Things To Do During The Day In Kensington

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 19 months ago
Things To Do During The Day In Kensington

You don't need telling about the big museums in South Kensington; Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the V&A all cluster together around Exhibition Road. They're vast, they're great, they're free. But what about when you've done them all (or it's half term and the queues are too long)? Take a look at what else there is to do in Kensington.

Be a culture vulture

Some of the decor inside Leighton House Museum. Photo: Mauro Murgia

Kensington has some great smaller museums sprinkled around. The Design Museum (actually not that small) relocated to the area in late 2016, taking over a vast, stunning building. The permanent exhibition includes designs for future Underground trains, and we've been impressed with the temporary exhibitions so far too.

Lesser-known is the Leighton House Museum. It's one for the art lovers, described as a 'private palace of art', and was the studio and home of Victorian artist Lord Leighton. It displays many of his paintings and sculptures — but is best known for its exotic Arab Hall. Nearby 18 Stafford Terrace was the home of Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne, and gives an insight into his family life.

Kensington Palace

Photo: Leonie

Another obvious tourist attraction perhaps, but how many Londoners have actually been inside Kensington Palace? Run by Historic Royal Palaces, the public can visit historic parts of the building including Queen Mary II's state apartments and the King's Staircase — undoubtedly the most theatrical flight of stairs in the city.

Kensington Gardens

Look out for the fairy folk carved into the Elfin Oak. We can't help thinking this one resembles Shane McGowan. Photo: Londonist

Not into all things royal? Stick to Kensington Gardens instead. Being a Royal Park, it's free to enter and has several points of interest, including the Grade II listed Elfin Oak, a protected tree trunk which is carved with fairies. Other things worth seeing include the Peter Pan Statue and the secret stones.

Roof Gardens

Skip past the reception and ascend seven floors above London and enjoy the views from Kensington Roof Gardens. It has real life flamingos, and there's not a lot that can beat that. You can visit the Roof Gardens for free, provided there aren't any private events on, but it's best enjoyed on the Babylon Terrace with a cocktail in hand, perched right above Kensington High Street, and feeling a million miles away.

Holland Park and Kyoto Garden

Holland Park. Photo: Patrizia Ilaria Sechi

If the flamingos at the Roof Gardens didn't satisfy your exotic bird needs, return to ground level and potter along to Holland Park, where peacocks roam free. Formal gardens, woodland, a play area and a cafe make up the bulk of Holland Park, but the highlight is the Japanese Kyoto Garden, with blossom trees, a waterfall, and an overall ambience of relaxation. A giant chessboard seals the deal.

Brompton Cemetery

Photo: Coisroux

Kensington is home to one of London's 'Magnificent Seven' cemeteries, Brompton. It's still a working cemetery, but is also home to the graves of many greats, including suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. It's though that Beatrix Potter got the names of several of her characters from gravestones in the cemetery. Visit on your own to enjoy the tranquility, architecture and wildlife, or take a Sunday guided tour, led by the Friends of Brompton Cemetery (£6). And look out for the ghostly squirrel.

Why not take a look at things to do in neighbouring Notting Hill.

Last Updated 01 June 2017