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What to See and Do at Kensington Gardens

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This post provides information about Kensington Gardens and all the things there are to see and do in the area. We'll also include details about how to get there, a self-guided tour, nearby attractions, and more.


What is Kensington Gardens?

Once the private gardens of Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens are now part of the Royal Parks of London and are open to the public. Sitting adjacent to Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens is one of the most beautiful parks in the city.

Containing a palace, an art gallery, numerous statues, picturesque fountains and two bodies of water, Kensington Gardens are a great place to explore.

Plan Your Visit 

Getting to Kensington Gardens is relatively easy as it’s centrally located and its size means it is served by multiple London Underground lines. 

Note: The Gardens are open only during daylight hours, so keep this in mind when planning your visit.

Underground Stations: Lancaster Gate, Queensway, Notting Hill Gate and High Street Kensington. Also walkable from Knightsbridge, although this is a bit further.

Rail Station: Paddington Station

Bus Routes: 9, 23, 49, 52, 70, 94, 148, 360, and 452

Tour Buses: Kensington Gardens is a stop on most hop-on hop-off buses like The Original Tour, Golden Tours and Big Bus Tours

Hotels: There are a number of hotels near Kensington Gardens. Check out TripAdvisor’s list of the closest ones HERE.


Top Things to See and Do

This section covers some of the best attractions to see in and around Kensington Gardens, including memorials, statues, art galleries and more. Many of these locations are included in our self-guided tour of Kensington Gardens.


See Art by Henry Moore

Henry Moore was one of England’s most renowned artists and was particularly known for his series depicting Londoners sheltering from the Blitz.

He was a master abstract sculptor and one of his pieces, The Arch 1979 - 1980, is located in Kensington Gardens.

Moore gifted the statue to the park in 1980, the piece is made of travertine marble and was restored and placed into the current position in 2021.


Kensington Palace

Built in the 17th century, Kensington Palace has been a home to Kings and Queens ever since. The birthplace of Queen Victoria and the former residence of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Palace has witnessed a lot of history in 300 years.

Today, the state rooms are open to the public and there’s a rotation of amazing exhibitions hosted here throughout the year. It’s also currently home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge so who knows, maybe you’ll get a chance to say ‘hi!’


Kensington Palace Gardens for FREE

Just outside Kensington Palace sit the stunning Palace Gardens. The Gardens are comprised of four separate parts:

The Sunken Garden - Completely replanted in white flowers in 2017 to commemorate Princess Diana, the Sunken Garden is also home to the newly created statue of the Princess, unveiled by her sons on what would have been her 60th birthday in 2021.

The Cradle Walk - An arched arbour of red-twigged lime that guests can walk through with arched viewpoints along the sides.

The Wildflower Meadow - Located to the southeast of the Palace, this part of the garden is filled with hundreds of beautiful wild flowers including poppies, campion, daisies and countess others.

The Formal Garden - Commissioned by Queen Mary II, the gardens were redeveloped ber her sister Anne in the early 1700’s into the stunning, classically English-style garden that sits here today. This area is also home to the Orangery, an elaborate green house built for Queen Anne which today is open to the public for afternoon tea.

And the best part of all of this is that the gardens are completely free to visit! 

Explore the Gardens virtually with Sinead HERE!


Meet Queen Victoria

Most people think of Queen Victoria as a slightly grumpy old lady, but when she came to the throne at age 18 she was stylish and beautiful.

Thanks to her daughter, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, Victoria’s coronation appearance is forever commemorated in Kensington Gardens with a white marble statue.

Princess Louise was a keen artist and carved the statue to commemorate her mothers’ Golden Jubilee in 1887 and today it sits just outside Kensington Palace, Victoria’s birthplace, for the public to appreciate.


Sit in the Italian Gardens

A real gem, the Italian Gardens sit at the northernmost edge of Kensington Gardens.

Designed by architect James Pennethorne in the 1860’s, the fountains were built to mimic those that Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, had built at their private home on the Isle of Wight and were given as a gift from the Prince to the Queen.

Consisting of four fountains, several statues, stone urns, and stunning marble designs, the fountains are a relatively little-visited (in terms of tourism) hideaway in the city. 


