Are you looking for a laid back day on a visit to London? Do you like parks, palaces and food? If so, a trip to Kensington and its surrounding area could be for you. You can either do it as a stand alone day, or as an extension to my recommended core 2 day London itinerary (post here).
So, what does this famous area of London have to offer? Well firstly it’s home to the most iconic park in London – Hyde Park, as well as Queen Victoria’s house Kensington Palace. You can also pop down the road and visit Sherlock Holmes at 221b Baker Street, see celebrities come to life at Madame Tussaud’s and get cultured in the world class V&A museum followed by a show at the Royal Albert Hall. This is how I recommend fitting it all in to one day.
1. Start the day by visiting Sherlock Holmes (1 hour)
Visit one of the most famous addresses in the world – 221B Baker Street – home to Sherlock Holmes from 1881 to 1904 in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. I know he’s not real, but he’s a British icon and famous the world over. This little museum opens at 9.30am – you can tour the house and even visit the study which is meticulously kept as it would have been in Victorian times. There is also a lovely little gift shop on the site which sells lots of Sherlock and associated memorabilia – definitely worth an hour or so of your time!
2. Pop in to see the waxworks at Madame Tussaud’s (2 hours)
Waxworks of famous people, a little ride section, and doing a Sherlock Holmes mystery if you choose. It’s a fun way to spend a few hours, especially with children. However if you’ve done MT’s somewhere else in the world, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend investing your time in the London one as I don’t think it’s that different – instead give yourself more time at Kensington Palace and Hyde Park.
Also be sure to book your tickets in advance so you don’t have to queue for hours, especially in peak holiday season.
3. Walk through Marble Arch (30 mins incl. walk)
The walk from MT’s to Marble Arch is about 20 minutes (if you’d rather get the tube then it’s a quick hop to Marble Arch on the Central Line). The famous arch was built in 1827 to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace, and it stands on the corner of Hyde Park.
4. Stroll through Hyde Park (1-2 hours incl. lunch)
Hyde Park is a beautiful green area with lots of trees, a large lake and some nice walking paths. If it’s a sunny day it’s a great place to stop and just watch the world go by – there are also deck chairs in the park that you can sit in to read and relax, or children’s play parks if you’re visiting with kids.
At this point you’ll probably also be feeling ready for lunch and there are a few nice options around Hyde Park – including up market options like Lanes of London and Corrigan’s Mayfair, or normal chain options like ASK Italian, Prezzo or Hard Rock Cafe. Alternatively, you could just sit in the park with a picnic or grab a quick bite at the Serpentine Bar.
5. Visit Queen Victoria’s house – Kensington Palace (2 hours)
Kensington Palace is the birthplace of Queen Victoria. You can visit her re-imagined childhood rooms, learn about her early years through the exhibitions, and explore the beautiful gardens. The Palace building closes at 4pm, so my recommendation is to do that first and then go to the Palace gardens.
6. Get cultured at the V&A museum (2 hours)
By this time it should be about 4-5pm, and a great time to head to The V&A museum which is open until 7pm so maximises late opening hours. The V&A is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts, design and sculpture and has over 2 million objects on display – it’s named after Queen Victoria and Albert – and is definitely worth a visit.
7. Catch a show at the Royal Albert Hall
Just a 10 minute walk from the V&A museum, you’ll find the world famous concert venue – The Royal Albert Hall. A stunning domed theatre, I really recommend seeing a show if you can get tickets. We went to ‘Classical Spectacular’ and even though I’m not a big fan of classical music, it was so much fun.
After that full on day you will be ready for dinner and bed! Thanks for reading and I hope you found this post helpful if you’re planning a trip to London in the future. Stay safe and happy travelling.