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The best picnic spots in London

The sun’s out, so grab a picnic and make a meal of it. Here’s our pick of London parks that are best for outdoor eating

soho square
tony zaccarini
By Time Out editors |
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We can confirm that there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a sweaty office when the weather is glorious outside. Thankfully, there are loads of parks and grand green spaces in London to escape to for a lunchtime picnic break, an after-work snack or a weekend-long feast in the fresh air.

If you’re after somewhere lush to throw down your gingham blanket, amble on over to one of these sweet spots for a picnic in London. Keep your belly (and your wallet) happy.

RECOMMENDED: London's most BBQ-friendly parks

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The Arboretum at Kew Gardens
RBG Kew
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Kew Gardens

icon-location-pin Kew

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 (£16.50), bringing a picnic will definitely save you some pennies.

Best spotIf you want to nibble au naturel, hunt down the picnic benches in Kew’s woodland areas - they’re bloomin’ lovely.

Need food? Try out some street food 'with an English twist' from The Food Village.

Anything else I should know? Kew have gone super green and banned single-use plastic from its cafés and restaurants, and offer discounts if you bring a reusable coffee cup.

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primrose hill
andersphoto/Shutterstock.com
Things to do

Primrose Hill

icon-location-pin Primrose Hill

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.

Best spot: As high up as you dare. The most breathtaking of views are undoubtedly from the top of the hill.

Need food? There are plenty of delicious delis and cafés lining the streets of Primrose Hill, including Anthony's or the Greenberry Café. Grab what you need for your picnic basket and get munching.

Anything else I should know? The beloved 'Paddington' movie was filmed in Primrose Hill, so if you're up to a post-picnic stroll do check out the beautiful colours of Chalcot Square and Chalcot Crescent nearby. Insta-worthy, indeed.

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soho square
Tony Zaccarini/Shutterstock.com
Things to do, Event spaces

Soho Square

icon-location-pin Soho

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.

Best spot: 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.

Need food? You’re in Soho, so you won’t have to wander far before you hit food. Swing by Pizza Pilgrims, Bun House or Herman ze German for a superior picnic.

Anything else I should know? The hut in the middle of the park is the fanciest garden shed you’ve ever seen (no really, it’s full of the groundskeeper’s kit).

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Sunbathing on Hampstead Heath
Things to do, Walks and tours

Hampstead Heath

icon-location-pin Dartmouth Park

The Heath is the 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.

Best spot: The Heath is huge and has plenty of stellar spots for picnics. But for the best views head to the summit of Parliament Hill, where you can munch sandwiches with a backdrop of the London skyline. The hill can get busy, especially on sunny days, so for a quieter spot, try the surrounding Parliament Hill Fields.

Need food? Head to one of the Heath’s many cafes: Parliament Hill Cafe, Parliament Hill Lido Cafe, Golders Hill Park Refreshment House, and Kenwood Brew House restaurant.

Anything else I should know? The park is free and always open. Barbecues and campfires aren’t allowed, so leave your baps and frozen bangers at home.

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Alexandra Palace Park
Martin Lakostik/Shutterstock.com
Things to do, Cultural centres

Alexandra Palace Park

icon-location-pin Muswell Hill

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. Climb up the hill for panoramic views of the city skyline to accompany your picnic.

Best spot: Lay out your blanket on the grass at top of the hill with your back to Ally Pally. 

Need food? Shop for tasty delights in nearby Crouch End before walking up or, if you're visiting on a Sunday, peruse the treats on offer at the Ally Pally Farmers Market.  

Anything else I should know? Once you've had your fill of the lush London views, you can scale heights with Go Ape, try your hand at the Pitch & Putt or shop for plants at the garden centre. 

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holland park
DrimaFilm/Shutterstock.com
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Holland Park

icon-location-pin Holland Park

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.

Best spot? If you have kids, set up near the new Holland Park Adventure Playground (reopening early summer 2019), complete with zip wire and a ten-person seesaw. In the summer months, Opera Holland Park pops up underneath a temporary white canopy. If you’re there to see a show, you can reserve a table near the venue and bring your own picnic beforehand.

Need food? If you didn’t BYOP (that’s 'bring your own picnic', FYI), there’s a cafe at Holland Park Orangery.

Anything else I should know? The park is open daily from 7.30am until 30 minutes before dusk. Cycling isn’t allowed in the park.

