Hampstead Heath ☆☆

The lovely Hampstead Heath in North London (Photo by Olivier)
The lovely Hampstead Heath in North London

A vast park in North London, with lovely views, wooded rambles, swimming ponds, cozy pubs, and Old Master art in a genteel manor house

You can ramble these 790 acres of old growth forest just a Tube's ride north of the city center.

Hampstead Heath—"The Heath" to its aficionados—is just about the highest point in all of Greater London, and you can get excellent (if distant, urban-hazy) views over London and its increasingly skyscraper-prickled skyline from a viewpoint on the heights of Parliament Hill.

The only real "sight" is the genteel, early 17th century manor of Kenwood House, with its free art gallery featuring works by Rembrandt and Vermeer. (If it looks vaguely familiar, perhaps you are recalling the "filming the Henry James picture" scenes towards the end of the Julia Roberts/High Grant romcom Notting Hill.) » more

The park is vast. You can swim in the string of swimming ponds on its east and southwest edges, visit a small zoo in the western Golders Hill Park section, use the public sports facilities (including a pool and a petanque pitch) in the park's southeastern corner, dine in the restaurant-filled trendy village at its southwestern edge where many international celebrities live quietly, and relax in the countryside pubs scattered throughout the Heath itself (My favorite: The cozy and literary 16th century Spaniards Inn; » more)

Hampstead Heath Tours

These might include Hampstead Heath

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How long should I spend on Hampstead Heath?

It's a park! Spend as long as you need to relax and regroup for the sightseeing.

With all the woods and pathways, I could easily spend an hour or two here, leaving the bustle of the city behind for a bit.