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A nice, North London neighbourhood with a village-like feel, Stoke Newington (or ‘Stokie’ as it is often referred to by locals) offers cafe culture, craft beer bars and independent stores in abundance, nestled alongside beautiful parks and historic houses (plus the odd deer or two!).
From listed London pubs to lakeside coffee shops, here is our guide to all the top things to do in Stoke Newington:
Things to do in Stoke Newington
1. Clissold Park / Deer Park
Clissold Park in Stoke Newington is a popular Hackney hangout and a beautiful green space with 55 acres of park land, lawns and lakes, not to mention a deer park (yes, you read that right – there is a deer park in Stoke Newington!).
Popular with picnicking families, joggers and cyclists, there is plenty to do in Clissold Park. As well as the deer enclosure, there is an aviary and an area with goats (free to visit), plus the beautiful grade II listed Clissold House. This is a late 18th century mansion in the centre of Clissold Park park that now also houses a very popular cafe.
If you visit in the spring months, the garden outside Clissold House blooms with wisteria (similar to the walled garden at Fulham Palace).
Clissold Park also contains a bowling green, cricket green and tennis courts plus several stretches of river and two huge lakes, which are popular with wildfowl.
2. Abney Park Cemetery
One of the famous, ‘Magnificent seven’ garden cemeteries of London (another is Brompton Cemetery’, Abney Park cemetery was laid out in the 1840s and is a gothic gem that doubles as a nature reserve (although be respectful when visiting as this is obviously the final resting place for many).
Free to visit, Abney Park is a spooky yet sublime place to wander, although not somewhere we’d likely want to visit late at night. As you walk around the overgrown pathways, look out for the abandoned, Abney central chapel (strange to see such an incredible chapel in North London all boarded up – a shame really).
If you get the sense of deja vu when walking around Abney Cemetery, that may be because it was used as the filming location for the famous Amy Winehouse (RIP) black and white music video ‘Back to Black’.
3. The Axe pub
With a discreet as entrance, The Axe is not only Stoke Newington’s best craft beer pub, but also possibly one of London’s best stocked craft beer pubs with over 22 beers on tap (all from different breweries) plus a whole range of cask, keg, cider and non alcoholic options.
We last visited The Axe on a Sunday afternoon and the place was heaving. The outdoor beer garden at The Axe was rammed so we opted to have a seat at the bar and watch as a steady procession of Sunday roasts streamed out the kitchen. Popular with all ages, The Axe is a popular pub with locals and craft beer connoisseurs – enjoy!
4. Church Street, Stoke Newington
The very heart of Stoke Newington, Church Street is chock full of independent bars, shops, cafes and fine food purveyors (plus the occasional chain store like Wholefoods or Nandos chicken restaurant).
The best way to visit Church Street is to walk the length and breadth of it first, visiting all the independent book shops, gift stores and craft shops before opting on a bar or cafe to sit in.
The great thing about Church Street is that is has a real neighbourhood feel and local community spirit vibe to it, as people catch-up over coffees or proudly stroll along with their cockapoo or chow-chow on show (cute dog central).
5. Stoke Newington coffee shops and coffee culture
Talk about coffee culture! Stoke Newington is renowned for its coffee shops and cafes (if you haven’t ‘bean’ there yet, why not?!). From a Sunday stroll along Church Street to a weekday caffeine fix, Stoke Newington must have one of the highest density of coffee shops of any area in North London.
One of the most famous and popular coffee shops in Stoke Newington is Esters, a homely hangout (the spot for French toast and a good roast). Other popular coffee shops include the cafe at Clissold House in Clissold Park (the best outdoor spot on this guide), The Yellow Warbler and Caffeine Fix (both on Church Street).
6. The Good Egg
We lucked out with our first visit to the Good Egg, a neighbourhood deli style cafe and diner. As they don’t accept bookings, you have to chance getting a table or wait outside in line, but we managed to bag the last table at the counter without queuing so got a prime view of all the food being prepped, including the indulgent ingredients and toppings that go into their bagels (tip – arrive with an empty stomach).
We visited one Sunday morning so enjoyed their brunch menu. We opted for their shakshuka eggs served with lemon yoghurt, za’atar and pita and their Sabih: two pitas stuffed with fried aubergine, eggs, mango amba, tahini, dak dak, pickles and zhoug (and yes, we did have to Google some of those ingredients so you can too).
