Escape the crowds in London

Ellie Swain

Senior Contributor

The bustling, busy, and buzzy city of London is famous for its bright red buses, energetic metropolitan atmosphere, and historic architecture. But did you know that the city is surprisingly green? Yes, London actually has more parks and open areas than any other city of comparable size. If you need to escape the crowds from London’s city centre, there are plenty of idyllic green spaces to retreat to and breathe in some fresh air. It’s time to relax – here are five serene green spaces you won’t believe are in London.

Richmond Park

Just a 20-minute train journey from London Waterloo lies Richmond Park, the largest of London’s Royal Parks. The green space is about as rural and rugged as they come, featuring various photo-worthy landscapes including mossy woodlands, duck-filled ponds, and overgrown grasslands.

Journey deep into the park to discover the bright and beautiful Isabella Plantation, a 40-acre woodland garden that comes alive with vivid hues of pink and purple in the spring and summer months.

The 180-year-old luscious garden is home to 100 different types of azaleas which prettily line the ponds and streams in the area. Explore this floral paradise, and you’ll feel worlds away from the sparkling lights of London’s city centre.

But the real stars of Richmond Park are the 630 red and fallow deer that roam the park’s craggy grounds. But beware – while the delicate deer may look approachable, they can become aggressive when approached.

After exploring the park, head to Pembroke Lodge, a grand Georgian mansion surrounded by pristinely cut gardens for a spot of lunch.

Nunhead Cemetery

As you roam the quiet grounds of Nunhead Cemetery in South London, you may feel like you’re wandering around an abandoned graveyard.

Opened in 1840, much of the Victorian cemetery is overgrown, unkempt, and inaccessible – but beautifully, of course. Most of the crumbling gravestones are faded and aging, some of which look like they’re in danger of toppling over. For the gravestones that are no longer tended to, overgrown weeds and plants weave their way around them eerily.

As you pad softly around the cemetery, it’s hard to believe that you’re slap-bang in the middle of lively South London. Take your time to soak up the views, listen to the birds sing, and read the poignant stories of some of the cemetery’s residents.

There are various historical monuments and gravestones to visit in Nunhead Cemetery. Most notably are those of service members from the two World Wars and scouts who drowned from a tragic ship disaster at Leysdown in 1912.

Kyoto Gardens

If you don’t want to leave the city centre for a dose of calm, make a beeline for the dreamy Kyoto Gardens in the heart of Kensington’s Holland Park.

The tranquil gardens were built in 1922 in celebration of the Japan Festival in the capital. Culture and garden specialists even flew over from Kyoto to help plan the structure and aesthetics of the park.

Wander the space and get lost in the delicate trees and admire the glimmering pond filled with Japanese carp fish. A visit to the peaceful gardens is ideal when you’re dreaming of taking some time out of your day to take a deep breath and relax. Why not sit among the manicured flower beds and meditate to the sound of the rushing mini-waterfall and the birds chirping from the trees?

The London Wetlands Centre

Located in Barnes in Southwest London, The London Wetlands Centre nature reserve is an urban oasis. Consisting of 100 acres of green land formerly occupied by various small reservoirs, retreat to the space to connect with nature in London.

Amble past glistening lakes, stretches of grassland, and wild shrubbery. For nature lovers, The London Wetlands Centre is home to an incredible diversity of local wildlife and fauna. Skip among the wildflower meadows and keep an eye out for furry-faced foraging otters, adorable water voles munching on reeds, and the variety of bird species that live in the reserve’s wilderness.


St-Dunstan-in-the-East was a church first built nearly a thousand years ago in the 12th century in the heart of the capital, halfway between London Bridge and the Tower of London. Today, the abandoned church consists of faded ruins with a lovely, ‘secret’ garden.

The Grade I listed building was severely damaged in the Blitz of 1941, but it was never rebuilt. One night, German bombs devastated the church, leaving the tower and some walls. Instead, the remains are open to the public, and the space is embraced as a spot for quiet contemplation.

Get comfy on one of the benches within the gardens and admire the verdant vines creeping up the ancient walls, the towering leafy trees, and the welcoming open doorways.

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