Image: National Trust
A neo-classic villa designed by Robert Adam and set in 18th century gardens dominated by three large lakes, Osterley provides a magnificent picnic setting. Grab a deckchair on the temple lawn, visit the boathouse, wander through ancient meadows or settle down for a picnic on the grass. Watch out for some spiky friends – Osterley is also a hedgehog hotspot.
Osterley Park charges an entry fee and you need to pre-book your visit. Car park on-site (pre-book with your ticket). Dogs welcome.
Syon’s 200-acre estate in west London includes 200 species of rare trees and a park and lake designed by Capability Brown (and later captured by J.M.W. Turner). You might recognise it from Emma, Killing Eve, The Madness of King George and Gosford Park, and it’s also perfect for a posh summer picnic.
Syon Park charges an entry fee and you need to pre-book your visit.
Free Parking. Only guide dogs allowed.
North London’s Kenwood House normally plays host to the glorious summer picnic concerts. This year you’ll just have to make do with the sound of your own music in this magnificent Hampstead Heath outpost.
Kenwood House. Free entry. Dogs welcome on leads (dogs may be off leads in the West Meadow only). The café is open and serving snacks and drinks to takeaway.
Strawberry Hill House
Horace Walpole’s gothic fantasy provides the jaw-dropping backdrop to one of London’s most magical picnic spots. Read more about Strawberry Hill house here.
Strawberry Hill House. Free entry (entry fee to the house when it re-opens). Free Parking. Only guide dogs allowed.
Enjoy 65 acres of garden with sprawling lawns, a lake, ponds and fountains in one of the earliest examples of English landscape design. There’s a café in the grounds (currently serving takeaway) which serves doggy sausage. Your pooch will love you.
Chiswick House and Gardens. Free entry (entry fee to the house when it re-opens). Dogs welcome (on leads in certain areas). Parking on adjacent roads.
Picnic like a Local
This pretty garden is wedged between some of London’s most famous pubs, notably the Dove and the Blue Anchor. With views across the Thames and towards Hammersmith Bridge, it’s about as picturesque as you can get. If the garden gets busy, head down to the adjacent A4 underpass and walk over to Ravenscourt Park instead.
Free entry. Parking on meters on Rutland Grove. Dogs welcome.
If you fancy a quackingly good picnic in a leafy London outpost that resembles a country village, then look no further than Barnes Pond. Get a takeaway tea from nearby Olympic Cinema or some baked goods from Gail’s. Just don’t forget treats for the ducks.
A hidden London gem and one of the largest open spaces in the City of London, Postman’s Park is tucked away behind St Paul’s Cathedral. The park is also a memorial site. Designed by Victorian artist George Frederic Watts, it honours ordinary people who died whilst saving the lives of others. 54 plaques provide a moving backdrop to one of the prettiest secret places to have a picnic in London. Free entry.
Picnic in a Museum Garden
Horniman Museum and Gardens
Possibly London’s most eccentric museum (inhabited by a dead famous Walrus), the Horniman garden is also the perfect perch for a quiet summer picnic. With 16 acres of nature trails, ornamental gardens, an Edwardian bandstand, a magnificent Grade II listed conservatory and a sound garden, it’s a magical place for kids and adults alike. You can read more about Horniman Museum and Gardens here.
Horniman Museum and Gardens. Free entry. Meter parking on adjacent roads. Dogs welcome on leads.
A Grade II listed parkland in west London, Gunnersbury Park’s 185 acres includes an orangery, an 18th century temple, museum, bath house and a boating lake. It’s a spot which locals like to keep a secret, and it’s the perfect place for a quiet picnic in London.
Gunnersbury Park. Free entry (entry to the museum is also free when it re-opens). Car park is currently closed but you can park on meters on adjacent roads to Gunnersbury Avenue and Popes Lane. Dogs welcome.
Picnic in a Park
Bushy Park is the second largest Royal Park with a whopping 1,100 acres of parkland in the borough of Richmond upon Thames. Henry VIII’s old hunting ground is a playground of ancient trees, ponds, woodland, deer and many species of bird. It’s close to Hampton Court Palace so you can go say hi to Harry after lunch (Hampton Court Palace Gardens open on the 19 June).
Bushy Park. Free entry. Dogs welcome but be aware of the deer.
Only a hop, skip and a jump from Kensington, Holland Park’s 54 acres is one of London’s best picnic spots. The Japanese Kyoto Garden is an oasis of calm with its koi carp ponds and strutting peacocks Explore the ancient woodland, and when Opera Holland Park re-opens for business, it’s the perfect place for a pre-musical al fresco dinner.
Free entry. Car park at the top of the park. Dogs welcome.
Next door to Fulham Palace is Bishop’s Park, a Grade II listed park with a rose and sculpture garden, lake, moat garden and meadows. It was used as a location for the 1976 horror film, The Omen, but don’t let that put you off. This park is a London gem.
Bishop’s Park. Free entry. Dogs welcome. Ample parking nearby.
Picnic at the Palace
Fulham Palace Gardens
Once the residence of the Bishops of London, Fulham Palace is now a historic house and museum with Grade II listed gardens. The palace gardens are some of the most important botanical gardens in the country and the second oldest in London.
Fulham Palace Gardens. Free entry. Fulham Palace Gardens is re-opening on the 29 June. Free entry to the Botanic Gardens. Access to the walled garden is with a voluntary donation of £2. The café will be open for takeaways. Toilets will be open. Ample parking nearby.
Eltham Palace (from early July only)
Perched on the south side of Greenwich, Eltham Palace sits in 19 acres of award-winning gardens. It features London’s oldest working bridge and a spectacular Rock Garden. You can read more about Eltham Palace here.
Eltham Palace charges an entry fee and you need to pre-book your visit. Free Parking. Only guide dogs allowed.
Picnic with the Best View in London
Turner’s View, Richmond Hill
This utopian vista from the Terrace Walk in Richmond has been immortalised by both J.M.W. Turner and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Protected by an Act of Parliament, it’s now affectionately known as Turner’s View. It gets Londoness’s vote for the picnic with the most capital view.
Please note: most gardens are now open, but historic houses, royal residences and museums are currently closed to the public due to Covid-19 restrictions. These are expected to re-open soon.
Know any quiet picnic spots in London? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
London Picnics Map
I’ve put together a map with some of the best spots in London where you can have a quiet picnic.
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BejalJune 20, 2020 at 2:09 pm
What a lovely post and so many gorgeous picnics spots Scarlett! Now because I’m always all about the views and nature I’m really loving the sound of Turner’s Hill!
ScarlettJune 20, 2020 at 3:33 pm
It’s glorious. Going there on Tuesday for another gawk!