A central London oasis, Hyde Park is truly beautiful, whichever time of year you choose to visit. This huge expanse of green has acres of parkland to explore, a lake to row across and 4,000 trees waiting to be hugged. But Hyde Park is much more than just a place to be at one with nature - or to listen to dubious political views at Speaker’s Corner. It’s full of historical monuments, there are two modern art galleries, plus the bright lights of Oxford Street are just a walk away. All in all, it makes a great base for your London city break.
If you're looking for a hotel, rest assured there’s a Premier Inn near Hyde Park with a friendly team ready to get your visit off to a great start.
Hyde Park was created solely for King Henry VIII and his hunting activities way back in 1536 and later when Charles I came to the throne, he changed the park entirely by making it available to the general public in 1637. Despite going under changes by the monarchs of the years, it soon became a park for royal celebrations and festivities such as the Great Exhibition, the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the Silver Jubilee Exhibition for Queen Elizabeth II.
Many of the features you see in the park today came about in the 18th century by a keen royal gardener, Queen Caroline. She planned The Serpentine and the stunning Kensington Gardens to name but a few. Fast forward to the 1820s and King George IV wanted a dramatic makeover, que the Triumphal Screen and the Wellington Arch, lots more gates and roads as well as a bridge across The Serpentine.
Nowadays, it’s filled with memorials, statues and fountains a plenty and isn’t shy about taking the starring role of backdrop in many a famous film.
Covering 350 acres, Hyde Park is enormous. So where should you head to eat, drink, shop and be entertained? Find out here.
Things to do
Hyde Park is packed with things to keep you busy. Swim a few laps in the Lido, get something off your chest at Speaker’s Corner or stroke your chin at the art in the Serpentine Gallery. And great shopping is just minutes away.
Eating and drinking
If it’s not picnic weather, you’ll be pleased to find that Hyde Park has cafes and restaurants serving up great food along with beautiful views. But what’s on offer if you step further afield? Check out our pick of the best eateries nearby.
Events and festivals
Rain or shine, there’s always something going on in Hyde Park, from Winter Wonderland in December to music festivals in the summer. Will your visit coincide with one of the events the park is famous for? Find out here!
How to get there
Which is the best way to get to Hyde Park: Tube, bus, train - or by jumping in a cab? That all depends on what you want to see first! Hyde Park is massive, so it’s best to work out what you want to see before setting out.
There are lots of ways to enjoy Hyde Park but these will change depending on who you’re here with. Luckily there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
From feeding the ducks on the Serpentine to rides that fling them round and round at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park is a lovely location if you’re here on a family break. Find out what else is on offer for the ankle-biters.
Hyde Park is the perfect backdrop for partners on a romantic city break to the capital. Should the two of you get bored of walking hand-in-hand in the romantic Rose Garden, just head to Selfridges for a spot of couples’ therapy.
With so much going on, Hyde Park is a hip and happening place to meet friends. Whether you all want to rock out at British Summer Time festival or wave a Union Jack at Proms in the Park, we’ve all the details you need.
Things to do in London don’t come much lovelier than a stroll around Hyde Park. A great antidote to that ‘packed in like sardines’ feel of the Tube, the hustle and bustle of the Big Smoke feels like it’s a world away. But just flopping under the nearest tree would mean you’re missing out on all the other things on offer in the area - like taking a boat out on the lake, hitting the shops on nearby Oxford Street or soaking up some culture in an art gallery.
Although the acres of greenery are impressive, it’s not all about kicking through the leaves and pretending you’re out in the countryside. Inhale deeply at the Rose Garden, pay your respects at the beautiful Princess Diana Fountain or visit one of the historical monuments on offer, such as the statue of Achilles. If you’re feeling active, you could even join the joggers on the six mile perimeter route, go horse riding or hire a bike and whizz to Speaker’s Corner to listen to the issues of the day.
