Hands down, one of the best parts of London in the fall is how the trees change color. You might not imagine London as a “leaf peeping” destination (not my favorite expression, but it’s totally accurate, especially if you’re an American) but it is. Across the city, parks, walkways, gardens, and even homes (covered in ivy) change color and the whole place is a riot of warm yellow, orange, and red.
After spring, autumn is my favorite season to visit London, and I’ve visited many times. From cooler temperatures and cheaper airfare to the chance to experience the city in transition – summer gets all the glory, but autumn in London is pretty great too!
Here are 13 of the best places to see autumn colors in London. (I listed them in alphabetical order but you should cross-reference this list with your own London itinerary to decide which one(s) to visit.)
1. Chelsea Embankment
There are trees all along the Thames Path through London, but one of the most beautiful places to stroll under the golden foliage is along the Chelsea Embankment. Never mind this neighborhood is wildly picturesque, this is a must-stop if you need an autumnal Instagram photo.
2. Green Park
Though its name suggests otherwise, trees in Green Park do change color when the seasons change. Take a stroll through the park on a nice autumn day; there are plenty of paths to enjoy. Possibly the most picturesque spot is along Constitution Hill headed toward/away from Buckingham Palace. The trees lining both sides of the street make a beautiful tunnel before the leaves drop.
3. Greenwich Park
I’ve already shared why I think Greenwich is a great day trip from London; this is doubly true in the autumn when sprawling Greenwich Park becomes a patchwork of color. During your visit, you can definitely take in the best sights but prioritize walking a few different paths in the park too – or take a picnic lunch to one of the benches for a completely idyllic moment.
4. Hampstead Heath
You might think it’s sacrilege that Hampstead Heath didn’t make my list of the best views in London, but it’s just so far away that the view isn’t as good as others (in my opinion!). What Hampstead Head does have is beautiful green space in northern London, and beautiful autumn colors during that season. It’s a bit of a journey to visit this area and well outside the Central London most visitors typically tread, but if you’re set on seeing all the leaves possible, it’s a must-see.
5. Holland Park
If you’ve never heard of Holland Park, you’re forgiven – it’s easy to overlook for neighboring Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. But, it’s worth a stop for some leaf-peeping because it’s also home to the Kyoto Garden. This beautiful Japanese Garden is home to other tree species that add variety to the colorful palette you’ll see elsewhere in London.
Kensington is a big place – but there’s a reason this West London neighborhood makes the list: it’s home to some of the best “urban” leaf-viewing in London. In addition to, ya know, palaces, Kensington is also home to historic homes and many of the city’s most picturesque mews. These old buildings are occasionally host to ivy that transforms from emerald green to ruby red in the fall. It’s another photo-worthy spot to explore.
7. Kew Gardens
Far outside Central London, Kew Gardens is worth the journey – after all, a garden is as likely a place as anywhere to see autumn colors in London! In fact Kew Gardens is one of the best places, with miles of trails, countless species of trees and flowers that all adjust to the changing season, and the Victorian greenhouses that are beautiful and fascinating in any season.
Like Kensington, Mayfair is another neighborhood worth strolling through if you want to see changing leaves. Bordering Hyde Park and Green Park on two sides, it’s no surprise that this posh area has plenty of tree-lined streets that change colors in the autumn. There are also mews to explore, and Grosvenor Square is picturesque in a stately way – which makes sense as it’s bordered by embassies on several sides.
9. Regent’s Park
It should come as no surprise that the park named to remind us of the monarchy is royally famous for autumn colors in London. (See what I did there?!) Regent’s Park is one of my favorite green spaces in London since it has some hills, waterways, and is home to the Zoo; in the fall you can stroll the trails as leaves fall for a truly autumnal moment. Level it up by renting a boat to explore by water like you’re in a movie moment.
10. Richmond Park
I made the journey to Richmond Park once while living in London – in fact it was during the autumn! Like Hampstead Heath, you’ll need to plan at least a half-day to visit Richmond Park due to the distance from Central London. But if you want to feel like you’ve escaped the city without traveling completely away, it’s the place to do it. In the autumn, trees turn shades of orange and russet, and the scene is made complete by elk that wander the park freely. (Yes, they really are there – I saw them!)
Southwark is a large London borough, so you might wonder exactly which parts have the best leaf-peeping opportunities. Without recommending places that require too much travel, I’d suggest the Queen’s Walk along the south bank of the Thames, as well as Southwark Park if you want to visit yet another fantastic London park. (There really are tons!)
12. St James’ Park
In the heart of it all, St. James’s Park is an easy spot to see autumn colors in London that you’ll probably pass through on your itinerary anyway. Whether you’re crossing from Buckingham Palace to Downing Street or strolling along the Mall toward Trafalgar Square, it’s easy to find a peaceful path lined by trees with changing leaves. This particular view above is one of my favorites – it’s looking at the Park Bridge along St. James’s Park Lake toward the Horse Guards Parade.
Finally, one more general area worth mentioning for fall colors in London is Westminster. The administrative heart of the city, many of the beautiful buildings sit on tree-lined streets that change during the autumn season. In particular, I love the area around Westminster Palace and neighboring Victoria Tower Gardens.
If you’re planning to visit London in the autumn and want to see the leaves changing colors, now you know where to go! Let me know any questions in the comments.