How to make the most of the 8 Royal Parks of London
London, the vibrant and bustling metropolis on the banks of the River Thames, is a city that seamlessly blends history, culture, and nature. Amidst the urban sprawl and towering skyscrapers, a remarkable feature stands as a testament to London’s commitment to preserving its green heritage – the eight Royal Parks. These verdant oases are not just mere patches of green; they are living chapters in the rich history of the city, steeped in tradition and significance.
The Royal Parks of London are not just any parks; they are emblematic of the city’s enduring charm and the British monarchy’s deep-rooted connection to its people. While London boasts numerous other parks and green spaces, the Royal Parks stand out as some of the most enchanting and historically significant. Each park carries its unique story and character, offering a diverse range of experiences for visitors and locals alike.
These eight Royal Parks are more than just places of natural beauty; they are repositories of history, culture, and leisure. They have witnessed royal pageantry, historic events, and the comings and goings of generations of Londoners. From grand palaces and magnificent gardens to serene lakes and ancient woodlands, the Royal Parks are a reflection of the city’s evolution and continuity.
As you delve into this ultimate guide, you will discover the remarkable features and hidden gems within each of these green havens. Whether you seek a tranquil retreat from the city’s clamour, a glimpse into Britain’s royal heritage, or simply an opportunity to connect with nature, the Royal Parks of London offer all of this and more.
So, join us on a journey through these hallowed grounds, as we explore the splendour and history of the eight Royal Parks that have enchanted generations and continue to be cherished by all who have the privilege of setting foot within their lush borders.
Location of the 8 Royal Parks of London
The eight Royal Parks of London are spread across the city, each offering its unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance. To explore these parks efficiently, plan to dedicate a full day to the experience. However, if you’re pressed for time, a leisurely stroll of an hour or two in each park can still provide a glimpse of their splendor.
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens: If you’re in Oxford Street, both Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are just a short walk away, making it convenient to immerse yourself in their lush landscapes and attractions.
Green Park and St. James’ Park: For those starting from Piccadilly Circus, a pleasant 12-minute walk along Piccadilly will lead you to Green Park and St. James’ Park. These parks offer serene escapes amidst the bustling city.
Greenwich Park: If you find yourself in the Greenwich area, take the DLR to Cutty Sark, which provides easy access to the captivating Greenwich Park.
Richmond Park: While Richmond Park is a bit farther from the city centre, you can take the district line to Richmond and then catch a bus to Richmond Park. Here, you’ll have the chance to explore Mick Jagger’s house, encounter wild deer, traverse woodlands, and savor stunning views of the River Thames from a hilltop. Additionally, Bushy Park is just an hour away by bus. Take bus number K3 from Vale Crescent Robin Hood Bus Stop, disembark at Norbiton Church Tiffin Boys School, and board bus number 111 at Cromwell Road Bus Station towards Heathrow to reach Hampton Court Gardens. A short 11-minute walk will lead you to Bushy Park, where you can also visit the historic Hampton Court Palace, once the residence of King Henry VIII.
Regent’s Park: If you’re visiting Madame Tussauds or exploring Regent Street, you can easily include a visit to Regent’s Park. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to admire London Zoo, stroll along the tranquil Regent’s Canal with its charming boathouses, and explore the vibrant neighborhoods of Camden Town and Camden Market.
Bushy Park: If you’re visiting Hampton Court Palace, Kingston Upon Thames and Richmond Park, it’s better to stay around this area as it’s further away from Central London. Bushy Park is located in a quiant English village in London.
Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat, a glimpse into history, or a taste of London’s diverse landscapes, these Royal Parks offer a wealth of experiences waiting to be discovered.
Best time to visit
Choosing the best time to visit London’s Royal Parks depends largely on your weather preferences and how you feel about crowds. Here’s a breakdown of the different seasons to help you decide when to plan your visit:
Spring (April to May):
- Weather: Cool breeze with occasional chilly days.
- Highlights: Colorful flowerbeds with yellow daffodils and red tulips in bloom.
- Pros: Beautiful floral displays.
- Cons: Cool temperatures can still be a bit brisk.
