Things to do in London

Parks London

There are many popular parks offering stunning views in this surprisingly green city.

Strolling through the Big Smoke, you're immersed in a mishmash of urban wonderland, luscious landscapes and a world of activities and things to do in London. Sure, there's royalty, tea, and cute buses, but it's cheeky, creative, and oh-so-stylish, too.

Come on a romp through time, top hats, and tall tales as we explore 15 whimsical parks in London, where you may get a glimpse of rose gardens, ancient trees, and other lovely features.

1. Richmond Park

The largest Royal Park in London, Richmond Park, is an urban park with rolling hills and luxuriant grasslands. Since 1637, 630 red and fallow deer have roamed freely through this huge park. It’s a throwback to when King Charles I transformed the landscape into his own personal hunting park to escape the plague.

Marvel at the breathtaking Isabella Plantation, where azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias, and camellias frame meandering ponds and streams like pink diamonds.

Peek at St. Paul Cathedral's famous oxidized copper dome from King Henry's Mound and hike across the 7-mile Tamsin Trail. Don’t forget to poke out your pinky finger while sipping a cup of tea at Pembroke Lodge.

Wander over to nearby Richmond Hill, and you'll stumble upon the only vista in England that's protected by an Act of Parliament. Temper yourselves, literature and art lovers. You're contemplating a view that's been immortalized by Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, Joshua Reynolds, Jasper Francis Cropsey, and J. M. W. Turner. 

2. Greenwich Park

In this life of surprises, anything is possible. A trip to the Greenwich Royal Observatory at the pinnacle of Greenwich Park takes you to where time was fabricated — and the midline of the world. That's right, time was invented by someone, and the way we measure it is shockingly recent. 

Until the late 1800s, time-keeping was a casual affair. Towns and cities set clocks locally, based on the position of the sun, in a not-so-sophisticated system called solar time. Neither national nor international conventions existed until the advent of railways and the global expansion of commerce across the waterways.

In 1884, Greenwich Mean Time was recommended as the global standard, marking Greenwich Park as the globe's nexus. 

Feel the breeze on your face as you straddle the meridian line and gaze through the Airy Transit Circle telescope at London's most iconic landmarks from on-high, including the Shard, the London Eye, and the River Thames' famous curve.

Leave time to check out the rest of Greenwich, including its riverside artisan cafes, trendy cocktail bars, and the little-known foot tunnel tucked 50 feet below the expansive river.

Photographer: Andy Wang

3. Kensington Gardens

Just like Peter Pan, we don't believe the limitless wonder of childhood ever leaves us. Do as the Londoners do and meet your group at the elegant statue depicting J.M. Barrie's timeless creation in Kensington Gardens.

Erected as a tribute to the author's generosity and humanitarian spirit, it's a resounding "thank you" for gifting the rights of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Visit Princess Diana's memorial garden and gaze at her favorite blooms, including roses, dahlias, and sweet peas. For more royal escapades, sidle over to Kensington Palace, where Queen Victoria lived as a young girl. There, you'll see the ornate gilded statue she later commissioned to commemorate Prince Albert languishing on a golden throne.

During winter, Christmas in London is sure to impress you! Go watch a classic Christmas movie at the Luna Winter Cinema. That's right — you can pop over to the royal family's house to see Elf, Love Actually, or The Nightmare Before Christmas.

4. Hyde Park

Like many of London's green spaces, Hyde Park was ring-fenced as a personal playground for a king — this time, Henry VIII. This public park opened in 1637, it's now a prime spot for a "knees-up," as the Brits like to say. Celebrations include jubilees, Pride marches, the end of the Napoleonic Wars, music festivals, and the annual Christmas extravaganza, Winter Wonderland. 

A sprawling 350-acre hideaway from the city's hustle and bustle, Hyde Park is one of "London's lungs" and enjoys protected status, thanks to its impact on air quality. Swimmers defy the laws of nature and brave the English weather to swim in the Serpentine Lido between May and September.

There's also the Christmas Day dip, where members of the swimming club compete in an eyelash-freezing race to win the coveted Peter Pan Cup. 

Dreaming of a future filled with fun, frolic, and thrills instead of boredom and conflict? Dust off your soapbox and enact your right to free speech in Speaker's Corner, joining the ranks of visionaries, such as Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, and George Orwell. 

Only a short trip from Hyde Park lies Royal Albert Hall, a dazzling venue with architecture reminiscent of the ancient Coliseum. From January 2024 to March 2024, immerse yourself in Alegría — an unforgettable performance honoring youth and age as they vie for power in a vacuum left by the death of a king.  

