12 of the best running routes London has to offer
London is home to some of the finest running routes in the UK, many of which are within the city’s well renowned parks. From trail running routes that’ll let you escape the hustle and bustle of the city, to leg-burning hill climbs with epic views out over the city’s skyline, London has it all. And, whether you’ve just entered your first 5k or are adding another marathon to your collection, these running routes are perfect for mixing up your training.
Tucked away in the heart of Herne Hill, Brockwell Park offers a great running route, that’s topped off with some serious views out over the London skyline. Starting at the Lido, you can do two loops of the park to make up a 5km running route. Unlike many of London’s runs, the park offers some steady climbs which will test your legs and your lungs.
Plus, if you head over on a Sunday morning then you can check out Herne Hill’s Farmers Market. I’d recommend Cakehole’s Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownie or if you’re feeling more peckish, then perhaps a Gourmet Bacon Buttie from Oink. What better way to end a run?
Best for: A post-run coffee or snack
Travel: Herne Hill Station (Thameslink), Brixton Underground (Victoria Line)
It’s a no brainer really – Battersea Park is unquestionably one of South London’s most picturesque green-spaces and makes for a great running route. Also, being situated right on the river, it’s easily accessible from all over London.
Having opened in 1858, this 83 hectare park provides an abundance of running routes, allowing you to plan a quick 5k, or push yourself with a longer 10k. On the east side of the park, there are even a couple of opportunities to go off-piste and dabble with some trail running.
I’d recommend going for a sunset run at Battersea Park, as the bright lights of Albert Bridge provide a great photo opportunity. If you don’t fancy a loop of the park itself, then you can always incorporate it into a longer running route along the Thames.
Best for: Going for a PB (it’s flat!)
Travel: Battersea Park Railway Station (Overground) or Bus Routes 137, 344, 44, 452.
This one’s a cracker and definitely one of the best running routes in West London. Hop on the overground to Hampton Court Station and then join the Thames Towpath all the way back into London.
If you’re training for a marathon then this is a perfect running route. Distance wise it’s really up to you, and you can go as far into London as you’d like. I clocked out at Barnes bridge, which took me to the perfect half marathon distance (13.1 miles / 21km).
Keep an eye out for the beautiful houses lining the river and if you’re feeling peckish along the route, then there are plenty of cafes around Richmond for a snack and a coffee.
Best for: Training for a half marathon or marathon
Travel: Hampton Court Railway Station (Overground)
This South-West London common is the perfect destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, while remaining in Zone 3.
Spanning 460 Hectares, the common gives you a great introduction into trail-running – with endless running routes to choose from. Underfoot, you’ll enjoy a variety of woodland trails, expansive fields and muddy tracks – making the park feel a million miles away from London.
Best for: Your first taste of trail running
Travel: Wimbledon Common War Memorial Bus Stop or Southfields Station (District Line) then a 24 minute walk (or a much shorter run!)
While it’s a bit further south, the journey to Crystal Palace Park is well worth it. The park once housed The Crystal Palace, until it was burned to the ground in 1936. Now, this green-space has all manner of sites to see during your run, including its giant dinosaur statues and the surviving Italian terraces of The Crystal Palace itself (one of the only remnants from the 1936 fire).
Underfoot, you’ll enjoy a mixture of gravel paths, tarmac and woodland trails. The park’s perimeter makes for a running route of around 3.1km – so 2 loops will take you well over the 5km mark.
Best for: Mixing up your running route
Travel: Crystal Palace Station, Penge West Station, or Bus Routes: 3, 122, 157, 202, 227, 249, 322, 358, 363, 410, 417, 432, 450.
Neighbouring Brockwell Park and Peckham Rye Park / Common, Dulwich Park’s running route is ideal for a quick 5km. Flat and fast, the park provides a near perfect mile loop, with 3 and a bit laps taking you up to the 5km mark.
For those who would like to give their knees a rest from the hard tarmac, there is a woodland trail running alongside the park’s path which provides a softer landing.
Best for: Building up to a 5k or 10k running event
Travel: North Dulwich Station or Bus Routes: P4 (Lewisham – Brixton) and P13 (New Cross – Streatham)
Ok, it’s a classic we know. But, let’s be honest, it’s a classic for a reason. Plus, if it’s good enough for Dennis Doyle (Simon Pegg in Run Fatboy Run), then it’s good enough for us.
Aside from that, it’s Hampstead Heath’s stunning views of the city’s skyline which make it one of the premier running routes in London. And, in summer, you can even cool down with an outdoor swim.
Best for: Unrivalled views of London’s skyline
Nearest Station: Hampstead (Northern Line) or Hampstead Heath (Overground)
Situated in the vibrant Hackney area, Victoria Park is one of the city’s oldest public green-spaces. The park dates back to 1841 when Queen Victoria opened up the grounds for public use, following a petition signed by 30,000 London residents. Today, it’s still as popular with the locals.
In terms of running, one full loop of the park’s outer road is around 2.7 miles, so going that little bit extra will get you to the 5km mark. There is also a dirt track, for those looking to protect their knees.
Aside from the running itself, the area both in and around the park has a lot going for it. I’d suggest heading to the Pavilion Cafe, based in the southern corner of the park, for a post-run coffee.
Best for: Amazing pubs and restaurants for a post-run meal
Travel: Mile End (Hammersmith & City, District, and Central Lines)
Clissold Park – Alexandra Palace
Now we’ve got the classics out the way, here are a couple of wildcards. Clissold Park is located in Stoke Newington and, while small, this running route is full of character.
The park itself has a nice outer trail to protect your knees and a picturesque pond in the centre to distract your eyes. However, it’s the running route from the park which is why it makes the list.
The park houses a semi-hidden path out via New River, which then takes you through Finsbury Park and onto the abandoned railway line, through Highgate Wood, and eventually out to Alexandra Palace. This parkland walk is one of London’s lesser known running routes.
Best for: An inner city adventure
Travel: Manor House (Piccadilly Line), Stoke Newington Railway Station (Overground)
Ok, so this one straddles the border between London and Essex, but I’ve squeezed it in because it’s really easy to get to from North London.
Once a royal forest, this 1,728 hectare space is unquestionably home to some of the best trail running routes within a close proximity of London.
There are a number of well-marked trails for you to explore, but given the size of the forest I’d recommend plotting out your running route beforehand.
Best for: An all day running adventure
Travel: Loughton (Central Line) or Chingford (London Overground)
With panoramic views, stunning gardens, impressive architecture and even the London Zoo, Regent’s Park has it all and is undoubtedly one of London’s best running routes.
On a summer’s day you’ll struggle to get better views of London from Primrose Hill, and the short ascent is perfect if you’re looking to incorporate a climb into your running route.
I’d recommend using the park’s outer circumference for your running route, which is just shy of 5km, before nipping into the park and up Parliament Hill. This will leave you at around 6.5km – but there’s plenty more space if you want to go further.
Best for: Seeing some of London’s most impressive houses
Travel: Regent’s Park tube station (Bakerloo Line)
From Super Saturday, to GB’s velodrome supremacy, to the Brownlee brother’s joint success – the list of memorable moments from the London 2012 Olympic Games goes on-and-on.
Now, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has become one of London’s top running routes. The park is easily accessible by public transport and is large enough for a 5k, 10k, or half marathon running route. Along the way, you’ll be treated to iconic sites like the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower, Lee Valley VeloPark, and of course the Olympic Stadium – now home to West Ham United Football Club.
Best for: Endless running motivation
Travel: Stratford Station (DLR, Jubilee and Central lines, London Overground)