Notting Hill is one of London’s most eclectic areas – a meeting of chi chi cafes, high end boutiques and cool spots – not to mention that carnival. Looking for the best things to do in Notting Hill? I’ve got you covered.
Editor’s Note: London, like much of the rest of the world is currently subject to changing lockdown measures. I am still publishing guides to help you discover the best of my hometown but please follow current advice and guidelines and check ahead to ensure that venues are open. Stay safe and stay alert.
Brilliant Things to do in Notting Hill
Take a Peek at the Colourful Houses of Notting Hill
Notting Hill is an area of contrasts – on the one hand, you have brutalist concrete towers and on the other, row after row of pretty pastel houses.
You might recognise the rows of pastel houses from the movies, or perhaps the ‘gram – they’re certainly a hit there.
Personally my favourite way to enjoy them is phone down, just soaking in the little details and the overall atmosphere. A snap or two is fine, but do bear in mind that these are people’s homes before you start hanging off the doors and rampaging around in pursuit of the perfect (but in all honesty, cookie cutter) photo.
If you do have to hang out in the middle of the road for that picture, be sure to watch out for bikes – they’re not known to stop for those enjoying a spot of Notting Hill sightseeing.
Spotting the pastel houses of the best things to do near Portobello Road, so that’s usually the starting spot for seeking them out.
Other roads including Lancaster Road, Clarendon Road and Westbourne Grove, which also offer up plenty of pastel-y goodness.
Read Next: The Ultimate London Bucket List
Portobello Road Market
All your Antiques Road Show dreams can come to life at the amazing Portobello Road Market.
It’s the largest antiques market in the world with over 1,000 stalls. You can find anything and everything from retro fashion to collectable stamps and antique porcelain scattered between the jumble of stalls.
Fair warning: you may have to sort through a fair bit of trash to get to the treasure, but that’s all part of the fun.
While I can’t promise you’ll go away with a million-pound gem in the rough, you’re sure to have a great time exploring all the stalls. This is really one of the best things to do in Portobello.
Antiques may be the main drawcard, but I’m also pretty fond of the food stall selection as well. Jake’s Vegan Steaks are just what the name suggests, and a great pitstop once you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the stalls.
Visit Trellick Tower
There are lots of beautiful things to visit in London – but you shouldn’t forget that there is so much more to the city than #pursuepretty and #thatsdarling. Before you rush to snap yet another rose latte, why not check out one of the city’s most striking Brutalist buildings?
When a building served as the inspiration for a dystopian novel, you know things are about to get pretty dramatic.
Trellick Tower is one of the city’s most striking pieces of architecture. Built in 1972 in the “brutalist” style, it was supposed to lead the way in social housing design.
Rather, it became a hotbed for crime and vandalism for a number of decades. By the 1990s, however, gentrification stretched out its grasping hand over Notting Hill and all of a sudden the uncool was cool again – Trellick Tower being no exclusion.
So much so that it was Grade II listed back in 1998 and is today one of Notting Hill’s most iconic buildings.
Dig into a World of Street Art at Graffik Gallery
While Notting Hill might seem awfully fancy, it’s also got a discernibly urban edge. In particular, it plays host to one of the capital’s premier street art galleries.
That’s Graffik Gallery, an ultra-cool space devoted to some of the world’s best street art. You’re sure to recognise some of the names on display here, like that little-known dude, Banksy.
While the Graffik Gallery sells art pieces to people looking to add to the overall cool factor of their homes, it’s also open to the public.
Not everyone will be able to take a piece home (if you can, I’m very jealous) but everyone can drop by and admire the works of some of street art’s biggest names like Banksy, Stik and Dotmaster.
Read Next: Discovering Street Art in Camden
Electric CinemaCredit: @George Smith Furniture
An unusual stop during your Notting Hill visit is to the charming Electric Cinema. It’s one of the oldest – and dare I say the most charming – cinemas in the UK.
When the beautiful building was constructed in 1910, it was one of the first purpose built cinemas in Britain.
