When visiting London, chances are you will come near Hyde Park at one point or another. Most London itineraries will include it (and they definitely should). But what things are there to do in Hyde Park? And is it worth visiting Hyde Park when you don’t have much time in London? Well, read on and see for yourself.
Before I tell you all about the things to do in Hyde Park, how about I tell you a little about Hyde Park in general?
Hyde Park Stats
Hyde Park is one of eight Royal Parks in Greater London. And you might be surprised to hear, that it isn’t the largest one. Far from it. Richmond Park is the largest park in Greater London with a whopping 955 hectares. And if you are only considering Central London, the largest park would be Regent’s Park with 166 hectares. Whereas Hyde Park ‘only’ measures 142 hectares. Saying that, Hyde Park directly borders Kensington Gardens. So, looking at them on a map, they appear to be one big park. Combine the two and you have 253 hectares of green space.
When it comes to London tourist attractions, Hyde Park is the number one (a bit like Central Park in New York, that also isn’t the biggest park).
Hyde Park dates back to the 16th century and the reign of King Henry VIII. Originally royal hunting grounds, Hyde Park has been open to the public since the mid 17th century.
Do I need to pay to visit Hyde Park?
Yes, a trip to London can be a costly affair, but not everything is exorbitantly expensive. Good news, visiting Hyde Park is free of charge.
Is Hyde Park always open?
Hyde Park is open every day of the year. But not 24/7. It opens at 5am every morning and closes at midnight. All year round. Making it super easy to go and visit Hyde Park, whenever you are in London.
How do I get to Hyde Park?
It is super easy to visit Hyde Park by public transport. There are four tube stations dotted around the perimeter:
- Marble Arch and Lancaster Gate (both on the Central Line) at the Northern boundary
- Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge (both Piccadilly Line) along the Southern edge
In addition, there are numerous bus lines running along Hyde Park.
There are underground car parks near Hyde Park as well, but I would not recommend taking your car into Central London. Not only is it horrendously expensive to park your car anywhere central, you will also need to pay the Congestion Charge AND potentially the Ultra-Low Emission Zone charge (depending on type and age of your vehicle).
OK, enough of the infos about Hyde Park. How about we finally get down to the important stuff. What are all the things to do in Hyde Park (well Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens really)? And is it worth visiting Hyde Park?
Walking (or cycling) in Hyde Park
This might be one of the most obvious things to do in Hyde Park. But that doesn’t make it any less worth it. Hyde Park has a network of walking paths, that are easy to follow. If you are on a tight schedule visiting London, go for a short walk in Hyde Park.
Enter at Marble Arch, then follow the path diagonal (second from the left as you enter) to get down to the Serpentine (the big lake, more on that a bit further down). Keep the water to your right and walk down towards Hyde Park Corner.
This short walk takes around half an hour and is around a mile and a half long.
If you are up for a longer walk, head along the North Carriage Drive first before turning south eventually.
The front half of Hyde Park is mainly lawn, but the further west you get, the more interesting the landscape gets.
And if walking isn’t quite your thing, you could go cycling instead.
The bigger paths along the perimeter of Hyde Park are all suitable for cycling as well as walking. So why not give it a try. There are several rental bike stations along Hyde Park, making it easy to pick up a bike for half an hour or so.
Things to do in Hyde Park: Picnic + sunbathing
This is one of my favourite childhood memories of visiting London as a child. After an exciting morning of exploring London, we would pick up some sandwiches, fruit and crisps in a nearby supermarket, then head to Hyde Park for an al fresco lunch. Unlike many German parks, most English parks will allow you to access the lawn. And as soon as the sun is out, you will see people flocking to the parks with their blankets and picnic baskets. And Hyde Park is no exception here.
If you prefer a bit more comfort than a blanket on the ground, you can rent a deck chair. During the summer season (March to October), you will find deckchairs set out on the lawns (or stacked if you are very early in the morning). And it is easy to rent them. You just take a seat, and the attendant will come and find you. The price for renting a deckchair starts at 3 GBP for one hour and goes up to 11 GBP for the day. It might be best to have cash on you if you would like to rent a deckchair, as I am not sure they will accept cards.
