Amongst some wonderful pubs, countless delicious restaurants, green spaces aplenty and generous helpings of edgy things to do, we’ve managed to whittle it down to just ten – because we’re helpful that way. So, without further ado, here’s our rundown of ten of the best things to do in Hackney Central. You can thank us later…
1. Peruse the stalls of Broadway Market
This popular spot is real foodie heaven in 120 or so stalls. Lying just at the Southern end of London Fields and to the North of the Regent’s Canal, it’s quite possibly one of the best weekend markets we’ve got in the whole of London Town, and they sell everything here from vintage clothing and flowers to wheels of cheese and falafel wraps.
Originally established back in Victorian times, it went through a period of significant decline before being brought back to life back in 2004. It runs every Saturday from 9am to 5pm, and there’s also some great pubs, delis and coffee shops to boot around here if you’re wanting to quench your thirst post-shop.
📍Find it at Broadway Market, Hackney, London, E8 4QJ.
2. Soak up the views from atop a rooftop bar
Now that bar in question we hear you ask dear reader? Well, it’s none other than Netil360 – a popular and laid-back spot set atop Netil House offering panoramic views of Shoreditch, The City, Aldgate and beyond.
A fantastic spot to come for sunset, they’ve got some great craft beers on tap, plenty of foliage dotted about, DJs spinning the tunes at the weekends and some of the best sushi in town, so you can see why we can’t get enough of this place.
📍Find it at 1 Westgate Street, Hackney, London, E8 3RL.
3. Catch a show at the legendary Hackney Empire
If you’re looking for the best things to do in Hackney Central, then a visit to this iconic venue has to be right at the top of the list. Grade II*-listed, it was originally designed as a music hall by the famous architect Frank Markham back all the way back in 1901, and it now is one of the leading theatres in the whole of the capital.
Championing everything from comedy and opera to awards shows and even pantomimes, it’s a fantastic spot that’s well worth a visit whenever you’re in this neck of the woods. Perhaps their biggest draw is that, alongside their mainstage programme, they also provide performing arts activities for over 4,000 local young people. Not bad hey?
📍Find it at 291 Mare Street, Hackney, London, E8 1EJ.
4. Grab a pint or two at The Five Points Brewing Co.
Now this is definitely one of our favourite things to do in Hackney Central. Founded back in 2013 and now a firm favourite amongst locals, this hip and award-winning Hackney brewery specialises in ‘modern and vibrant beer, brewed with passion and integrity’. An independent joint, these guys were both inspired by the British real ale tradition and the international craft beer movement – the result is a delicious melting pot of unique flavours.
Along with their regular favourites – which include their Pilsner-style lager and juicy pale ale – they also do seasonal varieties. Recent examples include the ‘Pining for Mangoes’ – a mango pale ale brewed in collaboration with Sweden’s Dugges Bryggeri – and the ‘South Pacific Bitter’, the first of its kind. There’s a tap room based right on Mare Street, so you can try as many different kinds of pints as you wish – cheers!
📍Find it at 61 Mare St, London E8 4RG.
5. Amble around London Fields or Hackney Downs
There are two significant stretches of green in this uber-cool area of London. The first is London Fields – a popular spot so-called due to its history as a site for grazing animals and moving them to market down at Smithfield. Bordered by some bloody good boozers at either end and home to one of London’s only heated lidos, it’s a great spot to while away the hours when the sun’s out and about – particularly with a takeaway pizza and pints.
The other stretch in question is Hackney Downs – a charming, 40-acre-spot bordering Clapton which also has a play area, basketball courts, football and cricket pitches and a bowling green to boot too. There’s also a wildflower meadow, so if you’re hoping to spot some wildlife, then this is the place to come!
📍Find London Fields at London Fields Westside, E8 3EU and Hackney Downs at Downs Park Road, Lower Clapton, London, E5 8NP.
