How to See the Best of Southwest London

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Visiting London is always a highlight, and visiting the best of Southwest London and its Royal Parks is also a great idea for a day trip from London City.

An easy option to see these beautiful Royal Parks and other historical places in southwest London is to purchase an Oyster Card for trains, underground or buses to:

  • Putney
  • Wimbledon
  • Richmond Park, Old Deer Park, Kew Gardens
  • Hampton Court Palace and Bushy Park
  • Kingston upon the Thames

One of the best times to visit is Spring, with parks full of blossoms, tulips, and daffodils, including Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park. It’s amazing.

London is a city you never tire of, with so many amazing places to see:

How to See the Best of London when time is short

12 London Landmarks on the Thames River Walk


See the Best of Southwest London

Woman sitting in a field of daffodils
Grounds of Fulham Palace in southwest London

The green spaces of southwest London, with its leafy streets and Royal Parks, are popular, especially on weekends. It’s no wonder the cafes and restaurants take full advantage of the views along the River Thames.

Sometimes, getting away from the inner city is refreshing, allowing you time to explore slower and discover some unexpected hidden gems. It’s one of the reasons to visit South West London in the spring.

We love spending time in southwest London and want to show you the best things to do and places to visit in southwest London.

How to Go House Sitting in London

We got to spend each April in southwest London based in Putney, thanks to TrustedHousesitters.

House sitting is a great way to have free accommodation while looking after houses and pets. Every April, we look after Gracie the dog and Gordon the tortoise, as well as a lovely home.

Although walking is our favourite way to explore new places, having the use of a car with our house sit allowed us to visit many of the beautiful parks in southwest London.

A dog and a tortoise touching noses
Gracie and Gordon
A dog laying on green grass
Gracie – such a lovely dog
A tortoise about to eat a piece of lettuce
Gordon, the tortoise


1. Royal Parks in Southwest London

The eight Royal Parks in London are:

  • Hyde Park
  • Richmond Park
  • The Green
  • Greenwich
  • St James’s Park
  • Bushy Park
  • Regent’s Park
  • Kensington Gardens

Richmond Park is the largest, and St James’s Park is the oldest.

2. Explore Richmond Park and everything within

a stream with a tree jutting out from the grassy bank
A stream in Richmond Park

Richmond Park in southwest London is the largest of London’s eight royal parks.

The park is popular for walking, golfing, cycling, and running. Being with nature within this 856-hectare park, three times the size of Central Park in New York, is impressive.

On early weekend mornings, the 8-mile circuit road is busy with cyclists. Runners keep to the trails while the dog owners go cross-country walking the grassy areas.

You can enter through several gates by car or by foot through one of the several gates.

White Lodge in Richmond Park

A white building down a grassy frield
White Lodge, Royal Ballet Lower School

King Charles I created Richmond Park in the 17th century. White Lodge, found within the park, was once a royal residence and is now home to the Royal Ballet. 

Isabella’s Plantation in Richmond Park

Colourful red and pink flowers along a path
Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park

Richmond Park has so many highlights, and the hidden gem for us was finding Isabella’s Plantation hidden behind a fence treeline.

Who would have thought we would find such a beautiful garden within this large park?

The mobile offline app MapsMe will help you to locate this beautiful garden.

To walk amongst spring in bloom with daffodils, magnolias, camellias, azaleas, and bluebells, Isabella Plantation is a garden to savour.

Throughout the plantation, you will find waterways and ponds with the most beautiful backdrop of colour.

Man and woman in front of pink flower bush
Us enjoying Isabella Plantation

Wildlife in Richmond Park

A deer looking directly at us
Richmond Park has red and fallow deer

Rabbits, squirrels, birds (even Parakeets), horses.

A squirrel sitting on top of a branch
Finding squirrels in Richmond park
A group of people horse riding in a large green field
Horse riding available in Richmond Park
beautiful colourful duck near a pond
Mandarin Duck in Richmond Park (bred in captivity)

3. Old Deer Park in Richmond 

Old Deer Park, where Terry once played cricket for Richmond Cricket Club, is another park of 147 hectares.

It includes two 18-hole golf courses and is bounded by the River Thames and Kew Gardens.

Men playing cricket
Old Deer Park cricket ground with the Pagoda of Kew Gardens in the background

Queen Elizabeth, I visited her favourite Royal Palace here in the park. However, King James I changed the park for hunting; hence, it was renamed Old Deer Park.

Measure the Old Meridan Line

Terry walking the Meridian Line

Three obelisks built in 1874 for the King’s observatory are between Twickenham Bridge and the Richmond Lock.

At one time, London’s official time was set from calculations at Kew before being moved to the observatory at Greenwich.

