One of my favourite things about London is how it’s basically a large collection of villages that have all grown together to become a big city. Taken as a city, it can seem overwhelming, but once you start to treat each area as it’s own place to visit, you’ll find it a lot more manageable.
On a recent trip to London, our apartment happened to be in the Earl’s Court part of the city, south-east from the centre. This was just a short walk (or even shorter tube ride!) up to Kensington, an area famous for shopping and a multitude of other activities. We did our best to do as much as possible during our time there, and came up with the following ideas to help you to spend anywhere from a few hours to multiple days exploring Kensington.
Things to Do in Kensington
1. The Natural History Museum
Ok, there are a lot of museums in Kensington, so brace yourself. The three I’ve chosen are three of London’s finest museums though, so if museums are your thing, you’re going to have a ball. You’re also going to run out of time, because all these museums can easily soak up a day or more of your time.
First up is the magnificent Natural History Museum, which is worth looking at from the outside even if you don’t go into the building itself. I mean, look at it.
You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t go in though. From the mighty dinosaur skeleton who greets you at the main entrance, to the giant life-sized suspended blue whale in the marine area, through to the “escalator through the earth”, there is loads to see and do. Those three things just mentioned were my favourites, but there’s lots more.
One thing – the museum isn’t exactly cutting edge any more, so if you are used to fancy interactive displays and holographic shizz, you probably won’t find too much of that here. It’s a museum from a slightly older time, but don’t let that put you off.
Plus it’s free. Hurrah.
2. The Science Museum
Conveniently next door to the Natural History Museum, and conveniently also free (who said London was expensive!), the Science Museum, is, well, a museum about science. I remember visiting in the eighties as a child and being wowed by all the interactive exhibits.
I’m not sure how well it’s aged, because we weren’t able to make it this time round, but the power of nostalgia means I’m adding it to this list anyway. So there.
3. The V&A Museum
The V&A Museum, or the Victoria and Albert Museum to give it its full title, was a new addition to my “museums I’ve visited in London” list. For some reason, despite having lived in the capital for a number of years, the V&A Museum had somehow never had a look in.
Which, it turns out, was a terrible shame because damn, this is an awesome museum. Stuffed full of all sorts of treasures, from Roman and Greek artefacts (the giant pillars are a particular highlight), through to more modern collections, this is the perfect museum to round out the museum trilogy of Nature, Science, and Culture.
It’s also free. Seriously London, your free museums rock.
4. Shopping in Harrods
Yeah, I can’t really afford to actually *buy* anything in Harrods. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy wandering around this exquisite department store and wondering what life would be like with my very own monogrammed luggage set from Globetrotter.
Or how much more I might enjoy Backgammon on a hand stitched artisan backgammon board.
Or how much I might enjoy the tea that is sold in the tea shop, poured in loose leaf form from giant urns, to pretty much any amount that you might want.
Ok, so it turns out I can afford something in Harrods. Tea. Terribly British of us, I know, but if you are looking for an excellent souvenir at a reasonable price, a bag of tea from Harrods is a good place to start.
5. High Tea at The Berkeley
Speaking of tea, all those museums and shopping have likely weakened your spirit, and the best way to revive them is no doubt with a High Tea experience.
I’m not going to lie, never in my life have I had High Tea. It’s probably the sort of thing that gets your British Passport taken off you, so this visit to London with Jess seemed the perfect opportunity to get my high tea experience on. Which I did, twice.
The first was at The Berkeley Hotel, and to be honest, it was not the most traditional of high tea experiences. But it was a damn good one, so I’ll let it slide.
Rather than a traditional high tea featuring scones and cakes and, well, the sort of things you would imagine of a High Tea, the Berkeley offer a rather different experience. Their High Tea is fashion themed, with all the tasty pastries and cakes being modelled after recent fashion lines by top designers.
I’m not really a fashion expert (probably not a huge surprise), but thankfully the many cakes and pastries came with a little card which explained what was going on, and what each was meant to represent.
It was all a great deal of fun, made even more so by the fact that we had the posh version of High Tea, which meant starting with champagne. And who can argue with High Tea that starts with champagne? Certainly not me. Read a full review of our high tea experience at the Berkeley, here.
6. Kensington Gardens
One of my favourite things about London are its huge amount of green spaces. I spent a great deal of time in Hyde and Regent’s Park when I was living in London, finding myself a small corner to hide away from city life for a while.
If all of the above has you craving an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, than take a bit of time to head into Kensington Garden’s, one of eight Royal Parks in the city. Here, amongst other things, you’ll find a statue of Peter Pan, the Serpentine Galleries and the Albert Memorial, all set within 242 acres of lovely parkland. Relaxing stuff.
Whilst you’re in Kensington Gardens, you might as well:
7. Visit Kensington Palace
The official residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (that’s William and Kate), you can actually visit this Royal residence, including wandering around various Royal State apartments and the gardens.
I wouldn’t expect to actually bump into any Royalty when visiting, but this is where William, Kate and Harry do actually live, so there is always hope that you might find an errant Royal wandering the public areas. Keep your fingers crossed for that one.
8. Have a Pub Lunch
If you fail to spot a Royal, don’t worry. You can drown your sorrows with a classic British pub lunch.
Admittedly, this is hardly something you need to travel to Kensington to do, given that the entirety of the UK revolves around the existence of the local Public House, but since it’s such a classic, I couldn’t do anything other than include it here.
Favourites include various pies (meat, covered in pastry), fish and chips (although I prefer mine served at the sea side), and on Sunday’s, the classic Sunday Roast, which will come with all sorts of trimmings. Go for the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding if you want to experience a true British meal, and don’t worry, the pudding isn’t a dessert.
Accompany the whole thing with a draft pint of real ale, and your day in Kensington will be complete. Even it if’s just the beginning of the afternoon…
Further Reading for your Visit to Kensington
And that’s it for our tips on what to do in Kensington. Before you go, here are some resources you might find useful for planning the rest of your trip.
- Our suggested 1 Day, 2 Day, and 6 day London itineraries can help you plan for your
- A full review of the London Pass which can help you figure out if the pass would help you save you money on your trip to London.
- A guide to getting to and from all of London’s airports
- A guide to public transport in London, tips on how to buy and use the Oyster card in London, plus advice on the best way to pay for public transport in London.
- Tips on finding the best Photography Locations in London that I put together
- For the Harry Potter fans amongst you, take a look at our guide to the key Harry Potter filming locations in London
- Our experience taking a full day walking tour of London, in case you like the idea of a fully guided day
- Interested in day trips from London? We have posts on a Stonehenge, Bath & Cotswolds day trip, and tips on planning a Oxford day trip.
- If you are looking for London travel guides, we’d recommend checking The Eyewitness Travel Guide to London and the Rick Steve’s London guide, which are both excellent sources of relevant information
So you know: Our High Tea at The Berkeley was complimentary in partnership with Visit Britain. Everything else was covered by us. See more at our Code of Ethics.