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A marvellously, messy muddle of markets, music venues with a side of street art / food, Camden Town is the spiritual home of London’s counterculture (you’ll still see the odd Mohican punk here today).
Whilst Camden Town may have become a little glam and gentrified in recent years, Camden still boasts an eclectic mix of activities both by day and night.
It may be most famous today for it’s market, but exploring this North London neighbour doesn’t just have to be about shopping (although you can shop ‘til you drop if you so desire). From canalside walks to rainbow roads of terraced houses, here are our top things to do in Camden Town along with its awesome activities:
Things to do in Camden Town
1. Camden Street Art
Camden is a colossal canvas of street art, most of which you can find within a 5 minute stroll of Camden Market. Highlights include Hawley Mews, a dedicated (albeit unofficial) alfresco ‘art gallery’ (the artistry here is incredible), along with Kentish Town Road and Bayham Street.
Looking for street art is one of our favourite things to do in Camden Town, and if you also like street art – check out our 20 top street art cities in the world blog >
2. Camden Market
Easily one of London’s most famous and popular markets (and rightly so), Camden Market is a wicked warren of arts and crafts stalls, bars, restaurants and clothing shops.
Housed in former stables, there are loads of alleyways, nooks and yards to discover, including an Aladdin’s cave of retro stalls in the basement.
Open seven days a week (although some stalls only open at weekends), there are over 1000 stalls of various shapes and sizes to explore. Incidentally, if anyone mentions Camden Stables or Camden Lock Market to you, these are now both classed as Camden Market collectively.
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One of our favourites and a must visit when in Camden Market is Cyberdog, a futurist clothing and dance accessory shop, which has two giant robots at its entrance – as you descend the stairs into its neon basement, you’ll be amazed at the goth gear and steampunk shizz they sell.
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4. Camden Stables Umbrella Street
A utopia of umbrellas is one of the highlights of Camden Stables Market especially on a sunny day when the light shines through and one of our most colourful places in London.
Reminiscent of an Asian alleyway, this bevy of brollies is one of the most popular things to in Camden Town (you may well have seen them on Instagram before; they are quite the Camden tourist attraction).
5. Regent’s Canal walk
London is full of charming canal walks, such as Hackney Wick or King’s Cross. Camden is no different as the Regent’s Canal (named after Prince Regent) towpath passes straight through the middle of Camden, right to the market and high street.
If you want to make a whole day of it, you could start your trip to Camden by walking there along the canal, starting in Little Venice and passing by Regent’s Park and London Zoo on the way (you can even see some of the zoo animals from the canal towpath!).
As well as graffiti and street-art, you also encounter Camden Pirate castle (a rather cool looking recreation centre) and the occasional narrow boat, raft or paddle-boarder.
There are also lots of nice bars when you arrive in Camden Lock, in case you need a pint to cool off (or a mulled wine in winter).
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6. Primrose Hill
One of London’s best views, Primrose Hill Park is a 10 minute walk away from Camden High Street / Chalk Farm Road and offers incredible London panoramic views over Regent’s Park (including London Zoo) and downtown London, although be prepared to share the space as it can get incredibly busy, particularly with picnickers and the Pimm’s posse.
To walk from Camden, it is best to walk via Regent’s Park Road, as it is a really nice neighbourhood street with lots of cute bars, cafes and restaurants plus several stops where you can pick up drinks and snacks for the park, such as Bottle Apostle (craft beers and wines).
Fancy a pint in a proper boozer? The Queen’s (also on Regent’s Park Road) is a nice place to sip on a sauv or sink an ice-cold beer.
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7. Gig at The Roundhouse
Camden’s iconic music and performance venue The Roundhouse opened in 1966 and we’ve been back many times over the years, to events such as the summer ‘beach’ that take places on the rooftop through to the annual Roundhouse Rising gigfest.
Theatre performances here are also fantastic as some are staged in the round, a little like Shakespeare’s Globe. The architecture inside is just as interesting as the performances as the building is an old converted railway engine shed that was built in 1847 (now a listed building).
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8. Camden High Street
An eclectic mix of chain stores and independent shops, Camden High Street is a retail rite of passage in London.
