The Coolest Fab and Free Outdoor Playgrounds in London

Here’s a round-up of the best playgrounds in London. Not just the celebrated well-known play areas, but several local gems as well. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, make sure to take advantage of London’s many excellent play areas!

What we’re looking for in a good playground

  • Play Elements: Are the play areas safe and secure? Our favourite paly areas have customized play areas for different age-groups.
  • Fun factor: No fun with fancy looking play parks if the kids get confused and it’s just chaos everywhere you look. For us, it’s function over form when it comes to playtime.
  • Facilities: How are the nappy-change facilities? Playground toilets are not always the best.
  • Good for parents? A cafe with good coffee is always a big plus!

Also, don’t forget to check our list of the most loved indoor playgrounds in London!

Tumbling Bay Playground
Tumbling Bay Adventure Playground in Stratford’s Olympic Park (East London)

London Playgrounds by Area

Click on the links to find play areas in each area of London:

  • Central London: With most playgrounds located within the Royal Parks, you’ll find plenty of well maintained play areas. Great for the kids taking a break from the busy streets in the city centre.
  • South West London: If you’re looking for the creme de la creme of playgrounds head to Hampton Court and Kew Gardens for two amwesome playgrounds (paid entry).
  • West London: Holland Park stands out with it’s celebrated new playground in West London.
  • North London: If you’re out walking on Hampstead Heath, don’t forget to check the great playground right below Parliament Hill.
  • East London: There’s a good mix of old and new play areas in East London. For London’s longest slides, head to Vicy Park’s play area.
  • South East London: You’ll find several big and well-maintained play areas located in areas like Greenwich, Peckham-Rye and Crystal Palace.

Check our Playgrounds Map for an even easier overview of play areas in London.

London Playgrounds
Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens.

Central London Playgrounds

Sightseeing can be a tiring business for kids, but luckily there are some great play parks in Central London when in need of a break. Be warned though, they quickly get crowded during weekends and school holidays!


Horseferry Playground

Westminster, Central London

A place for fun in a corner of Westminster

  • Well maintained play area perfect for toddlers and younger kids
  • Proximity to some of London’s prime attractions
  • Combine a visit with a picnic in Victoria Garden right next to the play park
  • Large sandpit, just remember to bring some toys!
  • The playground is missing a more challenging play area for older kids
Horseferry Play Area with the Palace of Westminster in the background

Horseferry Playground is a great place to stop if you’re visiting the area around Westminster and want to reward the kids with some playtime. It’s not a large play area, but there’s enough for toddlers to have fun for a while. We like also like that it’s open plan with lots of rubber surfaces as well as conveniently located right next to a park where you can watch the boats on the Thames pass by.

Read more about Horseferry Playground and some of the attractions you’ll find in the same area


St James Park Playground

Westminster, Central London

Play next door to Buckingham Palace

  • Small, but well-planned play space Natural elements like wood, sand and rocks
  • Easy for parents to relax and watch (when free boulders are available)
  • On the tourist trail, meaning huge crowds during weekends and holidays
  • Kids will get fed up quite quickly (it’s really small)
St James Park Playground
There are lots of big boulders to enjoy in St James Play Park

St James Play Park comes in really handy when the kids get tired of sightseeing. Despite the small play space, we always enjoy this play park because of the climbing boulders and sand area. This is a key adventure playground in Central London to keep on your radar if you’re visiting with young children!

Read our in-depth review of St James Park Playground


South West London Playgrounds

There’s no lack of big and adventurous playgrounds in South West London. Great for little climbers in need of a nature fix, both Battersea Park and Kew Gardens offer treetop experiences.

Battersea Park Playground

Battersea Park, South West London

Little monkeys climbing high and low

  • Gated area for the little ones, shielding toddlers from older kids
  • 4 different play areas for different age-groups
  • Easy to keep an overview since the area is really compact
  • Challenging climbing frames for older children
  • The area is extremely popular during weekends and feels crowded
Battersea Park Playground
Battersea Play Park on a typical busy day during weekends

Battersea Park is a family-friendly park, and the adventure playground area has been cleverly designed to facilitate many different types of play areas within a limited area in the southwest corner of the park. For families with children in different age groups, it’s relatively easy to keep an overview even when playing in separate sections. The concept of clustering the play areas so close together is a double-edged sword; when the park becomes crowded during weekends, the place feels chaotic with kids and parents high and low.

