I have to admit something. I’m not proud of it, but it needs to be said. I’ve always overlooked London’s Belsize Park. When I lived in Hampstead I saw Belsize as the runner-up that could never quite match its northern neighbor’s beauty. After I moved away I didn’t feel a need to go between Primrose Hill and South End Green. But lately something’s started nagging me, and I’ve been tempted to take a second look. So today I’m here to find a few things to do in Belsize Park. And—spoiler alert—I find far more than just a few.
Things to Do in Belsize Park
Emerging from the tube at Belsize Park station, I find myself enveloped in snow flurries. It’s a cold start to my mission, but I’m determined to persevere. I’m right in the middle of the high street, surrounded by shops and restaurants on all sides.
As I begin my exploration, I’m delighted to find that favorites like Daunt Books and the Everyman Cinema are still going strong, and happy to discover new-since-my-last-visit additions like Franco Manca. I’m already glad I came.
But if I’ve learned anything since moving to London 9 years ago, it’s that the really exciting bits are always on the side streets. Off I go along Ornan Road, where pretty doors greet me as I make my way down to Belsize Lane.
Once there I’m reminded why Belsize Park is so underrated. A cluster of pretty shops and restaurants huddles around a square filled with benches. As soon as I see it I get nostalgic for all the dinners I ate with my neighbors here at XO.
Behind the street, Belsize gets better. Belsize Court Gardens and Princess Mews are as lovely as any side streets I’ve seen in Notting Hill. In fact, just the name Princess Mews makes my inner 5-year-old want to put on a Cinderella dress and dance across the cobblestones.
Down the hill I fall back in love with Primrose Gardens. The crescent ticks my whole photographic list, with the combination of red phone boxes, beautiful houses, and strategic color blocking making me a very happy travel blogger.
And just when I think it can’t get better, I find myself on England’s Lane. Lined with shops and cafes, it offers plenty of things to do in Belsize Park. Not only could I linger over a coffee at Ginger & White, but also take in the houses along neighboring Chalcot Gardens and Elizabeth Mews.
Back out on the high street, I follow Haverstock Hill down towards Primrose Hill and Camden. As I go, I get sidetracked in an attractive area that seems to have re-branded itself Steeles Village.
The Sir Richard Steele pub was always packed when I lived in Hampstead, but despite its welcoming exterior I’m more interested in exploring Steele’s Mews around the corner. Its arched entrance reminds me of its Kensington counterparts, and I love it as soon as I see the colorful walls and doors.
Heading south again, I detour onto Prince of Wales Road to find a few final things to do in Belsize Park. Well, one anyway. I’m intrigued by the Zabludowicz Collection, a contemporary art exhibition space and cafe in a former chapel. Sadly it’s closed when I arrive, but that doesn’t stop me from peering through the gates to take a look.
And it looks like it’s worth returning for. Which is pretty much how I feel about all of Belsize. I hop on the tube at Chalk Farm wondering how I let this London neighborhood fly under my radar for so long. But now that I’ve rediscovered it, I’m going to find a lot more excuses to come back.
Have you been here? What are your favorite things to do in Belsize Park?