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.
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.
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
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, 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. If you do find yourself in Regent's Park in autumn, the free Frieze Sculpture Park is in situ (20 September-29 October 2023).
Autumn leaves on Chelsea Embankment
With its ornate street lights and stunning river views, Chelsea Embankment is photogenic any time of year. In autumn, it ramps things up a notch, with golden plane trees forming an arch over pedestrians below, crunching through piles of leaves on the ground. With ornate benches flanking the riverside path, it'd be rude not to take a seat (pumpkin spice latte optional) and admire the view.
Autumn leaves on Horse Guards Parade
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 belongs to the Admiralty Citadel — surely prettiest bombproof shelter at this time of the year.
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 idyllic Kensington mews looks anything less than dreamy? Its wisteria-draped facades draw photographers in the spring, and they come flocking 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 botanical garden has the motherlode. 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.
The Treetop Walkway offers stunning views of colourful autumn leaves from up high. Also take the Lake Crossing to see the autumnal colours 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 find 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 particularly 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 moody architectural backdrop, it's got to be Brompton Cemetery — here, autumn leaves settle on the ground among imposing tombs and in front of the iconic domed chapel.