Secret, Hidden Green Spaces in London

Did you know that London’s filled with secret parks and gardens?

They’re everywhere, tucked away behind the hidden city streets, you just need to know where to find them. The city can get very hectic and when you’re trapped in traffic, jammed on a busy Tube or dodging other commuters on your morning walk to work, you might find yourself dreaming of an escape. Thankfully, secret green spaces provide an easy respite – one that you don’t need to travel too far for (maybe just a quick bus trip).

London’s pretty good at parks, we’re up there with the top 10 when it comes to cities with the most green spaces worldwide. There are, of course, some must-sees, such as Regent’s Park (which is beautiful all year round), Kew Gardens, Primrose Hill and the Parkland Walk (if you want something a bit different), among others. But since these are so well known, they can get quite crowded and sometimes feel as frenzied as more central parts of the city (we’re looking at you, Vicky Park). So, sometimes, you just need one that’s a little lesser known.

From tucked-away courtyards brimming with blooming flowers to secluded and historic parks, London’s hidden gardens reveal a side of the city that is often missed. We’re gonna help you uncover the world of secret gardens and green havens that are otherwise kept under wraps. So, whether you’re looking for a peaceful spot to eat your lunch right in the heart of the City, or want to find your local, here are the best secret and hidden green spaces in London.

The Cloister Garden, Clerkenwell – nestled inside the historic Priory Church at the Order of St John (which dates back to the 12th century), this secret courtyard is hidden behind the walls of the church but open to the public. There are chairs amongst the flowers and the garden is almost completely silent except for the sound of running water.

Kyoto Garden, Holland Park – you’ve probably heard of this one – it’s not so secret – but, it’s still off the beaten track. This park within a park is modelled on a traditional Japanese garden, complete with a koi pond, stone lanterns, Japanese maple trees and peacocks.

the kyoto garden at holland park

St. Mary’s Secret Garden, Hoxton – part community garden, part park, St. Mary’s Secret Garden has a patch of woodland with working beehives, a small pond, a herb & sensory area, a wildflower meadow and more. You can purchase the produce grown by the community here, or volunteer as a grower yourself. Plus, they regularly host a range of workshops.

Culpeper Community Garden, Islington – another green space that’s maintained by the local community, the Culpeper Community Garden is open all day, every day and to everyone. Although it’s just round the corner from buzzy Angel, the garden is hidden behind high walls and shaded by big trees so it really feels like a retreat.

St Dustan in the East, City of London – stumbling across the garden at St Dustan in the East will feel like stepping into a fantasy movie. Set inside the ruins of a centuries-old church, this artfully overgrown garden has benches and a fountain – you could easily spend hours here.

the garden museum's courtyard

Japan Garden Island, Regent’s Park – similar to the one in Holland Park, this hidden garden is also inspired by those of Japan, but this one’s a little more secret. Complete with water features and bridges, make your way to the top of the island for a secluded landing with benches that hardly anyone knows about.

St John’s Lodge Gardens, Regent’s Park – also in Regent’s Park, St John’s Lodge Gardens was designed to be “fit for meditation” by Robert Weir Shultz in 1889 – hence the serene vibes. There are several different elements to this green space, including a rose garden and Grade-II listed statues, so there’s a lot to explore.

Barbican Conservatory, Barbican – this is one to save for rainy days. The Barbican Conservatory is a feat of architecture, as is the rest of the estate, that sees brutalist concrete mixed in with tropical greenery. Best of all, it’s free to enter – but you do need to book.

the barbican conservatory

The Garden Museum Courtyard, Lambeth – of course the Garden Museum has a nice garden, but it’s not an obvious choice for a lot of Londoners. This courtyard at the heart of the museum was inspired by John Tradescant’s journeys as a plant collector and is filled with rare plants. Head to the cafe while you’re there for a truly exceptional lunch.

The Phoenix Garden, Soho – a surprising haven hidden in one of the most touristy parts of the city, The Phoenix Garden is open to anyone looking to get away from the busy streets beyond the garden and to enjoy some urban wildlife.