Looking for the best things to do in Kensington? From strolls in Hyde Park to basking in glorious museums (and a delightful afternoon tea or two) here’s the best things to do in the royal area — from a Londoner!
Sprinkled in royal charm, world-class museums, and the beautiful Hyde Park — Kensington is well-worth visiting if you’re ever in London.
I’ve loved this area ever since I spent the day browsing new reads at South Kensington Books followed by a long walk across everything this fabulous neighbourhood in London has to offer. And I’ve been back countless times ever since.
Without further ado, here’s the best things to do in Kensington, London. From a Londoner.
The Best Things to do in Kensington, London
1. Wander Through Hyde Park
No visit to Kensington would be complete without a trip to Hyde Park.
The picturesque park is one of the best places in the city to enjoy some fresh air and relax, with a lot to get up to too!
Head to the Speakers’ Corner to hear the 200+ year tradition of live debates, protests, and demonstrations, or get some tranquility in the Rose Garden.
Not to mention boating or swimming in the Serpentine Lake, horseback riding in Hyde Park Stables, or simply taking a leisurely stroll around the grounds with a light bite at their five onsite cafes.
You can also visit the famed Peter Pan and Princess Diana Memorial here too.
The park also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, such as concerts and outdoor film screenings, so lots to get up to!
2. Explore the Natural History Museum
One of the best things to do in Kensington is visit the Natural History Museum.
The iconic museum houses some of the most unique and attractive natural history collections from around the world.
From dinosaur skeletons to meteorite specimens, visitors can explore more than 80 million items from a variety of disciplines.
The museum also offers educational programmes for children and adults, as well as interactive activities such as talks and tours.
And best of all — admission is free!
3. Admire the V&A Museum
Kensington is best known for its plethora of world-class attractions and as far as places to go in Kensington goes, visiting the V&A Museum is a must.
The stunning state-of-the-art building opened its doors in 1857, dedicated to all things design and history.
Situated right next to Hyde Park, the Victoria and Albert Museum houses more than 2.3 million items and spans over 12.5 acres in five different galleries — including fashion, textiles, sculpture, furniture, photography and much more.
The museum also hosts regular events such as art talks, workshops and family activities, so there’s always something new to explore.
When you’re ready to take a break from oohing and aahing at all the exhibitions, head to the V&A Cafe or have an Afternoon Tea at the V&A Dundee (just don’t forget to book 24 hours in advance).
Whatever you do, make sure to visit the John Madejski Garden before you leave, it’s stunning!
4. Find Wonder at the Science Museum
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Kensington, then the Science Museum is an absolute must.
Located just a stone’s throw away from Kensington High Street and the Royal Albert Hall, this museum houses some of the best collections of scientific history in the world, and there’s always something new to see.
Discover over 15,000 objects that span centuries of human creativity, explore interactive galleries and exhibitions, and marvel at groundbreaking inventions and interactive exhibits that show how scientific discoveries have changed our lives over time and how they continue to shape the world today.
The Science Museum is also home to one of the best family-friendly things to do in London, where kids can learn about science in a fun and creative way through hands-on activities such as flight simulators and mission control games.
The museum also has a great café serving up delicious snacks and drinks, so you can refuel after a long day browsing the galleries.
For those looking for something special, there’s also plenty of exciting adult-friendly events like Lates at the Science Museum, along with live science shows and IMAX movie showings.
5. Have a Read at the South Kensington Bookshop
South Kensington Books is a haven for bibliophiles that cannot be missed when visiting Kensington.
Located in the hip and happening neighbourhood of South Kensington and Thurloe Street, this independent bookstore has been around since the 1940’s, offering an impressive selection of books to cater to all literary tastes. Whether you’re looking for bestsellers, rare finds, or the latest viral Tik Tok book, South Kensington Books has it all.
They also have a wonderful selection of art and photography books and the staff is super knowledgeable and helpful if you need help guiding through the stacks.
