Explore London's largest park in the city center, covering an area of 350 acres. It is one of the 8 royal parks that you can find in the city and certainly one of the prettiest. Pack some snacks and make a day out of it!
A bit of history
Although the park has changed throughout the years, it has existed for over 900 years. It was bought in 1536 by Henry VIII from the monks of Westminster Abbey. Back then it was mainly used as a hunting ground by the king and his court.
What remains the same are many of the features that were enhanced by Queen Caroline in the 18th century as she took a keen interest in the hobby of gardening.
Main spots to see
Walk to the Speakers' Corner—a space where important events, speeches, and debates have taken place since the 1800s. Personalities such as Marx, Lenin, and Orwell spoke about free speech in this very corner. In the early 1900s, the suffragettes used to hold meetings here as part of their fight for women's rights. In 2003, a big rally against the Iraq war was held here. About 750,000 people attended, including celebrities like Vanessa Redgrave and Tim Robbins.
Find the corner near Marble Arch tube station. On Sundays, you might see a crowd gathering around someone who is sharing their views, as anyone is free to do so.
Take a dip in the Serpentine Lake or ride in a pedal boat or rowboat. The water is tested weekly, so don't be afraid to enjoy the lake.
The charming Diana Memorial Fountain is one of the highlights of the park. Made from 545 pieces of Cornish granite, the fountain is an impressive display, and the designers were inspired by Diana's life and personality. You can sit on the edge of the memorial to refresh your feet as the water cascades through the oval-shaped stream bed with varying steps, curves, and ripples. There are also three bridges you can use to enter the grassy area at the center of the fountain.
If you are visiting with children, stop by the South Carriage Drive Playground, featuring swings, slides, climbing frames, and a seating area. You can also check out Diana Memorial Playground in nearby Kensington Gardens. For seniors, Hyde Park also offers an exercising spot designed specially to improve strength and flexibility.
By the Hyde Park Corner tube station, visit the Rose Garden incorporated in 1994. The best time to see the roses is in early June. The colorful flower beds are a feast for the eyes. Look out for the old fountains that decorate the garden as well. The Boy and Dolphin Fountain is from 1862, while the Huntress Fountain was installed in 1906. The latter depicts Diana, the goddess of hunting, and was sculpted by Lady Feodora Gleichen, who was the first ever female member of the Royal Society of Sculptors.
Diverse flora and fauna
While you are walking through the park, look out for the different animal species that come to visit the area due to the diverse flora. Some of the animals that you might stumble upon are bearded tits, swans, greylag geese, Egyptian geese, long-tailed tits, and insects such as colorful butterflies. Watch the mating rituals of the great crested grebes at the lake.
Pink Floyd played his biggest ever concert here in 1968, and the Rolling Stones played in 1969 after not playing live for two years, attracting a crowd of more than 500,000 people.
In 1991, despite the torrential rain, many people ventured to the park to see Pavarotti's concert—a celebration of opera music. Prince Charles and Princess Diana were among the attendees.
Good to know
The park is open all year long from 5:00 to midnight.
From November to January, the annual Christmas fairground known as Winter Wonderland is set up in the park, offering shows, markets, ice skating, and more fun for the whole family.