Top 12 Picnic Spots in London
So, you’re coming to London this summer on a backpacker’s budget? Well we have the perfect money-saving solution for you. Find your way with our guide to the perfect picnic spots in London. Plonk yourself on a patch of soft green grass or a bench with a view and while away a happy few hours munching on your favourite food.
It’s National Picnic Week in the UK between 18th to 26th June this year. It’s the perfect excuse to get your blanket and picnic at the ready. And, of course, you can picnic to your heart’s content throughout the rest of the summer too.
Why picnic in London?
Picnicking in London is a great way to keep some of your budget for other London experiences which are often expensive. There are great supermarkets such as Waitrose or Marks & Spencer where the picnic food is as good as it gets.
There are also many deli’s and bakeries across London where you can pick up hand-made bread, cured meat and cheeses and other deli items. London’s markets have plenty to offer on this front too like Borough Market and other foodie favourites.
Bring something to sit on which can double up as a rain jacket in case of a good British rain shower! Sit back, spread out your picnic, and relax and enjoy.
Best parks in London for picnics
There are more picnic spots in London than you can shake a picnic rug at. But we’ve checked out the best. So, here’s our guide to the best spots in London for a picnic.
Some of them are a little out of central London. But that’s the plan – to get you away from the hectic pace of the city centre. Others are only a short walk away from the main hustle and bustle, because London is a city with a lot of green space.
Amongst our suggestions are some of the best London parks for picnics. They all have something different to offer.
Top Tip: You can reach some locations on our list by boat. What better way to get to one of the best picnic spots in London than on a relaxing boat journey along the Thames? Here’s a link to the stops that the MBNA Thames Clipper Boats can get you to. If you’ve got an Oyster card you get discount on the boats.
Thames River Cruises also have longer cruises on the river that can get you to Kew Gardens or Hampton Court – both great for finding a picnic place in London. These journey’s take a while, so make the most of your time on the river and even picnic onboard as you drift past London scenes.
Don’t forget to share your photos of your finds and let us into the secret of your newly found best picnic spot in London!
Kew Gardens Picnic
Visit these world-famous gardens and you’ll have access to 300 acres, ripe for your picnicking pleasure
Now, this is a whole lot more than just a perfect picnic spot. Kew Gardens, otherwise known as the Royal Botanic Gardens, is a Unesco World Heritage site. You do have to pay to get in (around £16) but you can spend several hours here exploring, relaxing and picnicking.
There are 300 acres to explore so if you don’t find your own perfect London picnic spot here then you are hard to please. Kew is a photographers’ delight so bring your camera or just your phone. Temperate House is the world’s largest Victorian glass house and holds some of the rarest and most endangered plant species on the planet. Check it out before you seek out your perfect picnic spot.
There is no problem taking your own picnic into the grounds, but you can’t take alcohol.
Royal Botanic Gardens Richmond TW9 3AB PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Nearest tube: Kew Gardens. By Boat: Board at Westmister with Thames River Boats. The trip which takes about 1 ½ hours – £15 single. Watch out for online deals that include a one-way boat trip and entry to the gardens. Take the train back to Waterloo for around £5.
Richmond Park Picnic
Get back to nature with a picnic in Richmond Park, a designated nature reserve where deers roam free
This is the largest Royal Park in London so get your back pack on, get your picnic in it and get ready to explore. It’s a designated nature reserve and 600 deer roam wild here. Send us your shots of the best picnic spot you find (bonus points if you can get a deer in the background!)
There’s a 7.5 mile running and cycling trail around the perimeter of the park and you can hire bikes if you don’t have your own. It’s a fantastic way to get away from it all. It really is an all-day adventure – not something to squeeze into a spare hour or so. If you’ve had a couple of days of hectic city life, then this is the place to find something as close as you’ll get to the perfect picnic spot in London.
If you do spot any of the beautiful Richmond Park deer please don’t try to get too close. Between May and July the mother’s will be protective of their young and in the autumn the males won’t welcome you during the mating season!
Richmond Park PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Nearest tube/rail: Richmond Station.
Image credit: staycity.com
Greenwich Park Picnic
Keep good time with a picnic at Greenwich Park, home to the famous Royal Observatory
Greenwich Park is yet another prime target for finding the perfect London picnic spot. Sorry if we are spoiling you for choice 😉 This is one you can get to by River. Hop on at one of the stops in the Thames Clipper link above and hop off at Greenwich (not forgetting to bring your picnic with you!)
If you’ve heard of the famous Royal Observatory at Greenwich Park you might want to straddle the Prime Meridian – where 0 degrees longitude runs and East meets West. Or you might just want to picnic under one of the stunning cherry blossom trees in the spring. Locals head here too to eat their lunch throughout the changing seasons, where the park takes on different colours and hues. The evening view over the London skyline as it lights up is stunning from the top of the Observatory hill.
Greenwich itself is a lively place to explore. There’s the world’s only surviving tea clipper The Cutty Sark and the Royal Museums in Greenwich. So plenty to do before or after your picnic. Once you’ve finished your picnic, meander back down the magical Thames dreaming of the next time you’ll find that perfect London picnic spot in Greenwich park.
Greenwich Park Greenwich SE10 8QY
By boat: Services to Greenwich run from numerous Thames piers. It’s definitely the best way to get there. See Thames River Cruise link above.
Regent’s Park Picnic
Regent’s Park is the closest park to the Clink Hostels, so a hot favourite for Clink guests. It has a boating lake where you can hire boats and meander on the water. What better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than messing about on boat and then scouring the park for the best picnic spot in London?
Regent’s Park is another of the 8 London Royal Parks and it’s another big one at around 400 acres. London Zoo is at the north end of the park and is worth a visit if you’ve got the time and the entry fee of around £25.
If you’re a cricket fan then you’re also just minutes from the world famous Lord’s Cricket Ground. You can book tours of the cricket ground and there’s a museum so visit their website to see what’s available and when.
Regent’s Park is also a great place to picnic in London if you’ve spent the morning at Camden Market. Buy your picnic stuff at the market and, when the crowds arrive at Camden, head south to the park and leave the crowds behind.
Regent’s Park Chester Rd NW1 4NR
PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Nearest tube: Regent’s Park (If you’re staying at a Clink hostel it’s an easy walk)
Primrose Hill Picnic
For a picnic with a view, Primrose Hill can’t be beaten
Primrose Hill is a perfect picnic spot in London for those who want a picnic with a view. It’s also pretty close to Clink and, again, an easy walk from Camden. It’s a lovely spot to watch the sunset over the city skyline. But it can get chilly up there so take a sweater.
Once you’ve had your fill of picnicking, the streets around Primrose Hill are filled with some architecturally beautiful houses. The so called ‘Primrose Hill Set’ including Kate Moss and friends used to live around this area of London and could often be seen out and about. You might still spot a famous model or two out to get a skinny latte. If you do, ask them about the best picnic spot on primrose hill (and grab a selfie!)
Primrose Hill PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Hyde Park Picnic
This huge London park is the perfect picnic spot for those wanting to find a green retreat in the city centre
Probably London’s most famous park and bang in the centre of the historic capital close to Buckingham Palace. Hyde Park is an easy place to head if you’ve being doing some Royal watching.
At 350 acres it has the winding Serpentine lake running through it where there is both boating and swimming. But, be warned, the Serpentine is not a heated swimming pool so be prepared for a chilly dip in the marked swimming lanes!
It is also home to the Diana Memorial Fountain, erected in honour of Princess Diana. Hyde Park tends to be one of London’s busier parks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a peaceful corner for that perfect London picnic spot. If you enjoy people watching, it’s a great place to go as you can sit under your shady tree and watch the rest of the world go by. Runners and cyclists use the park so if you enjoy either of those activities, you can spend a happy hour or so in either pursuit.
Hyde ParkPLAN YOUR ROUTE
Nearest tube: Hyde Park
St James Park Picnic
Another central London green space that’s ideal for picnicking when you don’t want to venture far out the city
Smaller than Hyde Park and even closer to Buckingham Palace is the pretty St James Park. The two parks are almost joined up so you can walk, jog or cycle easily from one to the other.
