London is an exciting and buzzing metropolis and deserves such a description. Yet, there are times when city life feels overwhelming. For those times, there are a whole host of relatively quiet spots that allow you to enjoy a slower pace of life come Sunday.
Where to Spend a Slow Sunday
1. Victoria Park Market
Victoria Park Market is a popular produce market that takes place every Sunday from 10am to 4pm in one of East London’s prettiest parks. Enjoy a street food snack for your Sunday morning walk around the park or down the canal, or pick up some seasonal fruit and veg, fresh bread and artisan cheese for later.
2. Kew Gardens
Whatever the season, a slow Sunday at The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew is always a day well spent. With world-famous glasshouses and beautifully kept woods, grounds and gardens, there is so much botany to enjoy both inside and out. Or, simply bring a blanket and find a quiet spot to read and relax.
3. Holland Park
Holland Park is a 54-acre park with gardens, patches of woodland and sports facilities. With relaxing waterfalls and even a few wandering peacocks, The Kyoto Garden donated by the Chamber of Commerce of Kyoto in 1991, is a real highlight.
4. Barbican Conservatory
The Barbican Conservatory opened in 1984 and is home to over 2,000 species of plants. A lush oasis in East London, the Barbican Centre’s giant greenhouse is open on selected Sundays for those in need of some urban escapism.
5. Richmond Park
From a scenic riverside to good restaurants, there are many reasons to spend a slow Sunday in Richmond. Yet, without a doubt, one of the most popular weekend jaunts in this area is Richmond Park. As the largest royal park in London, there is plenty of space to run, cycle, walk or amble and get some fresh air.
6. Petersham Nurseries
Down a track road in Richmond, Petersham Nurseries is about as far away from Central London life as it gets. Created by the Boglione family, this plant nursery-meets-restaurant-cafe-meets-lifestyle boutique charms visitors with its laidback rustic-luxe aesthetic. Enjoy a leisurely lunch among the plants with menus that are inspired by slow food and sustainability.
7. Columbia Road Market
This popular flower market is one of the busier locations on this list. The affordable prices and variety of fresh blooms and houseplants available continue to attract crowds each Sunday morning.
For a slower experience, visit Columbia Road as early as possible (the market starts at 8am), or try Conservatory Archives on Hackney Road instead. This London plant shop is the definition of an urban jungle and only about a 10 minute walk from the market.
Focusing on everything from slow to intentional and sustainable living, these London-based bloggers and Instagrammers share the Slow Living LDN. passion for enjoying the quieter side of the capital. As part of A Year of Living Slower, they reveal their favourite places to spend a Slow Sunday in London.
The Eco Everyday
Carly is an editor who is passionate about independent brands and pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle. Her photos are a beautifully curated mix of London and countryside spots in natural tones. Carly’s brown coat is becoming iconic in her Instagram feed, giving her a signature style when she features in front of the camera.
The Eco Everyday’s Slow Sunday in London: Notting Hill
Having lived in East London for many years (I met my husband, got engaged and got married to him on the same road from Dalston to Shoreditch), it’s sometimes nice to go on an adventure and explore a different area at the weekend.
Across the city, the many pretty streets in and around Notting Hill can have a quiet, sleepy feel that are perfect for a slow-paced Sunday (especially if you steer away from the crowds on busy Portobello Market).
There’s so many great independent shops to visit, not to mention vintage and charity treasure troves. Some of my favourites include: Summerill & Bishop for beautiful tableware (including delicate recycled glass bottles); Wolf & Badger for indie brands and natural skincare (I love By Sarah London); and Rellik (so many memories as I used to go hunting for vintage dresses there regularly in my teens). And if you want an Instagrammable vegan-friendly brunch, Farmacy’s ‘Earth Bowls’ are worth the trek across town for alone.
Like Slow Living LDN., Bryony is an advocate of slow living in the city. She is particularly passionate about pursuing a low impact lifestyle and often shares inspiration on how to live more sustainably in daily life. Bryony’s extremely lovable English Bulldog, Muffin, is also a star of her feed.
