Top 5 Parks and Open Spaces

Hampstead Heath

Overseeing much of London is the beautiful patch of countryside that is Hampstead Heath. It’s vast and fluffed with wood and heathland alike. Thirty ponds puddle the area, all of which are manmade because of a set of damns further up. There are ruins and other historical sites around the area. Or there’s the animal sanctuary in Golders Green – part of Hampstead Heath’s composition – where you can see native deer, kestrels, and even a stand of flamingos. Lastly, there’s Kenwood where you’ll find a seventeenth century neo-classical stately home, part of English heritage.

Image credit: Jamie Koster

Highgate Wood

Whatever Highgate Wood lacks in open space and sprawling vistas, it makes up for in densely populated woodland. Forest trails snake their way between oak and hornbeam, while rickety wooden fence posts hold the rest of the area together. Having said that, there are still plenty of places to relax at Highgate Wood; the respected and renowned café, the kids’ playground, or simply a bench sheltered among the towering ancient boughs. Boasting 28 acres of beauty, you’ll forget you’re in a city at all when you’re at Highgate.

Image credit: Jamie Koster

Clapham Common

Clapham Common is a triangular park of 100 acres and boasts three large ponds, all of which are popular fishing spots due to the carp and bream that populate their waters. A deceptive but definite incline props up Clapham Common – you’ll notice it after chasing a ball around after half an hour – but reach the top and turn around for fantastic views of London’s skyline. Elsewhere there's an all-concrete skatepark with flat rails and stair sets while, in the middle of the common itself, is a regenerated bandstand – perfect for people-watching or picnics.

Image credit: Jamie Koster

Holland Park

Right in the middle of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Holland Park is a little different to rest of our top park picks. It’s still a fairly hefty effort at 55 acres, but it’s right in the thick of things – a real surprise to discover, especially when you stumble across the breath-taking Kyoto garden within its grounds. This little Japanese garden was donated in the 90s and brings colour and beauty to a secluded patch of chaotic London. Because of this, Holland Park is perfect date material. Just pack the picnic hamper and off you go.

Image credit: Guy Arnold

Victoria Park

To give it its colloquial name, Vicky Park is 212 acres, half the size of Regent’s Park, and a lot less busy. It bears similarities with Regent’s Park with slips of water and splatters of ponds. The rest is large expanses of open field with clumps of trees here and there. All sounds peaceful, right? Not always. Among several others, three massive British rock bands – The Clash, Radiohead, and Madness – have all played here over the years. Vicky Park is a super-fun gig venue. On the other end of the scale, it is home to the oldest remote control motor boat club in the world; who’ve have thunk it?

Image credit: Mile End Residents