This post is a list of the top things to do and see in the Kensington area of London.
The list includes shopping, a park, a pub, a palace, a pet cemetery, a Peter Pan statue, as well as museums, a garden, and a music hall.
Let's get to it!
Shop at Harrods
Perhaps the most famous department store in the world, Harrods was founded in 1834 and the store has been an international shopping destination for decades.
Spanning a 5 acre site and holding over one million square feet of selling space, Harrods is easily the biggest department store in Europe - with over 330 different departments inside.
Whether you actually make a purchase or not, it is worth exploring floor after floor of amazing items, or even just a nip into the outstanding food halls.
For more information on Harrods, check out our blog post HERE.
Visit the Albert Memorial
Commissioned by Queen VictoPrince 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 to be constructed in Kensington Gardens.
The Albert Memorial was 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.
For more information on the Albert Memorial, check our blog post HERE.
Meet Peter Pan
A beloved literary character the world over, Peter Pan is the creation of the author J. M. Barrie.
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.
A whimsical statue and a definite must-visit for Peter Pan fans!
See an Animal Cemetery
Hidden away in the northwest corner of Hyde Park, the Pet Cemetery came into creation in the 19th-century when local residents began burying their deceased pets in a plot here.
Eventually, a dog owned by the wife of the Duke of Cambridge, named Prince, was buried here in 1882, setting a huge precedent to make this the final resting place for many pets.
Although now no longer interring pets here, the cemetery is still a popular curiosity for visitors to take a peek at.
Visit Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace
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.
Located within Kensington Gardens is Kensington Palace, largely designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built during the reign of King WIlliam III and his wife Queen Mary II in the 1680’s. Throughout the years, many royals have both arrived and departed this earth 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 lived until her accession to the throne in 1837.
In more recent times, it also served as the home of the Queens’ sister, Princess Margaret, and perhaps most famously, the Queens’ former daughter-in-law, Princess Diana, as well as the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children.
For more information on Kensington Gardens, check out our post, with all the information you need, as well as a self guided tour, HERE.
For more information on Kensington Palace, including tips on getting cheap tickets, check out our blog post HERE.
Or, tour Kensington Gardens virtually with Sinead HERE.
Enjoy Free Museums
London is home to many world-famous museums, and three of the biggest and best are here in Kensington The Victoria & Albert, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum. Best of all, they are all FREE!
The V&A Museum was established in 1852 and is 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.
The Natural History Museum was established in 1881 and now holds over 80 million items within its five main collections, which include botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology.
The Science Museum was established in 1857and focuses on 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 a good place to bring the kids!
For more free museums in London, check out our blog post HERE.
Listen to a Concert at the Royal College of Music
An established organisation, the Royal College of Music provides training in all levels and all aspects of Western classical music.
With so many talented people at a single location, it makes sense that the College would set concerts throughout the year.
But what might come as a surprise is that many of these concerts are FREE to attend!
Take a Tour with Free Tours By Foot
One of the best ways to explore Kensington, is by going on a tour! And we have a few different options for you...
1 - Sign up to our Royal Kensington Tour
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.
2 - Take a Virtual Tour through Kensington Gardens
If you don't have plans to visit London any time soon, or aren't sure if you're up for the walk, let Sinead guide you! Take a stroll through the stunning Kensington Gardens from the comfort of your own home HERE.
3 - Take a Self-Guided Tour
If you want to keep to your own schedule, consider taking our Self-Guided Tour of Kensington Gardens. We have it all laid out for you HERE. This tour starts at Lancaster Gate Station and finishes at Kensington High Street Station, but you choose when and how long it takes you to make the journey!
See the 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.
Enjoy the Serpentine
A 40-acre recreational lake, The Serpentine was created in 1730 at the behest of Queen Caroline. Named after its snakelike shape, the Serpentine has two parts: the Serpentine, which is the part that is in Hyde Park, and The Long Water, which lies within the boundaries of Kensington Gardens. In fact the Serpentine Bridge, spanning this body of water marks the official division between the Park and the Gardens. The Serpentine was created to not only be beautiful, but also provide a location for leisure activities such as boating, and later, swimming. In fact, in the 2012 London Olympics it was the venue for the men and women’s triathlon and marathon swimming events!
Even if you’re not an Olympic athlete, you can still swim in the Serpentine at the Serpentine Lido, a designated and marked area of the water that is open to the public from May to early September. Or, you can rent a rowboat or pedalo to take out onto the water from April to October.
Visit tour guide Margaret’s Favourite Pub!
The Churchill Arms is a proper west London boozer.
Cozy and dark with roaring fires in the winter, surrounded by beautiful plants with welcoming open doors in the summer, the Churchill Arms is just far enough off the main roads to make it a local-secret.
The best of all is that hidden in the back of the pub is one of the best (kept secret) Thai restaurants in London! Shh…
+++Check out our pay-what-you-like walking tours of London!+++
++Also check out our blog on 10 Top Things to Do in Westminster++