The easiest and most affordable way to get to West London from Heathrow Airport is on the Piccadilly Line (blue) of the tube.
Chiswick House and Gardens
The hushed gardens of Chiswick House are perfect for an early morning jog or a lunchtime picnic. This is also a favourite spot for local families with little kids, so if you are on a family trip you’ll love the place: your children can romp about and play in safety. The 18th-century villa, which contains precious artwork, is also worth a look, but what has kept me coming back year on year are the beautiful Camellias. The gardens and the greenhouse contain all known varieties of this flowering shrub that blooms in early spring. Mark your diary!
Pop into a Riverside Pub
As a former Londoner, I have spent many days walking by the river. The stretch between Chiswick and Fulham is one that I’d recommend to anyone visiting the city. Keep an eye out for Chiswick Eyot, a “deserted” isle on the Thames that you can simply walk to at low tide, just be careful not to get stranded there!
At lunchtime you can grab a pint or sit down for fish and chips, while mixing and mingling with the locals at one of the cosy pubs on Upper Mall. The Dove, which is perched on the river’s edge, has been frequented by many historic figures, royals and writers like Hemingway. It also boasts the smallest bar in the country and a terrace that is right above the water.
The London Wetland Centre
Otters, insects and a fantastic variety of water fowl inhabit this compact and serene reserve, which is one of London’s best kept secrets. Even in gloomy January you will see hundreds of overwintering birds. To take a closer look at some of them, grab the binoculars provided at the observation spots. If you follow the trails to the very heart of the reserve you will be rewarded with fantastic views from the Peacock Tower. Sunsets over the wetlands are breath-taking at any time of year!
Chiswick High Road is lined with restaurants and cafes offering a decent variety of cuisines, from Japanese to Italian. My personal favourite is Bill’s, a mid-range British chain serving modern European dishes in a relaxed and colourful setting.
Not only is Kew one of London’s greatest attractions, it’s also one of the richest botanical gardens in the world. Its gardens and orangeries house plants from all corners of the planet. One of the more exciting spots, especially for younger visitors, is the Treetop Walk: a pathway that meanders around the tree crowns and literally offers bird’s eye views.
Once the residence of Henry VIII, Hampton Court takes you to another era. Come in winter for the ice rink, in spring and summer for the magnificent flower beds, and at any time of year for a tour of the palace. If you have time and energy left, put on a pair of practical shoes and head to nearby Bushy Park. This is one of only two parks in London where you can watch herds of grazing deer!