This article is for those of you who dare to venture north of the river, just kidding, everyone should venture north of the river. Scrap the London Eye and Buckingham Palace, there are so many other exciting activities to enjoy and places to go that are well worth your time. From Hampstead Heath’s rustic pubs to Camden’s colourful streets, here’s our guide to the best things to do in north London.
(WA = Wheelchair Accessible)
Image Courtesy of City of London
Take a stroll through Hampstead Heath
There’s nothing quite as wholesome as Hampstead Heath, especially on a warm summer’s day (or any day for that matter). It’s basically a ritual for local Londoners to come here on a Sunday, grab a coffee from one of the cafés and take a stroll through the stunning Hampstead Heath park. Simply do a few laps of the lake or, if you bring your swimming stuff, you can book a dip in the iconic Hampstead ponds. There are female, male or mixed bathing ponds that all offer the opportunity to swim amongst nature in a wonderful part of London.
Hampstead Heath | WA | Hampstead
See more of what’s at Hampstead Heath in this video…
Image Courtesy of Coal Drops Yard
Eat, drink and shop your way around Coal Drops Yard
Coal Drops Yard in the heart of King’s Cross is the place to go if you’re looking for independent shops, charming cafés and vibey bars, and a variety of the best restaurants in the city. The space is located only a stone’s throw away from the iconic King’s Cross station, which is well worth a visit anyway (it’s where you’ll find platform 9 ¾ from Harry Potter). Pick up a souvenir or three from an emerging designer at Wolf & Badger then enjoy Italian plates at Lina Stores, Bombay-inspired fare at Dishoom or get your Mexican fix at Casa Pastor – the dining options here really are top-notch and eating your way around this part of the city is definitely one of the best things to do in north London.
Coal Drops Yard | WA | King’s Cross
Image Courtesy of The Jewish Museum
Embrace Jewish culture and diversity at The Jewish Museum
Celebrate Jewish life and cultural diversity at this London landmark, The Jewish Museum. This museum opened back in 2001 and tells the all-important history of the Jews in Germany all the way from the fourth century up to the present day. The zigzagging building itself is pretty special, and American architect Daniel Libeskind has designed it in a way that recounts German-Jewish history.
The Jewish Museum | WA | Camden
Get to know the pretty Regent’s Canal
Another one of the best things to do in North London is take a leisurely stroll down London’s pretty Regent’s Canal, a waterway that played a vital role throughout London’s trading days. Today, you can re-imagine its industrial heyday as you stroll along nine miles of the scenic towpath. The waterway cuts right through the centre of King’s Cross and past London neighbourhoods, parks, gardens, canal-side cafés and beautiful heritage buildings.
Regent’s Canal | WA | Camden to Islington
Image Courtesy of Viator
Explore Camden’s vibrant street art scene
Nowhere does street art quite like Camden; it’s home to some of the best street art in the world and really is a part of the borough’s core identity. The best way to get to know the ins and outs of the area’s urban artworks is by taking a tour with a local guide. Let the experts do the talking and learn all about the reasons for each piece of art, from politics to creativity, it’s likely that there’s a good reason there’s a mural placed in a certain area. Or, if you prefer to do things independently, simply take a stroll through the backstreets of the area, keeping your eyes peeled for murals on walls up high and down below.
Like street art? Book one of these London street art tours.
Image Courtesy of The Holly Bush
Wine and dine at The Holly Bush in Hampstead
Spending a day or two exploring the beautiful historic borough of Hampstead is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in north London, or anywhere in London for that matter. After a Sunday stroll through Hampstead’s lush park, why not settle down for a cosy roast in The Holly Bush? This centuries-old pub is set in a grade II listed building and is everything you’d expect a London pub to be. Sip on modern craft beers with a side of truffle popcorn to nibble on before ordering a classic English roast, complete with a Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower cheese (hands down the best bit about any roast), crispy roast potatoes and red wine gravy. You simply can’t visit London without trying a roast or ten.
The Holly Bush | Hampstead
Image Courtesy of Gay’s the Word
Pick up a book or three at Gay’s the Word
This one is for the keen bibliophiles. Gay’s the Word is the UK’s oldest LGBTQIA+ bookshop, having opened back in 1979 on Marchmont Street in Camden. It’s more than just a bookshop, though, this wonderful space was opened as a safe community space by a group of gay socialists, where all profits made were put straight back into the business. The shop hosts book launches, author signings and other events, as well as having shelves filled to the brim with all kinds of interesting books and stories.
Gay’s the Word | WA | King’s Cross
Image Courtesy of Itadaky Zen
Dine on vegan, organic Japanese dishes at Itadaki Zen
If you love Japanese food, especially organic, vegan Japanese food, then Itadaki Zen has to be on your London bucket list. The restaurant is the first of its kind in the whole of Europe and serves a delectable menu of delicious Japanese fare. Enjoy deep-fried tofu nuggets with Itadaki Zen’s signature sauce and a side of miso-glazed aubergine. If you have room, don’t leave without trying their matcha affogato for dessert.
Itadaki Zen | King’s Cross
Like our guide to the best things to do in north London? For lots more locally-loved recommendations on what to check out in north London, grab The Casual Tourist Guide to North London.
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