Green Spaces You Need To Visit In London

When someone tells you that London is a concrete jungle, drop this piece of information on them: Parks and green spaces cover 40% of the city’s land, 35,000 acres if you want to get specific.

Get away from the crowds, soak up some sun, look for wildlife, or take a stroll through one of the capital’s best parks, woods, and canals…

London is one of the world’s greenest cities. Most of us have a local park we can visit, and there are numerous iconic large open spaces ranging from Hampstead Heath to Greenwich Park and beyond. The capital, on the other hand, is full of secret nooks and hidden crannies of green space that are less-trodden and thus usually pretty peaceful.

From nature reserves to community gardens, we’ve unearthed some of London’s best-kept secrets. Yes, you may have to look for them in the shadow of an empty office building. No, there will be no Santander cycles or rentable deckchairs. Instead, you’ll discover pockets of glorious nature where you can tuck yourself away and forget about any worries.

The Hill Gardens & Pergola:

The Pergola is one of Hampstead Heath’s hidden gems. The Hill Garden, which overlooks West Heath, is a beautiful, landscaped garden that was the private garden of a now-demolished manor house.

The Pergola dates back to 1904 when Lord Leverhulme, a wealthy philanthropist and landscape gardener, purchased ‘The Hill,’ a large town house on the Heath. Lord Leverhulme expanded his estate the following year by acquiring the surrounding land and with this newfound space, he decided to build a legacy; his Pergola.

Unfortunately, after Lord Leverhulme’s death in 1925, the Pergola began to deteriorate and is now only a shell of its former opulence. What it lacks in sparkle and shine, however, it more than makes up for in atmosphere. The Pergola and Hill gardens are now distinct, moody, and eerie. The sense of faded grandeur is all around, and even with recent restorations, it hasn’t lost its unique character.

Address: The Pergola, Inverforth Cl, London NW3 7EX

Crystal Palace Park Maze:

This large and free hedge maze is located in Crystal Palace Park. It was first planted here in the 1860s, and on September 4, 1909, the Park witnessed an infamous event. It was the site of the first Scout Rally attended by a small group of girls (Girlguiding).

The girls approached founder Lord Robert Baden Powell, requesting that he establish ‘something for the girls,’ and shortly after he created a scheme for girl guides, with 6000 girls joining when the organisation was founded in 1910.

After the 1936 Crystal Palace fire, the maze was not maintained, and the area was eventually levelled in the 1960s. Bromley Council replanted the maze to the original design in 1987, using hornbeam hedges – you may notice that the original Victorian centre post was retained!

The historic maze was completely redesigned and renovated in 2009 to coincide with the start of the Girl Guides’ Centenary celebrations. There are now new artworks and granite monoliths, being one of the largest mazes in the country, people have been (and still are) getting lost in it since the 1870s. The maze, which spans a massive 160 feet, features towering hedgerows and a perplexing network of pathways for people of all ages to enjoy.

Address: Thicket Rd, London SE19 2GA

Walthamstow Wetlands:

Walthamstow Wetlands, Europe’s largest urban wetland nature reserve, is located just 15 minutes from Central London and is home to an abundance of wildlife as well as a rich industrial heritage. The site, which opened to the public back in 2017, is free to visit and open to all.

Recognised as an oasis of calm where visitors can reconnect with nature in the city, it offers a one-of-a-kind heritage venue for weddings and civil ceremonies. The locally-listed Engine House, which was built in 1894, has been redeveloped and can now host spectacular events with stunning views of the ten reservoirs and the London skyline.

It offers a variety of habitats and experiences, ranging from sheltered dense scrub-lined banks to wide windswept views of the city. It is still London’s largest fishery, and the Wetlands are internationally recognised for their importance to migrating birds, especially overwintering wildfowl.

Address: 2 Forest Rd, London N17 9NH

Isabella Plantation:

The 40-acre woodland garden is tucked away in Richmond Park. The gardens were only opened to the public in 1953, but they have since become one of the park’s most popular attractions.

It is open all year and contains many unique and rare trees and shrubs. The plantation also has exotic plants that coexist with our native plants. It is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including over 40 species of fungi, more than 50 species of beetle, and more than 130 species of butterfly and moth!

That being said it is best known for its evergreen azaleas that line the ponds and streams and are in full bloom late April and early May.

Address: Richmond Park, Richmond TW10 5HS

Kyoto Garden:

Holland Park is home to one of London’s most beautiful gardens. The Kyoto Garden provides a one-of-a-kind Japanese-style landscape ideal for quiet reflection and relaxation.

