Best Parks for Running in London

15 March 2022
By Brett Durney

We love running – but there’s no denying that hitting the same routes day-in and day-out can get a bit tedious. To help our team and our clients mix things up a little, we got the Fitness Lab coaches together to share some of our favourite runs in parks here in London.

We’ve touched on 11 of Londons best parks for running here at a glance – but we’ve also dug a little deeper and put together an in-depth guide for each that you can click through to and explore in more detail.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to pull their running shoes on and just explore, this list will be perfect – but in the individual park guides that we’ve linked to from this overview, we’ve given you details for how to get to the park in question, some of the best routes in and around the park, details about facilities, and a few practical tips on opening times and safety in the mornings and evenings.

Remember, we’re always happy to chat and offer running advice – so if you’ve got any questions about any of the parks we’ve included, or just need a little running support, you’re welcome to get in touch with our running clinic team.

St James’s Park Runs

Although St James’s park is one of the city’s smaller Royal Parks, it’s absolutely perfect for people who are looking for some short interval runs or those happy to do some laps for longer, slower runs.

3 laps of the St James Park is exactly 5.1km – so ideal for those looking at working on their 5k time. The parks is immaculately presented too – so you can really push it and knock a few seconds of your time since you’ll be able to avoid tourists and foot traffic.

If you’re keen on making your run into a 10k, combining St James’s and The Green Park (below) is ideal. Take yourself down The Mall (great on a Sunday when it’s closed to traffic!) then hit green park for a distance of 3.9k. 2.5 laps of this is pretty much exactly 10k – and you’ll be taking in some iconic London views along the way!

If you’re more interested in trail running, you can run concrete free on grass and trails for the majority of the perimeter. Ideal if you’d like a slightly lower impact run.

For more on St James’s Park, check out our detailed guide: Running in St James’s Park, London

The Green Park Runs

The Green Park – usually just referred to as ‘Green Park’ – is an outstanding place to run and a personal favourite of Brett (and Inca – pictured!) here at Fitness Lab. Green Park really has something for everyone – there’s the beautiful surroundings, some inclines to deal with, and some impressive site-seeing along the way.

Part of what makes Green Park so wonderful is the different effort required depending on which route you take. The incline on the anti-clockwise route isn’t immediately noticable to the eye – but you’ll feel it in your legs later! Take the clockwise route and you’re in for a slightly less-strenuous workout.

The outermost route around the park is almost exactly 1.5k – so 3 laps and a sprint finish is ideal for those looking for a picturesque 5k route. As mentioned above, tying St James’s park into your run gives you a great 10k route too.

The central location, proximity to Buckingham Palace, and permanent opening times make it a great safe route whatever time you fancy putting your trainers on too.

For more on The Green Park, check out our dedicated blog – Running in Green Park, London

Kensington Park Runs

Kensington Gardens is a gloriously presented part of Hyde Park – but deserves its own mention here thanks to it’s unique sightseeing opportunities and luxurious surroundings. It’s a firm favourite with London’s health and fitness fans too – so you can expect to see plenty of people taking advantage of the sports facilities practicing HIIT, strength training on the benches, and Pilates in the green spaces – not to mention skating, skateboarding, cycling, and more.

Whatever you’re looking for from your run, you can get it here. There’s an excellent 5k loop – right through to a fantastic 100m slight incline sprint that’ll help you push those intervals.

When you run around Kensington Park you’ll understand why it’s so popular with the London running community. You can easily choose between immaculately kept paths and rugged trails.

For more on Kensington Park, check out our dedicated guide: Running in Kensington Park, London.

Hyde Park Runs

There are few London green spaces as iconic as Hyde Park – it’s a beautiful, sprawling combination of woodland trails, tree-lined avenues, natural spaces, and manicured flowerbeds. Of course, that’s before we even begin to talk about the wonderful lake, the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, the Albert Memorial, Speakers’ Corner, and much more.

In terms of running, Hyde Park really offers something for everyone. Wherever you decide to start, there’s a perimeter run of around 7k – which makes 1.5 times around the park pretty much dead-on 10k. There are a few minor ups and downs – but the park is mostly flat, so it’s a good place to push for a great time.

It’s not just paved running surfaces that Hyde Park offers though – you can hug the perimeter of the park and stick pretty much 100% to trails. The horse tracks will take you through plenty of wooded and grassy terrain if you want to adapt to this different style of running.

You could run every day for a month in Hyde Park and find a slightly different route or new feature – making it great for people who like to mix things up.

