Things to Do in Camden Town
Once known as the Rock n Roll capital of the world, Camden Town is now a popular tourist destination offering many great things to do. From shopping at Camden Market to catching a live music gig at Koko, there’s always something to do, see, and eat in this neighborhood! This is our guide to the best places to go, as well as our list of the best tours in the area. Be sure to check out our post Things to Do in London for even more inspiration.
Know Before You Go
Camden Town was developed as a residential area in 1791 and served as an important junction for the railways and canal network. There are 6 popular markets located in Camden Town, including Camden Lock market, Buck Street market, Stables Market, Camden Lock village, and an indoor market in Electric Ballroom. Though the neighborhood has evolved a lot in the last few years since becoming a major tourist attraction, there is still evidence of its past reputation as a haven for punks and alternative musicians.
Camden Town is conveniently located in central London, just north of Soho and King’s Cross. The best way to navigate yourself there is to use this Google map link.
There are several different bus lines and train stations:
- Nearest Train Stations: Camden Town (Underground) or Camden Town (Overground)
- Bus Lines: 24, 27, 29, 31, 46, 88, 134, 168, 214, 253, 274,
1. Explore Camden Market
This has got to be top of the list! Camden Market is world famous and is absolutely full of shops and stalls waiting to be explored. From the antique markets kept in the back of the Market at The Stables, to the newer market stalls just near the station, Camden High Street is one large market-lovers paradise. Get digging through boxes, explore the rails, grab a souvenir, or uncover a treasure – Camden Market is yours to uncover. Just don’t forget to visit the Amy Winehouse statue before you leave!
2. Have a Drink
There is no shortage of incredible pubs in this neighborhood! The Hawley Arms pub in Camden is one of the most (in)famous pubs in the capital. A true London boozer, the Hawley Arms has been a watering hole for Londoners and London celebrity locals alike for years. In time gone past, one might find Amy Winehouse pulling pints behind the bar, or hear an impromptu secret gig break out. Soak up the atmosphere and this legendary – and loved – Camden locale.
3. Enjoy the Proud Gallery
Europe’s most popular privately funded photographic gallery, the Proud Gallery specializes in photographs documenting fashion, pop culture, and music – with a heavy emphasis on rock and Roll. Music buffs will be thrilled with works depicting famous names like The Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones…and the list goes on. Treat yourself to a purchase of one of their prints for a great – and unique – London souvenir.
4. Learn the History of Folk Music
One of London’s little-known museums, Cecil Sharp house here in Camden is the home of English folk dance and song. This little building is filled with artifacts, manuscripts and records which come together to paint the picture of the history of traditional English folk music – and dancing! The venue hosts regular event nights, workshops, talks and dancing events so check out their website to see what’s on before you go.
5. Grab a Bite
You’re spoilt for choice when deciding to take lunch in Camden. Camden Market itself is dotted with food stands running the length of the stalls, and nearer the Stables market there is a whole bazaar exclusively inhabited by food stands. International cuisine, desserts, breakfast, lunch or dinner 0 any time is a good time to eat in Camden!
6. Enjoy Live Music
Camden is home to London’s music scene. From up-and-coming to world-famous acts, there are dozens of venues for live music to choose from. There’s Koko – opened in 1900 and hosting acts like Prince, Oasis, and Coldplay – or The Dublin Castle – previously hosting The Madness and today showcasing new talents – or The Blues Kitchen and Bar – does what it says on the tin!
7. Explore Regent’s Canal
Regent’s Canal is a beautiful oasis in the centre of busy, bustling London. The canal runs the length of Camden and there are paths to walk/jog along…or even long boats to hire! A real treat, taking a London canal boat is a great way to while away a gorgeous afternoon.
8. Get a Great View
An area of open parkland nestled in residential and upmarket Camden sits Primrose Hill – a wonderful place to get a gorgeous view of London. A sweeping vista straight over Regent’s Park and into the capital awaits you and this is also a smashing place to have a picnic!
9. Check out the Zoo
Run entirely by a team of Zoologists working for conservation and species preservation, London Zoo is one of the oldest continually operating zoos in the world. Hundreds of species of animal are here to be seen – including the reptiles in the Zoo’s famous’ reptile house’ featuring in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!
