Seen as the capital’s “playground”, this park is famous as the home of London Zoo. Within its roughly circular boundaries, you can also find an Open Air Theatre, a boating lake, four children’s play areas and the largest outdoor sports facility in central London.
With the sounds of zoo animals roaring in the distance, visitors can stroll along the tree-lined paths, admire Queen Mary’s rose garden and choose from a variety of cafes. You can even walk up neighbouring Primrose Hill for a spectacular view of London.
Just south of the river, along the banks of the Thames, lies this oasis of green. With a range of formal gardens to explore, visitors can saunter at their leisure. Feeling energetic? You can hire a bike, try mini-golf or take to the high ropes. Plus, the kids won’t want to miss the Children’s Zoo with its resident Shetland ponies, wallabies, monkeys and otters.
St James’s Park
Dominated by the beautiful lake at its centre, the park is home to many species of wild birds and waterfowl. You can meet the park’s most famous residents, the pelicans, at feeding time every day. You may also recognise the park’s brightly coloured flower beds, as seen from Buckingham Palace, which are often in the background on TV at Royal occasions.
Next to Buckingham Palace, Green Park is at the centre of a chain of Royal parks in central London. Featuring mainly lawns and trees, the park has no lake or formal flower beds. But watch out for the spectacular Royal Gun Salutes on special occasions.
One of the largest parks in central London, Hyde Park boasts 350 acres of lawns and gardens. At its core lies the tranquil Serpentine, where you can try boating, visit the waterside cafes or even go for a swim at the Lido. Speaker’s Corner at the north eastern tip of the park is famous as a site for public protest and debate.
To the west of the Serpentine lies the other half of this huge green expanse which ends at Kensington Palace, once home to Princess Diana. You can hire a deck chair and soak up the sun, stroll around the Italian Gardens, designed by Prince Albert, or pick up tips on growing fruit and veg at the garden allotments. Kids will love the Diana Memorial Playground with its giant Peter Pan inspired pirate ship.
Here you can admire the beautiful Japanese garden which lies at the centre of the park. The woodlands are home to abundant wildlife, and there is an ecology centre which runs events and workshops. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy tennis, football and netball, with practice nets for golf and cricket. A new adventure playground for children opens this summer.