London is a big city. No, I mean, it’s a really big city. In fact, it’s the 25 largest city in the world, covering 1500 square kilometres and home to nearly nine million Londoners. All that traffic, travel, and tumult can seem overwhelming on your first visit.

But you know what? Despite its busy, cosmopolitan vibe, London can be an intimate place too. If you know how to find them, there’s a host of peaceful, calming locations and activities in the city that can help you get a well-deserved break from urban life.

Find your little patch of calm in the city with these relaxing recommendations.

Take a cab

If you’re looking for a seriously laid back time in London, you need to ditch those long tube journeys. They can be a real vibe killer. If you can afford it, try to jump in a black cab or an Uber. You’re guaranteed a pleasant journey watching the city roll by from your car window.

Visit Kew Gardens

Whenever I’m feeling stress in the city, Kew Gardens is my first destination. The beautiful arboreta and flower beds here will whisk you off to your own world away from the rush of the city. Don’t miss the gorgeous hot houses and the treetop walk – my personal favourites for a relaxing afternoon.

Go for a river cruise

Floating down the Thames on a cosy river barge gives you a whole new perspective on the city. You’ll drift past the Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge, refreshments in hand, experiencing some of the best views in the city. If this sounds like heaven for you, check out our riverboat tours.

Get a massage

Sometimes it feels like London has health and beauty spas on every other corner. From chic hotel parlours to high-street Thai massage, you can’t go wrong with 15 minutes of being pampered. Treat yourself; you deserve it.

Visit Battersea Flower Station

On Battersea Park road, sandwiched between a Sainsbury’s and a trendy cafe, sits one of London’s best-kept secrets. The Flower Station is a plant centre and florist with its own quirky show garden that’s open to the public. Spend an hour or two exploring this magical space and unwind beneath the hanging baskets.

Eat at Mes Amis

Mes Amis isn’t just a secret. It’s virtually off the grid. This surreal, single-room restaurant is an eccentric Lebanese dining experience run by one man. Watch as the chef prepares your food right in front of your eyes and feel right at home. After all, you’re in his front room.

Visit Tate Britain Drawings Room

The Drawing and Print rooms at the Tate Britain have the quiet, contemplative atmosphere of a library. Meditate over the works of some of the world’s greatest artists, including Turner, Damien Hurst, Hockney, and more.

Go to a petting zoo

It’s impossible to feel stressed when stroking a chicken. This is scientific fact. If you’re looking to melt away some of that city tension then the friendly critters at Vauxhall City Farm will be happy to oblige. Feed, pet, and (if you’re lucky) cuddle with these friendly farm-yard friends and there’ll be a smile back on your face in no time.

We hope you were able to find your own quiet place amongst our top relaxing picks. If you’re still looking for quiet ways to explore the city, take a look at our wonderful London Walking tours.