Greater London, England United Kingdom is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Bushy Park, located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, has a history dating back to the 16th century. Originally established as a deer-hunting ground by Henry VIII, the park underwent extensive landscaping in the 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren. The Chestnut Avenue, a prominent feature, was planted in 1709 and remains a picturesque path today. During World War I, Bushy Park served as a military camp, and in World War II, it played a crucial role in Operation Overlord as the base for General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. The park is known for its majestic Diana Fountain, erected in 1713, and the Waterhouse Woodland Gardens, providing a serene escape for visitors.

Victoria Tower Gardens

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Victoria Tower from Victoria Tower Gardens” by UK Parliament is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Situated along the Thames Embankment, Victoria Tower Gardens has a unique historical significance. Created in the 19th century as part of the Embankment development, the gardens offer stunning views of the Houses of Parliament and the iconic Big Ben. The park contains various monuments, including the Buxton Memorial Fountain, commemorating the emancipation of slaves, and the Burghers of Calais sculpture by Auguste Rodin. Victoria Tower Gardens witnessed the suffragette movement’s peaceful protests in the early 20th century, adding to its historical importance. Today, the park remains a tranquil oasis in the heart of London, providing a peaceful retreat and serving as a reminder of the city’s rich history.

Red Cross Garden

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Red Cross Gardens” by sarflondondunc is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nestled in the heart of Southwark, Red Cross Garden holds a special place in London’s history as a Victorian philanthropic project. Created in 1887 by social reformer Octavia Hill, the garden aimed to provide a green space for the impoverished residents of the area. The garden design by Alfred and Ada Salter incorporated geometric patterns and symbolic features. Red Cross Garden became a model for other social housing projects and community gardens in the late 19th century. Despite facing challenges and redevelopment threats in the 20th century, the garden was successfully restored in the 1990s and is now a beautiful community space with its historic layout intact.

Crystal Palace Park

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Crystal Palace park” by Ben124. is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Crystal Palace Park, situated in the south-east of London, has roots in the Great Exhibition of 1851. The park’s centerpiece, the Crystal Palace, originally erected in Hyde Park for the exhibition, was later moved to Sydenham Hill, forming the focal point of the park. The Crystal Palace became a cultural and entertainment hub, hosting concerts, exhibitions, and even early sports events. Sadly, the Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936, but the park still retains remnants of its grandeur, including the iconic terraces and the Sphinxes. Crystal Palace Park continues to be a popular destination, offering a blend of history, nature, and family-friendly activities.

Phoenix Garden

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Phoenix Gardens, London Borough of Camden, WC2” by Ewan-M is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Nestled in the bustling heart of London’s West End, Phoenix Garden stands as an inspiring testament to community resilience and environmental sustainability. Established in the late 1980s on a former bombsite, this green oasis was transformed by local residents and volunteers. Originally conceived as a temporary garden, its success led to its preservation as a permanent community space. The garden features vibrant flowerbeds, a wildlife pond, and sculptures crafted from recycled materials. Phoenix Garden serves as a haven for urban wildlife and hosts various events and workshops, reflecting its commitment to ecological awareness and community engagement.

Greenwich Park

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Greenwich Park # 1” by Alan Stanton is licensed under CC CC0 1.0

Boasting a history that spans over six centuries, Greenwich Park is one of London’s oldest enclosed royal parks. Dating back to the early 15th century, the park served as a hunting ground for the Duke of Gloucester. In the 17th century, it was landscaped by André Le Nôtre, the famed designer of the Gardens of Versailles. The park’s historic significance is heightened by the presence of the Royal Observatory, built in 1675, which established Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Greenwich Park’s elegant layout, including the Great Cross Avenue and the Queen’s House, contributes to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Today, the park remains a popular destination, offering stunning views of the Thames and Canary Wharf, as well as a tranquil escape from city life.

