From the wild meadows of Wimbledon Common to the elegant green spaces of Hyde Park, London has plenty of locations that are perfect for picnicking. Pack up a hamper, gather your friends and make the most of warmer days with an al fresco afternoon in the city’s parks. To help you plan your outdoor reunions with friends and loved ones, we’ve rounded up our edit of London’s most picnic-perfect parks.
Best Parks in London for a Picnic
Arguably the city’s most famous park, the historic green space stretches through the centre of London, giving plenty of options for locations to set up your picnic. Originally designed to suit the hunting needs of King Henry VIII, the verdant space has become an important arts spot over the years, with sculptures including T. B. Huxley-Jones’ bronze The Joy of Life fountain and the Diana Memorial Fountain dotted around the park. Head to the south east corner to dine amongst the Rose Garden flowers, or opt for a spot by the Serpentine for a waterfront view. There’s a number of refreshment points dotted throughout the park, too, so you can replenish supplies throughout the day.
Another royal park, St James’s offers an unparalleled view: Buckingham Palace. Famed for its impressive flower beds, The Queen Victoria Memorial, and the dramatic Tiffany Fountain in St James’s Park Lake, it’s an elegant and surprisingly calm spot in the heart of the city. Despite its central location, the park is surprisingly rife with wildlife, particularly around the lake, which is home to17 different species of duck. Just beware the pelicans — they’re wonderful to watch from afar, but do pose a slight threat to the contents of your hamper.
Adjacent to St James’s Park and neighbouring Buckingham Palace, Green Park is a peaceful triangle of grasslands and ancient trees that offers a shaded and relaxed escape for outdoor dining. Although there are no formal flower beds — it’s rumoured that King Charles II’s wife demanded they all be removed after she caught him picking flowers there for another woman — the park does burst with over a million daffodil bulbs in the spring. Stroll down the plane and lime tree-lined avenues and past The Canada Memorial, a striking bronze tribute to the Canadians who served during the two World Wars, and set up in the triangle of lawns.
A popular picnic spot since its development in the 19th century to improve the living conditions and life expectancy of east Londonders, this Tower Hamlets park is almost entirely open green space, ripe for spreading a blanket and settling in for the day. Set up by the western side of the lake and take in the elegant hay and steel sculptures ‘Skyscraper’ and ‘Bird’ by Romanian artist Erno Bartha, which were installed as part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012. Alternatively, head to the centre of the park and choose a spot with views of the ornate, Gothic Burdett Coutts Drinking Fountain.
Perfect for a day-long outing, a picnic in Richmond’s Kew Gardens is guaranteed to come with a beautiful view. Outdoor eating is permitted throughout the Gardens, from the Arboretum with over 14,000 trees through to the Rose Garden, which has been home to over 140 varieties of roses since the 1920s. Stroll through the Grass Garden, with its 550 varieties of feathery grasses, and over the elegantly curved Sackler Crossing across the five acre lake to find the perfect spot. Take in the spectacular assortment of plants and wildlife as you enjoy your hamper, before exploring the rest of Kew’s extensive grounds and world-renowned greenhouse.
Across from the expansive Regent’s Park, the grassy hill is one of the city’s most popular outdoor spots. Purchased from Eton College in 1841 to extend the parkland offering for north Londonders, the top of the hill is one of the six protected viewpoints in London, offering a sprawling look across the city. Although few of its namesake primroses can be spotted there today, it is home to a handsome trio of Rowan-whitebeam cross trees, framing the view of the city with delicate white flowers in spring and bright red berries in September. Perch yourself at the top of the hill and enjoy your hamper while taking in the incomparable panoramic views.
For a wilder setting, opt for the park that inspired C.S. Lewis to write The Chronicles of Narnia. The sprawling 800 acre park of woodland and meadows offers a vast selection of picnic spots, from the top of Parliament Hill with its panoramic views and kite-flyers, to the sheltered cover by Wood Pond with charming waterfront views. Home to over 30 lakes and ponds, 650 types of wildflowers and 400 ancient trees, it’s the perfect park for a long weekend ramble. The park is surrounded by cafes and delis from which you can pick up delectable treats for outdoor dining.
The west London park is best known for the herds of deer that can be spotted roaming its wild terrain, but it’s also home to a number of striking picnic spots. Pitch up in the Isabella Plantation, a beautiful woodland garden complete with tranquil ponds and decades-old Japanese plants, or head to King Henry’s Mound for a view of St Paul’s Cathedral. Work your way through the park’s wilderness and circle the Pen Ponds before settling under the trees for a relaxed al fresco lunch. Just be sure to protect your food from any wandering deer.
