Big Ben, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly, and The Shard – we all know and love London’s marquee attractions. But to visit only London’s stereotypical landmarks would be a big mistake. There are so many vibrant and quirky neighbourhoods off the typical tourist track where you’ll find eclectic markets, vintage shops, and eccentric cafes and bars in abundance.
Yep, there are hipster-approved hang-outs dotted all over this lively city. And don’t worry – although a fixie bike, perfectly curled moustache and vintage attire might help you fit into London’s coolest corners, they’re definitely not essential!
Here’s where to head to mingle with the capital’s edgy locals and young creatives – our Hipster’s Guide to London.
Located in the centre of South London, Brixton has become a go-to for London’s cool crowd. This cultural hotspot is chockablock with unique restaurants and artsy cafes, each with an undeniable personality. The numerous street-food joints and top-class international menus mean there’s arguably nowhere better in the capital to satisfy your appetite. The inside/outside setup has led to Brixton’s streets being lined with lively chatter as people catch up with friends over coffee – it’s a lovely area to take a chilled-out afternoon stroll and soak up some of London’s buzzing atmosphere.
Eat: From the amazing Japanese soul food eatery Nanban, the well-known Algerian eatery Khamsa, famous Italian Franco Manca, to delicious, great-value Spanish tapas at Boqueria – food at Brixton is truly international.
Drink: For seriously good cocktails and a fun, theatrical-themed menu and playful atmosphere (drinks include a ‘Who Killed Roger Rabbit?’), visit The Shrub and Shutter. If you’re looking for good music, Dogstar is one of Brixton’s most well-known institutions with renowned DJ sets, while the Blues Kitchen is the place to go for some late-night soul.
See: Discover, shop, and eat on behalf of London’s creative entrepreneurs and artists at Pop Brixton – a village that is made of repurposed shipping containers. Don’t miss Brixton Village and Market Row to shop everything from vintage clothes to cheese and eat and drink to your heart’s content. For some fresh air and a break from the bustling Brixton streets, head over to 50.8 hectare Brockwell park.
It might have previously had somewhat of a rough reputation, but Hackney has become a lively hub for London’s hipsters in recent years, without losing its gritty charm. You won’t be short of things to see and do in Hackney – it’s full of art and innovation, canals and green parks, as well as an impressive collection of pubs, bars, and cafes. We could call Hackney a shopper’s paradise. Expect to be tempted by its shops and markets, brimming with designer vintage fabrics, artisan bakes, and eccentric antiques.
Eat: Pop to The Breakfast Club, London’s most famous breakfast eatery, for your morning pit stop. The Hackney Pearl is great for summer lunches with its open-air setting and picnic tables, while the Crate Bar & Pizzeria is incredible if you’re looking for a laid-back bite to eat with quality beer – it has its very own microbrewery.
Drink: If you’re looking to dance to indie music until sunrise, 333 Mother, somewhat of a Hackney institution, should be your go-to. The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities is a truly unique experience, combining some of the best cocktails in London with a museum full of disturbing objects – expect skeletons, cat mummies and more. For something a little more relaxed, sip on ale at one of Hackney’s most famous pubs, the Cat & Mutton.
See: Take a dip at London Fields Lido, the 50m Olympic size, heated outdoor swimming pool. Then experience the fantastic Broadway Market. It’s a winner for food-lovers, with tons of incredible stalls ranging from spices, rare-breed meat, irresistible cakes to olives, and you can even grab a Vietnamese coffee from Ca Phe VN. If fashions more your thing, there are tons of vintage threads on offer too.
Shoreditch is home to one of London’s most famous streets, Brick Lane, full of bagel shops and curry houses – the centre of the Bangladeshi community. But there’s much more to Shoreditch than Brick Lane. This edgy part of East London is a known hipster paradise. The grubby streets are turned beautiful with vibrant art-filled walls and endless street art, and the area feels effortlessly cool with its quirky markets and alternative fashion scene.
Eat: Brick Lane is famous for its curry houses, but make sure you pick the right one. Dishoom is one of the most popular Indian restaurants in the whole of London, famed for its signature lamb raan, while the Lahore Kebab House tandoori dishes are unbeatable. When you’ve had enough curry, try out Andina, which serves traditional, healthy food from the Andes, or the Beigel Bake for a quick snack (because you absolutely can’t visit Brick Lane without grabbing a bagel).
Drink: Subterranean Happiness Forgets is great for a chilled out evening drink, and trendy Hoxton Grill is one of the only Shoreditch watering holes which is open until 2am. Wine lovers should head to Sager + Wilde which is run by wine-geek couple Michael and Charlotte who are loved by locals.
See: Boxpark is probably Shoreditch’s most famous attraction, home to an amazing variety of pop-up shops, restaurants and up and coming designers showcasing their stuff in shipping containers. The area is renowned for its street art, so take a street art tour or just take a walk around on a sunny afternoon and get snap-happy as you search for Banksy’s marks. On a rainy afternoon, The Electric Cinema is a great shout, with its plush armchairs and licensed deli bar.
Now you’ve got the lowdown on London’s hippest neighbourhoods, it’s time to book your trip and join in the fun! Check out our fantastic range of London Tours or head to our blog for more London travel inspiration.