Explore the Serpentine Galleries

The Serpentine Galleries actually consist of two separate buildings, each one on either side of the Serpentine Bridge. The Kensington Gardens side was the first, established in 1970 and located inside a former 1930’s tea pavilion.

The Serpentine Gallery features contemporary art by both well-known and up and coming artists and is completely free.


See the Albert Memorial

Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s beloved husband of 21 years died unexpectedly in 1861 at the age of 42. Victoria, who never recovered from the loss, commissioned a memorial dedicated to her husband and the Albert Memorial was eventually opened in July 1872.

The memorial consists of an ornate canopy, sheltering a statue of the Prince, covered in real gold leaf (!), who is looking south, to the Royal Albert Hall and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The entire structure is incredibly ornate with friezes, sculptures and references to allegorical tales. 

Note that on the first Sunday of each month, public tours are held which allow the public to get up close and take a great look at the detail of the frieze surrounding the base.


Walk beside the Long Water and See the Birds

Created in 1730 for Queen Caroline of Ansbach, the Long Water is the west half of the lake in Hyde Park known as the Serpentine - so it’s essentially one body of water but with two names!

The Long Water is designated a bird sanctuary and is home to many ducks, geese and swans so is a great place to go to see wildlife.

The northern edge of the Long Walk begins at the stunning Italian Gardens and a walk along the edge will take you all the way down to the Serpentine Bridge. During your walk, you’ll also pass by our next recommendation…


Say Hello to Peter Pan

Everybody around the world knows Peter Pan, but when he’s not in Neverland, he lives in Kensington Gardens! Sculpted by Sir George Frampton in 1912, the Peter Pan statue was commissioned by J. M. Barrie himself.

Barrie had, at one time, lived on nearby Bayswater Road and he stated that his stories were partly inspired by Kensington Gardens.

The placement of the statue is precise as it rests in the exact spot Peter lands in Barrie’s 1902 book The Little White Bird.


Take Our Royal Kensington Tour

Want to explore Kensington Gardens but aren’t sure where to begin? Let us take you!

Our fabulous Royal Kensington Tour begins in South Kensington and will take you past world-famous Museums, the Royal Albert Hall, and the Albert Memorial followed by a stroll through the Gardens where you’ll take in the Serpentine, Kensington Palace, and the Diana Memorial Fountain.

All this while being led by one of our knowledgeable and friendly guides! 

Also note that this tour is designed to be particularly kid friendly! Find out more and book HERE.

Want to explore Kensington from your own home? Take the virtual tour with Sinead HERE.


Self-Guided Tour of Kensington Gardens

The following guide will take you to the most beautiful and noteworthy locations in Kensington Gardens, including stops at many of the locations covered in our section about things to see and do.

Although we do provide directions from one stop to the next, you can also use this map to make sure you won't get lost.


BEGIN: Lancaster Gate Underground Station (Central Line)

Take the main exit onto Bayswater Road and immediately turn RIGHT toward the traffic junction. Once there, cross Bayswater Road and enter the gardens through the gate.

Your first stop is straight ahead. Walk to the RIGHT of the small white building ahead of you then take the first LEFT toward the fountains.


Stop 1 - Italian Gardens

A real gem, the Italian Gardens sit at the northernmost edge of Kensington Gardens at the top of The Long Water.

Designed by architect James Pennethorne in the 1860’s, the fountains were built to mimic those that Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, had built at their private home, Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight and were given as a gift from the Prince to the Queen.

Albert was a keen gardener and had overseen the creation of the Italian style water garden at Osborne House himself, focusing on large raised terraces, geometric flower beds, statues, urns and fountains.

The Italian Gardens

The construction of the various features of the garden are made from Carrara marble as well as Portland Stone which you find a lot of in London, being the base stone of St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.

The small building at the head of the fountains, where you can sit in, is the pump house, where the steam engine that kept the fountains running used to be kept (note the chimney at the top - the exit point of the steam generated within).

A pump is still used here today and water from this area is piped under the park to places like the Round Pond, which we will see later.

