10 Best Hikes Near London (Day Hikes and Walks)

Steve Rohan Author Bio

Although London is a huge metropolis and capital of the UK, there are plenty of excellent hikes near London both inside and outside of the city. From strolling along the South Bank to exploring the huge Royal Parks and nearby hiking trails, there are hikes around London for all levels of experience.

I’ve done plenty of hiking in London including on Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill, Parliament Hill Fields, and Epping Forest. The city makes a great base for exploring some of the nearby national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Malvern Hills and Kent Downs.

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10 Best Hikes in London

After over 20 years of living and traveling around London, I’ve taken countless hikes in and around the city. I’ve completed many more hikes than this in London, but I’ve narrowed down my favorites to this list of 10 based on accessibility, ease, crowds, views along the way, and overall enjoyment on the trail.

1. Hampstead Heath Circular

Green and clean park of Hampstead Heath in London during the morning.

Hampstead Heath is one of my favorite places for London hiking. Despite it being just 4 miles (6.4 km) from Trafalgar Square, it covers a whopping 800 acres of beautiful countryside. Here, you’ll find a mixture of landscapes from heathland to ancient forests and rolling meadows.

I’ve been walking and hiking on Hampstead Heath many times as it’s so easy to get to from central London and feels like you’re in the middle of the English countryside, (there’s an excellent pub nearby too). The 4.5-mile Hampstead Heath Circular is a very pleasant amble and takes around two hours.

If you’re looking for easy hikes near London this is an excellent option. It’s perfect for walking and jogging, and dogs are welcome so long as they’re on a lead. The trail is open year-round but can get a little muddy in winter so pack wellies (Wellington boots) if it’s been raining before you plan to go.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Start the trail at the Parliament Hill Cafe (a 2-minute walk from Gospel Oak overground or 10 minutes from Tufnell Park underground). Click here to see the trail on AllTrails.
Getting There: Take the overground to Gospel Oak, or the tube to Tuffnell Park (Northern Line).
Length: 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
Duration: 2 hours
Type of Trail: Circle
Elevation Gain: 653 feet (199 meters)

2. South Bank of the Thames

One of my favorite easy hikes around London is along the South Bank of the Thames and I’ve taken this walk more times than I can remember. This isn’t a hike with countryside views, but instead, you’ll be rewarded with views of one of the most iconic cityscapes in the world.

The route takes in some of London’s most famous sights including Tower Bridge, the HMS Belfast, Shakespear’s Globe Theater, and more. The trail starts at the Tower of London (I usually start the walk from Liverpool Street Station) and finishes at the Tate Modern (conveniently next to the Founder’s Arms).

This is definitely one of the best hikes around London if you want to see some of the famous landmarks in the city. As the trail is paved the whole way and takes just over an hour, you don’t need to worry about hiking gear. Just ensure you have a comfortable pair of shoes, and a brolly (umbrella) in case it rains.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The trail starts at the Tower of London. Click here to see the route on AllTrails.
Getting There: The nearest tube is Tower Hill (Circle and District Lines). It’s a ten-15 minute walk from Liverpool Street Station.
Length: 3.1 miles (5 km)
Duration: 1 hour and 18 minutes
Type of Trail: Out and Back
Elevation Gain: 404 feet (123 meters)

3. Parkland Walk (Finsbury Park to Alexandra Park)

landscape of Finsbury Park

This is another hike I’ve done a few times as I used to live close to Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) in north London. This is one of the best hiking trails in London that takes you through some beautiful countryside along an old, disused railway line (including an abandoned platform).

The Parkland Walk is a popular route for walkers, joggers, and cyclists as it’s relatively flat. It’s also a great walk for families as there’s some interesting wall art and pictures along the route as well as a play area. There are plenty of places to stop for a picnic too, so pick up some supplies to make a day of it.

