Explore the city,
June 19 2023
Get your dose of fresh air and greenery in one of London’s largest Royal parks. Originally owned by the monks of Westminster, Hyde Park was King Henry VIII’s Royal hunting ground in the 16th century.
Today, a leisurely stroll around the park will take you past boats on Serpentine Lake, passionate protests at Speaker’s Corner and children playing in the Diana Memorial Fountain. With special events throughout the year, too, Hyde Park is an iconic London destination. Here are some fun things to do in Hyde Park, whatever the season.
Visit the magnificent Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner. This was once the entrance to Buckingham Palace and later became a symbol of success in defeating Napoleon. There’s an impressive bronze chariot on top, and inside the arch, you can learn more about its history and get a spectacular London panorama from the balcony.
See the intricate detailing on the beautiful Marble Arch near Speaker’s Corner, one of London’s best-known landmarks. After shopping nearby, a picnic on the grass with views of the Arch is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. You can also walk through the ornate stone pillars and arches of Apsley Gate near the entrance to the park. When you walk through these arches, you feel the history of the grand Royal park welcome you in.
From Karl Marx and George Orwell to Tony Benn MP and actor Vanessa Redgrave: famous speakers from down the ages flood to Speakers’ Corner, a symbol of free speech. The earliest speeches here were given by prisoners condemned to hang on its Tyburn Gallows. Their final chance to say their piece added to the spectacle of the extremely popular hangings.
The gallows is long gone, but it remains a place for anyone to freely share their views and debate with members of the public. An 1872 Act protects this right, and Speakers’ Corner has seen suffragettes campaign for the rights of women to vote, and today you can go along and listen to passionate speeches on any range of topics (as long as the police deem it lawful).
This vast park is the natural spot for some of London’s large-scale events. Music concerts, festivals, marathons and winter spectacles all help raise money to look after the park and provide plenty of entertainment for visitors. In summer, there’s the annual BST Hyde Park Festival, a 10-day music extravaganza of big-name artists.
In winter, part of the park transforms into the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. There’s ice skating, fairground rides and a traditional Christmas market. One of the best things to do in Hyde Park at night around Christmas is to ride the huge wheel in the centre of Winter Wonderland for spectacular views of London’s twinkling Christmas lights. Be on the lookout for one-off Hyde Park attractions and events throughout the year.
Dividing Hyde Park from Kensington Gardens, The Serpentine is an artificial lake designed by Queen Caroline in 1830 and gets the name from its snake-like shape. Around The Serpentine, there are waterside cafés and wide paths for walking, skating and cycling around.
If you enjoy cold-water swimming, you could don your costume and go swimming in The Serpentine. This recreational lido has long attracted hardy swimmers immune to the chilly temperatures. A warmer option, though, is to hire a pedalo or hop on a solar ferry for a gentle loop around the lake.
One of the best things to do in Hyde Park with little ones is to visit the Diana Memorial Fountain near The Serpentine. Opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 as a memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales, this fountain naturally attracts children, who like to sit on the edge and dip their toes in.
The Cornish granite ring fountain moves water in all directions, bubbling and gushing into pools. It’s ideal for splashing feet on sunny days, and there are three little flat crossing points to get to the meadow in the centre.
Looking for a place to stay? Settle in for a weekend of Hyde Park fun and stay nearby at Thistle Hotel Hyde Park Kensington Gardens for a great break in the heart of London.