Just moments from Central London, Highbury & Islington station is only a seven-minute Tube ride from Oxford Circus. From its chic thoroughfare, Upper Street, to the more down-to-earth Caledonian Road (aka The Cally) and Chapel Market, here are 10 things to do in Islington:
1. Dine in style
Foodies are spoilt for choice in Islington. On Upper Street alone, you can satisfy almost any cravings, from Brazilian churrasco to Vietnamese pho. Feast for cheap at Exmouth Market’s street food stalls, or banquet on a Sunday hog roast at The Albion (best enjoyed in their leafy beer garden). For dinner, try Le Coq for melt-off-the-bone rotisserie chicken or impress a date at Hoxley & Porter’s Orient Express-styled dining carriages.
2. Sugar rush
Sweet tooth? A scoop of handmade ice cream from Udderlicious will do the trick. Get more sugar highs from Paul A Young’s artisan chocolates or Belle Epoque’s eye-popping pastries.
3. Brekkie or brunch?
Tuck into a Tuscan breakfast at Food Lab; or head to Ottolenghi, famous for its cookbooks and mouthwatering window displays. On weekends, rise at the crack of dawn to beat the queues outside Sunday, for one of London’s tastiest brunches. Or go for a full English at Alpino cafe on Chapel Market.
4. Shop for treasures
Upper Street is lined with independent boutiques and quirky design stores. Shop cool Scandinavian labels at Wild Swan, charity finds at Mary’s Living & Giving, or retro gadgets and toys at After Noah. On Camden Passage, famous for vintage shops and antique markets, you can find anything from art deco gems to bespoke African waistcoats.
5. Bars and nightlife
Islington’s buzzy night scene draws crowds from across the capital. Wave your hands in the air like you still don’t care for Friday night DJs at The Dolls House. Experience comedy, music and amazing acoustics at Union Chapel. Sip on award-winning cocktails at The Bar with No Name (69 Colebrooke Row). Or seek out the secret speakeasy above The Exmouth Arms.
6. World-class theatre
Islington features three of London’s most exciting fringe theatres: The Almeida, Pleasance Theatre, and King’s Head Theatre Pub. At world-famous Sadler’s Wells, watch anything from ballet to flamenco to hip hop’s annual Breakin’ Convention, that spills out to a free block partyin Spa Fields. For kids and adults alike, a puppet show at the Little Angel Theatre will transport you to another world entirely.
7. Arts and culture
Catch new releases, cult films and even parent and baby screenings, while enjoying the plush seats and bar service at Screen on the Green. Tour Emirates Stadium, home to Arsenal F.C.; or discover the Estorick Collection’s Italian art displays. Each summer, the Cally Festival brings residents, traders, artists and Islington’s own 'Elvis' out for a giant street party.
8. Kids and families
Islington hosts loads of family-friendly activities, including a dedicated play cafe, Full of Beans. For older kids, playgrounds in Highbury Fields, Barnard Park and the treehouse in Arundel Square, provide hours of unplugged fun. On a warm day, wander over to Freightliners Farm where your urban chicks can meet real chickens, lambs and other animals.
9. A secret garden
Sunny days are for lounging in Highbury Fields or in one of Islington’s serene garden squares (Lonsdale Square is a looker). Just two blocks from Chapel Market lies Culpeper Community Garden, a hidden oasis, where Friends of the Garden have organised fun events like a Mad Hatter’s tea party.
10. Travel by water
When it’s sunny, you can’t beat a walk or cycle along Regent’s Canal. Why not stop for cakes and crafts on the Floating Showroom? Or hop on a cruise via ZSL London Zoo to Little Venice. Whatever floats your boat.