The route finishes up at Alexandra Park next to the impressive Alexandra Palace which is well worth a visit alone. There’s a boating lake and a pleasant rose garden, and the Phoenix Bar and Kitchen is an excellent place for a pint with stunning views from its beer garden.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The trail starts at Finsbury Park Station. Click here to see the route on AllTrails.
Getting There: Take the tube to Finsbury Park (Picadilly and Victoria lines).
Length: 4.1 miles (6.6 km)
Duration: 1 hour and 37 minutes
Type of Trail: Point to Point
Elevation Gain: 528 feet (191 meters)

4. Thames Path National Trail (Hammersmith to Richmond)

Unlike the trail along the South Bank, this Thames hiking path takes you out of the city and into semi-rural areas on the outskirts of London. I cycled the Thames Path National Trail when cycling from London to Bristol a few years ago and this part of the Thames is absolutely beautiful.

This is where you leave the metropolis behind and instead find a slice of suburban Britain with canal boats and country pubs on the river. It’s one of the best hikes near London for its scenery and is an easy trek thanks to its mostly flat terrain. The route goes past the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew which is one of the top places to visit in London.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The trail starts at Hammersmith Bridge. See the route on AllTrails.
Getting There: Take the tube to Hammersmith which is on the District and Picadilly lines. It’s a two-minute walk to the bridge.
Length: 6.4 miles (10.3 km)
Duration: 2 hours and 11 minutes
Type of Trail: Point to Point
Elevation Gain: 360 feet (110 meters)

5. Epping Forest Oak Trail

Epping Forest Oak Trail hikes

Epping Forest is located just outside of London in my home county of Essex. It covers a massive area of 2,400 hectares and incorporates a range of landscapes and habitats from pastures to meadows, forests, and over 100 lakes and ponds. There are plenty of hiking trails ranging in length and difficulty to choose from.

One of the best and most beautiful of these is the Oak Trail. This moderately challenging route takes around three hours to complete, but I highly recommend packing a picnic and making a whole day of it. This is one of my favorite places to go hiking near London as it makes a great escape from the city that’s within easy reach.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Epping Forest is 30 miles (48 km) northeast of London. The trail starts at Theydon Boyce. See the route on AllTrails.
Getting There: Take the Central line to Theydon Boice (penultimate eastbound station).
Length: 6.7 miles (10.8 km)
Duration: 2 hours and 48 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 850 feet (259 meters)

6. Regents Park to Primrose Hill

Regent’s Park is one of London’s Royal Parks and is a great place to escape the city. This easy circular walk takes encompasses the beautiful park and leads you through tree-lined paths, through perfectly manicured gardens with colorful flowerbeds, and past the large boating lake where you can stop to take a boat out on the water.

You’ll pass an open-air theater before making your way up to Primrose Hill for stunning panoramic views of the city skyline. This part of north London is typified by large, Victorian houses, boutique shops and artisan bakeries, cafes, and restaurants and is one of my favorite places to hike in London.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The trail starts and ends at the bandstand in Regents Park. See the route on AllTrails.
Getting There: Baker Street Tube (Circle, Bakerloo, and Hammersmith & City lines) is just a two-minute walk from the park.
Length: 4.2 miles (6.8 km)
Duration: 1 hour and 36 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 380 feet (116 meters)

7. Chess Valley Walk (Chiltern Hills AONB)

Chess Valley Walk near London

For more hardcore hikers, the Chess Valley Walk (it’s most definitely a hike) is an 11-mile trek through the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beuty (AONB). This is one of the most stunningly scenic parts of the country that’s within easy reach of the capital.

This point-to-point route will take you through picturesque villages, along valleys, and across open farmland and rolling hills. You’ll need to be moderately fit to attempt this hike but you’ll be rewarded by beautiful scenes of rural England. The trail can get particularly muddy after rain, so best pack wellies if it’s wet.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The train starts at Rickmansworth railway station. See the route on AllTrails.
Getting There: There are multiple hourly trains from London’s Marylebone station and the journey time is just 22 minutes. The route finishes in Chesham and there are tube trains back to London on the Metropolitan line.
Length: 11.4 miles (18.3 km)
Duration: 4 hours and 44 minutes
Type of Trail: Point to Point
Elevation Gain: 1,493 feet (455 meters)

8. Box Hill (Surry Hills AONB)

The Box Hil, Lodge Hill, and Juniper Hill Trails are situated in the Surry Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty less than an hour by train from the capital, and make for some of the best hiking near London. This area is famed for its sweeping countryside vistas and is the perfect place for a day hike outside the city.