Bryony’s Slow Sunday in London: Victoria Park Market
Sunday is my favourite day of the week. It always starts with a dog walk, which at this time of year is pretty chilly. My husband and I layer up, grab our reusable mugs and the three of us venture to our local cafe for a coffee. We then walk to Victoria Park market via the canals for lunch or a snack and to buy some groceries and treats for later. When we arrive home it’s time for a cosy movie or a jigsaw puzzle which we do whilst chatting and listening to our teenage favourites playlist- got to have balance!
Before bed I love to have a bubble bath; there’s something medicinal about soaking in hot water with a lovely candle burning and the only task left to do being to fall asleep.
On her blog and accompanying Instagram page, Angie shares inspiration on where to enjoy London’s quieter spots, in addition to well-being (particularly how to find calm), culture, travel and of course, brilliant books. Changing Pages’ feed is packed with beautiful shots of places to visit in the capital.
Changing Pages’ Slow Sunday in London: Holland Park
Mostly my Sundays will start with church, which is a lovely reflective way to set the tone for the day. Afterwards, the essential ingredients for a delicious slow Sunday are fresh air, exercise, coffee, reading and some gentle wandering. Holland Park and the surrounding area meets all of these requirements.
Positioned between Kensington High Street and Notting Hill Gate, Holland Park is easily accessible, but often so much quieter than neighbouring Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. A meandering walk through the secluded wooded areas, and you are quickly transported away from the busy London streets. The tranquil Japanese inspired Kyoto Garden is a lovely place to sit with a book, and the pretty orangery is perfect for coffee and cake and people watching.
Nearby, Leighton House Museum, is truly one of London’s hidden gems. Tucked away in a residential street, it is the former home and studios of the painter Lord Fredrick Leighton and always feels wonderfully undiscovered. The entrance hall is a vision of turquoise and blue mosaic from floor to ceiling, and the building often houses fascinating exhibitions. It’s a beautiful place in which to wander and soak up some culture before heading back to Notting Hill or Kensington High street where lunch and supper options are plentiful.
Ruth lives in South East London and posts about slow, simple, quiet and sustainable living both on her blog and Instagram feed. She shares muted, calming flatlays and interiors and is currently undertaking a 365 day challenge to slow down, simplify and focus on the smaller things in life.
My Simple London’s Slow Sunday in London: Blackheath and Greenwich
Slow weekends in London are amazing, especially here in the South East. We love to go up to Blackheath, sometimes we go to the farmers’ market to pick up fresh bread and cheese to eat on the Heath, or we pop into a few charity shops before having a cuppa and a treat in Gail’s bakery.
Then, we head across the Heath into Greenwich Park for a wander. We always stop to take in the stunning views of Greenwich and beyond. The boys love to have a kick around with a football while I sit on the bench to read my book. When we arrive at the other side of the park, we all enjoy a little browse in the bookshop then a wander around Greenwich market. On our way home we may be persuaded to pop in the Maritime museum or to buy an ice-cream!
I am so grateful for days like this and for living in this wonderful pocket of South East London.
Thank you to all of our contributors for their photos and thoughts. From Victoria Park Market to Greenwich, there’s so much inspiration here for a Sunday well-spent in the city.
This article is part of A Year of Living Slower – 12 monthly experiments and mini challenges in living better, not faster. February’s theme is Slow Sundays and aims to put the self-care back into the traditional day of rest.
The borough of Richmond upon Thames, home to the capital’s largest royal park, is a green oasis ten miles south west of central London. Without leaving zone 4, visitors enjoy riverside views and a world-renowned botanical garden. Not to mention, plenty of food spots to while away a slow weekend morning or afternoon. For a breath of fresher air and a change of scenery, spending a Sunday in Richmond ticks all the boxes.
