The best walks in London right now

"Успех — это способность идти от поражения к поражению, не теряя оптимизма." Уинстон Черчилль ©
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As frosted windows and misty dawns greet us in the mornings and darkness kicks in before the working day is over, it’s clear that the time to embrace winter has truly arrived. London is spectacularly pretty during this period, with foggy parks and icy lanes, and while we all should endeavour to stay home as much as possible during this tricky time, we can still appreciate the season in all its silvery wonder. Here are the best walks in London, to take both in the daytime and later, under the city’s twinkling Christmas lights come nightfall. For an adventure further afield, see our guide to the best walks near London and the best UK walks

Update: Please respect social distancing rules at all times when going out for a walk in London, and stay at least two metres away from others. Get the latest government advice at www.gov.uk.

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  • The best walks in London right now

    1. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

    The best walk in London for: art and nature combined


    As well as sparking golden memories of London’s 2012 Olympics legacy, this Stratford behemoth also has walking trails to explore. Art in the Park covers the surprisingly varied collection of artworks scattered around some of the complex’s 560 acres, from Keith Wilson’s colourful posts poking out of the Waterworks River and a moving 9/11 commemoration by New York artist Miya Ando to the building-wrapping Carpenter’s Curve, which the park claims to be ‘the most complex tile mural in the world’. If nature is more your thing, try the Parkland and Wildlife walk to experience the area’s rich biodiversity. Creatures that may make an appearance include kestrels, kingfishers and potentially even otters – and there’s also an array of colourful plants and flowers to spot. Both trails are loosely suggested routes with plenty of opportunities for veering off, and thanks to good lighting around the park there’s no need to squint to see your chosen work of art or natural wonder in the evening.

  • The best walks in London right now

    2. South Bank

    The best walk in London for: classic riverside sightseeing


    Without the hordes of tourists and living statues – two words guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any Londoner – South Bank is actually a fantastic place for a stroll. If anything, it’s more atmospheric in the evening, and definitely more spacious and relaxed – it’s also fully illuminated and patrolled for safety – meaning you’ll be free to appreciate just how many great sights are crammed into such a short stretch (about one-and-a-half miles tracing the Thames, or two square miles as a whole area). Meander past eye-catching cultural powerhouses such as the National Theatre and Royal Festival Hall; spy Somerset House across the Thames; and drink in those never-tiring views of Big Ben and Westminster, best seen from Waterloo Bridge. As for a route, we suggest starting at Southwark Bridge and leisurely heading south to Lambeth Bridge. Purists may argue this strays a little outside of South Bank’s hazily defined borders, but as walkers will be able to lap up more London landmarks – specifically Shakespeare’s Globe and Tate Modern – who cares?

  • The best walks in London right now

    3. Battersea Park

    The best walk in London for: unexpected discoveries


    This South-west gem doesn’t get as much attention as the eight show-off Royal Parks – which is strange, because it’s packed with so much great stuff that when you do visit you’ll wonder why you haven’t spent more time here before. To get the most out of your walk, begin by taking a circular route around the perimeter, starting anywhere around the south end of the park. Stroll along the grand, tree-lined avenues before taking in the wide-screen Thames views from the London Peace Pagoda, a beautiful riverside Buddhist temple with gilded bronze statues overlooking the water. Once you’ve completed a loop, head inwards on the winding paths that surround the boating lake, looking out for the Barbara Hepworth sculpture and the Pump House Gallery – there are lights throughout the park to guide your evening exploration. Stop by the subtropical garden west of the lake before heading north past the Victorian bandstand, veering off to end with a look around the Old English Garden, a hidden oasis that many regular visitors don’t know about. If you’ve still got energy to burn, pick up the Thames Path at the north-western corner of the park and move west past Battersea Bridge, heading towards Wandsworth and Barnes.

