saint james park and Palace, london

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St James’s Park

The West End

At 23 hectares, St James's is the second-smallest of the eight royal parks after Green Park. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in grooming, as it is the most manicured green space in London. It has brilliant views of the London Eye, Westminster, St James's Palace, Carlton House Terrace and Horse Guards Parade; the picture-perfect sight of Buckingham Palace from the Blue Bridge spanning the central lake is the best you’ll find.

The lake brims with ducks, geese, swans and other waterfowl – including the famous pelicans, introduced to the park in 1664 as a gift from the Russian Ambassador to King Charles II. The pelicans are fed fresh fish between 2.30pm and 3pm near Duck Island cottage.

The brightly coloured flower beds – scarlet geraniums, red tulips and yellow wallflowers – near Buckingham Palace were added in 1901 as a memorial to Queen Victoria. You can rent deckchairs during daylight hours from March to October (per hour/day £2/10) to make lounging around more comfortable.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The West End attractions

1. Guards Museum

0.18 MILES

Take stock of the history of the five regiments of foot guards (Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards) and their role in military campaigns…

2. Queen’s Chapel

0.18 MILES

This small chapel (1625) is where royals such as Princess Diana and the Queen Mother have lain in their coffins in the days before their funerals. The…

3. St James’s Palace

0.19 MILES

The striking Tudor gatehouse of St James’s Palace is the only surviving part of a building initiated by the palace-mad Henry VIII in 1531 on the grounds…

4. Clarence House

0.19 MILES

Five ground-floor rooms of Clarence House, the official residence of Charles, the Prince of Wales and his consort, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are…

5. Churchill War Rooms

0.23 MILES

Former Prime Minister Winston Churchill helped coordinate the Allied resistance against Nazi Germany on a Bakelite telephone from this underground complex…

6. Institute of Contemporary Arts

0.26 MILES

Housed in a Regency building designed by John Nash along the Mall, the untraditional ICA is where Picasso and Henry Moore had their first UK shows. Since…

7. Queen Victoria Memorial

0.27 MILES

Not many public buildings of note were built during the first 15 years of the 20th century, apart from the Admiralty Arch (1910) in the Edwardian baroque…

8. National Police Memorial

0.29 MILES

In the northeast corner of St James's Park, at the junction of Horse Guards Rd and the Mall, stands this memorial, one column of marble and another of…