There are two places that I like to visit every time I go to London, and I have made it to Kensington Gardens every time I had been to London. The sprawling 265 acre park beside Kensington Palace is full of things to see and do.
On this visit to Kensington Garden I explored the Serpentine Galleries which had a large art installation outside (you can see me walk through it in the video).
Kensington Garden is just beside Hyde Park, and the two are separated by this large pond. You can rent row boats and pedal boats from Hyde Park on the other side of the pond.
I stumbled upon this building inside Kensington Garden, but can’t seem to find it on a map or figure out what it is… So maybe it’s a secret. If you know what it is, let us know in the comments. I loved the photo and wanted to share it with you.
The second place I always try to visit in London is the British Museum. I studied art history and anthropology in college, so you might not be surprised that I love this museum. I particularly love the collection of Egyptian artifacts. This is the type of museum that kids love, and everyone loves the fact that entry is free! I love free museums because it takes the pressure off – you can visit the museum a couple times, instead of feeling like you need to see the entire museum in one go. London weather can be finicky, and this is a great place to spend a rainy day.
You can’t miss Tower Bridge. It’s a common misconception that this is London Bridge, but London Bridge is just an ordinary bridge. The only reason is visit it is because it offers a view of Tower Bridge. (photo courtesy of my sister Kelly)
The Victoria and Albert Museum focuses on art and design, and is a short walk from Kensington Gardens. Like the British Museum (and all national museums), admission to the V&A is free. One of my favorite collections is the fashion collection, I admired an incredible collection of gowns (unfortunately photography wasn’t permitted). The V&A also has a large collection of paintings, photographs, and sculptures spanning both history and the globe. I consider the V&A to be geared towards art lovers and less to those casually interested in art, although I love it, it is the type of museum that would bore my husband.
If you are more into Modern Art, visit the Tate Modern which houses art from around 1900 to today. There you will find works by Degas, Dali, Kandinsky, Matisse, O’Keeffe, Turner, Duchamp, Picasso, Pollock, Monet, Hirst, and Rothko just to name a few. I like how the time periods represented at the Tate Modern show the transition from representational art to abstraction. It also means that there is a little something for everyone. Right now there is a Georgia O’Keefee special exhibition taking place, but unfortunately the evil sinus infection I caught in London kept me from seeing it.
And if you love cutting edge contemporary art, visit the Saatchi Gallery. The museum dedicates its space to special exhibitions featuring the work of young artists. I haven’t been back to the Saatchi Gallery for years, but I love how it educates the public on what is currently going on in the art world. In 2010 Charles Saatchi announced that he would donate his collection to the public and that the Saatchi Gallery will become the Museum of Contemporary Art, London.
The Tower of London has a fantastic tour that is equally fun for kids and adults. This is an absolute must. You can see the Crown Jewels, learn about who was kept prisoner in the tower, see the Royal Armouries, and visit the Medieval Palace. Be sure to join a tour- the tour guides, who dress as Beefeaters give a wonderful tours of the Tower of London, and these tours are free with your admission to the Tower of London. (photo courtesy of my sister Kelly)
Beyond the museums, my favorite neighborhood to explore is Notting Hill. The colorful homes are simply darling.
Portobello Road in Notting Hill is lined with boutiques and restaurants, and is home to top notch street market where you can buy antique silver tea pots, vintage clothing, and household items.
If you are looking for more things to do in London, I highly recommend checking out Aspiring Kennedy. Lauren’s blog is one of my favorites, and as an American living in London she has great recommendations. I also recommend reading this fascinating post on the subtle differences in how Americans and Brits use some words – the difference between how we use “quite” is something I didn’t even realize until I read her post!
Have you been to London? Let us know your favorite things to do in London in the comments!