Camden Town is a weird and wonderful part of London. Located North of central London, just 1 stop away from Euston train station it’s a right of way for tourists to visit to marvel at the crazy shop fronts, check out Camden Market for some yummy food and perhaps see the canal lock open up.
Camden is known as the more punky part of London. Punk exploded in Camden in July 1976 at the Roundhouse which is still a popular music venue today. Prior to the 1970’s Camden was an abandoned part of North London, home to a lot of drunks and disused rail good yards from 100 years previous and although it no way resembles how it used to be at all, from it’s pre punk days or glory punk days, it is a lot more grungy than other parts of London and you can still feel it’s punk effects, even if they are pretty commercialized these days. I loved this article on how Camden was found back before its punk days.
Camden isn’t just for tourists though, plenty of Londoners head to Camden over me weekend to experience it’s incredible range of food stalls, chill by the canal and have a few drinks in the many pubs and bars. I don’t live too far from Camden and I tend to end up there quite often, so here is how I recommend you spend the perfect day in Camden Town and its surrounding area, whilst also trying to avoid the crowds!
Of course you can go to Camden any time, any day, rain or shine but the best time to go is on a weekday, especially if you’re not a fan of crowds. If a weekend is all you have though then that’s fine, there are more food stalls open on the weekend and you get more locals down there so it’s a nice vibe but be warned it does get a lot busier on the weekend.
If you like Camden, you’ll also like Shoreditch so be sure to check this post out afterwards – A Guide to the Perfect Sunday in Shoreditch, East London
Getting there- Camden is has its own tube station, it’s on the Northern Line just above Euston Station and you can get there from either Northern Line tube line line (the northern line splits a lot), there’s also a station on the Overground line too called Camden Road which isn’t directly in the centre of where you want to be in Camden but it’s not far at all so if this station is easier for you then definitely go there.
If you’re not in London already and need to book train tickets to London, be sure to check out The Train Line. I use them all the time to compare the best train times, journey lengths and prices!
Getting to Camden for about 10:00am is a good time, the markets are just opening but it’s not yet too busy.
Camden is all about walking around and taking in all the sights, stalls and hussle of the area.
Camden High Street is the main road through Camden, so when you come out of the Camden tube station then turn left onto Camden High Street. Here you’ll find quite a few high street shops but once you’ve gone down the road a bit you’ll soon come across the shops with the cool shop fronts so make sure you keep looking up. There are a lot of shops selling selfie sticks, phone cases and London memorabilia, however in the midst of these shops there’s also some vintage stores, tattoo shops and punk clothing stores, and you’ll soon start to see the grungier side to Camden that it’s known for.
If you’d rather visit Camden and go on a walk rather than through the shops and markets have a look at this post which includes a map too: Walking Guide To Primrose Hill, Regents Park, Regents Canal & Camden in 3-4 Hours!
Hampstead is a gorgeous area of London and only 3 stops from Camden – A Guide to the Perfect Day in Hampstead, London.
Very soon you’ll come across the Canal, if you aren’t from the UK and aren’t familiar with canals then it’s interesting to see the locks and if you’re lucky you might actually see the lock open to let a boat through!
In front of you you’ll also be able to see the famous Camden Lock sign on the bridge and Camden Market to the left of you.
Now head into Camden Market and spend some time wandering the markets, and not just the food markets. There’s a huge amount of clothes and accessories stalls too. There’s an inside area full of stalls and the outside areas wind all the way back. It’s a bit of a maze to be honest and I’m always so surprised just how big it is in there so just keep wandering and take any little walk way you fancy. Remember to go down to the Stable Market too (this is where the horses were kept back when the railway ran through).
If you want to get an even better feel for Camden, hear some of it’s secrets and visit some secret areas with a local, I would suggest doing one of these tours!
My favourite part of the markets is the part slightly further away from the canal- the outside Stable Market area. It just feel’s like it has slightly more space but still lots of great stalls, here are some pictures so you know which area I mean:
Another thing Camden is famous for is the legacy of Amy Winehouse who lived in Camden until her death in 2011. There are always events and exhibitions on which honour her life and music but there’s also a statue of her within the markets which is very popular and usually has people queuing to take photos with her (it’s also a icon on google maps so you can’t miss it!).