5. Holland Park

If there's one thing that evokes awe and joy in Londoners, it's a good old-fashioned statue. The statue of Lord Holland in Holland Park is beyond impressive, with intricate detail and an uncanny likeness to its subject. This beautiful park is tucked away in one of the city's wealthiest neighborhoods and stands a peaceful retreat from the Big Smoke.

We love escaping to its serene Kyoto Garden for a rest after visiting the nearby Natural History Museum and V&A gallery. It's nothing short of a zen garden where you can kick back and observe koi gliding through a beautiful pond and peacocks hopping majestically across the beautiful gardens.

Kyoto Garden, a generous gift from Japan, opened in 1991 to celebrate Japan and Great Britain's longstanding allegiance. 

If you're a fan, we wouldn't be surprised if you have an insatiable taste for adventure. Holland Park's Adventure Playgrounds is a feast for the thrill-famished. Its recent redesign saw the inclusion of a 25-meter long zip wire and a see-saw capable of rocking 10 people's worlds. 

6. Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath is north London's most iconic green space, stretching across 791 acres of meadows, woodlands, swimming baths, and playing fields.

Unlike other parks in London that show explicit evidence of the human touch, the ancient heath has retained the countryside's raw essence. And, as one of the capital's highest vantage points, you won't want to miss its vistas. If you're staying in North London and fancy a jog or hike, the views here are inspiring.

Coined as a "lung of London" by Charles Dickens, along with the city's other famous parks, the Heath has maintained a vibrant connection to literature since the Victorian era. Literary legends John Keats, C.S. Lewis, and Zadie Smith have all cited Hampstead Heath as an inspiration.

During the warmer months, the park hosts open-air concerts, movies, lectures, and sing-along events. All year, it's home to bird and mammal shelters, a large playground for kids, and a model boating pond wildlife sanctuary. 

Photographer: Paul Daniels

7. Victoria Park

Affectionately dubbed Vicky Park and The People's Park by those who know, Victoria Park can be a tranquil retreat. The largest green space in the area is also the site of coveted events in the heart of trendy East London. It was established for Queen Victoria's jubilee with the noble intention of serving the area's poorest folks.  

Parts of the park have Grade 2 listed status, and the whole space was almost cataclysmically destroyed in the Second World War. Renovations were slow, but it's been restored beyond its former glory and features tennis courts, cricket grounds, and a bowling green.

Victoria Park is home to ducks, geese, and swans that bobble along a shallow lake framed by three islands and a magisterial fountain. 

If you want to see the park's cheeky side, head over at the end of August for a 40,000-capacity event held in Victoria Park every year. Globally renowned music artists, including The Strokes, Björk, and Kraftwerk, have played All Points East.

8. Battersea Park

Millennials and Y2K stans shouldn't miss a chance to visit Battersea Park, as seen in the Spice Girls movie, Spice World. Likewise, soccer fans can come on a pilgrimage to the park in honor of the first official soccer match, which took place there in 1864. There's something for many types of fans. Music lovers can see the distinguished Battersea Power Station firsthand from the park.

Like many of the best London parks, Battersea was established in Victorian times as a way to make life more pleasant for poor people. A single Buddhist monk, Reverend Gyoro Nagase, tends to the structure. He gently beats his drum as he makes his way between it and the converted storeroom he calls home.

9. Bushy Park

Step back in time as you enter one of England's best-preserved historical landmarks and London's second-biggest royal park at 1,000 acres. According to legend, Bushy Park was a gift from Cardinal Thomas Wolsey to Henry VIII, along with the imposing Hampton Court Palace.

They say it's difficult to buy for someone who has everything, but the cardinal had an obvious talent for generosity.

At the heart of Bushy Park are Diana Fountain and Chestnut Park, beguiling art pieces restored under the direction of architect, Christopher Wren.

A statue depicts the Roman Goddess of nature, wildlife, and childbirth perching guardedly on a stone base at the center of a body of water. Saunter down Chestnut Avenue, the ceremonial approach from the park to Hampton Court Palace, like a king or queen. Let's face it, you're pretty much royalty.  

Oh, and that disconcertingly neat-looking river bed you noticed on your way back from Hampton Court to Chestnut Avenue? Some driven folks dug the entire 12-mile stretch of water by hand over the course of 9 months.