To learn more at ⇒ Royal Parks of London

4. Watch for Boats at Richmond Lock

Woman looking over a fence into a water lock
Richmond Lock

The River Thames runs alongside Old Deer Park, and near Twickenham Bridge is the Richmond Lock. Still in use today, you can walk up and along the top of the lock.

5. Lunch at Richmond upon Thames

A lot of brick three storey buildings
Richmond bank along the river

Warm spring weather and maybe a boat ride from Richmond to Kingston upon Thames or Hampton Court Palace.

Or grab a bite to eat at one of the riverside restaurants.

Getting to Richmond: Take the train from Waterloo or the District Line.

Colourful rowboats on a river with stone bridge
Richmond Bridge opened in 1777 and is one of 214 bridges crossing the River Thames.
Red and Blue passenger train crossing over a bridge
Richmond Railway Bridge was built in 1848 and rebuilt in 1908


6. Visit Hampton Court Palace 

Red brick building with turret chimneys
Entrance into Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace dates back to 1515 when Henry VIII acquired the Palace from Cardinal Wolsey, who lost favour with his King for not securing a divorce.

The palace was the King’s retreat away from London City, reached by boat along the River Thames. You can also take a boat cruise from Richmond via Kingston to Hampton Court Palace.

Queen Victoria opened the palace to the public in 1838, allowing access to beautiful gardens. In spring, you can wander the various gardens where daffodils bloom underneath an umbrella of blossoming trees.

Hampton Court Palace charges an entrance fee of £26 – definitely more expensive than our free visit many years ago. But it gets you into the famous hedge maze created in 1689, the tennis courts, beautiful gardens and water fountains.

Gracie enjoyed her walk around the grounds.

Getting to Hampton Court Palace: Use your Oyster Card for the train from Waterloo Station to Hampton Court.

Daffodils in a grassy field with blossom trees
Gardens of Hampton Court Palace
Water in a pond of a gold statue
Statue of Goddess Diana on Chestnut Avenue entrance to Hampton Court Palace.

7. Find Deer in Bushy Park 

Two deer grazing in a large field
Deer in London’s Bushy Park

Bushy Park is 445 hectares of grassland and ponds, the second largest of London’s Royal Parks. The park is north of Hampton Court Palace, where red and fallow deer graze leisurely along the pathways.

The park also provides home grounds for sporting clubs such as rugby, cricket, and hockey.

It was here in 1871 that the modern rules for hockey were written.

And our first-ever travel together brought us to the village of Teddington near Bushy Park. We just had to visit the old flat.

A three storey house with turret windows
The rooftop flat on the top right

8. Shop at Kingston upon Thames

A cobbled square with a beautiful stone building on market day
Old Town Hall in Kingston upon Thames marketplace

The city dates back to 838 as an old market town. Kingston upon Thames was one of the earliest royal boroughs, bordering two ancient kingdoms of Wessex and Murcia.

During the 10th century, Saxon Kings were crowned in the town in St Mary’s Church. But all that remains is a coronation stone of the church today.

The market square has old buildings and is pedestrian-friendly, with a university nearby.

Getting to Kingston upon Thames:

  • Southwestern train from Waterloo to Kingston
  • Bus 85 from Putney to Kingston upon Thames
An old stone from medieval times
Coronation Stone outside the Guild Hall since 1935.
A round brick building, three storeys high
Guildhall in Kingston upon Thames
12 red telephone boxes lying like Dominoes
What would the Kings of old think of this iconic art of red telephone boxes

9. Fun Facts about Putney

A terrace row of houses on a beautiful day with cars parked out front
House Sitting in Putney

On a morning walk to Putney High Street, we see a fairy door at the bottom of a tree in one of the local streets. The children had left notes and gifts for the fairies. So cute.

Putney Bridge was built in 1729 and was the only bridge between London City and Kingston upon Thames. Sorry, no photo – the bridge was a tad uninspiring.

The Boat Race, since 1846, has taken place between Cambridge and Oxford every year in late March or early April. It starts at Putney Bridge.

The River Thames is the longest river in England at 296kms starting in the Cotswold and ending at the Thames estuary. The sea tides from the estuary to the Teddington Lock affect the river 19 km upstream from the Putney Bridge.

Sometimes, the difference between high and low tides can be up to 7 meters.

The river’s lesser-known feature is it serves as an alternate route to London city, with barges removing waste by keeping trucks off the busy roads.

With so many royal parks at our doorstep, we had lots of park walks with Gracie to explore.

10. Walking Putney Heath

Putney Health offers many walkways in sheltered areas, woodlands and open areas with ponds and paths to explore.

On a clear day, you can even see a view across London.

Using the MapsMe App, you can find walking paths on Putney Heath for interesting historical items without getting lost.

