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Top 10 Free Things to do in South London

Home > London > Free | Fun Things To Do | Parks | Walks | Lists
Published April 24th 2012
South London may not have Hampstead Heath and Camden Town but it has some cracking markets, parks, walks, open spaces and exciting gems of its own. Check out these special places - on foot, and by bus and tube.

1. Brixton Village

The talk of the town, the old Granville Arcade is now bristling with cafes, coffee shops and restaurants, attracting press and punters from well beyond SW2. Not just for cool young things, take the Victoria line to Brixton and wander around.

2. Brockwell Park


Huge and gorgeous park, bounded by Brixton, Herne Hill and Tulse Hill, with views from the cafe on the hill to Central London. Money is being poured in, with a new playground about to open and the secluded walled garden being rescued from dilapidation. A lido, tennis courts, BMX track, community greenhouses, water play area, cricket nets, bowling green and masses of space means this is well worth a trip, with loads of buses passing near the main gate, or take the train to Herne Hill.

3. Sydenham Hill Wood


Tardis-like spot of ancient woodland near leafy Dulwich that is a favourite spot for locals to walk and play. Once in, wander along the old railway track, captured by Pissaro, and visit the ruined folly. Bus 63 for the Crescent Wood Road entrance, or walk from Dulwich Park up Cox's walk to the old railway bridge.

4. Wimbledon Common

Often overlooked, perhaps because of its better known neighbour Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common has its own charms, including some off-road biking possibilities ideal for the faint of heart, and a mixture of woodland, heathland, ponds and other delights. Lovely walking too - take the 37 bus to the Green Man, walk across Putney Health and Wimbledon Common, into Richmond Park at Robin Hood Gate, and stagger on down into Richmond through Petersham Meadows and along the river for refreshment and the train home.

5. Battersea Park

Landscaped park hugging the Thames, oddly atmospheric for somewhere so central. With a children's zoo, adventure and normal playgrounds, lake and cafe, and sports facilities, it's just a very good park. Train to Battersea Park station or 137 bus.

6. Riverside walks
Flooding at Putney, London
Walking proved a little tricky that day

Endless options here, with train stations dotting the Thames path west of Putney, allowing lots of flexibility. The stretch from Putney to Barnes Bridge is an especially lovely combination of urban and rural.

7. Myatt's Fields Park

Small but perfectly formed Victorian park near Oval that has been recently restored and has an active community group running it. It's got a water play feature, tennis courts, a bandstand with regular performances and a cafe. A little oasis in a rather built-up area, so a nice spot to drop into if you are in this neck of the woods.

8. Horniman Museum and Gardens

Very pretty gardens with a quirky Victorian museum attached - a particular highlight is the over-stuffed walrus in the natural history exhibits. There is a small aquarium (there is a charge for this), and collections of musical instruments and anthropological exhibits. It makes a good day out combined with Sydenham Hill Wood, has a playground opposite, and is close to Forest Hill station and plenty of bus routes.

9. Tate Modern

Well, we can't ignore it now, can we? Vast, with free permanent exhibits and a changing and often controversial display in the Turbine Hall. The two shops are good present-hunting territory too. Walk from here to Waterloo Bridge or London Bridge for the cultural or culinary delights of the South Bank or Borough Market, and buses, tubes and trains home. Or Jubilee line to Southwark.

10. West Norwood Cemetery

One of the 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries built in the 19C that ring Central London - this one opened in 1837 and is overgrown and rambling in places. Go on a gloomy day, wander - and wonder. At the top of the High Street.
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Why? Explore South London for nothing
When: Any time
Where: In and around South London
Cost: Nothing
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