1. Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain
This memorial fountain is a special place dedicated to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales. It is located toward the south western corner of the park, close to the Serpentine.
A combination of traditional skills and the latest technology in computer controlled machinery forged the 545 pieces of Cornish granite in to the memorial fountain seen today.
The memorial was opened in 2004 and visitors can sit on the memorial edge and let their feet dangle in the cooling waters. There are three bridges visitors can cross to reach the centre of the memorial fountain. The water flows down from the fountain in two directions, converging in to a calm pool of water at the bottom of the memorial.
The memorial was designed to reflect the Princess of Wales’ approach to openness during her life. The sound of the water trickling down to the pool adds to an atmosphere of calm and tranquillity, where you can relax and reflect.
2. Boating on The Serpentine
The Serpentine is a large 40 acre lake that dominates the centre of Hyde Park. It was created in 1730 by Queen Caroline by damming the Westbourne stream.
At the time the lake was quite a revolutionary design as it was one of the first to be given a natural look. Previously man-made lakes had been pre-dominantly straight.
Today, Queen Caroline’s construction provides the opportunity for some boating fun. Visitors to the park can hire rowing boats and pedal boats for thirty minutes or by the hour. Hiring a boat for an hour will only cost a couple of pounds more than taking one out for just 30 minutes. Family tickets are also available, covering two adults and two children.
The Serpentine also plays host to the UK’s first SolarShuttle, a passenger vessel powered by the sun which glides quietly across the water. There are extra ship’s wheels aboard for children who want to be Captain for the day. The SolarShuttle accommodates up to 40 passengers and travels between the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and the Boat House on the northern edge of the park.
3. Speaker’s Corner
This important, historic corner can be found on the north eastern edge of the park, close to Marble Arch. Anybody can come and speak on a Sunday morning at Speaker’s Corner, a place for vibrant debate and an area used to staging protests and rallies.
It is a unique attraction, but one the park is rightly proud to house.
Parliament granted the right to speak in this part of the park in 1872. Many famous names have taken the opportunity to voice their views and opinions at Speaker’s Corner, including Karl Marx, George Orwell, William Morris and Christabel Pankhurst. However, the beauty of Speaker’s Corner is anyone, regardless of your name or fame, can speak.
Speaker’s Corner is a living, breathing part of British history. You will find a whole spectrum of views, some with which you will agree and others which you will not. However, that is the point, as Speaker’s Corner was the beginning of free speech, a tradition it carries on to this day.
4. The Rose Garden
The Rose Garden provides a lovely horticultural display for its visitors. The garden can be found on the south eastern side of the park, close to Hyde Park Corner.
This popular garden was opened in 1994, and the flower beds are planted twice every year to give Spring and Summer displays.
There is something to enjoy in the Rose Garden whatever time of year you choose to visit. Although the early Summer months are generally the best time to see the spectacular bloom of the roses, they are planted along with further seasonal flower beds, all bounded by Yew trees. As you walk through the gardens you will be struck by the vibrancy of the colours and fragrances.
The Rose Garden also features two noteworthy fountains. The Boy and Dolphin fountain was constructed in 1862 and moved in to the garden in 1995, while the Diana, the Huntress statue forms part of the striking Huntress fountain which was installed in 1906. A grand metal pergola was added to the Rose garden in 1994.
5. 7th July Memorial
There are a number of memorials to be found in Hyde Park. The 7th July memorial was erected in memory of the 52 people who sadly lost their lives in the 2005 London bombings. Each victim is represented by the 52 pillars that form the memorial.
The memorial is located in the south east of the park and was unveiled 7th July, 2009 to mark the fourth anniversary of the tragedy. The pillars are linked together in four clusters, representing the four different locations where the incidents occurred.
Visitors can walk around this poignant memorial and read the plaques on the pillars. The stainless steel used was cast in Sheffield with the casting process ensuring each pillar had individual characteristics to make them unique. Visitors will find a stainless steel plaque on the eastern side of the memorial which lists all the victims’ names.
6. Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens border Hyde Park and were a part of the park until separated by Queen Caroline in 1728. The gardens previously formed the private gardens of Kensington Palace but are now one of the Royal Parks that are open to the public.
Kensington Gardens are another beautiful green space in central London, a further place to walk and relax. The gardens also have many interesting statues, memorials and fountains to view as you take a stroll. One of these is the Albert Memorial, one of the most ornate memorials you will see in London.
The Elfin Oak is a wonderfully quirky attraction, a 1930 sculpture which sees representations of fairies, elves and animals carved within a hollow oak tree. Henry Moore’s Arch is another interesting piece, a six meter tall sculpture overlooking the Long Water.
The Italian Gardens and the Diana Memorial Playground further ensure the popularity of Kensington Gardens. With the two parks in such close proximity, visitors get to explore two lovely green spaces without having to travel further afield.
7. Food and Drink
There are a number of refreshment points around Hyde Park where you can purchase hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, snacks and ice cream.
There are also cafes where you can sit and relax while watching park life. These include:
Serpentine Bar and Kitchen
The Serpentine bar and kitchen can be found on the Serpentine road and offers lovely views from its terrace. A breakfast menu and a main menu are available, including wood fired pizzas ranging in price from £11.25. You can also just enjoy a drink with friends or grab a sandwich to take away and eat within the park grounds. The Serpentine bar and kitchen is open every day from 8am to 8pm and the facilities include a disabled toilet.