10. Go on a Tour!
Of course, we think the best way to see Camden is to jump on our walking tour! Your expert guide will lead you along the canals, alleyways and back streets of Camden, all the while telling your stories about the locations you are seeing, as well as the people who helped to turn Camden into an alternative locale and home to artists, celebrities, and regular Londoners alike!
Camden has a great nightlife with many different restaurants, bars, and live music venues to choose from. Check out our post on Things to Do in London at Night for even more inspiration.
Andy’s Greek Taverna – A friendly, family-run Greek restaurant just south of the heart of Camden. Opened in 1967, this hole-in-the-wall eatery serves up some of the best Greek cuisines in the city.
Mildred’s – A fantastic vegetarian restaurant that offers classic dishes from a wide variety of cultures, such as veggie sausage and mash, mock fried chicken, and a messy eggplant burger.
Poppies Fish and Chips – If you’re in the mood for fish and chips during your time in Camden, then Poppies is the place to go! Affordable food with lots of different sauces for dipping.
For more of the best Fish and Chips in London, check out our post.
Fifty-Five – A fantastic cocktail bar with a huge selection of drink. They offer great 2 for 1 discounts if you go between hours of 5-8 m.
The Hawley Arms – Frequented by Amy Winehouse throughout her time in Camden, the Hawley Arms is one of the most famous pubs in the neighborhood. The friendly bar staff and Amy Winehouse memorabilia make this place particularly special.
Elephant’s Head – This is a dive bar where you are guaranteed to meet some characters! Drinks are cheap and open late.
Koko – This famous music venue with an incredible interior has hosted the likes of Prince, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, and Elton John.
Underworld – The Underworld and its joint pub, the World’s End, has also featured a number of big name bands such as The Cranberries, The Darkness, and Radiohead.
There are several different companies offering tours of Camden. Whether you prefer exploring on foot, bike, boat, or with a snack in your hand, we promise there is a tour available in this neighborhood! Below are some of our favorites, including our highly rated Free Tours by Foot Camden Town Tour. We also have a free, self-guided tour of Camden.
Free Tours by Foot
Join us as we explore one of London’s most vibrant areas: Camden. Built around canals and boasting some of the capital’s best market stalls, Camden is a must-see for visitors who are looking to get familiar with the alternative side of London.
Catapulted into ’60’s counter-culture consciousness by Pink Floyd’s concert at the Roundhouse, Camden Town took over from Soho as London’s bohemian, artistic and musical epicentre in the ’80’s. ’90’s and naughties. Just a few miles away from London’s tourist sights but light years away in spirit, Camden must be seen to be believed.
Join our 2 – 2.5-hour tour through London’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, Punk, Indie, Pop and youth culture mecca. We’ll stroll along the Regent’s Canal, browse Camden’s world famous independent markets; a fashionistas, foodies and bargain hunters paradise, explore the area’s Street Art scene and hear the stories of the venues and characters that made rock history.
Camden is the perfect place for dinner, an evening out listening to the latest sounds and the stars of tomorrow, and clubbing for the night owls. Our guides will help you get the most out of this legendary London borough.
Sights covered on the Camden Town Tour:
- Street Art
- Electric Ballroom (Led Zeppelin/Thin Lizzy)
- Arlington House (George Orwell)
- The Dublin Castle (Madness & Ska, The Pogues)
- The Roundhouse (Pink Floyd)
- Street Art
- Stables Markets (the Clash/Pulp/The Libertines)
- Proud Photo Gallery
- Sign of the Times (Prince)
- Hawley Arms (Amy Winehouse)
- Camden Market
- Dingwalls (The Sex Pistols)
- Regent’s Canal
Reservations: Click here to reserve.
Where: Meet your guide at Barclays opposite Camden Tube (map)
Duration: Approximately 2.5 hours.
Cost: This tour is free to take, and you get to decide what, if anything, the tour was worth when it’s done. A name-your-own-price tour is a tour for anyone’s budget.
For more tips on saving money when visiting London, check out our blog posts for London on a budget.
