Hidden And Relaxing Retreats: 17 Prettiest Secret Gardens In London

Though we often think of our capital as a maze of skyscrapers and industrial areas, there are more green spaces than you'd think in this city. From tiny gardens in Central to sprawling parks on the outskirts, you're not short of choices when it comes to outdoor places to unwind in. So if you're in the mood to explore, check out our guide to the best secret gardens in London.


The Hill Garden and Pergola, Hampstead

Found in the centre of Hampstead Heath, The Hill Garden and Pergola is a historic destination that's open from early morning right through to dusk. Think sprawling vines growing over the paths and Edwardian stone columns, with a blue tile-topped pergola that dates back to 1906 - built by local philanthropist Lord Leverhulme. This leafy paradise is ideal for a romantic stroll or an outdoorsy photoshoot, giving off elegant early twentieth century vibes. We all know that every good walk ends in a pub though, so after visiting this green haven you can pop in local boozer The Spaniards Inn - dating back to the 1500s and serving a cracking range of craft beers and ales.

The Hill Garden Hampstead | DesignMyNight

The picture-perfect pergola makes for an Instagrammable walking route.

Postman's Park

This peaceful garden is truly tiny, tucked away behind St Paul's Cathedral. Postman's Park is home to George Frederic Watts’s Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice monument, a touching tribute to those who have lost their lives saving others – making it a beautiful spot for quiet reflection. On a more upbeat note, you may also recognise this courtyard-style park from the 2004 film Closer. Keeping up the alfresco vibes, you can round off your trip with a visit to Madison, the stunning rooftop bar that overlooks the cathedral and whips up classic cocktails alongside decadent eats all day long.

Postman's Park St Pauls | DesignMyNight

Secret garden, London rooftop, what could be a better day out?

Chelsea Physic Garden, Chelsea

Founded in 1673, Chelsea Physic Garden holds the title for the oldest botanical gardens in London. Despite its history, this is still one of the area's best kept secrets filled with exotic conservatories and all kinds of greenery. As the name suggests, this location is also used to grow medicinal plants among other herbs, some of which feature in the menu of their on-site cafe. And if you fancy wandering a little further afield, then head to nearby boozer The Phene for creative cocktails and sumptuous Sunday roasts in colourful, modern surrounds.

Chelsea Physic Gardens | DesignMyNight

Soak up the history at this West London hidden garden.

Culpeper Community Garden, Angel

When you're walking around the bustling streets of Angel, it's hard to imagine that there's a tranquil, secluded garden just a few moments away. Perfect for resting your legs after a long day, Culpeper Community Garden is a haven of winding paths, ponds and trees providing a slice of nature in the heart of the city. Continuing the botanical theme, why not stop by Bubba Oasis for rooftop drinks at sunset, boasting live music every Friday and an extensive cocktail list at their two-floor venue.

Culpeper Community Garden | DesignMyNight

Don't miss out on this Angel-ic retreat from city life.

Camley Street Natural Park, King’s Cross

Camley Street Natural Park is one of the best secret parks in London, flaunting two acres of of woodland wrapping around the canal. Wander over the first bridge next to Coal Drops Yard to discover all kinds of wildlife in the grassland here, making for a beautiful riverside stroll or city centre picnic. Since it's located right by King's Cross station, there's no shortage of great bars and restaurants nearby, but we recommend The Fellow for a refreshing cocktail or craft beer after your walk, as well as hearty pub classics like fish and chips or pies.

Camley Street Park King's Cross | DesignMyNight

Hear trains zip by from the peaceful gardens at this spacious park.

Kyoto Garden, Holland Park

After a secret garden in London's Kensington? Bringing a taste of Japan to Holland Park, Kyoto Garden is without a doubt one of the most stunning spaces that our city has to offer. This area was established in 1991 as a gift from Kyoto itself, featuring peaceful waterfalls, ponds filled with koi carp and peacocks strutting around, as well as beautiful trees of all different colours. You could easily spend an entire day marvelling at the beauty here, so be sure to refuel with craft beer, artisan spirits and tasty small plates like pan-seared scallops or homemade Scotch eggs at Georgian pub The Builder's Arms.

Kyoto Garden Holland Park | DesignMyNight

Soak up the Japanese bliss from the heart of London.

St Mary’s Secret Garden, Hoxton

A short walk from Hoxton overground station, St Mary's Secret Garden really is a hidden gem. This award-winning green space has been around for over 25 years, dedicated to beating social isolation through gardening and serving as an inclusive area for the whole community. There are a huge number of plants growing here, some of which you can even take home, as well as woodland areas, ponds and wildflowers. Birdsong can often be heard too, adding to the serene atmosphere. Hungry? Finish your stroll with a trip to Brewhouse & Kitchen for mouthwatering menus of juicy burgers, beer-battered fish 'n' chips and much more.

St Mary's Secret Garden Hackney | DesignMyNight

You may even find your new favourite plant at this community-led garden.

Barber-Surgeons Gardens

One of the most urban spaces on our list, the Barber-Surgeons Gardens can be found right by the Barbican in the City of London. The green space was thought up by the Worshipful Company of Barbers in the 1500s, though it was only made a reality over 400 years later. It's designed to showcase the way in which plants have been used in medicine over the years, home to over 40 different species of herb today. This is paired with brutalist architecture and a body of water, creating one of the most interesting spots in the city.

Barber-Surgeons Gardens | DesignMyNight

There are all kinds of unique herbs growing in these gardens.

