London is, without doubt, one of the world’s most exciting capitals – from nightlife and a vibrant restaurant scene to art, sporting events and exceptional shopping, it’s truly a place that’s got it all.
However, sometimes hectic city life can all get a bit too much, at which point you might appreciate somewhere to escape for a moment of peace. Thankfully, London is blessed with a large number of gardens, and here’s 31 of our favourites.
Some of the gardens in London are world-famous and simply can’t be missed while others are also essential stops on any garden lover’s itinerary due to their unique nature. Here are our recommendations for must-see gardens in London.
1. Kew Gardens
- Address: Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE
Founded in 1840 and housing the largest botanical and mycological collection in the world, Kew Gardens is one of London’s major attractions and should top the list of places to go for anyone with a love for all things that grow.
Highlights include a treetop walkway, the Alpine House, the Palm house and one of the largest compost heaps in Europe, which can be seen from a specially-constructed viewing platform. Also not to be missed is The Hive, a multi-sensory exhibit about the lives of bees.
2. Sky Garden
- Address: 1, Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF
The highest public garden in London provides a lush green haven far above the streets below and also boasts an observation deck and open-air terrace with sublime views of the capital’s skyline.
The plants are mostly drought-resistant varieties from the Mediterranean and South Africa, and the range of species ensures that something is always in bloom.
The Sky Garden also contains two restaurants and two bars, making it a spectacular location for a drink or a bite to eat. Entry is free, but places are limited, so tickets should be booked ahead online.
3. Kyoto Garden
- Address: Holland Park, Holland Park Ave, London W11 4UA
A gift from the Japanese city of Kyoto that was opened in 1991 in honour of the longstanding friendship between Japan and the UK, the Kyoto Garden is one of the most beautiful, tranquil spots in London.
The garden was designed by a famous Japanese landscape artist and contains traditional Japanese elements such as tiered waterfalls, a pond filled with koi and Japanese maple trees.
The garden is located in Holland Park. Entry is free, but the park closes 30 minutes before dusk.
Palace and Stately Home Gardens
As the capital of England and the United Kingdom, London is home to a wide range of royal palaces and stately homes, many of which have outstanding gardens that can be visited.
Here are some of the best ones to track down and check out while you’re there.
4. Buckingham Palace Garden
- Address: Buckingham Palace, Constitution Hill, Spur Rd, London SW1A 1AA
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch, and as such, it is connected to 16 hectares of suitably grand and elaborate stately gardens.
The grounds contain over 1,000 trees and 325 species of wild plants as well as being home to 35 different species of birds. Also of note are features such as the Waterloo Vase and the summerhouse that stands opposite it.
Another of London’s most famous attractions, Buckingham Palace and its garden should be on the itinerary of every visitor to the city.
5. Kensington Gardens
- Address: London (the park has no address due to its size and many entrances)
Formerly the royal gardens attached to Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens are among the most popular of London’s many green spaces.
As well as an extensive area of lawns and trees, the gardens contain a number of other attractions – such as the statue of Peter Pan and the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.
The garden is home to the Serpentine Gallery, and many visitors also enjoy making a detour to see the Elfin Oak, a renowned 900-year-old carved tree stump. Entry is free, and the park is open from 6am to dusk daily.
6. Chiswick House and Gardens
- Address: Burlington Ln, Chiswick, London W4 2RP
Chiswick House was built by Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, during the 18th century and takes inspiration from ancient Roman architecture.
As one of the first examples of an English landscape garden, the grounds of the mansion are historically important, with the gardens also displaying influences from ancient Rome.
The gardens contain a range of statues along with other highlights such as an ionic temple, an Italian-style cascade and a classical stone bridge.
As an ancient capital, London is also home to many gardens with long and sometimes colourful histories. Here are a couple of suggestions that will fascinate anyone with even a casual interest in the city’s past.
7. Chelsea Physic Garden
- Address: 66 Royal Hospital Rd, London SW3 4HS
This garden was once known as the Apothecaries’ Garden and was originally used to grow plants for medicines, as its modern name recalls.
Founded in 1673, it’s now the second-oldest botanical garden in England. It contains many lovely plants and flowers as well as several secluded spots to sit and enjoy this tranquil corner of the capital.
8. Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens
- Address: New Spring Gardens Walk, Vauxhall, Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5HL
Once known as the New Spring Gardens, the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens trace their history back as far as 1600. Nowadays, the area contains lawns and flowerbeds and is ideal for leisurely strolls and dog walking.
There’s a kids’ playground too, along with a basketball court, and the gardens also host events such as outdoor film nights.
9. St Pancras Gardens
- Address: Camley St, London NW1 0PS
The St Pancras Gardens are set in an old churchyard, offering an agreeable area of grass, trees and shade. The gardens are known for the so-called Hardy Tree, an ash tree that has grown in the centre of a collection of tombstones that were moved at the time when the novelist Thomas Hardy was working there.
The church and gardens also have other literary connections. The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and the future Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, held secret meetings at the tomb of Mary’s mother, the writer Mary Wollstonecraft, who was buried in the cemetery.
