Famous for its plethora of fantastic museums, quirky pubs, bougie stores, colourful streets and spectacular buildings, the borough of Kensington is undoubtedly one of the capital’s most fascinating spots. From the magnificent Royal Albert Hall to the lovely Holland Park, there’s a whole host of things to see and do here. So, without further ado, here’s our rundown of ten of the best things to do in Kensington:
1. Discover the world’s largest dinosaur at the National History Museum
Now we couldn’t compile a list of the best things to do in Kensington without including this one. The gorgeous National History Museum is perhaps most famous for the stunning Hintze Hall, which is dominated by the suspended skeleton of Hope the Blue Whale. It also has exhibitions on earthquakes, volcanoes, venomous insects and other bad-ass features of the natural world, as well as the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
However, perhaps the biggest draw at the moment is ‘Titanosaur: Life of as the Biggest Dinosaur’, which until January 2024 gives you the chance to see how you measure up to one of the largest creatures to ever roam the Earth. It’s the first time it’s being shown on European soil, so you really don’t want to miss out on this one! You can also get a guided tour of all the other dinosaur exhibits on show – cop your tickets here.
📍Find it at Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD.
2. Watch an orchestral gig at the spectacular Royal Albert Hall
The Grade I-listed Royal Albert Hall is undoubtedly one of the nation’s most treasured music venues. On first glance at this spectacular building – which dates back to 1871 – you can expect amazing nights of late night jazz and orchestras playing ‘Harry Potter’ or the ‘Lord of the Rings’ within its cavernous interior. However, what may come as a surprise is the range of other amazing events and gigs on offer – from techno nights with Jon Hopkins to grime get downs with Kano.
This year has seen the likes of Róisín Murphy and woman-of-the-moment Raye perform, so there really is something for everyone here.
📍Find it at Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London, SW7 2AP.
3. Go for a wander and spot the peacocks at the Kyoto Garden
Nestled right in the heart of leafy Holland Park lies a charming, hyper-Instagrammable, oasis of calm called the Kyoto Garden. The park was a gift from the city of Kyoto, honouring the friendship between the countries of Japan and Great Britain, and it was originally constructed to celebrate the upcoming 1992 Japan Festival in London.
Central to it all is the famous waterfall, which trickles into a pond with koi carp swimming around. But there’s plenty more to see than just the IG-famous water feature, with winding cobbled pathways, traditional Japanese stone lanterns, and more. There are even some resident peacocks here, who prance and pose for photographs to anyone who comes across their path, and you can also spot numerous other species of wildlife here too – including Eurasian jays and, if you’re lucky, grey herons.
📍Find it at Holland Park, Holland Park Avenue, London, W11 4UA.
4. Grab a pint or two at the prettiest pub in London
Well, we certainly think so anyway. Called The Churchill Arms, it’s almost completely hidden by an avalanche of flowers, the budget for which is more than some people’s annual salary (AKA 25 grand). In other words, when Spring springs and the flowers bloom, this beloved boozer is bedecked with 100 flower pots, 48 window boxes, and 42 hanging baskets.
But Christmastime is when this one really shines – literally. Their annual display sees some 80 Christmas trees festoon the west London pub, with a whopping 22,000 lights covering the exterior. Then, head inside for wartime memorabilia (look out for a cardboard cutout of the pub’s namesake, Winston Churchill), beer, and delicious Thai food. I mean what can’t this pub do?
📍Find it at 119 Kensington Church Street, W8 7LN.
5. Explore the magnificent Kensington Palace
Just a stone’s throw away from the aforementioned boozer lies the beautiful Kensington Palace – the official London residence of TRH The Prince and Princess of Wales and their children. It’s another of London’s greatest palaces and was originally a two-storey Jacobean mansion built by Sir George Coppin back in 1605, when Kensington itself was just a village outside of the capital.
The subsequent birthplace and palace of Queen Victoria, it was then expanded into the magnificent building that it is today. One of London’s most palpable tourist attractions, your entrance fee gives you access to numerous exhibitions – such as ‘The Jewel Room’ and ‘Victoria: A Royal Childhood’ – as well as the State Apartments found here. They’ve also got some manicured gardens – one of which features a memorial statue of Princess Diana – which are well worth a visit. Don’t miss the ‘Crown to Couture’ exhibition, which sees contemporary couture worn by high-profile celebrities including Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, displayed alongside some fabulous historic costumes.
If you want to visit this architectural wonder, make sure you get your tickets here.
📍Find it at Kensington Gardens, London, W8 4PX.
6. Pay a visit to Emmeline Pankhurst’s grave
The Grade I listed Brompton Cemetery is the resting place of well over 200,000 people, whose graves are commemorated with a range of intricate memorials – including towering columns and grieving angels. It’s also the final resting place of Emmeline Pankhurst – the courageous leader of the suffragettes who fought hard for the women’s right to vote – and Dr John Snow – whose pioneering work established the findings that cholera was spread through water.
It’s part of the capital’s famous ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries, and as well as some pretty exquisite architecture, there’s also plenty of wildlife here as well as a lovely little café at the north end – perfect for a post-walk cuppa.
📍Find it at Fulham Road, London, SW10 9UG.
7. Indulge in an afternoon tea at a swanky hotel
From scones and warming cups of tea to egg and cress sarnies and flutes of bubbly, we like to think we’ve got the whole afternoon tea thing down in our beloved London Town. So, whether you’re after a quirky afternoon tea, a casual affair, or a flamboyantly-fancy day out, there’s something here for everyone.
The former probably applies in this neck of the woods, with five-star digs The Milestone Hotel and Number Sixteen at The Orangery both offering some excellent ones. Our favourite however might just be the Jurassic Afternoon Tea at The Ampersand Hotel, which takes its cue from the time dinosaurs roamed the earth over 200 million years ago.
8. See what’s on at the V&A Museum
Another one of the best things to do in Kensington by a shadow of a mile is paying a visit to the prestigious V&A Museum. Documenting 5,000 years of art and design, this free spot is the third in the South Kensington museum trilogy after the Natural History and Science Museums. Head here for amazing outfits, glittering jewellery, intricate mosaics and ancient sculptures in their constantly changing collection.
Don’t miss ‘Divas’, an immersive, audio-visual exhibition that spans two centuries and celebrates the trailblazing performers who have broken boundaries, challenged the status quo, and used their voices and platforms to encourage social and political change.
📍Find it at Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL.
9. Up your serotonin at the happiness-inducing Dopamine Land
Dopamine Land, London’s happiness-inducing immersive experience, has been keeping the capital smiling since early Summer 2022, and now, due to popular demand, they’ve extended their stay in the city yet again until September 24, 2023.
The experience takes place on the Old Brompton Road in South Kensington, just around the corner from the Natural History Museum. Colourful installations, visual effects and moving projections all conspire to create a ‘world of happiness‘ at Dopamine Land; the series of unique and enchanting rooms will include a pillow fight room, a digital forest, and a ballpit room – to name just three! You’ll get to relive the joy of childhood imagination throughout your session, unbridled from the confines of realism. Get a hold of your tickets here.
📍Find it at Sussex Mansions, Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 3LB.
10. Discover all things design at the Design Museum
Rounding off this list of the best things to do in Kensington is The Design Museum which, quite simply, ‘celebrates all things design’. A truly cavernous space nestled right by Holland Park, it’s a fantastic spot whose core ‘Designer Maker User’ collection is free to visit.
Don’t miss out on the paid exhibitions here though – ‘REBEL: 30 Years of London Fashion’, ‘Email is Dead’ and ‘Skateboard’ – which is the first major UK exhibition to map the design evolution of the skateboard from the 1950s to today.
📍Find it at 224-238 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6AG.
So there you have it, a roundup of ten of the best things to do in Kensington. Whether you’re wanting to spot wildlife at Holland Park or discover the exhibitions at the Design Museum, there’s something for everyone here!