Tucked away in the northeastern corner of Hackney and bordered by Stoke Newington, Stamford Hill, Hackney Central and Dalston, Clapton is often considered one of London’s ‘cool kids on the block’ – and for good reason. After all, you’ve got everything here from bougie restaurants to vegan, hipster-frequented cafés, and independent cinemas to some pretty lively boozers.
That’s not even mentioning all the green space you’ll find here, though that’s not surprising given that the neighbourhood’s name actually originates from the phrase ‘farm on the hill’. So, without further ado, here’s a roundup of 11 of the best things to do in Clapton:
1. Kick back and chill in Springfield Park
Kicking off this roundup of the best things to do in Clapton is a visit to Springfield Park – a peaceful, 36-acre slice of open space which also doubles as a nature reserve. You can soak up some fantastic views of the neighbouring Walthamstow Marshes from the higher reaches of the park, and there’s a hidden gem of a café here if you’re wanting a coffee or a slice of cake.
Active types can get involved in tennis or bowls, or if you’d rather just kick back and relax, then we’d recommend taking a picnic and settling down by the duck pond.
📍You’ll find Springfield Park at Springfield, London, E5 9EF.
2. While away a sunny afternoon in The Crooked Billet
Now many of us have spent a perfectly good Saturday afternoon in the pub, sinking plenty of pints and chinwagging until the sun goes down. And while there are many good pubs to do exactly that in E5, we’d argue that The Crooked Billet is the one to go to when the weather’s playing ball.
It’s got one of the largest beer gardens in the area, and has deck chairs, bowls, a covered seating terrace in case it rains – this is the UK after all – and even a ping pong table! They also show sports on the big screen and have plenty of events throughout the calendar year, so this is a fantastic spot to hang out with some mates. Cheers!
📍You’ll find The Crooked Billet at 84 Upper Clapton Road, London, E5 9JP.
3. Take a wander down the River Lea
Now if multi-Grammy award winner and all-around music legend Adele is singing about it, it’s definitely worth a visit right? Stretching from the Chiltern Hills to the Thames at Bow Creek, it’s London’s second largest river and makes its way through wildlife-filled marshes and leafy parks along its 68-kilometre-long route.
Bordering Clapton, it’s well worth going for a stroll here and perhaps making your way into the Walthamstow Wetlands, where you may be able to spot grey herons, little egrets, swifts, bats and even kingfishers or peregrine falcons if you’re lucky. Post-walk, make your way to the Princess of Wales, which borders Millfields Recreation Ground and offers some delicious pub grub and has a roaring fire if there’s a chill in the air. Needless to say, it’s dog-friendly.
4. Watch an independent flick at The Castle Cinema
Light, cameras, action! Who doesn’t love a trip to the cinema hey? And E5 comes up top trumps with ‘The Castle’ – an independent, Art Deco gem on Chatsworth Road (more on that later) which first swung open its doors back in 2013. It has seen multiple iterations over the century or so since – as a bingo hall, then as a warehouse, then most lately as a snooker hall.
But it was restored to its former cinematic glory back in 2016 after a successful Kickstarter campaign, and hasn’t looked back since. They genuinely show the latest independent releases here, and offer dementia- and autism-friendly screenings too. Make sure you check out the intimate and cosy bar area pre- or post-film – it’s practically calling out for a date night.
📍You’ll find The Castle Cinema at 64- 66 Brooksby’s Walk, London, E9 6DA.
5. Guzzle down all the food at My Neighbour The Dumplings
Another one of our favourite things to do in Clapton is visiting My Neighbour The Dumplings – a relatively quirky joint characterised by kitschy, foliage-filled interiors, ambient lighting and, quite frankly, bloody delicious food.
As the name would suggest, they specialise in dumplings and dim sum here, with standouts including the ‘truffle and potato sui gok’ and the ‘crab, prawn and asparagus’ varieties. Add in a regularly-changing cocktail list, sake from small, family-run breweries in Japan and a whole gamut of Chinese teas and you’re in for a real treat here.
📍You’ll find My Neighbour The Dumplings at 165 Lower Clapton Road, Lower Clapton, London, E5 8EQ.
6. Check out the Sunday market on Chatsworth Road
One of London’s longest high streets, Chatsworth Road is a relatively bougie spot with a rich heritage and is synonymous with chic coffee shops, snug wine bars and some of the best restaurants in Hackney. It’s also famous for its Sunday market, which dates all the way back to the 1930’s and has been a staple here in its current form since 2011.
