It’s hard not to love Brixton. A cultural hub right at the southern end of the Victoria Line, it’s a lively spot famous for its gigs, nights out, excellent foodie spots and iconic Ritzy cinema – which first opened its doors way back in 1911. Aesthetically-varied, this South London neighbourhood was the one-time home of the legendary David Bowie, and even featured in songs by Amy Winehouse, The Pogues and Eddie ‘Electric Avenue’ Grant. So, without further ado, here’s our rundown of 10 of the very best things to do in Brixton:
1. Catch a gig at the O2 Academy
You can’t live in London and not head to the O2 Academy at some point. Chock-a-block full of gigs throughout the calendar year, this stalwart of the live music scene has seen everyone from Florence and the Machine to Rihanna and James Brown to Bob Dylan play here.
It’s easy to see why – sloping floors offer superb views of Europe’s largest fixed stage, all sheltered by a cavernous 140-foot-tall dome echoing the beats and sounds of the musicians playing. No wonder then that the Maccabees billed this as being “the best venue in the world”. We concur.
2. Watch a film at the Ritzy Cinema
A South London institution, the Ritzy cinema has been welcoming visitors since before World War I – it even survived multiple bombings during The Blitz. They show all manner of things here – from the latest blockbusters to indie faves – and they’ve got friendly staff and a great bar downstairs to boot too.
What’s more, this cherished spot is way more than just a cinema. Head upstairs and you’ll find ‘Upstairs at the Ritzy’, an animated events space hosting regular events such as ‘Brixton Rare Soul’, ‘Dub Me Always’ and ‘Queenstown Sessions’.
3. Grab your mates and visit some Brixton breweries
When it comes to the best things to do in Brixton, getting the beers in definitely has to be up there. After all, this lively pocket of South London has more than its fair share of nightlife – more on that later – so what better way to start the night than by going on a tour of Brixton’s breweries, hey?!
Good thing that you’re spoiled for choice here. Start with a visit to Dog’s Grandad – a cute microbrewery that has made plenty of waves since opening in March 2021 due to its natural, vegan-friendly beer and easygoing staff.
After a few pints here, continue past the railway arches to the famous and long-standing Brixton Brewery, where you can stop for a thirst-quenching Coldharbour lager or two. End up at both Clarkshaws and Friendship Adventures breweries – situated on the way to Loughborough Junction – and see where the night takes you. We’ll cheers to that!
4. Dance the night away at Electric Brixton or Phonox
Speaking of where the night takes you, Brixton is renowned for having a pretty good nightlife scene, so if you’re looking to dance the night away – you’re in luck. An obvious spot to get your rave on is at Phonox, just round the corner from the O2. This warehouse party-style spot has cemented itself as being one of the best nightclubs in London since it opened back in 2015, and offers everything from monthly DJ residencies to one-off events.
Other spots in the area include Electric Brixton – an award-winning venue that combines both live music and club nights for a 1,700-strong crowd – and Brixton Jamm, which has a banging outdoor terrace and has seen the likes of Hot Chip, Skepta and Basement Jaxx perform.
5. Enjoy bottomless brunch and Afrobeats at Brixton Jamm
But it’s not all about the late-night club nights at Brixton Jamm. They also do a mean bottomless brunch accompanied by an epic soundtrack of Afrobeats – a worthy addition to this roundup of the best things to do in Brixton we feel.
Over the course of either four or five hours, you’ll get to tuck into three tasty meat dishes, jollof rice, sweet potato fries or plantain, coleslaw, salad and some cupcakes. You’ll also get to wash all this down with an hours’ worth of bottomless rum punch. Sounds pretty darn good to us and you can sign up here.
6. Take a stroll around Brockwell Park and go for a dip
If you’re looking for something a bit more outdoorsy, then make your way towards leafy Brockwell Park, which straddles the area between Brixton, Herne Hill and Tulse Hill. Spanning 51 acres, it’s a serene spot spanning green, rolling hills, a walled garden and duck ponds – though this changes during the summer months when some of the finest festivals in town take root in the western fringes of the park.
As you amble around, you’ll be able to soak up some of the finest panoramic views of the city and can stop for a dip in the Grade II-listed Brockwell Lido. When the sun’s shining, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in town, and there are some great pubs in Herne Hill for a post-swim pint.
7. Gorge your way through various cuisines in both Brixton Village and Market Row
Brixton is a melting pot of different cultures, and this is more than evident when you wander through Brixton Village and the adjoining Market Row. A haven of eclectic cuisines, this area of Brixton was first established back in the 1920s and 30s as a market, before being transformed into the foodie haven that it is today.
There’s a whole host of things to eat here – from Filipino to Thai and Ethiopian to Jamaican – as well as a wine parlour and a cute taproom which are both great for a first date spot. But it’s not all about wining and dining – shop ‘til you drop in the area’s many stores and find all manner of trinkets and knick-knacks from all over the world.
8. Sing your heart out doing karaoke at Barrio Brixton
When it comes to things to do in Brixton, you might be forgiven for not thinking of karaoke as a go-to. Well, you’d be wrong we’ll have you know, because this neck of the woods offers one of the best chances to get your sing-along-on anywhere in town.
The location in question? Barrio Brixton on a Thursday night – a Latin-infused spot that’s heavy on reggaeton, salsa dancing, kick-ass cocktails, tropical vibes and throwback classics just itching to be given a rendition on the mike. Plus, as well as an hours’ worth of bottomless booze, you’ll get happy hour all the way until 9pm. Win, win.
9. Go on an extended pub crawl to the Duke of Edinburgh, Hope and Anchor and more
It’s no secret that us Londoners love ourselves a pub session, and luckily Brixton has a fair few boozers dotted about the place where you can get the pints in. The obvious choice here for when the sun is shining would be The Duke of Edinburgh.
Head out back to the massive beer garden and you’ll find throngs of people, outdoor bars, street food and a sufficiently lively atmosphere that continues until midnight on the weekends. They’ve also got heaters come the winter.
Other pub crawl friendly spots include the dog-friendly Trinity Arms – a cosy local with a fire pit out back and some mouthwatering food on offer – and the Effra Social where Winston Churchill was rumoured to sometimes have a pint or two. The Effra Hall Tavern, White Horse and Hope and Anchor – which has a great pub quiz – aren’t to be sniffed at either.
10. Check out what’s on at Pop Brixton and the Prince of Wales
Rounding off this list of the best things to do in Brixton is exploring its pop-up events, which tend to take place on the rooftop of the rowdy Prince of Wales and in *ahem* Pop Brixton.
At Pop, there’s everything from hot yoga to vintage clothes sales and DJ sets to open-mic nights to support mental health. On the other hand, ‘POW’ – as it’s affectionately called – is more about 4am raves, pub quizzes, comedy nights and live music events such as Sofar Sounds. Whatever you’re looking for in Brixton, you’re bound to find it at one of these spots at various times of the year.