How to make the most of your day in the Borough of Chelsea, London
There are so many things to do in Chelsea London, and you’ll be visiting the upper-class area of London. Situated in the fashionable quirky upmarket area of London, you’ll see many colourful 18th Century buildings costing up to more than a million pounds, trendy cafes, expensive restaurants, Instagram worthy neighbourhoods full of wisteria flowers sprouting in April and May throughout the summer, colourful pastel houses and many more.
Like many areas in London, walking around its neighbourhoods all day can be tiring, you’d have to spend at least a day or two just to cover most attractions. Fret not, the transportation links are so convenient, there are many bus stops in every corner, and tube stations aren’t hard to find. Plus, a bus journey in London is only £1.55 per Oyster tap and Contactless Debit Card. You won’t get charged twice if you take tow or more buses within the hour if you apply for the “Hopper” fare. Find out more here and here on Hopper fare journeys. Although public transport can be expensive, £1.55 on two or more journeys by bus is quite worth it. The downside to it though is that buses can take long to get from A to B, and can give you a headache. Remember, kids travel for free. Getting around Chelsea is no exception. Below are 4 places to visit in Chelsea London. Belgravia, South Kensington, Sloane Square and Gloucester Road.
If you’re an Instagram influencer, this post will tell you which streets to visit, if you’re a family of four looking for children’s attractions, this guide will tell you what museums and parks to enjoy. Whether you’re on a budget or want to splash some cash, the four places mentioned below has everything for everyone.
Beware, this post involves a lot of walking. I don’t recommend you cover all the areas mentioned in this post because once you’ve seen one area of Chelsea, everything else around this area looks similar.
How to get there
There are several tube stations to take depending on what you want to do first. The best tubes to take towards Chelsea are South Kensington, Sloane Square, and Victoria rail and tube station on the Circle and District Line. As for buses, there are several buses that will take you to these areas in no time. Just if you’re in Sloane Square, Victoria, South Kensington or Chelsea, buses are everywhere.
When you step off at Victoria Station, you’ll already be in Belgravia. Like South Kensington and Sloane Square, Belgravia is another upper-class area full of high-end 18th – 19th Century Victorian houses, chic restaurants and cafes, designer brands and expensive retail shops.
If you start your day near Victoria Station, you can walk towards Victoria Coach Station for 9 minutes, you’ll see Peggy Porschen, an Instagram worthy bakery shop. It’s better to take photos of this shop than the one in Chelsea, there are more Instagrammers here than there are in Chelsea. Along Elizabeth Street Belgravia, you’ll see many colourful 19th Century retail shops, restaurants, and cafes worth taking snapshots of. My favourite restaurants and cafes include The Thomas Cubitt Pub, Les Senteurs, Tomtom Coffee House, and Summerhill & Bishop. I can’t afford to eat in the Thomas Cubitt Pub, and I didn’t buy anything in any of these shops, but the shop front is what makes it quirky and “very British”. In the summer, you’ll expect to see posh crowds of people in their white shirts, or their polo Ralph Laurens and shades sitting outside by the pavements sipping their cocktails, beers, and having brunch. When you imagine going back to the 1800s, the shop front will likely look the same as it is now. Click on my Instagram icon or post to see more of these shop fronts.
Next, check out Boscobel Place, a quiet and peaceful dead end mew worth taking photos of. Once you walk past Elizabeth Street, you’ll come across another high-end French restaurant/café at the end of Ebury Street, La Poule Au Pot. Again, I have never eaten here, but I love the bicycle that’s stationary outside the restaurant as well as the restaurant front. It’s always busy and full of upper-class residents here. In front of La Poule Au Pot, you’ll find the quiet Orange Square under several large oak trees where you can sit down and have a rest in the shade. Opposite is the Daylsford Organic tea, coffee, and food café to take away. It’ a nice mid-range café below the expensive apartments if you opt for organic selections. This part of Ebury Street is incredibly quiet compared to Motcomb Street further up.
Walk towards Motcomb Street, and here, you’ll walk through a cobbled pavement full of high-end dining with outdoor tables, great during the summer between June to August. Check out El&N restaurant with their pink parasols and pink seats, and several others in Motcomb Street. If you’re tired, feel free to rest inside the shopping arcade where you can sit on the deck chairs for free. My favourite shop fronts around here are The Fine Cheese Co and The Alfred Tennyson bar and restaurant. Walk through the quiet Kinnerton Street, a hidden gem in Belgravia. Here, you’ll see many smaller Victorian houses where the animals and servants lived in the 1800s.
Kinnerton Street is another quiet area, a contrast to the busy streets near Victoria. Take a walk through this street, the brightly white houses attached to each other are owned by the wealthy millionaires too, and somewhere hidden between the houses, you’ll see a small independent pub if you want to grab a quiet drink, and Kinnerton Place South, one of London’s quiet mews. In this dead end, you’ll find a quirky Judith Blacklock Flower School store front, and in front of this flower school, you’ll see quiet seating areas. Worth checking out. Check out other store fronts around Ebury Street such as Ottolenghi, a quirky café, and Rococo Chocolates. That’s it for Belgravia, next, we go to South Kensington.
If you get off at South Kensington tube station, the first thing you’ll see are rows of sandwich and corner shops where you can buy snacks, top up your Oyster Cards, and a pharmacy. When you get out of the station, you’ll see more coffee shops, mid-range restaurants, 19th Century buildings, and high-end accommodations. This is the best tube station to take for the three museums, and they’re all next to each other. Great for children to roam free.
The Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Science Museum are only a short walk away, you can’t miss them. People can spend hours in one museum alone, so I recommend staying no more than 1 hour there if you want to make the most out of the three museums. It does get tiring. Behind the museums will be Kensington Gardens, one of the 8 royal parks of London. Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park are huge, and it will take at least 3 hours to walk if you want to cover both parks. There are There are 7 things to do in Kensington Gardens if your kids want to roam free and you could easily spend a whole day there.
Kensington Gardens is also adjacent to Hyde Park, a short bus ride to Portobello Market, Holland Park, and Oxford Street for high street shopping, Knightsbridge for Harrods, and Harvey Nichols. Knightsbridge is on the other side of Hyde Park, and getting to Knightsbridge through the park from the Albert Memorial Statue will take around 20 minutes, otherwise, take the bus or tube.
Insider’s Tips: Knightsbridge is only famous for Harrods and Harvey Nichols. There are many designer stores and upper-class restaurants and cafes here. Nothing different from shopping in a shopping centre full of designer brands. Shopping in Harrods and Harvey Nichols does give you headaches because pre-COVID, it was always packed with tourists and locals shopping at the same time. I recommend shopping in Knightsbridge if you really want to buy designer outfits.
If you’re on a budget, you can take advantage of walking through the quiet neighbourhood of South Kensington. There’d be many people walking on the main roads, but if you go further in, it’s quieter. You can admire the staccato and Victorian houses here for your Instagram snapshots.
When you get off at South Kensington tube station, you’ll see the Instagram-worthy hotel, The Ampersand Hotel, and the Number Sixteen Hotel, one of Firmdale Hotel chains around London. Outside, it looks like any other hotels you’ll find around London, but feel free to go inside and have tea or coffee or have afternoon tea, an excuse to take photos of the tree-filled garden inside. It’s to die for.
Once you’ve taken a few snaps, go back towards South Kensington tube station and walk through Pelham Street towards Pelham Crescent. You’ll see many white staccato houses lined in a semi-circle next to each other. Take one or two snapshots of those.
Next, walk through Draycott Avenue and into the quiet and peaceful area of Walton Street where you’ll find small independent shops and designer stores. You could say Walton Street is like a mini version of Regent Street and Old Bond Street where you’ll find a larger version of the designer stores with crowds of people, but if you want peace, then Walton Street is very intimate. Go through Ovington Street, and you’ll see a mix of white and brown bricked staccato houses lined in a row dating back to the 18th Century. Walk towards Halsey Street, and you’ll end up in Cadogan Street. Turn left from here towards Cadogan Square, a peaceful square full of tall dark orange and brown 14th Century Tudor houses. There is a private garden in the middle of the square only for private residents, but an 8-minute walk will take you to Knightsbridge and back to Kensington Gardens. If you walk south for 6 minutes, you’ll be in Sloane Square, another nice area in Chelsea.
Nearby attractions that are 20 minutes from the Piccadilly Line is Leicester Square, The National Gallery and the rest of the West End. Check out my West End walk for inspiration. If you want to visit Camden Town, take the Northern Line to Camden Town, an extra 10 minutes from Leicester Square.
If you’re too tired to walk, then leave Sloane Square for another day or skip it altogether because it’s just another upper-class neighbourhood like South Kensington, nothing different. There aren’t many tourist attractions near this area but a great area for Instagram influencers.
If you’re not too tired and decide to visit Sloane Square, get off at Sloane Square Station. The busy main road’s King’s Street is no different to the beeping noises of cars, black taxi cabs, and red buses stuck in traffic in Oxford Street. Businesspeople on their mobile phones going about their businesses, and upper-class residents shopping for their Chanel and Tommy Hilfiger brands. You will get lost if you want to find the hidden gems I’m about to mention in this post.
Cross the road from Sloane Square station, cross over the busy King’s Road, and head over to Pavilion Road. Here, you’ll find small quirky and expensive independent designer shops ranging from beauty, fashion, cafes, restaurants, and colourful buntings strewn above the shops. People are always sipping their coffees and cakes outside on a hot yet windy April day after a day’s shopping. By June, it’ll get hotter, and people will crowd like bees outside. On the other side of Pavilion Road, you’ll end up in Cadogan Square, the one mentioned above.
Walk further up from King’s Road. You’ll see the Saatchi Gallery, an intimate gallery consisting of arts and culture, a contrast to the busy National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square is situated in the West End, so if you want to find out more about the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square, visit my West End Walk guide. If you want to visit the Saatchi Gallery, you’d have to book in advanced to control the safety of crowds. Just click on the Saatchi Gallery link that will take you to the website.
Next to the Saatchi Gallery is a small upper-class shopping district, Duke of York Square consisting of several high-end fashion stores and busy restaurants with outdoor dining areas. I’ve never eaten in any of the restaurants and cafes here since it’s over my budget, but if they’re in the upper end of the scale, then I would assume the service is great. Go around the shopping district and through the flower tunnel which will lead you out to King’s Road again.
Walk up King’s Road, and a few minutes away from here walk through Blacklands Terrace where you’ll see an Instagram John Sandoe bookshop. From the outside, it’s nothing but a bookshop, but inside, you’ll feel the 19th Century architecture.
A few blocks away, you’ll see a quiet dead end road called Bywater Street. Here, you’ll see pastel pink, blue, yellow, and white houses in a row. This dead end is so peaceful, it just seems so out of place when mixed with the busy street of King’s Road. Spend no more than 2 minutes here taking photos, and if you walk up 6 minutes from here, you’ll see a nice patch of clean-cut grass, Royal Avenue, a square consisting of nice white 18th Century houses. 11 minutes’ walk up from here, you’ll see one of Peggy Porschen’s Cake shop, but if you want to take a snapshot for your Instagram, go to the one in Belgravia near Victoria Station. There are more people taking snapshots there. This one is just as busy, but it’s just an ordinary shop that people walk past without a care in the world. I would have thought people would be taking snaps in front of Peggy Porschen in Chelsea.
7 minutes up, you’ll see another Instagram-worthy restaurant Chicama. Chicama is a South American high end seafood restaurant, a great service for locals and tourists. It does get busy, but the atmosphere is always lively, and they do great cocktails too. From Sloane Square, it’s advisable to take the bus to Chicama because it can take 20 minutes to walk.
Go back to Peggy Porschen Cake shop and go through Oakley Street. Walk up to another Instagram door, the pink Instagram Love door people keep raving about is nothing special. Again, people just walk past this, but next to this door, you’ll find a plaque where Bob Marley used to live and died in the 70s. Further up from Oakley Street towards the River Thames, you’ll reach Cheyne Walk, a quiet block of houses away from King’s Street. Between April and May throughout summer, you’ll see the beautiful wisteria flowers people keep raving about for their Instagram feeds. This personally is better than the Love door. Take a few photos of these discreetly and be on your way home after.
If you’re tired feel free to rest on one of the rows of benches in a small patch of Chelsea Embankment Gardens overlooking the River Thames. Further up, relax in the Chelsea Botanic Garden full of flowers, greenery, and plants. Alternatively, check out the Ranelagh Gardens, currently closed temporarily due to COVID.
If you want to see nearby attractions, the Chelsea Football Club is a 12 minute bus ride on the 11 or 22 or a 15 minute walk from Chicama. If you love cemeteries, check out Brompton Cemetery. Half an hour bus ride from Chelsea is Battersea. You can check out the large Battersea Park for Battersea Park Children’s Zoo, several lakes and Pear Tree Cafe. You can spend all day here with your kids.
If you’re still in South Kensington, walk towards Gloucester Road for 15 minutes and go up towards Kynance Mews. Alternatively, you can also take the tube from South Kensington to Gloucester Road, a 2-minute journey by tube, and a 6-minute walk from Gloucester Road station. Turn left towards Wingstop Restaurant and walk straight on to continue along Gloucester Road.
Gloucester Road is still a busy main road with lots of shops, restaurants, and hotels. On your left, you will see Kynance Place, a nice quiet area away from the busy main road. Walk through this cobbled pathway and you’ll see many houses that has been converted from the old 19th Century mews that was once owned by wealthy London travellers. They would bring their horses and servants, and the horses would live in the present-day garage now and the servants would live upstairs.
Wealthy residents still live here, and these houses in the mews would cost more than a million pounds to buy now. You’ll also see many mews like Kynance Mews around London, so check out several others such as St. Luke’s Mews, Bathurst Mews, Warren Mews, Cresswell Place Mews, home to the English crime novelist Agatha Christie, Colville Mews and many more, and most of them are scattered around the Notting Hill area. We’ll talk about Notting Hill in another post, but if you’re interested in Portobello Road Market, it’s situated in the Notting Hill area.
It seems Kynance Place can easily be missed from the busy main road, and it feels like finding a hidden doorway in a busy room full of people, and when you step through the hidden doorway, it seems peaceful and quiet. That’s how I would describe Kynance Place and Kynance Mews. Walk up along this cobbled place towards Kynance Mews, an Instagram worthy place worth taking snapshots of. There is also a dark and quirky house on your right that’s worth taking photos of with their wisteria flowers.
Things to do in Battersea Park
Old English Garden, Battersea Park
Battersea Park is one of the parks you can visit after a hard day of shopping, and it’s very conveniently located 20 – 30 minutes from Victoria Station by train, London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Knightsbridge, and Hyde Park Corner by bus.
Battersea Park is not one of 8 royal parks of London, but it’s just as nice, and a great place to relax with your children and your partner.
There are several things to see and do when visiting Battersea Park. Below is my suggested walking route, but feel free to start your walk in different entrance areas of the park. I started my walk from Rosery Gate. The first thing you’ll notice is a flowerbed in front of you. Walk through past the flower bed, and you’ll notice Rosery Garden, a nice patch of “Garden of Eden” full of colourful flower arches, flowerbeds an flower bushes. You can’t go through the garden, but feel free to take photos of them. The small patch of garden is surrounded by park benches so you can admire them while listening to birds chirping.
Pear Tree Cafe
Further up, turn slightly right, and you’ll see the Boating Lake. Here, there are around 20 park benches by the lake, and a small Pear Tree Café where you can grab a bite of sandwiches, chips, cakes and biscuits, and a selection of lunch menus. It is quite busy, and the café seems decent and well maintained.
Opposite Pear Tree Café, you’ll see a pirate themed Children’s Playground and a spot to do some outdoor exercises. There is an athlete’s track but it’s for locals and members only. If you brought your tennis racket, feel free to play tennis here.
From here, turn left and walk up several minutes. You’ll see the Children’s Zoo. A small zoo great for children between the ages of 0 – 5 years old. Adult’s admissions cost £10.95 and children between the ages of 2 – 16 cost £8.95. The zoo is very small and it seems only locals go there to spend time with their children. It takes around 20 minutes to walk round, and you’ll see guinea pigs, rabbits, donkeys, birds, and another children’s play area. I feel £10.95 for adults and £8.95 for children is quite expensive for 20 minutes, it’s better to go to London Zoo in Regent Street, one of 8 royal parks of London. London Zoo is next to Madame Tussauds and Camden Town as well.
After the zoo, take some time in front of the London Peace Pagoda. The London Peace Pagoda has been given to us by Venerable Nichidatsu Fuji in 1984 commemorating peace around the world, especially during the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. His motto was “Civilisation is not to kill human beings, not to destroy things, nor make war; civilisation is to hold mutual affection and to respect one another”. It was built by monks and nuns, and was completed when Nichidatsu Fuji died at 100 years old. Take some time for photos here. Behind the pagoda, you’ll see the River Thames, but it’s full of boats and shipping containers. It’s not as beautiful as people think it is.
Walk up several minutes, and you’ll see a large lake full of several fountains, and a large well kept garden full of greens, benches and a beautiful archway. Spend no more than 20 minutes here if you wish, and you can make your way to a hidden Old English Garden tucked away inside the bushes. It feels like going inside a secret garden away from the outside world. You can sit here sipping your coffee, or just admiring the colourful roses. There are more than 5 types of flowers and in the middle, you’ll see lily pads, a pond with a water fountain. It is really a secret garden tucked inside a larger garden.
Children’s Zoo, Battersea Park
The London Peace Pagoda
A 10 minute walk, you’ll come across Go Ape, Putt in the Park, a crazy golf spot, and another Children’s Playground area. If you love heights and you’re an adrenaline junkie, explore the forest canopy using a treetop rope, then Go Ape is a great day out for you and your friends. Click on their website for more details.
The last thing to see in Battersea Park is the Sub Tropical Garden, but this garden is nothing different to the rest of the greenery in Battersea Park, it’s better to spend time in the Old English Garden and the large fountain next to it. After this, you’ll be heading towards Rosery Gate where you started your walk. Walking towards Rosery Gate, you’ll see several wildlife from swans and ducks on the other side of Boating Lake. If you have followed my suggested walk, then you will have covered the whole park for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
If you want to experience traditional British food, check out The Mason’s Arms, a small yet busy pub by Battersea Station, Prince Albert, Duke of Cambridge, The Magic Garden, a vibrant beer garden where you can enjoy drinks with friends and family. The Magic Garden is a recommendation from me. These pubs are located all around the park.
Putt in the Park crazy golf
Chelsea is an upper-class neighbourhood consisting of mid-range to high-end restaurants with average London priced cafes and fast-food restaurants in between. Chelsea is more for Instagram influencers than tourists wanting see tourist attractions, apart from visiting the History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum. You can spend hours in all of these museums, not to mention that Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park is just around the corner if you want to relax, but overall, Chelsea is just that, a place for Instagram obsessed influencers, and it shouldn’t be missed.
I included Battersea Park because it’s only a short bus ride away from Chelsea, and if you’ve had a hard day from walking around shopping, then Battersea Park is a nice wide and big open space area to rest. I also love that Battersea is just a short bus ride away to Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner and a train ride away to Victoria Station from Battersea Park Station.
If you have any questions regarding the Borough of Chelsea, please feel free to contact me on Facebook or follow me on social media. For now, stay safe and take care.