Best Places to Stay in London for Walking
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How to choose the best area in London for walking
Choosing the perfect spot in London to lace up your walking shoes and set out for an exploration is about more than just finding a place to stroll; it’s about immersing yourself in the heart of British culture, history, and urban allure.
Here’s a few top tips on how to pick the best area for you:
Proximity to Landmarks and Attractions
An area that’s peppered with notable landmarks will invariably offer a more rewarding walking experience. Being able to walk from one historical site to another without the need for public transportation not only saves time but adds to the immersive experience of the city.
London, with its old-world charm, does have areas that are more accommodating to pedestrians than others. Look for districts with broad pavements, designated pedestrian zones, and fewer vehicular intersections. The presence of pedestrian bridges or underpasses can also enhance the experience, especially in busier parts of the city.
District Ambiance and Aesthetics
While London as a whole exudes an undeniable charm, some areas have a distinct ambiance that sets them apart. Whether it’s the bohemian vibes of Camden, the regal elegance of Kensington, or the bustling energy of Covent Garden, the atmosphere can significantly impact your walking journey so choose areas that interest you.
Blend of History, Nature, and Culture
The best walking experiences often arise from locales that offer a diverse blend of attractions. An area that boasts historical buildings, interspersed with green parks and cultural venues like theatres or galleries, provides variety and depth to your explorations.
Culinary and Shopping Stops
A walking adventure isn’t just about sightseeing; it’s also about experiencing the fashions and local customs too. Districts with a rich mix of restaurants, cafes, pubs, and boutique shops allow for delightful breaks. Be it tasting traditional British pies or hunting for unique souvenirs, these stops can be the cherry on top of your walking day.
Safety and Accessibility
Ensure the area you choose in London is safe for pedestrians, especially if you plan to explore during the early morning or late evening hours. Well-lit streets, visible signages, and easy access to public transport hubs add a layer of security and convenience to your journey.
Is London good for walking?
Fun Fact! Did you know that London has over 3000 parks of various sizes, making it one of the greenest capitals in the world? This, combined with its rich tapestry of history and architecture at every corner, makes it a walker’s dream destination.
Despite its reputation as a sprawling metropolis, many parts of London are remarkably walkable. With its rich history, London’s streets present an alluring mix of time-honoured architecture and modern landmarks. From the charming alleyways in Covent Garden to the grandeur of Buckingham Palace, there’s no shortage of sites to see.
Areas such as the South Bank and Camden offer wonderful pedestrian paths beside the river and canals. Museums, which are often located close to each other, allow history and art enthusiasts to stroll from one venue to another. Moreover, with over 8 major parks within its city limits, including the famous Hyde Park and Regent’s Park, green spaces are abundant for those who wish for a nature-infused walk.
Additionally, for shoppers, districts like Oxford Street, Carnaby, and Regent Street are within walking distances of each other, letting you walk from one shopping haven to another with ease. When you consider the distances between these places, you’ll realise that London is a haven for walkers.
10 Best Areas to Stay in London for Walking
Camden is the epitome of urban eclecticism. From the colourful stalls of Camden Market, where you can grab vintage attire or global street food, to the historic Regent’s Canal and its picturesque boat trips, there’s much to take in.
The region is an amalgamation of gothic culture, live music venues, and bohemian vibes. Street art adorns many a corner, telling tales of the area’s vibrant past and present. While evenings here are electric with nightlife, daytime strolls can be equally intriguing with its variety of shops, eateries, and cultural spots.
2. Notting Hill
Iconic for its pastel-coloured houses and the annual Notting Hill Carnival, this West London neighbourhood is an emblem of charm and vibrancy. It boasts the renowned Portobello Road Market, a heaven for antique enthusiasts and lovers of quirky finds.
3. St. James Park
Nestled amidst some of London’s most iconic landmarks, St. James Park is a verdant oasis. As the oldest of the capital’s eight Royal Parks, it boasts a pristine lake with resident pelicans, well-curated flower beds, and sweeping views of both Buckingham and St. James’s Palace.
A harmonious blend of regal elegance and modern allure, Kensington is renowned for its grand Victorian architecture and world-class museums. The district offers an array of attractions, from the tranquillity of Kensington Gardens to the historic allure of Kensington Palace.
The area’s High Street is a shopping lover’s dream, dotted with fashion-forward boutiques and gourmet restaurants. Rich in cultural offerings, it’s home to institutions like the Royal Albert Hall, making it a hub of both leisure and learning.
5. Maida Vale
6. Covent Garden
Beyond retail and dining, the area boasts rich cultural institutions, such as the Royal Opera House. Whether you’re drawn by its artistic essence, architectural beauty, or its buzzing atmosphere, Covent Garden promises a multifaceted experience you are sure to love.
7. Green Park
8. Regent’s Park
Popular London Walking Itineraries
South Bank Stroll
Starting Point: London Eye – Kick off your walk at one of London’s most recognizable landmarks. This gigantic observation wheel provides a panoramic view of the city, setting the tone for your excursion.
Main Attractions: As you make your way along the River Thames, enjoy the street performances outside the National Theatre and the book market under Waterloo Bridge. Soon, you’ll encounter the Tate Modern, a former power station turned art gallery, housing some of the world’s most renowned modern artworks.
Ending Point: Tower Bridge – Conclude your stroll at this iconic bascule and suspension bridge. The glass-floored walkways of Tower Bridge provide a unique view of the river and the city below, wrapping up your journey on a memorable note.
Parliament to Oxford Street
Starting Point: Houses of Parliament – Begin your walk at this emblem of British democracy. The neo-Gothic architecture combined with the history it holds makes for a truly impressive start.