6. See Royalty at Kensington Palace
Although there’s no royals to see in person here, Kensington Palace is one of the most historically royal abodes in London.
Built in the 17th century, it was originally intended for Sir George Coppin and his wife Mary Browne, but eventually became a palace for William and Mary in 1689. The palace has been home to members of the British royal family for centuries; Queen Victoria was born here, Prince William and Kate Middleton, The Princess of Wales lived here, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, The Duchess of Sussex and Princess Diana also had an apartment here.
Today, Kensington Palace is open to visitors from around the world, and many of its state apartments are now open to the public as part of the Historic Royal Palaces organisation.
Along with the beautiful Kensington Palace Gardens designed by Capability Brown during his time at Kensington Palace. The gardens offer something different all year round – from tulips in spring, roses in summer to colourful chrysanthemums in autumn.
Inside, you can wander through 19th century rooms including King George I’s Privy Closet, William III’s Cupola Room and even explore Queen Victoria’s childhood Nursery, where she played as a child. There are also collections of paintings and artworks such as Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait with Saskia (1636) which used to hang in her private apartments.
There’s also pieces from Queen Alexandra’s Royal wardrobe including a selection of gowns created by couturiers such as Worth and Paquin and it was previously home to many high-fashion exhibitions featuring the works by Christian Dior (2012) and Alexander McQueen (2015) alike.
It also hosts events such as guided tours, talks led by experts on historical figures who lived there and the ole party of two for the likes of King Charles II.
Overall if you’re interested in history or just looking for something unique to do while visiting London, Kensington Palace is definitely worth checking out.
P.S – Click here to book a ticket to Kensington Palace!
Read More: Your Ultimate Guide + Tips For Visiting Kensington Palace
7. Shop Til You Drop at Harrods
Harrods is an iconic department store located in the heart of Knightsbridge and is one of the best things to do near Kensington, London.
Established in 1834 by Charles Henry Harrod in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Harrods quickly became one of the best tourist attractions that London has to offer.
Spanning over a million square feet and offering visitors a plethora of experiences ranging from designer fashion labels to exquisite fine dining restaurants – Harrods truly is a place like no other.
Shop til you drop here for anything from luxury items such as watches and jewellery, to electronics and homeware; or take some time out to enjoy one of their many restaurants for lunch or dinner.
They also boast several cafes, perfect for a boujee meetup, a quick snack between shopping sessions or simply catching up with friends.
Read More: A Royal Stay: 5 Stunning Hotels in Kensington, London
I’m also a big personal fan of the Harrods Food Halls, which offers a wide variety of gourmet foods and delicacies from all over the world. From artisan cheeses and charcuterie boards to freshly-baked pastries and homemade jams, there’s something for everyone.
After you’ve done your shopping, you can tuck in for a traditional afternoon tea at the Harrods Tea Room.
Alternatively, if you want an extra special experience can upgrade to their free Personal Shopping Service, which includes personal gift and styling advice from a team of experts while you shop (with no minimum spend).
With its grandiose architecture, exquisite interiors, expansive product selection and famous slogan “all things for all people, everywhere” Harrods is certainly one of best things to do in Kensington London!
8. Take Up Kensington High Street Shopping
Kensington High Street is the best place to go shopping in Kensington.
With its array of chic shops and independent boutiques, it’s no wonder why so many West Londoners head here for a spot of retail therapy.
Whether you’re after high-end fashion or vintage finds, Kensington High Street has something for everyone. Filled with the latest designer clothes, shoes, and accessories to plenty of independent shops with unique items you can’t find anywhere else — perfect for those who like to stand out from the crowd!
Aside from retail therapy you can take your pick from one of the many parks surrounding Kensington High Street such as Hyde Park or Holland Park or catch a post-shopping movie at Everyman Cinema, just a short stroll away.
9. See a Show at Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, London is an architectural beauty hard to miss, and is well worth visiting while you’re in Kensington.
