I love the big, wide streets of Kensington with it’s grand Victorian Townhouses but I also love the back street mews too which are becoming more and more popular to visit. I love that it is home to 3 incredible museums, markets, parks and the home of Kensington Palace.
Kensington feels like a million miles away from the busy streets of Central London but it really isn’t that far at all. It is all located in zone 1 and 2 with many tube stations and bus stops. It’s a great area of London to explore and this is what I recommend you do in Kensington!
What to see and do in Kensington?
1 Visit the Natural History Museum
No visit to Kensington is complete without seeing the Natural History Museum because it’s one of the most famous and best museums in the world!
If you want to go inside you’ll be pleased to hear that it is free to enter, however be warned that the queue does get very big, especially on the weekend and if it is raining visitors have to queue in the rain.
It is worth the wait though as not only is it home to many galleries and exhibitions but the main hall which currently houses the bones from a Whale is absolutely stunning. Think along the lines of Harry Potter and Hogwarts!
To avoid the queues I would recommend getting there as it opens in the morning. Alternatively on the last Friday of every month the museum is open in the evening for a ‘lates night’.
I really enjoyed going to this as it is aimed at adults, although children are allowed, and it is much quieter and more relaxed.
Tip from Ellie: If you don’t fancy going inside, be sure to walk along Cromwell Road to see the Natural History Museum from the outside as the architecture is incredible, it’s firmly in my top favourite London buildings!
2 Learn something at the Science Museum
The Science Museum is great if you have children but it is also great for adults too, I should know, I worked there for one year.
The museum has so many different exhibitions, some of which are fairly permanent and long standing and others which are temporary.
Most of the exhibitions are interactive and range from learning about the Solar System, to Mathematics to the history of Aircraft, and so much more.
The Science Museum is free to enter and because the queues do not get as big as the Natural History Museum I would recommend going to the Natural History Museum first and then to the Science Museum.
If you have children, Wonderlab opened up in 2016, it does cost to get into here but it is really interactive with over 50 exhibits and worth the money in my opinion. You could easily spend a few hours in there with children as there is plenty for them to see and play with.
The Science Museum also has a lates night, their lates night is the last Wednesday of every month and is aimed at adults only.
3 Get Cultural at the V&A
The third Museum in the Museum District of Kensington is the Victoria and Albert Museum, the leading and largest museum of Art and Design.
Although the V&A does allow children it is aimed at adults due to the exhibitions it has.
The V&A is totally different in architectural style to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum so even if you’re not a fan of art it is still worth going inside in my opinion.
Tip from Ellie: The V&A is free to enter although some exhibits do charge, and best of all there is rarely ever a line to enter so you can go any time of the week and any time of the day.
4 Wander around Kensington Gardens in Hyde Park
Hyde Park covers a huge section of Central London but the Western section is actually Kensington Gardens and in my opinion this is the nicest part of the park.
Kensington Gardens has a range of little gardens within it, memorials like the Albert Memorial, cycling tracks, walking paths, ponds and of course Kensington Palace!
5 Spot the Royals at Kensington Palace
Ok you might not be able to see the Royals but you can have a good try as it is possible to go inside Kensington Palace which has been a palace since 1689!
Admission into the palace and it’s gardens is chargeable and if you don’t want to pay or don’t have time it is still very impressive to see the Palace from the outside.
I personally love the huge pedestrian path that lines the Palace and the round pond in front of it which is really nice to walk around.
6 Head into the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens really is huge, so huge that it is also home to the fascinating Serpentine Gallery designed by Zaha Hadid Architects in 2013 and it’s pretty hard to miss it when walking around the Park.
The Serpentine Gallery comprises of two galleries which are just a 5 minutes’ walk from each other on either side of The Serpentine Bridge. They have world-renowned art, architecture and design exhibitions and it’s free to enter.
7 Discover the Mews
The mews are the back streets of London. They used to be stables for horse and carriages with the living quarters on top but now they are very much in demand and come with a big price tag.
Although you can find Mews all over London, Kensington has the most and if you’ve ever seen a photo on Instagram of one of the London Mews’ 9/10 it will be in Kensington.
The best place to go in search of Mews in Kensington is just off of Gloucester Road so I suggest walking along the road and seeing what side streets you can find.
Kynance Mews is very popular and one of the most photographed Mews, especially in Autumn with the bright red Vines and in Spring with the Wisteria. Queens Gate Places Mews is very popular and beautiful too.
Tip from Ellie: Just remember that people do live in the houses so be respectful when taking photos outside and looking in.
8 Find a Bargain at Portobello Road Market
Located in the middle of Notting Hill is Portobello Road and on Saturday’s it is home to Portobello Road Market, a very famous London market.
The street stalls sell an array of things including second hand clothing and antiques, perfect if you want to find a bargain, plus lots of different food stalls and even if you don’t want to shop it is still worth visiting.
Be warned that when the main market is on Saturday’s the street and surrounding streets do get very busy and I advise you to be wary of pick pocketer’s.
Alternatively if you visit Sunday-Friday the antiques market is not on but there are smaller markets in the area and the independent shops that line the road are open so this is a great time to visit too.
9 Check out the Colourful Houses of Notting Hill
Notting Hill is a very famous area of London and the Kensington Borough.
It’s been made most famous because of the 1999 movie ‘Notting Hill’ with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant but what it is probably most famous for now is its colourful houses.
They are a popular place to take photos in London, but again be respectful that they are homes and people do live in them.
10 Walk around Holland Park
Another park to visit in Kensington is Holland Park and if you are a visitor to London and want to feel like a local, Holland Park is a great place to walk around to do this.
The Park is surrounded by streets lined with grand Victorian Townhouses and once inside there is a nice wooded area to walk around as well as big sections of grass where on the weekend local teams play sport.
It’s a great place to walk around with a coffee in hand on a weekend morning I find.
11 Jump into Japan at the Kyoto Gardens
Something very unique to Holland Park is Kyoto Gardens which is a Japanese garden donated to the park in 1991.
It is only quite small and can get quite busy but it is very serene too. There’s a waterfall and a pond which is full of huge fish and you might be able to spot a peacock too.
Tip from Ellie: My favourite time to go to Kyoto Gardens is in Spring when it is in full bloom or in Autumn when it is golden!
12 Shop along Kensington High Street
Kensington High Street is great for shopping and there is something for everyone!
There are lots of high street stores as well as designer stores and independent shops and what I love most is that they are all located in the old and beautiful buildings that line Kensington High Street.
13 Go in search of London’s most expensive Street
Out of the top 10 most expensive streets in London, Kensington is home to 2 of them- Kensington Palace Gardens and Cottesmore Gardens so why not head for a walk along them and dream about your future house!
14 See a Performance at the Royal Albert Hall
In the heart of South Kensington close to the Museum District is the world famous Royal Albert Hall.
There are regular events and shows held here and watching one is a big bucket list item.
Alternatively just seeing the Royal Albert Hall from the outside is impressive enough.
Tip from Ellie: It can be seen quite well from Hyde Park
15 See the Floral Exterior of the Churchill Arms
The Churchill Arms pub in Notting Hill is very famous because of its floral exterior, it is literally covered in flowers, trees and greenery!
It’s incredibly unique and not like any other pub or building in London. At night it lights up with lots of nice fairy lights and is a must visit in Notting Hill.