Summer (June to August):
- Weather: Hotter with occasional heatwaves.
- Highlights: Vibrant summer foliage.
- Pros: Lush greenery and long daylight hours.
- Cons: Crowded parks, and some may find the heat uncomfortable.
Late Summer to Early Autumn (September to October):
- Weather: Sunny with a pleasant cool breeze.
- Highlights: Leaves begin to change color by late October.
- Pros: Fewer crowds compared to summer.
- Cons: Occasional rain showers.
Autumn (Late October to Early November):
- Weather: Breezy with sunny days and occasional rain.
- Highlights: Stunning autumn foliage with leaves on the ground.
- Pros: Gorgeous fall colors.
- Cons: Slightly more unpredictable weather.
Winter (November to March):
- Weather: Cold and sometimes frosty, with shorter daylight hours.
- Highlights: Peaceful atmosphere with fewer visitors.
- Pros: Quiet parks for solitude and reflection.
- Cons: Very cold temperatures, and some attractions may have limited opening hours.
London’s weather can indeed be unpredictable, and it’s important to consider your own comfort and preferences when choosing the best time to visit. If you enjoy vibrant blooms and don’t mind the occasional chill, spring might be ideal. Summer offers lush greenery but comes with larger crowds and heatwaves. Late summer to early autumn strikes a balance. Autumn showcases stunning foliage, while winter provides a peaceful but cold experience.
Ultimately, the choice depends on whether you prefer the vibrancy of peak seasons or the tranquility of off-peak periods, as well as your tolerance for varying weather conditions.
FLOWERS AT ST. JAMES’ PARK
BROWN, WHITE AND BLACK DUCK
PRINCESS DIANA MEMORIAL WALK
A ROW OF DUCKS BY ST. JAMES’ LAKE
HORSE GUARD PARADE
THE BLUE BRIDGE OVERLOOKING LONDON EYE AND BUCKINGHAM PALACE (a contrast to the professional zoomed-in picture above)
DUCK AND SQUIRREL TOGETHER
A VIEW OF BUCKINGHAM PALACE
When you’re planning your visit to London, Hyde Park should undoubtedly top your list of must-see destinations. This iconic park is not only renowned but also offers a serene and tranquil environment for a leisurely stroll. Hyde Park caters to various moods, ensuring that whether you seek solitude or a lively atmosphere, it has something to offer.
At Hyde Park, you can engage in a multitude of activities, from leisurely paddling on the serene waters of the Serpentine lake to immersing yourself in the wonders of wildlife and nature. You can savor a delightful cup of coffee or relish a meal at one of the nearby cafes. The park’s versatility ensures that you’ll always find something that aligns with your preferences. It’s worth noting that the information you find on the official website of Hyde Park is indeed reliable and accurate.
During the vibrant seasons of spring and summer, Hyde Park bursts into a riot of colors, providing the perfect opportunity to capture the beauty of diverse and colorful flowers through your lens. Moreover, Hyde Park seamlessly connects to Kensington Gardens, where you can encounter even more wildlife, explore the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and Playground, and admire the grandeur of Kensington Palace. Don’t hesitate to dip your feet into the refreshing waters of the fountain and join the kids in playful splashes – it’s an experience that adds a touch of magic to your visit.
I fondly remember my last visit when I embarked on a paddling adventure on one of the boats. It was an idyllic sunny afternoon just before the onset of the COVID pandemic. The Serpentine lake the park turned out to be more expansive than I had imagined, offering a picturesque backdrop of people lounging on deck chairs, children gleefully feeding the ducks, and sunbathers enjoying delightful picnics. If you happen to stay nearby, you can seamlessly incorporate a jog or moments of relaxation into your schedule, making Hyde Park the perfect escape after a bustling day of shopping.
Are you thinking of going on a day trip to Wales? Paddington Station is right around the corner, and you can get there by train. If you have 5 days in London, perhaps, spend a weekend in Wales. You won’t regret it.
How to get there
Getting to Hyde Park in London is relatively easy due to its central location and excellent public transportation options. Here’s how to get to Hyde Park:
From Central London: The London Underground (Tube) is one of the most convenient ways to reach Hyde Park. There are several Tube stations located near different entrances to the park.
