Set right in the heart of London is Hyde Park and its “sister” park Kensington Gardens. Hyde Park is one of eight royal parks in London and covers 350 acres. Kensington Gardens lies on the west side of the Serpentine lake that divides it from Hyde Park. Kensington Gardens is 265 acres, so combined with Hyde Park, there is a lot of green space in the middle of London.
To get to Kensington Gardens it is easiest to take the tube to Queensway, and then you are just metres from the park entrance by crossing over Bayswater Road. Kensington Gardens is home to Kensington Palace where Princess Diana lived after her divorce from Prince Charles, and where her son, Prince William, now lives with his family. It has a memorial playground that is a kid favourite. The Round Pond has deck chairs for lounging and relaxing, a great space to just sit down and look at people. We lived just up the road from Kensington Gardens and often went to the park after work to sit under the trees enjoying some take away food and wine with friends.
We also used to go roller blading (it was all the rage in 1995, until it was banned in the park shortly after), or go for a nice stroll around the gardens, and we also went through the park via the Broad Walk down to Kensington and shopping at Kensington Church Street and Kensington High Street. And if we needed some time of peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of London it was always possible to find a nice spot of tranquility here.
Hyde Park contains the Hyde Park Parade ground where the major concert events are held, bands like The Rolling Stones, The Cure and Foo Fighters have played here. On the north eastern side on Sunday mornings, you can watch and laugh at the rabulists at Speaker’s Corner, a free for all speak about what you want on a soapbox – an event that has long historical roots.
To see a good highlight of Hyde Park we would recommend taking the tube to Lancaster Gate (Central Line) and then walking via the Italian Gardens and the Princess Diana memorial fountain along the Serpentine to Hyde Park corner is a nice walk if you want a short introduction to Hyde Park. If you continue past Hyde Park corner with the former home of the Duke of Wellington, Apsley House, you will also see Wellington Arch (there is a visitor’s museum and a gallery at the top of it) in the middle of the roundabout. On your left side is another great royal park, Green Park, which is filled with deck chairs and offer a tranquil haven.
Next to it is Buckingham Palace Garden, basically the Queen’s backyard to Buckingham Palace. And why not end this park walk with a visit to another royal park? St. James`s Park is situated between Buckingham Palace and Whitehall. In the middle of the park is St. James`s Park Lake with an abundance of birdlife. It makes it a favourite among children for feeding said birdlife, and for adults to look at birds in all shapes and sizes. At the southern end of the lake is Duck Island with Duck Cottage that is home to the London Gardens Trust.
Here is a small selection of great concerts from Hyde Park, we wish we had attended Pearl Jam but we did see Foo Fighters in 2009 with Motorhead and Queens of the Stone Age as warm ups.