Postman’s Park

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
The Watts’ Memorial / Postman’s Park” by Images George Rex is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Nestled in the heart of the City of London, Postman’s Park holds a unique charm and historical significance. Established in 1880, it became a popular lunch spot for workers from nearby businesses, including the General Post Office. The park is renowned for the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, a touching memorial unveiled in 1900 by artist George Frederick Watts. This memorial commemorates individuals who sacrificed their lives while saving others, featuring plaques with poignant stories of heroism. Postman’s Park continues to be a serene retreat, offering a peaceful respite and a powerful reminder of ordinary people performing extraordinary acts of courage.

Regent’s Park

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Regent’s Park” by @Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Regent’s Park, one of London’s most elegant green spaces, has a fascinating history dating back to the early 19th century. Commissioned by the Prince Regent, later King George IV, the park was designed by renowned architect John Nash. Opened to the public in 1835, the park’s grandeur is reflected in its landscaping, including the beautiful Queen Mary’s Gardens, home to a stunning rose garden. Regent’s Park is also home to the world-famous London Zoo, established in 1828 as the Zoological Society of London. The park’s wide-open spaces, picturesque lakes, and architectural treasures make it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

Battersea Park

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Battersea Park” by HerryLawford is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Battersea Park, situated on the south bank of the River Thames, has a diverse history that has evolved since its opening in 1858. Originally a marshland and market garden, the park underwent a significant transformation under architect Sir James Pennethorne. It became a Victorian pleasure ground with features such as a boating lake, a pagoda, and the iconic Peace Pagoda, a symbol of global unity. During World War II, the park served as a base for anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons. Battersea Park continues to be a thriving green space, offering recreational activities, an art gallery, and a zoo. The park’s rich history and scenic beauty make it a beloved destination for Londoners and visitors alike.

Grosvenor Square Gardens

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
September 11 Memorial Garden at Grosvenor Square” by sermoa is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Nestled in the heart of Mayfair, Grosvenor Square Gardens is a historic green space surrounded by elegant Georgian architecture. Originally laid out in the 1720s, the square became the center of high society in the 18th century. It gained international significance as the site of the first American Embassy, established in the late 18th century. The square has witnessed historic events, including protests and celebrations during World War II. The Eagle Squadrons Memorial in the park commemorates American pilots who fought in the Royal Air Force before the United States entered the war. Grosvenor Square Gardens stands as a tranquil oasis amidst the bustling city, preserving a slice of London’s aristocratic and diplomatic heritage.

Lee Valley Park

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
15.08.17 London Stratford..Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park…Lee Valley Velopark” by A.P.PHOTOGRAPHY. is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Stretching across London, Essex, and Hertfordshire, Lee Valley Park is a vast regional park with a history rooted in urban planning and environmental conservation. Conceived in the aftermath of World War II to address post-war housing needs, the park was established in 1967 to provide open spaces and recreational opportunities. It encompasses diverse habitats, including watercourses, woodlands, and meadows. The park also hosts various sports facilities and the Lee Valley White Water Centre, a venue for the 2012 London Olympics. Lee Valley Park exemplifies the synergy between urban development and environmental preservation, offering a balance between natural landscapes and recreational amenities for local communities.

St. James’s Park

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
St. James Park, London, on a May Afternoon” by UGArdener is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

St. James’s Park, located in the heart of Westminster, is one of London’s oldest and most regal green spaces. Established in the early 17th century by King James I, it was later redesigned by King Charles II’s landscape architect, John Nash, in the 19th century. The park is adorned with elegant flowerbeds, a picturesque lake with waterfowl, and notable landmarks such as the Blue Bridge and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk. St. James’s Park has played a role in various royal celebrations and state events, including the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony. Its proximity to Buckingham Palace adds to its prestige, making it a serene retreat with a touch of royal grandeur in the heart of London.