Just an outdoor ice rink and a Christmas market when it started in 2007, Winter Wonderland’s grown to become a must-visit London attraction. For six weeks every year, a huge area of Hyde Park near Hyde Park Corner is transformed into a magical fairyland, complete with traditional fairground rides, a giant observation wheel, a circus and Santa’s grotto. Even hardened Scrooges will melt when they see it lit up and twinkly - particularly after a few delicious mulled wines.
Created in 1730 by England’s Queen Charlotte, the Serpentine is a large recreational lake in the middle of Hyde Park which gets its water direct from the Thames. Pretty to walk around, it’s even nicer when you get out onto it. There are six-man rowing boats for hire between April and October which is fun when there’s a group of you. But if that sounds too much like hard work, you could jump aboard the Solarshuttle, the 40-passenger boat which glides serenely across the lake, powered by the sun.
If it’s hot in the city, Hyde Park’s the perfect place to lay down a blanket and work on your tan. But if it feels a bit odd to be sunbathing in full view of commuters striding past on their way home, head to the Serpentine Lido for a dip. There are deckchairs and sunloungers, a paddling pool for the kids to splash about in and the Serpentine itself to bathe in - if you don’t mind braving the duck-filled waters. It’s open weekends throughout May and seven days a week from June to September.
Hyde Park’s a great place to get a culture fix, having not one, but two acclaimed galleries dedicated to contemporary art. Previous exhibitions have showcased works by Henry Moore, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, and having a gander at everything on offer won’t cost you a penny. Both the Serpentine Gallery and its newer neighbour, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, are free to enter and are within a five-minute walk of each other, linked by a bridge over the Serpentine Lake.
With Oxford Street just a five-minute walk from the Marble Arch end of Hyde Park, it would be churlish not to visit this flagship store while you’re in the area. More than just a department store, a visit to Selfridges is an experience like no other. Even if you’ve been before, pop-up shops and events keep the Selfridges experience vibrant and ever-changing. Besides the world’s largest shoe gallery, it’s full of concessions you wouldn’t find anywhere else - there’s even an in-house psychic!
If you’re suddenly struck by a need for a caffeine or ice cream fix, there are refreshment kiosks dotted around the park. But for something more substantial, where should you head? Here are your best options, both inside and outside of the park gates.
In need of a little pick-me-up after all that walking? The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen has a gin bar serving cocktails, draft beers and jugs of Pimm’s - all of which taste even lovelier when sipped al fresco on the terrace, overlooking the lake. But it’s not just the tasty drinks and gorgeous location that make this place so popular. There’s hearty breakfasts, a wood-fired oven serving pizzas for the kids and pop-up barbecues. It does get quite busy on warmer days, but the iconic Patrick Gwynne-designed building is glass-fronted so you won’t miss out on any of the stunning views even if the sun hasn’t come out to play.
Whether you’ve just been in for a dip yourself or prefer just to watch the swimmers braving the chilly waters, the Lido Cafe is a great place to watch the world go by. South of the Serpentine near the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, it serves breakfasts, hot drinks and tasty cakes - well-earned if you’ve just been tramping across the park. Hot food options include British staples like fish and chips and the cafe is also licensed if you fancied something stronger to wash down your lunch. Eat at a table outside and you’ll soon be surrounded by ducks and herons, grateful for any leftovers.
Forget restaurants where ‘national cuisine’ has been tweaked to appeal to Western tastes. At Mari Vanna, everything is authentically Russian, from the vodka (as much a part of the meal as the starter) to the service (brusque). On the south side of Hyde Park, it’s the opposite of minimalist - there are kitsch Soviet dolls and curios, metres of lace, reindeer carpets and crystal chandeliers all artfully thrown together. The fabulous decor combined with the old-fashioned Russian menu all adds up to one magical experience. Try a breakfast of semolina porridge, blini, and Russian cheese pancakes.