Undiscovered London offers 2 tours that visit Camden: Camden Market and Music Legends Tour and Camden Pub Crawl. The first is a historical walking tour that brings to life the many characters that once lived in the area. You will also be guided through the winding streets of Camden Market and brought to the guide’s favorite stalls, before being given time to explore on your own. The Camden Pub Crawl is a 6-hour party tour that brings you to some of the best bars and nightclub venues in the area. Free VIP entry and 1 free shot at each venue are included in the price.
- Camden Market and Music Legends Tour
- 2 hours
- Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 3 pm
- £14 per person
- Click here to book
- Camden Pub Crawl
- 6 hours
- Nightly from 7:30 pm
- £14 per person
- Click here to book
Review of Undiscovered London
Reviews of both their Camden tours are extremely positive, with many comments praising the guides for being knowledgeable and friendly. Some guests who attended the Camden Pub Crawl say that they felt they could have done it on their own as this isn’t a regular guided tour, but most seem happy to have saved money on entrance fees and to have been able to socialize with a big group.
Start: Camden Town Underground Station
Finish: Camden Market Stables
Duration: 2 Hours
This post is a self-guided tour to show the visitor some of the many interesting things to see in Camden Town London. Be sure to take a look at our other self-guided tours of London.
You will begin your tour just outside Camden Town Underground Station. Upon exit of the station, turn RIGHT down Camden High Street until you see ELECTRIC BALLROOM.
Stop 1 – Electric Ballroom
Walk down this street and stop somewhere in the middle. Operating here for over 70 years, Electric Ballroom has held performances by top artists like Sid Vicious, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and the Clash.
Attempts to demolish the Electric Ballroom in order to make space to redevelop Camden Town Underground Station were put forward in 2004 but quickly struck down. Another proposal was made to demolish not just the Electric Ballroom but the original Dr. Martens store and part of Camden Market as well in 2005 – but was struck down by the Prime Minister himself! The venue still stands in defiance of Transport for London, perhaps making it extra beloved by London locals who appreciate it for its’ history.
Continue down Camden High Street until you see the market sign above INVERNESS STREET on your LEFT.
Stop 2 – Inverness Street/Old Market
Inverness Street Market was previously the fruit and vegetable market for Camden locals – dating back decades. Originally, it carried fresh produce only, in comparison to the rest of the Market which sold goods and antiques. By 2012, however, Camden was home to numerous chain grocery stores, which eventually sounded the death-knell of the fruit and vegetable stalls here. By 2012, only two produce vendors were operating here and by 2013 they were gone completely…replaced by the snacks, souvenirs, baggage, and clothing stalls that still stand today.
Continue down Inverness Street then turn RIGHT onto ARLINGTON ROAD. Stop outside number 220: ARLINGTON HOUSE.
Stop 3 – Arlington House (One Housing Group)
Dating back to 1905, Arlington House is a hostel for homeless youth. Today Arlington House is run by One Housing Group who maintain Arlington House as a shelter for the homeless with emphasis on training, rehabilitation and helping integrate their visitors back into modern society. Not a simple shelter these days, Arlington House has sub-market-rent flats as well as training space, hostel accommodation, business units, and artist studios.
In its’ history, Arlington House has been utilised by notable names such as George Orwell – who wrote about his experience in Down and Out in Paris and London, poet Brendan Behan, and is mentioned in the song One Better Day by The Madness – who, too, stayed here before making it big.
Continue down Arlington Road and cross over Jamestown Road. Walk down the path between the buildings that is CAMDEN WHARF. Stop when you get to CAMDEN LOCK (by the pub: THE ICE HOUSE)
Stop 4 – Camden Lock
Now you are standing near Regent’s Canal, facing Camden Lock. These locks have stood here since the early 19th century and are considered ‘listed’ – which means they are of particular historical and architectural significance and cannot be removed. In Victorian times, most goods being shipped into London from around the United Kingdom came to the capital via Regent’s Canal in the stretch that you are now facing. These locks would have been working nearly 24 hours a day to keep all the goods coming to London moving quickly along.
Today, with road, rail, and air the common method of trade and travel, the locks are quiet and are typically only used for Regent’s Canal tours. Guests can take riverboats to travel through London along the water.
