Walk Distance: 3.7 km
Walk Duration: 1 hour 15 at toddler speed, half a day if stopping off to visit tourist attractions.
Ordnance Survey: Whilst OS maps of London to exist, any good city street map of London will suffice.
Suitable for: Pushchairs, babies in carriers, good little walkers, older children.
Walk Features: Many tourist sites including Wellington Arch, Buckingham Palace, Royal Mews, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and more; plenty of cafes and restaurants; toilets and baby changing available along the route.
For Roo’s 3rd birthday we took her for a day out in London, including a trip to London Zoo and to see where the Queen lives at Buckingham Palace. I devised this walk to cover a range of attractions we wanted to visit during our outing with our London Pass, the highlight for Roo of which was visiting the horses and fancy carriages at the Royal Mews.
The London Sights Walk starts and ends at tube stations although you can easily double back to Green Park station from St. James’ Park if you fancy it. If you’re not visiting the Royal Mews then I’d recommend heading from Wellington Arch to Buckingham Palace via Constitution Hill rather than Grosvenor Place – it’s shorter and you get to enjoy a splendid tree-lined avenue.
The London Classics Green Park to Westminster Sightseeing Walk starts from Green Park tube station. Exit Green Park station via the exit marked for Buckingham Palace. This brings you out into Green Park itself.
Head right, following the path that runs along the perimeter of Green Park along a tree lined avenue. It’s a beautiful spot to walk at any time of year but particularly lovely in autumn when the leaves seem to drip yellow and gold. Look out for the squirrels here – they are entertainingly bold but I wouldn’t let them get a hint of your picnic lunch!
As you walk along Green Park, look out for the war memorials. There is a particularly striking one dedicated to the airmen who lost their lives in World War 2 on the right hand side toward the end of Green Park.
Continue on this path until reaching the corner of Green Park, from where you can see Wellington arch and Hyde Park Corner opposite. Exit the park and head over the road to Wellington Arch for a closer look. It costs £4.20 for an adult to go in (free to London Pass holders) and there are some good views from the terrace at the top, particularly if you’re lucky enough to time your visit just before Changing of the Guard when the Horse Guards parade beneath it en route to Buckingham Palace. It’s a great little visit and one of London ‘s lesser known sightseeing attractions.
From Wellington Arch you have two choices. If you intend to visit the Royal Mews – the working department where the royal carriages and carriage horses are kept – then with your back to Wellington Arch and Hyde Park Corner, cross over the road and head right before turning left down Grosvenor Place. If you don’t want to visit the Royal Mews, then cross over and don’t turn right but instead continue straight down the rather grand looking Constitution Hill ahead of you, with its tall trees lining the road. This decidedly unhilly road has long been used to connect to Buckingham Palace and gained its name from Charles II who was reputed to have taken his walks for his good constitution there. This road will take you to Buckingham Palace which is at the end of the road to the right and where it links up with the rest of the route.
For those heading to the Royal Mews, follow Grosvenor Place and the high, forboding walls of Buckingham Palace’s private gardens. Continue on the pavement, bending left with the road and then turning left onto Buckingham Gate. The Royal Mews with all its glittering royal carriages and well pampered horses lies to your left here and is well worth a visit.
From the Royal Mews, with your back to the building turn left and continue to walk along Buckingham Gate. The road emerges next to the unmistakable front of Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial, tow of London ‘s most iconic sights. Here you can visit parts of Buckingham Palace and the Queen’s Gallery or just enjoy the free show provided by the guards on duty outside Buckingham Palace itself. The steps of the Victoria Memorial make a popular spot for a picnic although the lawns, benches and watery palace views from St. James’ Park a few minutes away are a little more green and secluded.
With your back to Buckingham Palace, turn right and head directly over onto Spur Road. At the corner of Spur Road and Birdcage Walk (named for the Royal Menagerie and Aviary that was at one time located here), you can head into St. James’ Park via a path to the left. Continuing on with the bird theme, St. James’ Park is home to all kinds of wildfowl, including most spectacularly a small population of free range Pelicans whose origins date back to the days of Charles II when he was gifted some by the Russian Ambassador at the time.
Follow the path towards St. James’ Park Lake and then turn right to follow it through St. James’ Park. Look back at the bridge for a lovely view of Buckingham Palace with the waters of St. James’ Park Lake in the foreground. Continue on to the end of the St. James’ Park lake then bear right towards the corner of Horse Guards Road and Great George Street.
Leave St. James’ Park behind and walk down Great George Street towards the famous cityscape before you of Westminster and Big Ben. At Parliament Square turn right and walk around the edge of the square to Westminster Abbey. If you have time then it is worth a visit (free with London Pass), with many Kings, Queens, nobles, politicians and important people taking their final rest here and some spectacular architecture and history to learn about.
From the Abbey walk on around Parliament Square past the Houses of Parliament and the Elizabeth Tower which houses Big Ben (actually the name of the bell not the tower itself). If you’re a British national then you can take a tour up to see Big Ben strike the hour – what a great sightseeing trip for kids!
Turn right and head towards Westminster Bridge for one last look at the famous vista behind you from across the river. When you are ready, walk back to the Parliament Square and north side of the Thames, finishing your walk at Westminster tube station from where you can link back to other London destinations.
We headed off to visit London Zoo in Regents Park after our walk but if you’re still up for more strolling and sightseeing, why not link in with the Tower Bridge to Westminster Sightseeing Walk to pass by the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast and more!
Map of Route:
This London Classics Green Park to Westminster Sightseeing Walk starts from Green Park tube station or you can walk it in reverse from Westminster tube station. Both tube stations can also be easily accessed by bus or Boris Bike!
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