Today I want to share my Dulwich Park guide with you. This green space is one of the most beautiful parks in south London, and it’s worth a visit.
Established in the late 19th century, Dulwich Park spans 29 hectares (72 acres) and is packed with everything from a boating lake to woodland walks and an American Garden.
Dulwich Park first opened to the public in 1890 and has undergone subsequent developments and refurbishments throughout its lifetime.
Today it’s a fixture of the local area and a popular place for exercise, entertainment, picnics, and recreation.
How to Get to Dulwich Park
It’s easy to get to Dulwich Park from central and south London. The park is a short walk from North Dulwich and West Dulwich stations, both of which are connected to major transport hubs in the city center.
The walk from North Dulwich station is particularly nice, as it goes through Dulwich village. It’s one of the prettiest London neighborhoods, and it’s worth a visit in its own right.
There are also local buses that serve the park, including the P4 in the west and the P13, 12, 40, 176, 185, and 197 in the north and east.
If you drive, there’s street parking and a parking lot if you enter via the College Road entrance.
Dulwich Park American Garden
My favorite place in Dulwich Park is the American Garden, which is full of plants from the east coast of the United States.
Established by Colonel JJ Sexby, the London County Council’s Chief Officer of Parks, in 1887, this garden comes alive with pink and purple flowers every spring. The rhododendrons and azaleas are stunning in April and May.
Queen Elizabeth II’s grandmother, Queen Mary, made regular visits to Dulwich Park. She loved the American Garden and one of the park gates is named after her.
Beyond the American Garden, the park is dotted with small plots dedicated to one theme or another.
There’s a drought-tolerant garden with plants from the Mediterranean, a wildlife conservation area full of endangered beetles, common field grasshoppers, and woodpeckers, and a winter garden with Lawson cypress and English yew trees.
Speaking of trees, the famous Turkey oak in the southeast of the park is one of the biggest and most eye-catching around.
There are also magnolias, Indian bean trees, swamp cypresses, blue Atlas cedars, and lots of others besides. Many look stunning in the autumn as the leaves turn.
Dulwich Park Recreation
Beyond gardens, Dulwich Park is a great place to get some exercise.
With tennis courts, sports fields, walking paths, playgrounds, bowling greens, cricket nets, and recumbent bicycles to rent, there are a lot of options for getting fit while enjoying the outdoors.
I love walking along the perimeter of the park on the trail that goes under the trees and alongside the blackberry bushes. It’s a great way to feel like I’m escaping the city and getting into nature without going far from home.
The Village Copse in the northwest corner is a particularly pretty place to walk under the branches and soak up the natural beauty of the park. The bluebells are beautiful in spring.
Dulwich Park Boating Lake & Duck Pond
Another great feature of Dulwich Park is the boating lake. Along with the adjacent duck pond, it’s the central feature of the green space.
The lake is a popular place for renting paddle boats and row boats in the warmer months. There are bridges for viewing the wildlife and boaters, too. From graceful ducks to noisy coots, you can see a lot of waterfowl here.
Dulwich Park Cafe
The Dulwich Park cafe sits near the lake. Officially called The Dulwich Clock Cafe, it’s a great place to stop for a snack or drink and watch the world go by. There’s lots of outdoor seating that’s perfect on nice days, too.
Street Art and Sculpture
Dulwich Park isn’t just about nature and activity, though. There’s culture here, too. Given the park is across the street from the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest public art gallery in England, it’s no surprise.
Dulwich Park is home to street art from the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery, a collection of murals painted by famous street artists who base their works on historic paintings in the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
There are also sculptures dotted throughout the grounds. The West Lawns are home to pretzel-like sculptures by Conrad Shawcross that are based on mathematical patterns found in music.
Dulwich Park Map
If you want to explore more or plan your visit, you can find a Dulwich Park map on Google Maps here.
You can also download Southwark Council’s map of a walk through the park on their website here. It will take you to the drought-tolerant garden, boating lake, Turkey oak, wildlife conservation area, winter garden, American Garden, East Lawns, and cafe.
Dulwich Park Walks
And speaking of walks, if you want to explore the area beyond the park, my self-guided Dulwich walk is just the thing.
It will take you all over the neighborhood and through the park so you can discover this beautiful part of London. You can watch a video of it here if you want a preview of what you’ll see.
Dulwich Park and Beyond
I hope visiting Dulwich Park will help you fall in love with this green space as much as I have. It’s a great place to get away from the busy areas of the city, and a beautiful one besides.
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