Richmond upon Thames – Top Attractions and Things To Do

  • Post category:England
  • Post last modified:February 13, 2021
  • Reading time:11 mins read

Richmond upon Thames, a south west London borough, is said to be perhaps the most beautiful in the whole of London. Leafy wisteria covered residences, cobbled streets selling antiques, serene open parks and views over the River Thames characterises Richmond’s beautiful setting.

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View of river Thames from from Richmond Hill

Richmond got its name from when Henry VII built Richmond Palace in the 16th Century and has been a favourite destination of the royal family and other distinguished figures for centuries. So whether you want to shop, feast by the riverside, while away the time relaxing in parks or watch cricket on Richmond Green, Richmond is a perfect day out or even a city break destination for every occasion.

5 Interesting Facts about Richmond

  1. Richmond Park is the largest royal park in London and is home to over 600 red and fallow deer.
  2. Richmond upon Thames has been voted the happiest borough in London for 6 consecutive years at the time of writing (2014-2020).
  3. The town was first recorded in the 10th Century and was called Shene.
  4. Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed spending most of her time at Richmond Palace.
  5. Richmond Bridge was built in 1777 and is the oldest surviving bridge on the River Thames.

Top 8 Attractions of Richmond, London

1. Richmond Riverside 

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Richmond riverside walk

Richmond Riverside is somewhere you can sit quite happily for hours if the mood takes you. Soak up those sunny days on the river banks and take in the serene view of boats moored on the River Thames. Alternatively, there are numerous bars and restaurants to choose from to either sit inside or outside of serving food and drink at any time of the day, all with views of the river and even the stately Richmond Bridge. Perfect for winter days too! Whilst walking along this stretch of riverside, there are many paths and lanes leading off to the town centre winding through grand Georgian architecture. 

2. Richmond Park

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Richmond Park is right in the midst of Greater London but covering 2500 acres of land, you feel instantly transported to the middle of the countryside. The largest of London’s 8 royal parks, it has a long history linked to the royal family since the 13th Century. Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve and London’s largest Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is teeming with abundant wildlife and wildflowers and is home to many ancient trees and rare species.

There are over 600 red and fallow deer roaming around the park freely making each visit so exciting when you spot them in their natural habitat. Richmond Park is somewhere you can spend all day walking around, any time of the year, whether you want a long walk or just a stroll to the pond. It’s a perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of London. 

3. Old Town Hall 

The Old Town Hall acted as a municipal and civic building for Richmond from 1893 to 1965. It is now used to house Richmond’s culture and history through the Information and Reference Library, Museum of Richmond and the Riverside Gallery. The library hosts many reference books, encyclopedias and maps of interest whilst the museum covers the history of Richmond. The gallery 

4. Museum of Richmond 

The Museum of Richmond, as already mentioned, is accommodated within the beautiful, preserved walls of the Old Town Hall. It demonstrates remarkable exhibitions representing Richmond from prehistoric times, through to when it was a royal residence in medieval times to now being a centre for arts and fashion. There are displays of over 5,000 artefacts showcasing the history and culture of Richmond, from toys and games to costumes and archaeology. The museum was started by a local group of people led by John Cloake in the 1980s and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988, again further demonstrating Richmond’s unique link to the royal family.

5. Kew Gardens

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The botanic gardens at Kew, in Richmond, were first opened to the public in 1840 after the royal family established the gardens initially and started to bring plants from overseas from 1759. Because of the royal family’s continued interest in Richmond, the areas of Kew and Richmond became one of the most fashionable places to live, especially in the 18th century.

Today, Kew Gardens focuses on plant and fungi research whilst housing the largest collection of plants in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 130 hectares of various landscapes, views and architecture. You can survey Kew’s 14,000 trees, look out at breathtaking views from the Great Pagoda and treetop walkway, allow children to explore and climb in the children’s garden and meander your way across the lake’s stunning walkway.

If that’s not enough, let yourself be transported throughout the world via the Japanese and bamboo gardens, Mediterranean gardens, indoor tropical rainforest in the famous Palm House and the desert lands in the Prince of Wales Conservatory. Many of these areas of Kew Gardens and more conserve rare and threatened plant species. There is so much to explore at Kew Gardens, it really is a full and fun day out for all the family.

6. Terrace Gardens

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Richmond Terrace Gardens

The Terrace Gardens are the perfect destination for stunning views across the River Thames. The gardens were first established and opened to the public in 1887. In 2007 the borough decided to renovate the gardens to create a more sustainable planting environment for educational reasons as well as preserving and attracting wildlife.

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The gardens are beautifully colourful with a Rose Garden and Herbaceous Border as well as a Woodland Garden consisting of Stag Beetle Loggeries, Dead Hedges and a Leaf Litter Sculpture to entice nature and wildlife. What’s more, there is a little cosy coffee shop to enjoy which is open every day. It is perfect for both adults and children to enjoy a day of relaxation, outstanding views and playtime. 

7. Viewpoint at the top of Richmond Hill

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This viewpoint is famously one of the best views in London. At the summit of Terrace Gardens is a beautiful promenade which you can stroll along and enjoy the extraordinary panoramic views of Richmond, the River Thames and beyond.

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The promenade is also lined with benches for you to sit and soak up the peace and tranquility of the countryside views or just enjoy a picnic overlooking the Terrace Gardens. The view from here has been noted throughout history and has inspired many writers and artists such as William Wordsworth’s sonnet, ‘June 1820’ and William Turner’s painting ‘England: Richmond Hill, on the Prince Regent’s Birthday’ which hangs in the Tate Gallery.