Open from 11am to 4pm, the market has more than 50 active traders offering a wide variety of street food and tasty goodies such as cheese, pies, baked goods and even gourmet hot dogs. But it’s not all about the food here – there’s also arts and crafts, fashion, homeware and flowers too.
📍You’ll find the market at Chatsworth Road, Lower Clapton, London, E5 0LH.
7. Grab a slice of pie at Sodo Pizza
Now, Sodo Pizza is one of our favourite pizza restaurants in London and, to be honest, can you blame us? They love a witty pizza name as much as the next person – see the ‘Jon Bon Chovy’ and ‘The Wicker Man’ for more evidence of this – but they also pride themselves on producing a dough that is light on the stomach, thanks to a 48-hour fermentation process and it being baked at 450 degrees. Phew!
They also do one of the most delectable tiramisus you’ll find in town, and cater to both vegans and celiacs alike. Add in the fact that they specialise in natural wine – or wine made with as little technological intervention as possible – and you can see why we’ve added this one to the list.
📍You’ll find Sodo Pizza at 126 Upper Clapton Road, London, E5 9JY.
8. See what’s on at the magnificent Round Chapel
Another of the best things to do in Clapton is paying a visit to the Round Chapel – a beautiful Grade II* listed chapel right in the heart of Hackney. Designed by esteemed architects Henry Fuller and James Cubitt back in 1871, it was billed as ‘one of the finest Nonconformist buildings in London’ by the celebrated art historian Pevsner – and it’s easy to see why.
Originally a place for congregation, it’s now been transformed into an events space and arts and community venue, and has seen the likes of Paloma Faith, Arlo Parkes and even Coldplay play here over the years. It’s not just gigs at this magnificent venue though. They also have vintage clothes sales, ceilidhs and even ‘a symphony by and for plants’. Sounds intriguing.
📍You’ll find the Round Chapel at 1D Glenarm Road, Lower Clapton, London, E5 0LY.
9. Indulge in some sweet treats from Bake Street
Just a stone’s throw from Rectory Road overground station lies Bake Street – a cute neighbourhood café and deli whose brunch has featured on countless ‘best of’ lists. And for good reason – it’s absolutely delicious. But it’s not just avo and toast here – as good as that can be sometimes.
They rustle up some pretty out-of-this-world tacos and burritos here – ideal hangover cures – as well as ‘smash burgers’, samosas, shakshuka and all manner of delectable sweet treats and desserts. If it’s hot out (or even if it’s not), make sure you try their ice cream. It’s some of the best you’ll find in town and incorporates some pretty weird and wonderful flavours such as ‘exotic boiled sweets’. Sign. Us. Up.
📍You’ll find Bake Street at 58 Evering Road, Lower Clapton, London, N16 7SR.
10. Tuck into a Sunday roast at Tram Store
Now we all love a Sunday roast – and quite frankly if you don’t then there’s something a bit wrong with you. But it can be pretty hard to find a good one in London – i.e. one that’s worth the 20 plus quid that you’re shelling out for it these days. Well step forward the Tram Store, a café-come-bar set within an old tram depot (duh) who deliver a bangin’ roast right to your doorstep. Provided you live close by that is.
Options include free-range roast beef and Redhill Farm roast pork belly, and veggies will be satisfied by the lip-smackingly good wild mushroom wellington. Of course, you can also eat in-store if you’d like in their bougie events space billed as the ‘Clapton Country Club’. It’s definitely worth it, as they’ve also got a range of cute gifts and plants you can buy here – and what says ‘Sunday’ more than that?
📍You’ll find the Tram Store at 38 Upper Clapton Road, London, E5 8BQ.
11. Mosey on down to the Black Cat Café for a cuppa
Rounding off this list of the best things to do in Clapton is the Black Cat Café – a lovely little independent spot which is run entirely by volunteers and is 100% vegan. As well locally-roasted coffee and delicious sarnies, they’ve also got a great selection of soups, salads and curries on the menu – as well as a mouthwatering ‘beef-style’ burger too – meaning this makes for a perfect pit-stop for lunch if you’re in this neck of the woods.
If you’re wanting to stick around for more than just a bite to eat then you’re in luck, as they’ve got an in-house bookshop run by Active Distribution, where you can find fanzines, political literature and vegan cookery books to boot too.
📍You’ll find the Black Cat Café at 76A Clarence Road, Lower Clapton, London, E5 8HB.
So there you have it – a roundup of the best things to do in Clapton. From perusing the market on Chatsworth Road to hanging out in sun-dappled pub gardens, there’s plenty to do in E5. So get yourself up to this neck of the woods and start exploring!