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Furnivall Gardens
Ben Rowe
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Furnival Gardens

icon-location-pin Hammersmith

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.

Best spot? Grab one of the benches along the Lower Mall for the best views over the Thames.

Need food? The park is only a short stroll from Hammersmith’s bustling Kings street. Or pop to Eat 17 on Fulham Palace Road for delicious delights. 

Anything else I should know? 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.

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Attractions, Parks and gardens

Victoria Park

icon-location-pin South Hackney

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 – last year it was home to All Points East, a music and community events fest.

Best spot? The Old English Garden is a pretty spot for a bench-bound picnic, or for waterside views, set up next to one of the park's three lakes.

Need food? Supplement your picnic with a stop-off at the scenic Pavilion Cafe or The Hub. Both cafes are wheelchair accessible.

Anything else I should know? The park opens at 7am and closes at dusk. Last year, Victoria Park kept its Green Flag and Green Heritage Awards for the fifth year. Blue-badge holders are allowed vehicle access.

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A busy Greenwich Park on a summer's day.
Alan Stanton
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Greenwich Park

icon-location-pin Greenwich

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. 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.

Best spot? Brace your calves and head to the top of the hill. The iconic views of London from just outside the observatory are pretty spectacular.

Need food? No food? No problem. Source your snacks from Greenwich Market beforehand.

Anything else I should know? The park is open from 6am every day, but closing times vary depending on the time of year, so check ahead.

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Green Park
Things to do

Green Park

icon-location-pin St James'

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.

Best spot? The path between Green Park station and Buckingham Palace is a highway for tourists, so head off the beaten track for a slightly quieter spot.

Need food? The aforementioned M&S Simply Food is right opposite Green Park station – it’s a great place to pick up affordable picnic snacks.

Anything else I should know? The park is open all day every day. If you want to upgrade from a blanket or your jacket tossed on the ground, from April to October, you can hire a striped deckchair from £1.80 an hour. For the committed deckchair enthusiast, season tickets are available too.

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Vizualeyez Ltd
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Clapham Common

icon-location-pin Clapham

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.

Best spot? Set yourself up with a view of the bandstand.

Need food? There’s a Waitrose, a Gails Bakery and big Sainsbury’s near Clapham Common tube station.

Anything else I should know? The park is always open. If you’re feeling active, there’s free access to a basketball court, athletic sprints track, cricket nets and skateboard park. Other sports facilities are available at a charge.

12
Brockwell Park
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Brockwell Park

icon-location-pin Herne Hill

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).

Best spot? The whole place is lovely, so park your blanket wherever take your fancy.

Need food? Brockwell Park Café or The Lido Café will sort you right out.

Anything else I should know? Brockwell park has a Green Flag Award as well as being a Green Heritage Site. It’s open from 7.30am until 15 minutes before sunset.

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London Fields
Flickr / Nick Sarebi
Attractions, Parks and gardens

London Fields

icon-location-pin South Hackney

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. London Fields Lido is also on the park’s periphery if you need to cool off. Just let your food go down first, okay?

Best spot? Set up in the north of the park and you can picnic while watching a game of cricket at London Fields Cricket Club.

Need food? Left your hamper at home? Lucky for you, Broadway Market is just south of the park, so you’ll be so spoiled for choice with street food stalls.

Anything else I should know? BBQs used to be popular here, although they’re currently suspended as a result of damage to the park. It’s a good thing it’s perfect for picnics too (and they are much lower maintenance, right?)

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Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn
© Duncan C:flickr
Things to do

Lincoln’s Inn Fields

icon-location-pin Holborn

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.

Best spot? When the grass is too damp, perch around the edges of the bandstand-like structure in the centre of the square instead.

Need food? The park has its own little cafe, but you’re a minute’s walk from buzzing Holborn where you'll find plenty of choices.

Anything else I should know? 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.

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Battersea Park
Attractions, Zoos and aquariums

Battersea Park

icon-location-pin Battersea

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.

Best spot? Set up at the north of the park near the London peace pagoda for uninterrupted views of the Thames. The lush patches of grass just west of the boating lake are a popular spot for picnics.

Need food? The park itself has three cafés, or, if you want to bring your own, head to nearby Battersea Park road at the south of the park.

Anything else I should know? Open from 8am until dusk.

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