This one-day itinerary highlights 14 different stops or points of interest starting in the “Museum Neighborhood” of Kensington. Over the course of your day, you’ll work your way through some beautiful neighborhoods (and canals!) to see two North Central London Gems: Camden and Hampstead. There are three major attractions where you could spend the bulk of your time: the Natural History Museum (skip the line and book ahead here), the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Science Museum. Along the way, you’ll experience unique restaurants, relaxing gardens, and fun transportation in the Kensington, Notting Hill, and Camden Town neighborhoods of London. Book your waterbus tickets early! Though you start in a more touristy area, you’ll see a lot that even locals miss along the way. It’s a truly wonderful day.
Stop 1: South Kensington Tube Station
Start your day by making your way to the South Kensington tube station. This stop is just steps away from the multiple museums we will be exploring at the beginning of our itinerary. The South Kensington station services the Circle (yellow) and District (green) Lines. It also lies along the Piccadilly (blue) Line; however, service for that line has been temporarily suspended due to construction. It should return to service this summer, though an exact date hasn’t been announced.
(image via Luca Rossi)
Stop 2: Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is the true first stop on this itinerary, and there’s no mistaking it. The building itself has an ornate high Victorian architectural facade. You may have thought it was a church if you didn’t know any better. Inside, the Natural History Museum houses over 80 million items across five areas of the life sciences: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology. Free timed tickets are available, but they often sell out many days in advance. Be sure to book ahead of time!
(image via Russell Meller)
Stop 3: Victoria and Albert Museum
Literally right next door to the Natural History Museum is the Victoria and Albert Museum (also known as the V&A). The V&A bills itself as the world’s leading museum of art, design, and performance. Here you can view decorative arts like ceramics, jewelry, costumes, and glasswork. There are also large collections of sculptures and Asian artworks. Entry is free.
(image via Brett Jordan)
Stop 4: Science Museum
Back across the street and behind the Natural History Museum sits the Science Museum. This free-admission museum has many visual and hands-on exhibits that cover a range of topics across many science categories. From the industrial revolution to the information age, from the micro-level of medicine to the macro-level of space, everything is covered here.
(image via Science Museum)
Stop 5: Notting Hill Gate Tube Station
After you’ve spent some time at the Science Museum, it’s time to travel over to Notting Hill. Head back to the South Kensington station you arrived at and take the Circle (yellow) Line to the Notting Hill Gate tube stop. This will put you close to the next round of items on our itinerary.
(image via Katherine Stacey)
Stop 6: The Churchill Arms, Kensington
Perhaps London’s most colorful pub, the exterior of the Churchill Arms, Kensington is quite literally dripping in floral arrangements. Even if you aren’t needing a drink or a bite to eat (they serve Thai cuisine), a picture in front of the building would make for a nice social media post. The interior is packed with Winston Churchill memorabilia.
(image via Seven Dials London)
Stop 7: Kyoto Garden
A short walk away is Holland Park. This expansive public park has around 50 acres complete with sports fields, woodland areas, and more formal gardens. We want to draw your attention to one in particular: the Kyoto Garden. This Japanese garden features a lovely pond and picturesque waterfall set among beautiful flora. It’s the perfect place to relax and give your feet some rest.
(image via Sandy Piwko)
Stop 8: Portobello Road Market
Portobello Road Market is actually a combination of a lot of markets into one. Saturday is the main day when all the different types of markets are happening all together: antiques, fashion, foods, and more. Mondays to Fridays have a smattering of stalls fruits and household knick-knacks. Sunday is the one day it’s closed.
(image via Cristiano Rossi)
Stop 9: London Waterbus Company (Little Venice)
We’ve placed these next two stops on the map to give you a sense of where this next transit route will take you. A waterbus service runs along Regent’s Canal from the Little Venice area to Camden Town. The trip takes about 45 minutes and is a unique way to experience London as you travel to your next neighborhood to explore more attractions. This canal trip will sell out but it’s incredible value for the experience. Book your tickets ahead of time before everyone else snags them.
(image via London Waterbus Company Little Venice)
Stop 10: London Waterbus Company (Camden Town)
Once you reach Camden Lock, the surrounding area is a cool place to explore. The immediate vicinity is full of restaurants, shops, and pubs. Stop into Camden Market and grab some sweets, or browse among the other stalls for hats, scarves, jewelry, or travel souvenirs.
(image via London Waterbus Company Camden Town)
Stop 11: Camden Town Tube Station
We’re headed north to Hampstead Heath, but to get there, you’ll need to take the Tube. Head over to the Camden Town tube station where you’ll take the Northern (black) line to the Hampstead station. This station is a little tricky because the Northern line splits into two branches at Camden Town, so be sure you’re getting on the Edgware branch. Hampstead will be the third stop.
(image via Josh Graves)
Stop 12: Hampstead Tube Station
The Hampstead station is where you’ll get off. Again, make sure you’re boarding the train along the correct branch (Edgware) to reach Hampstead from Camden Town.
(image via London On Lockdown)
Stop 13: La Crêperie de Hampstead
A short walk away from the Hampstead tube station is a quaint little crêpe stand. Don’t be surprised if you find a line snaking away from La Crêperie de Hampstead. This Hampstead institution is popular and has been around for 35 years. They serve both sweet and savory options. The sweet options feature fruit, chocolate, and cream. The savory crêpes are heavy on the cheese, ham, or mushrooms.
(image via Scopers)
Stop 14: Parliament Hill Viewpoint
The last stop on our itinerary is Parliament Hill Viewpoint. Located within the expansive Hampstead Heath greenspace, Parliament Hill offers wonderful views of the London skyline in the distance. Claim a bench and enjoy the sites for a bit. You’ve earned it.
(image via gabriela)