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1-Day Itinerary for Newbies to Brixton

20 of the Best Things to do in Brixton

Updated: December 6, 2023

Whether it’s your first visit to London or you’re a seasoned local, I think that everyone should visit Brixton.

I regularly spend time there, and I lead food, street art, and culture tours of the area. For me, there’s nothing better than a browse around the markets, a meal in the Village, and a gig at the Brixton Academy!

Steeped in fascinating history and known for great food, great music, and great shopping, Brixton is one of the capital’s most exciting neighbourhoods.

I remember when I first moved to London more than a decade ago, I was initially drawn there by Amy Winehouse lyrics, and I was soon captivated by this vibrant area.

My tour guests often ask me, “what should I do in Brixton,” and I have tons of recommendations. So, if you’re wondering what to do in Brixton, look no further. Check out some of my top picks.

Remember – Free Tours by Foot offers both private and public tours of Brixton, so get in touch today to find out more. 

In the video above, I will take you on a virtual walk through the heart of Brixton.

Jessica’s Perfect 1-Day Itinerary for Newbies to Brixton

I always recommend you start your day with a free tour of Brixton from Free Tours by Foot – you’ll see the highlights and sample some great food and beer.

However, if you’re exploring on your own, here is what I would recommend for the perfect 1-day itinerary of Brixton.

Morning: Arrive around 10am and start at the David Bowie mural, then explore the area’s killer street art. 

Lunch: Next, as you’re getting hungry for lunch, head to First Choice Bakers for a Jamaican patty and a Guinness Punch or slide into a local Colombian bakery for a pupusa. Or, if you’re like me, get both!

Afternoon: After lunch, it’s time to shop ‘til you drop by exploring the area’s excellent vintage and charity shops and strolling through Brixton’s iconic covered Market Halls. Don’t forget to walk down to Electric Avenue

If you prefer some culture, head to the Black Cultural Archives to learn about the country’s fascinating and complex Black history. 

Late Afternoon: Now it’s time to start sampling life’s most decadent treats. For some, that might be visiting the different craft breweries and craft beer pubs in the area.

Others might appreciate some fizz and oysters at Champagne & Fromage in Brixton Village.

If you prefer a non-alcoholic option, head to the Chocolate Museum or have a fantastic coffee at Addis. 

Dinner: You’ve worked up an appetite, and it’s always fun to check out the street food options at Pop Brixton.

Or you can head back into Brixton Village and choose one of the many great restaurants there, from burgers to Caribbean jerk, tacos to dumplings.

If you fancy something more upscale, I like The Laundry and Naughty Piglets for modern British and French fare in chic surroundings. 

Going Out Out: In the UK, we call going out at night, “Going Out Out,” and Brixton is the perfect place to do it.

I’ve listed many options below, but you might want to go see a gig at Brixton Academy, or party at Hootenanny, the Blues Kitchen, or Lost in Brixton.

There is always something happening, so make sure to check local listings. 

20 Things To Do in Brixton

If you’re wondering what to do in Brixton, look no further. Check out some of our top picks!

Remember – Free Tours By Foot offers both private and public tours of Brixton, so get in touch today to find out more.

See a show at the Brixton Academy

With a capacity of nearly 5000, Brixton Academy is one of London’s most beloved music venues.

Ever since it opened its doors in 1983, it’s hosted some of the biggest names in rock, soul, and pop.

Some big names have included The Clash, the White Stripes, Bob Dylan, LCD Soundsystem, the Sex Pistols, and so many more.

This is where the brooding Smiths played their final show in 1986, and New Order and the Pixies have recorded live albums here.

I’ve been lucky enough to see The Knife, Sleater Kinney, Bikini Kill, and LCD Soundsystem here - and hopefully many more to come!

Come for the gig but stay for the beautiful architecture – this was built to be the Astoria Cinema in 1929, and the original neo-Renaissance details remain in place. Make sure you look up!

Visit the Black Cultural Archives

London is home to some of the world’s best – and most controversial – museums.

The Black Cultural Archives is the only museum in the UK focussing specifically on the experiences, stories, and histories of Black British people from Roman times to the present.

The Afro-Caribbean community has shaped Brixton into the wonderful place it is today.

Yet, when the Windrush generation arrived in London in the 1950s, they faced racism and were denied housing.

This museum tells those stories – and so much more – in a celebratory, honest, and engaging way.

This is not to be missed when you’re in Brixton.