Long walks in parks are always improved when you know you can have a pint at the end of them. And if you fancied yours in a London pub steeped in history, head to The Victoria, just two streets north of Hyde Park, towards Paddington. With its corner spot, this stately-looking tavern was a favourite watering hole of Charles Dickens - and, interiors-wise, it looks like nothing much has changed since the great man was scribbling there, thanks to the plush, decorated wallpaper and wood panelling. Alongside masses of charm there’s an outdoor area with heaters if it gets chilly, old school food and very good beer.
Great nights on the town await you, just a short stagger from the park. For an underground cocktail bar with a real speakeasy feel to it, head to Old Mary’s in Bayswater, a few minutes’ walk from the north side of Hyde Park. Hidden in the old servant’s quarters beneath a pub called the Mitre, Old Mary’s serves up classic cocktails and craft beers all themed to tell a tale about Old Mary - the spirit that supposedly still spooks the place today. Get one of the resident mixologists to make you a Scullery Seltzer, made with vodka, chartreuse, lime, apple juice, rosemary, thyme and lavender, while you listen live jazz.
From big music festivals to Christmas events, the park has a year-round calendar of events. Besides the ones mentioned here, there are also nature walks, yoga sessions and activities laid on for the little ones in the school holidays.
British Summer Festival
Since its debut in 2013, Hyde Park’s British Summer Time Festival has hosted some of the biggest names in music, from the Rolling Stones to Stevie Wonder to Justin Bieber. Family friendly, it’s held over two weekends at the beginning of July with other free events, such as open-air movie screenings and street-food markets, sandwiched between them. To watch one of the headliners and a raft of top name acts on concert days, expect to pay around £75 for a normal one-day ticket or up to £300 for a VIP ticket which lets you access the Summer Garden bar and its comfortable seats.
Held in Hyde Park from November to January, Winter Wonderland is the place to get your festive fix. Free to enter, there’s a traditional fairground complete with carousel and old-fashioned games. But if that doesn’t get the adrenaline pumping, there are several rides that will, including the Munich Looping - the world’s largest transportable rollercoaster And while children are well-catered for, there’s plenty for Christmas-loving grown-ups too with beautiful illuminations, a traditional Christmas market and lashings of mulled wine and hot chocolate served from Bavarian-style bars and cafes.
Proms in the park
The BBC’s Proms (a short way of saying Promenade Concerts) is an eight-week classical music festival held predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall every summer. To allow more people to attend the eccentrically patriotic last night concert, screens are put up in Hyde Park with a link-up to the Albert Hall, but there’s also fireworks and live music from both classical and pop performers. Held in September, it’s Britain's largest outdoor classical music event and a spectacular finale to the festival. Along with a Union Jack flag to wave along to Rule Britannia, bring a picnic to make a night of it.
Although there are parking facilities at Hyde Park, these are very expensive and if you’re visiting it’s best to leave the car at home.
For the east side (closest to Selfridges), hop off at Marble Arch on the Central line or Hyde Park Corner on the Piccadilly line. Lancaster Gate on the Central line takes you closest to the Marlborough Gate entrance on the north side of the park, while if you coming from West London, get off at Queensway.
You’re spoilt for choice! From North London there’s the C2, 6, 7, 10, 16, 19, 23, 36, 52, 73, 82, 98, 113, 274, 390 or the 414. From South London there’s a 2, 36, 137, 148, 159 or 436. From West London the 9, 10, 14, 19, 22, 52, 74, 94, 148 or 414 will get you there. From East London take an 8, 15, 23, 30, 38 or a 274.
The nearest mainline station to Hyde Park is Paddington. A walk from here to the park will take you around 12 minutes (and around 10 minutes if you arrive at Paddington underground station). Or you could get off at Victoria and hop on a bus. The 2, 36, 137 or 159 will get you straight to the park from here.
Bike hire docking stations can easily be found at the north, south, east and west park entrances.
If you’re planning to ride through the park, there are more docking stations just before and after the bridge going over The Serpentine, next to the Albert Memorial and to the east near Upper Grosvenor Street.
