Some of the coolest picnic pitches in the city are within the floral borders of famous Kew Gardens. You have to pay to have a look around but it’s totally worth it - especially to have a nosy inside the newly reopened Temperate House, which is stuffed full of impressive rare plants. Once you’ve splurged on entry, bringing a picnic will definitely save you some pennies, and if you want to nibble au naturel, hunt down the picnic benches in Kew’s woodland areas - they’re bloomin’ lovely.
It’s easy to see why Primrose Hill is so popular during long and sleepy summer afternoons, thanks to those incredible views across the city. But it’s not just the skyline that makes this a popular dining destination. The peak of Primrose Hill is also a short walk from Camden, Regent’s Canal, Abbey Road (hello Beatles fans) and all the adorable animal antics at London Zoo. Plus, when you’ve had your fill of picnic fodder, it’s a pretty great place to fly a kite.
Good things come in small packages, or so this pocket-sized patch of grass in central would have you believe. Despite Soho’s sometimes rowdy reputation, a picnic at the square is a lusher experience than you might imagine, with flora packed into the perimeters and a quaint Tudor-style hut in the middle. It’s the fanciest garden shed you’ve ever seen (no really, it’s full of the groundskeeper’s kit). When the temperatures rise it’s not always easy to find somewhere to sit, but if you can bag a spot in the shade it’s blissful.
The Heath is a first port of call for many Londoners when the weather starts heating up and, luckily, there’s room enough for everyone. The wild green space is the apple of North London's eye, with spectacular city views, rolling meadows, ancient woodland and lush plant life. Want a pre-picnic dip to work up an appetite? Set up camp near the public swimming ponds and make sure you’ve brought your cozzie.
Much more than just a hall on a hill, the People’s Palace is an instantly recognisable London landmark. Though the palace itself is often a larger-than-life music venue, you can find a much more serenity in the seven acres of parkland that surround it, thanks to lush fields, a boating lake and oodles of plants. Shop for tasty delights in nearby Crouch End before climbing up the hill for panoramic views of the city skyline to accompany your picnic.
Holland Park is often overshadowed by its regal neighbour Kensington Palace Gardens, but it’s an undeniably picturesque picnic spot. There’s a lot to see, from woodland and wildlife to sculpture and the Japanese-style Kyoto Gardens, plus there are tennis courts, football pitches and spots to play golf, cricket and netball, so you can have a side of sport with your sausage rolls. It’s a serene spot that really comes to life in the summer. Get hamper happy at Holland Park and you’ll soon forget about the sweaty bus ride that got you there.
Cosied up next to the Thames, Furnival Gardens is a little slice of grassy heaven in Hammersmith, where you can wriggle your shoes off, bask in the sunshine and watch boats bobbing along in the water. The petite green stretch is home to the Furnivall Sculling Club – this is the midway point of the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race – but for less athletic pursuits, pimp up your picnic with a plastic pint from one of the many pubs along the riverfront and lounge in the grass.
Visit this vast open space known as the ‘people’s park’ and you’ll encounter crowds of stylish Londoners in all their high-waisted-denim glory. It’s one of east London’s most spacious alfresco-eating spots, with two lakes, a Chinese pagoda, a boating pond, a playground, and a scattering of other instagram-worthy delights. When it’s not peppered with hipster picnics, Vicky Park is also the stomping ground for urban festivals – this year it was home to All Points East, a music and community events fest.
Greenwich boasts one of the city’s largest green spaces, so you can usually enjoy your sarnies in peace without being squeezed up too close to other lunching Londoners. Source your snacks from Greenwich Market beforehand, and once you’ve had your fill, head to The Royal Observatory, the Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum or the Deer Park, to get up close and personal with mother nature.
Enjoying a picnic in Green Park is guaranteed to be a lively affair. Visitors and locals alike flock here thanks to the park’s rather famous neighbour. The Queen’s gaff aside, Green Park has its own rather spectacular vista, with statues, water fountains and, in spring, daffodils as far as the eye can see. Yes, the Royal Park may be popular, but it’s a buzzy suntrap for feasting on M&S salad pots after work.
Chilling in Clapham is a piece of cake. This triangle of tranquility doesn’t have much decoration, but that doesn’t make it dull. The Common gets a lotta love from dog (and child) walking locals, and it’s used for events throughout the year, like live concerts from the bandstand. Stock up, pick your own little patch of greenery and stay put until the sun goes down.
Brockwell Park is most definitely a looker, and it’s perfect for keeping your mates who can’t sit still entertained. It’s home to grade II listed Brockwell Hall, a kids’ playground and the beaut that is Brockwell Lido. If you fancy dusting off your picnic basket and heading here, expect to veg out alongside sun-worshipping locals and loads of ducks (the latter of whom would be more than interested in your leftover sandwich crusts).
When you fancy a field day, this Hackney oasis is a sweet spot to embrace the great outdoors. Come warm weather it’s inundated with grazing east-enders hoping to kick back and taste the ketchup. BBQs are popular here, but it’s perfect for picnics too (and they are much lower maintenance, right?) London Fields Lido is also on the park’s periphery if you need to cool off. Just let your food go down first, okay?
When overloaded Londoners need some time out, a long and lazy post-work picnic at Lincoln’s Inn Fields is an ace antidote. As the city’s largest public square, no buns are too big, and you’ll find grassy spots as well as lounge-worthy benches to feast on. This sun-dappled stretch is only a short stomp away from other points of interest too, like the eclectic aesthetic extravaganza of Sir John Soane’s Museum and some imposing Victorian architecture at the Royal Courts of Justice.
With pedalos, a landscaped boating lake and walled gardens, this South London haunt is the perfect patch for stuffing yourself silly. Once you're done with mini pork pies, there are plenty of things to do too. The word ‘Battersea’ conjures up images of the famous dogs and cats home, but if you fancy yourself more of a pygmy goat-whisperer, visit Battersea Park Children’s Zoo to pet away the stresses of adult life and coo over all things small and fluffy.
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