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23 Things You Won't Believe You Can Do In London

There's a whole world out there.

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1. You can feel actual sand between your toes at Ruislip Lido.

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Ruislip, Zone 6

This beachy paradise is Zone 6's best-kept secret. Who needs to go to Brighton for a rock beach when your Oyster can take you to the end of the Piccadilly line for a sandy shore? The 60-acre beach is the absolute best place for a summery picnic, and a trip from Zone 1 only costs a fiver.

More information here.

2. You can enjoy the fresh air at the London Wetland Centre.

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Barnes, Zone 3

Nature-loving Londoners can't miss the fantastic ecosystem at the Wetlands. You can see over 200 species of birds, along with lizards, fish, and larger game. The Wetlands also has some of the most beautiful landscapes and foliage around – its wildflower garden is spectacular.

More information here.

3. You can see for miles from Oxleas Wood.

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Welling, Zone 4

For a spectacular view of London, you must head to the splendid Oxleas Wood in Zone 4. Oxleas is also connected to the picturesque Castle and Jack Woods, so a long meander through the timeless area is a lovely way to spend the day. The ancient woods are over 8,000 years old and the fascinating 18th-century Severndroog Castle is nestled on the Castle Wood grounds.

More information here.

4. You can wander around the surreal Strawberry Hill House.

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Strawberry Hill, Zone 5

A visit to Strawberry Hill House feels like falling through the rabbit hole and landing in Wonderland – but it's much easier to get there and back! The 18th-century estate supposedly inspired the very first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, and is a stunning example of Georgian Gothic revival architecture. The unique and magical castle is gorgeous, but plays second fiddle to the stunning formal gardens with their unique landscaping and curious decor.

More information here.

5. You can check out the bizarre and beautiful Horniman Museum.

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Forest Hill, Zone 3

If you're a fan of central London's Wellcome Collection and Hunterian Museum, the Horniman Museum should be next on your bucket list. Surrounded by lovely gardens and a stellar hilltop view of the London skyline, the museum is free and perfect for people who love the weird and wonderful.

More information here.

6. You can admire the sweeping scenery at Eltham Palace.

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Eltham, Zone 4

It's hard to say what's most captivating about Eltham Palace – the romantic exterior and gardens, or the stunning Art Deco interior – so it's best to spend a day exploring it all. Whether you're keen to check out the secret passageways and remains of the medieval castle that once dominated the grounds, or you're just craving a delightful meal at the greenhouse cafe on site, it's a splendid day out close to home.

More information here.

7. You can explore all the wide-open spaces of Epping Forest.

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Loughton, Zone 6

You don't need to book a holiday in the countryside to get out of the city for a bit. The sprawling meadows and forests of Epping make up one of London's largest green spaces. There's a number of camp sites, lodges, and pubs dotted throughout the grounds if you want to make a weekend of it.

More information here.

8. You can class it up at Syon Park.

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Syon Lane, Zone 4

Picturesque as it gets, Syon Park is the perfect venue for a luxurious afternoon. The ancestral home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, the manor and parklands date back centuries, and have made cameos in the Great British Bake Off and Downton Abbey. The gardens, grounds, and stunning architecture are unmissable and well worth a trip to Zone 4.

More information here.

9. You can find your own secret spot in Danson Park.

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Bexleyheath, Zone 5

Spanning more than 180 acres, the vast grounds of Danson Park are full of cultivated gardens and wild woods, not to mention historical buildings including the elegant Danson House and writer William Morris's Red House. Danson House regularly brings in exhibitions on fashion, history, and art, so even on a rainy day the parklands will keep you busy.

More information here.

10. You can explore the peace and beauty of Highgate Cemetery.

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Highgate, Zone 3

The stunning cemetery is the famous home to graves of writers including Karl Marx and Douglas Adams. The incredible landscaping and forests on the grounds make it exquisitely beautiful and an ideal place for a thoughtful walk. If you like your cemeteries a bit scarier, read up on the legend of the Highgate Vampire before your visit.

More information here.

11. You can have the adventure of a lifetime in Trent Park.

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Cockfosters, Zone 5

Spanning over 400 acres, the massive Trent Park is an explorer's dream. The heavily wooded natural escape is perfect for hikes and picnics, and is also home to the adventure challenge course Go Ape. If you fancy something a bit more relaxed, there are also several historical sites on the grounds worth peeking around.

More information here.

