When I first moved to London I lived in Kentish Town and one of my favourite things to do was walk up to Hampstead Heath and explore the different corners of the park. It’s still one of my top spots in London and every few months I make the trek from South East London to this green haven in North London.
Hampstead Heath is the best place in London to go to when you want to capture that countryside feel, with rolling hills, ponds and lots to get lost in.
The must-see spot has to be Parliament Hill, with its far-reaching views, while many also love to head for a dip in the famous Swimming Ponds, as well as indulge in some culture at the historic Kenwood House, with its free art gallery. The adjacent Golders Hill Park (pretty much part of the Heath) is also worth popping over to, with its majestic Hill Gardens and Pergola, butterfly house and zoo.
Here are the best things you can do at Hampstead Heath
Things To Do At Hampstead Heath
Take a walk around the park. If you don’t want to risk getting lost or missing something there are three designated trails you can do around the Heath. You can find them written out here.
The park is a popular spot for picnics, with plenty of nice grassy areas to lay out a blanket and enjoy a meal. In summer the park is filled with locals and tourists snacking away until they are kicked out. Do note that BBQs are banned anywhere on the Heath.
Hampstead Heath is home to a wide variety of wild flowers and plants where (depending on the season) you can appreciate in the park.
The view from Parliament Hill is one of the main reasons people trek to Hampstead Heath, and how can you not? It has been featured in various movies and TV shows including The Eternals, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Notting Hill to name but a few.
If you go to the park on a Saturday, grab a coffee at Parliament Hill Farmers’ Market and walk up to Parliament Hill. Maybe grab a snack from one of the market vendors to munch on and enjoy the view.
Things To Do At & Around Kenwood House
Visit Kenwood House and discover the 17/18th century former stately home. Entrance is free but you need to book ahead. Make sure you do even if it’s just to check out the stunning pink and green/blue library.
In July and August, there are concerts taking place and the venue and area and paths around it might be closed, so check before you head there.
In December, check out Christmas at Kenwood, the charming illuminated light trail takes you through the serene grounds of Kenwood. Make sure to book ahead of time.
Get a scone, clutter cream and jam at The Brew House and enjoy a cream tea in the garden, if the weather allows it
Pond & Lido Swimming At The Heath
Hampstead Heath does not have not one, not two, but three swimming ponds that are open all year round. So whether you want to cool down, take a cold dip or keep the ducks company you have enough choice..
If you are not a fan of mud and ducks then the Parliament Hill Lido might be for you. Keep in mind that the water at the outdoor swimming pool is not heated.
Over on the west side of the Heath there is the Hill Garden and Pergola, which, aside from the view at Parliament Hill, is the main reason tourists visit the area. It feels like it’s from another time, with its classical style pillars, domes and little bridge. Keep in mind it can sometimes be closed for weddings.
The Hill Garden and Pergola is also one of the few places in the park that has cherry blossom trees. So if you are on the look for those during the season head to the west side.
When Is The Best Time To Visit The Heath?
Hampstead Heath itself is open 24/7, but there are certain gates that close in the evening. In terms of season I’d say Summer is best for the atmosphere and Autumn for the change of season, with so many different trees comes a lot of different shades of brown. But really, anytime is a good time to visit the park.
If there has been heavy rainfall the paths can get quite muddy, so that might be something to keep in mind for which shoes you take.
How To Get To Hampstead Heath
Take the Underground to Hampstead Station, which is on the Northern Line. From the station, it is a short walk to the park. You can also take the bus to the Hampstead High Street stop, both of which are located near the park.
Alternatively, you can walk or take the bus from Kentish Town or Tufnell Park Station.
Restaurants and Pubs Near the Heath
The Spaniards Inn – a 16th century pub – has to be one of the best local ones. Other pubs you can check out are The Gatehouse and the Vine towards the Highgate area.
Down towards Kentish Town you’ll find Rossella and Carrots & Daikon as well as a bunch of other chains for your lunch and dinner time needs.