Top Things to Do in South Kensington
For a relatively small district, South Kensington packs in a surprisingly high number of London attractions. Affectionately nicknamed Little Paris or the 21st arrondissement, “South Ken” is the place to go if you want to perfect your French or indulge yourself with continental food, wine and culture. It’s also the capital’s museum heartland and home to the Royal Albert Hall, Imperial College and the Royal Academy of Music.
Maybe you’re moving to South Kensington – or perhaps you just want to visit. Whatever the case and whatever your interests, you’re going to find plenty to see and do. Here are just a few ideas.
Go for a walk
It may be Central London, but South Kensington still has plenty of green space. The classic choice for a stroll is Hyde Park. A peaceful nature walk is always an option here, but you’ll also find activities such as rowing, tennis and even horse riding. Or pass by Speaker’s Corner on a Sunday, and join in the tradition of those who’ve flocked here since 1872 to hear the latest polemics.
But the district is a site worth seeing all on its own. Walk along its bucolic streets and admire the architecture: classical white-stuccoed villas, grand Victorian museums, beautiful churches, audacious modern designs and more.
Take in the view
True to its Francophile nature, South Kensington has various cafés, patisseries and bistros where you can sit outside and soak up the atmosphere while enjoying your coffee or a glass of wine. Pay a visit to the South Ken branch of Paul, a venerable French institution. Visitors to the nearby Institut Français stop here for a croque, a buttery croissant or an exquisitely chocolatey-creamy cake. With so many French-speaking regulars, it’s a great place to practice your listening comprehension.
Sharpen your language skills
If you prefer active to passive language learning, there are plenty of opportunities for you here. French is well-represented, with language courses, film showings and a lively cultural calendar at the Institut Français, which also has an expansive multimedia library. But there’s also the Bulgarian Cultural Institute, the Czech Centre and Japan House, each offering a range of language and culture classes for all levels of engagement.
Visit a museum
South Kensington is the capital’s museum heartland. Clustered around the well-named Exhibition Road, you’ll find some of London’s best: the Victoria & Albert, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. With world-leading collections and top-class expertise, each one is a living research organisation with something new to see on every visit. Temporary exhibitions, interactive displays, talks, courses and events are on offer for enthusiasts of all ages.
But even these incredible museums aren’t all the district has to offer. You’ll also find more niche offerings that are equally worth visiting, such as the Royal College of Music Museum, Sambourne House and the sweeping, spectacular Design Museum.
Sample the world
South Ken’s international culture also extends to its culinary scene. If eating and drinking is your passion, you can undertake your own Grand Tour without venturing north of Kensington High Street. Relish North Indian cuisine at Thali in the Old Brompton Road, fine Italian flavours at Maria G’s in Warwick Lane, Levantine fusion at Pascor on the High Street … and that’s just the start.
Take yourself shopping
As you can tell by now, South Kensington isn’t short on great British institutions. Head for the Brompton Road and you’ll spot Harrods, the world-famous and, frankly, monumental luxury department store. The food hall alone is worth the visit. If you’re looking for high-end clothing, jewellery or furniture, you’ll find it here. But the range of international cafes, restaurants, bakeries and bars is also a joy to behold.
Bibliophiles may have to watch their spending. From the beautiful art books at the V&A to the multilingual collections at the European Bookshop, the antiquarian discoveries on offer at Sokol and the fabulous French editions at Librairie La Page, it’s very, very easy to buy books here. If you’re only visiting (for now), pack an empty suitcase.
Visit the royals
If you’re fascinated by the royal family, South Kensington has something for you. Kensington Palace is the official home of the Prince and Princess of Wales and it’s also the most accessible of all the royal residences. Not only can you tour the state apartments, explore the gardens and admire Queen Victoria’s jewels, you can even book in for a big-screen Christmas film showing – or have breakfast, lunch or tea at the Pavilion in the palace grounds.
Face the music
South Kensington houses both the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal College of Music, so it’s no surprise that music lovers are in heaven here. You can see both established and rising stars perform all year round, across a huge variety of genres. And what would the holiday season be without sing-along carols?
You’ll also find top-class concerts at venues such as Imperial College and Holy Trinity Church. If you like to make music as well as consume it, you’ll find a choir here for every level and taste, from no-pressure community singing to chamber music and Gregorian chant.
Take in a talk
Imperial College is a magnet for scientists from all over the world. But South Kensington is also home to many special-interest associations that often hold talks and events. Ever fancied finding out more about Britain’s bird life, or Jungian psychoanalysis, or the history of Brompton Cemetery? You’ll always find a lecture worth attending.
At Cadogan Tate, we’re passionate about London removals. Established in the capital for over four decades, our team has a great wealth of Central London expertise. If you’re thinking about moving to South Kensington, why not get in touch? We’ll be happy to share our know-how and support you at every stage of your relocation. Contact us today for your free bespoke quote.