When I think of England, I think in green. To me it is a country synonymous with green countryside and green spaces – everywhere. If you want to do something truly English in England, I don’t think it gets much better than a lovely afternoon stroll in some gardens or splendid picnic is a lush, green park.
For a capital city, London is surprisingly rich in both. Its 8 Royal Parks cover 4,700+ acres alone, and there are more green squares and gardens than anyone would ever want to count. Seriously, I can’t find a number on the internet so my guess is they just gave up trying.
With this in mind, I thought I would share five of my personal favorite green spaces in London because there isn’t a visit that goes by that I don’t spend time in at least one of them.
At the end of Conduit Street in the West End you will find Berkeley Square which is by far the green space in London where I have spent the most time. There’s nothing particularly special about it except for its close proximity to some of the best shopping in London and that it is surrounded by some pretty gorgeous Georgian and Victorian architecture. Back when I worked at Vivian Westwood I would come here to eat lunch everyday and people watch. It has remained a meeting point for me and my friends who still work there ever since and is a great place to bring a sandwich from Pret a Manger or some rosé and chillax.
The closest tube stops are Bond Street or Green Park.
On second thought, I’ve probably been in Green Park way more than Berkeley Square but since I was only running through, I can’t say I’ve spent as much time there. When I studied in London for a semester I lived in Victoria so Green Park and St. James Park became my gym. When I moved back a few years later however, my visits there had less to do with fitness and more to do with after-work shenanigans. On any given (sunny) Friday evening you’d probably be able to find me and my co-workers there picnicking it up with some vodka mojitos and nasty junk food from Sainsbury’s. It’s a hangout park for sure and close to most of London’s main sights so easy to get to. Get off at Green Park Tube Station.
Moving on to Zone 2, Primrose Hill is not only one of my favorite parks in London, but also one of my favorite neighborhoods. When I am rich, I will own a flat there and take my dog for a walk in that lovely park everyday. As the name suggests, it is a hill and views from the top are killer on a clear day.
It’s a bit of a trek, but I always love walking here from Camden Town. Once you get out of Camden Town Tube Station go right down Camden High Street and keep walking until you hit Chalk Farm Tube Station. Make a left on Regent’s Park Road and you will eventually run into the park.
Hampton Court Palace
I’ve already talked about what a nice excursion going to Hampton Court Palace can be, but I want to say it again. Getting this far outside of Central London can be a real joy if you’re tired of all the madness in Zone 1 and just want to breathe. It is far to go just for a little picnic, but if you’ve got the time, I think you should. The gardens all around the palace are lovely and it’s right on the river – very romantic. That’s why my Japanese sister took me there, I suppose…
From Waterloo Station you can take the train to Hampton Court. It takes 35 minutes.
I wouldn’t classify Hampstead Heath as a park as much as I would a forest. It is HUGE and the vegetation much different from those in the center of the city. It’s in North London and not far from another place I used to live called Highgate. You can access it from a lot of different points but I recommend getting off at Hampstead Tube Station and walking down.
In my opinion, London holidays are incomplete without a trip to some green. These are just five out of probably 500 green spaces in London but hopefully at least one of them will tickle your fancy. Want more? Check Time Out’s suggestions.