Are you looking for the best things to do in Chelsea? From admiring rows of pastel-perfect houses to taking yourself out for West London dining, Chelsea has it all! Here’s the best things to do in the area — from a Londoner.
I’ll give you a pass if the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Chelsea, is the Chelsea Flower Show, but this stunning SW neighbourhood has so much more to get up to.
With some of the best West London bars, a bustling high street, tons of beautifully painted houses, art galleries, and more — something stunning is hidden around every corner, just waiting to be discovered.
There’s no doubt you’ll be able to waste away an afternoon wandering this magnificent part of London (as I have many of times).
So, without further ado, here’s the best things to do in Chelsea, London.
The Best Things to Do in Chelsea, London
1. Get Chic at Duke of York Square
Being one of the oldest and most popular places in London, Duke of York Square offers something for everyone, especially if you love to shop.
Surrounded by golden brick buildings, strolling here you’ll revel in the feel of old money.
On Saturdays the square morphs into the lively open-air Fine Food Market, selling some of the best locally made products in London. You can also pop by Partridges while you’re here too for some tasty American snacks in London.
From one bread lover to another, you have to grab a loaf from Wapping Sourdough, and if you have a notorious sweet tooth you for sure can’t miss a stop to Casa Cannoli, or Crumbs and Doilies.
On warmer London days, the square is filled with people all looking to enjoy the ambiance of West summer and with a coffee from Vardo, it’s a special place just watching the world pass by.
If you’re hoping to venture around, right off the square you’ll find, King’s Road where you can venture in and out of the many stores lining the street from well-known designers to independent boutiques.
2. Grab a Read From John Sandoe Books
Opened in 1957, John Sandoe Books has since curated one of the most eclectic collections in London, and is absolutely a book lovers’ dream.
With over 30,000 titles to choose from — every inch of the shop is covered in books.
From classics to new releases from both global and local publishers, there’s something for everyone on its shelves.
Knowing the important place books hold in the hearts of many, they offer a bunch of take-home options too.
Sign up to their quarterly catalogues, subscriptions, or mail-order schemes to have books brought right to you.
3. Find American Goodies at Partridge’s
It’s no secret that I’m American, and one thing that comes with this title is an innate love for overly sweet snacks and brightly colored candies.
Living in London since I was 18, I’ve grown used to not having my favourites easily accessible — but with Takis in hand, Partridges came to save the day!
They have a whole section of American foods, snacks, and candies bringing just a little taste of home here to London.
Of course, this family-run business also has other items too, but when there are Sour Patch Kids for sale, what else could you want?
Read More: Where to Find American Snacks in London
4. See the Latest Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery
Throughout history, the Saatchi Gallery has been known for displaying the works of artists who would later go on to be famous (so if this is your dream, I might suggest reaching out).
Since 1985 they’ve worked hard to bring the work of emerging artists to the world stage, but have also curated one of the greatest contemporary art collections and have even displayed the works of artists like Andy Warhol.
In 2019 it became a registered independent charity, now surviving off of donations and memberships which means spending a little extra cash to see the ticketed exhibitions will have a greater impact. And it’s well worth the visit.
With that said there’s nothing stopping you from wandering around the majority of the gallery for free.
The opening hours are Monday – Sunday from 10.00am – 6.00pm, with last entry at 4:30.
5. Visit the National Army Museum
Exploring all things British Army, the National Army Museum is a great place if you love British History.
Inside you’ll find three main galleries.
Walk through them all starting with the Formation Gallery which traverses the Army’s origins, then make your way to the Soldier Gallery where you’ll be immersed into what it is like to serve, before finishing your tour at the Global Gallery located on the first floor.
With various collections of preserved artifacts from wars, and engaging events for the community, the museum works to help everyone and anyone understand the history and current role of the British National Army today.
It’s open Tuesday – Sunday from 10.00am to 5.30pm and admission is totally free.
6. Wander Around the Chelsea Physic Garden
London seems to have a bunch of old things doesn’t it? Well, I’m adding this to the list of old things that you can’t miss while here!
Sitting right on the Thames you’ll find the Chelsea Physic Garden.
This serene green space was founded in 1673 as a place for apothecary apprentices to study plants but today stands as the oldest botanical garden in London and is known for being the only one with its main collection curating medicinal, herbal, and other plants that can be used daily.