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  • The best walks in London right now

    4. Blackheath to Greenwich

    The best walk in London for: village life


    The area informally known as Blackheath Village – around Blackheath station and the nearby parkland – is a charming spot that feels far removed from London. Make your way north across the vast, green expanse via any path that takes your fancy, passing by the Prince of Wales Pond first, on to Duke Humphrey Road and through the gates into the southern side of Greenwich Park. From here, simply walk straight up Blackheath Avenue until you get to the Royal Observatory and General Wolfe statue, where you’ll be rewarded with show-stopping views of London’s skyline. Be warned that the park shuts at 6pm in November and December, so if you don’t make it in time, alter your route slightly: head down into Greenwich via Maze Hill, which runs parallel to the east edge of the park, and keep going until you get to the Thames. Pause for the views across the water of Canary Wharf and follow the trusty Thames Path west, past the imposing Old Royal Naval College, before ending at the mighty Cutty Sark for some maritime atmosphere.

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  • The best walks in London right now

    5. Jubilee Greenway

    The best walk in London for: big-draw sights

    Built to mark both the 2012 Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the 67-kilometre (37-mile) Jubilee Greenway (one kilometre for each year of the Queen’s reign) connects London’s major Olympic sites and passes by some of the city’s key attractions, including Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. The Greenway is divided into 10 sections, perhaps the most popular of which is the 2.3-mile Little Venice to Camden portion, thanks to the attractive stretch along Regent’s Canal (including Little Venice’s boat-lined paths) and across the top of Regent’s Park. But don’t discount the other sections; Camden Park to Victoria Park (4.7 miles) takes you through some atmospheric areas before arriving at the ever-lovely Victoria Park, and the final 2.6-mile section, Victoria Park to Limehouse Basin, strikes south through Mile End Park to the luxury yachts and Thames views of Limehouse Basin.

    Stop for a drink at: The Edinboro Castle, 57 Mornington Terrace, London NW1 7RU

  • The best walks in London right now

    6. Lea Valley: Ponders End to Tottenham Hale

    The best walk in London for: peace and tranquillity amid the hubbub


    The London 2012 Games put the Lea Valley on the map for a lot more people, and since then it’s become known as a walking hotspot. The main 15.6-mile route runs between Waltham Abbey (skirting the very top of Greater London’s northern boundary) and East India Dock in the heart of London’s Docklands, but the Ponders End to Tottenham Hale section (4 miles) is a good option if you want a shorter stroll. It’s also super-simple, following the River Lea south past Tottenham Marshes and the Lockwood Reservoir. Although you’re not far from various industrial areas and urban goings-on, you’ll feel a million miles away from it all, partly because you might not see anyone else for a few miles, giving it a secluded and refreshingly peaceful feel.

    Stop for a drink at: The Ferry Boat, Ferry Lane, Tottenham, London N17 9NG

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  • The best walks in London right now

    7. The Line

    The best walk in London for: getting cultured

    London’s ‘first contemporary art walk’ is a strangely undersung affair, but well worth embarking upon. Running between The O2 in Greenwich and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, the 3-mile route is peppered with bold artworks, some from acclaimed names like Damien Hirst and Antony Gormley – look out for sliced-up sand dredgers, scientifically stacked shopping trolleys and precariously positioned pylons. Aside from the visual art, there are also lots of landmarks to gaze at, and you even get to glide over the Thames in the Emirates Air Line cable car.

    Stop for a drink at: Galvanisers Union, Bromley By Bow, 2 Devas Street, London E3 3LL

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  • The best walks in London right now

    8. Green Chain: Crystal Palace to Nunhead Cemetery

    The best walk in London for: south-east sightseeing


    A fine way to explore the many green spaces south of the Thames is via the popular Green Chain route, spread across roughly 50 miles of parks and woodlands. There are numerous sights to take in (including the opulent Eltham Palace and Severndroog Castle with its incredible panoramic views) and 11 sections to choose from or combine, but if you’re short on time, the Crystal Palace to Nunhead route packs tons of sights and greenery into 5.5 miles. You’ll pass Crystal Palace Park’s famous dinosaurs, the excellent Horniman Museum and its gardens, Dulwich Picture Gallery, leafy Dulwich Park, One Tree Hill’s sky-high views towards the City and Nunhead’s historic cemetery. There are ample opportunities for diversions along the way, so allow plenty of time to make it a leisurely day out.

