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 does want 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 favourites among locals, as well as a few locations that you might not have heard of:
1. Hyde Park
Well you have heard of this Royal Park, situated in the very heart of London, as 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 paddle boat to enjoy the Serpentine, or see if you can join in on a game of volleyball. Hyde Park in the summer is why people love London. There are holiday apartments nearby for rent, too, so no need to run the public transport gauntlet in order to enjoy this splendid day out and a picnic to remember.
2. Parliament Hill Fields
Perfectly situated between Primrose Hill and Highgate Hill is Hampstead Heath, where you can find stately Kenwood House, the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds, and Parliament Hill Fields. Is this Londoners’ favourite spot from which to look over London? It’s certainly 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 during the English Civil War in the 1600s, but nowadays the biggest conflict you’ll experience here is deciding on 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 the enormous grounds of Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath, but that’s very much part of Waterlow Park’s attraction, as are its undulating sculpted terrain, charming ponds, and 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, as well as dozens of fascinating plant houses, glasshouses, ornamental buildings, displays and special exhibits. The Pagoda, especially, is a construction that you are unlikely to forget, while other highlights include the Japanese Gateway and The Hive, which is an extraordinary artwork built to represent the sounds and sights of a beehive. Also, don’t fail to take on the Treetop Walkway for its stunning views from in 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 entirely miss out on this, one of the absolute favourite places among Londoners for a Sunday afternoon picnic. It’s within a short walk from London Zoo, and benefits from one of the most fabulous views of the city. Not only that, but Primrose Hill is also very close to Camden Town and Chalk Farm, not to mention Primrose Hill Village, which are all great areas to explore for markets, bars, tea rooms and restaurants.