The charms of London always reveal themselves as you pedal around on two wheels. Slowing down the pace isn’t easy for Londoners, but in a hectic life it can be very rewarding.
What better way to explore than with a camera strapped to your back or in your saddle bag to capture the scenery.
Here are six favourite sights:
You just knew Richmond Park would be included? How couldn’t it be! It’s London’s largest Royal Park and it is also London’s most scenic destination. The perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city, Richmond Park has everything you want for a ‘getting away from it all’ excursion.
With something for everyone – from herds of deer and ancient trees, to cafes and playgrounds – once you visit you’ll want to go back again. On a clear day, and in the right place, you should be able to spot St Paul’s Cathedral.
For cyclists, the park has plenty of roads – speed limit 20mph – and even various trails for some off-road action. A part of London that has remained relatively untouched for hundreds of years, Richmond Park is simply a must-visit if you’re looking for somewhere picturesque and awash with photo opportunities.
Just because it isn’t as fashionable, don’t be fooled into thinking that Battersea Park doesn’t have the same charm as its famous cousin in Richmond.
The park is clean, really well maintained and – with its manicured lawns, large lake, blooming gardens and Peace Pagoda – is one of the capital’s underrated scenic gems. The vast array of trees offer welcome shade on a sunny day and with a zoo, tennis courts, and bike and boat rental – there’s always something to get up to.
If you’re looking for an interesting way to explore the delights (don’t forget you can spot Battersea Power Station from here!) then you could have a go at discovering the site of the ‘Brown Dog’ statue. Hidden away in a serene part of the park, this statue has a fascinating history and is worth a camera click.
If we’re talking about visiting somewhere with heritage in London then, let’s face it, we could be here all year! So, if we’ve got to plump for just one place that’s particularly scenic, and where you’re sure to get good shots, then today (could be different tomorrow) we’re going to choose W4’s Chiswick House.
Built in the eighteenth century; a Palladian (means Venetian, apparently) villa; and with famous visitors over the years that have included Russian royalty, British Prime-Ministers, American presidents, and Italian statesmen … Chiswick House has got a fascinating history.
What’s more important, though, is that it’s a beautiful place to visit. On a sunny day, if you close your eyes you could almost be in Italy (remember the Venetian bit). The gardens are magical, with lots of meandering walkways, and the lake is really romantic (if you’re with the right person!).
To get to Chiswick House you also have the option of getting stuck into an attractive cycle ride. Starting out at the Barnes Railway Station, the route will take you along The Promenade and then continues with great views of the river. You’ll also get the chance to take in the local pier and Chiswick itself with its quaint village vibe. Once cycled, treat yourself to a cuppa’ in the café and capture the views.
Talking about Venice – London’s Little Venice is a really pretty part of the metropolis and it’s easy to see why this area of W9 is one of London’s most sought after residential spots. What was once an integral part of the city’s busy canal system is now packed with cafes, pubs and restaurants.
Idyllic and totally chilled, spend an afternoon here on a balmy day – away from the hustle and bustle and drone of the traffic – and it really is hard to remember that you are bang in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities. Take your camera and have a cycle ride (you will have to unsaddle and walk at times), or stroll, along the banks of the tranquil waterways and you’ll definitely get a new appreciation of London … if you needed it.
You can pick up the Regent’s Canal in Hackney (Victoria Park) and cycle right through to Little Venice (give or take a couple of unseated detours) – and even take in a canal museum and London Zoo on route. A top, watery daytrip.
Ok, so the film’s rubbish and bears no relation to reality (unless you’re Hugh Grant) but Notting Hill is definitely worth a visit. The famous Portobello Market is here and there are some fashionable and really photogenic W10 streets to meander down.
Not sure if Hugh’s book shop (it’s in the film) actually exists – and if it does you can be sure Julia Roberts won’t be in it – but there are plenty of great cafes and places to eat after you’ve cycled here. If you haven’t got a bike, grab one from Boris and work your way from St James’ Park, up the Mall and through Hyde Park.
Still with plenty of alluring charm, Soho hasn’t lost that bohemian vibe that it’s famous for. With more interesting places crammed into it to explore than any other part of London – Soho is brim full of restaurants, cafes, nightlife and street art. Trust us, you won’t be short of a photo opportunity in this part of the city.
Scenic? Picturesque? Beauty … it’s all in the eye of the beholder! So, if you’ve got any other London landmarks that are easy on the eye then let us know?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.