From tourist tat (souvenir stalls) to artisan arts and crafts, Camden High Street is unique in so much that many of the shops have massive murals and oversized objects / artwork adorning them (definitely the biggest pair of Converse sneakers you’ll ever see in London)!
We’ve also noticed lots of tourists taking pictures of all the sewing machines in the window in the All Saints clothing shop by the canal – we’re not sure why!
9. Camden Market Buck Street
Recently, the old school market along Chalk Farm Road (Camden Market’s less salubrious sister market, which we actually kinda liked) has made way for the new-ish Buck Street Market container mall (progress eh).
A collection of colourful shipping containers mainly consisting of ethical / sustainable street food stalls (many of which are vegan) and several boutique and craft shops. This still feels like work in progress and yet to find its feet compared to the other markets in Camden.
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10. Camden Pubs
Camden is renowned for its nightlife and the pub and club scene here knows no bounds. From gastropubs to good old British boozers, every type of drinking establishment can be found here (and the live music scene is particularly good).
Our preferred pubs include:
A well established live music venue located right on the canal in Camden Market, with a lush rooftop bar.
The Hawley Arms
A cosy as pub located just across the road from Camden Lock (and where Amy Winehouse used to work as a young girl), the Hawley Arms, tucked down a side-street right next to the famous railway bridge sign is a gem of a boozer, with fireside arm chairs, snug sofas and a focus on live music (in the upstairs bar) and hearty pub fare.
Saved from development recently after a lengthy battle with property developers, this is one of Camden’s best bars and a great pub to pop into if you’re visiting Camden Stables Market.
Now a massive global brewery, the Camden branch of this ‘punk’ (their words) craft beer hangout was London’s first Brewdog pub – drink selections change regularly and you can see what is on offer by looking at the massive cinema style menu board behind the bar.
Jet Black Heart, a 4.7% ABV milk stout is highly recommended – they often have a nitro version of Jet Black Heart too. Prices at BrewDog Camden can be a little more expensive than other Camden bars incidentally.
The Lock Tavern
As you’d expect from the title, this pub is located on the canal and also boasts a lively rooftop area – live music is performed several nights a week.
Check out our guide to the best pubs in Camden >
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11. Camden Kerb street food
Located in Camden Market with a charming canal side setting (several narrowboats are moored in between the food kiosks), Kerb Camden is a street food extravaganza, with around 30 stalls and kiosks selling all manner of cheap eats, from dutch pancakes to halloumi fries.
Try to get here before the lunchtime rush as it can get busy and the area is quite compact.
12. Camden Brewery
The home of Hell’s Lager (which you now see on tap in most of London’s pubs) offers brewery tours, plus tasters in their taproom – their incredible new beer hall (located in nearby Kentish Town) has over 20 different beers on tap plus a walk-in fridge and merchandise shop.
On our last visit to the Camden Brewery Beer Hall, we tried a couple of beer paddles plus took home some Marmite beer cans – the verdict is still out on the latter!)
Over the years, Camden Brewery has become increasingly popular and recently expanded into new production premises in Ponders End near Enfield Town so more tap-rooms may beckon (which is great as we all know beer at the source always tastes better).
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13. Hawley Wharf
Camden’s newest addition to the London street food and shopping scene, located just across the road from Camden Lock and Holiday Inn Camden, Hawley Wharf has several floors of delicious and damn fine food stalls, with views and seating areas overlooking the canal.
On the lower levels and around the renovated railway arches, you’ll find independent and artisan craft and fashion stalls plus at the weekend, Hawley Wharf hosts a weekend market.
Hawley Wharf highlights include beautiful buns and dumplings from Baozilnn, Filipino flavours from Spoon and Rice plus Wonton and Char Siu Lo Mein from Three Uncles.
Incidentally in 2023, Hawley Wharf is hosting a temporary (and unofficial) Back to the Future exhibition, called ‘The Back in Time exhibition’ which showcases movie memorabilia from one the world’s largest Back to the Movie collectors. Tickets aren’t cheap but if you are a fan of the movie, this temporary film exhibition might be for you.
