Europe: Exploring London With Hyde Park As Your Starting Point
Fountain in the Italian Gardens, Hyde Park
During 2017, just under 40 million visitors came from abroad to the United Kingdom, and 19 million of them visited the capital city of London. Recent statistics from Visit Britain show that the number of visitors from India accounted for over 415,000, and the main reasons for their visits included ‘enjoying the beauty of the landscape’ and ‘feeling connected to nature’. Visiting historic sites and museums are also at the top of many tourists’ lists, but even outside of these categories London is a city that has plenty to see and do.
If you join an organised group tour to Europe, you may only spend a day or so in London, and just visit the standard sights like Buckingham Palace, Madame Tussauds and Big Ben. If you plan your own trip you can do exactly what you like and at your own pace. To get the most out of England’s famous city, you should put some extra time aside and plan what to see in three days in London, but if at all possible a week would be even better.
One of London’s iconic red phone boxes with Big Ben in the background
Central London is full of green areas
For any nature lovers reading this, in central London you are just a short walk away from some amazing parks including Hyde Park, Green Park, St James, and Regent’s Park. They all have something to offer, no matter what time of the year you are visiting.
Hyde Park is probably the most well-known park in London, the iconic Speaker’s Corner located in the north east corner, close to Marble Arch, just next to the shopping area at Oxford Street. Things to see and do in Hyde Park also include: the Lido – where you can swim in the summer or watch the locals swim all year around, watching the Household Cavalry practising before the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, feeding wild parakeets with some apples, enjoying the tranquil sound of flowing water at the Diana Memorial Fountain, and visiting some of the many other memorials in the area like the Cavalry, Holocaust, 7th July and Animals in War monuments.
Just by looking at a map you can see that Hyde Park really is in the centre of the tourist area of London.
North and West of Hyde Park
To the north of Hyde Park is the market on Portobello Road, which at its south end boasts an extensive Antiques Market. North of the antiques section you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, before the stalls selling vintage clothing and second-hand goods take over. Saturdays are by far the busiest time to visit, but they are also the only days when all stalls are open.
Immediately to the west of Hyde Park is Kensington Palace, where you may spot some of the members of the extended royal family like Prince William and Prince Harry. Further on is High Street Kensington with a wide range of shops, including a large Whole Foods Market where you can create your own lunch, as well as find food from all parts of the world.
South and East of Hyde Park
The impressive Royal Albert Hall
To the south of the park you’ll find department stores like Harvey Nichols and Harrods. The former is focusing on fashion and the latter is probably best known for its extensive food halls and attentive staff. This is also the area where many of the capital’s museums are located, including the family-friendly Science and Natural History Museums. Across the road is the Victoria & Albert Museum, which even has a small paddling pool open in the summer. If you have the chance, do also try to fit in a tour or a show at the Royal Albert Hall.
Continuing east, Buckingham Palace, St James’s Park and Green Park are not far away. If you feel an urge to do some shopping, the main tourist shopping areas along Oxford Street and Regent Street are close by.
When evening comes, there are plenty of shows to watch in the West End Theatre District; tickets can be bought on the day either at each venue or via the official ticket vendors at Leicester Square.
Lasting memories of London
By using a combination of the iconic red double-decker buses, black cabs, walking and the on-street hire bicycles, you can easily get between all of the places mentioned above, without even having to head underground to catch the Tube. Using Hyde Park as your starting point, there are plenty of things to experience and see that will keep you busy in London for a whole week. Actually, there is so much to do here that when you do leave you’ll feel that you should have stayed longer!
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