6. Take a dip in the lido
Ok, so we’ve just mentioned it, but taking a dip at the London Fields lido is truly one of the best things to do in Hackney Central. The 50-metre outdoor swimming pool is heated to a positively-balmy 25 degrees all-year-round, so you can even take a dip even when it’s Baltic. It’s open (usually) from 6.30am until 9pm, and is also floodlit after dark for late-night swims during the Autumn and Winter months.
It’s a real bloody bobby dazzler if we say so ourselves, and tickets start at just £5.70 – perfect if you’re looking to work off that picnic you’ve just had in the neighbouring park.
📍Find it at London Fields West Side, London, E8 3EU.
7. Test your skills and win prizes with a night of bingo
You really just can’t beat a boozy bingo night out with your friends. Who doesn’t like drinking, dancing and winning prizes? From drag dress to garage anthems, we’ve got a whole range of different places in town to enjoy bingo, but when it comes to Hackney, we’d have to suggest Dabbers Social Bingo – an 85-capacity venue in the Hackney Picturehouse (more on that later) which offers you the chance to hit the jackpot and win one of their seven treasure chest prizes every Saturday night. Cop your tickets here.
Alternatively, head there on a Sunday and see off the Sunday fear with an unforgettable afternoon of laughter, glitter and bingo madness with some of the most raucous drag queens in town. You’ll be living your best life while you battle it out against friends and foes to win some pretty epic prizes – and drinks too of course! Get a hold of your tickets here.
📍Find it at Dabbers Social Bingo Hackney, 270 Mare Street, London, E8 1HE.
8. Watch a flick at the Hackney Picturehouse
Offering East London’s biggest cinema screen, this lovely neighbourhood spot is a firm favourite among both locals and visitors to the borough alike. It’s a thriving cultural hub offering five screens, a great restaurant and a lively bar too – and a social space for Dabbers bingo (we told you that’d come back around).
This prestigious and Brutalist venue also offers regular Q&As with filmmakers, National Theatre live performances and the showing of old classics, so there’s plenty on offer here for whatever you’re looking for.
📍Find it at 270 Mare Street, London, E8 1HE.
9. Sample the dish of the week at Pidgin
Pidgin is an intimate neighbourhood restaurant that has a simple mission – to serve a menu that changes every week, with nothing ever repeated! It punches well above its weight when it comes to creativity, and how could it not? It is the collaboration of a pop-up supper club chef and a food writer after all.
The set tasting menu features inventive and tasty dishes, and is cooked to perfection by their in-house chefs . While you’ll never get the same meal twice, you can always expect seasonal British cuisine with a focus on local ingredients. Vegetarians, vegans and pescatarians can all be catered for, making this a great spot for a gathering of your besties or perhaps your date with different diets. A good reason for adding this one onto this roundup of the best things to do in Hackney Central we feel…
📍Find it at 52 Wilton Way, London, E8 1BG.
10. Discover a slice of Hackney history
Now listen up history buffs! The borough of Hackney dates all the way back to Roman times, when the thoroughfare of ‘Ermine Street’ was constructed through Shoreditch, Dalston and Stoke Newington too. So you won’t be surprised to learn that there’s a hell of a lot of history which can be unearthed here on a wander.
Two of our favourite spots are the Grade II-listed Sutton House – which dates all the way back to the Tudor Period and is the oldest residential building in Hackney. It’s now a museum run by the National Trust which you can visit on a guided tour, and is home to beautiful Jacobean wall paintings, carved wooden fireplaces and an opulent painted staircase too.
Our second spot is the Church of St John-at-Hackney, which was constructed in 1792 and contains monuments dating all the way back to the early sixteenth century. Fun fact – it’s also a fairly magical gig venue – Jamie XX, Griff and Coldplay have all played here over the years!
📍Find Sutton House at 2 and 4 Homerton High Street, London, E9 6JQ and the Church of St John-at-Hackney at Lower Clapton Road, London, E5 0PD.
So there you have it – a roundup of the best things to do in Hackney Central. From ancient, Grade II-listed buildings and classic boozers to heated lidos and fantastic restaurants, there’s something for everyone in this cool-as-a-cucumber borough. So get yourself East pronto!