Read more about the 4 distinct play areas in Battersea Play Park


Children’s Garden at Kew

Richmond, South West London

Play areas matched with the basic elements of nature

  • State of the art playground, safe and well maintained
  • Educational with focus on nature’s elements
  • Wide range of play-areas for all abilities, great for toddler aged children
  • The different areas are divided up, making it hard for parents to keep oversight
  • Hard to predict and plan for the time-slot you will be assigned
Kew Gardens Playground
Having fun running around the treetops in Kew Garden

Children’s Garden at Kew feels 100% organic. We love how they have focused on natural elements when designing the playground around the key elements of earth, air, sun and water. On the other side, we also found it hard to keep an eye on our kids with different sections of the park divided by bushes and hedges.

Read our in-depth review of Kew Gardens and the Children’s Garden


Magic Garden at Hampton Court

Richmond, South West London

What would Henry VIII have said?

  • Excellent sand and water play area
  • Very popular mound with built-in tunnel slide
  • Inspirational for kids interested in history
  • Very crowded, despite the limitation on visiting time
  • Some of the elements like the royal towers seem mostly for display purposes
Girl playing with water in The Magic Garden
Enjoying the Magic Garden at Hampton Court on a sunny summer day

Magic Garden has been designed to be an inspirational play garden for children visiting Hampton Court just starting to learn about Tudor history. It’s a truly unique play space, combining modern design with historical elements making it one of the best playground parks in London in our book. It also gets very crowded during school holidays and weekends which was a surprise to us since entry is ticketed with dedicated time-slots. We also felt the layout was slightly confusing, with sections of the park divided up making it hard for parents to keep an overview of multiple children at the same time.

Read our in-depth review of Magic Garden


West London Playgrounds

Home to one of the most stunning play areas in London built in recent years, West Londoners can be proud of their beautiful Holland Park.

Holland Park Playground

Kensington, West London

Beautiful AND functional play park

  • Inspiring with play elements well integrated with the park landscape
  • A challenging climbing structure called the “Fishing Tower” keeps older kids occupied
  • Very little use of plastic and rubber, play frames mostly made of wood, metal and ropes.
  • Safe and accessible for toddlers around the sandpit.
  • As always in London, great public play park like this one get really crowded during weekends.
Enjoy climbing frames made of natural wood in Holland Park Playground

Holland Park Playground has everything that you’d expect from a newly designed play area. Challenging and accessible at the same time, it’s made out of natural materials and feels both functional and safe. Note that there’s a traditional play area for toddlers not far away from the main adventure playground, gated and a lot less busy.

Check our main review if you’d like to read more about Holland Park Playground


North London Playgrounds

North London has access to so many green spaces like Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest. Parliament Hill Playground is a local favourite where you’ll find all the essential play features.

Parliament Hill Playground

Hampstead Heath, North London

Just perfect after a walk on the Heath

  •  Good selection of solid and well-maintained play frames and a large sandpit
  • Sections divided for children of different ages
  • A great play area for local people, one of the best play parks in London
  • No wow factor inspiring imaginary play
Parliament Hill Playground
Parliament Hill Playground located right next to Hampstead Heath

Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath is what we would call a no-frills play area, with a range of very solid and well-maintained run of the mill play elements like swings, slides and climbing frames.

You get what it says on the tin, which means it’s not necessarily the most inspiring park sparking children’s imagination. On the other side, being so close to Hamstead Heath is a big plus as you can combine a visit to the play space exploring the beautiful woodlands.

Read our review of Parliament Hill Playground


East London Playgrounds

If your kids like long slides, you should definitely consider a visit to Victoria Park Playground in East London where you’ll find three impressive slides right next to each other.

