A holiday to the UK capital can be almost all things to all people. London is a city of high art, culture and storied history. But, while nature may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the great metropolis, there are plenty of wonderful, relaxing parks, gardens and green spaces to be found - and you don't even have to look too hard.
If you're arriving into London through the very popular Gatwick Airport, taxi or shuttle rides to your accommodation can double as a sightseeing tour. Most drivers are only too happy to share their insider knowledge of the city, so take the opportunity to ask them for their favourite green spaces in the city. There are so many more besides the high-profile Hyde Park or St James Park (although these should certainly not be missed), and many of these are seldom visited by the average tourist. Below are a few suggestions to get you out exploring as soon as you've settled in from your Gatwick Airport taxi or shuttle ride.
When is a secret not such a secret? When it involves the delightful south London Eltham Palace. The 19-acre gardens are an absolute profusion of colour in the spring and summer, with a carpet of blooms covering every available space. The neat, well-kept gardens are a pleasure to stroll around and you can also take a tour inside the gorgeous 1936 Art Deco house. The site has been carefully restored by English Heritage and a visit to this stately home and gardens makes for a wonderfully relaxed afternoon - without the hordes of crowds to spoil the serenity.
If your accommodation is around the south London area, get your Gatwick Airport taxi driver to swing you past the palace to get the lay of the land, but it's also very easy to access by bus or tube.
Red Cross Garden
Hidden in the backstreets of busy Southwark, the Red Cross Garden is as charming as it is unexpected. Filled to the brim with all manner of exotic shrubbery and herbaceous borders, the garden offers a tranquil space in an otherwise frenetic urban location. The Victorian gardens and cottage have been restored faithfully to their original glory complete with beautiful ponds and lawns.
Although this one is rather better known than the previous two, it deserves a mention on the list simply because its peaceful, serene ambience is unmatched anywhere else in the city. Set within the embrace of Holland Park, this lovely Japanese garden may be small but it is certainly beautiful. To access the gardens, enter Holland Park from Abbotsbury Road (ask your Gatwick Airport taxi or shuttle driver to point it out) and follow the signs.
Inside, you'll find a delightful stone bridge, waterfall and a pond with Koi carp. It was originally created by a small group of Japanese artists in 1991 in honour of a festival, and has since gone on to become renowned as one of the most tranquil green spaces in Central London.
No matter where you are in London, you won't be far from a park or green space. Take the opportunity to seek out some of the lesser-known ones and you could be in for a delightful surprise.