While some parts of London fall very much into the tourist-friendly realm, with shops packed full of souvenirs, postcards, selfie spots, and family attractions all located close to the vast selection of Hyde Park accommodation available for all budgets, there are other parts of the city that are considered a well-kept secret in comparison. Camden is one such area in a borough just north of the main central attractions and tourist hotspots, recognised for its eclectic and diverse atmosphere which welcomes both residents and visitors with a range of experiences and things to see.
In this blog, we’re sharing some of the things that you should know about Camden, including where to go and what to look out for whether you’re travelling through or deliberately visiting this area in London.
How to get to Camden
Located just north of Regents Park, the quickest and easiest way to get to Camden from your Hyde Park hotel is on foot – with a walk through London’s green spaces highlighting the beauty of a city which combines its cityscape and busy streets with peaceful and tranquil parks and outdoor experiences. Alternatively, you can access Camden Town station on the Northern line of the London underground, or get on one of the TfL buses to the northern borough.
Unarguably the best thing to do in Camden is visit the market stalls, of which there are many – combining gifts with clothes, accessories, foodie goods, drinks, homeware, quirky and unique items, and pretty much everything you could wish for all wrapped up in a memorable setting and enjoyable experience. With budget-friendly stalls where everything is available for a few pounds, to retro, vintage, second hand and antique stalls, Camden Market offers access to a look at the London of the past – with an opportunity to fill your bags and your home with decorative pieces from old London.
Camden Market is not just one location; rather, it actually combines and connects a series of different markets which all boast their own specialisms and experiences. Camden Lock Market, Inverness Street Market, and The Stables Market are all individual markets but are located close to each other meaning that to visit one you might as well visit all three – whiling away hours simply browsing and exploring what’s on offer.
If there’s one thing which separates Camden from the hordes of bars near Hyde Park and other central locations in London, it’s the setting. Regent’s Canal boasts the kind of outdoor vibe which makes it feel like you’ve left London altogether and found yourself in a kind of British Venice – with bar tables and benches lining the banks of the Regent’s Canal, and small bars and independent watering holes found onboard canal boats. In fact, the area alongside Regent’s Canal is known as Little Venice and has maintained its peaceful oasis-like vibe for the past 200 years.
As well as playing host to some of London’s quirkiest and most individual bars, Regent’s Canal is also a beautiful place to walk and explore – with visitors and locals able to walk, jog, and hire rowing boats to explore the banks of the river in their own time and at their own pace. There is even a small manmade beach that can be found in Camden during the summer months, with the stretch of sand designed to entice locals to spend their summer days in the borough enjoying live music, drinks, and the sunshine.
The beauty of Camden is that it combines its central location with the kind of underrated status which means is rarely sits on the itineraries of visitors and tourists who are only in the city for a handful of days. Despite its proximity to Regent’s Park, ZSL London Zoo, and other popular stopping points, the borough of Camden itself is largely found to be frequented by city workers and local residents who enjoy the canal-side bars on a sunny day and head to the pubs on a colder evening.
And this is where you will find most of the top local experiences – in the pubs and lesser known parks and green spaces like Primrose Hill. With an unrivalled view across London, Primrose Hill is a great spot for a picnic – overlooking the busy attractions and 4 star hotels in Paddington London UK. Alternatively, factor Primrose Hill into a walk during which you explore and seek out some of the best street art that can be found in and around Camden, including art from known street artist Bambi and others.
A few other local experiences to consider as part of a visit to Camden include:
- Live music across a range of bars and outdoor spaces depending on the season and weather, with Cecil Sharp House one iconic Camden spot which is home to folk music (and has been for the past 100 years). Not just a music venue but also home to memorabilia and dance workshops, Cecil Sharp House is recognised today as one of the best destinations for live music lovers in all of London – well worth a visit whether during the day or for an evening of entertainment.
- Visit the Jewish Museum for a little history direct from London’s Jewish community. This museum combines a look at modern life for a British Jew, with that from times gone by – with permanent and rolling exhibitions offering a comprehensive look at the life and history of Jews in London.
- Enjoy the setting as you indulge in your own foodie tour of Camden – heading from the quirky market, past the delicate pastel-coloured townhouses, towards either the borough’s famous restaurants or indeed the street food vendors which are renowned for their affordable dishes and exquisite flavours.
Whatever your perfect day out looks like, Camden is a lesser known and often underrated part of London which invites you to live like a London local and immerse yourself in a location which is both historic and traditional, and perfectly on-trend.