Kensington is a fascinating and beautiful area of London. The buildings are grand and historic, the streets are wide and leafy, and the hustle and bustle of London can often seem far away.
If you want to visit Kensington but you’re not sure what to do in West London or where to start, let me give you a guide on how to spend the perfect day there to ensure you see some of the best museums, streets, parks and houses that London has to offer.
Start your day in South Kensington. South Kensington tube station is on the Piccadilly line as well as the Circle and District line so it’s pretty easy to get to.
South Kensington is home to 3 world famous museums, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A all sit within a few meters of each other and are as iconic and interesting from the outside as they are from inside. The museums are all free to enter and open at 10:00am. There is often a queue during the day, especially for the Natural History Museum, so if you want to go inside I would suggest being at the gates for 10:00am to miss the crowds! Talking of crowds, the museums are busier on the weekend but weekdays bring in lots of school groups so either way expect to be around lots of people, but the earlier you get there the better.
After you’ve finished at the museums walk North up Exhibition Road in the direction of Hyde Park, this street is a good example of the wide streets of Kensington with even bigger houses lining them. Just before you get to Hyde Park be sure to take the last street on the left – Prince Consort Road as this will take you to the front of the famous Royal Albert Hall where many big events take place.
Then head into Hyde Park. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens together create one of the largest and most famous parks in London and on the map you really can’t miss it due its rectangular shape right in the middle of the city. It’s home to gardens, memorials, cycling tracks, ponds and a Palace!
Take a slow walk around the park but be sure to end at Kensington Palace which has been a palace since 1689! You can pay to go inside or you can admire the palace and it’s gardens from the outside. The Palace has become even more popular in the last 20 years as Princess Diana who died in 1997 lived here for a while. Personally I really love walking around the Round Pond that is in front of the Palace and it’s usually filled with ducks.
From here, head North West out of Hyde Park towards Notting Hill Gate Underground Station. Notting Hill is incredibly busy and touristic these days but when in West London it really can’t be missed!
Head to Portobello Road which on a Saturday hosts the famous Portobello Road Market. On Sunday-Friday although the market isn’t on Portobello Road is still worth the visit, and the plus side is that the streets aren’t as busy, as it does get very very busy on Saturdays. Here you can discover the colourful houses of Notting Hill and wander around the many independent shops.
If you’re a brunch lover like me and you’re looking for a great brunch in London, check out this post afterwards:
Next head to Holland Park walking down Ladbroke Grove, cross the main road and head up Holland Park road until you see an entry point into Holland Park. On route be sure to look out for the grand and affluent Victorian townhouses that make West London so fancy and also have a peak down Holland Park Mews before you enter Holland Park.
Holland Park is another beautiful area of green in London home to woodland, play areas, the ruins of Holland House which was badly damaged during World War II and a very unique garden – Kyoto Gardens which is a Japanese garden donated to the park in 1991.
The garden can get quite busy but it still feels very serene. There’s a waterfall going into a pond, steps crossing the bottom of the waterfall and the pond is full of huge fish. Although not very Japanese there are also a number of peacocks that call this area home too which are fun to see. Holland Park also has a cafe and free bathroom facilities if needed.
Walk to the Southern Part of Holland Park and then head East along Kensington High Street. There are plenty of high street stores a long here as well as a few fancier stores and lot’s of places to eat. Again, it is filled with huge Victorian Buildings and it does feel very grand and posh!
If you are in need of a coffee or a wine or beer you’ll be able to find a typical London pub a long Kensington High Street. And if you are happy to double back on yourself a bit you could visit The Churchill Arms along Kensington Church Street, close to Notting Hill Gate Station. This pub is really famous due its very green and floral exerior!
Walk past Kensington High Street Tube Station and continue straight until you see the corner of Hyde Park. On your right you’ll see Palace Gate road, take this street which then turns into Gloucester Road.
London is known for its Mews houses and there’s is no where better to explore the mews than off of Gloucester Road!
Mews used to be rows of stables when horse and carriages were used in London and the living quarters were on top. The roads are only small and tend to be just off of a main road. It’s quite funny because back in those days I’m sure no one wanted to live in them but fast forward to the present day and the Mews of London sell for a huge amount of money, and they are very popular and pretty. In fact it’s not uncommon for celebrities to live in a Mews property!
Kynance Mews will be on your left a few streets down. These Mews are particularly popular on Instagram during the Autumn due to the low hanging red Vines and popular in Spring due to the purple Wisteria so take a walk a long this street and then come back on yourself back to Gloucester Road.
When you get to the crossroads of Gloucester Road and Cromwell Road turn left. The museums where you started the day are just a head but first, take the first left into Atherstone Mews and follow it round until the end. Turn left up Queens Gate Gardens road and then right along Queens Gate place and on your right you’ll see Queens Gate Places Mews. Walk all the way down this street full of colourful mews buildings and then you’ll be back at Cromwell Road, back at the museums and back at South Kensington.
From here you could keep going straight, past the V&A into Knightsbridge where Harrods is or back into Hyde Park to see more of the park.
From this walk I hope you’ll get a good idea of what West London and Kensington in particular has to offer without having to get on the tube!
Did you find this useful? Let me know in the comments below or by tweeting me @wandering_quinn.
If you’re looking for hotels in Kensington, I would recommend checking Booking.com for hotel options.
For more of my London guide posts see: