And guess what: Most of them are free!
London’s huge buildings and endless views might make for some pretty pictures and I certainly spend a fair amount of time admiring both. But sometimes we all need some time away from the craziness of the capital city. Between going to work, recovering from work and attempting to have a social life, it’s a whole other job trying to squeeze in some free time to relax.
So why not make a day of it?
Dotted around London are some lesser-spotted and lesser-visited gems that’ll provide everything you need in terms of peace, quiet and tranquility.
So, next time you’re getting pressed into someone’s armpit on the Northern line, you know where you need to go.
I could tell you so many reasons as to why you should visit Neasden Temple but one of the main ones (aside from being beautiful) is that it’s so peaceful. Maybe because it’s not one of the better known tourist attractions of the city but also because, well, it’s a temple, it’s a great place to visit when you want some space to breathe. Check out the stunning architecture and also the incredible interiors and prepare to be wowed. The temple is free to enter (with donations welcomed/suggested) but bring £2 along to join the Hinduism exhibition. There’s also a delicious veggie restaurant onsite if you’re stopping by for food, too. 105-119 Brentfield Rd, London NW10 8LD
London Wetlands Centre
London Wetlands Centre is open 364 days a year, so it’s a great option for a chilled day unless you find yourself particularly stressed on Christmas day. It’s another that’s full of animals but this time they’re slightly bigger and/or hairier: you’ll find cheerful otters and delightful ducks swimming around the waters and dragonflies, frogs and butterflies buzzing around above. If you schedule your visit around 11am or 2pm, you can even watch the otters being fed. Take your camera because the LWC is a great place for some photography, too. Queen Elizabeth’s Walk, Barnes, London, SW13 9WT
The Barbican conservatory might be tucked away inside the brutalist estate but it’s the second biggest in London and has the huge variety of plants and animals to match. Inside, wander around and admire more than 2,000 types of exotic plant and tree while you listen to the sounds of birds singing. Take a trip to the aviary, the cactus room and the fishpond to get well and truly back to nature without venturing too far. The conservatory is the perfect place to chill out and destress on a Sunday and is open between midday and 5pm. And, possibly best of all, it’s all free to enter. Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS
As the name would suggest, the Detox Kitchen is the place to go for vibrant, tasty food that’ll leave you feeling full and also quite smug. Head to one of their delis in Soho or Fitzrovia before work for the breakfast bar if you want to feel truly life-together-esque. A “coconut dragon” might not sound like the most relaxing way to start the day, but these smoothie bowls are both Instagrammable and healthy. The Fitzrovia deli also has a studio, so you can do a morning workout before heading off to the office. Pre-order your smoothie bowl to arrive just after you finish working out and you’ll know what it feels like to be someone who’s got their life together. 10 Mortimer St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 3JJ
Eel Pie Island
Eel Pie Island might be slightly more difficult to access than some of the other options on our list but it’s worth the trek. This private island spot is situated in south west London, near Twickenham, and can only be accessed by crossing an arched pedestrian bridge. On the other side, you’ll find fishermen, many boats and a pub. It’s the kind of place that’ll make you feel a bit like you’ve gone back in time. The “Eel Pie” name comes from the pies that used to be served at the local pub, back in the day. The fishermen claim you can buy almost everything there still, but you can be the judge of that. Eel Pie Island, Twickenham, TW1 3DY
Syon House and Park
Syon House is surrounded by more than 200 acres of land, so you’ll definitely find some peace and quiet here. This old country house is owned by the Duke of Northumberland and was built in the 16th century. Not only is the house itself steeped in history (with some very ‘grammable furniture) but the grounds also make for some excellent pics. Gaze at the Great Conservatory, count the colours of the flowers in the parkland and pretend you’re in a film while lying in the meadows. If you visit on a Wednesday afternoon (2pm), you’ll also get to take part in a free tour of the house. Syon House, Syon Park, Brentford, Middx TW8 8JF