Alexandra Park Playground

Ally Pally, East London

A big slide saves the day

  • Our kids loved the long slide, which is also the centrepiece of the play area attracting lots of kids queuing up for the big ride
  • Lots of basic type of play elements like swings and climbing frames for the little ones
  • Gated play area for toddlers away from the main playground with older kids
  • Mostly constructed in brutalist concrete (in the 70s?), it feels scruffy and in need of an upgrade
Alexandra palace play area
On top of the mound in Ally Pally Playground

Ally Pally is a super popular spot for North London families during weekends, and we were surprised about the play area not being better maintained. Luckily kids are not as fussy about playground design as parents, so they’ll most likely have a great time. Our kids really enjoyed the long slide and the gated play area for toddlers was safe and functional.

Check out more pictures and our main review of Alexandra Park Playground


Olympic Park Play Area

Stratford, East London

Children getting active in Olympic surroundings

  • We like the huge rubber surfaced mounds safe for kids of all ages to climb
  • Innovative climbing elements challenging school-age children
  • Lots of space to run around without kids bumping into each other
  • Except for physical activity, more functional than an inspiring play area
  • Quite hard to get to from public transportation/parking
Playground in Stratford
Enjoying a swing (and a swim?) in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford

Olympic Park is a vital part of the regeneration project around Stratford. The modern-looking playground works well from parents’ perspective; it’s easy to keep an eye on the children, and the grounds are covered with safe rubber surfaces. This means kids can explore and play more freely with less worried parents :-)

Read our full review of the Olympic Park Play Area


Victoria Park Playground

Tower Hamlets, East London

Kids love the thrilling slides

  • Three long slides side by side on top of a mound – what more could kids ask for in a playground :-)
  • Great for school-age children in need of a challenge
  • The gated V&A play area (separate from the main play area) is perfect for toddlers and kids up to around 8 years.
  • Small skatepark that becomes very full during weekends

You’ll be able to choose from several different slides in East London’s Vicky Park

Victoria Park or “Vicky Park” as it’s known among Londoners continues to fulfil its original purpose as set out by the Victorians providing a place for play and relaxation in East London. The main play area can be a bit intimidating at first sight with its massive slides and climbing frames teeming with active kids of all ages, but it’s generally safe and it’s a friendly atmosphere. Bringing toddlers and young kids, the V&A play area is much less frantic with more accessible play parks.

Read more about the activities you can do in Victoria Park


South East London Playgrounds

South East London is spoilt for choice when it comes to large play parks like Burgess Park and Crystal Palace. Many of them have been refurbished in recent years as well, like Peckham Rye Play Park featuring challenging climbing elements and treehouses.

Burgess Park Playgrounds

Southwark, South East London

A beatiful woodland playground

  • 3 distinct play areas for different age-groups
  • Beautifully designed wooden climbing frames in the Woodland play area
  • A huge spider web challenging even the bravest of climbers
  • A long slide and zip-line (always a plus)
  • The gated toddler-area is really small and easy to miss
Ready for the big slide in Burgess Park Playground

Burgess Park is a family-friendly green area of South East London with an impressive amount of play areas for children. We don’t really have any big negatives, besides that the two main play areas have been constructed in different parts of the park. So if you’re a family with children in different age groups, you either need to split up or tackle one play area at a time.

Read more about Burgess Park Playground and our suggested activities in this part of South East London


Crystal Palace Playground

Crystal Palace, South East London

Perfect for little dinosaur fans

  • We love the dinosaur skeletons and bones sticking up from the sand
  • Lots of other things to do in the area makes for a full day out
  • A nice cafe for parents to pick up their boost of caffeine
  • Basic play elements like seesaws, swings and slides.
  • A bit too basic for school-age children
Boy playing in a sandbox in Crystal Palace Playground
Dinosaur bones sticking up from the sand area in Crystal Palace Playground

Crystal Palace Park is usually a winner, even if the play elements are limited to a few basic swings and slides. We really like that it’s so spacious and open allowing kids to run around while parents relax and enjoy their coffee. The Jurassic-themed sand play area in combination with a visit to the 1850s dinosaur statues will make most dinosaur obsessed children happy!

