When the summer sun finally graces London with its presence, we can safely say it’s officially picnic season. It’s no secret that everyone rushes to any outside space they can find to enjoy a meal under the blue sky. After all, everything tastes better alfresco.
We’ve got the lowdown on the best places for relaxed outdoor dining, no matter what corner of the city you’re in.
Central London is filled with beautiful parks and the most convenient place to stop for a picnic in the middle of a day of sightseeing. Head to the lush and green tranquillity of Green Park or St James’s Park after a visit to Buckingham Palace. Situated on either side, these immaculate parks are kept to a regal standard with Horse Guards often wandering through.
If you’ve been exploring the V&A Museum, The Natural History Museum or The Science Museum, Hyde Park is just a short walk away. This sprawling park is home to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and is often a venue for summer concerts. You can even hire a pedalo on the Serpentine Lake to make your day more memorable.
Once part of Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens houses the very beautiful Kensington Palace, The Albert Memorial, Statue of Diana, and Diana Memorial Playground. Why not continue your sightseeing adventures after lunch?
A popular lunch spot and a great place to rest your feet after a busy day of retail therapy, is Soho Square just off Oxford Street.
After a trip to St Paul’s Cathedral, the picturesque Postman’s Park is a short walk away. It’s a beautiful open space decorated with memorials to those who sacrificed their lives for others. You may also recognise it from the play and film starring Natalie Portman, Closer.
If you want to leave the hustle and bustle of the city centre behind, then the north side is definitely a good place to head. Surrounding the iconic London Zoo, Regent’s Park is an incredible green space with a boating lake, open-air theatre, sports pitches, the magnificent Queen Mary’s Gardens and more! It’s the ideal spot for a picnic.
Nearby is Primrose Hill, an affluent area popular with celebrities and home to a park which offers some of the most breathtaking views of London. You can see most of the capital’s renowned sights from the top of the hill. It’s also a short walk from Camden Town, a vibrant area known for its markets and live music.
If you fancy an outdoor swim with your picnic lunch, then head to Hampstead Heath ponds. The Ladies and Mens ponds are the only open-air life-guarded swimming facilities open to the public 365 days a year. Apart from the ponds, the park is sprawling and partially made up of woodland with gorgeous views of the city. It’s a must-see and ideal place for a woodland wander. Honourable mentions also go to Highgate Wood, an ancient woodland that has remained largely unchanged since 1886, and Alexandra Palace for more beautiful views, ponds and fallow deer.
If you’re heading east, the two main picnicking spots are Victoria Park and London Fields. Victoria Park is the city’s oldest purpose-built public park and has loads of space for outdoor games. London Fields is a fashionable picnic spot and home to the London Fields Lido — a 50m Olympic size, heated outdoor swimming pool open all year round.
Did You Know? London Fields park is categorised as common land because it used to be a site for grazing animals.
Venture south of the river for more glorious picnic opportunities. If you’re visiting the Cutty Sark, drop into one of London’s royal parks, Greenwich Park, for a picturesque picnic overlooking the River Thames. Don’t forget to wander through the Queen’s Orchard, Rose Garden and a traditional Edwardian garden.
While you’re there, make sure to pop by the Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian — the reference point for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
If you’re visiting Tate Britain, take a short walk along the river for a picnic at Battersea Park, a lovely green space on the south bank of the Thames. It’s got an Old English Garden, a Children’s Zoo, boating lake and plenty of cafés. Another popular place for a picnic is Clapham Common, a vibrant triangular park surrounded with bars and shops in London’s bustling area of Clapham.
Considered one of the most beautiful parks in London, Holland Park is 22-hectares of magnificent greenery. The pièce de résistance is the charming Kyoto Garden, a Japanese-style landscape with a waterfall, tranquil pond full of koi fish, stone lanterns and peacocks! You’ll also find a rose garden and Opera Holland Park, an opera stage with picnic areas.
South-West of the city is London’s largest open green space — Richmond Park. This Royal Park is the largest in London and home to plenty of wildlife including red and fallow deer. A must-visit is the Isabella Plantation, with the largest collection of Kurume Azaelas — bright coloured flowers from Japan. Another fascinating point of interest is King Henry’s Mound, a Bronze Age burial chamber and Henry VIII’s hunting spot. Richmond Park truly is an idyllic spot for a picnic on the edge of the city.
Perhaps the poshest spot for a picnic is Kew Gardens. It’s certainly a stand-out attraction when it comes to outdoor spaces in London. The Royal Botanic Gardens contains the world’s largest collection of living plants and with so much to explore, it makes sense to bring along a picnic to enjoy in the middle of your day.
Which is your favourite London Park? Don’t forget to tag us @goldentoursuk!
Images from Michell Zappa, JR P, Jolyon Hunter, Matt Churchill, Megan Eaves and Kotomi_ via Flickr.
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