    Stop for a drink at: Watson’s General Telegraph, 108 Forest Hill Road, Dulwich, London SE22 0RS

  • The best walks in London right now

    9. Designs of the Times walk

    The best walk in London for: modern marvels


    Plotted by the City of London Corporation, this 90-minute route around the Square Mile takes in some of the area’s most striking architecture. Beginning at St Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll snake around the City and past numerous buildings and landmarks that have helped to visually define London and its skyline over the years. Alongside well-known sights like the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie and Sir Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London, the route encompasses lots of fascinating modern architectural gems that aren’t on the tourist trails, such as the eye-catching 5 Broadgate Tower, the sustainability-focused One Coleman Street and the gleaming 10 Fenchurch Avenue. The walk finishes at the City Centre, an information resource about London architecture.

    Stop for a drink at: Lamb Tavern, 10-12 Leadenhall Market, London EC3V 1LR

  • The best walks in London right now

    10. Richmond to Ham House

    The best walk in London for: showstopping views

    Get to know some gorgeous parts of south-west London via this seriously scenic walk that includes the only view in England to be protected by an Act of Parliament: the one you get from Richmond Hill. Once you arrive there and gaze down towards the Thames, Marble Hill Park and (if conditions are right) across to Ham House, you’ll understand why. Further grand views can be found from King Henry’s Mound at the halfway point. There are various ways to approach the route, but the National Trust’s trail is a reliable and well-trodden option to navigate one of the prettiest parks in London. The route loops back to Richmond from Ham House along the Thames, but consider factoring in some time to browse Ham House’s extensive gardens and impressive collection of 17th-century art.

    Stop for a drink at: The White Cross, Riverside (off Water Lane), Richmond, Surrey TW9 1TH

  • The best walks in London right now

    11. Capital Ring: Hackney Wick to Beckton District Park

    The best walk in London for: out-of-town sightseeing

    This loop that makes its way around Greater London measures almost 80 miles in total, but is split into bite-size sections, meaning you can dip in and out as you fancy. The Hackney Wick to Beckton District Park section is green, easy to walk and will offer new scenery and routes to many. Beginning at Hackney Wick Station, the route follows the Olympic Park before passing through Plaistow and into Newham, ending with a long stretch south through a tree trail in Beckton District Park. On the way, you’ll also pass the surprisingly attractive (and actually very interesting) Abbey Mills sewage pumping station.

    Stop for a drink at: The Oiler Bar, Royal Victoria Docks, London, Royal Victoria Beach E16 1AG

  • The best walks in London right now

    12. Jubilee Walkway

    The best walk in London for: landmarks when you’re tight on time


    The 15-mile Jubilee Walkway is essentially intended to give a compact route around the city’s various landmarks, and, if it’s your first time in the capital, should be at the top of your things to do in London list. Each of the five sections is crammed with sights, but the City Loop and the Jubilee Loop (both two miles) are especially worth investigating. The first of these is a jaunt around the City that passes the Barbican Centre and the excellent Guildhall Art Gallery, while the Jubilee Loop ticks off some central London behemoths, including St James’s Park, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. The walkway is also well signposted, with various ‘discs’ giving directions at key junctions and marking nearby historical events along the way.

    Stop for a drink at: The Harp, 47 Chandos Place, London WC2N 4HS

  • The best walks in London right now

    13. Parkland Walk

    The best walk in London for: spotting wildlife


    This popular walk through London’s longest local nature reserve follows a former rail line that ran between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. The 4.5-mile route is great for feeling like you’re actually in the wild, as you’re surrounded by all kinds of flora and fauna. You’ll be strolling past everything from orchids to fig trees to blackberries, and the area is also a haven for birds, butterflies, hedgehogs, the occasional rare muntjac deer and bats – there’s even a bat sanctuary, of sorts, in several disused train tunnels tucked away near the Highgate end of the main path. The full route takes you through Queen’s Wood and Highgate Wood, both of which are worth wandering through, particularly the rugged forests of Queen’s Wood.