In fact, it’s so old that it was designed for silent films, with no sound facilities. Imagine the refurb that was required once “talkies” were invented some two decades later!
Today, the cinema very much has sound and shows all the latest releases as well as a selection of artsy flicks.
You’ll find it sitting proudly on Portobello Road and it’s a great stop, especially if the weather outside is gloomy.
Hang Out in One of Notting Hill’s Chic Cafes
Notting Hill is full of cafes that are just as sugary sweet as the cream teas they do so well. No wonder these sweet hotspots are some of my favourite Notting Hill attractions.
Notting Hill’s quaint, bohemian vibe matches up perfectly with enjoying a long and lazy coffee and cake.
There are so many ultra-adorable places where getting a coffee is a true excursion rather than a pitstop.
I love the charming Farm Girl (don’t let your coffee go cold as you admire the decor), while another fave is Biscuiteers with its impossibly photogenic exterior.
Get Lost in a Book in one of Notting Hill’s Independent Bookstores
You know what goes hand-in-hand with picturesque streets, to-die-for cafes and retro chic?
Independent bookstores. And, luckily, Notting Hill boasts quite a few good ones. So, if you’re looking for a slightly worn novel (the best kind) to read at a cafe, you’re in luck.
There is, of course, the Notting Hill Bookstore – the one that inspired the iconic film of the same name (did you think I wasn’t going to mention it? Don’t worry – more coming up soon.)
Not all of Notting Hill’s bookstores have quite the same claim to fame, but if you want to avoid avid fans snapping away, there are other options.
Book and Kitchen combines two of my fave things – the hint is in the name – so it’s a definite must see in Notting Hill, London in my eyes.
Pop into the Museum of Brands
A museum devoted to advertising might seem a little like a consumerist nightmare, but trust me when I say that it is an interesting way to spend an afternoon.
The Museum of Brands takes a critical look at the industry. It considers how branding shapes and reflects our society, and strips back some of the psychology behind advertising.
There’s also a hearty dose of nostalgia with some products you’ll recognise from your childhood.
As well as the permanent exhibits that feature marketing materials throughout history, there are also frequent events, speakers and workshops as well.
Read Next: Free Museums in London
Hunt Out the Spots from The Notting Hill Film
If you’re anything like me, I can’t visit Notting Hill without hearing a voice in my head recite the iconic Julia Roberts line – “I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
Which, now I’m reading it, looks cheesier in print than I thought it was when I heard it uttered by Julia.
Cheesy or not, hunting out the filming locations from the 1999 film is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Notting Hill.
Of course, there’s the famous Notting Hill Bookstore which is the setting for Anna and William’s meeting.
Then there’s the blue door that led up to Wills’ humble abode – you’ll find it at 280 Westbourne Park Road.
See the Cute Mews Houses
A big reason for London’s truly horrific traffic is that our roads just weren’t made for cars. Back in the day, it was horse-drawn coaches that ruled the streets.
As a result, London is full of “mews”, or little lanes that once housed the horses and drivers who responsible for carting aristocrats from mansion to mansion.
Of course, because:
a) gentrification is a real and present thing,
b) the London housing market is intense and
c) they are drop-dead gorgeous
the mews where horses and coachman used to sleep are now some of the area’s most sought after properties.
Some of the cutest mews houses in London can be found in Notting Hill, so don’t miss them.
Colville Mews is a particular delight – you’ll find it just off the shopping strip of Westbourne Grove/Ledbury Road.
There are also tonnes of cute mews houses in Kensington. Check out my guide to what to do in Kensington for more!
Head to The Elgin for a Pub Lunch
Good food? Check. Photogenic exterior? Check. Live music? Yup, The Elgin has all the ingredients for a great British pub – so it’s the perfect lunch stop in Notting Hill.
In keeping with Notting Hill’s oh-so-charming character, the inside of this pub is quirky and opulent. A charming fireplace as well as a historic Grade II listed bar are particular highlights.
The pub serves up classic British pub fare, with fresh local ingredients. Their burger is delish, while their “wine platter” lives up to all expectations.
