Hyde Park really is a focal point for London and at one point on your trip you will find yourself there. And in the middle of this vast green space is the majestic Serpentine Gallery, a must for all art enthusiasts. If you have enjoyed the delights of this attraction, you may be looking for something to fill your afternoon nearby, so check out some of our top tips below.
This royal residence is right round the corner and it should be on the top of any itinerary. Having stood as an official residence for the royal family for the past 400 years, it is actually now the home of Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry.
The palace’s story originally began as a simple two-storey Jacobean mansion, that was built in 1605 by Sir George Coppin. A decade later, it was purchased by the 1st Earl of Nottingham, and then passed onto William and Mary who assumed the throne as joint monarchs in 1689. Over the next two centuries, various monarchs added to the site, expanding it vastly, but it did also sadly face neglect, and by the end of the Victorian era the State Rooms has been abandoned.
After a large restoration project, the State Rooms were opened to the public in May 1899, serving as a museum for the city. Visitors can now enjoy hundreds of objects, such as 18th-century dresses worn by Queen Victoria, ceramics, an expansive art collection and antique furniture. Tourists can actually choose between four different routes through the palace, experiencing interactive displays and audio exhibitions along the way. There is even an exhibit on the wardrobe choices of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana. Finish off by walking around the original landscaped gardens – stunning stuff.
Kensington Palace is just a ten-minute walk through Hyde Park to the space’s western edge.
Another palace, but this place really needs no introduction. Having served as both the office and residence for British monarchs since it was built during the reign of Queen Victoria, the palace is one of the few working royal palaces in the world.
Over the summer, the site will be opened to visitors, as they get to tour the 19 State Rooms, see treasures from the Royal Collection by the likes of Rubens and Rembrandt, come close to Sevres porcelain and encounter sculptures by Canova and Chantrey. All year round, there is also the Changing the Guard ceremony outside, all set to music – very pompous stuff!
To get to Buckingham Palace, walk through Hyde Park until you reach the Hyde Park Corner station, and then walk up the Mall to the palace – it should take around 30 minutes.
Victoria & Albert Museum
You may not know it but the V&A is the largest museum in the world centred around decorative arts and design. Housing over 4.5 million objects, the museum was established in 1852 and it was named after the then Queen and Prince.
Spanning 12.5 acres and 145 galleries, the attraction looks at around 5,000 years of art across the cultures of North America, Asia, Europe and North Africa. Visitors can enjoy perusing glass objects, textiles, costumes, ceramics, jewellery, medieval objects, sculptures, prints, among many others. Fans of post-classical sculpture, in particular, will be happy to hear that the largest collection of them resides here, while there are more Italian renaissance pieces here than anywhere outside of Italy. To top it all off, the museum is completely free to enter!
To get here from Serpentine, take the main road south in the park to the southern exit, and head straight onto Exhibition Road. Take a left on Thurloe Place and you will find the museum on your left – in all, it is a 15-minute walk.
Royal Albert Hall
This iconic venue is probably one of the most famous in London, holding over 5,000 seats and hosting over 350 events a year, including classical gigs, sports, award ceremonies, ballet, opera, charity performances and community events. Opened by Queen Victoria in 1871, this stage has seen some of the biggest names in the world grace it, and now you can walk around this historic place.
Most notably, the venue is where The Proms concerts have been held every summer since 1941, and the Grade I listed site is in itself an attraction, with its stunning architectural designs and spectacular mosaic friezes. Be sure to check online what may be playing during your visit as you can incorporate a show into your itinerary.
The Royal Albert Hall is on the same route as the V&A – when you have left the park, take a right onto Kensington Road and you will see the site on your left.
Institute of Contemporary Arts
The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) is a cultural centre that is situated in Nash House. Boasting galleries, two cinemas, a bookshop, bar and a theatre, you can easily spend a whole day just checking out the various productions and exhibitions.
Recent exhibits include The Remote Control, which looked at the influence of television on contemporary art, and works by Billy Childish, Pablo Bronstein and Mark Leckey.
To get here, it is a 40-minute walk. Walk through Hyde Park until you reach the Hyde Park Corner station, and then walk up the Mall and it’s there.
If you need a place to stay for your trip, there are so many Luxury hotels near Serpentine Gallery that you simply will be spoilt for choice.