When I moved to London Shoreditch was the city’s capital of cool. All the edgiest bars and restaurants were there, and it was the place to go for a night out. But a decade on, other London neighborhoods have challenged the area for that title. Notably, Hackney. This area to the northeast of Shoreditch has been home to hipsters for a while now, and they’ve brought all things trendy with them. I’ve been exploring this part of the city more and more, and if you want to do the same, today I bring you A Lady in London’s 7 things to do in Hackney.
Things to Do in Hackney, London
What I love about Hackney is the mix of old and new. The area is home to some of London’s most historic buildings as well as many of its latest pop-ups. Traditional London culture sits side-by-side with hipster markets, and vintage brickwork is complimented by fresh street art.
1. London Fields
This phenomenon can be seen clearly in London Fields, one of my favorite places in Hackney. The park itself is a great place to spend a summer afternoon, and the pub on the edge is just the spot for a drink on a sunny day.
But the area around the park is beautiful, too. The terraced houses and railway arches mix with contemporary buildings in a physical manifestation of the neighborhood’s evolution.
2. Broadway Market
At the southern end of London Fields is Broadway Market. This street and the Saturday market of the same name are bursting with good places to eat and drink. The street itself is full of bars, cafes, pubs, and restaurants, and it’s hard to go wrong if I’m in the mood for food or drink.
On Saturdays Broadway Market comes alive with street vendors offering everything from vintage clothing to ethnic cuisine. I love browsing the arts and crafts stalls before picking up a samosa or coffee to sustain me on my explorations.
And with the park next door, one of my favorite things to do in Hackney is pick up a picnic and enjoy a leisurely afternoon on the grass.
3. St Augustine’s Tower
But if I’m in the mood for something more active, St Augustine’s Tower is the place I go to get my blood pumping. Hackney’s oldest building, this Grade I-listed beauty dates back to the 16th century and sits at the heart of the ancient village.
I love climbing the stone steps as they wind around and around, taking me up through the floors to learn about the history of Hackney and be rewarded with great views over London at the top.
4. St. John at Hackney Churchyard Gardens
Next door to St Augustine’s Tower lie the St. John at Hackney Churchyard Gardens. A former graveyard, this park is still dotted with tombs, and weathered headstones are stacked five deep along the outer walls. There’s a genuine sense of history—not to mention beauty—here.
Beyond the gravestones, the gardens have little nooks and corners to explore, including one with a fountain and children’s playground. It’s another sign of old and new coming together in Hackney.
5. Sutton House and Breaker’s Yard
And speaking of history, Sutton House is the oldest domestic building in Hackney. If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that it was built by a prominent courtier in the Tudor period. Not only is it a rare example of 16th-century brick architecture in Britain, but also a beautiful home both inside and out.
And speaking of out, visiting the garden outside Sutton House is one of the most unique things to do in Hackney. Called Breaker’s Yard, it features 1970s caravans that artists have converted into historic stately homes, and other quirky artistic treasures.
6. Chatsworth Road Market
Not far from Sutton House is Chatsworth Road, where the Sunday market is worth a special trip. Chatsworth Road Market is full of mouth-watering food, fresh bread, and other tasty treats.
The street itself is also great to explore. Like Broadway Market, it has lots of restaurants and cafes to enjoy. It also has a lot of vintage furniture and antiques shops, many of which let their wares spill out onto the sidewalks. It’s fun to walk by and take in all the little details, from plant pots to chairs.
7. Hackney’s Side Streets
And when I’m done exploring the market, I like to venture into the side streets in Hackney. There are a lot of them to explore, and when I take the time to do it I’m rewarded with all the historic details I could want in a London neighborhood.
From rows of terraced houses to worn steps leading up to colorful front doors, the area’s back lanes have a lot of charm. Which is why exploring roads like Sutton Place is one of my favorite things to do in Hackney.
And it doesn’t end here. This part of London has a lot more going for it, and every time I visit I find something new (or old) to discover. There’s always something to bring me back, from the beloved Hackney Picturehouse to the London Fields Lido, both of which I’ve yet to experience. As long as Hackney challenges Shoreditch’s status as the London capital of cool, I’ll be returning on a regular basis.
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