Ah Camden, the beating heart of London’s alternative fashion, lifestyle and music scene (and the current home of Secret London’s swanky offices). London’s ‘Marmite’ borough divides us all. But even if you can’t stand the thought of swerving through hoards of ‘tweenage’ market-goers, it’s a place that’s hard not to love, so we’ve decided to put together a Camden ‘highlight reel’ for yours truly. So, without further ado, here’s our rundown of some of the very best things to do in Camden:
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Whether you’re after some classic pub grub, a hefty hunk of meat (steady on) or some tasty, vegan-friendly fodder, then you’re in luck – Camden’s food options have all bases covered. Here’s a rundown of some of our favourite places to eat:
Now you can’t come to NW1 and not visit Camden Market – fact! Arguably offering one of the most epic street food line-ups in the whole of London Town, there’s everything here from tapas to jollof rice and guacamole-stuffed burritos to flame-grilled Afghan BBQ meats.
It runs seven days a week, but is strictly a daytime affair, catering for a rabble of hungry tourists and Secret London writers too. In fact, it’s almost impossible to pass by here without buying anything. Trust us. They’ve also currently got some festive deals on for the Christmas period at Camden Market Hawley Wharf – £4 beer and wine, £6 cocktails and £4 snack dishes from over 15 participating vendors, every day from 4.30pm to 7.00pm. Winner, winner.
📍Camden Market, Hawley Wharf, 1 Dockray Place, NW1 8QH.
Alexander the Great
When it comes to places in Camden for Greek food, then you could do worse than Alexander the Great. It’s very reasonably priced here – especially if you take advantage of their set lunch menu – and is great for parties and big groups.
On the menu here are Greek classics like moussaka, kleftiko, stuffed vine leaves and grilled octopus. However, the star of the show may just be the namesake kebab – a mouthwatering concoction of marinated lamb with peppers, mushrooms and onions – served with a side of rice.
📍8 Plender Street, NW1 0JT.
If you’re veggie or vegan, then don’t miss paying a visit to Mildred’s. With other branches in Soho, Dalston and King’s Cross, this is one of the best places to tuck into plant-based fare within the capital – and it’s all bloody delicious.
Here, food comes in the guise of delectable Sri Lankan curries, chickpea and quinoa burgers, and even chocolate hazelnut fudge cake. Whoever said eating clean was boring clearly has never eaten here…
📍9 Jamestown Road, NW1 7BW.
The antithesis of Mildred’s, Shaka Zulu is one for the real carnivores among you. As London’s largest South African restaurant, it’s all about the barbecued meat here, and there’s everything from beef bobotie to smoked paprika seared salmon here.
They’ve also got a whole host of halal-prepared options on the menu, as well as some more exotic meats such as buffalo to zebra and even crocodile!
📍The Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AB.
Another Camden hotspot here when it comes to food, Ma Petite Jamaica prides itself on being London’s first Caribbean diner, serving up authentic Jamaican food since 1985. From curried goat and plenty of jerk, to ackee and saltfish dumplings, this restaurant is pretty big in the game. They’ve also got some excellent rum cocktails and a mean bottomless brunch too. You can get a hold of your tickets for it here.
📍4-6 Inverness Street, NW1 7HJ.
Located in the old horse hospital of Camden Market (more on that later), The Farrier pub boasts excellent-quality cooking from Head Chef Ash Finch, banging Sunday roasts, and most excitingly (in this writer’s view, at least) a floor-to-ceiling wall of wine! Now that we can get on board with…
📍87/88 North Yard, Chalk Farm, NW1 8AH.
Us Londoners bloody love a boozer, so it’s a good job that Camden is full to the brim with them. They’ve even got a Camden pub crawl, which you can grab your tickets for here. Here’s a rundown of five of the best Camden pubs:
The one-time favourite haunt of London icon Amy Winehouse, The Hawley Arms also happens to be Secret London’s local boozer. One of the best pubs in the area, they’ve got a banging roof garden and host regular live music and pub quizzes too. With a great selection of ales and lagers on tap, as well actual pints of chips, this is a great place to be if you’re hanging about NW1.
📍2 Castlehaven Road, NW1 8QU.
A stone’s throw from the main drag of Camden High Street lies the Edinboro Castle – a lovely pub near Regent’s Park where you’ll find Pimm’s on tap (!!), hefty portions of fish and chips, delicious sharing plates and a pretty massive beer garden. A great spot to soak up the sun when (and if) it’s shining. Cheers!
📍57 Mornington Terrace, NW1 7RU.
Tapping the Admiral
Voted the North London ‘pub of the year’ three separate times, the Victorian-era boozer Tapping The Admiral is something of a legend in this neck of the woods.
