We’ve compiled the best London walks to maximise that serotonin right now
Sunset at South Bank = unparalleled
If you’re in London for lockdown, the chances are that you’ve seen just about every inch of your area three times over, to the point that it makes you queasy stepping out the front door and looking at the exact same pavement every day and trying to find new London walks just seems impossible.
While the capital is a pretty interesting place to be right now, as we play the waiting game until the end of lockdown, it doesn’t come without its challenges. There’s only so many tall buildings you can see in a day before the novelty wears off, and I think I speak for many people when I say that if I have to enter Regent’s Park for my daily walk one more time I will scream.
So, us being the helpful and all-knowing lot that we are, we’ve decided to collate a list of the best London walks to keep you busy this lockdown. From banging tourist sites that you’ve probably forgotten about to secret bits of nature that you definitely didn’t know were there, these London walks are guaranteed to boost that serotonin and help you get through the never-ending lockdown:
For those of you who didn’t know, the canal actually does extend further than Camden Market and big Sainsbury’s, and there’s actually a lot more to see than crackheads. From Coal Drops Yard and Gasholder Park to London Zoo and Little Venice, the canal is one of the nicest places to be on a sunny London day, and there’s hella to see.
This walk is a pretty big trek, but you can cut it down by doing sections of the canal instead of the whole thing. I personally enjoy either a relaxed stroll from the top of Regents Park to Coal Drops Yard or a hefty adventure from Camden Market to Westbourne Park, which is conveniently minutes away from Portobello Road.
Along the longer westward canal route, you’ll see loads of the animals that live at London Zoo, the gorgeous congregation of canal boats at Little Venice, and some amazing street art under Westway, the elevated main road. It’s a beautifully eclectic walk and a personal favourite, especially with the short visit to Portobello Road Market for some street food and a wander before heading back.
The Hill Garden & Golders Green Park
You’ve probably heard of or been to Hampstead Heath, which is well worth a walk in itself if you want to get utterly lost and appreciate the view from Parliament ‘Kite’ Hill at sunset, but the extensions on the west side are equally as fun and way less explored if you want to try somewhere new.
If you get the bus or tube to Hampstead station and walk up the hill through the village (which has major rural-England-vibes if you want some adorable scenes) you’ll get to Golders Green Park. The Hill Garden and Pergola is usually open during sunlight hours and is one of the best-hidden gems London has to offer, with the terrace providing stunning views and an amazing photo spot.
Further north at Golders Hill is the zoo and deer enclosure if you’re hungry for more adventure. Forget the massive trek to Richmond Park; you can literally come and see deer a few tube stops away from home, and they’re adorable.
If you find yourself near Highgate or Finsbury Park stations, this walk is just fate screaming your name. Connecting the two areas is a trail called Parkland Walk, which is an abandoned railway line that has been turned into a nature preserve for the public to walk along.
As well as some nature spottings that you’d never even think possible for London, the trail also boasts some of the coolest and most authentic street art in the city, especially at the old railway bridge which is now covered in murals and the ‘Fairy Bodyguard’ sculpture. You could even catch some artists setting up camp and starting to paint along the way.
It’s pretty far into North London, but this walk is just incredible if you want some mystical adventure vibes.
Shifting away from North to some classic Central London sights, let’s talk about how underrated South Bank is. Usually, just a way to get to the Tate or Borough Market, people forget how gorgeous it is, and how vibrant it has been over lockdown with food and drink stalls to enjoy.
Starting at Waterloo, you can walk all the way to Tower Bridge along South Bank on a sunny day, passing tourist sites such as the Globe and HMS Belfast and stopping at the open spaces with food stalls for a break. Hit the Tower of London at golden hour and then enjoy a walk back on the north side of the river to catch the sunset if you’re feeling extra fancy.
The City has some amazing places in itself to enjoy if you’re not finished after South Bank – St Pauls, St Dunstan in the East (a community garden within a bombed church), Sky Garden and the Gherkin are all within walking distance of the river. Go wild.
