With cool, crisp weather and leaves changing to beautiful bright colours throughout the city, autumn is a wonderful time of year to explore London. The parks and gardens across the city are a riot of colour from mid-October, and with over one-fifth of London covered in trees – which officially classifies the capital as a forest – there are plenty of places to enjoy London in the fall. In this post, I will share the best places to see autumn in London, where to enjoy crisp autumn walks and top spots to take photos of the fall foliage.
Autumn in London
Autumn is my favourite time of year to enjoy the outdoors in London, and there are many activities going on throughout the season, from picking pumpkins to nature trails to themed October half term activities at local parks and attractions. For inspiration on things to do during autumn in London with kids, I’ve shared details on nearby pumpkin patches and upcoming October half term events on my Pumpkin Patches Near London and Halloween in London with Kids posts.
Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London covering an area of 2,500 acres and one of the best places to experience autumn in London. The ancient oak woods look haunting and mysterious on misty mornings, and tall grass takes on a golden hue in the low autumn sun. Richmond Park is also home to around 700 deer – red deer and fallow deer – and September to November is the deer rutting season, when male deer compete for breeding rights.
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The female red deer (hinds) will form groups called harems. Each harem is controlled by a single stag, which spends most of its time fighting off rivals by clashing antlers. You’ll find more information about the deer rut at Richmond Park on the Royal Parks website. It is amazing to see the deer but it is very important to always stay at least 50 metres away from the deer at all times.
Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park is also a stunning place to see the autumn colours in London, with maple and sweet gum trees turning a fiery red around the woodland gardens.
Located in Kensington’s Holland Park, the beautiful Kyoto Gardens opened in 1991 as a gift from the city of Kyoto to commemorate the long friendship between Japan and Great Britain. The Kyoto Garden is a traditional Japanese garden with tiered waterfalls, a tranquil pond with koi carp and beautiful Japanese maple trees that turn vibrant shades of orange and red in autumn.
Holland Park is a wonderful place for an autumn walk, especially in the woodland area. Explore the gardens at Holland Park and keep an eye out for the ivy-covered arches by the Orangery that turn a vibrant range of colours during autumn.
October is a beautiful time to explore Kensington Gardens and take in the autumn colours along the tree-lined pathways and around the Round Pond.
If you’re visiting with kids, then stop by the fantastic Diana Memorial Playground, which is a beautiful natural playground with play sculptures, tree-houses and little pathways tucked away in the greenery and clever landscaping for children to explore.
A riverside walk along South Bank is one of the best ways to sightsee and explore London, especially in autumn when the trees along the pathway turn golden. With its lively atmosphere and riverside views, the South Bank is always a pleasure to visit and it’s especially wonderful in autumn for capturing London’s icons – from Big Ben to St Paul’s Cathedral – framed by the changing leaves.
St James’s Park
Combine a stroll along South Bank with a visit to St James’s Park in Westminster for more leaf peeping while sightseeing. Take in stunning views at the lake, looking towards Buckingham Palace on one side and towards the London Eye and Horse Guards Parade on the other. Covering an area of nearly 57 acres, St James’s Park is one of London’s eight Royal Parks and one of the top places to enjoy London in the Fall.
With over 14,000 trees from around the world, Kew Gardens is a wonderful place to enjoy nature year-round and one of the best places in London to see the changing autumn leaves. Highlights include this stunning American smoketree by the Temple of Bellona, views of the autumn colours from the Treetop Walkway, the pumpkin display at the Kitchen Gardens and beautiful lakeside fall foliage.
Terrace at Richmond Hill
Only a five minute walk from Richmond Park (Richmond Gate), the Terrace at Richmond Hill offers a stunning panorama overlooking the River Thames, which is famously, the only view in England specifically preserved by an Act of Parliament.
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This view from Richmond Hill has inspired countless artists and writers for generations since the terrace was laid out in the 18th century. Truly a beautiful spot to visit year round, it is exceptionally stunning for seeing the autumn colours in London.
The enchanting Grade I listed Brompton Cemetery is one of London’s Magnificent Seven, a collection of historic cemeteries circling the city that were built in the 19th century. Opened in 1840, Brompton Cemetery is the resting place of over 200,000 people. You can learn more about some of the famous graves at Brompton Cemetery in their Top 100 points of interest guide.
With over 60 species of trees, Brompton Cemetery is a haven for wildlife and home to several species of birds, including woodpeckers and parakeets, and mammals such as foxes, bats, shrews and grey squirrels, plus over 200 species of moth and butterfly. A peaceful oasis in the city, Brompton Cemetery is a wonderful place to visit to enjoy autumn in London.
Possibly the most popular spot to photograph the autumn leaves in London is Kynance Mews in South Kensington, known for its picturesque ivy-draped houses and archways.
There’s almost always a photoshoot going on here in October once the leaves turn red, ideally stop by during weekday mornings when it’s less busy.
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Gunnersbury Park is a true hidden gem, located in West London, between Acton, Brentford, Chiswick and Ealing. There are over 185 acres of parkland to explore, with nature trails, a playground, Gothic follies and water features.
Gunnersbury Park is a wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors and see the beautiful autumn colours in London, plus the Gunnersbury Museum regularly offers workshops and family activities, including a Halloween Pumpkin Carving workshop in October.
Autumn is a wonderful time to explore the city, and I hope you found this post helpful for discovering beautiful spots to see the fall foliage in London. I will continue to add more photos of autumn in London this season, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments – what is your favourite place in London to see the autumn colours?
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