We like the atmosphere here and whilst the staff were busy having to manage inside tables, the outdoor queue and a steady stream of takeaway drivers, they were..ahem..generally good eggs.
7. The Jolly Butchers
What is not to like about the Jolly Butchers? With a prime view of the main high street in Stoke Newington, a pavement beer garden and a kitchen that specialises in delicious Indian food, we also recommend that you have a ‘butchers’* at their range of craft beers, with a huge chalkboard to the left of the bar.
The huge open plan bar at the Jolly Butchers combined with big bay windows make this a light and airy space, and the perfect place to put away some pints with spicy food.
*Cockney rhyming slang for ‘have a look’ from ‘butcher’s hook.
8. The Spence Bakery
See that big queue of people outside the bright orange door? That will be The Spence Bakery, Stoke Newington’s best bakery, baking buns and all manner of good stuff for the last 20 years.
Whilst the exterior orange palette may not be low key, the lush retro interior is warm and welcoming, with a heady mix of sweet treats and freshly roasted coffee beans wafting – lush lamingtons, moist muffins and superb sandwiches await. Spence Bakery also have a second outlet in Tufnell Park.
9. West Reservoir Water Sports Centre
We first learned of the West Reservoir Water Sports Centre as we were walking to Clissold Park one sunny afternoon from Finsbury Park and noticed tens of yacht sails bobbing up and down in the horizon. We hadn’t expected such a huge lake and water sports centre to be found in such a built up area of North London so this urban oasis was an unexpected gem.
Here, the focus is obviously water sports and recreation and this is one of the most popular outdoor swimming spots in North London – as well as swimming, we saw water polo, canoeing, kayaking and sailing.
Even if you aren’t going here for an activity, if you are in the Stoke Newington neighbourhood one day, the West Reservoir Water Sports Centre is still worth a visit as it has a waterside cafe (The Reservoir) that boast a big outdoor terrace overlooking the lake.
10. The Rose and Crown pub
An old school and olde world classic pub, the grade II listed Rose and Crown near Stoke Newington’s Clissold Park is a glorious gem of a boozer, built originally as a Truman’s Brewery pub and rebuilt in the 1930s.
Serving hearty British pub grub and second to none Sunday roasts, make a night of it and stay in their guesthouse directly above the pub so you can overindulge. In the winter months, wrap up warm by the roaring log fire and get cosy in the Rose and Crown snug. Check the rates for The Rose and Crown on Booking.com >
11. St Mary’s Old Church
In the shadow of Clissold Park, Stoke Newington’s St Mary’s Old Church is a former chapel that is now a not for profit arts organisation and venue that hosts all manner of events, performances and day time activities, for the benefit of the local community.
Originally built in the 1560s and the only surviving Elizabethan church in the whole of London, St Mary’s Old Church also has an outdoor stage that hosts live music and performances in the summer months.
12. Rasa South Indian Vegetarian restaurant
Likely Stoke Newington’s brightest building, you can easily recognise Rasa South Indian vegetarian restaurant by its bright pink exterior (that or the delicious smell of spices emanating along Church Street).
Open only in the evenings, Rasa’s vegetarian delicacies have earned it accolades like twice being name Time Out London’s best vegetarian restaurant of the year. Specialising in Keralan dishes, expect flavourful and delicious dishes like the beet cheera pachadi (a blend of beetroot, spinach and coconut) or their rasi vangi aubergine dish.
13. Stoke Newington High Street
Whilst most visitors to Stoke Newington head straight to Church Street, Stoke Newington’s High Street is also worthy of some time exploring the various restaurants, bars and independent shops
Popular local favourites along Stokie’s High Street include classic British fish and chips at Sutton and Sons fish and chips; big as burgers at Stoke Bears or tasty Thai food at Yum Yum Thai (with a huge outdoor terrace). Many Turkish gozleme restaurants can also be found in this area of Stoke Newington as well as traditional Jewish Bagel shops.
14. Rochester Castle
If you’ve heard of the Wetherspoon pub chain, did you know the oldest surviving Wetherspoon pub can be found in Stoke Newington?
Whilst the Rochester Castle may not be the finest pub in the land, it is cheap and cheerful with a nice beer garden out back plus if you are visiting from overseas on a budget, the Rochester Castle (and other Wetherspoon pubs) all do very cheap food. Try their English breakfast fry-up for less than £5.
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