One of the things that surprises me about south London is how little of it I explored before I moved down here. Maybe it’s because locals keep it a secret, or maybe it’s because it’s not as well served by the tube as other parts of the city. But now that I live here I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to discover it. And one of the places I’m glad I’ve found is Herne Hill.
Herne Hill sits in south London between Brixton and Dulwich. With streets full of independent shops, a good selection of local pubs and cafes, and a park with views, there’s no shortage of things to attract people to the area.
It’s not on the Underground, but Herne Hill has good rail connections to Victoria and other central London train stations. It’s also an easy walk from Brixton tube station, so there’s no excuse to stay away.
And you really don’t want to stay away from this part of London.
Herne Hill Shops and Restaurants
This is not least because of what it has to offer in terms of local shops, cafes, pubs, restaurants, and bars. Rarely have I come across a London neighborhood with more packed into a relatively compact space.
The streets and railway arches around Herne Hill station are bursting with places to discover. From bookshops to greengrocers, live music venues to chic new restaurants, this area always tempts me to linger.
I’ve spent a good evening at The Half Moon, a historic pub in Herne Hill with connections to everyone from Dylan Thomas to John Ruskin and U2. I’ve also enjoyed drinks at The Florence, a sprawling pub with an outdoor area for sunny days.
I’ve delighted in the fairy-tale facade of Tales on Moon Lane, an award-winning children’s bookshop, and in the titles in Herne Hill Books, a more grown-up bookshop.
Herne Hill Market
But it gets better. All the permanent fixtures in Herne Hill are great, but the Sunday market makes it even more exciting. Herne Hill Market livens up the area outside the station every weekend with a range of stalls selling everything from vintage clothing to fresh cheese.
The vendors offer all kinds of hot food, too, so it’s the ideal place to pick up lunch and eat in the neighboring park.
The market is the perfect excuse to make a special trip to the area, and I regularly go out of my way to pop over on Sunday afternoons.
Street Art in Herne Hill
Down an alley off the market, the area gets even more vibrant. Herne Hill is one of the London neighborhoods that hosts the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery, a collection of murals painted by celebrated street artists who base their works on historic paintings in the nearby Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Artist David Shillinglaw painted his interpretation of Anthony van Dyck’s ‘Samson and Delilah’ on the exterior wall of The Florence pub, adding color and life to the passageway.
Around the corner on Dulwich Road, a huge mural covers the side of a building and catches my eye every time I go to or from Brockwell Park.
And speaking of Brockwell Park, this green space is one of my favorite places in Herne Hill. I love the views of London from the highest point, and it’s always fun to crisscross the paths and watch the dogs playing.
There’s a lido to swim in for the brave and a miniature railway to ride on for the little ones. A cafe at the top of the hill is a good place for tea with a view, and the ponds are fun to walk around.
In fact, I enjoy walking everywhere in Herne Hill. Each visit reveals something new about the area and makes me want to come back. My only regret is not finding this place sooner.
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