The park areas were used during the world wars to train various regiments. Scattered throughout the Heath, monuments acknowledge the people who served.

Getting to Putney:

  • Southwestern train from Waterloo to Putney
  • District Line to Putney East
  • Then, Bus 93 from Putney to Putney Heath


 11. Walk the Wimbledon Common

Windmill at Wimbledon Common

Putney Heath joins Wimbledon Common.

We were keen to find the Wombles of Wimbledon, responsible for keeping the Common clean and void of rubbish. Well, that was the TV show we used to watch.

We didn’t find any Wombles and no rubbish either. What we did find was the historical Wimbledon Mill.

The Wimbledon Mill was where Baden Powell wrote part of the Scouting for Boys while living in the mill in 1908.

Getting to Wimbledon Common: Take Bus 93 from Putney or Wimbledon

12. Wimbledon Village

Wimbledon High Street has some beautiful boutique shops and restaurants, giving the area an old English charm.

But Wimbledon is most famous for its tennis tournament in June and July. An event we waited in line to attend some years ago for the scheduled evening games.

Wimbledon Tennis Courts, London

However, our walk from the High Street to the tennis club was uneventful. Once there, we started taking photos just outside the gate.

Then, a grumpy security guard came out of his little shed, got very agitated with us for taking the photos, and asked us to move on.

Golly gosh! How rude!

Terry had stepped over a marked white line marking a no-go area for ordinary people.

Feeling deflated, we headed for home with Gracie. But wait, what did we find in the suburban streets of Wimbledon?

Could that be a Thai Temple?

13. Buddhapadipa Temple

Buddhapadipa Temple is the first traditional Buddhist Thai temple in Europe. The temple is easily accessible, allowing you to walk around the gardens and admire its beauty freely.

The address for the temple is 14 Calonne Road, Wimbledon SW19 5HJ – and the monks didn’t mind us taking a few photos inside the gate!

White temple with red roof and gold eaves
Buddhapadipa Temple, Wimbledon

Getting to Wimbledon: District Line to Wimbledon


14. Take a Walk from Fulham to Hammersmith Bridge

Stone square church tower amongst trees
All Saints Church in Bishop Park Riverside

Bishops Park was the country residence of the Bishop of London, dating back to the 8th century. It was gifted to the borough of Fulham in 1883 so that people could freely enjoy the beautiful walled gardens, museum, and café in the Drawing Room.

Bishops Park Riverside to find the old stone All Saints Church dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. The church was raised by a meter because of continuous flooding from the River Thames in Victorian times.

The Bishops’ Tree was the hidden gem. An artist, Andrew Frost 2007 carved depictions of the various Bishops who developed the gardens.

Fulham Palace Garden artwork

Craven Cottage has been Fulham Football Club’s home ground since 1896. However, the cottage was originally Countess Craven’s house, built in the 1770s.

We wanted to experience the atmosphere of a football game in England, so we purchased tickets for Fulham versus Aston Villa at Craven Cottage.

With a packed stadium and a vocal and enthusiastic crowd, the encouraging chants spurred the team to a 3-1 win.

Fulham vs Aston Villa at Craven Cottage

Hammersmith Bridge is impressive. The first bridge was built in 1827 between Putney and Kew by Tierney Clark, who also designed the first bridge across the Danube.

You can walk across the latest bridge built in 1887, but with the movement and some wooden struts visible, it felt a little scary.

Hammersmith Bridge

Harrods’ Depository building on the opposite bank once stored furniture of the same name for the store. It was built in 1914 in a style similar to Harrods, now used as apartments.

Old Harrods Depository building

London Wetland Centre was built in 1990 from disused water reservoirs. The centre charges for entry to view the wildlife amongst the gardens and ponds.


15. Spend a Day at Kew Gardens

Its official name is the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, covering 132 hectares of gardens. As the national botanical garden, it is also a world heritage site.

Kew Gardens has more than 30,000 plant types and is one of the largest herbariums.

A visit to the Temperate House, refurbished in 2017, is a must-see, allowing visitors to walk at the top of the glasshouse to view the plants below.

Inside the glass building with tropical plants
Temperate House in Kew Gardens

For prices and times ⇒ Royal Botanical Gardens Kew

Getting to Kew Gardens: District line in the direction of Richmond

Visiting Southwest London 

Finally, if you get the chance to visit any part of southwest London, you will love the green spaces, Royal Parks and Palaces.

Time away from the busy pace of London City may be a needed break in your travel itinerary.

Make sure to buy an Oyster card for your travel, and stop at the café at Bishops Palace; It’s not every day you dine in a Drawing Room.

And if you get the chance, go to a local football match, even if you don’t like football, the crowd will entertain you.