There is much to see here including the large urns, decorated with five main designs: a dolphin, an oval, a rams’ head, a womans’ head and a swan breast.

There is also the Tazza Fountain, supported by carved mermen and an unusually placed bronze statue of Edward Jenner, the developer of modern vaccination.

You’ll also notice native water lilies, flowering rush and yellow flag iris thriving inside the beautiful pools as well as small walkways constructed specifically to help ducks get in and out of the water!

If the Italian Gardens look oddly familiar to you, it may be that you have seen it on screen. The gardens are featured in the film Wimbledon and also Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason where Daniel and Mark fight each other in the water.

Return to the path you came into the Italian Gardens on, but instead of returning to your right, turn LEFT. Continue along this path until you come to the Peter Pan statue on the RIGHT.


Stop 2 - Peter Pan Statue

Everybody around the world knows Peter Pan, but when he’s not in Neverland, he lives in Kensington Gardens! Sculpted by Sir George Frampton in 1912, this bronze Peter Pan statue was commissioned by J. M. Barrie himself.

The Peter Pan Statue

Barrie had, at one time, lived on nearby Bayswater Road and he stated that his stories were partly inspired by Kensington Gardens and it’s in this neighbourhood where the non-Neverland parts of his stories take place. 

The placement of the statue is precise as it rests in the exact spot Peter lands in Barrie’s 1902 book The Little White Bird and it was placed here entirely without permission.

Barrie’s idea was to erect it overnight, giving children the idea that fairies themselves had placed it in the statue.

The morning after it was put up, on the 30th of April 1912, he published a notice in The Times that read: “There is a surprise in store for the children who go to Kensington Gardens to feed the ducks in the Serpentine this morning.

It wasn’t a hit with everybody though - many critics objected to what was seen as Barrie’s advertising of his own work by putting a statue in a public space with no permission.

It was even targeted by vandals in 1928 and was tarred and feathered! By 1970, however, it was declared a Grade II listed building, which means it will be preserved here for now and always.

With your back to the statue, turn RIGHT and continue on the path. When it splits into two take the LEFT toward the banks of the Long Water.


Stop 3/4 - Long Water / Henry Moore Arch

You are now standing on the edge of the Long Water, the northwestern part of the body of water known as the Serpentine, made by damming part of the River Westbourne which rises in the north of London in Hampstead and flows underneath the city toward the River Thames.

Created by Queen Caroline of Ansbach, wife of King George II, in 1730 this recreational lake has a surface area of 14 acres and marks the boundary between Hyde Park on the East, and Kensington Gardens where you stand now.

Caroline was the spearhead for a total renovation of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and most of what we see today is down to her.

The Long Water

At the time of construction, most artificial lakes were built long and and straight so the Serpentine was considered strange, having purposely been designed to look natural.

Today, the Long Water is a designated bird sanctuary so you may well see a few of our winged friends around. It is an important place of breeding and also a popular spot for migratory flocks during the winter months.

And it’s not just birds - a 2005 survey revealed the existence of over 90 species of moths who live in this area.

Now, if you look directly to the opposite bank you’ll notice a marble arch (no, not THe Marble Arch!). Henry Moore was one of England’s most renowned artists and was particularly known for his series depicting Londoners sheltering from the Blitz.

He was a master abstract sculptor and this is one of his pieces, The Arch 1979 - 1980. Moore gifted the statue to the park in 1980, the piece is made of travertine marble and was restored and placed into the current position in 2021.

With your back to the water, walk forward across the grass to the other path. When you get to that path turn LEFT. Walk until you see the small temple on your RIGHT.


Stop 5 - Queen Caroline’s Temple

This neoclassical building was designed by William Kent, who was also responsible for the interior design of much of Kensington Palace. It was built in 1735 for Queen Caroline, who as we have seen is responsible for most of what we are surrounded by today when we stand here.

Originally, it was intended to be just about glimpsed down one of the tree-lined avenues that led off from Kensington Palace - a somewhat hidden, slightly magical, private place for the Queen to enjoy.

Queen Caroline's Temple

If you explore it today, you may be surprised to find some graffiti and maybe even more surprised to notice that some of it dates as far back as 1821! (It seems some things don’t really change…).

