As the summer sun gives way to autumnal mists and wintery frosts, the capital's trees turn red, gold and orange, making for gorgeous seasonal walks and excellent photo opportunities, no filter required. Here are our picks of the best London spots to get a dose of autumn beauty.
If doing these walks in autumn 2020, note that some park cafes and toilet facilities may not have returned to normal opening hours yet, so check before you go.
Autumn in Richmond Park
For us, Richmond Park is London's quintessential autumn spot. Steaming morning mists give way to antlered stags, against a backdrop of golden leaves.
Covering 2,500 acres, there's a lot of Richmond Park to see, and you're bound to stumble across some autumn colour whichever corner you visit. For maximum photo opportunities though, head to the Isabella Plantation, a 40-acre woodland garden.
The website offers a month-by-month plant diary, and a handy guide to the autumn colours. Acers and the 'sacred bamboo' plant are among the foliage offering fiery orange and blood red shades at this time of year, which reflect beautifully in the three ponds.
Autumn in the Royal Parks
If Richmond Park (above) is a bit too far out, London's other Royal Parks wear autumn pretty damn well too. Take St James's Park — that stunning view from the lake bridge looking east towards Horse Guards goes technicolour at this time of year, with the London Eye and palatial-looking government buildings flanked by fiery hues.
Over in Regent's Park, too, the Broad Walk pedestrian path running north-south really comes into its own, the wide, tree-lined avenue becoming a golden tunnel, with a similar effect on Blackheath Avenue in Greenwich Park.
Autumn leaves on Chelsea Embankment
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With its gorgeous, traditional street lights and stunning river views, Chelsea Embankment is photogenic at any time of year. In autumn, it ramps it up a notch, with golden plane trees forming an arch over pedestrians below, who crunch through piles of leaves on the ground. With benches all the way along the riverside, it'd be rude not to sit down and admire the view.
Autumn leaves on Horse Guards Parade
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Ever noticed those leaf-covered structures on the corner of The Mall and Horse Guards Road, just behind Admiralty Arch? The small, standalone cube is part of the National Police Memorial, while the large, imposing wall is part of the Admiralty Citadel, a bombproof shelter.
What you need to know is that the green camouflage layer turns a dazzling shade of red in autumn, as the Virginia Creeper prepares to shed its leaves.
Autumn leaves at Kynance Mews
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Is there any time of year when this tame Kensington street looks anything less than spectacular? Its wisteria-draped facades draw photographers in throughout the spring, and then calls them back in the autumn when deep-red tendrils grace the photogenic stone arches. Expect to see this place all over Instagram.
Autumn at Kew Gardens
If it's leaves you're after, London's huge botanical garden is the obvious place to head. The arboretum alone is home to 14,000 trees from all over the world, which should keep your leaf-crunching dreams alive for a while.
Usually the Treetop Walkway and the stunning Great Pagoda) offer stunning views of colourful autumn leaves from above, but unfortunately they remain closed for now. Back on solid ground there's plenty to see though — cross the lake via the Sackler Crossing to see the towering balls of colour reflected in the waters.
For a satisfyingly symmetrical shot for the 'Gram, head to the Pagoda Vista near the Victoria Gate, and look towards the Pagoda itself to see it framed in reds and oranges, a carpet of fallen leaves covering the ground too.
London's Cemeteries in autumn
Perhaps it's the Halloween effect, but London's cemeteries are extremely atmospheric in autumn. Consider taking a walk through one of the 'Magnificent Seven' and revel in their autumnal glory. We'd recommend heading to Nunhead Cemetery for views all the way back towards central London (if you're prepared to climb a hill). It's the best time of year to see St Paul's from this vantage point, when the leaves are falling off to reveal the skyline beyond.
For a stunning architectural backdrop, Brompton Cemetery is your place — autumn leaves settle on the ground among imposing tombs and in front of that iconic domed chapel.