The route is moderately challenging and takes over four hours to complete, but it’s better to take it easy and allow a whole day for the experience. There are plenty of excellent places for a picnic where you can stop to enjoy sweeping views of the Surry countryside and you’ll pass through ancient woodland, open fields, and valleys.

There are some steep climbs so you’ll need to be fairly fit to tackle this hike, but it’s definitely worth the effort for the gorgeous views. If the weather isn’t conducive to picnics, or you decide to hike in winter, you can warm yourself up in the charming King William VI pub with its roaring log fire.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The trail starts and ends just outside the village of Pixham near Dorking. See the route on AllTrails.
Getting There: Take the train from London Blackfriars to Dorking (Deepdene) via Redhill. The journey time is one hour.
Length: 7.4 miles (11.9 km)
Duration: 4 hours and 4 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 1,818 feet (554 meters)

9. Otford Circular (Kent Downs AONB)

Otford Circular Walk near London

This moderately challenging hike takes in the beautiful Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) an hour southeast of London. In addition to the gorgeous rolling hills, forests, and valleys, there are lots of interesting things to see along the way including the Otford Solar System; one of the largest model solar systems in the world.

This is a fantastic trek for more experienced hikers; there are some steep climbs and parts of the trail follow country roads, making it difficult for families or beginners. If you go in spring you’ll be met with a sea of bluebells, but this time of year can be a quite muddy so wear suitable footwear.

This is a brilliant hike at any time of year as the area receives a nice breeze in summer, and in winter it looks even more scenic under a layer of snow (be sure to pack a warm coat!). The route starts and finishes off very close to The Woodman pub which is well worth popping in for a refreshment and some rest.

Trail Details and Information

Location: The route starts and finishes at the Otford Memorial Hall in the village of Otford, Kent. See the route on AllTrails.
Getting There: There are direct trains from London Blackfriars to Otford railway station and the journey time is one hour.
Length: 5.5 miles (8.9 km)
Duration: 2 hours and 35 minutes
Type of Trail: Circular
Elevation Gain: 958 feet (292 meters)

10. Frinton to Walton Coast Path

beach at Frinton-on-Sea

Although there aren’t any waterfall hikes near London, there are some excellent coastal hikes within an hour or two of the capital. The beach at Frinton-on-Sea is one of the nicest in the southeast of England and somewhere I’ve spent a lot of time (I swam there a lot last summer).

You can either walk along the beach or follow the coast path at the top of the cliffs the two miles from Frinton to Walton-on-the-Naze where my family used to own a beach hut. The cliffs around the Naze are impressive and you can see evidence of different geological periods here.

Frinton is just 90 minutes by train from London and makes a perfect day trip to the coast, meaning summer is the best time to tackle this hike if you like the ideas of finishing off with cooling sea dip. Take the whole family and check out the amusement on Walton Pier before jumping on a train back to the capital.

Trail Details and Information

Location: Frinton is located on the east coast of England in the county of Essex. Click here for directions.
Getting There: There are hourly trains from London Liverpool Street station to Frinton-on-Sea. The coast path and beach are a ten-minute walk from the station.
Length: 2 miles (3.2 km)
Duration: 1 hour
Type of Trail Out and Back

Tips for Hiking Around London

Below, you’ll find some handy tips to help you get the most out of these London treks:

View from the Greenwich Park in South East London towards Canary Wharf.
  • Always bring waterproofs: England is famed for its wet weather, so it’s best to be prepared and pack a waterproof jacket. Some trails can be very muddy after rain so Wellington boots are recommended if hitting the hiking trails near London.
  • Use public transport: Many of the best hikes in London start in or around the city so it’s best not to bring a vehicle (to avoid parking problems, congestion charges etc). Instead, make use of London’s excellent public transport. Many of the trails start near an underground station so are easy to get to.
  • Hike in spring or fall: To get the best out of trekking London avoid the summer as the trails can become very busy, and the weather is often too hot for it to be enjoyable. Spring and fall are the perfect times as the weather isn’t too hot or cold and the trails aren’t overrun.
  • Hike during daylight hours: Although hiking in London is very safe, ensure you plan your route so that you don’t end up hiking after dark (which is common sense anywhere). Stick to the trails and don’t wander off into areas you’re unfamiliar with.
  • Download a map: I use Maps.ME which doesn’t require an internet connection or data as it uses real-time GPS. You can also download a hiking app such as AllTrails which features many of the routes and helpful details of how to get to trailheads etc.

Hiking in London: FAQs

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about hiking around London:

What is the most popular hike near London?

The Hampstead Heath Circular Walk is one of the most popular hikes near London as it offers some stunning countryside surroundings just a short tube ride from the center of the city. This is also one of my favorite London walking trails and one I’ve done many times.

What is the easiest hike around London?

The South Bank is one of the easiest hikes around London as it’s flat and paved the entire way. This is an excellent way to see some of the top sights in the city as it follows the Thames from the Tower of London to the Tate Modern.

Are there any waterfall trails near London?

There are some small manmade waterfalls in some of the London parks such as Regent’s Park, St James’ Park, and Holland Park, but to see larger, natural falls you’ll need to head away from the city to Scotland or Wales.

What should I wear when hiking around London?

What you should wear when hiking around London depends on the time of year you go. In summer, you’ll want to pack light as summers in the city can be hot (bring swimming gear if going to Hampstead Heath). In winter you’ll want to wrap up with layers, and in spring and fall you’ll want to have a mixture of layers. It’s a good idea to take waterproofs at any time of year.

What is the most beautiful trail near London?

The Epping Forest Oak Trail is one of the most beautiful trails near London (and in my home county of Essex). Explore ancient woodland and walk among over 100 lakes and ponds in this gorgeous forest park.

Is hiking around London dangerous?

Hiking around London isn’t dangerous if you stick to recognized paths and hike during daylight hours. These London trails are popular and busy areas with plenty of people around at most times. Take the same precautions you would anywhere and don’t flash valuable equipment around. Taking a camera is fine, but keep it secure in a bag when not using it.

In Closing

Now you know about the best hiking in London and the surrounding areas, which one will you choose first? I’ve done many of these hikes countless times and always enjoy getting out into parts of the city that are away from the main tourist traps. From easy city walks to London day-hikes in stunning countryside, there’s something for everyone.

With so many excellent hikes near London, there’s no excuse not to get outside and take in some fresh air (and stop by one or two pubs along the way). So, dust off those hiking shoes, pack some sandwiches, and have a go at one of these walking trails in London.

That said, if the weather lets up, another viable option is to go to a beach near London!

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Looking for a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of city life? Our meticulously researched guide showcases the 10 incredible hikes near London, ensuring that every step you take leads to a new adventure! From challenging terrains to leisurely strolls, these trails cater to hikers of all levels! So, take a break from the concrete jungle, follow these trails, and let the beauty of nature invigorate your senses! | #exploringLondon #outdoorwanderlust #hikingbucketlist #Londonnature #getoutside

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Steve Rohan Author Bio

Written by

Steve Rohan

Steve Rohan is a writer from Essex, England. In 2015 he moved to China to teach English where he lived for over six years. He has lived and taught in the cities of Harbin, Luoyang, Sanya, and spent a few months in Hong Kong, before returning to England in 2022. He has visited over 60 countries to date and usually opts for overland travel (yes, even between the UK and China). Steve has travelled extensively across China, and Central Asia. Having lived much of his life within a 50-mile radius of London, the city is his second home and he knows it like the back of his hand.

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