It was briefly used as park keeper’s home in the 1970’s but returned to its’ original state, as you see it today, in 1976.

With your back to the temple, turn RIGHT and continue down the path. When it splits take the LEFT hand side and continue toward West Carriage Drive.

When you get to the main road, cross over and stay on the path which will then lead you to your next stop.


Stop 6 - Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain

Few British royals have ever captured the hearts of the public as quickly and as completely as Princess Diana. From her debut on the world stage during her 1981 marriage to Charles, the Prince of Wales, to her untimely death in a Paris car crash in 1997, the world was obsessed with Princess Diana.

In 2004 a memorial fountain, honouring the life of Diana, was unveiled in Hyde Park in London. Initially plagued with controversy, today the fountain offers joy – and an excellent way to cool off during the summer months – to the thousands who visit the fountain every year.

The memorial fountain was designed by an American landscape artist, Kathryn Gustafson. The artist wanted the fountain to be easily accessible to the public to reflect Diana’s “inclusive” personality and to reflect the fact that she was seen as an ‘accessible’ figure to the public. The fountain cost £3.6 million to construct and was pieced together using 545 separate pieces of granite from Cornwall.

Princess Diana Memorial Fountain

Note that the fountain is not smooth and consists of numerous cuts, elevated steps of different sizes, false ‘rocks’ and smooth pieces, but the bottom part of the fountain is a tranquil pool. All of the different effects and textures built into the stream are said to represent the parts of Diana’s life: the turmoil and the happy times. 

At first, the fountain came under some criticism because of the cost that was spent. Many people questioned the will of Princess Diana – would she have wanted over £3million spent on a fountain to reflect her life?

Many doubted that would be the case. Controversy also raged over the name of the fountain, with many complaining that the word ‘fountain’ wasn’t actually applicable to the memorial at all.

In addition – the fountain was the source of controversy and embarrassment within mere days of opening to the public. Unfortunately, the fact that the fountain was made to be accessible to the public meant that a number of accidents took place when the fountain was initially opened.

Shortly after its debut to the public, the fountain was the cause of three hospitalisations of people who had slipped in the water – some breaking their ankles-, while walking along the circular route.

It was also complained that leaves of nearby trees were floating into the water and making it unsafe for visits to tread through. The initial reaction to this was to close the fountain to the public – surrounding it with a fence and manned with personnel to keep visitors out. However, that was quickly abandoned and today the fountain is again accessible.

With your back to the fountain, facing the Serpentine ahead of you, turn LEFT and retrace your steps back to West Carriage Drive. Cross over and when you are back in the park, take the first LEFT. Continue along that path until you see the Serpentine Gallery on your RIGHT.


Stop 7 - The Serpentine Gallery

The Serpentine Galleries actually consist of two separate buildings, each one on either side of the Serpentine Bridge. The Kensington Gardens side was the first, established in 1970 and located inside a former 1930’s tea pavilion. The second gallery, on the Hyde Park side, was opened in 2013 and is located inside a former gunpowder store from 1805. 

The Serpentine Gallery features contemporary art by both well-known and up and coming artists and presents an expanded programme of contemporary art and architecture.

The Serpentine Gallery. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The exhibitions here are timed to change with and reflect the seasons of the year with new exhibitions specifically designed to change four times a year. Also, there is a yearly tradition in the summer where the Serpentine commissions an architect who has not previously built anything in the UK to design a temporary pavilion.

The pavilion is erected on the lawn in front of the Gallery and must be constructed so that the public can walk in and amongst the structure. If you’re visiting in the summer months - make sure to take a look - it’s all FREE!

Keep walking on the same path until it comes to an end. Then take a LEFT and an IMMEDIATE right onto what’s called Flower Walk. Follow this path as it curves around and walk until you get to the Albert Memorial on your LEFT. Feel free to get as close as you can to the statue.


Stop 8 - Albert Memorial - Royal Albert Hall

Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s beloved husband of 21 years died unexpectedly in 1861 at the age of 42. Victoria, who never recovered from the loss, commissioned a memorial dedicated to her husband and the Albert Memorial was eventually opened in July 1872.