Main Attractions: Next take in the majestic Westminster Bridge and make your way to Whitehall. Here, sights like the Cenotaph war memorial and the mounted guards of Horse Guards Parade await. As you continue, you’ll find yourself at Trafalgar Square, where the towering Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery demand a halt.
Ending Point: Oxford Street – Your journey culminates at Europe’s busiest shopping street. Whether you’re into high-end brands or street fashion, the myriad of shops here caters to every taste. It’s a fitting end, merging the city’s historic charm with its modern-day vibrancy.
Royal Route in Kensington
Starting Point: Kensington Palace – Dive into royal history by starting at the former residence of Queen Victoria and the birthplace of Queen Mary. The State Rooms and Gardens are worth exploring.
Main Attractions: As you meander through the Kensington Gardens, you’re enveloped in a serene landscape peppered with intriguing attractions like the Peter Pan Statue and the Albert Memorial. The tree-lined paths are calming, making it easy to lose track of time.
Ending Point: Natural History Museum – Your walk concludes at this cathedral to nature. From the grand Hintze Hall, holding the skeleton of a blue whale, to the mesmerising minerals in The Vault, the museum is a treasure trove of natural wonders, making for a grand finale to your royal Kensington journey.
What to avoid when looking for walkable areas in London
London, with its rich history and vibrant culture, offers plenty of walkable areas that allow visitors to explore its charm on foot, however, when selecting the ideal place to stay and wander, some regions might not offer the quintessential London walking experience.
Here’s what you should steer clear of:
The expansive city of London encompasses many suburban districts, which, while offering a quieter, more residential vibe, might not be the best for those looking to amble through iconic attractions and lively streets.
Areas like Barking, Hillingdon, or Havering might give you a glimpse of suburban London life, but they are quite distant from the central hotspots. Their sparse attractions and amenities mean you might find yourself waiting more at train stations than wandering through bustling streets.
Areas Dominated by Industrial or Commercial Activities
Some regions in London are primarily dedicated to business or industrial activities. These zones might not be pedestrian-friendly and can lack the cultural or recreational spots you might be seeking.
The Docklands or parts of East London have seen significant commercial development. While there are attractions, the environment might not be as conducive to leisurely strolls as other parts of the city.
Regions with Limited Public Transit Access
Even if you’re keen on walking, it’s practical to be near public transit links for longer journeys or unexpected weather changes. Areas with infrequent or limited public transit options can become inconvenient.
Outer zones like Sutton or Bromley, while having their own charm, are not as well-connected as more central areas, potentially limiting your mobility.
Overly Touristy Spots During Peak Times
While central areas are undoubtedly attractive for walking, some can become exceedingly crowded during peak tourist seasons, which might diminish the walking experience.
Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square can be brimming with tourists, especially during summer or festive seasons, making it hard to navigate or soak in the surroundings at a relaxed pace.
Areas with Limited Amenities
For a comprehensive walking experience, you’d want areas with ample cafes, rest spots, and public toilets. Some districts, while scenic, might not offer these conveniences.
Certain green spaces or conservation areas, like parts of Richmond Park or the Wetland Centre, are expansive and might not have frequent amenities, necessitating some pre-planning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are the best walkable locations to stay in London?
The areas around Covent Garden, Southbank, and Soho are among the most pedestrian-friendly but if you are looking for somewhere with green spaces and nature, Regent’s Park is ideal as it is close to London Zoo. It also benefits from being a short distance from Oxford Street and Marylebone should you fancy a walk around the shops!
Where should I stay in London to walk everywhere?
If you’re seeking areas that offer a perfect blend of walkability without the constant rush of the city centre, consider districts a tad more removed from the heart of London. Places like Notting Hill, Regent’s Park, and Maida Vale present a serene environment and still brim with attractions perfect for pedestrians.
For a comfortable stay, consider choosing a serviced apartment, especially from providers like Sanctum. They offer the perfect balance of a “home from home” experience combined with the luxurious touches you’d expect from a hotel and are ideal for those looking for a place to stay in London for a week or two.
The prime locations of these apartments make it convenient for guests who prefer walking into the city centre or exploring the beautiful locales nearby without resorting to public transport.
Which areas in London are best for historic walks?
For those keen on history, areas like The City of London, often referred to as the “Square Mile”, boasts ancient landmarks such as the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Similarly, Westminster offers a walk through Britain’s political history with sites like the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. These regions are ideal for a stroll through London’s rich past.
Are there designated walking tours in London I can join?
Yes, London offers a wide range of guided walking tours that cater to various interests. Whether it’s the haunted alleys of the city, the trail of Jack the Ripper, or a Harry Potter-themed walk, there’s something for everyone. You can even go on a shopping tour!
What should I wear for walking in London?
London’s weather can be quite unpredictable. It’s recommended to wear comfortable walking shoes, carry an umbrella, and dress in layers. While summers are generally mild, rain showers can occur unexpectedly. In winters, ensure you’re wrapped up, as London can get quite chilly.
Are there pedestrian-only zones in London?
Absolutely! London has several pedestrian-only zones, especially during certain times of the day. Notable areas include parts of Covent Garden, the space around the Tate Modern on the Southbank, and areas of Carnaby Street in Soho. These zones not only offer an undisturbed walking experience but are also lined with cafes, shops, and street performers, adding to the charm.
For those keen on exploring London on foot, it’s essential to stay in areas that complement this desire. As highlighted, several regions in London, such as Camden, Notting Hill, and St. James Park, are not just scenic but also rich in attractions. London, with its mix of historical sites, shopping districts, and verdant parks, is undeniably a walker’s paradise.
For the optimal experience, choosing the best place to stay in London for walking is paramount to a fulfilling journey.
If you are looking for luxury accommodation in London that is ideally located for a gentle stroll, consider Sanctum’s serviced apartments.
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