Read our in-depth review and see more photos of Crystal Palace play area


Greenwich Park Playground

Greenwich, South East London

Happy toddlers full of water and sand

  • An inclusive play space that feels safe for toddlers as well as school-age children
  • Open landscape, easy for parents to supervise
  • Lots of engaging play areas for the youngest age-group 1-6
  • Very crowded during summer without on-site staff
  • Limited play options for school-age children
Enjoying Greenwich Park Playground
The water area in Greenwich Park playground is a lot of fun for toddlers

Greenwich Park play area, managed by the Royal Parks is a safe choice for toddlers. We love the water and sand area where children can play together and find new friends. There’s plenty of old-school play elements available as well like slides, swings and climbing frames. Greenwich Park is next door with its impressive views across London, making it perfect for picnics in the summer. Our biggest negative is that it gets really crowded during weekends and school holidays, but that’s London for you!

Read our full review of Greenwich Playground


Peckham Rye Park Playground

Southwark, South East London

Parent-friendly play area with easy access to coffee

  • A clear divide between areas for toddlers and older children
  • Open landscape, easy to keep an eye on the children
  • Nice cafe and parent-friendly
  • The treehouse can be risky for inexperienced climbers
Peckham Rye Adventure Playground
The sand and water area in Peckham Rye Playground is great for toddlers

Peckham Rye play park ticks a lot of boxes in our book, and we think it’s one of the best local playgrounds in London. It’s both safe and challenging for toddlers, and we like the sand and water area. The play area is really well planned out, easy for parents to keep an overview while relaxing on the many boulders.

The climbing forest for school-age children is at a good distance, but it’s still possible for parents to keep an eye from the toddler area. One word of caution; the treehouse is really high up, so children should be constantly supervised when climbing.

Read our review of Peckham Rye Park Playground


Southwark Park Play Area

Southwark, South East London

It does exactly what it says on the tin

  • We really like the challenging spiderweb climbing frame and the long steep slide
  • Safe and solid toddler section fenced off separate from the main play area
  • Easy for parents to keep an overview
  • Our biggest negative is that you need to cross several heavily congested roads to access the park (from the Surrey Quays side)
Sliding in Southwark Park
This slide in Southwark Park is always popular!

Southwark Park play area received a makeover not long ago and features two separate play areas; a gated toddler space and a more challenging area for older kids. It’s easy for parents to keep an eye on both areas, which is part of the reason why we like this park so much. Definitely among our favourite local play areas in South East London.

Read our review of Southwark Park Play Area


Map of playgrounds in London

Check out this playgrounds map if you’d like a quick overview of where to find the play areas on our list:

map of playgrounds in london
Map of London’s play areas spread out across the city

FAQ play areas in London

What’s the best playgrounds in London?

Three of the best play parks:
Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens
Children’s Garden in Kew Gardens
Magic Garden at Hampton Court

Also, don’t forget about local community play areas where you’ll often find the friendliest faces and best vibes. Examples of good local play parks:
Peckham Rye
Holland Park
Parliament Hill

Are playgrounds in London free?

Yes, the play parks are usually public and free of charge. The exceptions are play areas part of attractions with paid entrance, like in Kew Gardens and Hampton Court.

Are London’s playgrounds safe?

The big public playgrounds are not considered dodgy in any way; these are places where most people are comfortable going during the daytime. Having said that, you run the same risk as everywhere else in London when it comes to robberies and getting your mobile nicked.

What types of play areas are there in London?

A) Free public playgrounds with swings, slides etc. B) Free adventure playgrounds with more challenging areas for older kids C) Indoors/outdoors paid for play areas

What is the most popular play elements?

Climbing frames, slides, swings and sandpits are usually among the most popular play areas.

Why are play parks so important for kids?

With kids spending more and more time in front of screens, publicly available play areas are more important than ever. Not only does playgrounds provide opportunities to stimulate fine motor skills developing balance and coordination. They also help children develop social skills through collaboration and increase their self-esteem by challenging and mastering physical skills.

What are adventure playgrounds?

These are play spaces with less static elements like swings and slides and more focus on letting children explore on their own. With natural materials available, children can use their imagination to create and build structures for their adventures. In London, many adventure playgrounds started as play spaces in second world war bomb sites that developed into more organised activities over time.

What is a soft play area?

