Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens - London

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Fact: we don't see a huge amount of brilliant sunshine in London. So when the sun does make an appearance it's a great excuse to get to the park, shed some layers and stock up on some vitamin D.

As I've said a few times - Hyde Park is one of my favourite spots in London. In the last five years I've lived just a minutes walk from the place and spent many summer days in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens relaxing with a book, picnicking with friends and running the trails from one end to another.

Every now and then I'll stumble on a new patch of grass I wasn't aware of. Amazing! And that's the charm of this gorgeous park, smack bang in the centre of London - it's so huge that no matter how many thousands of people are enjoying the green space at a single time there's always a new and quiet spot to discover...

Claire's guide to
Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens


map of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens with my favourite 17 spots

1. The Italian Gardens

This is my favourite spot to throw down a picnic blanket and read a book or people watch in the park. There's a gentle slope to the left of the gardens where you'll often find me on a London summers day watching the world go by. There's even a ice-cream stand if you fancy a mint chocolate-chip cone (it's the best!).

Hyde Park Italian Gardens
Hyde Park Italian Gardens

People watching from my favourite spot at the Italian Gardens - Hyde Park
people watching from my favourite spot at the Italian Gardens - Hyde Park.

2. Giant Cherry Blossom tree

From the Italian Gardens continue walking up the hill and cross over the road that runs through Hyde Park watching for traffic. You'll find a footpath that follows along a horse riding track. Veer to the right and walk for another hundred metres or so until you come across a spectacular Cheery Blossom tree. In Spring this is the perfect spot to have a quiet picnic as not many people walk this way. Hubby and I had our 1-year wedding anniversary picnic in this very spot.

cherry blossoms in Hyde Park
cherry blossoms in Hyde Park

3. A quiet Autumn walk

Continue in the same direction, slightly to the right and you'll find yourself in one of the quietest parts of the park. I love this area in Autumn when the trees are bare and the ground is littered with golden and red leaves. During summer the grass here grows about two-feet tall and it's a popular place for couples to have some quiet time.

Hyde Park in Autumn
Hyde Park in Autumn

tree reflections - Hyde Park
tree reflections - Hyde Park

4. Hyde Park festival fun

The open green area of Hyde Park between Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner is where many London summer festivals are held. It's not the nicest place for a picnic as it's generally overrun by tourists taking a break from manic Oxford Street shopping, but I have had a few nice evenings here listening to some very cool live acts from my picnic blanket including Bon Jovi and Stevie Wonder!

summer festival spot - Hyde Park
summer festival spot - Hyde Park

5. A sea of daffodils 

On the far side of the park - along Park Lane is the most gorgeous daffodil garden. Every year it amazes me, and I always make a special trip to see it in the Spring.

Daffodils in Hyde Park
Daffodil Garden - Hyde Park

6. Runners Boardwalk

Hyde Park is always busy with people our getting fresh air and exercise no matter what time of year. The boardwalk at the city end of Hyde Park is a favourite for runners, walkers and bicyclers alike. It's a great place for testing you fitness and seeing how many people you can overtake.

Runners broad-walk - Hyde Park
Runners broad-walk

7. Rose Garden

Another favourite spot with picnickers, and an absolute pleasure to stroll through when the roses are in bloom. This beautiful little spot in Hyde Park is lovely most the year round and smells amazing in Spring.

Hyde Park Rose Garden
Hyde Park Rose Garden

8. The Serpentine

Flowing through the centre of Hyde Park is The Serpentine lake. You can walk around the whole of The Serpentine in about an hour and there's several cafés and coffee stops to refuel if required. In summer keen punters can hire small boats to take out on the water, and if you like swimming The Serpentine Swimming Club is always looking for new members. This too is also one of my favourite areas in Hyde Park to bird watch - particularly in Spring when all the baby duckings are about :)

The Serpentine Bar & Kitchen - coffee stop, Hyde Park
The Serpentine Bar & Kitchen - coffee stop, Hyde Park

The Serpentine - Hyde Park
Bird watching at The Serpentine, Hyde Park

9. Serpentine Gallery

The Serpentine Gallery is a contemporary Art Gallery in the middle of Hyde Park. Free to enter, and always exhibiting something new and interesting. This is a favourite with Londoners. Every Summer the Gallery hosts an outdoor interactive installation in it's pavilion space that I always try to stop by and see. Last year was the amazing Cloud Pavilion by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.

