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The Japanese Garden, Holland Park
The Japanese Garden, Holland Park | © Herry Lawford/Flickr
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The Best Outdoor Spots to Sit Down with a Book in London

Picture of Ruaidhrí Carroll
London Travel Writer
Updated: 14 February 2018
One of the many great things about London is how much there is to do here – but there are also plenty of great places in the capital to sit down and take a break from it all. So, for when the sun comes out, here are a few of the best outdoor spots to sit down with a book in London.

London Peace Pagoda, Battersea Park

Overlooking the River Thames in Battersea Park, the majestic London Peace Pagoda was gifted to the capital by the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Order during the former Greater London Council’s Peace Year in 1984. Surrounded by plenty of benches, it’s a beautiful spot for getting lost in a riveting tale.

London Peace Pagoda, Battersea Park
London Peace Pagoda overlooking the River Thames in Battersea Park | © Ruaidhrí Carroll

Rembrandt Gardens

Little Venice is the picturesque point in North West London where the Grand Union Canal and Regent’s Canal converge. With seasonal flowers, a trimmed lawn, and plenty of benches to perch on, Rembrandt Gardens is a delightfully peaceful place to sit down for a literary laze.

Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath

Reading about the capital? Head to Parliament Hill in North London’s Hampstead Heath for spectacular panoramic views of the city – it’s one of the best backdrops for reading anything set in London.

Parliament Hill
The view from Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath, taken while the Shard was still under construction | © Dun.can/Flickr

Trafalgar Square

Built to commemorate the British victory over the French in the Battle of Trafalgar, Trafalgar Square is one of the capital’s most iconic locations. Get a book in hand and enjoy Admiral Nelson’s towering column, the majestic brass lions and the splashing of the famous fountains. It’s perfect for reading anything about the Royal Navy or the British Empire.

St Thomas’ Hospital Garden

Gazing across the river at Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, St Thomas’ Hospital Garden boasts the wonderful Revolving Torsion Fountain and an imposing statue of famous nurse Mary Seacole. With marvellous views of the corridors of power, it’s a great place to read anything political.

St Thomas' Hospital Garden
View of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster from St Thomas’ Hospital Garden | © Dave Skinner/Geograph

Japanese Garden Island

An isle of tranquility in London’s popular Regent’s Park, the Japanese Garden Island can be found within the Inner Circle of the rotund park, right by Queen Mary’s Rose Garden – which, with its 12,000 roses, is another great place to stop for a read.

One Tree Hill, Greenwich Park

While Parliament Hill and Primrose Hill are probably the most famous of London’s natural panoramic vantage points, anyone in South London can head to One Tree Hill for similarly stunning, all-encompassing views of the capital.

One Tree Hill
View from One Tree Hill, Greenwich Park | © Clem Rutter/WikiCommons

Kew Gardens

A contender for the most beautiful contiguous 300 acres in the world, Kew Gardens in West London boasts an abundance of splendid spots to sit down with a book. Adult ticket prices are £10-£20, depending on the time of year – but anyone living locally should definitely consider becoming a ‘Friend of Kew’, which costs £62 for a year. It includes free entry to the gardens, discounts in the shops and priority booking for events. And of course, it also supports Kew’s excellent environmental work.

Kyoto Garden, Holland Park

Another garden drawing inspiration from Japan, the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park was donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991. It’s full of vivid plants and shrubs, while the water features – including a small waterfall – really bring the scene to life.

The Japanese Garden, Holland Park | © Herry Lawford/Flickr
The Japanese Garden, Holland Park | © Herry Lawford/Flickr

Tower of London

Constructed following William the Conqueror’s successful Norman invasion of England in 1066, the Tower of London is the oldest landmark in the capital. Steeped in history, the tower is a great spot to read about anything medieval, while the luscious lawns are some of the greenest in the capital.