|St. James's Park|
London has more than 3,000 parks and open spaces, making it one of the greenest capital cities in the world! Whether walking, jogging, biking or floating down the Thames, visitors can enjoy the fresh air and experiencing the best London has to offer at the same time.
Hyde Park is home to the Serpentine, a popular boating lake; Rotten Row, a riding track; the Serpentine Gallery; and the Diana Memorial Fountain. On Sundays, head to Speaker’s Corner to hear London’s most vocal orators share their opinions with the world. Kensington Gardens joins Hyde Park at the end of the Serpentine lake. Visitors can tour Kensington Palace with its Italian Gardens, the Peter Pan statue and part of the seven-mile Diana Memorial Walk.
A World Heritage Site and the oldest of the Royal Parks, Greenwich Park contains several historic buildings, including the Royal Observatory, the Old Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House. Regent’s Park includes an Open Air Theatre, a rose garden, a boating lake (complete with islands), children’s playgrounds and the ZSL London Zoo.
Richmond Park covers more than 2,000 acres of landscape with many walking trails through woods, parkland and riverside paths. The views from the top of the hill are so stunning they are protected by an act of Parliament, so nothing can get in their way. Bushy Park is home to many free-roaming deer, and features an artificial river and a large selection of sporting facilities. In between Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly, Green Park covers 47 acres and is a peaceful refuge with its mature trees and grassland.
Bordering the Mall (the road running from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square), St. James’s Park has views of Buckingham Palace in one direction and Whitehall in the other. The park is a great picnic spot on a royal itinerary and it’s lovely to hire a deckchair in summer and listen to the music in the bandstand.
A fun way to explore the city and get some exercise at the same time is City Jogging Tours, which is exactly what it says on the tin. The company offers guided jogging tours around London, leading runners on journeys through the streets of the city. Runners of all abilities can participate and both scheduled and customized tours are available. Similarly, London Sightseeing Runs uses fitness instructors as guides for jogging tours.
Cycling tours are also a great option for seeing the nooks and crannies of London. The London Bicycle Tour Company has bikes for every kind of explorer (ideal for families), and can take visitors on tours of the river, parks and canals, or into the heart of the city. Fat Tire Bike Tours, on the other hand, offers Day Bike Tours of numerous iconic London sites, including Hyde Park.
|Barge in Camden Lock|
At the heart of London is the River Thames, and no tour of the city would be complete without a ride along its waters. London Duck Tours takes visitors on a tour of Westminster and the Thames—without ever making them leave their seats. Those looking for another way of exploring the river should try Thames Kayaking, which uses the tides to kayak through inner London past the city’s famous sights and buildings. For another river trip, London RIB Voyages can take up to 12 passengers on one of two hour-long Thames tours on a Rigid Inflatable Boat (hence the acronym name). Options include trips from the London Eye or the Embankment Pier to Canary Wharf or the Thames Barrier, passing sites like the Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, Shakespeare’s Globe and St. Paul’s Cathedral along the way. Your clients can also cruise the Thames on a traditional Topsail Charters Thames Sailing Barge (and watch Tower Bridge open for them) or speed down the river like 007 himself on the Ultimate Bond Experience with Thames RIB Experience.
In addition to the parks and outdoor activities, there are plenty of popular attractions sightseers can enjoy in the fresh air as well. Visitors can stand on the Greenwich Meridian Line, where time begins at the Royal Observatory (and you thought Greenwich Mean Time was just an expression!); stroll through Covent Garden, England’s first public square, which dates back to 1630; or discover the world’s largest living plant collection of 30,000 different species at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Families will want to pay a visit to the ZSL London Zoo, where Christopher Robin Milne first fell in love with a real bear named Winnie and inspired his father to create Winnie-the-Pooh.
|Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew|