7 Things to do in Kensington Gardens

Kensington Palace

How to make the most of Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens is a stunning and historically significant public park located in the heart of London, England. It is one of the eight Royal Parks in the city and covers an area of about 265 acres (107 hectares). Situated adjacent to Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens offers a peaceful and picturesque escape from the bustling urban environment.

The history of Kensington Gardens can be traced back to the 17th century when it was originally part of Hyde Park, which was acquired by King William III and Queen Mary II. However, it was Queen Caroline, the wife of King George II, who played a significant role in transforming the gardens into a distinct entity during the early 18th century. She commissioned the famous Italian architect and landscape designer Charles Bridgeman to create a more formal and structured garden, adding ornamental features, pathways, and the iconic Round Pond.

Today, Kensington Gardens is renowned for its breathtaking beauty, serene atmosphere, and a host of attractions that draw locals and tourists alike. The park is home to an exquisite collection of trees, flowers, and manicured lawns, making it an ideal spot for leisurely strolls, picnics, or simply relaxing amidst nature. The Long Water and the Serpentine, two large bodies of water within the park, add to its charm and provide opportunities for boating and wildlife observation.

Best time to visit Kensington Gardens by season 

Kensington Gardens offers a different experience depending on the season, with each time of year showcasing its own unique beauty and attractions. Here’s a breakdown of the best time to visit the park based on the seasons and specific highlights:

Spring (March to May): Spring is a wonderful time to visit Kensington Gardens, especially in April and May. The park comes alive with vibrant colors as daffodils bloom, adding splashes of yellow throughout the landscape. April is also the time when the cherry blossom trees burst into magnificent bloom, creating a picturesque scene with their delicate pink and white flowers. Keep in mind that the exact timing of the cherry blossoms can vary each year depending on weather conditions, but generally, late April to early May is a good time to catch them in full bloom. Another interesting sight to behold in spring is the presence of parakeets, which are known to frequent the park and add a touch of exotic charm.

Summer (June to August): Summer brings a livelier atmosphere to Kensington Gardens, with longer days and warmer temperatures. It’s a popular time for outdoor activities, picnics, and leisurely walks. However, it’s worth noting that summer, especially August, can be quite crowded due to the peak tourist season in London. If you visit during this time, expect larger crowds and queues at popular attractions within the park. Additionally, August can sometimes experience heatwaves, so it’s advisable to stay hydrated and take necessary precautions to protect yourself from the sun.

Autumn (September to November): Autumn in Kensington Gardens is a magical time as the foliage starts to change, enveloping the park in hues of red, orange, and gold. The tranquil atmosphere and milder temperatures make it a pleasant season for leisurely walks and enjoying the beauty of nature. It’s a great time to capture stunning photographs of the park’s landscape as the trees display their autumnal colors.

Winter (December to February): Winter brings a serene and quieter ambiance to Kensington Gardens. The park takes on a different charm as the trees shed their leaves and the landscapes adopt a more minimalist appearance. Despite the cooler temperatures, the park can still be enjoyable for a stroll, especially on crisp, sunny days. Keep in mind that rain showers are possible at any time of the year, including winter, although they tend to be drizzles rather than heavy downpours.

Overall, Kensington Gardens is a delightful destination throughout the year, and the best time to visit depends on your personal preferences. Spring offers cherry blossoms and daffodils, summer brings longer days but higher crowds, autumn showcases stunning foliage, and winter offers a quieter atmosphere. Just be prepared for the possibility of rain, regardless of the season, and enjoy the park’s natural beauty in any weather.

How to get to Kensington Gardens 

Kensington Gardens is easily accessible by public transport and if you install the Citymapper app, just quote W2 2UH as their postcode.  This will get you to the park depending on where you are. Lancaster Gate, Bayswater and High Street Kensington are the nearest tube stations and the park is just walking distance. Buses include number 9, 10, 27, 28, 31, 49, 52, 70, 94, 148, 274, 360, and 390.

Opening times vary depending on seasons. Check their website for more detail. https://www.royalparks.org.uk/

Kensington Palace

Take a tour and explore the exhibitions at Kensington Palace. Kensington Palace offers guided tours of the state rooms, which are open to the public. These tours offer a unique opportunity to see the palace and learn about its history from knowledgeable tour guides. You can also explore the exhibitions on display which includes The Victoria Revealed exhibition. This explores the life of Queen Victoria and the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection which features a selection of royal dresses from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Kensington Palace is a royal residence located in Kensington Gardens, London. It was originally built as a two-story Jacobean mansion in 1605 but has been expanded and renovated over the years to become the grand palace it is today. The palace has been the residence of many members of the royal family, including Queen Victoria, Princess Diana, and currently the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It is also home to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which features a collection of royal memorabilia and historical artifacts. Visitors to the palace can explore the state apartments, gardens, and exhibitions, and learn about the rich history of the royal family. One of the highlights of Kensington Palace is the stunning State Apartments, which have been beautifully restored to their former glory and are open to the public. Visitors can also explore the beautiful gardens surrounding the palace, which include the famous Sunken Garden and the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. Another highlight of the palace is the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Exhibition, which showcases the life and work of Princess Diana through a variety of interactive displays and exhibits. Overall, Kensington Palace is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in the history of the British royal family. The gardens are open according to palace times which you can find on the website. The great thing about the Kensington Palace garden is that you don’t need to have a ticket to enjoy the gardens, but you will need to purchase a ticket to enter the palace.

Cherry Blossom Tree, Kensington Gardens

Take a leisurely walk around the gardens and take in the sights and sounds of nature. The cherry blossom trees are a sight to behold, with their delicate pink and white blooms which only come out in Spring. In the springtime, the cherry blossom trees in London bloom with stunning pink and white flowers. The trees can be found throughout the city, and their delicate petals add a touch of beauty and elegance to the bustling metropolis. The cherry blossom season is a time of celebration and joy, as people flock to parks and gardens to admire the trees and take photographs. As the flowers begin to fall, they create a carpet of pink and white on the ground, adding to the magical atmosphere of the city in spring. The cherry blossom trees are a beloved symbol of London in the springtime, and their beauty is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

The Long Water lake, Kensington Gardens

The Long Water Lake, Kensington Gardens (further up, in the mid point of the horizontal line, between the trees, you will see a dot of Kensington Palace)

Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens

Serpentine Gallery

Visit the Serpentine Gallery and check out the contemporary art exhibits. The Serpentine Gallery is a small yet intimate contemporary art space located in London’s Hyde Park. The gallery is known for its ability to curate exhibitions that are both thought-provoking and visually stunning. The intimate size of the space allows visitors to fully engage with the art on display and feel connected to the work. Additionally, the gallery regularly hosts talks and events, providing a unique opportunity for visitors to engage with artists and learn more about the creative process. Overall, the Serpentine Gallery is a must-visit for any art lover looking for a more personal and immersive experience. Some of the highlights of the Serpentine Gallery include its annual commission of a temporary structure by an architect, which has featured designs by Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, and Jean Nouvel. The gallery also hosts a variety of exhibitions throughout the year, including solo shows by artists such as Ai Weiwei and Yoko Ono. The Serpentine Gallery is a must-see destination for art lovers in London.

The Long Water and feeding the green parakeets

Relax by the Long Water and feed the green parakeets. Long Water is a beautiful stretch of water located in Kensington Gardens, a popular park in London. It is known for its picturesque views and peaceful atmosphere, making it a popular spot for visitors and locals alike. In contrast to The Long Water, which has a diverse range of habitats and protected areas that provide a sanctuary for breeding waterfowl and songbirds, the coppiced woodland margin is not accessible to human viewers. The reed beds, overhanging trees, shallows, and beaches of The Long Water provide a suitable habitat for invertebrates on the bottom of the food chain. Despite the installation of a Kingfisher bank in 2016 below Henry Moore’s The Arch, there have not yet been any sightings of a resident.

Another interesting features of Long Water are the green parakeets that can often be seen flying around the area. These bright and colorful birds are not native to the UK, but have made their home in Kensington Gardens and can often be seen perching on trees or flying in large flocks. Feel free to give them some crackers and put your hand out. They’re only out in spring though. Many people enjoy watching these exotic birds, which add to the charm and beauty of the park. Overall, Long Water and the green parakeets are a beloved and unique feature of Kensington Gardens, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers.

The Italian Garden, Kensington Gardens

Enjoy the Italian Garden. The Italian Garden in Kensington Gardens is a beautiful and serene place to spend an afternoon. Located in the heart of London, this small but picturesque garden is a hidden gem that is perfect for those seeking a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. The garden is filled with a variety of flowers and plants that are native to Italy, including olive trees, cypresses, and roses. The garden also features a small pond, which is home to a variety of fish and waterfowl. You can sit on one of the many benches scattered throughout the space, or take a leisurely stroll along the winding paths that lead through the garden. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind, or simply want to enjoy the beauty of nature, the Italian Garden in Kensington Gardens is an ideal destination.

If you want to sit and relax in Kensington Gardens, you can go to the Italian Gardens where there are deck chairs available for rent. The cost is £2 for one hour, £3 for two hours, £4 for three hours, and £5 for four hours. If you want to stay all day, it will cost you £9.50. It seems that most people only stay for a maximum of one or two hours. However, be aware that ticket wardens may come around to check for tickets, even if you don’t see them at first. If you don’t want to pay for the chairs, you can always sit on the grass instead. Near the park’s gate at the intersection of Lancaster Gate and Bayswater Road, you can find a hidden pet cemetery hidden in the bushes near the caretaker’s house. This is a special area where people can bury their beloved pets to show their love and devotion. Although it is not open to the public, it is a beautiful and touching place. As a nation of pet lovers, it is a meaningful way to honour the memory of our furry friends.

Serpentine Lido, Kensington Gardens

Bluebird Boat Hire

To enjoy a leisurely boating experience, head over to the Serpentine lake in Kensington Gardens. Take a stroll along the scenic Long Water until you reach a tunnel leading to Serpentine Lido. Weekdays usually offer a tranquil atmosphere, while summers can bring a livelier ambiance as people flock to paddle on the blue boats. You can rent a boat for either half an hour (£10) or an hour (£12). Don’t forget to climb the bridge for a fantastic view of the lake and the paddle boats. If you cross the bridge, you’ll discover the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, a perfect spot to cool your feet in the water. As you venture beyond the paddle boats, you’ll come across a car park on your left. Keep walking, and you’ll reach a quieter area, providing a peaceful escape from the crowds. This marks the transition from Kensington Gardens to Hyde Park.

Once you pass the paddle boat rentals, the car park will be visible on your left. Continue walking past it, and you’ll find a serene section of the park that offers respite from the bustling crowds. While distant traffic noise may still be audible, this secluded area within Hyde Park provides an ideal retreat for those seeking solitude. It signifies the end of Kensington Gardens and the beginning of Hyde Park.

As you go beyond the paddle boat area, the car park will come into view on your left-hand side. Proceed past the car park, and you’ll discover a tranquil corner of the park, away from the hustle and bustle. Although distant traffic sounds may linger, this secluded spot offers a peaceful respite from the crowds, serving as an idyllic escape. Situated within Hyde Park, it signifies the conclusion of your journey through Kensington Gardens.

Things to do in Hyde Park

Italian Garden, Kensington GardensWhen you visit Hyde Park, you’ll encounter notable landmarks such as the Old Police House, the Ranger’s House, and vast open spaces adorned with lush greenery and winding pathways leading towards Speaker’s Corner and Marble Arch. Speaker’s Corner holds a unique significance, providing a platform where individuals can freely discuss sensitive topics ranging from religion and politics to current affairs in the UK. It’s worth noting that this area is typically monitored by police personnel to ensure a peaceful environment.

Moving towards Hyde Park Corner tube station from Hyde Park, you’ll come across several attractions. These include the Rose Garden, Knightsbridge known for its iconic stores like Harrods and Harvey Nichols, Buckingham Palace, the Green Park, and St. James’ Park. While these destinations are adjacent to each other, it’s important to note that walking may not be the most convenient option due to the distance involved. Instead, consider taking a bus to explore these areas comfortably.

Next, make your way to Marble Arch. Although Marble Arch itself may not be a prominent tourist attraction, it serves as a gateway to other parts of the city. It conveniently connects to popular shopping destinations like Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Tottenham Court Road. It’s advisable to avoid walking from Oxford Street to Regent Street and Tottenham Court Road, as the distance can be quite significant. Instead, opt for public transportation such as buses or the tube.

The Round Pond

Both Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are known for their water features that attract both wildlife and people. These features serve an important ecological purpose in the parks, but they also offer recreational activities such as swimming, boating, and relaxation in deck chairs. However, there is much more to the water in these parks than meets the eye.

The Round Pond is a man-made lake located in Kensington Gardens, London. It was built in 1730 by George II and covers an area of approximately seven acres. It has a rectangular shape with rounded corners and is up to 16 feet deep. The pond is a popular spot for model yacht enthusiasts and is home to the Model Yacht Sailing Association and the London Model Yacht Club. The Round Pond is a picturesque location that serves as a haven for swans, geese, and ducks. It is a tranquil space where these birds can coexist without the pressure of breeding, as the habitat is not conducive to it. In fact, the Round Pond is a preferred location for releasing injured swans for rehabilitation due to its peaceful atmosphere and lack of competition for mates. In a way, it could be considered a cloistered sanctuary for these birds.

Iconic Royal Albert Hall in London, a majestic circular concert hall surrounded by greenery.

Royal Albert Hall

Immerse yourself in the magnificence of The Royal Albert Hall, an exquisite concert venue nestled in the heart of London, England. Constructed during the 19th century, this esteemed establishment operates as a registered charity and serves as a versatile host for a diverse array of events, ranging from captivating concerts to engaging exhibitions and enlightening conferences. With its storied past, the hall has witnessed performances by some of the world’s most renowned artists, contributing to its iconic status.

From the moment you lay eyes upon the hall’s impressive dome and majestic architecture, you’ll be captivated by its awe-inspiring allure. Boasting a seating capacity exceeding 5,000, The Royal Albert Hall stands as an ideal setting for grand-scale concerts, theatrical productions, and various cultural spectacles. During your visit, indulge in the quintessentially British tradition of afternoon tea, offered within the hall’s charming restaurants or bars. Alternatively, you have the option to bring your own refreshments and relish them within the comfort of your private box. If you desire a pre-show libation, the hall accommodates such requests.

Beyond its evening events, The Royal Albert Hall extends daytime opportunities for exploration through guided tours, granting visitors an enchanting glimpse into the venue’s rich history and architectural splendor. As you navigate the hall’s hallowed halls, immerse yourself in the captivating narrative woven by its past. The hall’s acoustics are renowned for their unparalleled quality, establishing it as a beloved choice among musicians and audiences alike. Regardless of your musical preferences, be it classical, rock, pop, or any other genre, The Royal Albert Hall promises a captivating experience for all who enter its esteemed premises.

Insider’s Tips

Exploring Kensington Gardens typically takes about an hour or two on foot, but keep in mind that if you’re not accustomed to walking or have young children with you, it may take longer. It’s advisable to take breaks along the way to rest and rejuvenate. If you’re accompanied by children, spending an entire day at the Princess Diana Playground and Princess Diana Memorial Fountain is highly recommended. For adults interested in visiting Kensington Palace, allocate an additional hour for the palace tour. Remember to pace yourself and take breaks to fully enjoy your visit.

To reach Portobello Road Market, exit through Black Lion Gate parallel to Kensington Palace. As you make your way towards Queensway station, it’s just a 6-minute walk to Notting Hill Gate Tube Station, followed by another 10-minute stroll to Portobello Road Market.

If you’re looking to save money, the £17 entrance fee per adult for Kensington Palace may seem steep. In such cases, it’s preferable to relax and relish the abundant wildlife and lush greenery of Kensington Gardens. The palace tour itself lasts only about an hour. Instead, consider spending your time in Hyde Park, the neighboring royal park, or venture to Holland Park, easily accessible by a short bus ride from Kensington Gardens.

Kensington Gardens is a prime destination for tourists, offering convenient proximity to popular attractions and essential amenities. With excellent accessibility via various modes of transportation, exploring the city becomes a breeze. Accommodation options abound in the area, making it a convenient base for travelers. Whether you seek upscale shopping, museum visits, or exploring vibrant markets, Kensington Gardens caters to diverse interests.

Hyde Park, situated near Kensington Gardens and Knightsbridge, houses renowned landmarks such as the prestigious Harrods department store and esteemed hotels like The Claridges, Hilton Park Lane, and Four Seasons. Adjacent to Kensington Gardens lies The Royal Albert Hall, with three major museums—The Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum—standing proudly behind it.

Toilets in the area require a 20p payment, which can only be made via card as cash is not accepted.

South Kensington Tube Station, a few minutes away from Victoria Station, is conveniently accessible by traversing the outer museum area. Portobello Market can be reached within a short 10-minute bus ride.

If you plan to visit Oxford Street, a 10-minute bus ride connects you to the vibrant West End, encompassing Covent Garden, Regent Street, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Shaftesbury Avenue, China Town, and lying in close proximity to Charing Cross Station. While these attractions are located near one another, it may be necessary to utilize multiple bus or subway rides to explore them all.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Kensington Gardens offers a delightful experience for visitors throughout the year. The park’s charm is enhanced by the presence of cherry blossom trees in May, creating a picturesque scene. In April, vibrant daffodils adorn the landscape, adding a burst of color to the surroundings.

Adjacent to Kensington Gardens, you’ll find notable attractions such as the esteemed Natural History Museum, the captivating Science Museum, and the renowned Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A). These museums offer a wealth of knowledge and cultural experiences just a stone’s throw away from the gardens.

Kensington Gardens seamlessly connects to the expansive Hyde Park, allowing visitors to explore both parks and enjoy their combined beauty. A short bus ride will transport you to the vibrant West End, home to world-famous destinations such as Covent Garden, Regent Street, Leicester Square, and more. The convenience of nearby attractions and excellent transport links ensures that Kensington Gardens serves as an ideal starting point for further adventures in the city.

Regardless of the season, Kensington Gardens remains enchanting, with its lush greenery and tranquil ambiance. Each time of year brings its own unique charm, whether it’s the blossoming flowers in spring, the vibrant foliage in autumn, or the serene beauty of a winter’s day.

And let’s not forget the majestic Royal Albert Hall, a stunning concert venue that graces the surroundings of Kensington Gardens. Its iconic dome and grand architecture make it a sight to behold and a cultural hub for music enthusiasts and performers alike.

In summary, a visit to Kensington Gardens promises a delightful journey through nature, culture, and history. From the enchanting cherry blossoms and daffodils to the neighboring attractions, there is something for everyone to enjoy. So, immerse yourself in the beauty of Kensington Gardens and embrace the wonders that await in this remarkable London gem.

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