You can explore the lush four acres Sunday – Friday from 11.00am till 4.00pm with tickets starting at £9.50, available to book on their website.
7. Catch a Show at The Royal Court Theatre
If you’re a fan of the arts, The Royal Court Theatre is the place to go.
Being a hub for all things theatre, it’s inspiring audiences by showing works from upcoming and emerging playwrights.
The venue also strives to engage the creative side in everyone by offering writers’ groups. So, whether you’re just a beginner or already know your niche, don’t be afraid to check them out because there’s definitely an event for you.
However, if you’re looking just for a place that isn’t the West End to catch a show worth watching, tickets here are pretty affordable typically ranging from £15-£30 and can be booked on their website.
8. Go to the Famed Cadogan Hall Chelsea
After a slew of reconstructions, renovations, and redesigns — the Cadogan Hall Chelsea still somehow holds the classic feel it was built with and is worth any of the time you spend here.
Sit back and enjoy the melodies played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as the sun reflects inside off the deep blues and greens of the stained glass windows designed by Baron Arild Rosenkrantz.
If you’re an avid fan of classical music, then you’re even more in luck.
In addition to the resident orchestra, their upcoming events (with spaces open to book) include an Opera Chorus, a Jazz Vocalist, a Classic Rock Show and so many more cool events in Chelsea to attend.
9. Roam Battersea Park
With eye-catching fountains, and a copious amount of green space Battersea Park, designed by Sir James Pennethorn, is the perfect area to spend a London afternoon wandering around admiring mother nature.
In spring you can mosey around the flourishing gardens looking for the sculptures dotted around the park, like Henry Moore’s Three Standing Figures, and Hepworth’s Single Form.
Even on rainy days, you can continue to enjoy the park by popping into indoor exhibitions at The Pump House Gallery.
The 200-acre park only continues to get more exciting with a Children’s Zoo (open to all), home to creatures like monkeys, bunnies, and bees, and an All Weather Sports Ground for those that are more on the sporty side.
Like any good park, it is free to enter and open all day every day from sunrise until dusk, with the gates and park facilities officially shutting at 10.30pm.
Read More: The Best Things to Do in Battersea, London
10. Shop on King’s Road
Once upon a time, this was a place only those carrying a token with the King’s initials could stroll.
The almost 2-mile street King’s Road is now open to the public and has become one of London’s most iconic streets ever since.
Being adored by all those that visit, it has carved a place in history, defined by fashion one decade, music the next, and continuing today as a place of cultural creativity.
With quaint bookshops like Worlds End Bookshop on one end, and the previously mentioned John Sandoe Books, the street is quite literally bookended with good reads.
It’s also home to inspiring galleries like Clarendon Fine Art, and 508 Gallery, lined with designer and independent boutiques, as well as having some of London’s best places to eat — like Hibachi at Benihana.
So, when in Chelsea why not fancy a walk down Kings Road to experience it all?
11. See the Chelsea Flower Show
The event of the London Spring Season has to be the Chelsea Flower Show.
On the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea for five consecutive days in May, the Royal Horticultural Society plays host for the dazzling London event.
With jaw-dropping works by floral designers from around the globe, the flower show is a hub of cutting-edge creations and is one of the most famous flower shows in the world.
Not only will attendance to this show fill your afternoon with spectacular views, but all proceeds from the tickets go to supporting the RHS and the work that they do as a charity!
P.S. – Tickets for the 2023 show are on sale now on the RHS website!
12. Appreciate Art at the Chelsea Arts Club
Do you know someone, who knows someone?
Without being a member yourself or having an invitation from a member, then you’re not getting inside the Chelsea Arts Club, but one can dream.
This private members-only arts club is where artists and lovers of the craft come together and appreciate what art brings to the world.
With two-thirds of members having to be practicing artists themselves, I just wonder what conversations are being had behind these walls (and if I one day could be a fly on one!).
With member shows throughout the year and food and drink available all week, being a member here is highly coveted and I wish you luck getting in!
13. See a Chelsea F.C Game
Go Liverpool! Just kidding. Football fans don’t come for me, I know nothing about the game.
However, as you might have already gathered, I do know a thing or two about how to have a good time in Chelsea.
So, if you love London & you love football, why not find yourself in the Stamford Bridge Stadium on a match day cheering alongside 40,000 fans all rooting for their favourite team?
If you know anything about the football scene in England, attending a game is bound to be an exciting event.
