The best outdoor spaces to work up a sweat in London

Person exercising

It is a common misconception that taking some time out to visit a major city like London means your workout regime grinds to a halt.

However, London has some 35,000 acres of green spaces open to the public, so this is the perfect time to slip on your running shoes and digest some of the city’s sights, all while getting some essential exercise.

With an entire new city to explore, you may be unsure where to start, but here are just a handful of brilliant workout locations you could try when visiting the UK capital:

Hyde Park

Guests at the Grand Royale London Hyde Park  don’t have to travel very far to exercise in one of London’s largest green spaces; it is virtually on the hotel’s doorstep.

By simply crossing Bayswater Road, you have some 350 acres to stretch your legs with many different routes for runners.

The circumference of the Royal Park measures at 4.3 miles or seven kilometres exactly, but within its perimeter, there are various trails, such as the two-mile loop around the Serpentine lake, while the park’s multiple intertwining paths mean you can mix and match to create your own unique route.

There is also an adult’s ‘playground’, located just below the east section of the Serpentine lake, featuring six pieces of exercise equipment to help users improve core strength, flexibility and balance.

Outdoor gyms across London

From Barnet and Camden to Waltham Forest and Wandsworth, some 33 London boroughs now have fantastic free outdoor gyms that let users work up a sweat by utilising their own body weight.

Fitness Exercise
There are even bikes and cross trainers that let you charge your phone using the kinetic energy generated during your workout. Win-win!

The River Thames

We’re not suggesting you jog the entire length of the Thames – at 215 miles, that’s just crazy – but the city’s famous river does serve as a novel running route.

Depending how far you want to go, following the Thames takes you past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the Coca-Cola London Eye, the O2 Arena, Westminster and Tower Bridge, the Southbank Centre and Canary Wharf, among other iconic sights.

Due to breaks in the north side of the river, we’d recommend running along the south bank to enjoy a less fragmented stretch.

For anyone staying near Hyde Park, it is only a 1.5-mile jog to the Thames, if you join the river at Big Ben, and you can get to the south bank straight away by crossing Westminster Bridge.

There are other ways you can incorporate the Thames into your workout. On the off-chance that you own a boat or kayak, it is free to take your vessel on the river. If you’re not one of the lucky few, then Deptford’s Ahoy Centre offers free lessons in return for volunteering work.

Richmond Park

A little further towards the outskirts of central London is Richmond Park, the largest of London’s eight Royal Parks and the biggest enclosed space in the capital, covering 2,360 acres. That makes it around three times larger than New York’s Central Park.

Richmond Park
Any runners in Richmond Park will enjoy some visual treats because the park is a national nature reserve and home to the gorgeous Isabella Plantation – an ornamental woodland garden, packed with exotic plants – as well as the Pembroke Lodge Grade II-listed Georgian mansion and herds of red and fallow deer.

The park is open to the public 24 hours a day except during the deer cull in November and February when the pedestrian gates open between 7.30am and 8.00pm.

The Undercroft skate park

This skate park, based at the Southbank Centre, has been the heart of London skateboarding for more than 40 years and offers skaters a variety of ledges, banks and stairs to work out their tricks on.

If you just fancy dropping by to watch, there is a railing to stop tourists from straying too close and risking a collision with the skaters.

London lidos

The Thames may be deemed too dangerous to go for a dip, but London has no fewer than 17 lidos and outdoor pools where you can have a safe paddle.

London Fields Lido in Hackney is one of the most well-known spots. This Olympic-sized pool is 50 metres long and reopened in 2006 with heating facilities that can warm the water up to 25°C.

This means the lido is open all year round, but you won’t have to suffer shiver-inducing swimming conditions. In the warmer months, you can soak up some rays on the large sundeck and sunbathing area too.

Hyde Park also has its own open-air swimming spot in the form of the Serpentine lake, which is used by the Serpentine Swimming Club for races every Saturday morning. The public are permitted to swim in the water between June and August and at weekends in May.

South London’s Tooting Bed Lido is another notable place to swim. Measuring at 91.4 metres long and 30.1 metres wide, this outdoor pool is the largest swimming pool in the UK, in terms of surface area. It is one of Britain’s oldest open-air pools, first opening in 1906. In the winter months, it is used exclusively by the South London Swimming Club, but it is open to the general public between May and September.

Hampstead Heath

‘The Heath’, as it is known locally, sits just above Camden and boasts one of the highest points in London in the shape of Parliament Hill, which is 98.1 metres high.

With 790 acres of rambling and hilly landscape to explore, it makes for a refreshingly rural place for joggers and it too has a lido, as well as three bathing ponds and an athletics track.