Kensington Gardens

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens” by Leonard Bentley is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Kensington Gardens, once part of Hyde Park, became a separate entity in the 18th century when Queen Caroline enclosed it for private use. It gained public access in the 1840s and underwent significant landscaping by Sir George Albert Richardson. The gardens feature the iconic Italian Gardens, the Albert Memorial, and the Serpentine Galleries. Kensington Gardens also houses Kensington Palace, a royal residence with historical significance. The Sunken Garden, dedicated to Princess Diana, is a beautiful memorial within the park. With its graceful layout, cultural attractions, and historical resonance, Kensington Gardens stands as a testament to the evolving relationship between royalty and public space in London.

Japanese Roof Garden SOAS

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Japanese roof garden, SOAS” by Tom Doel is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Situated atop the Brunei Gallery at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the Japanese Roof Garden offers a unique blend of cultural immersion and tranquility. Designed by renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Uchida, the garden was established in 2001. It features traditional Japanese landscaping elements, including bamboo, moss, and stone lanterns. The garden serves as an extension of the university’s commitment to fostering understanding and appreciation of Asian cultures. It provides a serene space for reflection and contemplation, offering a peaceful escape in the midst of the academic and urban environment.

Skip Garden

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Kings Cross Skip Garden” by 1010 Climate Action is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Skip Garden, located in the King’s Cross area, stands as an innovative and sustainable urban gardening project. Established by Global Generation in 2010, the garden utilizes recycled skips (containers) as raised beds, showcasing creative and eco-friendly approaches to urban agriculture. It serves as an educational hub for sustainability, offering workshops and activities for the local community. The Skip Garden embodies the principles of environmental responsibility and community engagement, demonstrating how urban spaces can be transformed into productive and green areas even in the midst of a bustling city.

Hampstead Heath

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces

Hampstead Heath, an expansive and ancient park in North London, has a history dating back to the Saxons. Originally a rural landscape, it evolved into a popular recreation area in the 19th century. The Heath is characterized by woodlands, grassy slopes, and bathing ponds. The Parliament Hill area provides panoramic views of the London skyline. The Kenwood House, a neoclassical mansion, adds a touch of cultural richness to the park. Hampstead Heath has been immortalized in literature, art, and film, capturing the essence of its wild beauty and providing a natural haven for Londoners seeking respite from the urban hustle.

Richmond Park

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Skyline – May 2014 – Central London from Richmond Park” by Gareth1953 All Right Now is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Richmond Park, the largest of London’s Royal Parks, has a history rooted in the 17th century when it was enclosed by Charles I as a deer park. The park’s ancient oak trees, expansive grasslands, and Isabella Plantation contribute to its natural beauty. The White Lodge, a former royal residence, is now home to the Royal Ballet School. Pembroke Lodge, another historic building, offers stunning views of the Thames Valley. Richmond Park has been a popular destination for centuries, attracting visitors with its diverse flora and fauna, as well as its rich cultural and historical heritage.

Green Park

20 Best London Parks and Green Spaces
Green Park, London, England” by null is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Green Park, situated between Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, is one of London’s eight Royal Parks. Originally part of the larger Hyde Park, it became a separate entity in the 17th century. The park’s name reflects its lack of flowerbeds and formal gardens, allowing for an open and unobstructed landscape. It features the Canada Gate, a gift from Canada, and the Constitution Hill that leads to Buckingham Palace. The park has witnessed various historical events, including military reviews and protests. Green Park’s simplicity and spaciousness provide a peaceful contrast to the nearby grandeur of Buckingham Palace and the vibrant energy of the city, making it a serene retreat in the heart of London.

jonathan
Author: jonathan

Jonathan is a consummate Anglophile who launched Anglotopia.net in 2007 to channel his passion for Britain. Londontopia is its sister publication dedicated to everything London.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Be sure to add Holland Park in Kensington to your list. A beautiful park itself, within one can find a beautiful Japanese garden, free-wandering peacocks and a most unusual sundial (Tortoises with Triangle and Time).

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