When I first moved to London, I missed a lot of things about home, but one of the things I didn’t miss was driving. I’ve never been a car person, and moving to a walkable city was exciting. So exciting that I walk pretty much everywhere now. In doing so, I’ve discovered a lot of amazing little corners of London and gotten to know the details of the city much better than I would have otherwise.
Over the years, my enthusiasm for walking in London has turned into a bit of an obsession. I used to think that walking for more than 20 minutes was a bit crazy, but now some of my walks span hours or even parts of days. I’ve walked from South Kensington to Tower Hill, and from Chelsea to Rotherhithe, taking in areas of London that I never would have known about and capturing photos along the way.
My Instagram feed is full of photos of London from my walks, and I’ve come to enjoy the photography element of walking as much as the journey itself. In order to share that love with you, today I bring you my 5 best walks in London.
If you can’t see the map, click here.
Walk 1: South Kensington to Soho
There’s a lot going on in central London, and one of my favorite ways to experience the energy is to take in some of the city’s most famous landmarks on a walk from South Kensington to Soho. Starting at the South Kensington tube station, I walk along Brompton Road, where the Natural History Museum and V&A museum are.
The road continues northeast, passing by famous department stores like Harrods and Harvey Nichols and luxury hotels like the Mandarin Oriental as it turns into Knightsbridge. Eventually it leads to Hyde Park Corner, where Apsley House and Wellington Arch are located.
Piccadilly comes next. The famous street cuts through Mayfair and St James’s, the Royal Academy on one side and Green Park and Fortnum & Mason’s famous food halls on the other. Piccadilly ends in the circus of the same name, where the statue of Eros’ brother, Anteros, sits below the giant flashing screens advertising everything imaginable.
Walk 2: The South Bank
One of the most popular places to walk in London is the South Bank. Starting at Westminster Bridge, the views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben set the stage for a great stroll. Then comes the London Eye, another of the city’s famous landmarks. From there the path leads past the Southbank Centre, home of restaurants, theaters, and markets, then passes along a curve in the river before coming to the Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge, and Globe Theatre.
Eventually the path leads to Borough Market, one of London’s most famous foodie destinations. It’s a great place to graze the afternoon away on a Saturday, and I usually end my walk there if for no other reason than being distracted by all the great market stalls.
Walk 3: The Thames Path
The Thames Path runs for an eternity along the river in London, but my favorite stretch is the one between Hammersmith and Chiswick. Starting at Hammersmith Bridge, the path follows the water past historic pubs, little parks, and some of the prettiest houses in west London. I love stopping for a waterfront drink at The Dove and watching the rowers go by from a sunny table on the terrace.
Once it reaches Chiswick, the Thames Path reveals even prettier houses with lovely riverside gardens. It continues along a horseshoe bend, but I usually can’t resist the temptation of Chiswick High Road, so I peel off at some point to head north for the shops and restaurants there.
Walk 4: The Royal Parks
I love walking in parks, and anytime I can incorporate a park into one of my walks, I do. This walk starts on the west side of Hyde Park at Kensington Palace. The hidden little gardens next to the palace are some of my favorites in the area, and I like to explore them before moving through to the Round Pond and over to the Serpentine.
Sometimes I pop into the Serpentine Gallery and its new counterpart, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery to get my contemporary art fix before moving on along the skinny lake. Once on the east side of Hyde Park, I emerge at Hyde Park Corner and make my way across the roundabout to Green Park.
Green Park is particularly pretty in the springtime, as it’s one of the most famous places in the city for daffodils. But it’s lovely at any time of year, and perfect for summer picnics. At the southeast corner is Buckingham Palace, where I sometimes get to watch the changing of the guard ceremony if I time things right.
On the other side of the palace is St James’s Park, one of my favorite green spaces in London. Its gardens are gorgeous all spring and summer, and I love watching the birds playing in the pond.
Walk 5: Hampstead Village
Hampstead has always been one of my favorite London neighborhoods, and walking there is like being transported into a country village miles away from city life. Starting at the tube station, I head down Heath Street and Church Row, one of the prettiest streets in the area. From there I pass by the quiet cemetery and up Holly Walk, another lovely street.
Holly Walk winds up on Holly Hill, where the Holly Bush pub sits on Holly Mount. It’s one of my favorite pubs in London, and I can never resist stopping there for awhile. Afterwards I cut down the pretty steps of Golden Yard to Heath Street, making my way down to Hampstead High Street to explore the shops and restaurants for a while.
Eventually I turn onto on Flask Walk, a lovely street with antique shops and pubs that leads through the village to Hampstead Heath. The heath is my favorite park in London, and I spend the rest of my walk exploring, from the great views from Parliament Hill to the bathing ponds and famous halls of Kenwood House.
If you want to take a longer walk in Hampstead, head over to my self-guided walk post.
I’ve written a lot more London walks and they’re all in my London walking tours blog post. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
How about you? What are your favorite walks in London?