The wine list is impressive, while there are plenty of local and international beers and a generous gin selection. Bottoms up!
Notting Hill Gate Farmers Market
One thing I love about Notting Hill is that despite its London location, it still retains quite a village-y feel, complete with community spirit.
And it obviously wouldn’t be an English village without a farmer’s market on a Sunday, right? Enter the Notting Hill Gate market – a weekly farmer’s market just a stone’s throw from the tube stop.
To get the best stuff, you’ll want to spring out of bed early – the crowds usually start forming around 9am, at the ready to shop. All is fair in love, war and the pursuit of the best preserves!
You’ll find lots of fresh fruit and veg, as well as fresh flowers and herbs and spices. My fave, though, is the honey from Bee Friendly.
Take a Stroll Through Kensal Green Cemetery
Notting Hill is not just a charming place to live, but if you’re wondering what to see in Notting Hill that is a little bit different, try popping into Kensal Green Cemetery.
Set over 72 acres, it was inspired by Paris’ Pere Lachaise cemetery, perhaps the world’s most famous graveyard.
With opulent Gothic monuments and tombs set amongst an overgrown garden, it’s a beautiful and interesting place to stroll through.
A number of famous people are buried in the cemetery, from actors to artisans. A personal favourite is Maria Graham, one of the world’s first travel writers – her first travel book was published way back in 1812.
Quite the trailblazer and one of many graves worth finding in the cemetery.
Bay SIXTY6 Skate Park
Do you fancy yourself as a bit of a Tony Hawk-in-waiting? Or, maybe you plan on keeping your feet very much on solid ground, but being amazed by the feats of others?
If so, I highly recommend dropping by the Bay SIXTY6 Skate Park.
Now, skate parks can be found all around the world – with or without groups of shifty-looking teenagers, but the Bay SIXTY6 Skate Park is pretty special.
It’s quite the mecca for fans of the sport, and also functions as a not-for-profit to help grow skateboarding and provide an outlet for local kids and residents.
They run regular skate schools which are suitable for everyone from pros to beginners (tip: wear helmets. And elbow pads. Actually, just pad everything.) as well as events that are super fun to watch.
What About Notting Hill Carnival?
Have you ever looked at the bright, loud and joyous celebration that is Carnival and dreamed of attending?
What if I were to tell you that Notting Hill, London plays host to its very own Carnival. And it’s pretty amazing.
If you get the chance, attending Notting Hill Carnival is definitely one of the best things to do in Notting Hill. Fact.
Notting Hill Carnival is a spectacular celebration of Caribbean culture in London, with all the music, costumes and food you’d expect.
Although it started from very humble beginnings way back in the 1960s, today the Notting Hill Carnival is quite the spectacular, attracting over two million visitors.
So, why not join the fun – just head for Notting Hill for the August bank holiday weekend, and get ready for an amazing time.
Notting Hill Area Guide: Practical Information
Where is Notting Hill?
Notting Hill is located in West London in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
Where to Stay in Notting Hill: The Distillery London
If you’re looking for accommodation in Notting Hill then you have to go quirky. The neighbourhood has such fun character, that it’s only right to stay somewhere equally charming.
Luckily, I have got you well and truly sorted with a recommendation: The Distillery!
This amazing distillery not only does fabulous gin tastings, but also has some pretty slick lodgings.
Whether it’s to sleep off the last of the delicious gin, or you’re just looking for great accommodation close to the Notting Hill gate shops, cafes and restaurants – this is a pretty fab pick.
How to Get to Notting Hill
Notting Hill is located in west London, and is very easily accessible by public transport.
I mean, you could drive – but why spend time cursing the London traffic, when you could be sipping coffee in a charming cafe?
Instead, I recommend getting the tube.
Notting Hill Gate will land you smack bang in the middle of the action. It’s serviced by the Central Line.
Alternatively, Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove stations (on the Hammersmith and City, and Circle lines respectively) are also close by.
Things to do in Notting Hill: Map
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