Days out in Greater London
There’s already plenty to do among central London’s famous tourist attractions and landmarks – from Big Ben, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace, to the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, and shopping in the West End. But explore the different areas in all corners of Greater London and there’s a wealth of days out to experience.
For two iconic sports venues, you can’t get better than Twickenham Stadium and Wembley Stadium. Any fan would relish the chance to pay a visit to the national home of football in north London and rugby in south-west London respectively, for a behind the scenes tour and visit to the museum.
And of course, nearby Wimbledon is the home of tennis. If you can’t get tickets for a Centre Court game, visit the Lawn Tennis Museum for facts, stats, and a tour of the club. If you find yourself in nearby Kingston-upon-Thames, look out for the famous ‘Out of order’ artwork featuring 12 iconic toppling telephone boxes.
There’s plenty of history to discover too: While you’re in the Twickenham area, sitting on the edge of Bushy Park is Hampton Court Palace, the 500-year-old home to King Henry VIII with its world-famous maze to beat. And learn more about artist J.M.W. Turner by visiting his house, also in Twickenham. Over in Walthamstow, find out more about English designer and craftsman, William Morris, at the William Morris Gallery.
Down in Greenwich, the famous Cutty Sark Museum lets you get up close and personal with the famous ship, while the visitors centre at the Thames Barrier will give you some fascinating facts on how, every day, it stops London from being flooded.
And the O2 is always a great day out. Not just a music venue, the O2 has plenty to do, from trampoline freejumping, Sky studios, 11-screen cinema, and, if you’re brave enough a 90-minute climb to the top of the roof. Not everything in Greater London has the same level of tourists – or queues – as central London, so you can cram even more into a top day out for all the family.
Topography, geology, and climate
Though a predominantly urban county without the countryside enjoyed by its home county neighbours, Greater London still benefits from a diverse landscape, with a range of land qualities and soil types of varying fertility.
In the north of the county, the landscape is defined by slowly permeable, seasonally wet, and mildly acidic base-rich loam and clay soils of moderate fertility. Through the centre, loam-rich soils with naturally high groundwater mix with patches of slightly acidic loam soils in the west and the loam and clay of coastal flats found in the east. In the south, a combination of similar low-acid loam and clay soils sit alongside low-fertility, high-acidity sand and loam soils.
Greater London shares a similar climate to that of neighbouring southern counties, with a temperate climate throughout the year. But due to mass urbanisation, traffic, and development, central London is often considerably warmer than Greater London as a whole. Greater London temperatures average at highs of around 22ºC (71ºF) during the Summer and average lows of around 9ºC (48ºF) during the winter months, while annual average rainfall is around 750mm (30”).
Chiswick features an early to mid-18th-century villa and gardens, initially laid out partly in the geometrical style, that is among the earliest examples of English landscape gardening. The site has been developed over the years and includes the early 19th-century Italian garden associated with the conservatory and many other features including a cascade, statuary and an Ionic temple.
Morden Hall, Morden
Morden Hall was a moated garden in the late-18th century. This is set within a park created in the late-19th century, with associated landscaping for the adjacent snuff mill. The park has survived largely intact and includes a number of historic buildings. The former walled vegetable garden is now the main entrance to the public park.
Greater London’s parks and gardens
With plenty of stunning parks and gardens across central London, including Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regents Park, Queen Mary’s Rose Gardens, St. James Park, Battersea Park, and Victoria Park – alongside pockets of small, public green spaces across the city – there are plenty more in the surrounding areas to enjoy.
- Greater London North and West
Fenton House and Gardens in Hampstead is a stunning 17th-century house sitting within 2-acres of beautiful gardens. Featuring colourful herbaceous borders, an immaculate formal garden complete with topiary, beautiful sunken rose garden, a kitchen garden, and 300-year-old orchard, Fenton House is certainly worth a visit.
Capel Manor Gardens in Enfield cover 30-acres and includes 60 eye-catching, vibrant gardens to explore. Included is a Japanese garden, the Le Jardin De Vincent garden – inspired by Vincent Van Gogh – Victorian garden, walled garden, and scented pelargonium house.
National Trust property, Ham House and Gardens in Richmond is a wonderful 17th-century river-side house. Featuring extensive gardens with delightful terraces and borders, there are also plenty of picnic spots to enjoy. And of course, Richmond Park itself is a designated special conservation area and a fantastic place to explore. It also features the Isabella Plantation, a 40-acre woodland garden featuring evergreen azaleas, rare trees and shrubs, and collections of rhododendrons and camellia.
And nearby is the world-famous Royal Botanic Kew Gardens in Richmond. Certainly not to be missed, this world heritage site features over 50,000 plants from all over the world throughout its striking, colourful borders, specialist gardens, arboretum, kitchen garden, and Japanese landscape, as well as an extensive tropical plant collection in the Glasshouses.
A short distance away, Chiswick House and Gardens House and Gardens feature an 18th-century villa set in 65-acres of gardens. As you walk through these stunning grounds, you’ll discover wonderful Italianate-style plantings in the formal garden, as well as a walled garden, and the wooded wilderness. You’ll also spot bridges, gateways, temples, an obelisk, and a Doric column as you explore.
- Greater London South and East
The Rookery Gardens on Streatham Common are a fantastic and attractive place to discover. Fabulously landscaped, The Rookery features an ornamental pond surrounded by flower beds and herbaceous borders, an Edwardian-styled old English garden, as well as a rock garden with a stream and a new sensory garden.
Morden Park Hall in Morden, near Mitcham, is a fine National Trust park that provides a rural sanctuary in the heart of south London. The 50-acres of open parkland features plenty of tree-lined paths along the River Wandle that flows gently through it, together with a play park area for the kids and a wonderful rose garden featuring 1,600 roses and around 40 different varieties.
Kelsey Park, Beckenham, in the borough of Bromley is another inner-city park providing relaxation and plenty to explore. With the River Beck flowing through it, Kelsey features incredible woodland trails, as well as a beautiful open rose garden and large herbaceous border. Its central lake also features Heron Island – home to one of London’s largest colonies of breeding Herons.
Church House Gardens, also in Bromley is another slice of calm and relaxing space in busy south London. Covering 11-acres, there’s plenty to see and discover across two levels, including rose beds and formal flower beds, rockery, lake, and tree trails.