Pay Homage to David Bowie

When Brixton’s own David Bowie passed away in 2016, fans began flocking to an existing mural of the androgynous icon.

The portrait, painted by London-based Australian street artist James Cochran (who goes by “aka Jimmy C”), was completed in 2014.

David Bowie Mural Brixton

However, a massive outpouring of grief drove fans from all over the world to pay their respects here, just opposite the station.

Fans left flowers, art, candles, and other tributes, and the mural still draws thousands of visitors each month.

This is a great place to start any street art tour of Brixton, and it should be on any music lover’s itinerary.

Feast and shop at Brixton Market

Brixton Market is the umbrella term for three covered arcades that border the high street, the railway arches, and Electric Avenue.

Reliance Arcade, Market Row, and Brixton Village are each home to food stalls, produce vendors, fabric traders, and more.

Market Row Brixton
Market Row

These stunning art deco market halls were threatened by development as recently as a decade ago, but heritage laws now protect them.

That said, some lament the creeping gentrification – though the Afro-Caribbean community is still the mainstay of the market, it is now also home to bougie wine bars!

Reliance Arcade Market

Reliance Arcade has managed to escape the hipsters – for now.

It’s still a much-loved place to eat, drink, and shop, home to more than 130 independent traders.

I come here regularly to enjoy food and wares from all over the world, especially when I want to say goodbye to the big chains.

Rock Down to Electric Avenue

Even if it weren’t known for the 1982 smash hit of the same name, Electric Avenue would still be a cool place to stroll and shop.

I remember the first time I happened upon this street – I stopped dead in my tracks and started singing the song, not even realising it was the inspiration!

This was the first market street in the country to install electric lights, so it isn't just a clever name!

Electric Avenue Brixton

All kinds of decorative lights used to hang from a glass canopy, but this was destroyed in the Blitz bombings during World War II.

Eddy Grant wrote his earworm song about the 1981 Brixton Riots after local Black youth protesting invasive profiling and frisking clashed with the Metropolitan Police.

His song brought awareness to the problem, and he was here in 2016 to unveil the huge Electric Avenue sign and street regeneration project.

Spend a sunny day at Brockwell Park

London is known for its parks and gardens. We are lucky to have so much green space in this massive city!

Brixton is a lot of fun, but it can be hectic – it’s nice to spend some time in the peace and quiet of Brockwell Park.

Spread across 50 diverse acres, you’ll find flower beds, open fields, and woodlands here – it’s a favourite for picnics and get-togethers.

If you’re visiting in the summer, make sure you pack your bathing suit and take a dip in the Brockwell Lido.

Lido (Lie-dough) is a British word for an outdoor swimming pool, and this one is legendary.

It was built in the ‘30s and was restored back to its original beauty.

If you love swimming, like I do, this is a cool way to relax and connect with Londoners.

Sample Local Craft Beer on a Free Brixton Beer Mile Tour

As tour guides in London, we always delight in writing tours that no other company offers.

That’s why I love the Brixton Beer Mile Tour so much – it’s a great way to see Brixton, taste delicious local craft beer, and chat with like-minded people.

Brixton Brewery Tap Room

I’ve been coming here for a decade, when there were just a few breweries here, and now there are tons to choose from. 

London is known for its diverse and exciting craft beer scene, which is now rivaling its output of traditional cask ales.

Learn the difference between the two, taste IPAs, pale ales, and lagers, and get to the heart of what makes Brixton such a beer-lovers paradise.

Gaze at Fantastic Street Art Murals

Almost as soon as you step off the tube at Brixton, you’re greeted by massive murals and wonderful street art.

The entire area is known as an urban canvas, and you’ll see artwork by a lot of Black British artists, including Neequaye Dreph Dsane, also known as Dreph.

He paints majestic portraits of local heroes and beloved figures, including Michael John, a community activist and long-time Brixton Market employee.

Mr Bread, also known as Create Not Destroy, recently unveiled a really cool Brixton mural on Valentia Place.

It features loads of different Brixton icons and political references, including Bowie, the Brixton Uprising, Cherry Groce, the Brixton Top Cats, and so much more.

These are just a few amazing murals you’ll stumble upon in Brixton – keep your eyes open and look around.

Eat Colombian Food

Did you know that Brixton and its surrounding areas are home to one of Europe’s largest Colombian populations?

It’s true – nearly 20,000 people of Colombian descent live in the area. As a result, you can find delicious pupusas, empanadas, and arepas in plenty of bakeries and restaurants.

