Beautiful, vibrant and relaxing, London’s many public gardens and parks are a wonderful, refreshing way to unwind and explore between sightseeing or after a busy day shopping.
Free Gardens to Visit in London
Nearest tube: Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner
Located right in the heart of London, Hyde Park is one of eight Royal Parks in the city. It covers 350 acres and is home to the famous Speakers Corner where you can listen to public speakers debating and discussing anything and everything. Hire a pedalo to go boating on the famous Serpentine lake, or have a go at horse riding to explore this beautiful park. Once you’re done simply sit back and unwind in one of the many peaceful open spaces.
Nearest tube: Lancaster Gate & Queensway, Bayswater and High Street Kensington
Stretching between the elegant boroughs of Kensington, and Chelsea and Westminster, Kensington Gardens is another of the Royal Parks of London. Formerly the private gardens of Kensington Palace, the magnificence of this green space is still evident today. From the fantastic Diana playground to the beautiful Victorian architecture at the Albert Memorial, this is a garden the whole family will love.
Nearest tube: Regent’s Park and Baker Street
Originally a royal hunting ground used by Henry VIII, Regent’s Park is now home to stunning formal gardens including Queen Mary’s Gardens, famous for its beautiful roses. As well as taking in the stunning nature on show, the park also offers an open air theatre, the famous ZSL London Zoo, a boating lake and three playgrounds and sports facilities including cycling, cricket and hockey.
Nearest tube: Richmond
Originally a deer park created by Charles I in the 17th Century, Richmond Park was opened to the public in 1872. The largest of London’s Royal Parks at 3.69 square miles, deer still roam the park to this day, and the area is recognised as a National Nature Reserve. A couple of hours here and you’ll almost forget you’re steps away from the country’s busiest metropolis.
Nearest tube: Monument
If you’re looking for a garden with a difference, Sky Garden is a unique indoor space located right in the centre of the city on Fenchurch Street. The highest public garden in London, Sky Garden offers you the chance to explore a stunning array of exotic plants while enjoying spectacular views across the whole city. It stretches over three floors and includes an open-air terrace and observation decks. A selection of bars and a restaurant make this garden perfect for taking a break during a busy day exploring. Although Sky Garden is free, places are often limited, so book ahead to avoid missing out.
St. James’s Park
Nearest tube: St. James’s Park and Westminster
For those paying a visit to Buckingham Palace, the Mall or Horses Guards, St James’s Park is an absolute must. The park is home to a scenic lake with an impressive population of waterfowl including pelicans. Looking out over the lake, you can even catch a glimpse of the London Eye!
Gardens to Visit in London
While there are plenty of free parks and gardens to enjoy in London, there are also a range of more formal and botanical gardens that are well worth a visit. These gardens tend to have entrance fees but are usually tied to a larger attraction or property, so are a great way to combine traditional London sightseeing with a touch of nature.
Buckingham Palace Gardens
Nearest tube: Victoria
While traditionally Buckingham Palace’s gardens have been closed to the public, a 500m southern stretch is now available to those who visit the palace, allowing a further glimpse into the lives of the Royal family and their unique residence. This newly opened garden allows visitors to stroll past trees planted by famous monarchs, rest in a beautiful seated area, and pass by a 19th Century lake.
Nearest tube: Turnham Green
Completed in 1729, Chiswick Houses offers a stunning example of Neo-Palladian architecture, while the accompanying gardens are a symbolic recreation of an Ancient Roman garden. Dotted throughout the stunning scenery are classical follies and water features including an Ionic temple, Egyptianesque deer house and Venus statue.
Eltham Palace, Greenwich
Nearest station: Eltham Railway StationEltham Palace began life as a medieval palace before becoming a Tudor royal residence. After a remodelling in the 1930s, the Palace today combines elements of medieval elegance with art deco excellence. Surrounding this enchanting palace are 19 acres of award-winning gardens, now managed by English Heritage. These gardens retain much of their medieval roots, including a moat which is crossed by London’s oldest working bridge. With a playground also located in the gardens, Eltham Palace is a great historic visit for the whole family.
Nearest tube: Kew Gardens
Home to the Royal Botanic Gardens and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kew Gardens is the most famous botanical garden in London. Here you can escape the bustle of the city and discover over 50,000 living plants, explore fascinating Victorian glasshouses and Alpine rock gardens, or take in the stunning sights from the 59ft high Treetop Walkway.