Pastel colored townhouses in a Chelsea mews
Ian Packham

Things to do in Chelsea London

One of London’s most upmarket neighborhoods, Chelsea lines the River Thames to the west of Belgravia. A home to movie stars and ambassadors, it contains several important streets, such as the King’s Road, from which charming cobblestone mews stem, reminiscent of the time when the clip-clop of a horse and carriage was more common than the roar of a motor engine.

When it comes to things to do in Chelsea London visitors are spoilt for choice. Besides hitting the shops, visitors can explore Chelsea Embankment, soak up the art of the Saatchi Gallery and discover first hand the British obsession with soccer at Stamford Bridge.

So let’s take a look at the many things to do in London’s Chelsea!

Walk Chelsea Embankment

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Bookended by Chelsea Bridge and Albert Bridge, a pleasant stroll along the 500 meter Chelsea Embankment edging the north bank of the River Thames is a good way to start any time in Chelsea. Its views of the river take in the new housing development at Battersea Power Station as well as Battersea Park, whilst its trees give shade and color from spring right through to fall.

Along the way, be sure to stop off at Chelsea Physic Garden, a small pocket of green space established in 1673 as a garden for the growing of medicinal plants. Amongst its quirky features including the world’s most northerly grapefruit tree, Britain’s largest olive tree and the oldest alpine rock garden in Europe.

However, when it comes to Chelsea and gardens, most thoughts are going to turn straight to the Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show, which takes over the grounds of Chelsea’s Royal Hospital each May. At other times of year it’s possible to tour the historic hospital guided by one of its residents – red coated pensioners who had served the country in the military.

Cycle along quiet mews to top cultural hubs

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A mews is a side street that once housed the stables of grander houses, and Chelsea has plenty of these attractive thoroughfares. Take in the area’s best architecture by pedaling your way along these generally traffic free streets by hiring a bike. Look out for London’s Blue Plaques along the way.

Attached to the façades of buildings and used to denote a place where someone famous has once resided, Chelsea’s Blue Plaques include those to Bob Marley, Oscar Wilde and Ingrid Bergman.

One of Chelsea’s more modern architectural forms in the exterior of the National Army Museum. Free to visit, it consists of five galleries, which together attempt to tell the story of the British Army from its origins in the Civil Wars of the 17th Century to the present day.

With 2500 artefacts on display there’s plenty of interest, including the skeleton of Napoleon’s horse at the Battle of Waterloo alongside the cloak of his arch nemesis the Duke of Wellington. The Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon has other treasures, including a Lancaster bomber, which helped the UK take the fight to the Nazis during World War Two.

Discover a love of soccer

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An army of a different kind floods the streets around Stamford Bridge – Chelsea Football Club’s home ground – on match days. But a behind the scenes look at what has made Chelsea one of England’s top soccer clubs can be had at any time with a self-guided tour taking in London’s largest soccer museum, changing rooms and the pitch side.

The stadium has a rather unusual location beside Brompton Cemetery, one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’. Property of the crown, it has become an important habitat for Chelsea’s urban wildlife, as well as being the final resting place of approximately 200,000 souls. Its famous residents include Emmeline Pankhurst – a leading figure in the suffragette fight for women to have the vote.

Take in some art

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Located in Duke of York Square, the Saatchi Gallery developed out of the private art collection of advertising impresario Charles Saatchi. It is particularly well-associated with the Young British Artists movement of the 1990s, which brought Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin to national and international attention.

Although a private members club for artists working in all genres, art fans shouldn’t miss Chelsea Art Club either. Founded at the request of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, its Baron Lodge headquarters is usually whitewashed.

However, expansive murals are regularly painted to mark special anniversaries, with the lengthy façade previously decorated with circus performers, camouflage and tricks of the eye to suggest it had been bombed during the blitz.

Hit the King’s Road

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Unlovingly called the A3217 alongside the more evocative King’s Road, this is a street that has dominated the Chelsea scene since the 1960s. Over three kilometers in length, it’s named after the fact it was a private thoroughfare for the monarch until 1830, providing direct access to Kew Gardens and its palace.

Today the road has around 300 stores as well as galleries and cafés – Vivienne Westwood once had a boutique here with Malcolm McLaren, whilst Starbucks’ first UK premises was on the street too. Another Blue Plaque denotes the place Sir Carol Reed lived – director to such movies as The Third Man, The Agony and the Ecstasy and Trapeze.

If your visit leaves you in need of some tranquility, head north to St Luke’s Church. Not only is it one of the earliest examples of the Gothic Revival style in London, but it was also the church where Charles Dickens married Catherine Hogarth flush with the success of The Pickwick Papers, published two days before.

Discover Chelsea with Go City

Popular with everyone from Oscar Wilde to the Rolling Stones, Chelsea is one of London’s most fashionable neighborhoods. If you’re visiting the British capital, look out for the many things to do in Chelsea London.

Whether you decide to visit Stamford Bridge or ride a bike about the area, travel with Go City and you’ll save heaps of cash on attraction admission, not just in Chelsea but across the whole of London!

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