With galleries, museums and parks, there's something to suit every taste come rain or shine. If you're a student you can expand on your subject knowledge, broaden your interests, or just have a relaxing day away from your studies! Here are a few of my personal favourite spots around South Kensington - for more ideas check out our Student's Bucket List itinerary.
As a science communication student, my first obvious stop is the Science Museum. It's great for a general wander through, but I particularly like the slightly more interactive exhibitions like Who Am I? and Atmosphere. For sheer wow-factor, Mathematics: The Winton Gallery is a stunning space designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, fantastic even if you just want to sit down for a bit and take it all in. Whilst it's less interactive, it contains some of my favourite pieces, including Florence Nightingale's little-known statistical work, and a wonderfully gruesome collection of glass eyes used in Victorian phrenology.
Next up, and next door, is the Natural History Museum. There's a lot going on here, so you might want to plan out your route a bit beforehand, unless you want to take my favoured approach of getting completely lost! Regardless of where you end up, there's something for everyone's interests here. 'Hope' the blue whale skeleton can be found in the Hintze Hall, and really is as amazing as she looks in everyone's Instagram posts. If you're being logical in your navigation, following the suggested trails can be a helpful way to go, including a tour of everyone's favourites, the dinosaurs. Personally, I'm a fan of the 'Red Zone', which is packed with fascinating exhibits about the forces that shape our world. The Earth sculpture, complete with escalator, is brilliant, and leads you up to a fascinating wander through geology, evolution and earthquakes (including an earthquake simulator!). Finally, if you're there for a traditional museum experience, the fossils section has a delightfully Victorian vibe, and includes specimens collected by one of my favourite women in science, Mary Anning. A fellow student also pointed out her favourite spot, the Sensational Butterflies butterfly house, open from March through to September.
Just across Exhibition Road, you'll find my all-time favourite museum, the V&A. First up, there's a convenient cafe in the new courtyard, which is amazing to look at in itself. Inside, there's several miles of galleries, so I would suggest wandering as you please, although there are plenty of tours available to give you somewhere to start. The V&A's big changing exhibitions are always popular, and deservedly so, but there's lots to see if they don't take your fancy. Head in and turn right to find the sculptures, which are worth a look for the interesting stories behind many of them. Past this section, you'll find two of my favourite areas: Asia, and Fashion. The Asia section is huge (I could happily spend a day just in this bit) and incredibly beautiful, ranging across history and telling stories through extraordinary objects. Next door, Fashion traces clothing through time, explaining how what we wear has always been influenced by the world around us, from politics to colonialism. But my favourite thing about the V&A is the general atmosphere of the place - the building is truly beautiful, and it's wonderful to just walk through, whether you're with friends or taking some time for yourself.
Heading up the road, you'll reach Imperial College London, an obvious favourite of mine, being my university! The Queen's Tower at the centre of campus is particularly lovely at night when illuminated, and you can even find some art in the midst of all that science if you drop in to the Blyth Gallery, where exhibitions are created and curated by artists including students and staff. Further up, many people miss the Royal Geographical Society, which is home to some great exhibitions. They cover a vast range of subjects, often looking at the overlaps of history, science and art, and are brilliantly curated and well worth a visit.
At the top of the road, you'll reach Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, an opportunity to enjoy being surrounded by nature. Another student pointed out his favourite part, the Albert Memorial; looking across to the Royal Albert Hall, this huge golden statue makes for an excellent meeting point! But, if you look a little closer, you'll find the memorial is filled with wonderful detail including depictions of the practical arts and sciences of the Victorian era. Further into the park, you can wander for hours, making it a great place to catch up with a friend. Walking around the lake, there's plenty of opportunity to grab a cup of tea at the Lido Cafe (another student recommendation!), and you can nip into the Serpentine Galleries to take a look at their ever-changing and ever-amazing exhibitions.
I've only just scratched the surface of the plentiful supply of places to go and things to see in South Kensington in this post. As a student, I find it one of the best places you could hope to be in terms of broadening your knowledge and awareness of the world around you. Beyond that, its the perfect place to spend time with friends and family, or to enjoy your own company in interesting and inspiring surroundings.