London is one of the biggest and most populous cities in the world, so you’d be forgiven for thinking of skyscrapers, roads and the urban sprawl whenever it’s mentioned. However, London’s green spaces are remarkable in both their size and number, with vast open expanses taking up huge spaces in the middle of the city. Beloved by Londoners and tourists alike, these parks mean there’s always an opportunity to get away from the crazy urbanity and reconnect with nature. Sometimes, sitting among the leafy lanes and inviting lawns of London’s parks, it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of one of the world’s major cities at all. Here are a few of the best.
The most famous of London’s parks are the eight Royal Parks. As the name suggests, these are preserved and managed by the Crown and therefore tend to be the biggest, most popular, and most beautifully maintained anywhere in the city. Some 37 million visitors come to the Royal Parks every year, and they are home to around around 135,000 trees, over 100,000 roses, 21 lakes, 34 tennis courts, and 16 football pitches.Which is the best among these has long been a point of contention for Londoners. The most famous is arguably Hyde Park. Covering over 350 acres, this park is home to a number of famous features, including the Serpentine Lake and art gallery, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, and Speakers’ Corner, which has long been a symbol of free speech and political dissent. Regular speakers range from well-known politicians to locally famous eccentrics, and the Corner is a popular site of debate which, while not officially free from the law of the land, tends to be left alone by police.Hyde Park is easily accessible from London City Suites by Montcalm , which is among the best accommodation in London from which to explore the city’s parks.
Regent’s Park, while possibly less famous, is arguably the most beautiful of London’s parks, particularly in the spring when the whole place erupts in a riot of white blossom. The incredible buildings in the residential area immediately circling the park only add to the sense of awe. There’s also outdoor theatre during the summer, which – British weather being as it is – can be a wet experience but is always a vibrant and fun one. There’s also a beautiful rose garden, and the world famous London Zoo, the world’s oldest scientific zoo which opened way back in 1828. For sheer escapism from the urban madness, you can’t do much better than Hampstead Heath. This vast expanse of greenery, which covers 320 hectares in the genteel north west district of Hampstead, sits atop a sandy ridge which is one of the highest points in London, and as such offers some of the best views of the capital to be found anywhere. Hampstead Heath is also characterised by its ponds, three of which serve as public open-air swimming ponds: a men’s pond, women’s pond, and a mixed pond.