The stadium is located a five-minute walk from Fulham Broadway station, and tickets can be purchased right through the Chelsea F.C. website.
P.S.– If you’re really keen to attend a match, make sure to buy the tickets far in advance as they go quick!
14. Go on a Chelsea Pub Crawl
If you’re in Chelsea, you have to do it up right with a pub crawl through the neighbourhood. Here’s my top three recommendations to add to your list.
The Cross Keys – Giving the classic London pub experience since 1708, they serve up great drinks and dishes in stunning classic British interiors
The Builders Arm Pub Chelsea – Here you’ll find the flavors of classic pub British pub food paired with some of the finest wines, ales, and beers West London has to offer
Chelsea Potter – Enjoy the ambiance of a London evening with your favourite pint in their lovely outdoor beer garden
15. And Fine Dine Chelsea Style
After that pub crawl (or before), you might find yourself a bit hungry, here’s some places to grab a bite to eat in Chelsea!
The Five Fields – Although expensive, the innovative dishes being served at this modern restaurant are worth the splurge for sure
Sticks N’Sushi – Have you ever wondered what the middle ground would be if Danish and Japanese cuisine collided? This Copenhagen-based restaurant will give you a taste!
The Ivy Chelsea Garden – Their sophisticated take on British dining has something for everyone with a wide range of vegetarian to vegan menu options too
Phat Phuc Noodle Bar – This might be a familiar name if you’re on #FoodTok, but it deserves the hype — serving up delicious Pho, and other traditional Vietnamese dishes
Ziani – Plating up mouthwatering Venetian dishes, this is the place to go if you’re craving Italian in Chelsea
16. Stroll Chelsea Embankment
Probably one of the best things about Chelsea is that it bumps right up against the Thames River, making it a great place for one of my favourite things to do in London, taking a riverbank stroll.
Built in 1874, the construction of the Embankment actually shifted the surrounding landscape and shaped the Thames, by adding granite walls, which stopped the rushing water of the river from climbing up to shore.
Now, the views from the embankment are a fetching sight during any season with sights of the Battersea Power Station and Albert Bridge in the distance, but at night both of become beautifully illuminated making this part of London’s skyline I could marvel at for just about ever.
Read More: Chelsea to Battersea Walk (Episode #15)
17. Walk Along Albert Bridge
Opened in 1873 and designed by R M Ordish, the Albert Bridge is one of London’s most interesting bridges.
From the initial construction of the bridge to multiple refurbishments, this bridge has been sick with issues.
At first, the design wasn’t right, and then the materials wore down quite quickly, tollbooths had to be removed due to being the cause of excess weight — you name it.
Bringing something special to make the troubled bridge more exciting, in 1992 it was covered in lights. Mainly to be more noticeable in fog by ships sailing down the Thames, but for those of us on land, they just make it pretty.
However, it didn’t end there because in 2010 the bridge went under its most recent renovation to fix rotting wood, caused by the curious case of too many dogs peeing on it…LOL.
But today in 2023, I promise you the bridge stands tall and strong and the walk across is one you have to take!
18. Visit the Royal Hospital Chelsea
Outside of the renowned Chelsea Flower Show, the Royal Hospital Chelsea is listed a Grade l and ll site and home to over 300 war veterans.
Known as Chelsea Pensioners, these veterans not only live here but are the guides for public tours through the infirmary and other parts of the Royal Hospital, sharing the rich history of the property!
They run Monday through Friday, and are a great way to learn about the building, wars, and British history throughout the years.
P.S – Check out their website for more details on how to book your visit!
19. Have Your Chelsea Insta-Moment
Okay, so we all know London has some pretty viral photo locations like Big Ben, The London Eye, and Tower Bridge, but if you really want to be the main character in your posts, Chelsea is the place to be.
Don’t be afraid to strike a pose outside the pink door on Oakley Street, in front of the rows of colorful flats on Bywater and Coulson Streets, or visit in May for the perfect Chelsea Flower Show Instagram snap.
You can also insta your London coffee shop moment in front of the floral displays at The Ivy, or capture yourself biting into a croissant at Peggy Porschen Bakery.
Map of Things to Do in Chelsea, London
Thanks for reading my Things to Do in Chelsea, London Guide. If you enjoyed it, let me know on Instagram!
CHECK OUT MORE LONDON GUIDES: