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The Top 7 Sports, Exercise And Leisure Locations In London

The Top 7 Sports, Exercise And Leisure Locations In London

Picture of James Gunn
Updated: 19 April 2016
London is one of the greenest capital cities in the world, offering 35,000 acres of green public spaces. With public space comes the opportunity for sport, exercise and fresh air, and the best in London marry culture, community, hobbies and workout opportunities. We take you through our favourite free sports locations in London.
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©Kevin Law/ Wikimedia Commons

Richmond Park

Hop on your bike, spot some deer, and have a great time! Richmond Park offers cycle routes for road bikers, mountain bikers and family outings, existing within the London cycling community as something of a staple. If you don’t have your own bike, it is possible to hire one as well. There are numerous clubs you can join, the scenery is breath-taking and the full circuit is long enough – at around seven miles – to cater for those who want a proper workout.

Parkcycle, Roehampton Gate Car Park, Priory Lane, London, UK +44 07968 697541


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The Thames

On the odd chance you happen to own a boat or kayak, it costs nothing to take it to the Thames. However, if like the majority of us, you don’t, then The Ahoy Centre in Deptford offers the opportunity for free lessons in return for volunteering work. The charity aims to change the lives of disadvantaged and at-risk youths through rowing and sailing. Not only great sport, it provides the opportunity to give something back as well.

The AHOY Centre, Borthwick Street, Deptford, London, UK +44 020 8691 7502

London Fields Table Tennis Association

The beauty of the London Fields Table Tennis Association, Hackney, lies in its community aspect. Started up by a few enthusiasts in 2010, the Association is officially attached to the nearby Pub on the Park. Competitions, socials or just relaxed hitting sessions are organised to cater for all abilities, with the option to pick up a bat and play whenever the table is free. While the community behind the table is what makes this one special, there are many other green, public spaces in London where you can find free table tennis tables. More information can be found at Table Tennis England.

Pub on the Park, 19 Martello St London, +44 020 7923 3398


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The Doodle Bar

The Doodle Bar is an inconspicuous yet thoroughly worthwhile bar-cum-exhibition space. Here you can choose between sipping drinks, drawing all over the chalk walls, or playing on the free ping-pong table provided. Think less a high-performance sporting venue and more a place tp show off your virtuoso skills to the public, beer in hand. The table is in the permanent ‘outside beach’ area where you can also enjoy the street food on offer. It’s a perfect place, in the heart of London, to enjoy a more active drink with some friends.

The Doodle Bar, 33 Parkgate Road, London, UK +44 020 7223 7115


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©Stephen McKay/ Creative Commons

Hampstead Ponds

Hampstead Ponds are perhaps not for the faint-hearted in winter, but a must for those who enjoy cooling off in the summer in the center of London. There are options for single-gender or mixed ponds for those who have a preference. The Hampstead Pond, for instance, is mixed, the Kenwood Ladies Pond is female only and the Highgate Pond is exclusively for men. Whilst not strictly free (£2 for Adults, £1 for concessions), it is certainly very accessible and fairly priced for a service which very few other cities can offer in such an enviable setting. Be it a New Year swim or a languid summer evening bathe, the Hampstead Ponds are not easily forgotten.

Hampstead Mixed Bathing Pond, Hampstead Heath, London, UK +44 020 7332 3773


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Great Outdoor Gyms

Are you one of the five people in London who doesn’t go to a gym yet? Is it because you’re avoiding the hefty price tag that will inevitably accompany your fitness-focused New Year’s resolution? Don’t sweat it! Thanks to The Great Outdoor Gym Company Ltd., 20 London Boroughs can boast these shiny outdoor gyms, which have simple but effective cardio and resistance-based equipment. Whether you want to pedal on the fixed bike for an hour, or practice chest-pressing your bodyweight, knowing you’re getting it all for free gives you another reason to drag yourself out of bed in the morning for your workout.

Find your nearest free outdoor gym at +441795 373301


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©Randal Murrow

The Undercroft at the Southbank Centre

The Undercroft skate park has been the spiritual home of the London skateboarding and BMX scene for over 40 years. It also serves as an incubator for some of London’s best graffiti talent – a constantly changing canvas. As an iconic hub for underground culture and sport in the UK, very few places in London come close. Even if you aren’t keen on skating yourself, the Southbank is made that little bit better if you just sit down and watch, in appreciation of the skaters and artists pumping the lungs of this living and breathing piece of culture. Only in September 2014 was the skate park saved, after an 18-month legal battle prevented the park being redeveloped into shops and restaurants. Thankfully, with it’s longevity secured there is no rush to go, but it is one of those experiences for when it can never be too soon.

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX +44 020 7960 4200


By James Gunn

James is an English literature student at Durham University who spends a lot of his money buying coffee. When he isn’t reading or playing some sport, favourite hobbies are travelling and meeting new people to experience as many new things as possible.