A trip to the Lido
Another potential summer activity in Hyde Park would be a trip to the Lido. Yes, you heard that right, there is a lido in Hyde Park. Part of the Serpentine is roped off for swimming. The entrance to the Hyde Park lido is on the south side of the Serpentine. From mid-May to mid-September, you can have a dip in the water. Afternoon tickets are as little as 2 GBP for adults (from 4pm-6pm), a full day ticket would set you back 7 GBP.
Boating on the Serpentine
If swimming in the Serpentine isn’t really your thing, how about boating instead? Saves you getting wet.
The renting station is on the northern side of the Serpentine, and you can rent the blue paddling boats for 30 minutes or a full hour. But be warned, this activity doesn’t come cheap. You don’t pay per boat; you pay per person. And at 11.25 GBP per adult per hour, this isn’t one of the cheapest things to do in Hyde Park.
Visit Speaker’s Corner on a Sunday morning
Have you ever heard of Speaker’s Corner? This area at the Marble Arch entrance of Hyde Park is dedicated to free speech and if you come here on a Sunday morning, you can listen to plenty of people telling you about a myriad of topics. Some serious, some not so serious.
The origins of Speaker’s Corner are actually rather bleak. For a good 500 years people were hanged at nearby Tyburn Gallows. They were allowed a final speech. At the end of the 18th century the gallows were dismantled, but the speeches remained (albeit no longer by those awaiting their death).
Although Speaker’s Corner is open all week, it seems to be Sunday mornings that see the most speakers.
Things to do in Hyde Park: Rollerblading in Hyde Park
Serpentine Road (on the northern edge of the lake) is perfect for rollerblading, as it is a long flat (car free) stretch of road. And you will see plenty of people here racing up and down the road and practise their slaloms and stunts. Why not give it a go yourself whilst exploring Hyde Park? But bring your rollerblades, I don’t think there are any rental stations around (or at least I’ve never seen any).
Winter Wonderland + Ice Skating
This is one of the things to do in Hyde Park that is only available during the winter. From late November to early January, the Southeast corner (from Hyde Park Corner to the Serpentine) is transformed into a large Winter Wonderland with an ice rink, plenty of funfair rides and a Christmas market.
More accustomed to the more traditional Christmas markets in Germany or Austria, Winter Wonderland isn’t my favourite. Too much funfair, not enough Christmas market flair for my liking. But that is my personal opinion. Plenty of people love Winter Wonderland for that precise reason.
Nowadays you will have to book tickets for Winter Wonderland as well as the ice rink, so if you are in London in the run up to Christmas, better book early. Well there are plenty of other things to do in London before Christmas. And most of them don’t require tickets.
Spot the Hyde Park Pet Cemetery
Us Brits love our pets. But did you know there is a pet cemetery located within Hyde Park? Definitely one of the more unusual things to do in Hyde Park.
Located in the garden of the Victoria Lodge, the 300 gravestones date from 1881 to 1903. The garden and its cemetery aren’t generally open to the public, but you can spot the gravestones by glancing through the railings from Bayswater Road (just past Victoria Lodge).
Things to do in Hyde Park: Proms in the Park
As part of the annual BBC Proms season at the Royal Albert Hall, there are also concerts in Hyde Park, known as the Proms in the Park. So, whilst you might not have much luck securing tickets to the Proms, you might be able to get tickets for the Proms in the Park instead.
Visit the Rose Garden
When walking through Hyde Park, don’t forget to check out the rose garden in the south east corner of the park (near Hyde Park corner). The Rose Garden might not be quite as old as the rest of the park (it was only opened in 1994), but it is a beautiful space to walk and rest. And check out the fountains of Diana the Huntress and Boy and Dolphin (both quite a bit older than the rose garden itself).
There you have it. 10 things to do in Hyde Park, that will hopefully make your trip to the park worthwhile.
And if you fancy to see some more, don’t forget to check out the adjacent Kensington Gardens as well. With the Albert Memorial, the Serpentine Gallery (and its yearly summer pavilion), the Diana Memorial fountain and playground and a Henry Moore statue, it sure also has plenty to offer.
There you have it. My recommendations of things to do in Hyde Park. Tell me, what is your favourite thing to do in Hyde Park? Why do you visit over and over again?