From this viewpoint you can identify the iconic landmarks of Richmond Park, the Royal Star and Garter Home, Petersham Meadows, Hampton Court Palace, Ham House, Strawberry Hill and even Twickenham Stadium and Windsor Castle amongst others. It is truly worth a visit for this breathtaking vista.

8. Petersham Meadows 

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Petersham Meadows is known for cows coming to graze on its 9.5 hectares of land every year which is now managed by the National Trust. Historically, there have been cows on this part of the Ham House estate since at least the 17th century. Petersham Meadows is famously picturesque and has been included in sketches and paintings by William Turner. It is a beautiful walk from Richmond through the fields and is also popular with runners and cyclists, especially in the summer.

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You can also combine your walk with a stroll in the Petersham Common woodlands which again provides a haven for wildlife and also a sense of seclusion right in the heart of this beautiful borough. With spectacular views of Richmond Hill and the River Thames, it truly feels like you are in the middle of the countryside rather than being just outside of London. 

Map of Top Attractions in Richmond London

Top 5 Highlights in Richmond Town Centre

1. George Street

George Street is one of the main high streets in Richmond town centre and has everything any visitor or tourist desires. Cosy coffee shops, luxurious restaurants, bars, clothes shops, gift shops and grocery stores accommodating any necessity. Whether you’re in the mood for pancakes, waffles, cupcakes, frozen yoghurt, homemade cakes or just your regular coffee shop, Richmond has it all! There are many small alleyways and little lanes coming off the main high street with a variety of boutique and independent stores selling everything from antiques and jewellery to leather goods and Middle Eastern trinkets.

2. Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market is an eco-friendly chain of natural and organic grocery products, housewares and other store services. At the market, visitors can find fresh fruit and vegetables in enticing displays, fresh meat and fish counters, a wide variety of cupboard ingredients from pasta and beans to nuts and wine as well as deliciously healthy food and drinks to have on the go. Take your pick from sushi, salad, stonebaked pizza and more. Or if you prefer, you can sit in the cafe and soak up the atmosphere after a long day of shopping. Whole Foods Market also caters for natural and often vegan health and beauty care.

3. The Cricketers Pub

The Cricketers Pub is one of the oldest in Richmond, dating back to 1770. In fact, it is even older than Richmond Bridge! Located right on Richmond Green, the pub is a haven for cricket lovers who can sit outside and enjoy watching a game in the summer sun with a cold beer in hand. The entire pub is decorated with old cricketing memorabilia worth an exploration into the sport’s history. 

4. Gelateria Danieli 

It is reputed that Gelateria Danieli has the tastiest ice cream in the whole of London. In fact, it is believed that even the Queen herself enjoys Danieli’s ice-cream! The gelateria is a family run business, specialising in authentic high quality Italian gelato. With so many different flavour combinations to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice. Danieli also owns a chocolate shop on Richmond Green, excelling at stunning chocolates of all kinds, including vegan, diabetic, dairy and gluten free options. They also offer a beautiful gift wrapping service.

5. Rosie and Java

Rosie and Java is no ordinary tea and coffee shop. It is family run and specialises in exceptional loose tea and coffee from all over the world and of all different types. Moreover, this boutique store sells tea and coffee equipment as well as coffee machines so you can make your special brews in the comfort of your own home too. What also makes this shope unique is the tea and coffee workshops it runs for you to attend or buy as a gift for someone special such as the coffee starter and taster course.

How to Get to Richmond Town

Getting to Richmond by Car

There are a number of car parks serving Richmond Town Centre, depending on where exactly you wish to be based. The six council run car parks all have their own opening times and prices per hour so it would be advisable to check the council’s website here before heading out. We use Paradise Road Multi-Storey car park every time we go to Richmond and it has been perfect for our day out.

Its postcode for Satnavs is TW9 1SQ. 

Getting to Richmond by Bus

Richmond bus station is served by a number of local buses during the day and night. Heading towards Chiswick, Mortlake or Putney, you can get the 337 and heading towards Ham, Isleworth or Twickenham you can get the 33, 65, 110, 371, 490, 969, H37, N22, N33, N65, R68 or R70. So there are many options depending on where you’re travelling to Richmond from. You can find full timetables of the buses stopping at Richmond bus station here.

Getting to Richmond by Train

Richmond has its own train station on the South Western Railway line which lies in the heart of the centre. The tube, train and overground station is all housed under the same roof, called The Quadrant, for ease of access to Richmond.

Getting to Richmond by London Underground (Tube) 

Again, Richmond has its own station on the Underground District Line. It is the last stop on the westbound District Line. 

To plan your journey to Richmond you can visit Richmond station page on Transport For London website –
https://tfl.gov.uk/tube/stop/940GZZLURMD/richmond-underground-station

Getting to Richmond by London Overground

Heading westbound on the Overground, Richmond is the last stop on the line.

Richmond Town is within walking distance of all the car parks and The Quadrant. The Quadrant also has step free access and is suitable for those with limited mobility.

Richmond upon Thames is a beautiful borough with so many different things to do. Despite being just outside London, you feel like you’re in the countryside in Kew Gardens and Richmond Park or explore the historic lanes of Richmond town with some boutique shopping, finishing off with a drink overlooking the River Thames. Bliss! So, whether you want a full day out or a weekend break, Richmond is the perfect destination.

Richmond London Photo Gallery

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