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101 things to do in London: west London

Explore the best things to do in west London and treat yourself to a better class of London attractions

West London may be home to some of the city’s more affluent inhabitants, but its highlights are much more accessible than its house prices. Here’s our pick of the best things to do in west London. From finding a secret London tribute to Japanese green fingers in one of London’s major parks, to joining the capital’s biggest street party on the roads of Notting Hill, go west to find some of the city’s best things to do, darling.

RECOMMENDED: 101 Things to do in London

The best things to do in west London

Browse the riches of ages on Portobello Road

There are stalls selling veg and new goods through the week, but on Saturdays Portobello Market is at its best. At the Chepstow Villas end of the road you’ll find the antiques and bric-a-brac stalls. Don’t be fooled by the fold-out tables, this isn’t cheap tat, there are some serious treasures here. For secondhand goodies, head further along the road, beyond the Westway.

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Bounce off the walls at Oxygen Freejumping

This massive trampoline park offers 150 interconnected trampolines for energetic people to bound around on to their heart’s content. Sure, you can take lessons in the trampoline academy, but you’ll probably have more fun flinging yourself at the walk-the-wall trampolines in one of the ‘freejump’ sessions. Bouncier than Tigger on a pogo stick.

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North Acton

Come out to play at KidZania

London's newest attraction for children is a remarkable replica of the adult world where four-to-14 year-olds get an introduction to the grown-up world while having fabulous role-playing fun. Adults can look on enviously as their offspring enjoy activities such as putting out fires, preparing pizza, producing a newspaper and cutting hair. Or they can take advantage of KidZania's location slap-bang in the middle of Westfield to snatch a few hours' peaceful shopping, safe in the knowledge that they won't be missed at all.

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Shepherd's Bush

Have grown-up fun at the Science Museum

The geeks queue around the block for Science Museum Lates, which take place on the last Wednesday of the month (clever timing; most of the museums seem to have settled on a Friday night for their regular after-hours openings). But despite the throng, these adult-only affairs are brilliant, with masses of themed activities to choose from. For many, though, the biggest treat is simply being able to get at the interactive Launch Pad exhibits without having to elbow a bunch pesky school kids out of the way first.

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Marvel at world-famous marbles in the V&A

Can’t get to Florence to examine Michelangelo’s David up close? An impressive five-metre-high reproduction is on show over in Kensington, in the V&A’s Cast Courts. Collecting plaster-cast reproductions of European monuments and works of art for the British public was popular in the nineteenth century, and present-day museum-goers are still benefitting from a practice of which the V&A was at the forefront. The high-ceilinged, light-filled galleries have become an invaluable record of many sculptures whose originals have been since damaged.

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See medicine grow at Chelsea Physic Garden

Originally created in the late 1600s to cultivate native and exotic plants, this walled garden to this day holds a unique collection of thousands of plants that can be eaten or used in medicine. Popular for wedding hire and perfect for a peaceful stroll, the garden is also a charming spot for afternoon tea (at the Tangerine Dream Café) before you head back out into twenty-first-century Chelsea.

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Walk among dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum

For everyone from T-Rex-obsessed toddlers to budding paleontologists, the Natural History Museum remains the ultimate destination for matters pre-historic. A walk around the dinosaurs gallery, with its life-size models and skeletons, allows you to appreciate the sheer scale of these creatures, while the four animatronic displays reveal more about how they lived.

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Venture beyond the West End for fringe theatre at the Finborough

Maintaining the freedom of fringe arts in an intimate space above a pub, the award-winning Finborough Theatre company still manages to compete with theatreland’s bigger players for quality. The focus is on new writing or neglected plays from the nineteenth and twentieth century that would rarely been seen elsewhere, and productions regularly transfer to the West End.

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West Brompton

See an all-singing, all-dancing West End show

In London’s West End there’s an insatiable appetite for Broadway transfers like ‘The Book of Mormon’ and 'Kinky Boots', but there’s homegrown success, too: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, Cameron Mackintosh’s ‘Les Miserables’ and the RSC’s ‘Matilda the Musical’ are among the hits. Last-minute tickets from the Leicester Square ticket booth are usually your best bet for a bargain.

Visit our London Theatre Tickets page to book now.

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Watch your fish and chips being fried on CCTV at Kerbisher and Malt

Every aspect of the fish-frying process has enjoyed an upgrade to ensure this Shepherd’s Bush chippy is the best in town: excellent fish, light batter, homemade tartare sauce and double-fried chips. To compensate for the lack of cheery chippy shoveling potatoes at the fryer there’s a live video feed from the kitchen so you can even watch the peas being mushed.

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Brook Green

Discover the tranquil Kyoto Garden in Holland Park

Holland Park has many great assets including sports facilities, play areas, woodland and an eco centre, but it also has a remarkable hidden treasure: a traditionally designed Japanese garden. Created as part of London’s Japan Festival in 1992, the garden has water features, Japanese trees and other pretty plants, and is carefully tended to ensure it remains a picturesque spot.

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Holland Park

Find the Elfin Oak in Kensington Gardens

Fans of fairytales and folk art would do well to seek out this one-of-a-kind tree stump, located next to the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground. Nearly a millennium old, the stump has elves, fairies and other diminutive characters carved and painted on its surface. In the late ’90s, famous fan of the oak Spike Milligan raised funds for its restoration, which saw it secure Grade II-listed status. There can surely be few garden gnomes that command such respect.

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Visit the Serpentine Gallery's summer pavilion

Every summer, Hyde Park’s Serpentine Gallery invites a different so-hot-right-now architect to design a temporary outdoor space for visitors to lounge around in. Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Ai Weiwei are among the more famous names to contribute work, which often makes the increasingly amorphous architecture of the city’s financial centre look like reserved office blocks by comparison.

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Wave a Union Jack at the Proms

From mid-July to mid-September The Proms’ annual festival of classical music takes over the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park. For each concert there are about 1400 £5 standing tickets, but if you want to wave your flags at the famously rousing last night, apply by ballot online from mid-spring. Alternatively, for last-minute tickets on the day, join the queues on the Queen’s Steps.

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Party your way round the Notting Hill Carnival

This celebration of West Indian culture and Europe’s biggest street party always takes place on August Bank Holiday. Sunday is family day, and on Monday the streets get especially crowded so arrive by tube then walk to Chepstow Road, Ladbroke Grove or Westbourne Grove. Sound systems on the street and in the squares are a big draw, but some of best DJ sessions feature at the warm-ups and after parties.

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Westbourne Park

How many things have you done?

The 101 things to do in London checklist

Living in London, it's amazing how many things we never quite get around to doing. See how many of the entries on our 101 things to do in London list you've actually seen and done...

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By: Phoebe Trimingham