Oh, the great outdoors. We often hear how we’re becoming an ‘indoor generation’, fixated by our phones and televisions, obsessed with notifications and Instagram likes. But really, all of us love spending some time with nature. You may think that because you live in the concrete city of London, there’s no real ‘outdoors’ to experience – but that’s not the case! Here are our 5 favourite quirky green spaces in London we recommend spending some time in this summer.
Image: Wild Swim
Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds
Mixed ponds: 7am-6:30pm daily, Weds in July until 8:30pm.
Nearest Tube: Archway, Tufnell Park
What were once clay pits, the ponds at Hampstead Heath are now open all year round to ladies, men and mixed groups respectively. The ponds are the UK’s only lifeguarded open water swimming facilities open to the public every day of the year! With the weather warming up and the sun making an appearance, this is a beautiful part of London that’ll help you escape the ‘city vibe’ and have a little fun outdoors. Men’s and Ladies ponds are open 7am-8:30pm summer, mixed ponds 7am-6:30pm daily, and Weds in July until 8:30pm.
Image: Garden Visit
Isabella Plantation – Richmond Park
Richmond Park, Kingston upon Thames KT2 7NA
Nearest Station: Richmond
Richmond Park is one of the largest and most beautiful parks in the UK, covering an area of 2,500 acres. It’s situated on the outskirts of West London yet still accessible by tube or rail for those living in the city, making it the perfect nature escape on a weekend.
There’s a great deal to see within the park, all completely free, however one area we absolutely love is the Isabella Plantation – a 40 acre woodland set within the a Victorian woodland plantation in Richmond Park. It’s best known for its evergreen azaleas, but also made beautiful by large collections of Rhododendrons and Camellias, plus a number of other rare flowers.
Image: Look Up London
Kyoto Garden Holland Park
Open daily: 7.30am-30 minutes before dusk
Nearest Tube: Holland Park/Kensington High St
One of the most beautiful free gardens in London can be found in Holland Park, a Japanese-style landscape that’s perfect for relaxing and quiet reflection. Holland Park spans 22 acres of West London. The Kyoto Garden was opened in 1991, a gift from the Kyoto to commemorate the long friendship between Japan and Britain. Walk through tranquil waterfalls, by stone lanterns and blooming Japanese trees, before stopping by the central pond full of beautiful koi carp. You may even see a peacock or two!
Image: Design My Night
20 Fenchurch St, London EC3M 8AF
Monday – Friday: 10am – 6pm
Weekends: 11am – 9pm
Nearest Station: Monument
The capitals highest public garden, Sky Garden, resides 35 floors up and is absolutely free to visit. Though not completely outdoors, Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street is a unique, glass domed space covering 3 storeys, including gorgeous landscaped gardens, an open air terrace and exclusive social spaces – think cocktails and fine dining!
You’ll experience uninterrupted 360 views of one of the greatest cities in the world. It’s literally your chance to see London differently! Booking is free, though there are a limited number of tickets available each day so it can be tricky to secure them. Check availability here.
Image: Elephant Park
Nearest Tube: Elephant and Castle
Last but certainly not least, Elephant Park is a major mixed-use development in progress that will create almost 2,500 new homes and the largest new park in central London for 70 years! The first part of the park is already open for the public to enjoy. Work on the rest of the development, including restaurants, shops and open spaces, is in the works. Elephant Park is going to be one of the most environmentally sustainable urban regeneration projects in the world, being climate positive by completion in 2025. Living or working in this area of London is going to bring you closer to nature thanks to this development – expect fine lawns, wooded spots, shared courtyards and over 283 new trees. Living in the city will no longer mean you have to sacrifice green spaces!
Where do you enjoy relaxing in London? Let us know about your favourite green spaces in the comments below!