This is one of my favourite cuisines, and we are so lucky to have an abundance of Colombian food in Brixton.

Head to El Rancho de Lalo in Brixton Village to enjoy an authentic Colombian meal.

Go vintage shopping for unique finds

Brixton is known for great shopping, but you need to get off the high street and get past the TK Maxx and H&M to find the real gems.

From cheap charity shops like Barnardo’s (414 Brixton Road) to slightly more upmarket choices like TRAID (2 Acre Lane), you’ll find a wide variety of bargains.

You’ll have to battle local art students as they search for their next avant-garde outfit!

If you want a vintage shop where some of the digging has already been done for you,

Brixton Retro and Vintage Market (Brixton Station Road) might be more up your street. Thirty stallholders gather for this market, which occurs every third Saturday of the month from 10 am – 5 pm.

The market is operated by the Brixton Market Traders Federation, with profits going back into the community.

Have an Ethiopian coffee

Despite my Canadian upbringing, I’m a pretty typical Brit when it comes to my love for a strong cup of tea with a nice splash of milk.

However, when I tried a small cup of coffee at Addis in Brixton, which you can see me do in the video above, it was an unreal experience.

Never have I enjoyed a cup of coffee so much!

This small shop, which opened in 2020, takes its coffee seriously, celebrating each bean and lovingly crafting every cup.

The organic beans are hand-roasted - the result is a fruity, complex, and rich coffee that will ruin you for Starbucks.

They also sell delicious Ethiopian food, spice tea, and even Ethiopian beer – and the staff are absolutely lovely.

Get a patty and a Guinness punch

As I’ve explained, Brixton has been a predominantly Caribbean area since the 1950s and ‘60s.

When Caribbean immigrants arrived, they brought their delicious food and ingredients with them, and you can still find excellent jerk chicken, ital food, and goat stew in Brixton Market and the surroundings.

However, for my money, nothing makes me feel like I’m in Brixton more than a Jamaican patty paired with a Guinness punch at First Choice Bakers.

Patties are next-level snacks - flaky layers of turmeric-hued pastry filled with savoury stews for just a few pounds each.

Guinness punch is a creamy beverage that tastes like strong coffee and spices.

It’s a blend of Guinness, a creamy milk (often Supligen, a Jamaican meal replacement, but also condensed milk), spices, and Angostura bitters.

It’s mildly alcoholic and incredibly refreshing.

Check out the Brixton Windmill

On the southern side of Brixton, you’ll find a 19th-century windmill that played a key role in the history of the area.

See, back in the early 19th century, Brixton was a rural enclave outside of London.

Milling flour was the main business in the area, and this wind-powered turbine windmill was one of the first of its kind when it was built in 1816.

People were dazzled by this modern technology!

In 1934, the last member of the Ashby family passed away, and the Brixton Windmill fell into dereliction.

By the late ‘60s, the local council decided to turn the windmill area into a public park.

Today, you can often find street performers, live music, events, and food trucks there on the weekend, and it’s a lovely place for a stroll.

Have a night out at Pop Brixton

Want to socialise, have drinks, play games, shop, and eat delicious food? Look no further than Pop Brixton.

This collection of shipping containers has been transformed into a collection of cool shops, street food vendors, bars, and even a youth radio station.

There’s usually some live music adding to the atmosphere, and a diverse crowd is having a blast.

Taste some diverse world cuisine at Koi Ramen, Baba G’s, Mo Suvlaki, and Seekh Stop, and peruse hard-to-find wines at Specialist Cellars.

During the day, check out the tai chi and yoga sessions, jumble sales, and other community events.

See a film at the Ritzy

I’m an absolute film nerd, and I love remarkable cinemas (that the UK term for movie theatre).

There’s nothing like going to see the latest release or a cult classic in the cinema – the comfortable seats, the quiet, and the freedom from your phone.

The Ritzy is a historic movie theatre, built in 1911 as one of the first purpose-built cinemas in the country, and is now managed by the Picturehouse Group.

You can expect a well-curated program of films and comedy nights, with nice craft beer and good snacks on offer.

This is my idea of heaven!

Treat yourself at the Chocolate Museum

I’m a museum lover, and London is home to more than 600 museums – but none are as tasty as the Chocolate Museum in Brixton.

Here, you can learn all about the history of the cocoa bean and its role in slavery and empire.

Of course, you can also sample some delicious chocolates or attend a chocolate-making workshop to learn how to craft your own.

Don’t miss the ‘Choco-tale’ that takes you on an interactive tasting trail spanning the millennia-long history of cocoa in 13 different treats.

