5 incredible things to do in London’s parks

Regent's Park-London

During the summer months, London comes alive like at no other time of the year. And while the popular sights like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London will still be busy with the usual throngs of excited tourists, it is a different type of attraction that will take precedence in the English capital; London’s fantastic parks.

When the sun comes out, there is nowhere better to be than stretched out, cold drink in hand, than on the summer grass of one of London’s amazing open spaces – and there are plenty to choose from. So many see the Big Smoke as a sprawling metropolis of concrete due to its size and stature, but it’s actually one of the greenest capital cities in the world.

From the unruly charm of Hampstead Heath in the north, down to the vast, deer-ridden grounds of Richmond Park in the south, London spoils you rotten for choices when it comes to parkland and outdoor spaces. In fact, if you are in the capital when the sun is out, one of the best experiences you can have is joining the hundreds of other Londoners out on the fields. Not only is it a great way to soak up the unique atmosphere of this fine city, it’s also a cheap way to enjoy yourself in the capital.

Explore Hyde Park in London

For a little inspiration, here’s our top five things you can get up to this summer in London’s parks – just don’t forget your sunscreen!

1. Go for a dip

During the summer, Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lake is the perfect place for a wonderful day out in the sun. The main part of the lake has a fleet of rowing and pedal boats which the kids will love taking out onto the open water. You can even take a trip on the famous Solar Shuttle, which carries up to 40 people.

Hyde Park

It is open from 10am until 8pm in the summer, but it’s best to go early as it can get very busy during the summer months.

As well as the boating lake, there’s also the Serpentine Lido. It’s open seven days a week in May and then from June to September between the hours of 10am and 6pm. There’s a proper swimming area and a little paddling pool for younger children.

If you’re staying in a hotel near Hyde Park, this is the perfect day out for you and the family.

2. Get fit, get active

You might be on your holidays, but so many people just can’t leave the gym behind nowadays – even if they are supposed to be relaxing! So many of London’s pristine parks are great for running around, swimming in, and working out on that you don’t even need a hotel with a gym – the gym’s outside.

gym in london

Many parks (Finsbury, for example) have little outdoor gyms within them, making a quick morning fitness session even easier. You can find other outdoor workout stations in the following parks: Highgate Wood, Victoria Park, Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill.

3. Wildlife spotting

It sounds like a curious thing, going looking for wildlife in the middle of a huge city, but there is actually a place where this is possible; Richmond Park. This massive area of woodland in south-west London is teeming with wild deer which can be quite magnificent to see up close. In fact, there are over 600 red and fallow deer within the park, and they’ve been strutting around the place since 1529.

London zoo

Not only is this a great way to spot some of Mother Nature’s most beautiful animals, the park itself is glorious on a warm summer’s day and is ideal for a picnic. A word of caution from the Royal Park’s website: “The deer are wild animals – please keep at least 50 metres away from the deer and be aware of your surroundings so that you do not come between two rutting stags or a mother and her calf.”

To get there, take the London Underground line all the way to Richmond.

If you don’t fancy going all that way and want a more certain and varied wildlife experience, you can find London Zoo within the grounds of Regent’s Park.

4. Light up a BBQ

When it gets hot, you’ll be hard placed to find a Brit who doesn’t love a good old barbecue. Unfortunately, many of the more well-known London parks have banned the use of barbies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find somewhere to get your grill on.

London Fields, over in trendy east London, is your best bet for a friendly place to get the coals going. The open space has a dedicated area for it, but you have to adhere to the rules or you might find your grill extinguished – no one wants soggy sausages now do they?

Things to do in soho

This means: doing it in the designated area, keeping it off the grass with a stand (if disposable, large rocks should work), not using BBQs after 9pm, never leaving the BBQ unattended, no sports games in the BBQ area and always ensuring that you dispose of your BBQ safely and responsibly after you have used it. Park keepers regularly patrol the BBQ area to ensure that all the rules are being adhered to properly.

Getting there: Take the Greater Anglia line to London Fields station and walk from here. Ideal if you are staying in Shoreditch.

See Hyde Park