If you want to live with the great outdoors at your footsteps, and want to discover some of the best parks in London, then this article is for you! While we all know Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent’s Park, and Green Park, which are some of the largest and most beautiful, what about Queen’s Park, Battersea Park or Holland Park? Living near these parks means you can enjoy the best London walking tours, and relaxing walks just moments away from your home.
First let me say that as a world class city, I think London does an exceptional job in terms of its green spaces. While it is often compared to cities like New York, I often say, yes but London is by no means is a “concrete jungle”. I’ve even read that London’s green spaces cover almost 50% of the land mass. It’s about accessibility. So while New York has famous Central Park and Washington DC, where I used to live, has Rock Creek Park, in London it’s about being close to the parks and squares so that you can enjoy them and interact with them as part of your daily life. So let’s dive in to highlight 6 of the best local parks. Make sure to watch till the end as I unveil the best park you may never have heard of.
Hampstead Heath in North London
First Up is Hampstead Heath in North London. Its 791 acres stretches from Hampstead to Highgate. What makes Hampstead Heath so special is that unlike many of the other parks, its grassy fields are wild and unkempt in many areas instead of pristine and manicured. The park includes woodland, playing fields, and swimming ponds or lidos to cool off on a hot summer day. At Parliament Hill you can enjoy some of the best views of the London skyline whilst enjoying a picnic or stopping to sit at one of the many benches spotted around the park. Hampstead Heath is another great reason to love the villagey vibe of Hampstead, with its cobblestone streets, boutique shops and quaint cafes. And if you’ve got a dog, check out my video Moving to London with a Dog where Hampstead is featured.
Battersea Park in Southwest London
Second on the list and heading South of river is Battersea Park in southwest London. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1858, this park is so special in that it not only has views of the Thames River, but also houses an art gallery and zoo with lemurs, meerkats and pygmy goats. Its 200 acres includes a fantastic adventure playground with climbing structures that provide great entertainment and challenges for kids 5 years old and older; there’s also a separate area for smaller children. There’s even a peace pagoda that was donated by the founder of the Japanese Buddhist Movement in 1984.
Battersea is a great place to live with its leafy vibe and great transport options into central London. With the revitalization of the Nine Elms and Vauxhall areas nearby, Battersea is also greatly benefiting and will even have a new tube station.
Holland Park in West London
Next up at number 3 is one of my absolute favourite parks and neighbourhoods, which is Holland Park, part of Kensington in west London. This upscale neighbourhood is a favourite of corporate executives and their families who want easy transport and access to amenities while living in one of London’s most exclusive and low key areas made up of tree lined streets and large Victorian townhouses.
The park itself covers 55 acres and one of the most pleasant strolls is to walk from Holland Park at one end through the park to Kensington High Street and the Design Museum at the other end. You may get distracted by the beautiful and serene Japanese-style Kyoto Gardens with koi carp pond and bridge at the foot of a waterfall. Great for families is the playground, with its extensive climbing equipment, zip wire, giant see-saw and tire swing. There’s also a fenced-in separate play area for younger children. There’s even an open-air theatre to enjoy live performances and opera during the warmer months.
Crystal Palace Park in Southeast London
At number 4 is Crystal Palace Park, a 200 acre Grade II listed park in southeast London. The Crystal Palace, which gave the park its name, was a structure designed in 1851 for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park and moved to the area of the park which was designed and built from 1852 to 1855. Unfortunately, the original structure burned down in 1936.
Most notably the park is home to 5 enormous dinosaur sculptures that are hiding within the trees around the lake. Today the park is home to a number of important natural and man made heritage features, and a National Sports Centre. There is so much to do here including meandering through one of the largest mazes in the country, a skatepark, and an urban farm.
Living in Crystal Palace offers residents a wide array of housing options while living in an area with a real community vibe. From large Victorian houses, to converted terrace flats, to new build units sprouting up. The arrival of the London Overground in 2010 was a major defining moment for the area and given its relatively affordability, makes it a great area to live.
Queens Park in Northwest London
At number 5 is Queens Park in northwest London. Queens Park is at the heart of the neighbourhood by the same name. As the smallest of the parks mentioned today with only 30 acres, it is an ideal neighbourhood park and a great place for families to hang out.
Facilities in the park include six all-weather tennis courts, a pitch-and-putt course, an ornamental quiet garden, a children’s playground with paddling pool, a children’s animal farm and a cafe. There are also great open spaces to play football and the weekends are full of pitches set up for neighborhood groups.
A landmark of the park is the bandstand, which was completed in 1887 and is Grade II listed.
Queens Park homes offer affordability that neighbours Notting Hill and Maida Vale don’t. Many of the homes are from the Victorian and Edwardian era and the area is supported by overground and underground stations. Its high road of Salusbury Road offers quaint shops and sweet neighbourhood bars, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy.
Brockwell Park in Southwest London
Last but not least is Brockwell Park in southwest London. It is a haven of green space just south of Brixton and extends to Dulwich and Herne Hill. If you live north of the river you may never have heard of or visited Brockwell Park, but you absolutely should. I was fortunate to experience it for myself last summer during a walking tour of Brixton and I was blown away by the size and diversity within the park.
Opened in 1891, the park has over 125 acres and one of the highlights is the Brockwell Lido, a Grade II listed art deco building near the top of the park with its open-air swimming pool popular with swimmers and bathers. Other amenities of the park include tennis courts, a bowling green, a BMX track and a miniature railway. Make sure to check out the beautiful and secluded walled garden. And oh Brockwell Park offers great views of the London skyline.
Which parks are your favourites to visit in your home town? I’d love to hear where you go or the neighbourhoods you recommend to live for those of us looking for green spaces to enjoy.