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London is one the greenest capital cities in the world. It has many beautiful parks, gardens and heaths. When the weather is good in the summer lots of people spend their free time in the parks, but they can be enjoyed all year round. London's green spaces most clearly signal the change of the seasons, most dramatically in spring and autumn.
Below are some of our favourite parks, but if you want to know about any others just ask in Reception.
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are one large park, with the Serpentine lake in the middle. The park is right in the centre of London, although it is so large you can often feel that you have left the city altogether. When the weather is good you can go boating on the Serpentine. There is also a 'Lido' which is an outdoor swimming area in the Serpentine which is open to the public from June - September. At the north east end of the park there is an area called 'Speakers Corner'. Since 1872 people have had the right to speak publicly here about anything, as long as they don't use obscene language. There are eight places you can stop for a drink and something to eat in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens so you're free to explore knowing you're never far from a place to rest! Click here to see an interactive map of the park.
Tubes: Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch.
Holland Park is one of London's smaller public parks, but it is just as interesting as some of the larger, more famous parks and gardens. Holland House is at the heart of the park, however, the house was bombed in the second world war and now there is only one floor remaining. The Belvedere Restaurant is in the old summer ballroom of the house and temporary exhibitions are housed in the other remaining rooms. Also in Holland Park you will find the Kyoto Japanese Garden- an ecology garden and rose gardens built for the 1991 London Festival of Japan. During the summer months outdoor opera and dramatic performances are staged at the open-air theatre. Holland Park has some very pleasant wooded walks where you are likely to see some of the many peacocks and squirrels.
Tubes: Holland Park, Kensington High Street.
St James's Park/Green Park
St James's Park and Green Park are only separated by The Mall (the road that leads up to Buckingham Palace). There is a large lake in St James's Park that is home to many ducks, geese and pelicans. As well as the wildlife, at the eastern end of the park you can see 'Horseguards Parade' where many royal parades take place, including the 'Trooping of the Colour' which happens on the Queen's birthday every year. Green Park is more peaceful and has a lot of trees and scrubs but no flowers (except in the spring when more than 250,000 daffodils come to life). You can hire a deck chair in Green Park (an outdoor chair made with a wooden frame and a cloth seat) during daylight from April to September. Click here to see an interactive map of St James's Park. Click here to see an interactive map of Green Park.
Tubes: St James's Park, Westminster, Victoria, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner.
Regent's Park starts just north of Oxford Street and stretches as far north as Primrose Hill, a popular place to get an excellent view of London. As well as a number of pretty gardens Regent's Park is home to the world-famous London Zoo and conservation centre where more than 650 species live. Towards the south of the park you will find the Open Air Theatre, which is the only permanent professional outdoor theatre in Britain. It is open from May to September. For the more active there is a sports centre, The Hub, and further north, an outdoor gym. Click here to see an interactive map of the park.
Tubes: Regent's Park, Baker Street, Warren Street, Great Portland Street, Camden Town, Chalk Farm (for Primrose Hill).
The Botanical Gardens, Kew is one of the world's leading botanic gardens and a World Heritage Site. It is famous for it's beautiful glass houses and perhaps mostly for the humid tropical rainforests inside the Victorian Palm House. As well as the unusual plants from around the world that you can find in the glass houses there is plenty to see outside. The treetop walkway allows you to climb 18 metres into the tree canopy for a birds-eye view of the gardens. Kew Gardens is the only place listed on this page that has an entry fee. Adults pay £13 and concessions £11,so take your student card. Click here to see an interactive map of the gardens.
Tube: Kew Gardens
Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London and home to 650 free roaming deer. Slightly more wild than some of the more central parks, Richmond Park has plenty to offer those who enjoy outdoor activities. There are several centres where you can learn to fly a kite, as well as a golf course, fishing at Pen Ponds and bike hire. Up towards where the park nearly meets the River Thames you can visit King Henry's Mound, which has a great view of St Paul's Cathedral which is 10 miles away! Close to the mound is Pembroke Lodge and Gardens which has a restaurant and cafe in a Georgian mansion. Click here to see an interactive map of the park.
Tube: Richmond, then take the 371 or 65 buses to the pedestrian gate at Petersham.
Buses: 33 Hammersmith - Ricmond, 337 Richmond - Clapham Junction, 485 Richmond - Wandsworth, 85/N85 Putney - Kingston, 265 Putney - Tolworth, K3 Roehampton Plough - Esher, 72 Roehampton - East Acton, 493 Richmond - Tooting, 65 Kingston - Ealing Broadway, 371 Kingston - Richmond.