Check out our Running in Hyde Park, London guide if you’d like to learn more about your options!

Holland Park Runs

Not far from Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace, you’ll find Holland Park – the largest park in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and on the grounds of what used to be Cope Castle, a huge Jacobean Mansion that was hidden deep in the woods.

The mansion doesn’t stand now – but the woods and Japanese gardens are still beautiful to see, making this a favourite green space for lunchtime and after work runs and a welcome break from busy city life.

The popular runners loop that takes you through Notting Hill and Portobello Road market is stunning and makes for a great 2k loop if you head past the Lord Holland statue and alongside Kyoto Gardens. If you’d like to mix some additional training into your time in the park, you’ll find a beautiful little sanctuary within the park – with gym equipment and some track and field provisions.

Holland Park isn’t open all day – but if you’re looking to run between 7.30am and dusk, it’s a great area to explore. For some further, more in-depth information about running around this area, check out our dedicated Running in Holland Park, London blog.

Battersea Park Runs

Our Soho and Fitzrovia locations means we’ve picked parks that are mostly north of the river – but Battersea Park is such an incredible space that we’ll often take the little bit of extra time it takes to get there so we can stretch our legs in what’s arguably one of the best running locations in the city.

Battersea Park’s in Wandworth, so it’s well connected – but it never seems overrun with people, making it an ideal tonic after a busy day.

The perimeter of the park is roughly 4km – although the actual paved loop is more like 3.2k. Either way, the loop is easy to follow and there are some great Strava options for those of you that like a bit of competition. Since Battersea is flat and easy to follow, it’s ideal if you want to just get your head down and pound the miles out – it’s the perfect spot for working on your endurance, and 5k and 10k routes are easy to plot.

There’s lots to talk about in Battersea Park – so why not check out our Running in Battersea Park, London guide for more details, including the gym equipment you’ll find there, the local running clubs, and some organised runs for you to get involved with.

Regent’s Park Runs

The Regent’s Park is another London green space that’s got something for virtually every runner. From a host of scenic 5k routes to multi-park loops that make breath-taking 10k laps – right through to a measured 400m running track in the north western end that’ll let you take a shot at honing your interval/speed work.

Regent’s park closes at sunset, so you’ve got more flexibility during the summer months – but since it opens at 5am all year round, it’s a great location if you’re an early riser that likes to get the miles in before work.

The boundary road/footpath is a really safe and excellent 4.5km loop – and two loops of the lake finishing in Queen Mary’s garden’s give you another great 5k option. If you are starting early, there’s a great espresso bar with spotless toilet facilities next door – and if you decide to wrap up with a bite to eat, Regent’s Bar and Kitchen is a brilliant pit stop before work or home.

We’ve put together a detailed Running in Regent’s Park, London guide if you like some more info on everything the park’s got to offer!

Primrose Hill Runs

Okay, so strictly speaking, Primrose Hill is part of Regent’s Park – but since you have to cross the Regent’s canal to take yourself up to the impressive North London viewing point, we think it’s worthy of a mention on it’s own merits!

Let’s be really clear – you’re going to be taking on a steep hill if you fancy getting an amazing view of the city from the top of Primrose Hill, but if your legs are up to it, it’s a fantastic workout. The hill itself stands 64 metres tall – the second highest point in the Borough of Camden. It’s only 1.9km (just over a mile) to the top, but we promise you’ll feel every step!

Primrose Hill is actually one of the most challenging inclines in Central London – but that’s not the only attraction for advanced runners. The area is generously scattered with great coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants if you want to tag a social event onto the beginning or end of your run too.

If you’re up for a real challenge, why not tie an ascent of Primrose Hill into a run that takes in one or two more of London’s Royal Parks? Take a look at our Running in Primrose Hill, London blog for more inspiration.

Russell Square Runs

We’re cheating a little bit by calling Russell Square a park (it’s officially a ‘square’) – but since it’s on our doorstep and is a fantastic place for a lunchtime walk or run with Inca the Fitness Lab dog, we’ve given it it’s own listing!

The perimeter of the square is only 600m – but it’s a real hidden gem and the perfect place if you want to stretch your legs and get a breath of fresh air before meeting friends for something to eat or drink in Soho. There’s also a fantastic hidden Italian cafe within the square – and even a red telephone box that’s been converted into a cake shop if you could do with a blood-sugar kick!

As a smaller space, Russell Square is ideal for variations of intervals – from 600m down to just 100 or 200m sprints. Of course, 8 loops of the park itself will give you just short of 5k – so if you’re looking at sharpening up your 5k time, this is a great way to do it.

