how to spend an affordable day in Kensington

The first time I visited South Kensington {as an adult who could remember the trip to the classy neighbourhood} was last year. I had a lot of mixed emotions while on that trip, but my time in around Kensington was lovely.  

Kensington is known for its wealth, but you don't have to be rich to enjoy the sophisticated neighbourhood. I've spent a few days strolling in South Kensington since returning already. It keeps pulling me back for whatever reason, and I've become a master at doing everything for less. 

Here's an affordable guide to one of the most expensive areas of London.

Getting there //

You have to get there first. The South Kensington tube station takes you right where you need to be to start this tour. From my current accommodation in South London, it costs £2.40. Coming up the stairs to the exit, head right towards the Ismaili Centre. 

Breakfast at Brown & Rosie // 10-12 Exhibition Rd, London, SW7 2HE

Walking down a narrow, cobblestone street for pedestrians, you will see a variety of cafes. Stop in at Brown & Rosie. This cafe offers fresh produce and a changing bread menu. Their coffee is fantastic and they use porcelain mugs for those dining in {meaning a reduction in waste!}. A cup of tea and a warm croissant will cost you £4.50. 

Browse South Kensington Books // 22 Thurloe St, London, SW7 2LT

South Kensington Books is an independent bookstore right around the corner from Brown & Rosie. It's a small shop with a variety of books, old & new. You don't have to buy the books {which are admittedly quite pricey}. Window shop if that is better suited to your budget! 

Enjoy the Victoria & Albert Museum // Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL

About 5 minutes down the road, you'll see street signs for a variety of FREE museums! Yeah, FREE! London is known for its fickle weather, so this is especially useful if it starts to rain. My favourite is the Victoria & Albert Museum. Not because I'm an art buff or even super interested in the artefacts but because Queen Victoria and King Albert's love story is wacky, but kind of awesome. Fun fact: after Albert died, Victoria wore black for 40 years. Sort of messed up. Oddly a bit romantic. 

The line for admission gets to be atrocious after 11 a.m., so it's best to be there when it opens at 10 a.m. if you can help it.  Inside, they will check your bag {assuming you've brought one for your camera, wallet, etc.}, and you'll be free to walk through gallery after gallery of art until your feet give out. There is free WiFi if you need it. There is also a  beautiful courtyard out back which is a lovely spot for an afternoon rest. 

Lunch picnic at Kensington Gardens //

If you read any of the blogs from last year, you're probably surprised this makes the list. I have walked through the gardens once since being here this go 'round, but I'll try again another time. Kensington Gardens are beautiful and well worth strolling through when in The Royal Borough. Also, it's FREE! If you nip into one of the many Tesco or M&S shops, you can enjoy the gardens with an affordable picnic for lunch. 

Pick out your dream house //

Honestly, I could make a day out of this. The properties in South Kensington are unbelievable. I have a hard time imagining people actually living in them because they are so dream-like. It feels as though you are walking through some kind of movie set. Spend an hour {or eight} getting lost down every street. If you're on a budget, you definitely can't afford to buy any of these homes {you better be willing to spend at least £2 million before you can even pretend to be a serious buyer}. Luckily, it costs nothing to look! 

Natural History Museum // Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD

After looking at the dreamy real estate this area has to offer, a trip to the FREE Natural History Museum in order, don't you think? Some exhibits may cost extra, but the main museum is free to the public. 

Dinner at Lupita // 7 Kensington High Street, London W8 5NP

Lupita was where I ate dinner last summer while in South Kensington. I don't remember much about the food, honestly. The atmosphere and the Corona made for a nice way to finish off the evening though. It can be a bit pricey for serving size, so I suggest eating nibbles and bits. You'll get two street tacos and two quesadillas that are street sized, but it can be the size of a proper meal and cost less than at the pub.