Barnsbury Wood Nature Reserve, Islington

Blink and you'll miss it, as Barnsbury Wood Nature reserve is just 0.35 hectares of garden, tucked between wealthy houses in the Islington area. This space was originally a vicarage garden, which has grown into a peaceful woodland area since being abandoned in the 1840s. Due to its size, you may want to top up your visit with a trip to the pub - and luckily old school boozer Drapers Arms is nearby with a spacious beer garden, renowned Sunday roasts and plenty of refreshing pints up for grabs.

Barnsbury Wood Nature reserve Islington | DesignMyNight

Secret gardens don't get much smaller than this.

Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington

If you're looking for a hidden garden in London that's a little on the creepy side, then make your way to Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington. In the centre of the overgrown woods and decaying gravestones, you'll find a clearing that houses the derelict chapel, a gothic building dating back to the 1840s which was closed due to a fire in the 1970s. This spooky spot is great for lovers of all things ghostly, and if you need somewhere to calm down afterwards then The Jolly Butchers is a great shout - voted one of the top 10 pubs in Britain by The Guardian thanks to its cosy interiors and scrumptious Indian fare.

Abney Park Cemetery Stoke Newington | DesignMyNight

Creep through this eerie cemetery, if you're brave enough.

World Peace Garden, Hampstead

While Hampstead may be best known for its sprawling heaths, an equally worthy outdoor space is the lesser-known World Peace Garden. Aptly named, you'll struggle to find a more relaxing place in the area, thanks to its series of calming ponds and wishing wells that make you feel like you've stepped into a fairytale. This was once a waste ground but has been revived by locals, fronting windchimes in the trees and plenty of secluded spots for a picnic. But if you don't fancy bringing your own food, The Garden Gate is on hand close by with a sizeable beer garden, thirst-quenching IPAs and a menu of classic British pub grub.

World Peace garden Hampstead | DesignMyNight

This garden may not quite have solved world peace, but it's pretty darn relaxing.

Barbican Conservatory, Central London

If you're on the hunt for free rooftop gardens in London, it doesn't get much better than the Barbican Conservatory. While the building isn't exactly a secret, you may not know about this two-level green space at the top, promising rainforest-style plant life and brilliant views of the city. Expect sprawling cacti, koi carp ponds, terrapins crawling over the rocks and hanging greenery, transporting you to tropical locations from the heart of our capital. Even better, we've got a whole load of bars nearby to choose from, with favourites including Spanish spot Iberica and the elegant Chiswell Street Dining Rooms.

The Barbican Conservatory | DesignMyNight

Look out over the city while surrounded by nature at the Conservatory.

The Rookery, Streatham

These landscaped gardens make for a wonderful evening stroll in South London, with flower-covered walkways to make your way down. You'll find streams, rock gardens, ponds and plenty of greenery at The Rookery in Streatham, perfect for a few alfresco drinks by trickling waterfalls or a romantic outdoor date. Once you've had your fill of this botanical oasis, if that's even possible, head to cosy local pub The Bull for a pint paired with gastro fare or gourmet burgers in their sunny beer garden.

The Rookery Streatham | DesignMyNight

Not visiting this spot would be a rookie error.

Phoenix Garden, Soho

Hands down one of the best secret gardens in Central London, Phoenix Garden is a hidden gem nestled between Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road. Starring in the film Last Christmas, this beautiful green space is run entirely by volunteers, cultivating a sustainable approach to wildlife and providing a home to many different species including frogs and fish in their ponds. Ideal for lunch breaks or an after-work stroll, you can pair your visit with a few cocktails, burgers or even brunch at Old Compton Brasserie.

Phoenix Garden Soho | DesignMyNight

Lunch breaks don't get much more scenic than this.

Bonnington Square Garden, Vauxhall

Full of colourful flowers, Bonnington Square Garden is a calm destination in South London that is maintained entirely by local residents. This garden was created in the 1870s, though it became famous in the 1980s when the surrounding houses were taken over by squatters. You'll find wild herbs and ornamental grasses throughout this relaxing space, as well as live jazz performances in the summer months. Vauxhall Food & Beer Garden is a great choice for nearby drinks as well, with its funky outdoor dining and an extensive selection of street food stalls selling every cuisine under the sun.

Bonnington Square Garden Vauxhall | DesignMyNight

There's a lot of history to be uncovered at this Vauxhall hidden gem.

Brockwell Park Walled Garden, Herne Hill

While 'peaceful' and 'Brixton' may seem like an oxymoron, Brockwell Park's Walled Garden really is a respite from the bustling streets. This enchanting spot is full to the brim with colourful flowers, as well as stone walkways leading you through picturesque fountains and prime picnic plots. Once you're ready to hit the busy streets again, be sure to try out Half Moon - a Grade II listed pub with modern interiors, which serves up a great choice of real ales, local craft beers and classic pub grub.

Brockwell Park Walled Garden | DesignMyNight

Don't miss out on Brixton's best kept secret.

St Dunstan In The East Church Garden

Originally built in 1100, St Dunstan In The East is one of the oldest churches in the city - damaged and rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666, only to be destroyed again in the Blitz of 1941. The remains were turned into a public garden in 1967, which now has a gothic vibe from the ruins of the original building and the plants creeping up its walls. There are benches dotted around the space for relaxing with your pals or stopping of on a solo walk, and the gorgeous backdrop makes for beautiful photos.

St Dunstan In The East Church Garden | DesignMyNight

This gothic spot has been through a lot over the years.

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