Looking for the best things to do in Notting Hill? Look no further. Here’s my personalized guide for how to spend a day in the area — from a local!
One of the first London areas I fell in love with (among many) the neighbourhood sits pretty in W11, surrounded by candied pastel houses, buzzing Portobello Market and restaurants, and a slew of charming cafes and foodie favourites.
Without further ado here are 17 things to do in Notting Hill to turn any time in the area into your fondest memories in London.
History of Notting Hill
To fully appreciate the area, it’s worth it to know a bit of history.
Before its claim to fame, Notting Hill was a manufacturing area, taking a turn in the 19th century when wealthy landowner James Well Ladbroke (the inspiration for Ladbroke Grove) decided to transform Notting Hill into a suburban hideaway.
Over time this attracted London elites with terraced houses, vibrant gardens, and all the Notting Hill charm we see today.
But post World War II many of the houses were left destroyed. And the area’s rebuild introduced new housing systems for landlords to capitalize on, changing the character of the area altogether with an influx of slums.
In 1948 the British Nationality Act allowed Afro-Caribbean’s from Commonwealth countries to settle in the UK., bringing their culture and heritage into the streets of Notting Hill.
This birthed the Notting Hill Carnival, a celebration of African and Caribbean heritage following the race riots of 1958.
Present-day the area shows heavy gentrification and many of the slums have been transformed back to terraced estates. But despite its return to the home of the wealthy and elite, Notting Hill still holds a local charm that’s hard to miss.
How to Get to Notting Hill
Reaching your day in West London is as easily as hopping on the Central (or Circle) line.
You’ll get off at Notting Hill Gate station and voila! From there it’s about a 10-minute walk to Portobello Road. Be sure to download Citymapper to make sure you’re on the right track.
You can also take bus 148, 228, 23 or 52 to Notting Hill depending where you come from.
Things to do in Notting Hill, London
1. Shop on Portobello Road
The world’s largest (yes largest) antique market — Portobello Road is a half-mile of every bit and bob you could think of.
However, this Notting Hill market isn’t exactly a hidden gem. It gets deliriously busy, especially on weekends, so if you can, go on a weekday in the morning.
Read More: The Best Antique Markets in London
2. Dip into Portobello Green Arcade
Walk down the half-mile stretch and you’ll stumble on the hidden Portobello Green Arcade (well, not so hidden anymore I guess, but still).
A mix of streetwear shops, a Chinese Tea Company, beauty goods, and a game or two will make you wonder how this all came together under one roof. Regardless, you’ll be pleased it did.
3. Relive the Movie at the Notting Hill Travel Bookshop
Back to the bookshop. If you want to bring all your Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant fantasies to life, head to 13 Blenheim Crescent to experience the bookstore scene and all the other Notting Hill filming locations the city has to offer.
The movie’s claim to fame has attracted so much buzz that people even propose here — what an I do!
P.S – If you want to find the famous blue door from Notting Hill and more — read your ultimate guide to the Notting Hill Travel Bookshop!
4. Take an Icing Class (or have a treat) at Biscuiteers
A boutique café, Biscuiteers is famed for their handcrafted treats and picture-perfect biscuits of course. You can pop in for a treat or get in on the action with an intimate icing masterclass. Yes, you heard that right.
5. Take in the Colored Houses
It couldn’t be Notting Hill without a pastel house or two.
One of the best things to do near Portobello Road is take in all the coloured houses — specifically Lancaster Road, Colville Terrace, and Elgin Crescent.
Tip: Please be mindful of taking pictures outside the properties as these are people’s home.
Map of Notting Hill’s Colored Houses
6. Browse Notting Hill’s Mews
On par with Notting Hill’s vibrant street is the ever-charming Mews.
The former horse stables turned into some of London’s most sought after real estate — London Mews are as pretty as they are exclusive — so be sure to have a browse!
These include St. Luke’s Mews (the one from the Love Actually movie!), Colville Mews, Pencombe Mews, and Simon Close.
Map of Notting Hill’s Mews
7. Pop into Lutyens & Rubinstein’s
Roaming London’s bookshops will always be one of my favourite things to do in the city, and there’s nothing quite like browsing paperbacks to the backdrop of Notting Hill.
