Just why is it we Brits love a picnic so? It’s probably something to do with the lack of opportunity. Famous for our drizzly afternoons, when the sun wants to show itself, we truly appreciate it. The truth is, while the summer months will offer a few showers here and there, it’s picnic weather more often than not, and London especially has some of the best open spaces to be found in any major city, anywhere.
And what better way to enjoy the sun, warm breezes, and balmy evenings than a picnic? Picnics promise not just delicious food and drink but family and friends time, not to mention the chance to brush up on those Frisbee backhanders.
Whether you’re a Londoner looking to have some picnic-based frivolity at the weekend or a visitor to the capital (see home rentals here) in need of some well-deserved R & R, check out this fantastic rundown of the top picnic spots to be enjoyed in the city. Here you’ll find many of the best-known favorites among locals, as well as a few locations that you might not have heard of:
1. Hyde Park
Hyde Park in the summer is why people love London. Well, you have heard of this Royal Park, situated in the very heart of London, a stone’s throw from sights such as Buckingham Palace and The Royal Albert Hall, not to mention some of the finest museums in the land, namely the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Go for a stroll and have a sit-down by the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, rent a paddleboat to enjoy the Serpentine, or see if you can join in on a game of volleyball. There are holiday apartments nearby for rent, too, so there is no need to run the public transport gauntlet to enjoy this splendid day out and a picnic to remember.
2. Parliament Hill Fields
Hampstead Heath is perfectly situated between Primrose Hill and Highgate Hill, where you can find stately Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath bathing ponds, and Parliament Hill Fields. Is this Londoners’ favorite spot from which to look over London? It’s a fantastic view, taking in many of the city’s most spectacular constructions, such as the Gherkin, the Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Canary Wharf. They say it takes its name from the English Civil War in the 1600s, but nowadays, the biggest conflict you’ll experience here is deciding what to do once the picnic’s finished: walk down to the lido? Have a dip in the ponds? Wander over to Highgate or Hampstead for a Pimm’s?
3. Waterlow Park
A modest location for your picnic when held in comparison with Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath’s enormous grounds, but that’s very much part of Waterlow Park’s attraction, as are its undulating sculpted terrain, charming ponds, and the view across the city. Enjoy a tea in Lauderdale House, or walk down and on to the historic Highgate Cemetery for a stroll around the burial sites of writers, painters, poets, and philosophers, such as Michael Faraday, Douglas Adams, George Eliot, and Karl Marx. Alternatively, head up to Highgate and have a beer in the 350-year-old pub, The Flask.
4. Kew Gardens
This 300-acre home to some of the finest botanical collections in the world is simply an absolute joy to explore. And to have picnics in. There are thousands and thousands of trees, plants, and flowers at Kew and dozens of fascinating plant houses, glasshouses, ornamental buildings, displays, and special exhibits. The Pagoda, especially, is construction you are unlikely to forget. At the same time, other highlights include the Japanese Gateway and The Hive, an extraordinary artwork built to represent the sounds and sights. Also, please don’t fail to take on the Treetop Walkway for its stunning views from amongst the canopy of some of the garden’s most splendid chestnuts, beeches, and oaks.
5. Primrose Hill
Many visitors to London aren’t quite in the know and somehow manage to miss out on this entirely, one of the absolute favorite places among Londoners for a Sunday afternoon picnic. It’s within a short walk from the London Zoo and benefits from one of the city’s most fabulous views. Not only that, but Primrose Hill is also very close to Camden Town and Chalk Farm, not to mention Primrose Hill Village, which is a great area to explore for markets, bars, tea rooms, and restaurants.