The second post in the London ‘Walk the Walk‘ series.
Chelsea has always been one of my favorite London neighborhoods. With its mysterious mews, stately homes and gorgeous boutique shops, it’s definitely an area in the upper class section. The best way to explore this beautiful area is on foot, and the best place to start is at tube station Sloane Square. A charming square with a water fountain welcomes you when you exit the station and the area is surrounded by the typical houses that you’ll find all over the area.
Following your way to Holbein Place and the Royal Hospital Road, you’ll quickly find the stately entrance to the grounds of the Royal Hospital. This is a retirement and nursing home for hundreds of retired British soldiers.
The grounds are open for public and boast peaceful gardens where you can stroll around and feel completely at ease. A rare occurrence in such a vibrant city as London. When you’re in luck, you might see some of the Chelsea Pensioners in their blue uniforms.
Making your way down south, you’ll soon reach the end of the Royal Hospital Grounds. Crossing a busy road, you’ll be treated with the sight of the Thames River, and the Albert Bridge on your right hand side.
Crossing the Chelsea Bridge, you might be wondering what the large building is on the other end. The one with the (at time of writing) three chimneys. That is Battersea Power Station, the decommissioned coal-fired power station that is now under full construction. Plans are to renovate it, and to create a rooftop garden, retail shops and residential homes at the site. At the moment it looks kind of messy, but I wonder how it turns out!
Having crossed the bridge, you can’t miss the turn to the right towards Battersea Park. The main attractions of the park (besides the super green area) are the Buddhist Peace Pagoda, a boating lake and the Old English garden. Views on the Thames and Chelsea across from it aren’t bad either!
Passing by all the gorgeous residences on Cheyne Walk, turn right into the small cobbled back streets of this area. This is where you’ll find the famous mews, and flower covered houses. Don’t be afraid to get lost here and turn left or right whenever you’d like, because there are surprise finds around every corner.
Criss-cross your way upwards to King’s Road, Chelsea’s main shopping area. Designer labels, boutique shops, quirky cafes, eateries and inspiring interior design shops are the main focus here. Spend a little while here to shop or to get a cup of tea, but if you’re up for more culture, don’t forget to turn left on Sydney Street where you’ll find St Luke’s Church. It was here where the British author Charles Dickens married his wife Catherine Hogarth.
For the foodies and non-stop shoppers among us, head over to the Chelsea’s Farmers Market in Sydney Street, where you won’t find farmers selling their merchandise, but unique arty shops and food of the highest quality. Especially a lovely place to visit when the weather is nice, as people gather on this small piece of concrete land to enjoy the foods and drinks on offer.
When you feel you’ve taken in enough of Chelsea’s metropolitan, yet peaceful atmosphere, you just follow King’s Road east-bound and you end up right where you started: at Sloane Square tube station.
Other interesting attractions and sights in Chelsea:
- Saatchi Gallery
- Royal Court Theatre
- Chelsea Physic Garden
- National Army Museum
Circular walk. Starting and ending point: Sloane Square Underground Station
Length: 6,5 km/ 4 miles
Is riding a bike more your thing than taking a stroll? Don’t forget to check out my post on cycling in London.