Hyde Park Corner Station: If you’re coming from central London, take the Piccadilly Line and alight at Hyde Park Corner Station. This station is close to the park’s southeastern corner.
Lancaster Gate and Marble Arch Stations: You can also use the Central Line and alight at Lancaster Gate or Marble Arch stations, which are near the park’s northern entrance.
Bus Routes: Numerous bus routes serve Hyde Park. The specific bus you should take will depend on your starting point and the park’s entrance you want to visit. Use Transport for London’s (TfL) website or Journey Planner to find the most suitable bus route.
Bike Hire: London has a bike-sharing program called Santander Cycles. You can rent a bike from various locations across the city and cycle to Hyde Park. There are dedicated cycling lanes and bike racks near the park’s entrances.
Walking Distance: Depending on your location in Central London, you may be within walking distance of Hyde Park. Areas like Paddington, Bayswater, and Knightsbridge are close to the park’s entrances.
Driving: While it’s possible to reach Hyde Park by car, parking in Central London can be expensive and limited. If you choose to drive, you can use GPS or a navigation app to find parking facilities near the park. Be aware of congestion charges in certain areas of London.
Local Accommodation: If you plan to spend a lot of time in Hyde Park, consider staying in nearby areas such as Paddington, Bayswater, or Knightsbridge. These neighborhoods offer a range of accommodations, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and serviced apartments.
Green Park lies in close proximity to Buckingham Palace, almost seeming to blend seamlessly with it. The two landmarks sit side by side, making for an effortless transition from one to the other. Additionally, a mere 9-minute stroll will lead you to the vibrant heart of Piccadilly Circus. Despite being the smallest among London’s esteemed Royal Parks, Green Park boasts its unique allure and is well worth a visit.
Commonly, visitors gravitate towards Green Park as a serene escape and a convenient pathway to reach Buckingham Palace. Yet, hidden beneath the park’s social surface lies a rich tapestry of history that often goes unnoticed. For many Londoners, Green Park serves as a casual meeting point, little more than a place to gather and socialize.
Within its confines, you’ll encounter stately oak trees, proudly reaching heights of up to 12 feet. These trees form elegant rows, creating a picturesque landscape, and inviting visitors to explore the winding pathways that weave through the park’s 40 acres. It’s worth noting, however, that Green Park’s expanse can be quite substantial, so if you decide to extend your adventure to St. James’s Park and Hyde Park afterward, prepare for a potentially tiring journey.
The history of Green Park is steeped in royal connections dating back to 1660 when King Charles II, also known as Charles III, frequented the park for his daily walks. In 1770, Green Park had a rather ominous reputation as it was shrouded in darkness, with little to no illumination. The park was known to harbor robbers and highwaymen, making it essential for visitors to exercise caution.
One notable historical event within Green Park is the “Temple of Peace” fireworks display. In the Georgian era, specifically during the reign of King George IV, a significant transformation took place. It was during this time that King George IV married Queen Caroline, and the iconic promenade known as “The Mall” was constructed, a location where royal parades continue to captivate spectators to this day. The tall oak trees that grace the park were also planted during this era, contributing to the park’s timeless charm.
While The Green Park in London lacks full-service restaurants, it offers a convenient kiosk where visitors can order a variety of snacks, teas, coffees, potato chips, croissants, biscuits, and cake to enjoy during their visit.
How to get there
Getting to The Green Park in London is straightforward, as it’s centrally located in the heart of the city. Here are the main transportation options:
- From Central London: The London Underground (Tube) is one of the most convenient ways to reach The Green Park.
- Take the Piccadilly Line to Green Park station.
- Take the Victoria Line to Victoria station, which is also within walking distance of the park.
- Bus Routes: Several bus routes serve The Green Park area. You can check Transport for London’s (TfL) website or use their Journey Planner to find the most suitable bus route from your location.
- Walking Distance: Depending on your location in Central London, The Green Park may be within walking distance. It’s adjacent to popular areas like Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, and St. James’s Park, making it easily accessible on foot.
