The Best Parks In London That You Should Not Miss

By Winnie Agbonlahor

Most tourists who visit London are here for the big city experience - sightseeing, shops, markets and museums. But few know just how much many beautiful, expansive parks in London there are to explore.  This vibrant city is one of the greenest in the world with almost half of its land covered in woodlands, parks and gardens. I’ve lived in different parts of this enormous, sprawling city, for around four years now and I’ve never been further than a ten-minute run or bike ride away from my nearest park. But green spaces in London are special places. Apart from being a place of pure zen, parks are also a great spot to meet up with friends without having to pay for expensive drinks or food in restaurants: just have a picnic - provided the weather plays ball. Some parks even allow you to have barbecues. I also like to use parks as exercise grounds: to go for a run or use tennis courts that you’ll find at many. So here are my favourite parks in London!

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Brockwell Park

Brockwell Park is a bit of a famous park in London- for locals at least. It has the super laid-back vibe where families, friends, neighbours, young and old come to escape the city. People come here to do just about anything: have picnics, walk their dogs, take their kids to use the amazing playground, play tennis, basketball, boules or cricket or take part in boot camp classes. Or my favourite: go for a swim in Brockwell Lido at the bottom of the park. One of my favourite cafes also happens to be located right in this green space of London: Brockwell Lido Cafe. When the sun is shining and you’re sipping on one of their delicious cappuccinos by the outdoor pool, that holiday feeling is bound to kick in. The park is also home to a rather impressive community allotment, which grows all kinds of vegetables, fruit and herbs which are sold fresh at a fraction of supermarket prices. I once got some delicious rhubarb from there which I picked out myself.

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Richmond Park

In London, the UK's best parks abound. Richmond Park is a personal favourite and while it’s not the easiest park to get to from the inner city, it’s so worth the trip. Where else can you spot deer roaming free? That’s right, Richmond Park is home to dozens of deer, which will show themselves in pairs or massive herds. You will also find towering ancient trees that are home to a plethora of rare species including fungi, birds, beetles, bats, grasses and wildflowers. Richmond Park is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and has protected status as an important habitat for wildlife. Because it’s such a vast green space in London, spanning 2500 acres, this one is best explored by bike. The flower garden is also absolutely stunning and if you are a golfer, there is a golf course too.

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Greenwich Park

Another great park in London to visit, or to have a potentially romantic picnic, is Greenwich Park. Just off Greenwich town centre, which features a lovely market with lots of quirky goods on offer, lies this vast open space which boasts a magnificent view of the city - you will soon see why this is one of the best parks in London! Make sure you walk up to the Royal Observatory, all the way to the statue and enjoy the view. And don’t forget to have your picture taken with the meridian line which runs across the courtyard of the observatory. 

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The line in represents the Prime Meridian of the world, Longitude Zero (0° 0' 0"). Every place on the Earth is measured in terms of its angle east or west from this line, so you can get a snap of yourself in both hemispheres at the same time. It’s also where the term Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) originates from. But you’ll have to visit to find out how exactly this came about. My top tip would be to leave Greenwich on a clipper boat, which costs around a fiver and can be used with your oyster card. If you time it right and you enter the boat just at sunset you’ll get some stunning views of London’s famous Tower Bridge, London Eye and Westminster all lit up beautifully.

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Hyde Park

Probably one of the most famous parks in London, and the easiest to reach for tourists, Hyde Park is an iconic sight in the city centre. It features a beautiful rose garden, a stunning pond which you can cross on hired boats and some bicycle as well as horse riding tracks. It also borders directly onto Kensington Gardens, which is home to one of London’s most ornate monuments - the Albert Memorial. Of all the London parks to visit, the reason I love this spot is because of the Serpentine Cafe which has plenty of outside seating with a view directly onto the pond, its swans, ducks and occasional ducklings. you can order a variety of tasty hot meals and snacks, freshly prepared sandwiches and salads as well as a daily selection of cakes off the menu and there is a bar for you to whet your whistle at.

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Victoria Park

One of my favourite parks in London, Victoria Park is just gorgeous. It’s huge, so, again, you might want to hire a bike to see all of it. This green space, located in London’s east, features several ponds, lots of romantic picnic spots, a rose garden, a handful of beautiful bridges and a cascade. Be sure to also check out the Chinese pagoda and model boating lake. Other green spaces in London well worth a visit include Hampstead Heath, which is also home to a lido; London Fields, one of  the few London parks where barbecuing is permitted; St James’s Park, which boasts a stunning view of London Eye and Parliament; Dulwich Park, which looks like someone painted it and Kew Gardens, which charges an entrance fee but has some great attractions such as a treetop walkway.