Built in 1871 and named after Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, the Royal Albert Hall was designed as a multi-purpose venue for concerts, conferences, exhibitions and more.
Present-day its become an iconic landmark attracting nearly 2 million visitors from all over the world every year.
Every year, the hall hosts more than 400 events across all genres; from classical music performances to rock concerts, comedy shows and inspiring talks.
The architecture of the building is equally awe-inspiring, with intricate mosaic tile detailing on both its exterior and interior inspired by Islamic art combined with Gothic touches and elegant chandeliers.
For an interactive experience you can also do a guided tour of the Royal Albert Hall for behind-the-scenes access to the venue…including a secret staircase or two.
10. Stroll Through Holland Park
Strolling through Holland Park feels like stumbling on something magical.
The vibrant and picturesque public park situated in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, is best known for its formal gardens, sweeping lawns, large tree-lined pathways, and hidden architectural gems.
Visiting Holland Park also means instant access to some of Kensington’s best attractions including an open-air theatre, an adventure playground, an animal enclosure, a Japanese Garden, and even the historic Orangery.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife such as parakeets who live among the trees and other colourful birds (peacock sightings aren’t uncommon in the Kyoto Gardens!).
My personal recommendation is to come with a few picnic bits and eat along the Dutch Gardens while taking in the view. But I’ve also got a full guide for the best things to do in Holland Park to enjoy the green space to the fullest.
11. And Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens is one of London’s most-loved attractions, offering visitors and locals alike a host of wonderful things to do.
Located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, this beautiful park occupies an area of 285 acres and is divided into two distinct areas – The Broad Walk and The Long Water. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful stroll among lush greenery or an exciting nature adventure, Kensington Gardens has something for everyone.
One of the best-known features of Kensington Gardens is the Albert Memorial, located in the centre of The Broad Walk. Dedicated to Prince Albert – husband to Queen Victoria, along with The Long Water, a serene lake stretches along the north side of the gardens offering some incredible views across Hyde Park towards Marble Arch.
The garden is also home to several species of wildfowl including ducks, coots, moorhens and geese – perfect for nature lovers! After taking a relaxing stroll around the lake you can venture to the Italian Gardens and take in the sunshine (fingers crossed!).
12. Get Contemporary at the Design Museum
The Design Museum is a must for things to do in Kensington, especially if you’re into modern and contemporary design.
As the world’s leading museum dedicated to architecture, industrial design, graphics, fashion and product design, it’s no surprise that thousands visitors flock to the museum every day.
Housed in the former Commonwealth Institute building in Kensington High Street, the Design Museum offers an impressive portfolio of exhibitions and events that explore a wide range of topics related to design history and culture.
The museum boasts a collection of over 2.5 million objects from fashion and furniture to typography and technology, and a year-round programme of new and exciting exhibitions like the World of ASMR and Parables for Happiness.
The library at the Design Museum is also worth visiting (when it reopens) if you’re looking for more information on a particular topic or want to explore further into the history of design. There’s an extensive collection of books dating back to 1750 and it’s open seven days a week during regular opening hours.
13. See Art at the Serpentine Gallery
The Serpentine Gallery is a free and contemporary art gallery in the heart of Kensington.
The renowned gallery has been hosting exhibitions since 1970, when Sir John Soane’s neoclassical masterpiece was opened as a public space for art. Now owned by the Serpentine Galleries Trust, it features works by some of the best known international artists such as Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Yayoi Kusama. The gallery welcomes nearly 700,000 visitors annually, making it one of London’s most visited arts destinations.
The gallery offers an extensive permanent collection of over 2,500 objects spanning across three centuries. They also host lectures year-round on topics ranging from photography to architecture and sculpture.
The beauty of the Serpentine Gallery stretches beyond its walls with its stunning lakeside setting where you can enjoy leisurely walks along picturesque pathways and flower gardens dotted with sculptures. The best time to visit is during spring when cherry blossom trees add a splash of color to your outings around Kensington Gardens.
