Aaaand…breathe. Being in greenery is good for your health – fact. Greater London is Europe’s greenest city, and inside the City of London alone over 20 parks and gardens are thriving. Stroll around the glass skyscrapers and Roman ruins and you’ll chance upon leafy squares and plant-heavy havens.
Whether you’re looking for a tranquil picnic spot or somewhere for quiet contemplation, here are some of the City’s greenest spaces to seek out.
Eat al fresco on the sunken lawn and listen to the trickling fountain, as you contemplate this: you’re one of the lucky few who get to eat a packet of crisps while gazing at the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral on their lunch hour.
Find Festival Gardens next to St Paul's Cathedral
St Dunstan in the East Church Garden
Part dishevelled fairy tale, part botanical haven, it’s easy to forget you’re minutes away from the urban melee when in the secret garden of these church ruins. The award-winning landscaping of lush foliage and twisting branches frame dozens of Instagram-worthy pics – see if you can capture that perfect ‘past meets future’ shot of The Shard spied through an ancient archway.
Find out more about St Dunstan in the East Church Garden
One of the City’s largest open spaces, Postman’s Park harbours a fascinating history, part of which can be discovered in the Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice. Take a seat on one of the many benches and admire the seasonal flowerbeds in this tranquil garden.
Find Postman's Park in between King Edward Street and Aldersgate Street
Oh, it looks like rain and you’ve left your umbrella behind (of course). But don’t let that dampen your chance of getting a dose of greenery. Take shelter in the second biggest conservatory in London – a tropical paradise bursting to life within the Brutalist architecture of the Barbican Centre. Note: Entry is free but ticketed and must be booked in advance. Picnicking isn’t allowed but a 20-minute visit should be enough to top-up your wellbeing levels on an afternoon break.
More details about the Barbican Conservatory
Another of the largest green spaces in the City, the award-winning Aldgate Square features a pavilion, central lawn, seating, flowers and a curve of hornbeam trees offering shade on sunny days. Take off your shoes and splash about in the parabolic water feature (if the kids haven’t beaten you to it).
Find Aldgate Square - next to Aldgate station
This deceptively large public garden rose out of Blitz destruction and sits on the site of a Roman bath. It all started with 1940s city worker Joseph Brandis, who used mud from the banks of the Thames and plants from his own Walthamstow garden to transform the bombsite. In the 1980s, it was further developed by Fred Cleary into a thriving garden for everyone to enjoy. Take a seat on one of three terraces to bask in the holiday vibe of the grapevines (a gift from the winemakers of the Loire valley) and admire the wildlife-friendly planting.
Find Cleary Gardens - near Mansion House tube station
Seething Lane Garden
What does a flea, Punch & Judy and a plague doctor all have in common? You can find them all engraved on the paving stones in this contemporary garden square. This modern space was once the site of the naval office where diarist Samuel Pepys lived, worked and witnessed the Great Fire of London (spooking him enough to bury his treasured parmesan cheese in the garden). You can stroll around the new garden and admire all 30 intricately carved stone slabs illustrated with symbols linked to his life (cheese included).
Find Seething Lane Garden near Tower Hill