AllWellbeing

The 8 best green spaces in London for a mindfulness lunch break

After a challenging few years for many, people across the country are searching for the best ways to look

By Sally

After a challenging few years for many, people across the country are searching for the best ways to look after their mental health and wellbeing. And one particularly effective way to do so is by practising mindfulness. Performing mindfulness techniques can help us to stay present and truly appreciate the world around us (NHS). While mindfulness techniques can be effective at any point throughout the day, many find it particularly beneficial to practise mindfulness at some point during work hours. It can really help when it comes to reducing work-related stress, and a study has found that the practice can even reduce feelings of burnout.

Of course, when it comes to finding the best place to practise mindfulness you will likely be looking for somewhere with a bit of privacy. For a truly peaceful setting, why not take your practice outdoors? Studies have found that spending time in green space is good for your health, and practising mindfulness outside has been found to be particularly beneficial (mindful). And the good news is that there are plenty of green spaces in London that are perfect for practising mindfulness. To help you narrow down your search, we’ve researched green spaces across the capital and rounded up eight of the best places for a mindfulness lunch break in London.

How we chose these green spaces

To find the best places for a peaceful lunch break in London, we analysed the data on parks and green spaces in eight of the capital’s busiest commuter hotspots: Islington, Croydon, Kings Cross, Docklands, Shoreditch, Southwark, Kensington, and Bethnal Green. We then drew up a list of criteria to find which park or green space provided the best setting for a mental health-boosting lunch break in each area.

One feature we looked for was the presence of wildlife, like birds and squirrels. Wildlife is perfect for creating a peaceful atmosphere, and appreciating it will allow you to stay present in the moment. We also included the presence of water in some form, as it has been found that spending time near water can have a positive impact on mental health (BlueHealth). Another element of our criteria is access to sporting facilities. As well as improving physical health, research has found that combining exercise with mindfulness can be particularly beneficial for your mental health too.

To find out more about our research, check out our methodology at the bottom of this page.

Kings Cross: Camley Street Natural Park

Right in the middle of this hectic area of the capital lies a peaceful oasis of tranquillity. Camley Street Natural Park is one of the smaller parks in our round up, with just 2.4 acres of land, but rest assured that it’s packed full of fantastic nature spots for you to explore. The park is run by the London Wildlife Trust, and has plenty of opportunities for spotting the local fauna, whether you’re looking for birds in the reedbeds or fish in the wildlife pond.

The perfect place to sit back and soak up the nature in the park is on the floating platform. The platform sits right on the water, and can be used to spot swans, moorhens, and more. There is an accessible entrance to the park, and the park in itself is largely accessible, aside from a southern portion of the canal which can only be accessed by steep steps. There are also free toilets and an on-site café for refreshments.

Getting there: The park is just an eight-minute walk north from King’s Cross train station, and six minutes from King’s Cross St Pancras tube station. If you’re looking for a scenic walk to the park, get the bus to St Pancras Old Church and walk for five minutes through St Pancras gardens to Camley Street, where you’ll arrive just outside of the park.

Shoreditch: Spitalfields City Farm

Animals can teach us a lot about mindfulness, and Spitalfields City Farm is the perfect place to learn from them. This free farm is home to pigs, sheep, ferrets, and more, so why not pay it a visit and appreciate the beauty of nature? Aside from these animals, there’s also a tranquil wildlife garden which is the perfect place to take a peaceful stroll.

If you really fall in love with the farm after your visit, you can even become a volunteer and make use of the volunteers’ vegetable garden! The farm has accessible access and you will also find a café, picnic area, and toilets on site. While access to the farm is completely free, donations are appreciated from those who can afford it.

Getting there: The closest bus stop is just a three-minute walk away and is found on Underwood Road (Stop T). Once you get off, simply start heading north, turn onto Buxton Street, and you will see the entrance on your left. The closest tube station is Shoreditch High Street, which is just an eight-minute walk away.

Southwark: Dulwich Park

Dulwich Park is the ideal lunchbreak spot for people looking to combine mindfulness with exercise. There are so many different options available, so whether you’re looking to hire a bike, workout at the outdoor gym, or simply go for a jog to clear your head, you’re bound to enjoy spending your work break here. And if you’re looking to relax on the water, you can even hire a rowing boat or pedalo and spend some time on the boating lake.

But don’t worry if you aren’t keen on having an active mindfulness lunch break; this is one of the largest parks in our roundup so rest assured that there are plenty of other things to enjoy here too. On Wednesdays you can explore the Dulwich vegetable garden, and the tranquil dry garden is the perfect place to relax any day of the week. You’ll also spot plenty of wildlife at the park. There are accessible entrances, and there are toilets on site too, so you can easily spend your whole mindful lunchbreak at Dulwich Park.

Getting there: If you’re travelling by train, get off at West Dulwich station and head east along Dulwich Common for 10 minutes until you see the southern entrance of the park. There’s also a bus stop just outside one of the park’s entrances next to the Dulwich Picture Gallery (Stop VK).

Islington: Whittington Park

Whittington Park is a fantastic area to spend a peaceful lunchbreak. Located in the north of Islington, this park is a great place to spot wildlife. Not only does it have a wildlife pond and ecology garden, but it’s also home to an RSPB sparrow meadow, which is the perfect place to stop and pause and appreciate the bird song.