They’re famous for their ales and are affiliated with CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale). Head Chef, Matt Weston, specialises in traditional pub grub and tasty home-made pies – which you can get with a pint for 13 quid – and there are regular pub quizzes on the roster here too.
📍77 Castle Road, NW1 8SU.
The Dublin Castle
When it comes to places in Camden to grab a pint, then you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere better than The Dublin Castle. A stalwart of Camden’s indie scene, it’s a place where band posters deck the walls and where the beer is flowing until the wee hours every night of the week.
They do jam nights on Tuesdays – where The Libertines used to be regulars – and they’ve also got a jukebox, table tennis, regular DJs and cheap drinks pre-6pm. Winner, winner.
📍94 Parkway, NW1 7AN.
The Sheephaven Bay
Another Irish pub here, The Sheephaven Bay actually takes its name from ‘Ships Haven Bay’ in County Donegal – and you can blame us English lot for getting the name wrong. Wrong names aside, it’s a cosy little spot tucked away in the backstreets opposite Mornington Crescent – meaning you won’t be fighting off hordes of tourists at this one.
Inside, the ceilings are hidden by memorabilia from every Gaelic Athletic Association and hurling team imaginable, and they play regular sport on seven different screens – perfect if you’re looking to while away an afternoon.
📍2 Mornington Street, NW1 7QD.
Our beloved capital may just be the best place in the entire world for live music, and Camden is packed full of some pretty epic venues. Here’s our rundown of five of the best of them:
One of the most famous places in Camden, the Jazz Café is nothing short of legendary and offers a whole roster of different genres of music on its bill – from hip hop to electronic to jazz (um, duh).
Now in its 32nd year, it recently upgraded its sound system and expanded its dancefloor to give a ‘huge sweet spot for dancers on the ground floor of the venue’. Best be prepared to bring out those moves then… Grab your tickets here.
📍5 Parkway, NW1 7PG.
A former railway engine repair shed – and the former home of ‘Camden Beach’ – the iconic Roundhouse is nothing short of unique it has to be said. One of the most famous Camden attractions, it’s a Grade II*-listed music venue that has seen the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and even The Doors perform over its 50-year-tenure.
Alongside its role as an arts venue, it’s also a registered charity which runs a creative programme for 11–25-year-olds through the Roundhouse Trust. They also play host to the aptly-named ‘In the Round’ – an annual festival which showcases a unique lineup of special, one-off gigs.
📍Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8EH.
It’s hard not to be struck by one of London’s most historic music venues as you make your way out of Mornington Crescent tube station. Closed for three years due to a tragic fire, water damage and *ahem* a certain pandemic, it flung open its doors once more this April and has seen an impressive roster of acts bringing the house down already – including George Fitzgerald, Jorja Smith and Honey Dijon.
Added to the mix is a fancy new roof terrace, so you can survey the punters below as you guzzle down a pint or two.
📍1A Camden High Street, NW1 7JE.
Formerly known as ‘The Barfly’, the popular Camden Assembly is part-indie bar, part-live music venue, part-nightclub–come–part-traditional boozer. Phew! Contrary to its title, the closest tube station to the Camden Assembly is actually Chalk Farm – not Camden Town – but wherever you’re coming from – you’ll never miss the red neon light on the front of the pub luring you in for a full-on night of music madness…
📍49 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8ES.
If you’re looking to get down to some alternative music, then The Underworld is the place you really want to head. Right next to Camden Town station, this live music venue is a basement spot that’s seen the likes of The Cranberries, The Offspring, Placebo, Queens Of The Stone Age, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters, Suede, The Darkness, Sum 41 and Fall Out Boy all play here. They also do some pretty raucous club nights here too. Rock on.
📍174 Camden High Street, NW1 9DL.
Looking for some vintage threads or an eclectic range of arts and crafts? Forget Oxford Street – the labyrinthine streets of Camden’s markets are where you’ll find all manner of trinkets.
Camden High Street
Whether you’re looking to get inked with a new tat or are wanting to get decked out in some wavey garms, Camden’s bustling high street has got you covered. The backbone of the borough, it’s great for mooching – don’t forget to pack your wallet!
Camden Market combines two former markets: Camden Stables Market – which was previously a horse stable and hospital and now home to the aforementioned Farrier pub – and Camden Lock Market. Both are full to the brim with vintage clothes stores, antiques, bookshops and all manner of arts and crafts. There’s even a manga store here too.
Word of advice though – the market as a whole attracts around 250,000 punters a week, so be prepared for some crowds!
📍54-56 Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF.
Inverness Street Market
Decked out with plentiful street food and souvenir stalls at the weekend and fruit and veg during the weekdays, a visit to Inverness Street Market will give you a real insight into local Camden life. There’s also a smattering of great restaurants here if you’re feeling a little bit peckish.