Whether you’re looking for a unique exhibition experience or simply want to immerse yourself in nature’s beauty; The Serpentine Gallery is a must-see destination in Kensington.
14. Discover History at the Leighton House Museum
The Leighton House Museum is one of the most visually-striking museums in London and one of the places places to visit in Kensington, London.
Originally built in 1866 by architect and painter Frederic Leighton, it stands as a testament to Victorian Aestheticism and the Arts & Crafts movement. On the outside, the house is an architectural work of art with its curved facade and terracotta tile roof, while inside the walls are adorned with intricate designs and European treasures.
The Leighton House Museum features many works of art from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including John Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones and George Frederic Watts, and dozens of pieces from Frederic Leighton’s own collection. Visitors can explore various portraits, sculptures, Renaissance artefacts and more, all of which are spread across two floors and several connected rooms. The collection here is incredibly diverse and ranges from Chinese lacquerware to Dutch tiles.
One of the museum’s best features is its magnificent Arab Hall. This room features a striking Islamic-style mosaic dome ceiling that was designed by George Aitchison and completed in 1878. It also showcases Arabic-style furniture such as chairs with mother-of-pearl inlay along with a variety of artefacts such as a bronze lion fountain made in Venice during the 16th century.
In addition to being an incredible visual experience, you can also take part in a guided tour here or attend lectures by experts on topics related to Victorian art and culture. The museum also hosts regular exhibitions where works from other artists are showcased alongside Leighton’s own creations.
In other words, if you’re looking to scratch your cultural itch while you’re in Kensington — this is the place!
15. Have a Royal Brunch in Kensington
Brunch is one of the best places to start your day anywhere in London, but especially so in Kensington.
The royal borough is filled with fantastic restaurants that serve up delicious and flavorful breakfast finds from lavish weekend brunches to classic British favorites.
Kensington also has some truly unique spots where you can enjoy your brunch in style. Like the sustainable & delicious Farmacy or the quirky bistro-style Balans.
Read More: Where to Brunch in Kensington: 10 Best Breakfast Spots
16. And an Afternoon Tea at Fait Maison Salon de Thé
The only thing that could make spending a day in Kensington any better is afternoon tea, especially if it’s at Fait Maison Salon De Thé.
The classic British tradition of afternoon tea is best enjoyed in luxury, and Fait Maison certainly delivers.
The grand salon holds a vintage charm filled with plush velvet chairs and antique china pieces that put you straight in a bygone era.
On the afternoon tea side they specialise in delightful arrays of finger sandwiches, cakes, and scones all served alongside premium coffees and teas.
The tea house also has strong Middle-Eastern ties through its founder and internationally-renowed head chef Om Waleed (Yvonne Osman), so expect a yummy twist on both their Breakfast and Main Course menu.
17. Sip on Kensington Cafe Culture
Out of all the amazing things there are to do in Kensington, one of my favourite is simply sipping on a hot drink and people-watching onto the streets of South Kensington.
Right outside of South Kensington station, Thurloe St is a great place to grab a cup (from Paul’s, Gail’s, the Le Pain Quotidien or the likes) and watch the world go by in the neighbourhood.
18. Visit the Saatchi Gallery
The Saatchi Gallery in Kensington is one of the best things to do for art-lovers and culture vultures alike.
Located in the heart of fashionable Chelsea (in the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea), the gallery is home to some of the most cutting-edge contemporary art on view today, kicking it since 1985.
Boasting an expansive collection of works by both emerging and established artists from around the world the exhibitions center around themes of modern art, sculpture, photography and film, as well as interactive installations that are designed to challenge visitors’ perceptions of art and culture.
From large-scale interactive displays with dynamic audio-visual elements to intimate solo shows featuring works by singular artists, The Saatchi Gallery provides something for everyone.
The exhibitions are ever-rotating, so there’s always something new to discover. Along with special events taking place throughout the year.
19. Explore Notting Hill
Cosied in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the famously known neighbourhood — Notting Hill.
