If you ask most people – even Londoners – about Camden and what to do there, you’ll probably get one common answer: visit the Camden Market. Absolutely, the Camden Market is a highlight of London’s market scene, and of London’s attractions as a whole… but there’s so much more to Camden than just the market!
This area of North London is home to other shops, street art, and showmen; Camden is the most easily accessed neighborhood north of the central part of the city, and has something for everyone. If you’re looking for things to do in Camden, everyone from multi-generation families to frolicking solo travelers can spend at least a day here – and certainly scoop up cool souvenirs in the process.
During my time living in and visiting London, I have, of course, spent time in Camden, and thought it might be helpful to create a list of the top things to do in the area. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but will cover the most essential things I think travelers should try to experience – and probably at least a few you’ve never heard of.
Ready to plan the Camden portion of your London itinerary? Lace-up your sneakers, bring your appetite, and let’s explore what Camden has to offer.
Browse the Stalls at Camden Market
One of the best Camden London activities is to explore Camden Market. It originated as a small arts and crafts fair in 1974 but has since become London’s largest market, covering music, terrific multicultural street food, and vintage fashion. There is even Babylon, an underground theme park!
Camden has long been famous for its music scene, so keep an eye out for the street performers and buskers. Do note that, as the fourth-most popular London attraction, Camden Market can get very crowded, with around 250,000 weekly visitors.
Camden Market is split into different areas:
- Camden Lock Market if you like arts & crafts
- Buck Street Market if you enjoy fashion
- Stables Market if you like history or horses (It used to be a horse hospital (Grade-II listed) and stables!)
- Hawley Wharf for a water-side experience
Go Vintage Shopping on Camden High Street
On the list of my personal favorite Camden London things to do is vintage shopping!
I used to sell vintage clothing in London, and Camden High Street was one of the places I would go to when I wanted to see what was happening in the “industry,” so to speak. Camden has a wide range of vintage shops, with Rokit Vintage being one of the most famous.
Note that the vintage fashion here tends to be geared towards the young and trendy- you’ll find some thrift shops along with the vintage ones- so don’t expect to find a lot of high-end vintage designer pieces.
Note: If you’re wondering what’s the distinction between thrift shops and vintage shops, generally, vintage pieces have to be at least 20 years old. Having said that, a lot of “serious” vintage collectors won’t accept pieces from the 90s!
Seek Out Street Art
For those who appreciate street art, one of the top Camden attractions would be its street art. Camden has long had a reputation for being a bit edgy and alternative, and you can see that reflected in all the murals and graffiti on the buildings.
It’s the perfect place to just wander around and enjoy the art around you (great for Instagram, too!). If you walk from Chalk Farm to Camden tube station, you’ll be sure to spot pieces that’ll amaze you on the way. The street art changes frequently, so there’s no use in me pointing out specific works. However, some locations where you’ll see interesting creations are:
- Hawley Road, Street, and Mews
- Ferdinand Estate (several of the world’s best street artists have left their mark here)
- Miller Street…
… to name a few!
Attend a Concert or Comedy Show
Located in a room above a pub, the Camden Comedy Club was established in 2014 and has since hosted some of London’s most famous comedians. It has a live comedy show every night at very reasonable prices: the most expensive ticket is a mere £10!
If comedy is not your thing, how about a concert? Since the 70s, one of the top things to do in Camden London has been checking out the live music scene! Some of the best Camden music venues are the Roundhouse (originally built as a railway turntable, with fantastic acoustics thanks to the circular shape), KOKO, and The Electric Ballroom.
Take in the View from Primrose Hill
One of the most underrated Camden activities is to stroll around Primrose Hill. If you’re tired of the Camden crowds, you should definitely head over to Primrose Hill for a breather; it’s one of the best free views in London, and once you see it on a clear day, you’ll understand why.
Open to the public since 1842, the Grade-II listed park itself is also very well-kept, and it’s a great place to catch the sunset. No wonder the poet William Blake even immortalized it with these words: “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.”
Grab a Pint at a Camden Pub
Enjoying a pint at a pub is as quintessentially British as afternoon tea, incongruous as the two things are! Camden is home to some awesome pubs, so it’s really a matter of choosing one that matches your style or catches your eye.
Hogarth’s famous Gin Lane, an engraving that depicts the binge drinking known as the “Gin Craze” in Georgian England, is set in St. Giles, Camden – so you can see that Camden has long been a great place to get a drink!
Stop by Lockside, where you can enjoy your pint along with Karaoke on Tuesdays, or Dingwalls, which offers pints and live music most nights. Alternatively, The Edinboro Castle is the place to go when the weather is good, as it has a large beer garden and Brewdog for craft beers.
Explore the Camden Locks
One of the most popular things to do in Camden is to roam around the Camden Locks.
It not only has several markets, where you can find unusual souvenirs, but also several waterside eateries where you can watch people and boats go by. If you’re on a budget, you can easily grab something from a nearby supermarket and enjoy a picnic at one of the tables in the area.
Walking off your meal along one of the canal towpath walks, you will see lots of art installations, ducks, moorhens, swans, and maybe even a kingfisher or two!
Stroll Along Regent’s Canal
Regent’s Canal, named after the Prince Regent also known as King George IV, is an 8.6-mile long canal in London. The 2-mile Canal walk from Camden Lock will end at the peaceful residential area of Little Venice, where you’ll find beautiful white Regency houses and a boat cafe!
Along the way, it’ll take you past ducks, Regent’s Park, a few eateries, and the London Zoo. (You can also explore the Canal by boat or kayak!)
Note: Parts of the walk are quite narrow and shared with cyclists, so be aware of those around you.
Visit the London Zoo
Opened in 1828, the London Zoo, also known as Regent’s Park Zoo (because it’s located in Regent’s Park) is the world’s oldest scientific zoo. It was originally meant to be a collection for scientific study but is now a conservation zoo open to the public.
It’s by far one of the top things to do in Camden, especially with kids, though technically it’s sitting on the border of the neighborhood. There’s a petting area, a reptile house (made famous by Harry Potter), and you can even take a walk with spiders. Many animals are allowed to range freely in their enclosures. Be sure to check out the penguins, one of the visitors’ favorite animals!
Have any questions about these top things to do in Camden, or have you heard of other great activities you’re curious about? Let me know in the comments below!