Here’s our guide to the top 5 places to picnic in London. Despite having a sizeable population, the city provides some great settings for picnics.
From lush parkland to blue lakes, from sandwich bars to fine-dining restaurants, from secluded benches to family entertainment, there’s a park to suit every requirement. Every park comes with standard toilet, deck chairs, parking, food and entertainment facilities. The only things you’ll need to get is a blanket, cooler full of cold drinks and a basket of sandwiches, salad and fried chicken.
Hampstead Heath Tube
Located in north-west London, this 1000 acre heath contains lakes, hills, forests and a Victorian mansion. A fantastic place for couples and families to picnic at, the heath is best visited in the summer months. With ample tree cover, picnicers can easily be protected from the sun.
There’s a Marks & Spencer’s and Starbucks near the tube station from where one can easily stock up on ice cold drinks and picnic snacks. The land in front of Kenwood House, towards the north side of the heath makes for an excellent picnic ground. There are plenty of benches to sit on and open spaces to spread picnic blankets out on. If you’re looking for a spot with a view, then Parliament Hill will give you a fantastic view of central London, right up to the London Eye.
North Greenwich Tube
Star-gazing and Greenwich time isn’t all that you can find here. Greenwich park is also home to the beautiful University of Greenwich and grounds of the Old Royal Naval College. Dating back to the 18th century, the university is another piece of architectural treasure designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
There are plenty of ice cream bars and cafes inside the park. A great place to spread your blanket and sit is at the top of Greenwich hill (which affords magnificent views of the Thames). Families can also enjoy a session of astronomy at the Greenwich planetarium.
St. James’s Park
St. James Tube
St James’s Park is the oldest Royal Park in London and is surrounded by three palaces. The park is resplendent with a huge central lake, a fine dining restaurant, small sandwich shops and a vast array of migratory birds. If you love feeding the crumbs of your picnic basket to almost-tame squirrels, swans, geese and ducks then St. James’s Park is the picnic spot for you.
A great spot to picnic at is towards the north end of the park. From here one gets a magnificent view of Buckingham Palace and surrounding St. James. If going early in the morning, one can also catch the changing of the guard procession from the park itself. While picnicing at St. James’s, be sure to keep an eye out for the park’s two famed pelicans. Although visitors are not allowed to feed the birds, the park rangers perform a feeding session every afternoon for the benefit of onlookers.
Richmond Park is the largest of London’s eight Royal Parks and is the biggest enclosed space in London. The Park has changed little over the centuries. The varied landscape of hills, woodland gardens and grasslands set among ancient trees still abounds in wildlife. Red deer, ducks, swans, ancient oak trees and over a thousand varieties of beetles inhabit the park.
To help plan your picnic, be sure to check out the online picnic guide available at the park’s official website. The guide helps families and individuals learn about the best picnic spots in the park, plan the arrival route and gives general relevant information about picnicing at the park.
Hyde Park Corner Tube
Famous for its Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park attracts over a million tourists each year. However, given the size of the park, one can also find a less crowded, relaxed space for a picnic. It just involves a little hunting and walking. The park is alive with flowers in both the summer and winter months.
A great place to picnic is on the east side of the Serpentine Lake, which runs through the park. Here the park authorities have placed deck chairs that can be rented. It is also less crowded than the north, west and south sides. Boating opportunities can be availed of at Hyde park and provide plentiful fun for children and adults alike. There is a great refreshment stand located at the former Speakers Corner. Be sure to try the triple chocolate ice cream here.