The vibrant and multi-cultural neighborhood is home to some of the city’s most iconic attractions and events, such as Portobello Road Market, the Notting Hill Carnival and Notting Hill movie locations — as well as its own unique collection of shops, restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs.
Whether you’re looking for an exciting day out or a relaxing evening stroll around one of London’s prettiest neighborhoods – Notting Hill has something for everyone!
Read More: 17 Things to do in Notting Hill: A Local’s Guide
20. Mosey Through Kensington Mews
One of my favourite things to do in Kensington is wander around all the charming cobbled mews in the area.
The old horse stables are dotted throughout the neighbourhood — now turned into terraced Grade II listed homes. And yes, they’re as enchanting as they sound.
Check out the Adam & Eve Mews, Kynance Mews, Queen’s Gate Mews, Drayson Mews and Ensor Mews (just type each location into Citymapper!) for a whimsical afternoon exploring a bit of Kensington history.
21. See The Albert Memorial
The Albert Memorial is a magnificent monument located in Kensington Gardens and dedicated to the memory of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s beloved husband who died at just 42 years old. Built in 1872 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, it stands over 170 feet tall and is one of the grandest monuments in all of England.
The memorial itself consists of an ornate Gothic canopy surmounted by a richly decorated statue of the prince.
The central figure is surrounded by dazzlingly ornate sculptures and figures depicting Victoria’s consort as a statesman, scholar and patron of the arts. On either side stand four statues of angels representing justice, truth, motherhood and charity, while beneath them are eight seated figures representing Europe’s leading industrial towns at that time.
In addition to its grand architecture, you can also enjoy fantastic views across Kensington Gardens from its upper terrace. The memorial sits amongst many other Kensington attractions including The Serpentine Lake, The Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Palace.
22. Go Back in Time at Brompton Cemetery
Brompton Cemetery is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in West London and is a Grade I listed burial ground. It’s also one of the best things to do in Kensington if a bit of eery calm doesn’t give you the heebie jeebies.
Established in 1840, this cemetery is one of the seven large Victorian cemeteries found throughout England and Wales. This massive burial ground covers an impressive 39acres, providing lots of opportunity to explore its sprawling grounds.
The cemetery has over 35,000 monuments including those of numerous noteworthy individuals such as Sir John Everett Millais, a renowned painter from the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; Emily Davison, a suffragette who fought for women’s rights and died at Epsom Derby; and Thomas Holloway, an entrepreneur who made his fortune with patent medicines.
Brompton also houses some of the most beautiful monuments to be found in any English cemetery. These range from Egyptian obelisks to grand mausoleums that look truly awe-inspiring against the backdrop of the beautifully landscaped greenery.
With plenty of green space and tranquil walking paths, it’s definitely worth popping by if you have a few minutes to wander.
23. Ride Along the Serpentine Lake
The Serpentine Lake lake has a long and storied history, used for centuries back as a popular place for leisurely strolls and relaxation.
It was commissioned by Queen Caroline in the 1730s; who wished to create a recreational area for her husband King George II. The lake quickly became popular with West Londoners and the rest was history.
Covering an area of 40 acres, the lake is open to the public year round, making it a great spot to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Its tranquil surface also reflects the surrounding trees and grassy banks, making it a beautiful sight in any season.
Present-day you can enjoy the many fun activities around the Serpentine from swimming in the Lido to jogging or walking along the perimeter paths, or boating your way through the lake (on a sunny afternoon preferably).
Map of the Best Things to Do in Kensington, London
Read More on Kensington:
- Where to Brunch in Kensington: 10 Best Breakfast Spots
- A Royal Stay: 5 Stunning Hotels in Kensington, London
- Hotel Review: A Stay at the Resident Kensington
- Your Ultimate Guide + Tips For Visiting Kensington Palace (from a local)
- The Best Kensington Hostels in London (from a Londoner)
- Knightsbridge to Kensington High Street Walk: London Walk Series (Episode #3)