Your Guide to 5 London Royal Parks

London’s Royal Parks

In a city with more than eight million people, here's how to “get away from it all.”

The pirate ship playground at Kensington Gardens.
Cyclists on the Tasmin Trail in Richmond Park.

By Amy Laughinghouse
Greater London embraces eight Royal Parks, covering approximately 5,000 acres. Here’s a look at a few of our favorite oases.
1. St James’s Park
Nestled between Buckingham Palace to the west and the Horse Guards Parade to the east, St James’s Park is the oldest of the Royal Parks and an epicenter of pageantry. The Mall – the road that runs along the park’s northern boundary – is a traditional processional route, playing a key role in the Changing of the Guard, the annual Trooping the Colour, and royal weddings, funerals, coronations, and state visits.
2. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
While these are technically two separate parks, they flow seamlessly into one another, comprising around 600 acres in total. You could easily spend an entire blue-sky day exploring the gardens; the Serpentine Lake; the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain; the Albert Memorial; and a fanciful pirate ship “moored” on the children’s playground. An imposing statue of Queen Victoria presides over Kensington Palace to the west.
3. The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill
This 395-acre park is home to some of London’s most sensationally landscaped gardens. Queen Mary’s Gardens is renowned for its roses – 12,000 in all – while the glories of the Avenue Gardens include its tiered fountains and a profusion of spring bulbs. Bird-watchers flock here, too, hoping for a glimpse of up to 200 species, while sightseers make the pilgrimage to the top of Primrose Hill to soak up a postcard panorama of London’s skyline. Other highlights include an open-air theater and the London Zoo.
4. Richmond Park
You’ll be transported to the country with a visit to Richmond Park, a National Nature Reserve and the largest of London’s Royal Parks. Herds of fallow and red deer roam Richmond’s varied landscape, which features ancient oaks and ornamental gardens, along with horseback riding and power kiting opportunities. The view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from atop King Henry’s Mound is so esteemed that it’s protected by an act of Parliament.
5. Greenwich Park
Head east to London’s most historic royal park for a chance to stand astride the Prime Meridian Line and visit the Royal Observatory. The park is also part of the Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site, which is home to the National Maritime Museum and the Old Royal Naval College. Climb the hill to the site of General James Wolfe’s statue, which stands atop a stone plinth and offers a stupendous vista across the Thames.
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General James Wolfe’s statue in Greenwich Park.