The memorial consists of an ornate canopy, sheltering a statue of the Prince, covered in real gold leaf (!), who is looking south, to the Royal Albert Hall and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The memorial stands 176 ft (54m) tall and was built at a cost of £120,000 - which is the same as over £10million today!

The Albert Memorial

It took ten years to complete the structure as the level of detail was so high. There’s almost too much to point out here. The four statues on the four corners represent the four Victorian industrial arts and sciences: Agriculture, Commerce, Engineering and Manufacturing.

There are also corner figures that represent the areas of the Globe (as the Victorians saw them): Asia, Africa, America and Europe - note that there are four animals to represent each one: an elephant, a camel, a bison and a bull.

The central part of the memorial is surrounded by an elaborate sculptural piece known as the Frieze of Parnassus, depicting 169 individual musicians and ports (placed on the south side), painters (placed on the east side), sculptors (on the west side), and architects (on the north side).

Note that on the first Sunday of each month, public tours are held which allow the public to get up close and take a great look at the detail of the frieze surrounding the base.

And the canopy features mosaics along the side as well as the underside, all of which were manufactured in Venice. The four external mosaics show allegorical figures of the four arts (poetry, painting, architecture and sculpture) supported by two historical figures on each side.

The beauty of the mosaics partially come from their construction, as they are made up of enamel, marble, granite, stone, jasper, onyx, crystal - and even more. No detail is unintentional or less fantastic than another.

Albert himself is facing the Royal Albert Hall and you can get a good view of it here, too. Built around the same time as the Memorial, The Royal Albert Hall is a beautiful concert hall just a stone’s throw from the Gardens.

Opened by Queen Victoria in 1871, the building quickly became one of the most high-profile musical venues in the country - and later, the world - hosting more than 350 events each year.

It’s possible to tour the Hall with a paid-for-guided tour but it’s completely free to walk the entirety of the outside and admire the beautiful construction, carvings and decorations that surround it. If you wish to do that now, just come back to the Memorial when you are done to continue your tour.

Stand with your back to Alberts back and walk AWAY from the statue, back toward Flower Walk. When you get there, continue STRAIGHT, past the other path that will cross the one you are on.

About a minute after that you will come to Mount Walk, another path that will cross the one you are on. Here, take a LEFT. Walk until you can see the small path that leads right off of Mount Walk directly to the Round Pond.


Stop 9 - Round Pond

Created in 1730 by King George II, the Round Pond is one of the smallest, but most picturesque, bodies of water in the city. Back at the start of this tour, we saw the Italian Gardens and I mentioned that there was a pump house there that led under the park.

If you take a look you will see two mushroom-type structures in the Pond. These are the inlets for fresh water, pumped in all the way from the Italian Gardens.

The water here is constantly being monitored to make sure it doesn’t stagnate, or overheat in the summertime and all of this is controlled by ‘twiddling with some knobs and buttons’ back at the pump house.

The Round Pond. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Part of the reason the Pond is monitored so closely is because it’s a breeding ground for swans, geese and ducks. If the water doesn’t provide the right habitat, no breeding can take place!

The Pond is so perfectly maintained that injured swans who have been rehabilitated are released here, as this is the safest and most comfortable place for them.

It may seem strange to some to put some much effort into looking after these birds, but it’s worth pointing out that, technically, all the swans in England officially belong to the Queen!

With your back to Mount Walk, facing the Pond, turn to your LEFT and follow the pond around. Walk until you get to the SECOND path on your LEFT and take this one directly towards the white marble statue of Queen Victoria.


Stop 10 - Queen Victoria Statue

On the 29th of May, 1819, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent was born here at Kensington Palace. Although she was a possible heir to the throne, few people could’ve imagined that she would go on to become, what was at that time, the longest serving British monarch - Victoria, Queen of the British Empire.

On the throne for almost 64 years, Victoria presided over a century of great change and advancement in the United Kingdom and the numerous marriages between some of her 9 children and members of other royal houses led to her being known as ‘The Grandmother of Europe.’

