6 Magical Places That Will Make You Fall In Love With London Again

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London sometimes feels like a long-term boyfriend. You know you love them, you know you don’t want to leave them – but, my God, you get sick of them sometimes.

When the view from the Shard no longer makes your knees weak and when it’s the price of your drink (not the alcohol content) that makes you feel all dizzy, it might be time to re-inject a bit of magic back into your relationship with the city. Have a look what’s out there beyond Zone 1 and you’ll soon be head-over-heels again.


1. Painshill Park, Cobham

Okay, okay. It’s beyond the zones. But it is within the M25, so we’re counting it. In 1981, a registered charity was set up to restore the 18th century landscape garden, originally created by Honourable Charles Hamilton as a tranquil escape enriched by follies, water, trees, shrubberies and a vineyard.

Painshill Park
[James Stringer]
The crystal Grotto, dating back to 1760, is the most recent folly to be restored and it looks pretty magical. You will feel like you’re in another world (and then remember you’re in London – and love life).


2. London Wetland Centre, Barnes, Zone 3

[Laurence Arnold]

Go and spot all your favourite feathered friends at the London Wetland Centre, an urban oasis for wildlife and people, situated just 10 minutes from Hammersmith. (I know, we couldn’t believe it either).

With ducks and water birds from around the world (and a couple of cheeky otters floating around too), the London Wetland Centre brings the countryside to your doorstep. Or your bus stop. Depending on where you live.


3. Highgate Cemetery, Highgate, Zone 3

[Neil Smith]
There are approximately 170,000 people buried in around 53,000 graves at Highgate Cemetery; one of London’s great Victorian graveyards. It might seem like a pretty spooky place to loiter but the cemetery boasts stunning architecture, including Victorian chapels, the Lebanon Circle and Egyptian Avenue.

[Ben Bodien]
A surprisingly romantic trip to make, it’s a perfect mini getaway for a Sunday afternoon. That, or a great place for a vampire sighting.


4. Horniman Museum and Gardens, Forest Hill, Zone 3

The Horniman Museum has got a pretty phenomenal collection, plus an aquarium and a rather spectacular view of London to boot.


5. Petersham Nurseries, St Margarets, Zone 4

[Herry Lawford]
Stopping for a coffee and a slice of homemade carrot and walnut cake at The Tearoom at Petersham Nurseries is perhaps one of the most idyllic ways to spend a Sunday afternoon that London has to offer. Stroll around the gorgeous gardens and you’ll really feel like you’re living in a fairytale. The Rapunzel Of Zone 4.

[Herry Lawford]

6. Hill Gardens and Pergola, Hampstead, Zone 2

[Viv Lynch]
A treasure of Hampstead Heath, the blossoming and eerily deteriorated Pergola sits towards the North-West. It was built in the early 1900’s to cater to a Lord’s demand for extravagant Edwardian parties, but has since lost its glamorous sparkle. However, we’ve always preferred the rustic vibes and the pergola is now a landmark that’s beautiful in all its untamed glory. It looks down upon the Hill Gardens, which you can also explore.

[Viv Lynch]

Love these? Explore these 14 green spaces that you won’t believe are in London.

Georgie Hoole

Georgie Hoole

Georgie is Deputy Editor at Secret London. She loves a trendy café and is all too familiar with the extortionate price of a coffee in the capital. She enjoys the finer things in life (like red wine on a school night and eating Ben and Jerry's straight from the tub) and hasn't quite grasped the concept of adulthood yet.


  1. Was this edited? Could have sworn one of the items listed was an Indian temple or the likes. Was it replaced by the wetlands in an edited version?

  2. Painshill Park in in Cobham, not Kingston….hardly London at all.. Petersham nurseries is not in St Margarets or anywhere near it – there’s a river in-between i.e. the Thames. Highgate cemetery is only open for guided tours and even then, rarely – sadly.

  3. Nice places.
    But painshill park is not in Kingston or zone 6. It is in Cobham, surrey (about 10 miles from Kingston).
    Also Petersham nurseries is not in St Margarets. It is on the other side of the river from St Margarets; between Ham & Richmond.

  4. So, basically, this person has just seen some photos and thought “that looks nice, i’ll plonk it in and say it’s somewhere or other”. Lovely images tho. London is full of beauty if you can be arsed to go and look.

  5. You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the issue and found most individuals will go along with with your website.*Would you be interested in exchanging links?

  6. Yes, Painshill Park, Cobham is a very long way from Kingston and definitely NOT in London. However, although Petersham Nurseries is not in St Margarets (it’s in Petersham – surprise, surprise!) you could make a lovely trip by going to St Margarets, walking through Marble Hill Park and then cross over to the Ham/Petersham side by the ferry. After walking down to the Nurseries and enjoying some lovely cake or lunch at the cafe there, you could make a round trip of it by walking back to Richmond on that side. delightful!!

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