- Bike Hire: You can rent a bicycle in Central London and cycle to The Green Park. The park provides bike racks for secure parking.
- Driving: While it’s possible to reach The Green Park by car, parking in Central London can be challenging and expensive. If you choose to drive, make sure to check for nearby parking facilities and their rates.
The Green Park is a beautiful and tranquil green space in the heart of London, making it a popular attraction for both residents and visitors. Its central location ensures that you can easily access it using public transportation, and it’s often a pleasant walk from many iconic London landmarks. Whether you prefer the Tube, bus, or walking, The Green Park is conveniently situated for exploration.
Richmond Park, a sprawling natural haven spanning 2,500 acres, is a treasure trove of attractions and history.
It serves as a sanctuary for wildlife, particularly the resident deer population. While the park offers an incredible opportunity to observe these majestic creatures up close, it’s important to exercise caution and maintain a respectful distance. The deer roam freely throughout the park, providing an enchanting experience for visitors.
Here, you can explore the enchanting Isabella Plantation, discover the vantage point of King Henry’s Mound, which offers panoramic views of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the winding River Thames, and even catch a glimpse of the iconic Mick Jagger’s house. King Henry’s Mound holds a rich history, serving as a hunting ground for King Henry VIII and tracing its roots back to a prehistoric burial chamber from the Bronze Age. Additionally, you can savor teas, coffees, and biscuits at Pembroke Lodge, though it may be a tad pricey. For those seeking outdoor adventures, the Tamsin Trail beckons, providing jogging and hiking enthusiasts with an idyllic path to explore the park’s natural beauty. Richmond Park truly offers a blend of history, natural wonders, and recreational opportunities for all to enjoy.
Isabella Plantation, nestled within the lush expanse of Richmond Park, is a true horticultural haven. For plant enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, this serene and peaceful sanctuary offers a captivating glimpse into the world of botany. While its vibrant floral display is most renowned during April when colorful blooms grace its landscapes, Isabella Plantation exudes its unique charm throughout the year. In seasons other than spring, it captivates visitors with a mesmerizing tapestry of lush greens, golden yellows, and rich browns, particularly during the enchanting autumn months. Regardless of the time you choose to visit, Isabella Plantation’s tranquil ambiance and botanical wonders never fail to inspire and rejuvenate the soul.
Navigating Richmond Park to explore other nearby attractions can be a bit challenging due to its vast size. For instance, reaching Isabella Plantation from the deer park entails approximately a 40-minute walk. The deer are generally timid in the presence of humans, but it’s crucial not to provoke them, especially when they have young offspring, as they can become defensive.
How to get there
When it comes to accessing Richmond Park, public transportation options are available, including trains. However, the journey may involve multiple interchanges. As such, staying in proximity to the park or using a car for transportation may be more convenient. Keep in mind that Richmond Park is not the most accessible location if you plan to visit Central London, as it involves navigating through motorways and potential traffic congestion. Here are the main transportation options:
By Tube and Train:
- From Central London: You can take the Jubilee Line then the District Line to Richmond Station for 47 minutes, and then take bus numbers 65 and 371 for another 45 – 50 minutes.
Driving: Renting a car is a convenient option if you prefer flexibility. Richmond Park is well-connected by road, but you’ll need to drive on the left side of the road in the UK. Follow the M3 motorway from Central London, and you’ll find several car parks within the park. Keep in mind that some areas of the park have strict speed limits and wildlife conservation measures.
- Bike Hire: If you enjoy cycling, consider renting a bicycle in Central London and cycling to Richmond Park. There are dedicated cycling routes leading to the park.
Local Accommodation: Staying in the Richmond area is an excellent choice if you plan to spend considerable time in Richmond Park. You’ll find various accommodation options, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and guesthouses, providing a comfortable base for exploring the park.
Kensington Gardens, seamlessly linked to the sprawling expanse of Hyde Park, forms a harmonious duo of greenery in the heart of London. This idyllic setting offers not only the natural charm of lush parklands but also provides easy access to a treasure trove of cultural attractions. A short walk will lead you to the illustrious Royal Albert Hall, the captivating Science Museum, the awe-inspiring Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Nearby, the vibrant Portobello Market adds to the array of experiences, ensuring you won’t run out of things to do.