People usually just visit Shoreditch for Brick Lane shopping and the high street graffiti, but it’s actually a beautiful area to wander around. If you want a more relaxed walk, take the tube to Old Street and turn off the main road into the maze of bars, restaurants and shops that would usually be bustling, but right now are peacefully quiet.
When you hit the high street, you can go north to see some hidden street art murals and adorable community gardens in the back streets, or you can go south and explore the area around Brick Lane in its calmer lockdown state. This place is full to the brim with culture, and not just the vintage white girl aesthetic kind, so it’s amazing to see as a local without the tourists around.
If you’re wanting to see the crazy expensive and gorgeous West London from the movies, definitely take the tube to Notting Hill Gate and have a wander around the coloured houses before coming to Holland Park. As well as being a lovely little slice of marrying-rich-and-taking-the-kids-here-on-the-weekends, it has the Kyoto Garden and Orangery to visit which are both stunning.
The Japanese Kyoto Garden is definitely the most popular attraction so is usually pretty busy on sunny days, but it’s well worth a short visit. Walk through the Dutch Gardens and Orangery to see the views and old structures of the park, before taking a left and walking out past the Design Museum onto Kensington High Street.
From here you can have a look at Kensington Palace or just wander around the shops and houses before heading back. It’s a lovely little walk that isn’t too intense, and 100% helps manifesting getting rich and moving here.
Primrose Hill to Maida Vale
Without doing the canal trek, there’s a lot to see on land between Camden and the beautifully serene areas of North West London. First, take the climb up Primrose Hill for that iconic London view that you can never really get used to, before going down the other side into St Johns Wood.
This adorable area of little cafes and posh people will lead you to Abbey Road Studios and the famous crossing photo of the Beatles, which people try and fail to recreate literally every day – even in a pandemic apparently.
Further down you hit Maida Vale, and can take a stroll around the gorgeous townhouses while reminiscing more iconic London music like Duffy’s ‘Warwick Avenue’. Passing the tube station you finally reach Little Venice, finishing what I like to call the *wow I’m such a proud Londoner* walk of iconic-ness.
Westminster to Battersea Park
We often forget how sexy Central is, especially the tourist sights that we’re usually taught are too unbearably busy to even bother seeing. But lockdown is the perfect time to have a sneaky trip to the likes of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, as well as seeing some other crazily rich areas like Chelsea.
Start on the river by Big Ben, visit the timeless classics, and then move on to Victoria station. From here, you can walk down the main high street of Chelsea, passing Sloane Square and the Saatchi Gallery, or you can go down the Royal Hospital and Chelsea Physic Garden. Cross the gorgeous Albert Bridge (which is even cooler at sunset and night-time) into Battersea Park.
As well as romanticising your life as a star on Made in Chelsea, Battersea is great for other sights too, like the Pagoda, zoo and bandstand. There are benches next to the river if you want to watch the sunset and banging picnic spots for a chilled day out. It’s lush.
Regent’s Park to Hyde Park
This park-to-park walk is great for getting out close to campus, and you can make it as long or short as you like. I personally like starting at Warren Street and taking a nostalgic walk around the BT Tower and UCL, which at this point I don’t think I’ll ever see again, and then visiting Regents’ English Gardens at Great Portland Street.
You can then go down Marylebone High Street, which is honestly one of the most adorable places in Central, and down the colourful James Street. Past Oxford Street you’ll hit Mayfair, with Brown Hart Gardens (another lovely hidden gem) and Grosvenor Square, before walking through the subway tunnel into Hyde Park. Hyde is huge, so you can adventure as much as you want here, but I definitely recommend going to the Serpentine for sunset.
As the weather gets warmer and the sunsets get later, long walks are helping more and more to get us to the end. Use these 10/10 happy routes and go forth into the world, and I guarantee you will be able to survive lockdown. You’re doing great, sweetie.