London, being relatively flat, is the perfect place to pick up your pace for everything from a lunchtime jog to a long weekend run. We bring you our favourite trails, taking in royal parks, woods, canals and railway lines along the way.
Blessed with dozens of green spaces and waterways, including the mighty River Thames, London offers many excellent opportunities for putting those running shoes on and getting out to enjoy the city at a slightly breathless pace. Let’s exploce The Best Running Routes in London below.
The Best Running Routes in London
St James’s Park to Hyde Park
Start in St James’s Park, a green space dating back centuries (the pelicans in the lake were introduced in 1664), before heading up The Mall, London’s main ceremonial thoroughfare, toward Buckingham Palace.
After a quick bow/curtsy, enter Green Park particularly beautiful in spring when it’s carpeted with daffodils and head for its northwest corner where you run under the Wellington Arch (named after the Napoleon defeating British duke) and into Hyde Park. Jog along the Serpentine lake towards another royal abode, Kensington Palace, and the end of the route.
Victoria Park Loop
Victoria Park is the green jewel in East London’s crown. Big enough to host a number of different festivals, it is speckled with cafés and ponds and has a scenic loop of paths that keeps you almost entirely off the streets. The route you take is entirely up to you, one full loop of the park is just under eight kilometres (five miles). This is once of The Best Running Routes in London.
This is a figure of eight course that takes in many of central London’s green spaces, including Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St James Park. You’ll be running between Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace, and then back again a route fit for royalty.
Locals’ London along the Thames
This route hugs the twists and turns of the Thames as it follows an almost rural path through some of London’s nicest neighborhoods. Cross the river from Putney Bridge station and head west the trail is easy to follow as it keeps almost entirely to the water’s edge.
Highlights en route include the stunning Harrods Furniture Depository, the historic Hammersmith Bridge, views into Kew Gardens, and Richmond Green, the site of a former royal palace where medieval jousts have been replaced by picnicking locals.
Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill
From the tube station quickly cross awful Marylebone Road and enter the calming surrounds of Regent’s Park. Flower filled gardens (most famous is Queen Mary’s Rose Garden) are highlights in the southern section of the park. Don’t worry if you hear the loud growling of a lion London Zoo, the world’s oldest, occupies the northern half. Exiting the park, Primrose Hill rises ahead. Once the scene of duels and boxing, it’s now where visitors enjoy views of the city from its highest point. Catch your breath and take a photo before heading back through the park to the tube station.
South East London Parks
There are so many green spaces in the southeast of the city that there are multiple options for the start and end point of your run. However, both Crystal Palace and Herne Hill train stations are good choices, as they are easy to get to and from and have plenty of great cafés, restaurants and pubs nearby.
Brockwell Park and Crystal Palace Park can both get quite steep if you’re looking for some elevation, and while there are parts of the route that require you to run on the road, these cut through the impressive grounds of Dulwich College.
Along the Regent’s Canal
The Prince Regent (future George IV) made a lasting impression on London, having Regent’s Park built along with this eponymous canal. Dug two centuries ago to carry goods in and out of the capital, these days it’s a (mostly) pretty spot for a run.
Follow the towpath from its start at Limehouse (where the canal connects to the Thames), past canal boats (around 10,000 people live this way in London), Victoria Park (a grand 19th century green space built to benefit residents of the crowded East End), and hipster hotbeds such as Hackney’s Broadway Market, before it ducks into a tunnel and you sprint to the finish at Angel tube station.