Discovering London's Hyde Park
If you're feeling slightly overwhelmed by London's museums, iconic landmarks, or the overall rush of the city, then head on over to magnificent Hyde Park, where you can easily spend a half day or more leisurely exploring and taking in the greenery.
In a city made up of hundreds of grey tones, it's invigorating to spend time in the main green lung.
Hyde Park is the largest of the four Royal Parks in central London. You'll find the park not only contains countless walking and biking paths framed by magnificent old trees, but also Kensington Palace, one of many British Royal Family residences, the giant Serpentine, a lake home to swans and other water fowl, and Speaker's Corner, which has long been used as a place for free speech and debate since the 1870s.
But what you choose to see and do in Hyde Park is entirely up to you. Whether you want to learn more about the Royals with a tour through Kensington Palace or if you simply want to people-watch from a bench along one of the wide avenues crisscrossing the park, there are plenty of things to do.
You can rent a bike and spend the day pedaling all over Hyde Park, making stops wherever you choose.
Or you could pack some snacks from the grocery store and have a picnic on one of the large, open lawns or in one of the neatly manicured gardens.
You could visit Kensington Palace, and learn more about the former and present home of notable Royals such as Queen Anne, Princess Diana, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka William & Kate), and Prince Harry.
Afterwards, you can explore the exquisitely maintained gardens surrounding the palace, including the beautiful Sunken Garden, which was planted in 1908.
You can find a quiet spot under one of the ivy-covered walkways and settle into a good book.
Or you could snag a seat in the outdoor Kensington Palace visitor cafe and refresh with a cappuccino.
You can stroll around the Round Pond, admire the swans gliding on the lake and the statues around it, including the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and the one shown above of Queen Victoria.
You could feed the birds if you really wanted to (just mind your head as they fly above!).
You can use Hyde Park as a way of crossing the city (which is what I did). It's such a large green space that you can enter on one side, exit the other, and be in a completely different neighborhood of London. It's the perfect short cut.
Or you can walk aimlessly at your own pace, stopping at little food shacks or coffee huts along the way.
Regardless of what you choose to do, Hyde Park is one of the best green spaces in the city (perhaps even one of the best among the great city parks of the world) and deserves a little piece of your time during your next trip to London.