📍Inverness Street, NW1 7HB.
If you’re tired of going shoulder to shoulder with hoards of people on Camden’s bustling high street, then we don’t blame you – it can get a lot! Luckily for you, there are numerous leafy spots nearby for you to grab some peace and quiet. Here are some of the best of them:
A Grade I-listed Royal Park nicknamed after the ‘Playboy Prince’ (AKA King George IV), Regent’s Park is a lovely green space with manicured gardens, a boating lake, an outdoor theatre, gardens with over 12,000 roses and Central London’s largest outdoor sports area.
It’s also home to the ZSL London Zoo – the world’s oldest scientific zoo – so you can see if you can spot the resident lions, giraffes, wild dogs, camels and penguins as you make your way around the park.
Just a hop, skip and a jump from Regent’s Park lies the famous Primrose Hill. Billed as London’s most scenic view, it’s a Grade-II listed park which features two of London’s thirteen protected views, towards St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Palace of Westminster.
From up here, you can see everything from the London Eye across to Canary Wharf; and as our guide to the best places to kiss in London suggests, the sunsets are hella romantic. A good date spot perhaps?!
📍Primrose Hill Road, NW1 4NR.
If you’re looking for things to do in Camden, then you could do worse than taking a wander along Regent’s Canal. Just a shade under nine miles long, it connects Paddington with Limehouse Basin and cuts right through the heart of Camden along the way.
Filled with extensive birdlife and dotted with charming cafés and picturesque pubs, it’s a lovely spot to while away a few hours and escape the hustle and bustle.
Arts and Culture
Culture vultures – listen up! This one’s for you. Like the rest of London Town, Camden is full to the brim with culture. Here are the best spots in the borough to find it:
Jewish Museum London
This landmark museum is the only museum in London dedicated to the Jewish faith and Jewish traditions. There’s a vast variety of objects, films, photography, hands-on exhibits and personal stories on display here, and it’s designed to paint a rich and nuanced picture of British Jewish life – exploring contemporary social issues around immigration and settlement too.
📍Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert Street, NW1 7NB.
Though the borough has been massively redeveloped over recent years, there’s still plenty to see – particularly on the Ferdinand Estate, Harmood Street, Hartland Road and Hawley Road – which features a mural of legendary singer-songwriter and previous Camden native Amy Winehouse.
One thing you can’t miss when you’re in this neck of the woods is the railway bridge which has ‘Camden Lock’ imprinted on its side. Painted by John Bulley in 1989, it’s the longest standing piece of street art still standing in Camden, and is a prime photo-opp for the old ‘gram.
📍All throughout Camden Town.
The Cob Gallery
Paying a visit to The Cob Gallery is another of the best things to do in Camden – and for good reason. Founded in 2011 by curator Victoria Williams and playwright Polly Stenham, it’s a fantastic exhibition space designed to support emerging artists – check out what’s on here.
📍 205 Royal College Street, NW1 0SG.
Cecil Sharp House
The only dedicated folk arts centre in England, the award-winning Cecil Sharp House is host to an adventurous programme of folk events all year round – and all take place in a magnificent Grade II-listed building right in the heart of London Town.
📍2 Regent’s Park Road, NW1 7AY.
Camden Art Centre
Another of the best Camden attractions here, the Camden Art Centre is a contemporary art gallery-come-café-come-bookshop which has been charming visitors for over fifty years now.
Free to enter, there are regularly changing exhibitions so keep your eyes peeled on their website to see what’s on. There’s also a peaceful garden out the back if you’re looking for some R&R.
📍Arkwright Road, NW3 6DG.
Where to Stay
Now that you’ve discovered all the great things to do in Camden, you might find it hard to leave. If you fancy sticking around, there are plenty of places to stay for all manner of budgets. Here are three as a starting point:
For budget digs, we’d opt for St. Christopher’s Inn – a trendy, oak-beamed hostel situated just mere steps from Camden Market.
📍48-50 Camden High Street, NW1 0LT.
For a mid-range option, we’d go for STAY Camden – a series of one-, two, and three-bedroom apartments close to Regent’s Canal.
📍1 Water Lane, NW1 8NX.
If you’re really looking to splurge, then why not book a room in The Standard just down the road in King’s Cross St. Pancras – it’s got an excellent rooftop bar which offers breathtaking, panoramic views over the capital.
📍10th Floor, 10 Argyle Street, WC1H 8EG.
So there you have it – a rundown of the very best things to do in Camden. Whether you’re looking for an intriguing immersive experience or are just wanting a pint in a pub, then we’re sure this roundup has got you covered!