So, satisfy the bookworm in you and visit Lutyens & Rubinstein’s; a cosy independent bookshop filled with every type of book under the sun, and a homey ambience to match.
8. Have a Gin at the Distillery
There’s nothing quite like London Gin.
Find your way to the four-storied hub and only working Distillery in the UK for the best internationally-renowned drink you’ll ever get your hands on.
The electric cocktails are enough to make you hang around, but if you want the night to go on you can book a room at their equally impressive hotel.
9. Visit the Graffik Gallery
If you’re looking for things to do in Notting Hill on the “cooler” side, visit the Graffik Gallery.
Featuring some of the world’s best street art (hey Banksy) the public gallery is open for business. The price tags are rather hefty, but if you’re not keen to buy you can always have a quick peek and admire all the artwork on offer.
10. Buy Records Rough Trade West
There’s nothing a good record can’t fix, especially if it’s from Notting Hill.
Spend some time browsing records at Rough Trade West’s music emporium; a chain of independent record shops sprawled across the UK and US with plenty of tunes to take home.
11. Catch a Film at Electric Cinema
There’s movies, and then there’s movies from Electric Cinema.
Opened in 1910 London’s oldest cinema has replaced its days of silent films with your favourite blockbusters, fine dining very much included.
Movie experiences at Electric Cinema are truly like no other, so be sure to end your day in Notting Hill here.
12. Get Your Skate on at Bay SIXTY6 Skate Park
I stumbled on this place years ago on a random walk in Notting Hill, and although my skate skills are well… non-existent, it’s still nice to sit back and watch the pros at work (or at least people better than me).
If you’re keen to learn they also have a skate school and tons of live events year-round.
13. Browse the Museum of Brands
Go past London’s standard museums and indulge in an interesting pastime at the Museum of Brands.
Revealing the curtain behind consumerism (and how easily we fall for products) The Museum of Brands gives you a first-hand look into the psychology of advertising.
Have a browse at the endless nostalgia products alongside the permanent exhibitions on display.
14. Gawk at St. Peter’s Church
A wrong turn led me stumbling onto St. Peter’s Church, and I’m so glad it did.
A Victorian Anglian church tucked in the West End, the pungent yellow will immediately make you stop in your tracks (and turn your camera on).
The two-year masterpiece designed by Thomas Allom is a working church and easily missed by most tourists.
But if you’re willing to escape Portobello Road to the edges of the West End, you can take in this beauty too.
15. Have a Look at Trellick Tower
Notting Hill is so much more than meets the eye, and Trellick Tower is all the proof you need.
Brutalist architecture has become a staple to London’s character thanks to the Modernist movement and Trellick Tower embodies this perfectly, alongside reminders of the area’s striking contrasts.
A social housing building rode with crime, gentrification quickly turned the building’s desireless image into Notting Hill’s most architecturally prized possessions.
16. Roam Kensal Green Cemetery
Although it’s one of the more unusual things to do in Notting Hill there’s nothing quite as calming as walking through a London cemetery. Especially if it’s Kensal Green Cemetery.
Inspired by Paris’s All Souls Cemetery — Kensal Green holds its own silent charm, spread across 72 acres of Notting Hill Grounds.
Walk around and find a famous name or two alongside tons of birds and wildlife roaming the grounds.
17. Have a Pint (and a pic) at Churchill Arms
The Notting Hill pub has claimed its fame through stunning light displays and decor year-round. From spring flowers to beaming Christmas ornaments, it’s always worth the visit.
Bonus: Go to Notting Hill Carnival
Of course, if you’re heading to Notting Hill you’re probably curious about the Notting Hill Carnival.
If you just so happen to find yourself in the area at the end of August then you have no excuse not to celebrate. So grab your most colourful fit and spend the day eating away, watching street performers, and dancing away to Caribbean beats.
In fact, more than one million people attend carnival weekend. So trust me when I say, it’s a good time.
Things to do in Notting Hill Map
Well, that’s all from me. Let me know what things you get up in Notting Hill at @candaceabroad!