The sprawling Barbican complex in the City of London definitely isn’t the place you’d expect to find one of the capital’s greatest green spaces. But wander for long enough among its concrete angles and you’ll stumble into a gasp-inducing tropical paradise. The Barbican Conservatory opened in 1984 and is one of the biggest greenhouses in London, second only to Kew Gardens. It houses 2,000 plant species, including towering palms and ferns, across an extensive series of concrete terraces and beds. There are even koi carp and terrapins. The atmosphere is almost post-apocalyptically peaceful.
The Conservatory is open on Sunday and bank holiday Monday afternoons, as well as selected Saturdays until 10pm (with a pop-up café and bar!) and for occasional special events. Entrance is free. Alternatively, you can take a guided tour or – if you’d like to linger a little longer among the foliage – book in for a civilised afternoon tea.