London might be a bustling city, but you can still connect with nature at one of its Royal Parks. Home to boating lakes, tree-lined pathways and historic architecture, these huge green spaces are the perfect place to enjoy a walk of the regal side, while never venturing far from the capital’s other attractions.

Hyde Park

From Mayfair’s dazzling jewellers and the flagship stores that line Old Bond Street to Harrods and the high-end boutiques of Knightsbridge, Hyde Park sits in the middle of two of London’s most fashionable neighbourhoods. Enter at Marble Arch to see what’s going on at Speakers’ Corner, which has been a site for public speeches and lively debates since the mid-1800s, and continue south towards a fragrant Rose Garden that bursts into colourful bloom each summer. If the weather’s warm, you can always cool off at the Serpentine Lido – the 100m open-air pool is beloved by locals. However, if you are feeling slightly less energetic, explore other sections of the lake in a rowing boat or follow the path of the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain as part of a signposted memorial walk. 

Kensington Gardens

Next to Hyde Park, and just minutes from the museums and galleries that line South Kensington’s Exhibition Road, these handsome gardens are filled with artistic attractions – from the contemporary pieces on display at the Serpentine Galleries to the historic paintings that hang in Kensington Palace. Plan a route that passes the highly ornate Albert Memorial – a stunning tribute to Queen Victoria’s husband that sits opposite the Royal Albert Hall. And, for something a little more modern, don’t miss The Arch by Henry Moore that’s situated on the banks of the Long Water. 

St James’s Park and Green Park

Situated at the heart of central London, St James’s might be one of the smallest Royal Parks, but it’s an important setting for ceremonial parades and celebratory pageants such as Trooping the Colour and Changing the Guard. Follow the tree-lined Mall that leads from Admiralty Arch on the corner of Trafalgar Square to the grand gates that surround Buckingham Palace. Next, head to the lake to catch a glimpse of the pelicans that have lived here for nearly 400 years, ever since they were gifted to King Charles II by the Russian ambassador. The adjoining Green Park leads to Piccadilly where you will find the Royal Academy of Arts, many high-end hotels and the iconic Fortnum & Mason Food Hall. Come spring and summer, this relaxed green space is strewn with deckchairs that invite people to soak up the sun. 

The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill

One of London’s most handsomely landscaped spaces, The Regent’s Park is filled with eye-catching water features, beautifully maintained flowerbeds and an attractive boating lake. In addition, Queen Mary’s Gardens – named after King George V’s wife – are planted with 12,000 roses and 9,000 begonias. There are plenty of activities to be enjoyed here, from the row boats and pedalos that can be taken out on the lake to the open-air theatre, but perhaps one of the most popular pastimes is to explore Primrose Hill. The neighbourhood’s pastel-coloured Regency townhouses and Victorian terraces offer up some picture-perfect London streetscapes, while it’s 63-metre-high summit is a great picnic spot from which to admire sweeping views of the city’s skyline – from the London Eye to the chimneys of Battersea Power Station and Canary Wharf’s cluster of skyscrapers. To reach Primrose Hill, you must first cross Regent’s Canal, which makes for a great walk in itself. Follow the towpath that runs alongside this winding waterway and you’ll soon arrive at Camden Lock and the traders and food stalls of the area’s popular market. 

Richmond Park

This sprawling historic park might be situated on the outskirts of central London but, thanks to the herds of wild deer that roam its forests, it feels like a million miles away from any hustle and bustle. Immerse yourself in Richmond’s relaxed way of life with a roast lunch at one of its atmospheric waterside pubs before continuing to the park, which has been named a National Nature Reserve due to the abundance of animals living in this 2,500-acre area. Today, the park is home to more than 600 red and fallow deer, and these magnificent creatures have been roaming here since 1637. They share the space with plenty of other woodland creatures such as foxes, rabbits, owls and several varieties of bat – on a warm summer’s evening, it’s possible to see them swooping and circling overhead. Admire azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and many other rare and wonderful flower varieties in the Isabella Plantation – an exotic plant collection that dates back to the 1830s – and stand on King Henry’s Mound for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. On clear days, you can use the telescope to spot the iconic dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral presiding over the City of London to the east.  

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