Walking

London’s Royal Parks

England’s capital city, London has so many truly green spaces that it is considered by the UN to be an actual forest. Yes, an actual forest. With over 8.3 million trees in a 600 square mile area, its population of trees nearly tops that of its population of people – a fact that will come as a surprise to many. Dubbed the largest urban forest in the world, it is home to some of the most natural spaces and historic parkland of any city in the UK, including eight Royal Parks.

Covering 5,000 acres of open spaces and wooded areas, London’s eight Royal Parks range from the 2,500-acre Richmond Park to the 40-acre Green Park. Making the city a highly attractive proposition for holidays and short breaks, they provide natural havens in which to wander and ponder and escape the rush of the city. Whether you’re looking for leisure or activity, these parks are free to visit and open all year round so you can enjoy access to open spaces whenever you please.

London’s Royal Parks

Encompassed by greenery, peppered with statues and memorials and overlooked by some of the most famous buildings in the country, London’s Royal Parks exude history, fuel nature and provide the perfect platforms for discovery. 

Bushy Park 

Deer by the water in Bushy Park, one of London's Royal Parks

Located in Richmond Upon Thames near Hampton Court Palace, Bushy Park is the second largest of London’s Royal Parks. Inhabited since the Bronze Ages and designated a Royal hunting ground in the 16th Century, the park’s low-lying land has long been traced by the footsteps of man seeking refuge and recreation. Today, this 1,000-acre expanse is a dedicated SSSI and is known for its Chestnut Avenue (designed by Christopher Wren), Diana Fountain, flowing waterways, 17th Century water gardens, woodland gardens, free-roaming herds of red and fallow deer and more. 

Brompton Cemetery 

A tree-lined path leading through Brompton Cemetery in Kensington

One of the UK’s oldest and most famous garden cemeteries, Brompton Cemetery in Kensington is another of London’s green spaces that is recognised for its important flora and fauna. While not technically one of the eight Royal Parks, this 39-acre site is managed by the Royal Parks Foundation and is designated Grade I on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens. With its historic monuments, sweeping neoclassical colonnades, wealth of tales and stories and tranquil garden setting, it provides inspiration for the mind, body and soul. 

The Green Park

People walking along a tree-lined avenue in London's Green Park, one of the eight Royal Parks

Set between Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace Garden and St James’ Park is the triangular sweep of London’s Green Park. Found in the City of Westminster in Central London, this angular little corner of the city is softened by a tangle of mature trees and open grasslands interlaced with weaving paths. Though there is little formal planting in the 47-acre Green Park, a real highlight of the floral calendar comes into bloom in spring when one million daffodil bulbs burst open and dazzle onlookers with their beautiful bright yellow flowers. 

Greenwich Park

A view of Greenwich Park with the city of London in the background

Part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site, Greenwich Park in southeast London overlooks the River Thames and affords some of the most iconic views of London. Encompassing 183 acres of greenery, it is one of the top places to go in the city to enjoy open space. With something to discover at every turn, just some of the things you can see include picturesque gardens, tree-lined avenues, Roman temple ruins, Queen Elizabeth I’s favourite oak tree, a planetarium and an Anglo-Saxon barrow cemetery. You can even stand on the Prime Meridian at the park’s Royal Observatory. Why not check out Greenwich Market while you're visiting the area. 

Hyde Park

An aerial view of Hyde Park, one of London's most famous Royal Parks

One of London’s most famous parks, Hyde Park is full of activity. At 350 acres in size, it doubles as an open-air entertainment hub, with plenty of things to do and events taking place throughout the year. Whether you are wildlife watching in the park’s wetland areas, taking a dip in its outdoor lido, attending one of its world-famous concerts or simply stopping off for some R&R under the sun, there is something for everyone to see and do. Once you’ve run out of steam, you can also treat yourself to a bite to eat in one of the park’s cafés, too. 

Kensington Gardens

The beautiful Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens in London

Once part of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens was siphoned off in 1728 to become leisure grounds for Kensington Palace. To this day, the gardens retain a more refined, regal air than the neighbouring Hyde Park, enjoying landscaped grounds lined with avenues of limes and planted with formal borders. One of the most famous features, the Sunken Garden, was one of Princess Diana’s favourite places to sit. Find a peaceful spot to soak up the atmosphere, browse the pieces on show at the Serpentine Galleries, wander around the pond or pay a visit to Kensington Palace.

Regent’s Park

A water fountain in Regent's Park, a large area of green space in Central London

The 395-acre Regent’s Park is an enormous area of open parkland in Central London that offers an abundance of activities and attractions. On one side of the park lies a large boating lake and on the other side is London Zoo, while scattered in between are a network of tree-lined pathways, formal gardens, children’s playgrounds, sports facilities, cafés and more. A particular highlight, Queen Mary’s Gardens in the park’s Inner Circle is planted with 12,000 roses, meanwhile a short distance away is Primrose Hill which affords stunning views of the city. 

Richmond Park

A herd of deer in London's Richmond Park, the largest of all of London's eight Royal Parks

The largest of London’s eight Royal Parks is Richmond Park, a huge 2,500-acre park in Richmond upon Thames. Originally created as a deer park by Charles I in the 17th Century, it is today a designated European Special Area of Conservation and protected for its ancient trees and rare wildlife. Supporting a wide range of species from fungi to birds to deer, the park is over 2 miles wide and acts as the life-giving lungs of London. Pull on your walking shoes, cycle the 7.5-mile-Tamsin Trail or try your hand at one of the park’s range of activities for a breath of fresh air. 

St James' Park

A view of the St James' Park Lake in St James' Park in London, where there are also a local flock of pelicans

Lying at the foot of Buckingham Palace, St James Park in Westminster is the oldest Royal Park. At 57 acres, it’s not only an idyllic place to shake off the city bustle but is also packed full of intriguing sights and finds. Of course, at the heart of the park is St James’ Park Lake, which provides a lovely focal point for a leisurely stroll. Making it all the more interesting are the flock of pelicans who are full-time residents of the park. Watch them sunbathing on their favourite rocks, catching fish from the lake and preening each other’s feathery coats, as well as being fed each day between 2.30pm and 3pm.

Victoria Tower Gardens  

A statue in London's Victoria Tower Gardens, located just south of the Houses of Parliament

The smallest park managed by the Royal Parks Foundation is Victoria Tower Gardens. A narrow strip of parkland on the banks of the River Thames, the park lies to the south of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Though it’s not officially one of the eight Royal Parks in London, this little pocket of greenery is still a popular choice for its striking views and famous memorials and sculptures. For the youngsters in your party, there’s also a children’s playground located in the park too which will be sure to keep the little ones entertained for a while. 

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury retreats in London

Royal Parks Head Office, The Old Police House, Hyde Park W2 2UH | www.royalparks.org.uk

A view of Richmond Park at sunset - the biggest of London's Royal Parks

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