You can find big and small soft play areas pretty much everywhere. Either as stand-alone facilities or part of shopping centres, museums or leisure centres managed by local councils.

Are London’s playgrounds supervised?

Play parks in London are usually not supervised, except for some of the big ones like Diana Memorial Playground and Kew Garden’s Children’s Garden.

Are the playgrounds in London gated?

Yes, playgrounds are usually gated.

Are there toilets and baby change facilities at playgrounds in London?

Yes, when it comes to the bigger play areas you usually find facilities either inside the playground or close by.

What’s your favourite play area?

Let us know in the comments if you have a favourite playground in London! Which adventure playgrounds did we miss out on? Any feedback welcome :-)

20 comments

Olivia February 16, 2021 - 3:20 pm

This is just fab 🤗 Bookmarked and shared! London is so full of surprises, love that there are so many amazing playgrounds to choose from.

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LondonDucklings February 20, 2021 - 10:24 pm

Thank you for sharing our post lovely, you’re the best 🤗

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Kathy February 16, 2021 - 3:29 pm

Brilliant list of playgrounds! With the pain of lockdown, our local playgrounds have saved us from going insane. Staying confined to our local area during the pandemic really made it clear how important it is to have local green spaces and play areas, so hopefully this will trigger local councils to invest more in playgrounds! Oh, and a tip for a playground not on your list: Kilburn Grange Playground is just amazing with natural climbing frames and really cool swings 🐵

Reply
LondonDucklings February 20, 2021 - 10:27 pm

Thank you! And that’s so true about the lockdown Kathy. Without London’s many parks and playgrounds, these hard months would have had a much worse impact on everyone.

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Daniela February 20, 2021 - 10:22 pm

Peckham Rye Park is our local playground, and our kids 3 and 6 years old just love it there.

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LondonDucklings February 20, 2021 - 10:29 pm

Lucky you, living close to Peckham Rye Playground! One of our favourites :-)

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Lucy February 21, 2021 - 7:53 am

So true about all the nannies in the Diana Playground! Many of them glued to their mobiles, while their charges running wild 🙈

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LondonDucklings February 21, 2021 - 10:35 am

I often wonder what the parents would say if they were aware 🤔

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Celine February 22, 2021 - 11:06 am

Our daughter fractured her arm after falling down from climbing the treehouse in Peckham Rye… and she’s a deardevil and confident climber, so please be mindful of the risk if taking kids there…

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LondonDucklings February 22, 2021 - 11:14 am

So sorry to hear about your daughter 😢 Thank you for the warning Celine!

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Dani February 23, 2021 - 12:41 pm

We don’t bother to travel just for the sake of visiting playgrounds, with one important exception; the long slides in Vicky Park 😂 They’re definitely worth a quick ride on the tube!

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LondonDucklings February 23, 2021 - 12:46 pm

Totally agree! It’s great fun (at least until it gets completely crowded and chaos erupts 😂).

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George February 24, 2021 - 1:02 pm

We love the playground in Kew’s Garden, just wish the time-slots would be a bit longer… we travel quite far and pay a lot for the entrace, and 90 minutes goes by very quickly when having fun!

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LondonDucklings February 25, 2021 - 9:04 am

That’s a really good point! The time-slots should definitely be a bit longer, so you also have time for a break when inside the playground.

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Donna February 25, 2021 - 3:49 pm

I used to take the kids to Coram’s Field before covid, but now it’s been ages since I visited Central London… can’t wait for London to open up again in spring!

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LondonDucklings February 25, 2021 - 5:32 pm

Same here! Fingers crossed the opening will go as planned during spring.

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Joseph February 27, 2021 - 8:52 am

The Diana playground has been so nice and quiet during lockdown compared to the normal tourist season…

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LondonDucklings February 27, 2021 - 10:50 am

Yeah, the Central London playgrounds have been a lot quieter than the ones in the outer boroughs now during lockdown.

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Jane S February 28, 2021 - 7:14 am

Crystal Palace Park is just perfect for a Sunday out with the kids! Just wish the dinosaur statues would look a bit more similar to actual dinosaurs 😂

Reply
LondonDucklings February 28, 2021 - 9:10 am

Very true 😂

Reply

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