The church was also mentioned by Charles Dickens in his novel A Tale of Two Cities.
10. Fulham Palace
- Address: Bishop’s Ave, London SW6 6EA
Fulham Palace was once the seat of the bishops of London, and now the buildings and the gardens are open to the public and free to visit.
You’ll find displays of paintings, archaeology and various artifacts from the palace’s history, and the attractive gardens are enjoyable for a short stroll.
For those who want to learn more about the history of the palace, guided tours given by volunteer guides are also available.
Not all the gardens in London are large and grandiose – however, some of the smaller and lesser-known gardens merit a trip due to their unusual or quirky nature. Here are some of the more intriguing options to add to your list.
11. St Dunstan-in-the-East Church Garden
- Address: St Dunstan’s Hill, London EC3R 5DD
Set on the grounds of a ruined church, St Dunstan-in-the-East is one of London’s more unique gardens. The church was originally built around 1100 and underwent several renovations and alterations through the centuries until it was largely destroyed during the Blitz.
After the war, the decision was taken not to rebuild it, and now the evocative remains of the church and the land around it provide a peaceful spot for rest and reflection.
12. Horniman Gardens
- Address: Amroth Cl, London SE23 3BX
Home to some small but attractive gardens as well as a museum of anthropology, natural history and musical instruments, the Horniman Gardens are well worth checking out.
The gardens include a butterfly house, a bandstand, an enclosure with small animals, a nature trail and an ornamental garden – while the museum houses a famous collection of stuffed animals.
13. Cavendish Square Gardens
- Address: Cavendish Square, London W1G 0PR
A small but charismatic park located near Oxford Circus, the Cavendish Square Gardens are best known for the large bronze sculpture of Lord George Bentinck that is found there.
There’s an open-air café and several benches scattered throughout the park, making it the ideal spot to while away an hour doing some people-watching as you recharge your batteries.
14. Dalston Eastern Curve Garden
- Address: 13 Dalston Ln, London E8 3DF
Built on an old disused railway line, the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden provides residents with somewhere to grow fruit and vegetables as well as plants that help local wildlife thrive.
It’s open to visitors and has stalls selling food and drinks as well as benches and even sofas around tables to sit on.
The vibe is welcoming and friendly, making this a laidback place to meet for a coffee or a couple of beers and a bite to eat.
While everyone wants to tick the most famous gardens off their list of places to see, London is also dotted with many wonderful gardens that are largely unknown, even to people who live there.
Visiting these gardens gives you the impression of having been let into a well-kept secret that only a select few are allowed to know. Here are our top picks for London’s hidden gems – just don’t tell anyone else about them!
15. Whitehall Gardens
- Address: Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2HE
A surprising corner of greenness and flowers that offers an escape from the noise and traffic of the riverside road.
This historic garden was formerly the Privy Garden of the Palace of Whitehall and was enjoyed by the Stuart and Tudor monarchs during times of leisure.
Along with the flowerbeds, it also contains several statues, making it an interesting place to explore.
16. Italian Gardens
- Address: Kensington Gardens, London W2 2UD
The Italian Gardens are found within the grounds of Kensington Gardens, of which they are technically considered a part.
However, this elegant corner of the larger gardens is filled with historic pools and sculptures, making it well worth seeking out in its own right. It’s a wonderful place to visit for a walk or just to sit and relax next to one of the ponds.
There’s also an iconic vintage Rolls Royce car that’s been converted into an ice cream van, a most welcome addition during the warmer months of the year.
17. The Hill Garden and Pergola
- Address: The Pergola, Inverforth Cl, London NW3 7EX
Free to enter and beautiful at any time of year, the Hill Garden and Pergola is an unexpected island of plants, trees and wildlife set in a picturesque Georgian terrace.
This little-known garden rewards exploration as you wander around discovering the various hidden corners and attractive decorative features. Perfect for a slow, romantic walk for two and just as good for sharing a picnic with friends or family.
18. St Mary’s Secret Garden
- Address: 50 Pearson St, London E2 8EL
Somewhat away from the centre of London but worth making a trip for, St Mary’s Secret Garden is a community project that aims to provide support to those suffering from dementia, disabilities and chronic health problems.
If you want to contribute, you can buy plants from the garden, which are sold to raise funds. There are also several educational activities such as a ‘bug trail’ that teaches you about the vital role insects and other invertebrates play in the garden’s ecosystem.
19. World Peace Garden
- Address: 6 S Hill Park, London NW3 2SB
The World Peace Garden is a space for plants and wildlife that’s cared for by volunteers.
Its incongruous location, right up against the Hampstead Heath overground station, comes as something of a surprise, but once you know where to find it, this garden provides a peaceful sanctuary where you can reconnect with nature.
20. The Phoenix Garden
- Address: 21 Stacey St, London WC2H 8DG
A small community garden located in Camden between Soho and Covent Garden, the Phoenix Garden was established in 1980 and has been run by volunteers ever since.
