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Kew Gardens | © Roger Lighterness/Flickr
Kew Gardens | © Roger Lighterness/Flickr
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Why the Best of London is Found Beyond Zone 2

Picture of Georgina Wilson-Powell
Updated: 3 September 2018
There’s more to London than Zone 1. Or even Zone 2. Some of the most interesting sites the capital has to offer are found in its outer rings — from ancient forests that date back to the 15th century to quirky islands and far more wildlife than you’d think could exist in such a big and bustling city. Don’t always be in such a hurry to head inwards; there’s plenty of weekend delights from markets to country houses in zone 3-6.

Kew Gardens

One of the most fascinating places in London is Kew Gardens. Once called the Royal Gardens, it was opened to the public in 1840. Kew is now the largest plant collection in the world with over 30,000 plants and impressive Victorian glasshouses. It even has its own police force. Kew often hosts temporary exhibitions and sculptures like the Hive, which replicates the structure and sounds of a real beehive.

Richmond Park

Pretty Richmond Park feels a world away from London, not merely on its outskirts. Head to this huge expanse of parkland to spot herds of deer, run or cycle the many paths, or simply decamp for an afternoon with a picnic. Don’t miss the Isabella Plantation within this natural reserve: a 40 acre woodland garden full of streams and ponds that was opened in 1953.

Cutty Sark

London’s magnificent recovery and repair of the Cutty Sark is a modern miracle. This ship is the only surviving tea clipper in the world and Royal Greenwich Museums have created a modern experience where you can not only walk through the ship but also underneath it.

Ruislip Lido

Londoners love a lido but not many know about the one in Ruislip, located in zone 6. Your Oyster Card will get you to this 60 acre reservoir, which has its own beach and a mini railway to get around on. Perfect for a sunny day out.


Walthamstow has become a thriving community of artists and creatives since Hackney rocked in prices, and they’ve brought with them their own breweries, gin distilleries, craft beer pubs and plenty of festivals. Walthamstow is one of the most lively places to live in zone 3 and is well worth a visit.

Wimbledon Common

Not only is Wimbledon Common lovely for a spring stroll but it’s also home to the Wimbledon Windmill (and the Wombles). The windmill no longer works as a mill but it’s an interesting little museum that gives insight into the old industries around these parts.

Eel Pie Island

Once home to London’s musicians and artists, the unique little island of Eel Pie is located near Twickenham. In the 1960s, it played host to some of the biggest bands including the Rolling Stones and The Who, but nowadays the private island is only opened up a couple of times a year for visitors to take a peek into the artists’ studios.

London Wetland Centre

London Wetland Centre is one of those underrated London gems that not enough people know about. Located just outside Hammersmith, this urban oasis is full of lakes, ponds and walks — a complete change from the hustle and bustle of west London.

Eltham Palace

Once the site of the palace where Henry VIII grew up, in the 1930s Eltham Palace was rebuilt as an Art Deco dream, worthy of The Great Gatsby. Today, it’s an English Heritage site that recreates the magic and mystery of the 1930s. You can listen to the decade’s music, try on replica clothes and get a taste for the kind of luxury that the Courtaulds, the owners, lived in.

Epping Forest

Head on out through Hackney and Victoria Park to find Epping Forest, an ancient royal woodland that straddles the Essex border. You can fish, cycle, camp and hike between the trees, plus there’s events all summer long. Discover ancient trees, burial mounds and ponds; it will feel like a proper adventure without leaving London.

Epping Forest
Epping Forest | © Julian Stallabrass/Flickr