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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 27 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Sarah Barrell

Few capital cities can match London for the number of elegant parks that stretch out alongside the busy streets, great swathes of tree-lined green, spanning over 5,000 acres. There are eight Royal Parks to explore,  originally created as hunting and pleasure grounds for the royal family, each one a different experience.

The oldest park, St James, dates back to 1532, when Henry VIII purchased the land for a deer park. Surrounded by palaces on three sides – Westminster, St James’ and Buckingham – this is the heart of royal London, and where Elizabeth I held all manner of pageants and fetes during her reign.

The other main parks in central London are Hyde, Regents, St James and Green Park, while Richmond and Greenwich sit to the west and east respectively. All of the parks are dotted with cafes, and can be a wonderful place to sit with a picnic and watch Londoners slowing the pace for an hour or two.

Recommendations

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Greenwich Park

London, United Kingdom (UK)

Many people enjoying the sun at the park

Right on the Thames where the Cutty Sark museum ship is moored, you’ll find this grand royal park, home to 17th-century landscaping, the Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum and one of London’s oldest deer enclosures.

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Hyde Park

London, United Kingdom (UK)

Aerial view of the spacious park surrounded by the London metropolitan area during dusk

The largest of the four royal parks forming a leafy chain from Kensington Palace to Green Park and Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park is central London’s green lung. Join swimmers in the Serpentine, art lovers in the adjacent gallery or pause at Speaker’s Corner on a Sunday morning to hear all manner of opinions.

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Regent’s Park

London, United Kingdom (UK)

Birds eye view of a park bordering a city in the daytime

Founded in the name of Britain’s 18th-century ‘Playboy’ Prince Regent, this is London’s most elegantly manicured park, where public lawns and seasonally planted flower beds encircle ‘secret’ rose-scented gardens, an outdoor theatre, a boating lake, and London Zoo.

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Richmond Park

London, United Kingdom (UK)

Red deer stag in winter

Charles I’s deer-roamed royal park that remains little changed since the Middle Ages. Woodland, grassland, and cycleways make for a rural treat of a city retreat.

Best for ages 4+

St James’ Park

London, United Kingdom (UK)

A river with lot's of vegetation nearby and a building in the background

Surrounded by Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade, Clarence House and Whitehall, this is the epicentre of London’s eight royal parks, whose formal flowerbeds form a backdrop to such monarchical pageants as Trooping of the Colour.

Best for ages 18+

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Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Finding your way to London’s central parks couldn’t be easier – all of them have their own stop on the underground, and excellent bus links. It is possible to visit several in one afternoon’s walk – St James’, Green Park and Hyde Park are all within easy reach of each other.

The parks change in atmosphere according to the time of the day; in the morning the paths are thick with runners (and horse-riders in Hyde Park), while the afternoons tend to be students, couples and families. Weekends are busy all day.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

London Royal Parks Bike Tour including Hyde Park

London

London Royal Parks Bike Tour including Hyde Park
Take the London Royal Parks Bike Tour and visit London's royal palaces, beautiful park's and the city's most spectacular landmarks by bicycle! This half-day bike tour is a fun, educational and active way to tour London and the beautiful Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James's Park. Enjoy cycling around London's Hyde Park and see the famous sights of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, and Westminster Abbey as well as the royal landmarks of Buckingham Palace, Prince Albert's Memorial. Tours are taken on state of the art California 'beach cruiser' bicycles that are named after famous British personalities. Will you choose Winston Churchill, William Wallace or even David Beckham?!

Price: £20

Min age: 0

Rating 4.78 / 5 [459 ratings]

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Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

London

Greater London, United Kingdom (UK)

view of houses of parliament at night

World-class culture, fashion, music, food and history – and a mind-boggling array of bucket list experiences – packed into one extraordinary, incomparable destination.