The Serpentine Lido Cafe
This is a lovely place to sit and eat either inside or out on the terrace, with its fabulous views along the Serpentine. The cafe can be found near the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial fountain on the southern side of Hyde Park. The lakeside seating area can seat 250 people, with all day dining available.
Whether you want a hot drink, breakfast, a full lunch or a sandwich the cafe has you covered. The cafe opens at 8.30am, with closing times dependent on the season.
The Lodge Cafe
Located at Hyde Park Corner, the Lodge Cafe offers a good range of made-to-order meals. From an English breakfast to home made pasta, home made soup to home made lasagne, the Lodge Cafe ensures freshly cooked food. Sandwiches, wraps and freshly baked pastries can also be bought here, as well as a selection of hot and cold drinks. The cafe opens at 7am, except on Sunday when It opens at 8am.
Will To Win Sports Cafe Centre
This is an inviting cafe sited at the Hyde Park sports centre. You will find a large selection of hot and cold drinks and food. Soups, stews, pasta and rice dishes are available alongside sandwiches, paninis and salads. Why not try the café's Union roasted coffee, hand-crafted with care by the centre’s team. The cafe has toilet and changing facilities as well as free Wi-Fi. There is a large outdoor seating area where you can enjoy your refreshments.
8. Apsley Gate
The Apsley Gate forms a striking entrance to Hyde Park at Hyde Park Corner. This ornate entrance made from Portland stone was installed towards the latter end of the 1820’s.
Three large stone arches form the entrances to the park, providing a feeling of classical grandeur as you pass beneath. It is not hard to see why it is also called the ‘Grand Entrance’.
The job of designing the gates was given to Decimus Burton, and his plans were approved by King George IV. Burton took his inspiration for the friezes from the Elgin Marbles. These friezes, as well as the scroll topped columns, were created by John Henning.
Just inside the park next to the Apsley Gate is the lodge, built using another classical design by Decimus Burton. The lodge has a lovely turret clock as well as bays designed in a Greek portico style. Both the Apsley gates and the lodge create an impressive entrance and one which is very apt for a Royal park.
9. Serpentine Lido
When the mercury starts to rise in the Summer months, nothing beats taking a refreshing and cooling swim.
The Serpentine lido provides London’s residents and visitors alike an outside pool, a dedicated swimming space cordoned off from the Serpentine lake.
The Serpentine lido was opened in 1930 and was the first outdoor pool in the UK to use the term lido. The Serpentine Swimming Club have access to the lido every day of the year, including Christmas day when they go for their much publicised festive outdoor swim. However, over the summer months anyone can go for a swim in the lido.
As with many similar attractions, the Serpentine lido has a reduced season for 2021. Visitors can use the lido from the 1st July until 5th September. Access times each day are between 10am and 2pm, and any session must be pre-booked. The lido costs just £5 per session, which gives you access to good facilities. After your refreshing swim you can relax over food and drinks in the lido’s cafe.
Hyde Park is a popular venue for events of different types, including the 10 day long British Summer Time music festival which attracts some of the biggest names in music.
If you time your visit right to the park you could witness a spectacular royal gun salute, including April’s traditional salute to mark the Queen’s birthday.
Another event which is always eagerly anticipated is the Winter Wonderland Charity Preview night. This is a six day festive event to get you in the Christmas mood. Lights, rides, attractions, Christmas markets, plus loads for the little ones to enjoy makes this a spectacular event and a good reason to visit the park in November.
Aside from the big events, Hyde Park has lots going on through the course of every month. Monthly walking tours will show you the park’s wonderful natural environment as well as let you in on some of the park’s hidden stories. The park’s series of discovery days provides great family days out, where parents and their children can have fun making discoveries together.
11. More things to do in Hyde Park
There is so much to do and so many places to visit in and around Hyde Park. The following are a few more places of interest well worth a visit.
The Serpentine Galleries across in Kensington Gardens have been championing contemporary art since the 1970’s. With a second gallery added in 2013, the Serpentine galleries continues to showcase both internationally acclaimed and emerging artists. The two sites of the galleries are within an easy five minute walk of one another.
The Serpentine galleries are free to enter, though a small donation is always welcome. Open all year round, the galleries are in the ideal location to wander in and enjoy the varied artistic and architectural works on display.
The galleries are open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm, and there is also a shop where you can buy exhibition products, postcards and limited editions.
Visit the birthplace of Queen Victoria and the present day official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Visitors to this stunning palace will have access to the King’s and Queen’s state apartments, beautifully opulent rooms that ooze history. Explore how the rooms of Queen Victoria’s childhood would have looked.
The place also stages exhibitions where you can see items of historical value such as the wedding dress worn by Diana, Princess of Wales. The palace is open to visitors from Wednesday through to Sunday, with last admission at 4.30pm. The cafe and the Pavilion offer food and drink options throughout the day.
Get up close with nature at the Hyde Park look-out. This eco-friendly building sits in the heart of the park, within its own enclosed area. The look-out has its own lovely garden area, as well as a pond.
This is a great little place for the family to escape to and learn about nature. The garden and pond attracts a variety of wildlife, and is an ideal place for children to explore and interact with nature.
Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk
Hyde Park is a green oasis in the centre of London, ideal for a walk and some fresh air. For walking inspiration you can try the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk, part of which follows trails within Hyde Park. The complete walk is seven miles long and takes in four Royal Parks. Look out for the metal plaques emblazoned with rose emblems which will help direct you on your walk.