Spanning 791 acres (320 hectares) of rugged countryside, Hampstead Heath is worlds away from London’s Royal Parks. Here you can find locals flying kites and walking dogs; visit a spot that inspired C.S. Lewis’ The Lion
, The Witch
, and The Wardrobe
; hang out where Notting Hill
was filmed; or get a London skyline view from Parliament Hill.The Basics
Hampstead Heath stretches from Hampstead to Highgate in North London, with several walks running throughout the acreage. One of the most popular is the walk between Parliament Fields Hill and Primrose Hill. Along the way, take your time to stroll through the gardens at the 18th-century Kenwood House, and visit Highgate Cemetery, where Karl Marx is buried. There are also public swimming ponds, an outdoor pool (known by Brits as a lido), a zoo, cafés, and children’s facilities.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The park’s several miles of walking and biking trails make it great for exercise, with bonus London views.
- Bring a picnic lunch—there are plenty of spots to relax and enjoy a meal or snack.
- There are three separate swimming ponds in the park: one for men, one for women, and one for both men and women, all open year-round. Children under 8 are not permitted to swim in the ponds.
- Families with younger children can swim in the outdoor, unheated Parliament Hill pool, also located in the park.
Hampstead Heath is located four miles (six kilometers) northwest of Trafalgar Square. Take the Northern tube line to Golders Green, Hampstead, or Kentish Town, or take the Overground to Hampstead Heath or Gospel Oak. A limited amount of paid parking is available at Parliament Hill Lido, East Heath, and Jack Straw’s car parks.When to Get There
Hampstead Heath is open year-round, and people often take a brisk swim in the ponds in winter. Summer is a more popular, crowded time to visit. Go on weekdays and visit earlier in the day to avoid crowds. Autumn, with its smaller crowds and good weather, can be an ideal time to visit.
Where the Writers Went
Writers including Alexander Pope, John Keats, and Percy Shelley all visited the Heath as part of the illustrious Kit-Cat Club. The group met to discuss literature and politics at the former Upper Flask tavern near the top of Hampstead Hill.