14. Camden’s Colourful Houses – Hartland Road
Just across the road from Camden Stables, you’ll discover Hartland Road, a quiet residential side-street that boasts some sublime street art that spills over from nearby Hawley Mews plus a row of multicoloured terrace houses, that gives Lancaster Road in Notting Hill a run for its money in terms of being competition for London’s most colourful street.
15. Amy Winehouse Statue
Camden’s most famous daughter Amy Winehouse sadly died at the age of 27 in 2011 and a lasting tribute in the form of a bronze statue now resides in the Camden Stables Market area (at 407 Chalk Farm Road).
It was unveiled three years after here death in 2014 by sculptor Scott Easton, near to one her regular hangouts The Lock Tavern.
With the new Amy Winehouse biopic ‘Back to Black’ movie set to be released in 2023, expect to see renewed interest in this statue, one of Camden’s most visited ‘attractions’.
16. Werewolf Beer, Camden
Definitely one of the more unique (and slightly spooky) Camden breweries we’ve been to – Werewolf Beer strives to brew American style beer in the railway arches near Camden Town overground station. Billed as ‘An American Brewery in London ‘ (nice), Werewolf Beer opened its taproom doors in April 2022.
You know you are for quite the experience as you first approach Werewolf’s Camden taproom – a ghostly ghoul mannequin points you into Werewolf’s Beer freaky but fun brewery beer garden chock full of scary spooky ghost-train style props (apparently from a genuine 1950s ghost-train; cool!).
As well as brewing their own beer on site (think quirky drops like their pumpkin ‘hell-o-ween’ pale or Psychobilly APA, there are other scary and werewolf related props and paraphernalia inside as well as a retro jukebox – bet it plays the ‘Killing Moon’ by Echo and the Bunnymen!
As at 2023, the Werewolf Beer taproom is open Friday through Sundays on Randolph Street – just look for the demonic ghoul outside!
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17. Camden Live Music
Camden Town is a cracking spot to catch established bands or up and coming artists. As well as The Roundhouse mentioned previously.
Other great live music venues in the area include the Electric Ballroom, Camden Assembly, Koko, the Jazz Café and The Underground (the latter is banging basement venue on Camden High Street).
An honourable mention goes to The Dublin Castle, one of the forerunners of Camden’s live music scene and hosting plenty of huge acts before they came famous like Arctic Monkeys and Blur (plus Coldplay too but we won’t hold that against them!).
Check out Time Out London’s gig listings >
18. Tomb Raider: The Live Experience
From Cambodia to Camden… Lara Croft’s Tomb Raider: The Live Experience has now set up home in the basement of Camden Stables. Market.
Promising an immersive adventure through themed puzzle rooms and worldwide settings (think glamourous settings like Finland, not Finchley!), this is one of the newest live experiences in London and perfect for large groups (possibly a fun team build beckons).
With live actors in character to help you along the way and stunningly designed sets, swing on by Camden to undertake Tomb Raider: The Live Experience.
Tomb Raider The LIVE Experience is played in teams of up to 8 and starts from £46 pp, as of February 2023.
19. Camden Fish and Chips
Get your fish and chip fix at Poppies in Camden, one of London’s best-known fish and chips shops. If you are visiting London from overseas, you cannot go far wrong with a traditional ‘chippy tea’ – Poppie’s (one of several they have across London) is proper old school, and has a vintage / 1940’s feel too it.
Whilst fish and chips can be expensive in London, Poppies offer various meal deals including a £5 special takeaway dish of fish bites, fish cake or battered sausage (another interesting English food!) and chips; price correct as at February 2023.
You can also fill up at fish and chips at the eponymous Camden Chippy – make sure you try ‘mushy peas’ too.
Accommodation in Camden
Holiday Inn Camden Lock
If you are planning a visit to Camden and want to focus your stay in the very heart of all the hustle and bustle, Camden Lock Holiday Inn is ideally situated, with selected rooms overlooking the canal itself and just steps away from the market.
From midweek stays to weekend getaways, Camden Lock Holiday Inn has an onsite bar and restaurant. Rooms include a full English breakfast, plus some penthouse suites have their own private terrace.
Check outHoliday Inn Camden Lock’s rates and availability >
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Disclosure: Our stay at the Holiday Inn was gifted.