"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower" - Albert Camus
Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens, London
London's equivalent of New York's Central Park, but obviously better (we're slightly biased). We recommend starting by Kensington Palace - home to Kate and Wills - and then making your way towards the Lido Cafe and Bar by the Serpentine. More active folks can venture onto the lake and rent one of the park's various pedal boats or rowing boats. Maybe as a result of the demands of animal activists, swan-shaped pedal boats are not available for hire, to torment the actual swans on the lake. Fun fact: The Queen owns all unmarked mute swans in open water in the UK and exercises her right of ownership over swans on certain parts of the River Thames.
Opening Times: 5am-12am Closest Station: Hyde Park Corner
Hampstead Heath, Camden
This beautiful park, known for inspiring C.S.Lewis’s The Chronicle of Narnia, is a nature lover's paradise. The sprawling 800 acres of ancient and new woodlands, ponds, rambling paths, wildlife and hilly landscape are unheard of in a major city. Best of all, there are practically no signs in the park, so you're sure to feel off-the-grid even though you'll unlikely resist an Instagram shot. Head to Parliament Hill for one of the best views in London.
Opening Times: Open 24 hours Closest Station: Hampstead Heath Rail
Greenwich Park, Greenwich
Overlooking the River Thames, this park is filled with picture-perfect scenery and has a rich history dating back to Roman times. Visit the Royal Observatory, stand on the Meridian line and explore London’s Planetarium. For your brood, don't forget to check out the ‘Autumn in Greenwich Park’ event which is available for children aged up to 11 years; for £6, they can learn all about nature and wildlife during the autumn months.
Opening Times: 6am-8pm September/6am-6pm October Closest Station: Maze Hill or Cutty Sark
Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, Kingston Upon Thames
Wonderful autumnal colours come alive within Richmond Park this season. We recommend taking a bicycle and exploring the vast sweeping hills of the park. Have a break at the Isabella Plantation, a woodland garden set spanning 40 acres, situated within a Victorian woodland plantation planted in the 1830s. Near Thomson’s Pond, two strands of Viburnum (opulus and sargentii) produce clusters of red berries during the autumn months, feeding the surrounding wildlife. It's well worth mentioning the wild deer that roam the grounds of Richmond Park - just be sure to have your dog on a leash as this man discovered to his dismay...
Opening Times: 7.30am-8.15pm Closest Station: Richmond
Kyoto Garden in Holland Park, Kensington
This Japanese-inspired garden within Holland Park is a relatively undiscovered gem, and perhaps the most reflective. An appreciation for passing beauty is essential to fully experiencing the wonders of a Japanese garden in all four seasons; the concept of impermanence is a key part of Buddhist teachings. The aesthetic result is that Japanese gardens are temporal in nature, unlike Western gardens, which emphasize long-lasting color and extended bloom times. You may even spot one of the park's unique peacocks too.
Opening Times: 10am-6pm Closest Station: Holland Park
Phoenix Gardens, Covent Garden
This community garden is managed by volunteers to provide London’s West End with a green area in the centre of theatreland's hustle and bustle. The site was previously a bombsite after WW2, after which it became an unloved car park. Over the years, it has been transformed into a wild garden and a welcome refuge for humans and animals alike, where the occasional fox has been spotted - check out their Instagram.
Opening Times: 10am-6pm, closed on weekends Closest Station: Tottenham Court Road
Green Park, Westminster
The closest park to the Queen (apart from her back garden obviously), Green Park is unique amongst London's parks for not having any lakes, and for having few buildings and monuments. Most popular in summer, it's arguably more enchanting in Autumn when the huge lime and plane trees hibernate for the winter.
Opening Times: 5am-12am Closest Station: Green Park
Kew Gardens, Richmond
Why not take your autumn walk to the sky? The Treetop Walkway gives you views of the landscape 18 metres above the ground. Away from the splendour of the grounds, check out Temperate House; the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse and Rock Garden – a sensational combination of sandstone peaks and cascading waterfalls.
Opening Times: 10am-7pm Closest Station: Kew Gardens
Waterlow Park, Highgate
This 20-acre green space – neighbouring Highgate Cemetery (also worth a visit) – is one of the capital's hidden gems and free from the throng of tourists. There are three ponds in the park, and paved walkways serenading through the space. The historic Lauderdale House is located within the park, where you can visit gallery exhibitions, concerts and performances throughout the year.
Opening Times: 7.30am-7.30pm Closest Station: Highgate
Primrose Hill in The Regents Park, London
Regents Park has a marvellous combination of character, open spaces, tree-lined avenues and breathtaking views. The highest point of the park, Primrose Hill, has attracted lovers from all across the world with the summit being over 60 metres above sea level. A stone's throw away from the park are the Queen Mary’s Garden, the Jubilee Gates and London Zoo.
Opening Times: 5am-5.30pm Closest Station: Regent's Park