Apart from all the exciting exhibits on offer, the Museum also has some great facilities for its visitors. Read about them here, along with other important information to help you plan your day.
The Museum opens every day at 10am and closes at 6pm (7pm in the school holidays). Last admission is at 5.15pm and galleries start to close at 5.30pm. It is shut between the 24th and 26th December.
Guidebooks are available to buy from the Museum shop and, if you’re here with kids, a great idea is to buy them an Explorer Book, to help them get the most out of their visit.
Admission is free, but unlike other London museums, there is some pressure to pay a suggested donation of £5. Factor this in, because you’ll also pay extra for the Wonderlab gallery (a must if you have children), temporary exhibitions, the Imax cinema, the simulators and rides.
Even the cloakroom can be quite expensive if you have lots of items you need to check in.
There’s a selection of gifts and toys available just outside the Wonderlab gallery that are great for the kids, but there’s also a much bigger shop on the ground floor, next to the main ticket desk. Perfect for geeky gifts, it’s filled to bursting with a quirky range of toys, gadgets and high-tech gizmos. If you can leave here without parting with some cash you’re doing very, very well.
A small number of wheelchairs are available which may be booked in advance by calling 0870 870 4868, or borrowed on the day. The museum is accessible with lift access to all floors. Disabled toilets are in the basement and on the ground, first, second and third floors. They are also available on all floors of the Wellcome Wing. Find them on the Museum map or the touchscreen information points.
So what’s best to do if you’re in Hyde Park with the family, on a romantic break with your partner or you’re here with friends?
Besides a great playground full of things to climb and swing on, you could from a them on a rowing trip out on Serpentine Lake, for a dip at the children’s paddling pool or really blow their tiny minds with a festive outing to Winter Wonderland.
With all its beautiful trees and colourful plants, Hyde Park makes for a very romantic stroll - or cycle, or horse ride. But if that sounds too much like hard work, you could always do a bit of shopping at Selfridges for shoes, clothes or jewellery.
Grab a group of your friends and go on a Scavenger Hunt, take a spooky bat walk in the evening, or time your Hyde Park break to coincide with a music festival like British Summer Time to listen to some great bands play long into the night.
There’s plenty going on in Hyde Park to keep the little ones entertained. Buy them an ice cream then go feed the ducks or let them dip their toes in the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.
Kids young and old will love it at the Serpentine. A walk around it is nice at any time of year, but if you’re there from April to the end of October, you could take them for a go on the boating lake. Open daily from 10.30am to 6pm, its offers rowing boats and adult pedalos for hire on the main lake, and there’s even a separate children's lake that’s open weekends, bank holidays and school holidays, weather permitting. The child pedalos are £4 for 20 minutes, so won’t dent the family bank account, either.
This is one of London's oldest lidos and is an ideal place for the kids to have a swim on a sunny day. There’s a safe paddling pool for small children, a great playground swings, slide and climbing frame to let off some steam, plus sun loungers and a cafe for you. You’ll also find that they have family entertainment in the school holidays, too. It’s open on weekends in May and every day from June to September and costs £1.80 for children, and £4.80 for adults. Children must be accompanied.
There’s a playground in the south of the park which has climbing frames, swings and a slide. If you’re visiting in the school holidays, check the Events calendar on the Hyde Park website. Among the activities on offer you’ll find nature walks, arts and crafts with outdoorsy themes and your little ones may even get the chance to go pond dipping, to see what beasties they can find. Some activities are free, some you have to pay for, but all have to be booked in advance to ensure you get a space.
If your children have made it onto Santa’s good list this year, take them to Winter Wonderland. Open at the end of November from 10am to 10pm each day, it’s free to enter, although expect to pay for most of the things they’ll really want to do - and book in advance if you want a skate on the ice rink. You’ll find the bearded one in Santa Land - and while sitting on his lap is also free, expect huge queues. You can pay for all the children’s rides with tokens you buy at the Token Booths. Rides cost from £2.
