Hampstead Heath ★☆☆
A vast park in North London, with lovely views, wooded rambles, swimming ponds, cozy pubs, and Old Master art in a genteel manor house
You can ramble these 790 acres of old growth forest just a Tube's ride north of the city center.
Hampstead Heath—"The Heath" to its aficionados—is just about the highest point in all of Greater London, and you can get excellent (if distant, urban-hazy) views over London and its increasingly skyscraper-prickled skyline from a viewpoint on the heights of Parliament Hill.
The only real "sight" is the genteel, early 17th century manor of Kenwood House, with its free art gallery featuring works by Rembrandt and Vermeer. (If it looks vaguely familiar, perhaps you are recalling the "filming the Henry James picture" scenes towards the end of the Julia Roberts/High Grant romcom Notting Hill.) » more
The park is vast. You can swim in the string of swimming ponds on its east and southwest edges, visit a small zoo in the western Golders Hill Park section, use the public sports facilities (including a pool and a petanque pitch) in the park's southeastern corner, dine in the restaurant-filled trendy village at its southwestern edge where many international celebrities live quietly, and relax in the countryside pubs scattered throughout the Heath itself (My favorite: The cozy and literary 16th century Spaniards Inn; » more)