Today, when people think of Queen Victoria it’s usually as a slightly grumpy old lady always dressed in black and never smiling, but when she came to the throne at age 18 she was stylish and beautiful and this statue is a testament to that, depicting her on her coronation day, although it was carved much later.

Queen Victoria Statue

Interestingly, it was carved by her fourth daughter, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. It had been decided that to commemorate Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, a statue should be erected in her honour.

Princess Louise was persuaded by a friend to submit her design to the committee in charge of the project, and she did so anonymously. You can imagine their surprise when the artist of their winning design turned out to be the Queen’s daughter herself!

The statue has remained here since its’ erection in 1893, although during the Second World War it suffered bomb damage and the nose of the statue was blown off.

The nose has since been replaced twice, once in 1952 and again in 2012 - both dates marking Jubilee years of our current queen, Elizabeth II who surpassed Victorias’ record as our longest serving sovereign on the 9th of September 2015.

Facing the statue, with the Pond behind you, take either the right or left path forward. When the path ends, turn RIGHT and follow along until you reach the Princess Diana Memorial Garden.


Stop 11 - Kensington Gardens

The gardens of Kensington Palace are an event all on their own. Comprising of four parts: The Sunken Garden, The Cradle Walk, The Wildflower Meadow and the Formal Garden, these stunning grounds are completely FREE for the public to explore!

We owe these enjoyment of these gardens to Queen Anne, who lived in Kensington Palace after the death of her brother-in-law, King William III in 1702.

The Flower Walk at Kensington Gardens. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons user Sb2s3 under CC BY-SA 4.0 License.

She commissioned the reconstruction of the gardens and the building of the Orangery in 1704, leading to the majority layout that we see today. Anne entertained in the Orangery and gardens throughout her reign, until her death at the Palace in 1714.

For most of its’ existence, the gardens were only open to the public on Saturdays and only to those who were ‘respectably dressed!’ Today, the gardens are open to us 7 days a week and all four parts are there for us to explore:

The Sunken Garden -Laid out in the current design in 1908, this part of the Garden was previously home to a potting shed. It was completely replanted in white flowers in 2017 to commemorate Princess Diana and is now also home to the newly created statue of the Princess, unveiled by her sons on what would have been her 60th birthday in 2021.

The Cradle Walk - An arched arbour of red-twigged lime that guests can walk through with arched viewpoints along the sides. Some locals refer to it as ‘Nanny Walk’ as it’s a popular place for the many nannies of Kensington to meet and walk with their charges!

The Wildflower Meadow - Located to the southeast of the Palace, this part of the garden is filled with hundreds of beautiful wild flowers including poppies, campion, daisies and countless others.

The Formal Garden - Nearly exactly how it looked in the reign of Queen Anne, the Formal Garden became a destination for many of the well-to-do during her reign. This area is also home to the Orangery. Originally built on the order of Anne as a place to protect her citrus trees from the harsh winter frosts, it doubled as an entertainment space during the summer. Today it is open to the public for afternoon teas.

Leave the gardens the way you entered, but instead of turning LEFT back toward the Queen Victoria Statue, keep straight ahead, with the ticked entry to the Palace on your RIGHT.

You may want to stand here to get a close up view of the Palace, or play the clip as you continue walking until the path dead ends, then make a RIGHT and view the Palace through the gates, which is the primary view.


Stop 12 - Kensington Palace

This Palace was built during the reign of King William III and his wife Queen Mary II (the only royal couple in our history to rule equally as King and Queen) in the 1680’s and much of the work seen today was completed by noted architect Sir Christopher Wren (who also designed St. Paul’s Cathedral, among his dozens of other projects).

It began as a modest mansion known as Nottingham House, and was transformed in the decades to come into a stylish and beautiful palace - suitable for royalty.

William and Mary already had many properties and palaces in London to choose from, however, William suffered particularly with asthma, and even in the 17th century, the air of London was considered polluted!

Kensington Palace

To ease his health maladies, William and Mary decided to base themselves outside of the city in what was, at the time, the countryside: Kensington. In fact, it was their move here that turned Kensington into the fashionable and expensive district it remains today. 