Whilst you’re in this area be sure to head into Cyberdog. It’s not for everyone with it’s very loud music and rave gear but it’s an experience that’s for sure!
Now you’ve had a good look around and assessed all the food options then it’s probably time to get some food from the many, many street food stalls. There are literally soo many options with food from a huge amount of countries all over the world, as well as some unique options too, personally I love the Halloumi Fries!!
As the markets start to get busy I would suggest heading back out onto the main road which is now Chalk Farm Road and continue to walk away from the direction you came in up to Chalk Farm Station. Along this road you’ll pass the famous Roundhouse that I mentioned above. There’s also lots of cool street art here too to keep an eye out for it on the buildings and side of buildings!
Just after the Roundhouse turn left onto Regents Park Road and veer left along the bridge over the railway lines.
For another blog post on this walk which includes a map have a look at: Walking Guide To Primrose Hill, Regents Park, Regents Canal & Camden in 3-4 Hours!
This will automatically make you feel like you’re in a completely different place than before and that’s because its more the Chalk Farm area. Continue up Regents Park Road which is a road I love as it’s so pretty with some lovely shops and cafes. I love Green Berry Café which is about half way up (consider this as an option for brunch or lunch today or another day). Also keep a look out for celebrities in this area as I’ve heard people say they have seen a few big and Z list celebrities as it’s a fancy street and there’s some very nice houses around it.
As you head further up the street you’ll start to come upon a park in front of you (and 2 red phone boxes perfect for some posing like below). This is Primrose Hill, it’s always full of people lying on the hill enjoying the sun when the sun is shining and still pretty full even when it’s not sunny. If you take the walk up to the top of the hill you are rewarded with an amazing view over London with pretty much all of the iconic buildings and sites in view.
At the bottom of Primrose Hill and across the main road is Regents Park so you could take a walk around here, London Zoo is also here and often you can get a peak at some of the animals. But whether you do or not what I love doing from here is going to Regents Canal which lies in between the two parks and walk back to Camden Town.
On your way down to the canal be sure to keep an eye out for more colourful houses!
The walk along the canal is really nice as it’s quiet and chilled and makes you feel as though you aren’t even in London! You’ll also pass the canal boats, of which there’s some really creative and unique boats! Not only this but there are also some quite fancy houses lining the canal!
You’ll soon know that you’re reaching Camden Town again as as you get closer you’ll start seeing a lot of people sat out by the canal with some food and a drink and enjoying the atmosphere. It’s also great to see Camden from this perspective down on the waters edge.
Now you’re back in Camden Town this doesn’t need to be the end of your day in the area. The market shuts at 6:00pm but after all that walking and exploring why not treat yourself to a drink as there are loads of cool places to go, if you are travelling alone or like the idea of a Camden pub Crawl to see some of the best bars and pubs Camden has to offer (and there are many), have a look into this:
First off, by the lock there is a Wetherspoons called The Ice Wharf which is always really busy, it’s good to go here if you can get a seat outside or on the floor on the edge of the canal and the other good thing about wetherspoons is that the drinks are super cheap! There’s also a few other bars overlooking the lock in that area like Lock 17.
For a really cool experience however, what I would suggest is that you head to Proud Camden at the back of the markets as it has a great atmosphere and a really cool rooftop! Every year they change it up and this year the theme is a Roof Garden. In the afternoon this place is quite chilled but come evening it turns into a bit of a party venue. People are in a mix of outfits, from day clothes due to exploring all day to going ‘out out’ clothes ready for a night out in Camden. Whether you go for an afternoon/ evening drink or go to kick off your night out it’s a great venue with awesome music. They also have a pop up burger stand built into the bar and oh wow, these burgers are good! (see picture below!)
After this you should have got a really good feel for Camden as well as it’s surrounding area’s!
I think the key thing with Camden Town is definitely to get there early to avoid the crowds and to leave and go back again later on to give yourself some breathing space and whilst Primrose Hill is so close it seems silly to go all the way to Camden and miss out on it!
I hope you found this helpful, let me know if you did in the comments below or by tweeting me!
For more London guides, tips and ideas check out: