Atrium and whale skeleton at the Natural History Museum London
Ian Packham

Things to do in Kensington London

Leafy Kensington is one of London’s most affluent neighborhoods. Although it lies a short distance west of the landmark buildings lining the River Thames, it still has lots to entice the casual visitor.

Things to do in Kensington London include exploring the collections of three of the British capital’s most important museums, heading behind the scenes of life as a royal at Kensington Palace and paying a visit to one of its most famous stores – Harrods.

Looking for inspiration for a day in Kensington? Check out our guide to the home patch of Dusty Springfield and Freddie Mercury.

Spend a day on Exhibition Road

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South Kensington is synonymous with museums, with the half kilometer length of Exhibition Road the location of three of the great national collections. If you’ve seen the movies Paddington, The Eternals or even the 1975 Ustinov classic One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing, you won’t need any introduction to the Natural History Museum. Its exhibits include dinosaur skeletons, the taxidermy creatures of Blue Whale Hall and biological samples collected by Charles Darwin on his world-changing expedition to the Galapagos Islands.

Step next door to the Science Museum and you’ll encounter Watson and Crick’s original model demonstrating the structure of our DNA, Wells Cathedral Clock – one of the oldest in the world – and the biplane aircraft in which Amy Johnson became the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia in 1928.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is dedicated to the decorative arts, and provides a permanent home to sculpture by Rodin, handwoven carpets from the Middle East and landscape paintings by Constable. If you need a place to rest your feet, the museum has the first and oldest museum café anywhere on Earth!

Snoop around a royal’s bedroom

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Kensington Palace has been the residence of members of the royal family since the 17th Century. It has provided a home to Queen Victoria (before her accession to the throne), Diana Princess of Wales and latterly Princes William and Harry.

One of London’s Historic Royal Palaces, visitors are able to see the lavish King’s State Apartments, their counterpart for the queen consort and the Jewel Room – although the gems held here pale into significance compared to the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

Its gardens can be toured independently of the palace and run without interruption into neighboring Hyde Park. Little ones are sure to enjoy the wooden pirate ship that’s the centerpiece of the Diana Memorial Playground, whilst the Italian Gardens and Peter Pan statue – appearing as if by magic one night in 1912 – should also be added to any list of things to do in Kensington London.

Tour the Royal Albert Hall

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But the royal epithets don’t end with Kensington Palace and Gardens. The southern boundary of the gardens is occupied by the OTT Albert Memorial, opposite the concert hall that also bears the name of Queen Victoria’s consort.

Recognized as one of the world’s top performance spaces, the Royal Albert Hall has a 150 year history that includes surviving bombing during the Second World War and appearances from everyone from Mohammad Ali to Adele. Used for the BBC Prom concert series since 1941, taking a tour of the Royal Albert Hall provides access to the usually private royal suites, backstage area and gallery.

Delight in Kensington’s contemporary art scene

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Getting their name from Hyde Park’s Serpentine boating lake, the Serpentine Galleries are renowned for their temporary exhibitions, spread between two historic registered buildings connected by the park’s bridge.

During the summer months, its artwork even extends to a pavilion constructed just for the season designed by some of the biggest names in architecture. Previous pavilions have been shaped by Zaha Hadid – whose other work includes Guangzhou Opera House and the London Olympic Aquatic Center – and Frank Gehry – the man behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.

Even more style can be enjoyed at Kensington’s dedicated Design Museum. Tucked into the southern extent of Holland Park, head to its upper floor for the permanent collection of this former European Museum of the Year. It demonstrates how design affects our lives without us even noticing and features almost a thousand objects from original London Underground maps to iMac computers.

Treat yourself to afternoon tea

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At this point in your visit to Kensington you’re probably ravenous. A perfect excuse – not that one is needed – to participate in one of Britain’s quaintest – and oddest – of traditions. Afternoon tea has been a staple at fashionable London dining tables since 1840.

Keeping people well fed in the long hours between lunch and dinner, it has grown from a light snack to a social occasion, and isn’t just a bone china cup full of swirling tea leaves but a full-on eating fest incorporating sandwiches, savory tarts, cakes and scones.

For that extra special treat, book a table at the Harrods Tea Rooms. As one of the most prestigious department stores in the capital, the kitchen staff have had plenty of time to perfect their offerings – over 125 years in fact. But if budgets don’t stretch quite that far – even with Go City savings – Kensington High Street has a good number of alternatives, from Italian cafés to Middle Eastern restaurants and the exquisite artistry of the food served at Japan House.

Bringing you the best things to do in Kensington London

Because of the huge range of things to do in Kensington London it’s very likely that you’ll spend some time of a London itinerary amongst its national institutions and millionaire’s townhouses. Instead of rushing from place to place, be sure to take your time, enjoying its parks, museums and historic structures.

Travel to Kensington and London’s other neighborhoods with Go City and you’ll make incredible savings on many of its top attractions. What you do with the money you save is entirely up to you, though we’re sure you agree that Harrods’ afternoon tea sounds mouthwateringly tasty!

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