Photographer: I Wei Huang

10. Crystal Palace Park

Traverse through giant dinosaurs, get lost in a maze, and eat lunch in a cafe that looks like a prehistoric creature at Crystal Palace Park. A Victorian pleasure ground that still brings joy to millions of visitors each year, its original centerpiece was the Crystal Palace.

The grand glass palace hosted shows, displayed artwork, showcased technology, and housed the world's first-ever full-sized models of dinosaurs. It was all in the name of showing off Britain's contributions to science.

Unfortunately, the glimmering palace was destroyed by fire, but many of the dinosaurs are still standing, and you can walk among them. Built by acclaimed sculptor Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins with guidance from scientist Sir Richard Owen, they're now Grade 1 listed. This means it’s an incredibly important location architecturally, nationally, and/or historically.

On New Year's Eve of 1853, Hawkins invited a slew of famous people to dine with him inside the Iguanodon sculpture. While you won't be able to host a dinner party inside a dinosaur today, they're well worth a visit. 

11. Primrose Hill

Looking for somewhere to have a romantic picnic with your sweet love and discuss matters of the heart? Primrose Hill offers panoramic views of the London skyline, with a soaring summit almost 63 meters above sea level. You'll find Shakespeare's tree, planted to celebrate the 300th anniversary of The Bard's birth.

At the peak of Primrose Hill, there's a York stone edging with an inscription by William Blake that reads, "I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill." In a setting where the sun's warm embrace meets boundless sky, dreams can come true. 

After enjoying the park’s stunning views of the city’s skyline, consider elevating your evening by exploring a rooftop restaurant in London to see the skyline from another angle.

Photographer: I Wei Huang

12. Regent’s Park

Get in touch with your wild side at London Zoo. You can throw fish to precocious penguins, observe slinky Sumatran tigers, and chuckle at chest-beating silverback gorillas. As Regent's Park's main attraction, it overshadows the horticulture somewhat, which is just as marvelous.

Shimmy over to Queen Mary's Gardens in summer, where the delicately invigorating scent of 12,000 roses hangs in the air.

Regent's Park has something for everyone, including boating opportunities and plenty of wildlife. Don't worry art lovers, it's dreamy for you, too. Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf were inspired by Regent's Park. View elaborate sculptures and other multisensory experiences in an exhibition that unveils new installations every year. 

13. Green Park

Cirque du Soleil is about inclusivity and community. One of our aspirations is to bring those of different worlds together in a collision of artistic appreciation and ceaseless awe. As you enter Green Park, you'll see an emblem of that unity — a gift from Borealia to London, the Canada Gate. 

Green Park's name is more than a moniker, it reflects the park's spirit: greenness. Unlike other parks with focal points such as flower beds, ponds, lakes, or rivers, its beauty lies in its simplicity, amplifying the radiant green flora's tranquility thanks to the stark contrast between the city's skyscrapers and stacked network of sidewalks.

An oasis of calm, it's a perfect place to contemplate on the various memorials. Enjoy the birdsong, and marvel at the endangered black poplar trees — the rarest native timber tree in the United Kingdom. 

14. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

A legacy of the 2012 London Olympics, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was transformed from an industrial wasteland to a dynamic cultural hub. There are art installations, eateries, historical tributes, and some quirky and unexpected additions. Thrill-seekers can ascend the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a twisting ride with city views, or whizz down the tallest helter-skelter in Great Britain.  

Explore the Olympic and Paralympic stadium, the Velodrome, and the Aquatics Centre, where you can splash around or do laps in one of the three 50-meter swimming pools. 

15. St. James’s Park

Framed by three royal palaces, St. James's Park is the royal family's ridiculously lavish central London backyard. Royal weddings, jubilees, state celebrations, and military parades take place here, making it a perfect spot to glimpse the pomp and ceremony of royalty.

One of the park's greatest attractions is the flock of pelicans that descend from birds gifted by a Russian ambassador to King Charles II. They're fed each day between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m., and it's a sight to behold

Photographer: Sven Hansche

Get Outside and Discover the Best Parks in London Today!

London's parks are alive with intrigue, enchantment, and history. They provide idyllic scenery in one of the world's busiest cities. Shaped by the country's royal heritage, artistic flair, and passion for celebration, each one has its own merit and is worth a visit.    

If you think life is about grabbing as many unforgettable moments as you can, a feast for the senses awaits at Cirque du Soleil. Our shows are more than just something to watch — they're an experience to lose yourself in, a whole new world before your eyes. Book tickets to a show in London and experience the wow!  

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