Aside from these features, the park has a beautiful woodland area which is the perfect place to take a stroll, and a free outdoor gym for those looking to get a workout in on their lunch break, too. The park also has accessible entrance and toilets on site, making it both convenient and the ideal place to practise mindfulness during your work break.

Getting there: Whittington Park is well connected, so it should be quick and easy for many people in the area to access. The park lies just north of the Emirates Stadium and can be accessed by Holloway Road. Upper Holloway bus and train station, also located on Holloway Road, are just a four-minute walk away. The closest tube station, Archway, is just a 10-minute walk away on the corner of Junction Road, which is found at the top of Holloway Road.

Croydon: Wandle Park

If you’re looking for an area with plenty of open green space, Wandle Park in west Croydon is the ideal spot for your mindfulness lunchbreak. You can spend your peaceful break from the office taking a stroll alongside the River Wandle. And this isn’t the only water feature in the park, as a pond can be found just next to the bandstand, which is the perfect place for spotting wildlife.

The park is also home to two stunning gardens: a rose garden and an ornamental garden. These two areas are the perfect place to sit and soak up the beauty of the nature around you. The park is fully accessible, and the toilets can be found inside the on-site café.

Getting there: Getting to Wandle Park couldn’t be easier, as the Wandle Park tram station is located just outside one of the entrances to the green space. Buses also stop just outside one of the park’s entrances at the Rectory Grove bus stop on Cairo New Road. West Croydon train station lies northeast of the park, and is just an eight-minute walk away.

Docklands: Island Gardens

If you’re looking for a simple place to relax and take in some beautiful views, Island Gardens is the perfect spot for you. This park is located on the southern corner of the Isle of Dogs, right on the waterfront. If you have an interest in art, you may recognise the view from a piece by Italian artist Canaletto, known as “A View of Greenwich from the River”.

There are plenty of benches along the riverfront to admire the view which inspired Canaletto. While the park is small, there’s still a good amount of open green space to sit back and relax on. Island Gardens is also fully accessible, and there is a café on site for refreshments.

Getting there: The spot can be easily accessed by bus and DLR. Both the Island Gardens bus stop and DLR station are located on Manchester Road, just two minutes around the corner from the park. Island Gardens can also be accessed easily from South London, as the Greenwich foot tunnel stops just outside the park.

Kensington: Holland Park

This stunning park is one of the most peaceful in the capital, and a fantastic place to practise mindfulness on your lunchbreak. One of the best things about the park is that it has something for everyone. There are sports facilities around for people looking to practise active mindfulness, and plenty of quiet spots for those looking for a tranquil space to relax in.

There are so many fantastic places to explore in the area, but particular highlights include the woodland area and the beautiful Japanese Kyoto Garden. And of course, what could be better than simply relaxing on one of the many benches across the park and soaking up your surroundings? There are free toilets and accessible access points, making this the perfect spot for anyone to take a mindful break in their workday.

Getting there: It couldn’t be simpler to get to the park, with the Holland Park tube station and bus stop located just outside the park’s main entrance. However, this entrance is steep, so people with limited mobility may prefer to get the bus to Phillimore Gardens bus stop and use the Kensington high street entrance, which is just a two minutes’ walk away.

Bethnal Green: Victoria Park

You will likely already have visited Victoria Park before, but have you ever spent a mindful lunchbreak there? There are so many peaceful spots in the park, from the Victoria Park lake where you can spot ducks, swans, and other local wildlife, to the beautiful Old English Garden which has plenty of benches for sitting back and admiring the view.

And for those of you looking to get active, Victoria Park is the perfect place for a jog or a cycle. You can also hire a rowing boat in the summer months to admire the beautiful park from the water. There are toilets on site and the park has accessible entrances, so everyone gets to enjoy the tranquil and beautiful surroundings Victoria Park has to offer.

Getting there: There are two bus stops on Grove Road, which runs between the park, making it incredibly easy to explore either side of this 213-acre park. For those travelling by train, Hackney Wick is a seven-minute walk to the eastern entrance of the park, and Cambridge Heath is a seven-minute walk from the western entrance. The park is around 15 minutes’ walk away from Bethnal Green tube station.

“Performing mindfulness techniques everyday is great for both the body and the mind. But it can sometimes feel challenging to practise mindfulness in the workplace, where it can be difficult to get alone time.

“Despite being the most built-up city in the UK, there are plenty of fantastic green spaces to explore in London, from Hampstead Heath to Hyde Park. And if you’re looking for the perfect place to spend a peaceful lunch break for practising mindfulness, you’re bound to find somewhere you love on our list.

“There are many different ways to practise mindfulness, and our list has got you covered no matter what your methods are, from getting active in Dulwich Park to soaking up the scenery at Island Gardens. And as every park on our list is within easy walking distance from public transport, you’re bound to find a place convenient for you.”

Sally Evans, Director of Operations at Making Moves

Methodology:

Our aim was to find the best green space for mindfulness in eight areas of London (Islington, Croydon, Kings Cross, Docklands, Shoreditch, Southwark, Kensington, Bethnal Green). These areas were chosen as they tend to be commuter hotspots with significant amounts of office space.

We used information from local council websites, Tripadvisor, and Google Maps to find green spaces in each of the eight areas. We then used the same three sources to find the relevant information in our mindfulness criteria, including the size of the space, distance from public transport, and sports facilities in the green space. To view our research, click here.