The Kyoto Garden first opened its doors in 1991. It was a gift from the city of Kyoto to commemorate Japan’s long friendship with the United Kingdom. Today, the Kyoto Garden is a popular feature of Holland Park, but it is not the only Japanese garden in the park. The Fukushima Memorial Garden was dedicated in July 2012. It commemorates the Japanese people’s gratitude to the British people for their assistance in the aftermath of the March 2011 natural disasters.

The garden is a traditional Japanese garden, complete with tranquil tiered waterfalls and a tranquil pond stocked with beautiful koi carp. There are stone lanterns, Japanese maple trees, and you may even see a peacock or two roaming around, adding to the ambiance.

Address: Holland Park, Holland Park Ave, London W11 4UA

Dalston Curve Garden:

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden was established in 2010 on the site of the old Eastern Curve railway line. It arose from the ‘Making Space in Dalston’ commissioned by Design For London, which brought together Hackney Council, local residents and groups to investigate ways to address Dalston’s lack of quality public space.

The Garden was planted in 2010 with wildlife-friendly trees and shrubs such as hazel, hawthorn, and birch, as well as butterfly bushes, bracken, and other plants that were already growing on the site. Six large raised beds were also installed for the purpose of growing food.. Since then, many more raised planters for growing herbs and vegetables, as well as an increasing number of flowers and plants to support bees, have been added.

Today, the garden includes a striking wooden pavilion and The Pineapple House, a conservatory that becomes the warmest place in the garden during the winter and a great getaway for people. Completely free to explore, Dalston Eastern Curve Garden features shaded pathways, lightbulb-festooned seating areas, and various murals scattered throughout the space. Wandering through nature provides a respite from city life, especially when the wind blows and the scent of wildflowers fills the air.

Address: 13 Dalston Ln, London E8 3DF

Crossrail Place Roof Garden:

Peace and quiet in the heart of London’s financial hub? Crossrail Place Roof Garden is one of the largest green rooftops in London. Explore the exotic plants, relax on one of the many benches nestled in hidden pathways, or take in a show in the amphitheatre.

Crossrail Place is sat exactly on top of the Meridian line, and the planting is arranged according to hemisphere, with Asian plants such as bamboos to the east and plants from the Americas such as ferns to the west.

It’s a wonderful little spot with funky geometric windows and great views of Canary Wharf – the roof top garden also has its own street food market.

Address: Crossrail Pl, London E14 5AB

St Dunstan In The East Gardens:

St. Dunstan’s in the East Church Gardens is frequently referred to as the most beautiful gardens in the City of London, and rightly so! The church was constructed in the early 12th century and remained standing until the Great Fire of London in 1666. Although the fire severely damaged the church, it was not severe enough to necessitate a total rebuild. Instead, over the next 30 years, the church was patched up, with the final stage being a replacement steeple.

As it would happen, the Church was completely gutted during the Second World War Blitz in 1941 and lay in ruins for the next 25 years; in fact, the only parts of the church that survived were Wren’s tower and steeple. Ultimately, the City of London Corporation decided to turn the ruins into a garden, which opened to the public in 1971.

The gardens and church ruins are now under Grade 1 listed buildings, which means they are safe from further development and cannot be destroyed. This green oasis has benches and a fountain, as well as greenery draping the historic walls, making it a popular lunchtime retreat for City workers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby streets.

Address: St Dunstan’s Hill, London EC3R 5DD

Abney Park Cemetery:

Wander through the overgrown woods of Abney Park Cemetery, past the crumbling gravestones, to a large central clearing dominated by the menacing shell of a derelict chapel. The impressive gothic-revival structure was built in 1840, but it was destroyed by a fire in the 1970s and closed. This, of course, adds to its eerie allure, and you half-expect to hear sinister organ chords and a thunderclap as you emerge from the trees and into its shadow.

Fear not, as you have the option to go on a guided walk or enrol in a woodworking class! This garden cemetery is one of seven Victorian examples in London dubbed “the magnificent seven.” It also serves as a woodland memorial park as well as a local Nature Reserve.

Address: 215 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 0LH

Little Venice:

Despite its proximity to congested roads and commuters streaming out of Paddington Station, Little Venice is a haven of peace and tranquillity. The poet Robert Browning is thought to have given it that name.

This calm stretch where the Grand Union Canal meets the Regent’s Canal is lined with dozens of narrowboats, day trip boats, and water cafés. The famous Little Venice mansions serve as a beautiful backdrop. In addition, the triangular pool, complete with willow tree, houses several floating businesses, including the Waterside Cafe, London Waterbus, a floating art gallery, and a hotel boat.

Little Venice, with its picturesque canals and waterways, is a charming neighbourhood filled with quirky waterside cafes, cosy pubs, and charming restaurants. There’s plenty to do in this charming London neighbourhood, from canal boat rides to puppet shows.

Address: Blomfield Road, London, W9 2PF