This is a lot of fun for kids (and kids of all ages).

Get wild at Hootenanny

While my nightclubbing days might be behind me, I can recommend a fun night out at Hootenanny.

Known for its ever-changing schedule of multicultural bands and artists, they could be showing anything from football games, art collectives, blues nights, Bob Marley tribute bands, and open mics.

Hootenanny also offers delicious food, including local Caribbean food stalls on Friday and Saturday nights.

Check out their calendar here to see what’s on when you’re in town.

Let loose, get on the dance floor – or the table – and start making friends. You’ll have a wild night out to remember!

Admire (or not!) some famous Brutalism at the Barrier Block

London is known for its Brutalist architecture – and many people don’t think that’s a positive!

However, there is a growing appreciation for this maligned style of architecture, popularised in the 1970s and ‘80s, with books, tours, and artwork championing the Barbican and Southbank Centre.

Southwyck House, also known as the Barrier Block, is definitely the place for any fan of Brutalism.

Designed by architect Magda Borowiecka and completed in 1981, she was initially told that the building would face a massive motorway flyover 20 metres in the air.

She needed to find a way to block out the noise and pollution for residents and designed small windows and high walls.

However, the motorway was never built! As a result, the so-called Barrier Block looks rather out of place – it’s a true marmite.

That is, you love it or hate it, just like marmite. I think it’s dazzling, but many folks can’t stand to look at it!

Find yourself at Lost in Brixton

In an almost-hidden entrance in the corner of Brixton Village, you’ll find Lost in Brixton.

This is a covered roof-top bar where you’ll be treated to live music and DJs in the evening.

Visiting during the day? There’s a party atmosphere on the weekend with boozy brunches.

I love the tropical décor and electric atmosphere – and the food is delicious, to boot.

In the summer, there is tons of outdoor seating, but it’s a refreshing place in the winter, too, with bright colours and foliage to pull you out of your grey-sky slump.

Have a boozy, bluesy brunch at the Blues Kitchen

Nothing is better than a long boozy brunch with your friends to start – or end - the weekend right.

Nothing, that is, except a boozy brunch paired with fantastic music!

Head to Brixton’s famous Blues Kitchen for live blues in a dimly lit space and feast on BBQ, bourbon, and beer.

Their bottomless brunch lets you choose between unlimited rum punch or prosecco for 90 minutes while you eat your meal.

Some of their bestsellers include killer smash burgers, huevos rancheros, and American-style buttermilk pancakes.

How to get to Brixton

Brixton couldn’t be easier to get to – it’s the southern terminus station of the London Underground’s Victoria Line.

It takes less than 15 minutes to get to Brixton from Oxford Circus, which has long made Brixton a popular place for socialising and shopping.

Use the Citymapper app or Google Maps to plan your journey – you can get almost anywhere in zones 1 and 2 in less than 40 minutes from Brixton.

You can also take a mainline train from London Victoria or from Orpington in Kent in just 30 minutes.

These trains take you through West Dulwich to the east, where you can stroll amongst great pubs, cafes, and shops.

If you’re driving, you can find a multi-story car park that has 380 spaces on Canterbury Crescent, well-located for the markets and Brixton Academy.

Plenty of black cabs, Ubers, and Bolts also service the area as well.

It’s roughly 40 minutes on foot to the London Eye, and there are also plenty of 24-hour bus routes that service the area as well.

Is Brixton Safe?

One of the most common questions we get is, “Is Brixton Safe.” The answer is a resounding yes!

Brixton is a vibrant and exciting neighbourhood in London - but like any big city, all areas of London do experience pickpocketing and theft.

Our recommendation is that you keep your wits about you, don’t flash money or expensive electronics around, and keep your phone in a zippered pocket.

This is good advice for any part of the city!

About The Author

Jessica O'Neill

I'm Jessica O'Neill, and I am an expert in London's museums and culture. I love sharing my knowledge with my tour guests and my viewers on my YouTube channel, The Museum Guide. Read More... I first moved to London more than a decade ago to complete an MA in Cultural Heritage Studies at UCL, and continued my studies in memorials and contested heritage at the PhD level. I specialise in private tours of the East End, the British Museum, the National Gallery, and all kinds of oddities, medical history, and macabre history. I run the London Urban Oddities Facebook group. I hope to see you there! You can arrange a private tour with me by getting in touch with , or visiting my website at The Museum Guide.
Updated: December 6th, 2023
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