Speaking of William, the statue that stands between the front gates and the palace is that of the King - who wasn’t exactly a popular person. His wife, Queen Mary II absolutely was, but when she died in 1964, leaving William as sole monarch, the public were not impressed.

Now, we mentioned earlier that J. M. Barrie took a lot of inspiration from Kensington Gardens when writing his stories of Peter Pan, and it’s said that it is no coincidence that if you were to imagine William’s statue with a hook instead of a right hand, he may just resemble a certain famous pirate…

Throughout the years, many royals have departed this earth, and arrived, right here at Kensington Palace. King William III, Queen Mary II and her sister Queen Anne all died in the Palace, and our current Queens’ grandmother was born here in 1867.

Most famously of all, it was at Kensington Palace where Queen Victoria came into the world in 1819, and where she would live (under a strict regime led by her mother) until her accession to the throne upon the death of her uncle, King William IV in 1837 - the news of which she received inside the Palace.

In more modern times, it also served as the home of the Queens’ sister, Princess Margaret and, perhaps most famously, the Queens’ former daughter-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales.

It was in the 1990’s that Diana and her sons moved here after her divorce from Prince Charles and it was while she was living here that she was killed in Paris on the 31st of August 1997.

The night before her funeral, her coffin was kept in the Palace and it was from this location that it was taken, on a gun carriage, on the 6th of September 1997, to Westminster Abbey for her funeral.

You may recognise the golden front gates as this was the location for the millions of flowers and tributes (reaching over 5ft deep!) that were placed here shortly after her tragic death. After the funeral, her apartments inside were stripped bare and lay vacant for the next 10 years.

On a happier note, it is here at Kensington Palace where Harry and Megan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced their engagement. They lived at the Palace after their marriage, until their son was born in Spring of 2019.

Today however, the Palace is better known as the primary home of William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who have lived here full time since 2017.

Their three children: Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, of course, live here as well and occasionally members of the public are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Duke and Duchess leaving or arriving to the palace on their regular ‘school run!’ 

END: If you wish to head to the nearest Underground Station, High Street Kensington, turn your back to the palace gates and walk STRAIGHT down Dial Walk.

The path will come to a crossing where you can go one of four ways - take the forward leading path to your RIGHT. This path will take you to the end of Kensington Gardens. When there, take an immediate RIGHT and walk down the main street.

When you get to the junction with Kensington High Street, cross the street on your left so you are on the same side as Whole Food Market. Continue walking in the same direction, away from the park, and High Street Kensington Station will soon appear on your LEFT.


Nearby Attractions

The following things to see are located just a short walk from Kensington Gardens.


Royal Albert Hall

Named after the ill-fated Prince Albert, the Albert Hall is a beautiful concert hall just a stone’s throw from Kensington Gardens.

Opened by Queen Victoria in 1871, the building quickly became one of the most high-profile musical venues in the country - and later, the world - hosting more than 350 events each year.

It’s possible to tour the Hall with a paid-for-guided tour but it’s completely free to walk the entirety of the outside and admire the beautiful construction, carvings and decorations that surround it.


Diana Memorial Fountain

Just south of the banks of the serpentine lies the Diana Memorial Fountain, which in reality is more of an oval shaped stream that was designed for visitors to be able to walk through.

Unveiled in 2004, the fountain is pieced together using 545 separate pieces of granite brought up from Cornwall.

The path the water flows through is uneven and contains cuts, elevated steps, and false rocks, along with a tranquil pool at one end - all of which are intended to symbolise parts of Diana’s life such as happiness and turmoil.

If you’re looking for a nice place to bring the family, make sure you stop by as, in the spirit of Diana’s love for children, the fountain was made for kids to enjoy!

Find out more about the fountain on our site HERE or virtually visit with Sinead HERE.


The Victoria and Albert Museum - FREE

Known to locals as the V&A, the Victoria and Albert Museum is a real record breaker. Established in 1852, the museum began as a place to permanently house numerous exhibits from Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition in 1851.

Today, it’s the world’s largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design as well as owning the world’s largest collection of post-classical sculpture.

The permanent collection contains over 2.27 million objects displayed throughout 145 galleries, although the total collection now consists of over 6.5 million objects! 


