Hampstead Heath

Aashita Dhingra
Feb 29, 2024 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Oct 07, 2021
Deckchairs at Hampstead Heath.
Age: 0+
Read time: 5.2 Min

  • Spend a lovely afternoon at Hampstead Heath, a large open park just a stone’s throw from Central London.
  • Explore the beautiful Hampstead hill garden and pergola, an extravagant mansion forgotten in the sands of time and taken over by nature.
  • If you’re feeling brave, take a dip in the unique Hampstead ponds or the nearby Parliament Hill Lido.
  • Take in the wonderful views of London from the top of Parliament Hill.

Discover the beautiful open spaces of Hampstead Heath, an oasis of calm just a few miles from the bustling centre of London. This 790-acre space is not technically a park, with no fences or gates; instead, it is an open public space with plenty of great things for families to do and events that take place throughout the year. 

Hampstead Heath park has a rich history, carved by the generations over thousands of years. Today, it has a charming ruggedness to it that isn’t always evident in other parks of London. With its many paths and places to explore, the Heath is the perfect place for a family picnic and a lazy afternoon with the kids.

In the south-east of the Heath, you’ll find Parliament Hill. From this vantage point is one of the best views in London, with a government-protected sight over Central London. It’s an absolutely beautiful view and certainly not one to be missed. 

A crumbling mansion may not be high on your list of places to visit in the capital, but Hampstead Heath pergola is something special. Built by Lord Leverhulme in 1904 as a garden terrace to show off during his fancy parties, the pergola was eventually abandoned and left to ruin. In 1963, it was taken over by the local council, who turned it into a public garden. 

Today, the Hampstead hill garden and pergola is one of the most picturesque sites on the already beautiful Hampstead Heath. It’s popular for wedding photography and offers brilliant views. There’s nothing quite like it in the rest of London, and it’s a must-see for anyone visiting the Heath.

If you’d prefer a fully-furnished mansion to a crumbling one, then Kenwood House is a great place to visit on Hampstead Heath. This fantastic building is home to some incredible architecture and beautiful artwork. You can visit the mansion for free. The gardens of the house are landscaped and are a great place for kids to run around and play whilst grown-ups enjoy a picnic on the grass. It’s one of the best things to do in Hampstead for families.

Hampstead Heath is home to one of the quirkiest experiences to be found in the whole of London; open-air swimming in nature. There are three ponds at Hampstead Heath where you can go swimming; a brilliant and unique chance to swim in a natural pond in the middle of London. The water at the Hampstead Heath ponds can be pretty cold, and it is rather deep, so children must be aged eight or above, be accomplished swimmers, and be supervised by an adult if they want to swim at the ponds. 

Surprisingly, the natural ponds aren’t the only place you can go for a chilly dip in Hampstead Heath. The Hampstead Heath Lido, also known as Parliament Hill Lido, is a Hampstead institution, with an open-air pool that is open to the public year-round. While the ponds are only open to accomplished swimmers, the lido is a great place for families with young kids to enjoy a hot summer’s day.

There are tonnes of great events that happen on the Heath. The weekly Hampstead Heath Parkrun attracts hundreds of amateur runners and takes place every Saturday at 9 am, when participants run 5 km through the Heath. Other fun events include nature photography sessions, art fairs, and even live music events at Kenwood House, on the outskirts of Hampstead Heath.

What to know before you go

  • Hampstead Heath is open 24 hours a day. The Hampstead hill garden and pergola is open from 8:30 am till dusk.
  • There are lots of great places to grab a bite or something more substantial in this trendy part of north London. Parliament Hill Café is on the Heath itself and serves snacks, drinks, and light bites. There’s also the Lido Café and a café in nearby Golders Hill Park.
  • Outside of the Heath, there’s a large range of restaurants with different cuisines, including traditional British pubs, Japanese takeaways, and French bakeries. The famous Spaniards Inn sits on the edge of the Heath and has been around since 1585. It was said to have been a hiding place of highwayman Dick Turpin and has connections to authors and poets including Charles Dickens, Bram Stoker, and John Keats.
  • There are several public toilets on Hampstead Heath. You can find them at all the major buildings in the park, as well as a few more dotted around the Heath. They have accessible toilets and baby changing facilities.
  • The more popular areas of the Heath are wheelchair and buggy accessible, such as Parliament Hill. However, parts of the Heath do not have paved or concrete pathways, so it is less accessible.

Getting there

  • Hampstead Heath is mainly located in the London Borough of Camden and is a 20-minute drive from Central London.
  • There are four different car parks near Hampstead Heath. The largest one, East Heath car park, is on the south of the Heath and costs £4 for a 2-hour stay. Other places for Hampstead Heath parking include the one at Parliament Hill Lido and another at Kenwood House.
  • Hampstead Heath has great access to public transport, all within a short walk of the Heath. Hampstead Heath Station is in Zone 2 on the Overground line and is just across the road from the southern edge of the park. Gospel Oak Station is also on the Overground line, less than a minute’s walk from the park, and the best station to go to if you want easy access to Parliament Hill.
  • On the Northern line, Hampstead Station is to the south of the park and is a ten-minute walk away. Golders Green Station is also on the Northern line and is a ten-minute walk away, but it is to the north-west of the Heath.
  • Buses that serve the Hampstead Heath area include the C2, C11, H3, 24, 46, 168, 210, 214, and 268.

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

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Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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