Whenever I am in London I typically stay in Islington* as it is my favourite London borough. There are plenty of things to do in Islington, ranging from exceptional vintage shopping, beautiful parks and vibrant cultural events. Here are the top 20 to inspire your next London trip.
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London Canals Museum
From Duncan Terrace head down to the London Canals for a tranquil walk next to the water. It’s excessively charming to watch the house boats bobbing on the smooth water with green trees swaying in the freeze.
To learn more about the history of London’s canals and how the house ice was imported from Norway, step into the London Canal Museum.
Museum of St John
Are you a history buff? Then St John’s Gate might be of interest to you. It used to be the former entrance to the Order of St John and belongs to the Museum of St John. The museum might be small (only three rooms), but you will learn more about the Order of St John.
The borough of Islington has so many pretty areas to retreat. Sitting in one of the many green spaces almost makes you forget that you are in the busiest city in England. My favourite park is St George’s Garden.
Walk down south from King’s Cross Station for 10 minutes and you’ll reach this little hidden green oasis. The garden isn’t an ordinary garden, it’s a former cemetery and you can sit on wooden benches next to old grave stones and among blooming bushes. It’s very beautiful and sheltered.
Another wonderful spot is Culpeper Community Garden, which is a city park and environmental community project at the same time. Of course, there are other and smaller parks and gardens in Islington. Here are more amazing parks:
- Duncan Terrace Gardens
- Lonsdale Square
- St Mark’s Church
Get the Best Milkshake
Ok, this isn’t unique to Islington but it’s honestly one of the first things I do when I get to London. I looooove thickshakes. (I mean, I spent way too much money “researching” the best milkshakes in NYC.)
And Five Guys make the best salted caramel and peanut butter shakes, if you ask me. There are two Five Guys in the area to try them out yourself.
If you are a thrifty person, there are a few antique and vintage shops for you to shop in. Try Camden Passage and its Antique Market for some good finds. Then walk over to Mary’s Living & Giving and After Noah next to Almeida Theatre.
For new and unique finds for all things fashion and jewellery, try the many unique fashion stores in Islington. For one, there is the Scandinavian themed Wild Swan.
Wanna feel like a true local? Get yourself to the daily street market, Chapel Market. It’s not the coolest market in London and doesn’t have vintage finds like in Notting Hill, but you can find fresh fruit and veggies as well as cheap household goods and clothes.
It’s perfect for bargain hunters and those staying in the area for longer and on a budget.
Along the street, you can also find cafes, beauty stores and hairdressers as well as a supermarket, all affordable, which is a big deal in London.
The area between Kings Cross and Angel is especially pretty. The white townhouses with the typical black iron fences and balconies are stunning.
Bring your camera and walk around Llyod Square and Percy Circus before walking onwards to other attractions around Islington, London.
When in Islington, things to see should include viewing art! And why not bring some home? You can invest in art works if you are interested in that. In Camden Passage I really love the Japanese art gallery called Ezen Designs.
It sells vintage Japanese prints and modern copies of traditional prints from both Japan and England. For more modern pieces and art shows, chdck out TAG Gallery.
Escape Room clueQuest
Need a brain teaser? Get yourself “locked up” in an Escape Room and try to solve the puzzle to get out in record time. If you can.
There are multiple rooms with different backstories, such as the virtual game Escape The Lost Pyramid or the Operation BlackSheep command centre.
Visit the Theatre
Need a culture fix? See a show at Almeida Theatre. It only has a small space but its mission is to make its local actors blow up real big.
Some of them already are already international stars, such as Juliet Stevenson or Tobias Menzies, and the theatre itself has achieved quite the reputation. It was nominated for the London Theatre of the Year 2019 award.
Everyman Screen on the Green Islington is a nice little local cinema that packs quite a punch.
It not only shows regular shows that are currently running in other theatres, but also invites directors for live Q&As about the films and shows live broadcastings of shows and plays.
Get luxury chocolate
Are you a chocoholic? Have you heard of Paul A Young? This artisan chocolatier has opened several stores around London and one, of course, is found in Islington.
Try a little piece before you dig right into the delicate and delicious handcrafted pralines and the bubbling inca choc cocoa.
Are cakes and pastries more suited for your sweet tooth? At Belle Epoque Patisserie you have ha hard time picking from among the pretty cakes and tartes. Plus, you can also eat lunches and have afternoon tea.
Fittingly, the patisserie is located in an original nineteenth century building furnished with a sleek modern design that oozes elegance. You can take a seat on the elegant chairs or have your treats packed for savouring at home.
There are plenty of restaurants in Islington and especially around Angel. One of my favourite places for brunching is Crêpeaffaire.
Pick between sweet or hearty fillings, get a delicious lemonade or milkshake on the side and dig right in. Ideally, sit by the window and do some people watching.
Alternatively, The Breakfast Club is nearby and also a great place for brunching.
Are you a fan of creamy ice cream? Fill up on a scoop at Udderlicious and then sit down next to the at Canonbury Gardens for some quiet time.
The last time I dined at Camden Passage, I just had to go to Kipferl. Their spätzle are absolutely divine and done perfectly. On a sunny day, you can sit outside in the street.
A dash of sun on your face, schnitzel in your stomach and fresh Sacher cake on your plate – that’s foodie heaven, if you ask me!
International Street Food
Besides the many different ethnic restaurants, such as Vietnamese cuisine, Mexican or Japanese sushi and matcha tea, why not seek out a place with many different dishes from around the world.
Visit Exmouth Market and its 32 street food stalls. The market is held on weekdays from 11am to 2pm and there are shops along the street as well, offering food, beauty treatments and jewellery.
Have a Cocktail
Are you into cocktails or a glass of wine in a fancy setting? The cocktail lounge and restaurant Hoxley & Porter will deliver excellently with both. Imagine sitting in tasteful vintage setting, spending a romantic evening.
An alternative cocktail bar with one of the coolest name is The Bar with No Name (69 Colebrooke Row). Cocktails mixes change seasonally. How do you find it? Look for the outdoor lantern and then step into a classic Film Noir establissement.
Islington might not be the borough that springs to mind first when you hear the word “party” but there are quite a few exciting events and venues. On Friday nights, dress up and get down to The Dolls House.
For the more culturally inclined, Cally Festival cleverly puts together a diverse program including workshops, music and food. Each year, there is a different overall theme. 2020, Cally Festival celebrates its 10 year anniversary.
Estorick Collection’s Italian Art Displays
For even more art, try the six galleries and art library at Estorick. Even though the building is from the Georgian past, the inside works are futuristic in nature and trigger interesting conversations about art and its movements from Italy.
Do you have more tips on what to do in Islington, London? Share them in the comments
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