Relaxing with a scone outside the Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park
relaxing with a scone outside the Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park

10. Queen Caroline's Temple

Another quiet spot away from the crowds, this small classical style building is a favourite spot for wedding ceremonies and celebrations.

Queen Caroline’s Temple - Hyde Park
Queen Caroline's Temple - Hyde Park

11. Wild flowers galore

If you head off the many paths but in the rough direction of High Street Kensington from Queen Caroline's Temple you'll soon stumble upon wild flowers galore. Every year new flowers are planted and this area is great place to get lost amongst the blooms.

wild flowers - Kensington Gardens
wild flowers - Kensington Gardens

12. The Flower Walk

My favourite spot in the whole of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens (and I don't have a photo!). This walkway is cool and calm. It's a place I often visit when looking for some peace and quiet, and quite often you'll only need to share it with the squirrels. A must see if you're in the area.

13. Kensington Palace - afternoon tea at The Orangery

After all this exploring you've probably worked up quite an appetite. Why not stop off for afternoon tea at The Orangery? The orange scented currant scones are scrumptious.

Afternoon tea at The Orangery - Kensington Gardens
afternoon tea at The Orangery - Kensington Gardens

14. Trees galore - Kensington Gardens

Nestled somewhere between the Round Pond, Queensway and the Italian Gardens is another quiet tree filled area that gets a lots less people traffic than you would think. Head away from key tourist spots and often you're only company will be the squirrels and and a lone dog walker.

winter trees - Hyde Park
winter trees - Hyde Park

15. Physical Energy Statue

The Physical Energy statue - a majestic bronze statue of man on horseback commemorates Sir Cecil Rhodes, the diamond miner and founder of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Installed in Kensington Gardens in 1907 by George Frederick Watts the statue is said to be "a symbol of that restless physical impulse to seek the still unachieved in the domain of material things"

Physical Energy statue - Kensington Gardens
Physical Energy statue - Kensington Gardens

16. Bird watching with Peter Pan

If you're still a child at heart then you must stop by and see the Peter Pan statue. And if you're like me and have a small passion for bird watching then pull up a chair because this same spot is one of the best places to watch birds in the whole park. There's even a handy bird watching guide to help you identify all the birds you see.

bird watching - Hyde Park
bird watching - Hyde Park

amazing Mandarin Ducks - Hyde Park
amazing Mandarin Ducks - Hyde Park

Peter Pan statue - Hyde Park
Peter Pan statue - Hyde Park

17. More Cherry Blossoms and flowers

This is the last spot on my guide to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. As you head back towards Lancaster Gate you'll come across a group of four cherry blossom trees just fifty odd metres or so to the left of the Lancaster Gate park entrance. Another picnic spot worth remembering spotted with lots of wild flowers too. Gorgeous.

cherry blossoms in Hyde Park
cherry blossoms in Hyde Park

flowers - Hyde Park
flowers - Hyde Park

That's it! My top seventeen favourite spots in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Gorgeous in every season...

Autumn horse riding in Hyde Park
Autumn horse riding in Hyde Park

the Italian Gardens in Winter - Hyde Park
the Italian Gardens in Winter - Hyde Park

a cheeky glass of summer wine - Hyde Park
a cheeky glass of Summer wine - Hyde Park

Now, I'm off to the park... If you'd like to see a bigger image of my Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens map you can find it here.

What's your favourite London spot?

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14 comments

  1. I always try to go visit the Rose Garden at least once a year. And I also think the Orangery is legitimately delicious! Great post! xx

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  2. That's the first time I've seen two mandarin ducks together! We used to have a lone one near us, I felt so bad for him.

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    1. They are beautiful aren't they? Around this time of year there's always a handful that appear in the park. Think I've seen up to six at one time.

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  3. Lovely pictures!! It sounds like a fantastic spot for a picnic, how romantic having your first anniversary under the cherry blossoms. I would love to go horseback riding!

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    1. Yes, Hyde Park is a home away from home for us :)

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  4. I've never seen duck like the Mandarin duck before. So cool looking

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    1. Beautiful aren't they? There's also lots of herons in in the park and tropical green parrots!!

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  5. What a wonderful post, I've just added The Orangery to my list of places to have afternoon tea! Thank you.

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  6. Fabulous guide, I never realised quite how many sections there are!

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  7. Great post! These two parks are simply wonderful and such a great place to wander and get lost in. You've picked out the best parts :)

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    1. Thank you Marcella :) Any other spots you love?

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