There’s plenty going on in Hyde Park to keep the little ones entertained. Buy them an ice cream then go feed the ducks or let them dip their toes in the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain.
Right in the middle of Hyde Park, the Serpentine Lake has lots to offer couples. Go for a romantic lunch (and a glass of something grapey) at the Serpentine Bar and Cafe - its terrace is perfect for al fresco dining. If you’re not tempted to stay for sundowners, then take a quick stroll to one of the contemporary art galleries to get a culture fix - they’re separated by a bridge over the Serpentine. If you’re feeling really energetic, you could even hire a rowing boat for some Bridget Jones-style fun.
All of this central London oasis is perfect for a romantic stroll, but for something really special, head to the Rose Garden in the south east corner of Hyde Park, near Hyde Park Corner. This spectacular garden looks (and smells) at its best early summer, although they continue to flower through to the first frosts and are planted twice a year with spring and summer displays. Or head up towards Marble Arch to the north-east edge of the park to watch people on their soap boxes at Speakers' Corner, the last speaking place of its kind remaining from the 100 that used to be in London.
If the two of you are staying in the Hyde Park area in July, going to the British Summer Time music festival is a must. Held over two weekends, musical legends such as Stevie Wonder, Arcade Fire and the Rolling Stones have headlined in the past, giving the event a great reputation. Even if you’re not lucky enough to get tickets for one of the concert days, it’s worth going to the festival Open Days, sandwiched in the middle of the two weekends. Here you can watch open air movie screenings and eat some delicious food at the street food markets.
If a couples’ weekend away just wouldn’t be complete without a bit of retail therapy, leave Hyde Park by the Marble Arch exit and stroll to Selfridges. Not only does it have the world’s largest denim and shoe departments, the food hall on the ground floor is great if the two of you are foodies. Among the food stands on offer is the Chocolate Library, where bars are listed alphabetically and displayed like books. They include rare treats made from camel’s milk, and small batch chocolate where the labels are written by hand. You can also sample whiskey, wine and have the best hot salt beef you’ll find in the UK.
Got a mate date coming up? Take them to Hyde Park and you’ll be friends for life! Here’s our round-up of the best things to do with your buddies.
Wild swimming is all the rage and the Serpentine Lido, with its cold water and ducks, certainly feels wild enough when you get in. But the good thing about it is that, unlike swimming in a river, there are places to get changed, a cafe for a warming hot chocolate and sun loungers and deck chairs to hire should it be sunny enough for you and your mates to catch some vitamin D after your swim. It costs £4.80 per adult, so you’ll have change from a tenner if you all fancied grabbing a beer later on, too.
The park itself can be a fun place if you’re in London for a hen or stag do. Take a picnic, your favourite tipples and some sacks or eggs and spoons for some retro sports day fun. If you’re feeling even more active, hire bikes from one of the docking stations - you’ll find them at all of the park’s entrances. Or go one better and take everybody horse riding. At Hyde Park Riding Stables, a group of up to eight riders can have a private lesson at the outdoor arena, or take the horses out onto the dedicated horse riding path at Rotten Row.
You don’t need a tent or a pair of wellies to enjoy the full music festival experience. Held over two weekends at the beginning of July, British Summer Time Festival has a great reputation for hosting some of the top names in music, such as Green Day and the Killers. Even if you and your friends missed the boat on tickets, free events, such as open-air movie screenings and street-food markets take place in the festival arena in the week between the two concert weekends.
Pack your picnic hampers, grab a Union Jack to wave and take your friends to soak up some pomp and ceremony at Proms in the Park. This eccentrically British event is the grand finale to the eight-week classical music festival called the Proms that’s held every summer. It actually takes place at the Royal Albert Hall, but screens are put up in Hyde Park to show all the crowd-pleasing, patriotic songs played at the end. Your friends will love the fireworks and performances from stars from both the classical and pop worlds.