Within Kensington Gardens, nature enthusiasts are treated to the captivating sight of green parakeets, a seasonal delight typically observed in April and May when visitors have the chance to feed these colorful birds. The Italian Garden, an enchanting feature of the park, offers a tranquil retreat surrounded by ornate fountains and classical sculptures. The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, a symbol of remembrance and serenity, invites visitors to splash their feet in its cool waters during the warmth of summer. The Princess Diana Playground, a testament to her affection for children, provides a safe and imaginative space for young ones to explore and play.
However, it’s worth noting that while Kensington Gardens are interconnected with Hyde Park, exploring the entirety of Kensington Gardens itself can be a day-long adventure. The park’s sprawling landscapes and diverse attractions make for a leisurely and rewarding exploration, ensuring that you’ll have plenty to see and do within its bounds.
Click for things to do in Kensington Gardens and the walking route you could take. This is a suggested route, but feel free to stop either in Lancaster Gate, Queensway, Marble Arch, and Hyde Park Corner Tube Station, the four stations surrounding the two parks.
Greenwich Park, a verdant oasis sprawling over 183 acres, is an absolute treasure trove of experiences that can easily fill an entire day with wonder and exploration. This iconic park is nestled within the heart of Greenwich, offering a delightful blend of nature, history, and culture. A visit here promises an unforgettable adventure. With roots tracing back to the Roman times, this iconic park has played a pivotal role in the city’s narrative. Once a royal hunting ground and later a site for grand Tudor palaces, Greenwich Park has witnessed centuries of transformation.
Start your day at the Royal Observatory Museum, where time seems to stand still. Spend 1 to 2 hours delving into the fascinating world of astronomy and history. Adjacent to it, the Maritime Museum beckons, offering 30 minutes to an hour of maritime wonders. Stand at the Greenwich Prime Meridian, where you can straddle the line, putting your left foot in the West and your right foot in the East – a truly unique geographical experience.
Croom’s Hill, nestled in the heart of Greenwich, offers a tranquil escape with its charming Georgian houses that exude timeless elegance. As you meander through Croom’s Hill, you’ll encounter an enchanting pathway leading to King George’s Street, where the allure of Georgian architecture continues to captivate. Away from the bustling tourist areas, Croom’s Hill provides a serene and peaceful retreat, inviting visitors to savor a slice of historic Greenwich while basking in its quiet charm.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the vibrant Greenwich Market, where you can indulge in a sumptuous lunch and hunt for vintage treasures. For those seeking a serene escape, discover the hidden gem of St. Alfege’s Park, where you can relax amidst a public crematorium, rows of tombstones, and tombs. In May, when the sun graces the park, wander over to the Cherry Blossom Trees, perfect for capturing those Instagram-worthy snapshots. While exploring the park, keep an eye out for a small deer enclosure tucked away in the “Enchanting Woodlands,” although only a fortunate few may catch a glimpse. For a burst of color, explore the Flower Garden and the enchanting Rose Garden, all while enjoying panoramic views of London from a picturesque hill. Finally, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the historic Cutty Sark Ship and embark on a delightful River Thames boat ride, connecting you to other captivating areas of London. Greenwich Park is a true gem, where nature, history, and urban charm converge in perfect harmony.
How to get there
Getting to Greenwich Park from Central London is straightforward due to its excellent public transportation connections. Greenwich Park is located in South East London and is easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Here’s how to get there:
By Tube and DLR:
From Central London: Start by taking the London Underground (Tube) to the nearest station, which is North Greenwich Station on the Jubilee Line. North Greenwich Station is well-connected to Central London.
Transfer to the DLR: From North Greenwich Station, you can transfer to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). The DLR is an overground train system that connects various parts of East and South East London.
Alight at Cutty Sark DLR Station: Take the DLR from North Greenwich and alight at Cutty Sark DLR Station. This station is very close to Greenwich Park.