12. You can see the city from afar at Hampstead Heath.

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Hampstead Heath, Zone 3

A hike in the heath is a cure-all for pretty much everything. Fresh air, stunning historical buildings, unique art installations, swimming holes, and sprawling countryside are all included on a day's walk through the stellar natural reserve just beyond central London.

More information here.

13. You can commune with nature at Richmond Park.

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Richmond, Zone 4

A trip to Richmond Park is like a trip to the Lake District without the pricy travel costs and with the added bonus of getting you home in time to sleep in your own bed. The reserve is the largest of London's eight Royal Parks, making it the biggest enclosed space in London. Also, there are SO many deer.

More information here.

14. You can escape into a fairy tale at Morden Hall Park.

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Morden, Zone 4

Ride the Metropolitan line straight into one of Greater London's most charming spaces. The country estate is one of the most picturesque places within the M25. Once a thriving deer park, the parkland now offers a peaceful glimpse into the natural beauty along the River Wandle.


More information here.

15. You can appreciate Chiswick House for the work of art that it is.

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Turnham Green, Zone 3

The stunningly beautiful Chiswick House is a hidden gem just beyond the border of Zone 2 in West London. The house, built in the 18th century and inspired by the styles of ancient Rome and 16th-century Italy, is an absolute masterpiece, and the lovely gardens aren't to be missed either. The romantic scenery is best viewed through the empty frames cleverly installed throughout the grounds, so you'll be sure never to forget how beautiful your surroundings are.

More information here.

16. You can stand in complete awe of the formal gardens at Hampton Court Palace.

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Hampton Court, Zone 6

It may look positively Parisian, but in fact you can reach Hampton Court by Oyster, making it all the better. The massive and absolutely stunning palace is one of Greater London's true gems, and a chance to explore it shouldn't be missed. Beyond the elaborate gardens, the palace also offers exhibitions on history and art, plus some brilliant eateries.

More information here.

17. You can get inspired at Darwin's Down House.

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Orpington, Zone 6

This picturesque house and gardens on the far outskirts of London was home to Charles Darwin, and where much of his work on The Origin of Species was completed. Darwin's impressive study and charming gardens are both accessible to visitors, and the surrounding meadows are the perfect place to let your own mind wander and form great ideas.

More information here.

18. You can climb the ruins in Gunnersbury Park.

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Acton Town, Zone 3

The charming Gunnersbury Park at the edge of Acton is a treat for curious explorers. The grounds are full follies built to look like age-old ruins, plus historical houses and formal gardens. There's also a museum on site, so you can easily make a whole day of it.

More information here.

19. You can find actual paradise in Kew Gardens.

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Kew Gardens, Zone 3

The incredible Royal Botanical Gardens are one of London's biggest gems. The wonderfully cultivated and varied grounds make it the perfect place to explore, whether you've got your family in tow or fancy a thoughtful and inspiring walk on your own. Open year round, Kew transforms with the seasons and you won't be able to visit without picking up a new unforgettable memory of a stunning view.

More information here.

20. You can have a dino-mite time at Crystal Palace Park.

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Crystal Palace, Zone 4

There's no better place for an epic selfie than with the stone dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park. The bizarre (and hilariously inaccurate) display dates back to Victorian times, and is a must-see for Londoners who want a bit of quirk beyond an insanely overpriced tourist trap. The park is gorgeous in general, and in addition to the dinosaurs, there are mysterious Greek- and Roman-inspired statues and ruins throughout.

More information here.

21. You can admire the elegance of Ham House.

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Richmond, Zone 4

Nestled along the River Thames, this dazzling 17th-century house is a must-see for culture lovers. The estate's interior is dedicated to displaying a wide range of artefacts including historical paintings, furniture, and textiles. Formal gardens and parklands surround the main house, and should be admired on a long walk, as well as out the windows of the house's gorgeous interior.

More information here.

22. You can do some epic tree climbing at Osterly Park.

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Osterly Station, Zone 4

The peaceful and beautiful grounds of the Osterly estate park offer a perfect day trip out of the city. The parkland surrounds an impressive Georgian Manor, perfectly preserved in its 18th-century style inside and out. The gardens and grounds are too magical not to explore, with a stunning array of wildlife and foliage, and plenty of secret spots to take it all in along the banks of Middle Lake.

More information here.

23. You can watch a perfect sunrise in Bushy Park.

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Hampton Court, Zone 6

The vast landscape of Bushy Park is one of the best spots inside the M25 to get a breath of fresh air. As London's second-largest park, the sprawling reserve is home to herds of red and fallow deer, and offers woods, meadows, ponds, and a formal Baroque water garden to explore.

More information here.

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