Natural History Museum - FREE

Established in 1881, London’s Natural History museum holds over 80 million items within it’s five main collections, which include botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology.

In addition to a museum, the institution is also a specialised centre of taxonomy, identification and conservation, which means this museum is still a working building.

Within the collection there are specimens collected by Charles Darwin, electronic dinosaurs, and the skeleton of a blue whale which currently hangs from the ceiling.

With so much to see, it’s a great option for family visits as there are areas made especially for children to explore.


Science Museum - FREE

Founded in 1857, the Science Museum also took in exhibits from the Great Exhibition, particularly examples of machinery which laid the foundation for the museum today.

Contained within two large buildings, the Museum is broken up into different levels that explore separate subjects such as space, the modern world, medicine, and mathematics (just to name a few).

With hands-on exhibits and a continually changing array of activities and events this is another good place to bring the kids!


Harrod’s

Perhaps the most famous department store in the world, Harrod’s was founded in 1834 and has been an international shopping destination ever since. The store spans a 5-acre site and contains over one million square feet of selling space making it the largest department store in Europe.

Famous for its’ ever-changing and elaborate window displays, the shop has a reputation that it sells everything and with over 330 individual departments, it’s easy to see why! Even if not spending any money, it’s always worth it to come see the incredible window displays and have a cheeky peak inside.

TIP: For a not-too-expensive souvenir, check out the incredible Food Hall which has lots of little tasty treats you can take home without breaking the bank. Find out more about Harrod’s on our page HERE.


Knightsbridge

Knightsbridge is one of London’s most expensive neighbourhoods. Home to Harrod’s and Harvey Nichols as well as a number of embassies and luxury apartment buildings (once home to the most expensive apartment in the world, purchased for £100 million), it’s a stunning place to explore.

A wander around will take you past flagship stores for world-famous designer brands, the barracks for the Household Cavalry, and numerous beautiful churches. With Hyde Park on one side and Sloane Square on the other, it’s a fascinating place to have a browse!


Hyde Park

Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Green Park and St. James’s Park all used to be one continuous green space that was used as hunting grounds for King Henry VIII.

As time has gone on, they’ve slowly been divided and Hyde Park currently sits directly next to Kensington Gardens and in many ways, they are two halves of the same park.

Hyde Park showcases the largest part of the Serpentine and is a great place to swim or rent boats in the summer. Less manicured than Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park as a touch of the countryside about it and is also the larger of the two spaces.

Throughout the year Hyde Park plays host to numerous events such as summertime concerts and the yearly Winter Wonderland funfair.

Explore Hyde Park virtually with Sinead HERE.


Notting Hill and Portobello Market

Made famous by the film of the name, Notting Hill is one of London’s most visited - and expensive - neighbourhoods. With beautiful architecture, colourful houses and quirky pubs, it’s an interesting place to explore.

But what brings many people to the area is the world-famous Portobello Market! Open every day of the week, the market spreads for blocks where you’ll find indor shops as well as outdoor stalls, new handmade items, vintage fashion, antiques, groceries and street food. It’s as amazing as it is iconic!

NOTE: Some stalls are only open on Saturdays and the antique shops tend to shut early so plan accordingly! Help plan your visit by reading our post HERE.

Want to explore more? Come with us on our Notting Hill Market & Culture Tour which you can book HERE. Or visit virtually with Sinead HERE.


Places to Eat and Drink

Quick Bites to Take Away/PickNic

Casual Sit Downs

Pubs

Cocktails


Area Discounts and Deals

If you plan on visiting a lot of London sites, you might want to consider a London tourist attraction discount pass, which can save you up to 55% off retail ticket prices! Passes include fast-track entry to many popular attractions as well as discounts on shopping, dining, and theatre shows.

Here are some attractions in and around Kensington Garden that are included in some London discount passes:

  • One Day Hop-on-Hop Off Bus Tour
  • Kensington Palace
  • Wellington Arch
  • Apsley House
  • The Royal Albert Hall Tour
  • Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising

About The Author

Margaret

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries.
Updated: December 1st, 2021
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