    Stop for a drink at: The Boogaloo, 312 Archway Road, Highgate, London N6 5AT

  • The best walks in London right now

    14. Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk

    The best walk in London for: sampling London’s park life


    Opened in 2000, this seven-mile route weaves through four of London’s eight Royal Parks: Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’s Park. As such, it’s a gloriously green affair, and you’ll pass three rather splendid palaces (Kensington, Buckingham and St James’s), plus numerous other grand sights, including the Albert Memorial and Kensington Gardens’ Italian Gardens. A series of 90 distinctive plaques set into the ground guide walkers along the trail.

    Stop for a drink at: The Grenadier, 18 Wilton Row, Belgravia, London SW1X 7NR

  • The best walks in London right now

    15. London LOOP: Uxbridge to Harefield West

    Best walk in London for: going beyond the tried-and-tested sights


    The vast London Outer Orbital Path (known as the London LOOP) measures 150 miles, so you’ll probably need more than a Sunday afternoon to tackle it. The trail is broken into 24 sections that – as the name suggests – form a circle around the very outskirts of London’s far borders, meaning that it’s great if you’re looking to explore new areas. Section 12, Uxbridge to Harefield West, is a short and manageable 4.5-mile stretch taking place way out west, tracking the picturesque Grand Union Canal for most of its route. You’ll pass various historic locks, a mill house and Harefield Marina, all making you feel like you’ve stepped out of London for the day, which you pretty much have done.

    Stop for a drink at: The Bear on the Barge, Moorhall Road, Harefield, Uxbridge UB9 6PE

  • The best walks in London right now

    16. Hampstead Heath: Sandy Heath and the Pergola trail

    Best walk in London for: hidden wonders

    Hampstead Heath’s 800 acres never fail to delight when you’re in the mood for a walk. There are numerous trails mapped-out, but this 1.7-mile route is particularly worthwhile, as it includes the incredible Edwardian Pergola, a much-underappreciated London gem. The trail begins in Golders Hill Park before veering inwards to the Pergola’s magnificent Hill Garden. Allow yourself time to wander around, admiring the rugged beauty of the area, before continuing to the wilderness of Pitt’s Garden, followed by the sweeping, forested landscapes of Sandy Heath, looping around to finish back at Golders Hill Park Refreshment House.

    Stop for a drink at: The Old Bull & Bush, North End Way, London NW3 7HE

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  • The best walks in London right now

    17. Thames Path: Hampton Court to Albert Bridge

    Best walk in London for: quintessential London experiences


    Accompanying London’s mighty Thames is the equally mighty Thames Path, which provides some of the finest walks and best views in the city. The main route measures almost 80 miles, but is split into four sections on both the north bank and the south bank. Each has its own charms, but the Hampton Court to Albert Bridge section on the north bank packs in a huge amount. This part alone stretches for 23 miles, but can obviously be divided into smaller chunks. Start at Hampton Court Palace and enjoy slowly arriving into London’s urban sprawl, passing Teddington Lock, Eel Pie Island, Syon Park, Kew Gardens, London Wetland Centre and much more, finishing at Albert Bridge. If you’ve got any energy left, consider crossing the bridge and diverting into Battersea Park, where more lush greenery and hidden nooks await. The Thames Path is generally well signposted, but some sections close temporarily due to building works or occasional flooding, although there’s never too much of a diversion to pick up the path again.

    Stop for a drink at: Barmy Arms, The Embankment, Twickenham TW1 3DU

  • The best walks in London right now

    18. Theatres Walk

    Best walk in London for: grandiose buildings and lively scenes


    Soak up central London’s splendour on this route plotted by londonforfree.net that leads you through the heart of the thriving West End. Starting at Leicester Square tube, you’ll see some of the capital’s most famous theatres and pass through some of its buzziest areas, including Soho, Chinatown and Covent Garden, before finishing back at Leicester Square. Be aware that as the walk was last updated in 2014, a few details have changed (for example, the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue is now the Sondheim Theatre), but the route itself is still perfectly valid and worth undertaking to discover (or remember) part of what makes London a world-class city.

    Stop for a drink at: The French House, 49 Dean Street, Soho, London W1D 5BG

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