A Guide to Hyde Park
London is one of the world’s greenest cities in terms of public parkland and open natural spaces. And, at a mile and a half long and around a mile wide, Hyde Park is one of the capital’s biggest Royal Parks. It dates back to 1536, taken from Westminster Abbey by King Henry VIII who wanted the land for deer hunting. It finally opened to the public in the early 1600s, but only for the wealthy – ordinary people were not welcome. Today, everyone’s welcome!
The Serpentine, which runs through Hyde Park, is London’s oldest boating lake, a valuable space for urban wildlife and birds, creatures like ducks, coots, swans and grebes. This is the place where, for centuries, the public have gathered to protest, and we still do! Speakers’ Corner was made legal in 1872 and remains an official site of free speech, political protest and social protest.
If you’d like to include a little – or a lot – of green space at the heart of your visit to London, we have three comfy, spotless easyHotels to choose from near Hyde Park. Why not explore what’s on offer at the easyHotel Paddington, easyHotel Victoria or easyHotel South Kensington?
Hyde Park History and Trivia
- This is where the Great Exhibition took place in 1851, a spectacular event created by Queen Victoria’s beloved husband Prince Albert, so amazing it’s still remembered fondly by the nation as something special
- You can do all sorts in Hyde Park including playing games like frisbee and ball, swimming the Serpentine, cycling on the roads and cycle tracks, even horse riding
- The current park layout was planned by architect Decimus Burton in 1825. The Grand Entrance, Apsley Gate next to Apsley House, was also designed by him
- Hyde Park contains the famous Serpentine Bridge, Speakers’ Corner, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, the Joy of Life fountain, and the statue of Achilles, dating back to 1822 and a whopper of a fellow at 18 feet high
- London’s Hyde Park covers 350 acres and contains more than 4000 trees as well as a real meadow and stunning flower gardens.
- The Serpentine lake covers 40 acres, created for Queen Caroline in 1730
- The Serpentine Bridge was built in the 1820s
- Marble Arch, near Speakers’ Corner, was built in 1827 as a gateway to Buckingham Palace, moved to Hyde Park in 1851 and created by John Nash to a Rome-inspired design
- The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain includes 545 pieces of Cornish granite
- The park’s many fine sculptures include the Drinking Horse, a family of Jelly Babies, and Vroom Vroom, a bit like a huge human hand pushing a toy car. Plus the famously beautiful Boy and Dolphin fountain in the Rose Garden
- Hyde Park’s bandstand in Hyde Park is one of the UK’s oldest, dating back to 1869 and moved here from Kensington Gardens in 1886. It still delivers exceptional acoustics thanks to the shape of the roof
- The Rose Garden smells wonderful when in flower, opened in 1994 and designed by Colvin and Moggridge Landscape Architects
Visitor Information: What to See and Do in Hyde Park
- All the park’s entrances offer level access
- There are plenty of public toilets dotted around
- You’ll find plenty of refreshment kiosks
- You can hire deckchairs, swim the Lido or hire a boat
- Ride the amazing Solarshuttle or enjoy horse riding at The Manege
- Visit the sports fields for tennis courts, lawn bowls, and nine-hole golf putting green
Hyde Park events
Hyde Park’s popular Winter Wonderland is a huge family treat, hosted to the east of the park and home to countless seasonal attractions and entertainment, including Christmas markets and fun fair rides. The park is also great fun in summer, offering a glittering string of Summer Time Hyde Park events including top class live music, and food and drink from around the world.
Hyde Park Festivals and Shows
- Family and well-being events of all sorts are held at the Secret Garden throughout the year
- There’s an annual Hyde Park half-marathon
- Enjoy the Winter Wonderland Charity Preview Night, and Winter Wonderland itself
- British Summer Time Hyde Park is a 10-day event packed with live music, cafes, themed bars and a lot more
- The Royal Gun Salute at Hyde Park marks special royal occasions
- You’ll find regular yoga classes, fun runs and races, walking tours, nature trail events and celebrations of Queen Victoria and Prince Alberts’ lives
The Hyde Park Gates
There are several gates into the Park, but two are special.
The Queen Elizabeth Gates are extremely decorative, quite dazzlingly complex. They commemorate the 90th birthday of the Queen Mother and were unveiled in 1993. They include beautiful work by David Wynne, symbols of England together with the unicorn of Scotland. Made from stainless steel, they were designed by Giuseppe Lund and funded by public subscription.
The Apsley Gate is a classical stone gate with scroll-topped columns, designed by Decimus Burton when he was just 25. It’s made from Portland stone and built between 1826 and 1829. The Elgin marbles are celebrated via stunning friezes by John Henning.
Hyde Park opening times
Hyde Park is open from 5am to midnight every day of the year.
Restaurants Near Hyde Park
There are lots of excellent kiosks and refreshment providers in Hyde Park itself, but if you fancy something a bit more substantial or a smart sit-down meal there are also lots of cool places to eat within easy walking distance. Here are five good ones to test-drive:
- Serpentine Bar and Kitchen on Hyde Park Serpentine Road, with an excellent simple menu
- The Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner, sheer luxury
- Pizza Hut at 523 Oxford Street, a big family favourite
- Enoteca Rosso at 276-280 Kensington High Street, an excellent Italian eatery
- Salut in Islington, at 412 Essex Road, popular for its modern European cuisine
How to get to Hyde Park
Walking: There’s nothing quite like walking in the capital to give you a good idea of the layout of the city, with all sorts of exciting views and discoveries you’d never see from the tube, bus or train. Why not grab an A-Z or download a London walking app and discover more about London?
Underground: For the east end of Hyde Park get off the tube at Marble Arch on the Central line or Hyde Park Corner on the Piccadilly line. Try Lancaster Gate station on the Central line if you want the Marlborough Gate entrance. If approaching from the west get off at the Central Line’s Queensway tube station. Whatever tube you choose, there’s a 5-ish minute walk to the park itself.
Bus: Grab the 26, 7, 10, 16, 23, 30, 36, 73, 74, 82, 94, 98, 137, 148, 159, 159, 274, 390, 414 or 436 to Marble Arch, the 2, 9, 10, 14, 16, 19, 22, 36, 38, 52, 73, 74, 82, 137, 148, 414, 436 or C2 to Hyde Park Corner, or the 9, 10, 14, 19, 22, 52, 74, 137, 414 or 452 to Knightsbridge.
Train: The nearest mainline train station is Paddington, a ten-minute walk away.
Bicycle: You’ll find cycle docking stations all around the park, at the entrances and elsewhere.