It’s one of our shorter guides – but if you’d like to know a little more about what’s possible for runners in Russell Square, take a look at our dedicated Running in Russell Square, London article for some inspiration!

Victoria Park Runs

Victoria Park is one of the oldest parks in London – established in 1841. As well as being one of the oldest, it’s also got an impressive perimeter of around 4.4k (2.7 miles) – making it perfect for runners of all abilities.

The size of the park means it’s perfect for an all-day exploration – and you could easily put together a solid 10k route that would have you seeing new scenery all the way around. In fact, you can even make the link between Victoria and Regent’s park along 15k (9.3 miles) of canal path too – with is virtually traffic free most of the time and gives a real snapshot of the heart-and-soul of the city.

If you’d like to get your trainers a bit dusty you can hit some trails in Victoria Park too – with a mix of grass, sandstone, and dirt making up a series of intertwining trails that criss-cross the immaculately present green space. Of course, the best East London running routes also have coffee and cake stops – and Victoria Park has two fantastic options to choose from in that regard.

Take a look at our Running in Victoria Park, London guide for more info on what there is to do in the park!

Greenwich Park Runs

Greenwich Park is probably top of most London runners’ lists of favourite locations that’s to a mix of spectacular routes, a wonderful atmosphere, great views, and excellent facilities. There are also flat routes, circular routes, loops, and some taxing hill sprints that’ll take you up to the incredible Royal Observatory.

Another option that’s south of the Thames, Greenwich Park is packed with culture and class. As well as being an outstanding place to run, it’s also a brilliant place to spend a day exploring, either on your own or with friends or family. There are endless eating and drinking options nearby if you want to tie your run in with an after work social.

A full outside loop of the park is around 3.2k (2 miles) – but you can mix the loops up, so you can create 5k or 10k loops that snake back and forth, never seeing the same part of the park twice while also building in some hill sprints.

You’ll need to be a little careful with opening and closing times if you’re running before or after work, as the park opens at different times during the year. Don’t worry though, we’ve listed them all – along with plenty of route options, in our Running in Greenwich Park, London guide!

Which London parks are the safest for running?

As ever, safety around London is a hot topic, and we always suggest being cautious when you’re out and about running alone. Generally, running alone is perfectly safe – but we’ve tried to include parks that we know are well-lit and popular with other runners in this guide.

Although recent news events have highlighted dangers faced by people – often women – who are travelling alone at night, it’s not just the threat from others you need to be aware of as a runner. Slips, trips, and falls can leave you injured and immobilised – so although remote trail running has it’s appeal, sticking to well-trodden routes in London is a prudent choice.

At Fitness Lab, we always suggest our clients keep the following safety ideas in mind:

1. Inform others

Let someone else know where you’re going and roughly how long you’ll be. Check in with them when you get home.

2. Mix your routes up

You wouldn’t tell all your Instagram followers where you are every minute of the day – so think about mixing your routes up slightly through the week to avoid any unwanted attention.

3. Carry ID and your phone

Run with your phone and keep you ICE (in-case-of-emergency) contacts up to date. You’re unlikely to be seriously injured of course – but it’s good to be safe.

4. Make yourself seen and heard

Whether it’s about road safety or generally being seen, it’s always a good idea to make yourself as bright as possible. It’s personal choice – but some lone-runners like to carry a loud noise-making device too, in case you need to get the attention of passers-by.

5. Listen

It’s good to keep all your wits about you when you’re running. If you can’t do without music or podcasts, consider just listening in one ear so you can be alert to traffic or noises around you.

6. Take a canine companion

If you’ve got a dog, why not help them get some of their daily steps in by taking them with you? There are plenty of bored lock-down doggos out there – so you might even consider borrowing a friend or neighbours to keep you company.

Have we missed a good running route?

London has over 3,000 parks and public spaces – so you can understand why we haven’t included them all on this list!

Really, this list is our favourites – parks we know and parks that Fitness Lab clients often use. If you think there’s an essential park route that we’ve missed, why not get in touch and tell us a little about it. Are you a fan of Richmond Park, Hampstead Heath, the abandoned railway line between Finsbury Park and Crystal Palace Park – or keen to hit some hill sprints on Parliament Hill? We’re always keen to explore – as is Inca the dog – so if there’s a squirrel to chase or a great route to explore, we’ll take a trip out there and add it to our list!

Contact Fitness Lab today to see how we can help

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