Richmond Park is a Sunday morning hotspot in this area of London. You’ll find it packed with cyclists, dogs, couples and families, all getting some exercise and hoping to see one of the park’s famous grazing deer. If it wasn’t for the city skyline above the treetops, you could easily be forgiven for forgetting you were in London.
A benefit for those living outside of Richmond is that there are free car parks; they fill up fast, though. For a National Trust-esque breakfast (pastries and a £7.50 full English) or cup of tea, visit the stunning Pembroke Lodge, a Georgian mansion with views across the Thames Valley.
The River Thames flows for over ten miles through the borough and is arguably one of the area’s biggest draws, especially in the summer. The restaurants, pubs and lawns that line the riverside make for a relaxing place to enjoy a couple of drinks and watch numerous people and dogs passing by.
If you’re familiar with Henley-on-Thames, home of the Royal Regatta, Richmond is its London cousin. And much like in Henley, rowers and boats are a common sight. You can even jump aboard a boat and cruise down the Thames to Hampton Court.
After a stroll along the riverside and across a few grassy footpaths (yes, even in London!), you will eventually come across the original Petersham Nurseries down a stony lane.
The cafe, restaurant, lifestyle shops and plant nursery are a joy to discover and re-discover each time you visit. The rustic-meets-luxe home products are carefully sourced and visitors are encouraged to draw inspiration from the beauty of nature. The menus are as sustainable and seasonal as possible and the atmosphere akin to dining in a good friend’s courtyard garden.
Richmond Brunch Spots
Nestled among the town centre’s upmarket shopfronts, there’s no shortage of places to eat. The Ivy Cafe will always deliver an enjoyable brunch, as will New York-inspired small brasserie chain Jackson + Rye.
Somewhere particularly apt for a slow Sunday brunch, however, is No 1a Duke Street. This Slow Living LDN. favourite boasts calming interiors and large glass doors that open up onto a courtyard, inviting the outside in, and vice versa.
Duck Pond Market
For a bit of sustainable shopping, Richmond’s Duck Pond Market takes place at Heron Square each weekend. You’ll often find the foodie market (Saturdays) and the artisan market (Sundays), filled with stalls from local makers and London independents.
The Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew
A little outside of the town of Richmond, you’ll find Kew Gardens. An oasis of green that deserves a whole day – or at very least an afternoon – of exploration itself. There are so many things to do at Kew – it is, after all, London’s largest UNESCO World Heritage Site. From palm houses conserving endangered plant species to a treetop walkway, Kew offers something different during every season.
This town and its borough offer an escape from inner-city life when you haven’t the time to travel somewhere truly rural. From parks to palm houses, a Sunday spent in Richmond is a Sunday well-spent.
If you’re new to the challenge, A Year of Living Slower is a gradual, year-long experiment in living better, not faster. It’s a reaction to today’s accelerated pace of life that aims to help us slow down and make small, achievable lifestyle changes and tweaks with the aim of improving overall well-being and happiness.
As we welcome February, the perceived societal pressure of throwing yourself full-throttle at a new calendar with the ‘New Year, New Me’ ethos is, thankfully, starting to fade. That said, well-being isn’t just for January and impossible New Year’s resolutions. In February, we focus on self-care and make an homage to the traditional ‘day of rest’.
Striving for Slow Sundays
February’s challenge is about re-assigning importance to Sunday as a day of rest, or self-care. It’s about slowing down, ditching the to-do list and giving yourself a chance to recharge and embrace JOMO. We are constantly hurrying from obligation to obligation, and this doesn’t stop at the weekends. Sometimes, it’s okay to turn down invites, or accept that this is not the weekend to start painting the garden shed.
Throughout February we’ll share ideas around how to embrace self-care on Sundays and enjoyable ways to spend a relaxing Sunday in London. Because a slow Sunday doesn’t have to mean doing absolutely nothing! Slowing down is about living consciously and switching off your auto-pilot, not moving at the speed of a sloth. Though, sometimes, that’s fine too.
Get involved with February’s Slow Sundays challenge on Instagram using #AYearOfLivingSlower.