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Epping Forest mushroom

15 brilliant places you probably didn't know existed in London

Written by
Luke Abrahams

There's so much more to London than big clocks, dildo-shaped skyscrapers, bridges and old Victorian tat. Ditch Zone 1 for a day and go explore London's awesome suburban wildernesses – the one-day travelcard will be so worth it.

1. Epping Forest

Martin V Morris/Flickr

A 6,000-acre forest home to ancient oak trees, peacocks, snakes and hundreds of species of flowers in London? SHUT UP. Closest station: Epping

2. Waterlow Park, Highgate 


A photo posted by Britt Turner (@brittxrose22) on

You'll find quaint little meadows full of wildflowers (and maybe a few ducks) before stumbling upon a rather epic view of London town from the tippy top of the hill. Closest station: Archway 

3. Morden Hall Park


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 Thumbelina totally lives in this magical fairy land full of cute bunnies and stone bridges. Closest station: Morden

4. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Neasden temple)


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It's the largest Hindu temple outside of India – and isn't it just magnificent? Closest station: Stonebridge Park 

5. Ruislip Lido


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London has a beach... AN ACTUAL BEACH (well kind of) where you can make sandcastles and bury dad in the sand (safely, of course) and do other beachy stuff. Closest station: Ruislip 

6. Kyoto Gardens, Holland Park


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An enchanting west-London Japanese ornamental garden. Pack a book. Closest station: Holland Park 

7. Crystal Palace Park


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Cue the 'Jurassic Park' theme music. These dino celebs have been welcoming visitors since 1854 and were the first sculptures of their kind in the world, pre-dating the publication of Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species'. Closest station: Crystal Palace

8. Eel Pie Island


Aside from a few freaky dolls and cottages, this exclusive, elusive and secluded little island on the Thames once held Rolling Stones and David Bowie concerts at the famous Eel Pie Island hotel. The island was also once home to the UK's largest hippy commune. Closest station: Twickenham

9. Bushy Park, Hampton 


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Just how sexy is this bushy stag? Go find him now (and the 329 free-roaming others) in this mammoth royal park in leafy south-west London. Closest station: Hampton Court 

10. London Wetland Centre, Barnes

Rakkhi Samarasekera/Flickr

Yep, that's a Highland cow. In London. Closest station: Barnes

11. Woodberry Wetlands


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The legendary David Attenborough recently opened this little utopia of calm to the people of Stoke Newington. Aren't they lucky? Closest station: Manor House 

12. Syon House, Brentford

Maxwell Hamilton/Flickr

There are 600 years of history to uncover at the former aristocratic home of the Percy family. But as you can see, it's the sick glass conservatory that makes it so worth a visit. Closest station: Gunnersbury/Kew Bridge 

13. Eltham Palace


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Super lush gardens and hundreds of years of royal history await at this buff palace in south-east London. Closest station: Eltham

14. Oxleas Woods, Shooters Hill


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The Oxleas Woods are 8,000 years old. Climb to the top of Severndroog castle for giddying views of the city. There's also a delectable little tea room to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea – it's cheap too. Closest station: Eltham

15. York House, Twickenham


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Can you believe this used to be someone's house? It's now the town hall of the borough of Richmond upon Thames, complete with pretty gardens and a couple of tennis courts. Very west London. Closest station: Twickenham  

For more unknown territories, check out the best hidden garden and green spaces in London.

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