St. James’ Park PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Nearest tube: St James’ Park
Image credit: londonist.com
Other Picnic Spots in and around London
London’s parks are great places to picnic, but you don’t need to sit under a tree to picnic in London. If you’re less of a park person and more of a people person here’s a few tips for the best place to picnic in London away from the parks.
There are plenty of fun spots to take a sandwich or a traditional English pie, kick back and relax with fellow travelers and locals.
Trafalgar Square Picnic
Head to one of London’s most famous squares for some of the best people-watching in town
Every visitor to London heads to Trafalgar Square at some point or other and you’ll see faces from every corner of the planet here. Sit on the wall around the fountain and watch the mermaids spout water as you take some welcome time out from your exploring. Or find a perch around the base of Nelson’s famous column and get the Instagram shot. Either one could be your own perfect London picnic spot.
Trafalgar square is definitely not a place to be on your own for quiet contemplation. Through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter there’s always life in the Square. You’re also close to Covent Garden so when you’ve picnicked you can head over there and watch the street artists entertaining the crowds and stroll through the market stalls.
Trafalgar Square PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Nearest tube: Trafalgar Square
Picnic by the Thames
Head down to South Bank for a bit of culture at the Tate Modern and then wander down to the river. Find a perfect London picnic spot on a river-side bench where you can watch the traffic float along the Thames. Commuter boats take tourists and locals up and down the famous waterway and river boats head further up to places like Windsor and Hampton Court. You might even be tempted to hop on board yourself!
From the South Bank you’ll be gazing back at famous London landmarks including Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. As the sky darkens, the lights go on and London is transformed.
Nearest tube: Blackfriars, London Bridge and Waterloo, Southwark and St. Paul’s will get you close to Southbank (If you end up on the north side of the river just meander across the nearest bridge, admire the river and you’ll find yourself on the South Bank)
Hampton Court Picnic
This is another spot that incorporates a lovely trip along the River Thames to the amazing Hampton Court Palace. Visit the Thames River Boat site for more information. You do have to pay an entrance fee if you want to visit the amazing Hampton Court which was famous for being the favourite Royal Palace of King Henry VIII.
The palace itself gives you a fantastic look inside the life of King Henry’s Court. But if it’s a beautiful day then you might just want to wander around the gardens and see if King Henry himself has created that perfect spot for the best London picnic! There’s an incredible maze at Hampton Court but we suggest it’s not the place for a picnic! If it’s a chilly day they give you medieval robes to wear so you can be King for a day. If you’re one of his Queens, watch you don’t get your head chopped off!
Hampton Court Palace East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Hampstead Heath Picnic and Swim
North of the city and a quick escape from Clink lies the beautiful Hampstead Heath. It’s a favourite escape for Londoners in this neck of the woods. There are not that many picnic areas in London where you can also have a swim if the weather’s warm. Hampstead Heath is one of them with its famous bathing ponds and its Parliament Hill Lido.
Entry to the swimming Lido is around £7. There are cheaper entry tickets if you go early or late. There are showers and changing facilities and areas to relax around the pool. It does get crowded on hot sunny days so our advice would be to enjoy a morning dip before the crowds arrive and then head off with your picnic to find a spot on Parliament Hill where there are great views of the city skyline. You can also venture into the fields surrounding the hill. With hardly another soul within shouting distance, this may well be the best picnic spot in London…
Hampstead HeathPLAN YOUR ROUTE
Opt for an indoor picnic if it’s raining
Indoor picnics in London’s museums
If the weather turns on you, then our first recommendation would be to find a cosy pub in London for a pie and a pint … however, if you do have your heart set on a picnic then there are indoor spots where you can take your own food and enjoy a bit of culture too. The Natural History Museum, The British Museum, The Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum all have picnic areas. Most museums in London are free, so get out of the rain and soak up the incredible exhibits in your favourite museum and then find a London picnic spot inside one of these great cultural institutions.
Wherever you find your perfect picnic spot in London, you’ll have a great day in this very green and leafy city!
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