April 2019


London in the spring
April 2019




Buckingham Palace and the gardens are a resplendent sight in spring.
Photo credit: Historic Royal Palaces

There is no better time of the year to visit London than in the spring. The parks and garden squares of the British capital, one of the greenest cities in Europe, burst into bloom and as the days start to lengthen, locals make the most of al fresco living, enjoying food and drink on open-air terraces throughout the city.

Words: Jo Caird.

A walk along the River Thames, the mighty waterway that winds through London, is a great way to take advantage of some stunning city panoramas. There is fantastic architecture all along the river, but the short distance between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge offer picture postcard views of some of London's best known landmarks.

From the Houses of Parliament to St Paul's Cathedral and from the historic warship HMS Belfast to the austere majesty of the Tower of London, there is a vast amount to see and do. And if walking sounds like hard work, river buses serve many centrally located piers. They also offer a picturesque and convenient route to destinations further up and down the Thames, including the chic shopping district of Chelsea in the west and historic Greenwich in the East.

A crucial springtime stop on any route down the river is Shakespeare's Globe, the faithful contemporary reconstruction of the 16th century playhouse where England's national poet first saw many of his greatest works performed. The theatre's annual season of open-air plays with perfomances of the Bard's most renowned plays, begins in April. Entertaining and informative tours of the building are also available.

There is history and culture on offer at Kew Palace, which reopens in April following its annual winter closure. The smallest of the UK's historic royal palaces, Kew Palace was built as an intimate family retreat in the 17th century and stands within the beautiful confines of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. You could easily spend half a day exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its 30,000 species of plants, awe-inspiring historical conservatories, and the beautiful palace. Springtime, when the gardens are ablaze with new growth, is an especially good time to visit.

But you do not need to go all the way to Kew to see natural London in all its glory. The city's central parks and green spaces are a haven at this time of year, with stunning displays of flowers at St James's Park, expansive meadows at Hyde Park and unbeatable views from high up on Primrose Hill in the Regent's Park.

Pick up some sandwiches from one of the cafes in Primrose Hill - just one of the delightful self-contained neighborhoods that characterize the British capital - and enjoy a picnic, with the city laid out below you. Go on a weekend or a warm spring evening, and you will find yourself rubbing shoulders with all sorts of Londoners, from dog walkers to young families to students in party mode.

Primrose Hill is also an excellent jumping off point for London's lesser-known waterway, the Regent's Canal.

Primrose Hill is also an excellent jumping off point for London's lesser-known waterway, the Regent's Canal. Dating back to England's industrial heyday, when goods were transported by narrowboat before the advent of the railways, London's canals now offer an unusual route through the city. A stroll west to Little Venice or into trendy East London takes you past hundreds of decorated house-boats, vibrant street art and through neighborhoods that would not usually appear on a tourist's ‘to do' list.

Back in central London, be sure not to miss the classic tourist experience that is Changing the Guard. Taking place at the Horse Guards Parade, this unique British tradition sees troupes of mounted soldiers arriving for their shift safeguarding Horse Guards, the official entrance to Buckingham Palace. It starts at 11am Monday to Saturday and 10am on Sundays.

With spring blooms and verdant greens to accompany you as you walk through, indulge in the seasonal celebrations in the vibrant city.

For spring, it has got to be London all the way!

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    Experience the majestic Changing the Guard ceremony at Horse Guards Parade.

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    Witness the seamless architecture of Tower Bridge.

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    Big Ben and Westminster Bridge are historic landmarks in Central London.

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    Panoramic views of London can be seen from Primrose Hill.

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    The spectacular view of the London Eye in the backdrop of Horse Guards Parade from St James's Park.
    Photo credit: The Royal Parks

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    Little Venice, abundant with houseboats, is home to waterside cafes and pubs.
    Photo credit: Canal & River Trust

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    Kew Palace is one of the country's royal palaces.

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    Shakespeare's Globe is a must-visit for theatre enthusiasts.

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    Spring draws many visitors to St James's Park with its vibrant blooms and expansive meadows.

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