Originally farmland and a group of meadows known as five fields, the Grade II-listed south London park is a perfect blend of wild land and manicured green spaces. Broad paths perfect for cycling surround wide expanses of grass where you can spread out in the sun. Framed by ancient oak trees, you can pick a spot in the open spaces or set up next to the pretty boating lake, where you can watch visitors pass by rowing boats and maybe spot a duck or two. The park is famed for its sunset views, so be sure to bring enough supplies to see you through until the evening.
The expansive Victorian riverside park is home to an assortment of manicured gardens, a lake and an impressive sculpture collection including Henry Moore’sThree Standing Figures and Barbara Hepworth’s Single Form. Wander down the riverside promenade and take in the view of Chelsea and the bridges before settling down for the afternoon next to the historic bandstand or on the edge of the boating lake. Numerous gardens are ready to be discovered in the park, from the tranquil Old English Garden to the Winter Garden planted with thousands of perennials and bulbs. There are a number of coffee kiosks and cafes dotted throughout the park to restock your assortment, too.
The 196 acre park is home to a diverse assortment of wildlife and plants, and has been providing expansive green space for north Londoners since 1863. Surrounding the historic Alexandra Palace, the park is an impressive mix of undisturbed park space and entertainment areas, including a boating lake, skateboard park and children’s play area, as well as the grand namesake palace. Wander around the peaceful, woodland-encircled lake before heading up the gentle slope of the hill. Bring your hamper or pick up lunch from one of the six cafes around, and enjoy your picnic while taking in the expansive city views.
Across from Kensington Gardens, this central park is made up of large areas of woodland that’s home to plenty of wildlife, as well as the beautiful Kyoto Garden, a Japanese garden donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991. The colourful garden includes exotic shrubs, koi pond and bridge over a beautiful waterfall. The park is popular among horticulturalists for its dahlias, which were first successfully grown in England by the wife of the Earl of Holland, whose Jacobean mansion is at the heart of the park. For a more formal lunch than a picnic can offer, try The Belvedere on the edge of the park in a dramatic 17th-century summer ballroom.
The largest of the city’s three commons, Wimbledon and Putney Commons is over 1,140 acres of countryside carved out of south London. Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation, the park is home to an important assortment of wildlife and plants, with a variety of woodland, heathland and mown recreation areas that are ideal spots for picnics. There are nine ponds, too, so you can enjoy a waterfront view or opt to be surrounded by impressive plant life. Weave your way through the diverse grounds and pick up an ice cream at the windmill before continuing your journey through the rich meadowland.
A popular walking spot, Epping Forest is spread over 6,000 acres, making it the largest public open space in the London area. Thanks to its mix of habitats, including woodland, old grassland plains, heathlands and wetlands, the park is home to an impressive assortment of wildlife species. Plus, as a result of commoners still having the right to graze livestock within Epping Forest, the forest is still home to a herd of 50 rare Long-horn cattle.There are plenty of picnic spots to choose from, but the most popular are under Grimston’s Oak and around Connaught Water, a tranquil lake frequently dotted with swans.
Comprised of woodland, grassland, wildflower meadows and a dedicated picnic area, the Lambeth park is a beautiful stretch of wild parkland with something to discover around every corner. From wild bluebells to ancient oaks, the park is a striking and enchanting escape. A particularly favourite picnic spot is The Orchard, which is equipped with tables shaded by the surrounding trees. Also worth a visit while you’re there is The Rookery, a small and enchanting formal garden that marks the site of Streatham Spa, a well of mineral waters that drew visitors in the 18th century for its supposed healing powers.
The south London park is best known for the Brockwell Lido, one of the city’s most popular outdoor pools. Whether you want to make a day out of your visit to the Lido or just want to lay out in the sun, Brockwell Park is certainly a prime spot for a picnic. There’s plenty of other distractions in the park beyond the pool — it’s home to grade-II listed Brockwell Hall, a herbaceous flower Walled Garden, a kids’ playground and two cafes. Set up by the ponds or make the most of the sunlight in one of the grassy meadows.
Another park famed for its Lido, this Hackney escape is a great place to soak up the warm weather. Head to the north of the park to watch a game of cricket at London Fields Cricket Club while enjoying your picnic, or wander over to Broadway Market to pick up something from one of the numerous street food stalls. Surrounded by tall London Plane trees, the large grassy spaces, which used to be grazing areas for farm animals, are perfect for spreading out on a blanket and enjoying long summer days.