Despite the common misconception that London is gray and un-environmentally friendly, it is, in fact, one of the greenest cities in the world. With thousands of acres dedicated to nature and park life, it's easier than you might think to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax for an afternoon with friends. Whether you are a local or just visiting, there are dozens of quieter and more secluded spots to escape and enjoy a few moments of relaxation.
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World Peace Garden, Hampstead Heath
Just off the Hampstead Heath Underground station rests a modest garden dedicated to locals and visitors who wish to escape the busy inner city lifestyle. The small space acts as an outdoor venue for festivals, chess tournaments, and even tea parties. Home to various events throughout the year, the World Peace Garden is a popular spot particularly for families with children. It is located near dozens of local restaurants and cafes, and visitors can always venture out into the wider landscape of Hampstead Heath to explore one of London’s biggest outdoor playgrounds.
Chelsea Physic Garden
The Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673, making it one of the oldest and most respected areas in London. It is located just off the River Thames and originally served as a place where young apprentices could train to study medicinal plants. Today, the public can enjoy one of the largest medicinal plant displays in the world. Every Thursday, the garden hosts Thursday Supper Talks, where organizers invite guest speakers to discuss all things to do with history and nature. Tickets usually sell out quickly, so be sure to book in advance.
Streatham is the host of many things to do in South London, but the beautiful Rookery garden is often overlooked. At the very top of a large hill in Streatham Common rests a secluded region dedicated to rest and relaxation. The garden was recently voted one of Lambeth’s award-winning gardens and is recognized for the significant achievements made by the residents who contribute to its maintenance. The area has large trees with small walking paths and romantic ivy posts which decorate the area with blossoming flowers all year round.
The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden
East London is quickly becoming one of the most desirable places for young people and families to reside. The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden should not be overlooked as one of the best-kept secrets in the area. The green space truly comes into its own during the summer, when it stays open until 11 pm and invites romantic diners to enjoy a glass of champagne. Hackney Council also makes efforts to promote well-being and healthy living and encourages residents and visitors to ‘take a pause’ with its free event that encourages people to put their busy lives on hold and practice mindfulness.
Hampstead Hill Garden and Pergola
Hampstead is home to some of the oldest spaces in the city. Highly protected by Camden Council, the Heath is largely unchanged from when experienced by poets in the 17th century. The pergola, however, was added in the 20th century and today hosts weddings and civil partnerships. As you stand overlooking the wonderful nature, you can enjoy the incredibly intimate and quintessentially British setting. Nearby you'll find The Old Bull and Bush, a family-friendly gastropub that first opened in the 18th century serving traditional pub foods and ales.
Perhaps the biggest secret in London is the conservatory located in the Barbican Centre. Located on the third floor, it is only open once a week to the public. The secrecy of it remains largely kept, with only the most knowledgeable travelers seeking out its spectacular sights. The ‘tropical oasis’ contains more than 2,000 species of plants and trees, all protected by a large glass roof. Guests are encouraged to stay and enjoy a British Afternoon Tea, with the Barbican hosting drinks and sandwiches if you want to stay a bit longer after exploring.