By National Rail:
From Central London: You can also reach Greenwich by National Rail services from Central London. Charing Cross Station, London Bridge Station, and Cannon Street Station all offer train services to Greenwich Station.
Walk to Greenwich Park: Once you arrive at Greenwich Station, Greenwich Park is a short walk away. Follow the signs to the park, and you’ll reach the entrance in no time.
By River Bus:
River Bus from Central London: Another scenic way to get to Greenwich is by taking the Thames Clippers River Bus service. These boats operate along the River Thames and offer stunning views of London landmarks. Several piers in Central London, including Westminster Pier and Tower Bridge Pier, provide service to Greenwich Pier.
Arrival at Greenwich Pier: Arriving at Greenwich Pier, you’ll find yourself just steps away from Greenwich Park.
Greenwich Park is not only home to beautiful landscapes and historic sites but also offers a delightful journey to reach it. Whether you choose the Tube, DLR, National Rail, or even a River Bus, you’ll find it easy to access this iconic London park from Central London.
18TH CENTURY HIDDEN WATERWAY LEADING TO THREE UNDERGROUND TUNNELS
CUTTY SARK SHIP, GREENWICH, LONDON
GEORGIAN HOUSE AT THE TOP OF CROOM’S HILL
THE VIEW OF LONDON FROM GREENWICH HILL
ROSE GARDEN IN FRONT OF RANGER’S HOUSE IN JUNE
GEORGIAN HOUSES AT THE TOP OF CROOM’S HILL
24 HOUR GATE CLOCK IN GREENWICH, SHOWS THE ORIGINAL GREENWICH MEAN TIME
Bushy Park, a picturesque haven spanning over 1,000 acres, stands as another cherished sanctuary for deer in London. The park’s serene woodlands and open spaces provide a harmonious habitat for these majestic creatures. Visitors can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the park and observe the deer as they roam freely. Bushy Park offers a delightful respite from the urban bustle and serves as a tranquil retreat for both nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
Nearby, the historic Hampton Court Palace beckons with its grandeur and rich heritage. Exploring the palace can easily fill three hours with its opulent chambers, splendid gardens, and captivating history. To further enrich your day, embark on a scenic 1-hour and a half boat ride along the picturesque River Thames to reach the equally enchanting Richmond Park. Here, you can continue your deer-watching adventures in a distinct setting. Additionally, the riverside town of Kingston Upon Thames awaits, offering rows of charming cafes, a bustling shopping center, and the opportunity to mingle with the locals who call this picturesque village home. Bushy Park, with its tranquil beauty and proximity to these captivating destinations, ensures a memorable and multifaceted day of exploration in London’s outskirts.
Getting to Bushy Park from Central London or other areas requires some planning. Bushy Park is located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, southwest of Central London. Here’s how to get there:
By Train and Bus:
From Central London: Take a train from London Waterloo station to Hampton station. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes. Hampton is the nearest railway station to Bushy Park.
From Other Areas: If you’re coming from outside Central London, check the train routes to Hampton station from your location. You may need to change trains at some stations depending on your starting point.
Bus Connection: From Hampton station, you can take a bus to Bushy Park. Several bus routes connect the station to the park. Look for buses such as the R70 or 111, which will take you to the park’s main entrance.
From Central London: If you prefer to drive, you can take the A4 or A316 (known as the Great Chertsey Road) from Central London to reach Bushy Park. The park has parking areas available.
Parking: Bushy Park has several parking areas. The main car park is at the Hampton Wick Gate entrance. However, parking can get busy during peak times, so it’s advisable to arrive early or consider public transportation.
Nearby Accommodation: If you plan to visit Hampton Court Palace along with Bushy Park, it’s a good idea to stay nearby. The area around Hampton Court offers various accommodations, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. Staying in this vicinity allows you to explore both attractions conveniently.
Remember that London’s public transportation system is extensive and efficient, making it relatively easy to reach Bushy Park and other attractions from various parts of the city.
Did you love reading this post? If you enjoy going to the 8 royal parks of London as a family, you might want to go further afield and check out London’s beautiful National Parks. Here are the best national parks in the UK for families.
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