A Traveler’s Guide to the Best Neighborhoods in London
Mia is a senior at The Ohio State University and an STA Travel Student Ambassador. She studied abroad in London her sophomore year and loves all things British. Here are some of her favorite places in London to spend an afternoon.
To see: I am obsessed with Camden Market. Everything I could ever want to buy or eat is here. Want some souvenirs to bring home? Looking for a pair of handmade shoes? Need to buy more tea? You can find it all and so much more here. When the weather’s nice there’s live music outside, too. This place seriously has it all.
To eat: If you’re already at Camden Market, you have to get the Green Dough. Green Dough is the place where you can stuff your face with edible, vegan cookie dough customized with whichever mix-ins you like (that’s healthy… right?). Bonus: by stuffing your face with these delicious goods, you’re helping the environment too! Saay whattt? Yep you heard me right – a portion of the proceeds go towards planting trees. Tree huggers rejoice!
To do: Want to check out the pub scene but aren’t sure where to begin? You’re in luck! Sign up for the Camden Pub Crawl. Spend an evening running around Camden with a local guide, making friends and drinking beer. Included with your ticket is a t-shirt (who doesn’t LOVE t-shirts?!), free shots, discounted drinks and a guaranteed good time.
To see: For the music loves out there, Brixton is the home of David Bowie. Pay tribute by checking out the mural of him across the street from the Brixton tube station.
To eat/drink: In the heart of Brixton is Brixton Village and Market Row. You can find everything here, from quirky coffee shops and gourmet pizza to international Colombian and Ethiopian goodies. Stop by Federation Coffee to get your body hyped up on caffeine and ready for the rest of your night in Brixton.
To do: Consider yourself a hipster? Hangout at Pop Brixton for a true hipster experience. Pop Brixton is a local project that turned an empty space into a place for local businesses to set up shop, artists to work and the community to gather. The pop-ups are set inside of shipping containers (seriously cool), and the pop-ups range from vintage shops to tasty food stalls and so much craft beer, so put some time aside to check it out!
To eat: Dishoom is one of the most popular (and in my opinion, best) Indian restaurant in London and one of its branches is right here in Covent Garden. Whether you’re a spicey curry or mild paneer lover, you can find the meal of your dreams here (plus the interior of each Dishoom restaurant is an attraction in itself!). Stuff your face all you want (try the Okra fingers), just remember to save room for dessert.
To eat/see: Speaking of dessert… if you are in the area you have to try Udderlicious. Whether it is 10 or 90 degrees outside, it is a treat you need to experience. While you’re enjoying the heavenly gift that is Udderlicious ice cream, stroll down the street to the Seven Dials. At the Seven Dials, seven streets merge together surrounding a small monument and some green space. Take a seat and enjoy some people watching at the end of your long day.
To do: Covent Garden is in the heart of London’s West End. Make an evening out of your time there by snagging some theatre tickets. Shows playing in the area right now include Matilda and The Lion King. Just try not to cry too hard when Mufasa dies (RIP).
To see: Take a stroll around Shoreditch and you will find the coolest street art in all of London. I could spend an entire afternoon wandering around the neighborhood checking out the collection of murals. From pieces making political statements to just fun arrangements of shapes and colors you’re bound to leave inspired and feeling creative.
To eat: I LOVE breakfast. I could eat breakfast for every meal for the rest of my life. If you’re anything like me, you have to check out The Breakfast Club. The restaurant is always bumpin’ and there’s usually a line to get in (because it is that good), but trust me, it is worth the wait.
To do: Columbia Road Flower Market is a must see. Open only on Sundays, you can buy literally any plant your heart desires (plus, hello great backgrounds for insta pics!!), drink great local coffee and listen to buskers playing on the street corners. Make sure to check out the selection of independent businesses on Columbia Road to find some quirky souvenirs.
To eat/see: What could be better than having a picnic in the park during a warm afternoon? Hampstead Heath is a gorgeous park to lay out and take in the outdoors. Stop at PAUL on your walk from the Tube to Hampstead Heath to grab some delicious French-inspired sandwiches and pastries then stroll through the park until you find that perfect picnic spot. I wish I could recommend something to get from PAUL but I can’t because my recommendation is the entire menu. The baguette sandwiches though – Oh. My. God.
To do: OK, so this is technically not in Hampstead but a short 10-minute walk away is the next-door neighborhood of Highgate, home to Highgate Cemetery. I know, visiting a cemetery does not really sound like a good time, but this one is different (really, I promise). It is a beautiful place to walk through, and nice to get some quiet time to explore away from the hustle and bustle of central London. If you’re a history nerd like me make sure to visit the tomb of Karl Marx who’s buried there.