The garden is open to the public during the daytime and provides a peaceful oasis of green where you’ll find yourself surrounded by plants, flowers, ponds and wildlife.
It might not be among London’s most famous gardens, but it’s worth seeking out if you’re in the area and want somewhere to escape for a few moments to yourself.
Also Worth a Look
To finish, here are a few other gardens that earn a place on our list simply as also being worth a look.
They might not be the biggest, the most famous or the most spectacular, but they are still pleasant places to stroll or sit, offering you a spot of greenery in the heart of the big city.
21. Victoria Embankment Gardens
- Address: Villiers St, London WC2N 6NS
Several connected gardens between Blackfriars Bridge and Westminster Bridge on the north side of the Thames, the Victoria Embankment Gardens provide a pleasant place for a wander or even a picnic when the weather is fine.
There is plenty of seating along with areas for exercise, and there are also several coffee shops in the area for those in need of refreshments.
22. Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens
- Address: Chester Rd, London NW1 4NR
Located in Regent’s Park and famous for its collection of 12,000 rosebushes – hence the name – this large garden also features several fountains and other landmarks.
The best time to visit is when the roses are in bloom, at which time the gardens are spectacular.
However, it’s also worth checking out at any time of year whenever you need to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city for a moment of peace.
23. The Garden at 120
- Address: 120 Fenchurch St, London EC3M 5BA
The Garden at 120 is a raised terrace area that’s free to visit and that provides wonderful views over this part of the city – you’ll easily be able to pick out the Shard, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge from here.
You’ll also find plenty of pretty plants and flowers along with several corners where you can sit and enjoy a sandwich and a few moments to yourself in the middle of a busy day.
24. Island Gardens
- Address: Saunders Ness Rd, London E14 3DW
The Island Gardens is a tranquil corner of greenery located at the southern end of the Isle of Dogs.
With sublime vistas of Greenwich across the river – with the former Greenwich Hospital, the Cutty Sark and the National Maritime Museum all in view – this garden is ideal for a morning walk or jog.
There are also several tables, making it a popular spot for family picnics.
25. Jubilee Park and Garden
- Address: Belvedere Rd, London SE1 7PG
A relatively recent addition to London’s gardens, the Jubilee Park and Garden was created to mark the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 1977. The small park is just a short walk from the London Eye, and it is also clearly visible to those riding the Eye.
The park contains several sculptures, and the grounds are clean and well-kept. Perfect to visit with children or simply to sit and read a book or have a short doze on the grass.
26. Victoria Tower Gardens South
- Address: Millbank, London SW1P 3JA
If you find yourself wandering through Westminster, perhaps to visit the Houses of Parliament and take a snap of Big Ben, the Victoria Tower Gardens South make a convenient place to head for a breath of fresh air and somewhere to take a rest.
There’s shaded seating for hot days, and there’s also a play area for children if you want something to keep your kids occupied.
27. Crossrail Place Roof Garden
- Address: Crossrail Pl, London E14 5AB
A small but fascinating botanical garden containing plant specimens from around the world, Crossrail Place Roof Garden provides a welcome escape from the constant noise and movement of Canary Wharf.
There’s plenty of information about the plant species on display, so there’s a good chance you’ll learn something new – and the best thing is, it’s completely free to visit.
28. Barbican Conservatory
- Address: Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS
London’s second-largest conservatory is home to a wide range of tropical plants, flowers and trees as well as several species of exotic birds and fish.
Located within the Barbican Centre, the Barbican Conservatory is a lovely spot to relax and unwind. Entry is free, but tickets should be booked online in advance to avoid disappointment.
29. Culpeper Community Garden
- Address: 1 Cloudesley Rd, London N1 0EJ
A well-maintained community garden that boasts a range of beautiful trees and plants, providing an idyllic setting for a relaxing break in natural surroundings.
It’s a fun place to explore or just to sit and take in the attractive setting. There’s also a children’s park there, so your kids will have something to keep them entertained.
30. Soho Square Garden
- Address: Soho Square, London W1D 3QP
If you find yourself in the centre of London but want somewhere to duck out of the big city bustle and catch your breath, Soho Square Garden is a good option. The garden consists of a small park with plenty of flowers, lots of benches and even a mock Tudor gazebo.
Once inside, it’s easy to forget you’re in the centre of London, and it’s a great place just to sit and watch the world go by.
Related: Best & Fun Things to do in Soho
31. The Rookery Gardens
- Address: Streatham Common S, London SW16 3HR
Another great place for a family walk or a picnic, the Rookery Gardens is an interesting place to visit. There are several areas to see, including the formal gardens, the old English garden and the pond as well as the wildlife areas and woodland.
There’s also parking available – and there’s even a small café if you need a quick drink or a bite to eat.
No Shortage of Places to Visit when You Need a Moment to Relax
As we have seen, when you need a moment to relax and collect your thoughts, in London, there is no shortage of places to head.
Whether you want to visit large formal gardens, check out some of London’s historic gardens or prefer to uncover one of the city’s less famous hidden gems, when it comes to green spaces in London, you’re really spoilt for choice.