The First Time Visitor's Guide to North London
Spanning a huge swathe of the city, North London can be a little overwhelming. Not so any more! Read our visitor's guide and you'll be a local in no time.
Often known for being the blue squares in a traditional game of Monopoly, North London has turned into a vibrant microcosm of the city - the home of business start ups and independent stores, and a wealth of stunning parkland.
Unique things to do in North London
The sheer variety and scope of things to do in North London will likely surprise you, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned local.
Let’s start with some of London’s more unique museums and cultural experiences.
In Euston, the Wellcome Collection houses a delightfully eccentric collection of curiosities and antique medical equipment, as well as exhibitions on the relationships between art, science, and technology.
In addition to their regular hours, look out for their themed Friday Night Late Spectaculars, or simply drop in on any Thursday, when the museum is open until ten.
In Camden Town you’ll find the underrated Jewish Museum, which celebrates the history of Jewish life and culture in Britain, as well as a statue of one of Camden’s most famous Jewish musicians, Amy Winehouse.
A Great Place to stay in Camden: Scandi-Camden
If you love rock and roll history, take the two-hour walking tour of Camden hosted by Unseen Tours, an organisation that utilises the knowledge of London’s most streetwise population by providing opportunities to homeless and formerly-homeless tour guides.
One of the tour stops, the famous Roundhouse music venue, brings sand and lounge chairs to its rooftop every summer to create a beachside experience complete with film screenings, Wimbledon matches, and beach huts. While you’re in Camden, check out unique eating experiences such as Chin Chin Labs’ fanciful and Instagram-friendly ice cream creations and The Cheese Bar’s menu of grilled cheese, fondue, and other cheese-focused foods.
For football fans (or soccer, if you prefer), North London is home to both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, but while the latter’s arena is under construction, the Arsenal Museum and Emirates Stadium tour are open for business and well worth the visit.
If you're catching a game at Emirates, check out High Fidelity
Just off the Regent’s Canal in Hoxton, you’ll find the Victoria Miro, an art gallery that makes beautiful use of its outdoor space as well as showcasing unique exhibitions by some of today’s finest contemporary artists.
Have a moment of zen in the parks of North London
North London is also home to some of the city’s most beautiful green spaces, including the sprawling Hampstead Heath, which is ideal for rambling hikes, dog walks, picnics, and even swimming in its public Bathing Ponds.
The Primrose Gallery is fantastic place to stay close to Parliament Hill
For a panoramic view of the city, head to the top of Primrose Hill, which is much less steep than you’d think. The surrounding area is home to quaint shops, restaurants, and pubs, and you’re quite likely to run into a celebrity resident or two while you’re there.
Venture further north and you can spend a whole day at Alexandra Palace. Not just a music venue, the affectionately nicknamed Ally Pally offers activities such as tours of the palace, a paddle around the boating lake, or a skate at the year-round ice rink.
Stay in a stunning family home at Palace & Park
Or if you’re the athletic type, live out your Spider-man fantasies at the Castle Climbing Centre in Green Lanes, which offers lessons for beginners and has a separate indoor climbing centre for kids.
Fun things to do as a couple in North London
Whether you’re going for a first date or keeping the romance alive with a long-term companion, North London is very much for lovers. Take a stroll along Regent’s Canal from Camden to Islington or from King’s Cross to trendy Hoxton.
Some attractions along the waterfront include the Word on the Water bookstore on a boat near Granary Square, The Narrowboat Pub near Angel, and Venezuelan restaurant Arepa, Proud East restaurant, and The Archivist Gallery near Haggerston.
The Angel, and Islington area in general are packed with things to do.
Our top picks include a walk through Camden Passage, browsing the independent shops and charming eateries. The Coffee Works Project has a hidden back garden that’s perfect for couples, and it’s dog-friendly, too!
If you’re looking for the perfect date restaurant, look no further than Le Mercury on Upper Street, which serves critically acclaimed French cuisine with a shockingly affordable price tag.
Just a bit up the road is karaoke bar Lucky Voice, where you can serenade each other in a private room. Or impress your date by taking them to the bar with no name at 69 Colebrooke Row, down a quiet side street. The space is small and intimate, so booking ahead is highly recommended, and the cocktails and the service are impeccable.
In Lower Holloway, you’ll find seafood-focused cuisine at Westerns Laundry, which offers fine dining with a cozy, neighbourhood feel. The area around Holloway Road tube station is very up-and-coming, so you can expect to come across some hidden gems if you take a walk down the high street after your meal.
Stoke Newington is another great neighbourhood for a memorable date. Take a stroll around Clissold Park and then try the New York-style Jewish food at the extremely popular Good Egg, or skip the queue and go through the florist shop facade to the dining area in the back of the Green Room Cafe.
As evening falls, take your date to Original Sin, the secret, chic cocktail bar underneath burger joint Stokey Bears.
A cemetery might not sound like the most romantic outing, but hear us out: Highgate Cemetery is picturesque, atmospheric, and a place to pay tribute to an assortment of artists and historical figures such as George Eliot, Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, Patrick Caulfield, Christina Rossetti, and George Michael. Make a day of it by visiting the shops and pubs in Highgate Village afterwards, or see what films are showing at the historic Phoenix Cinema.
Whether you’re heading home via tube, National Rail, or Eurostar, the Booking Office bar at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel is the perfect place for a nightcap. The cathedral-like architecture and the nostalgic, Victorian-inspired cocktails will put any couple in the mood for love and railway travel.