Now cross the bridge over the water and follow along with the side of the canal. Walk until you begin to walk under a bridge and STOP here.
Stop 5 – Regent’s Canal
Regent’s Canal runs around the north of London, connecting Paddington in the west to Limehouse in the east. A total of 13.8km (8.6miles) long, the Canal travels through London Zoo, through Little Venice, past Kings Cross and out into the Thames in the eastern part of town. Once the Canal travels outside of London, it actually connects out through Birmingham into the rest of the United Kingdom. Only one part of a huge network of water canals, this stretch today is used by locals to relax alongside in the summer, stroll through Camden, travel on longboats, or cycling to and from work.
Continue following the water, you will be on the opposite side of a large building labeled The Pirate Castle. Keep going until you get to another overhead bridge and spot the art on the edge of the canal.
Stop 6 – Canal Street Art
The path along Regent’s Canal is a popular place for street artists to practice their trade. Street Art in London is ephemeral and changes constantly, so always keep an eye out as you travel along the path. The pieces we are highlighting here date from 2014 and are here at the time of writing. By London artist Icarus, the two pieces here depict George Bush and Tony Blair being welcomed into the water by The Devil as well as Camden’s most famous resident, Amy Winehouse, facing St. Peter. Her face is undecided and up to the viewer – is she being carried into Heaven or is she being sent to Hell?
Head up and away from the canal, going up the pathway that leads past Melrose and Morgan. You will then come out onto GLOUCESTER AVENUE (across the street from The Engineer Pub) and STOP.
Stop 7 – Primrose
Here, your surroundings have changed dramatically. From the back-roads of Camden, you are now looking onto one of the most luxurious neighbourhoods in London. Locally known as Primrose Hill (after the hill of the same name in nearby Regent’s Park), this locale is home to celebrities like Jude Law, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Cameron Diaz just to name a few. The streets are wide, lined with trees, and the houses – surrounded by gates and monitored by security cameras – are gargantuan by London standards.
This neighbourhood tends to be quiet so enjoy a break from the buzz of nearby Camden, and as you walk along the streets, enjoy the Georgian architecture and the beautiful local pubs, including The Engineer – pictured here. The directions here will lead you along the main streets of this posh neighbourhood. As you stroll, notice that you will not see any chain companies (McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc.) as this neighborhood is fiercely loyal to local haunts and rejects the intrusion of popular companies. You will now also have the option of visiting the top of Primrose Hill itself.
Cross GLOUCESTER AVENUE and walk down PRINCESS ROAD. Walk until you hit REGENT’S PARK ROAD and turn RIGHT. This will take you to the entrance of a park – PRIMROSE HILL. Here you can enter the park and you have the option of climbing the tallest hill for a view over London. Or keep on REGENT’S PARK ROAD until you get back to GLOUCESTER AVENUE. Here, take the pedestrian path onto the bridge and cross.
On the other side of the bridge take a RIGHT – you will be back on REGENT’S PARK ROAD. When you get to the junction with CHALK FARM ROAD then STOP.
Stop 8 – Chalk Farm
You are now back in the hustle and bustle (having literally crossed the tracks) of the Camden neighbourhood. There is no chalk to be found here, despite the name, which derives from a centuries-old village that used to stand here known as Chalcot. Chalk Town used to hold central London’s bus depot and was previously quite a rural location – but today it is just as busy as can be, filled with bars, restaurants, and clubs.
Turn RIGHT onto CHALK FARM ROAD until you get to the large building on your right – THE ROUNDHOUSE.
Stop 9 – Roundhouse
Here you have another listed building – Roundhouse. Originally built in 1847 as a railway engine shed and turntable, the Roundhouse is living a second life as a performing arts venue. Like the earlier Electric Ballroom, this building has seen gigs by names recognised the world over: The Doors (their only UK appearance), Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Ramones…and the list goes on!
Continue down CHALK FARM ROAD. When you get to the second street on your RIGHT (look for the entrance to CAMDEN MARKET) turn RIGHT and enter CAMDEN MARKET.
Stop 10 – Camden Market Stables and Bazaar
You’re now entering Camden Market from the north side. This part of the market has been modeled after Moroccan style bazaars and is decorated to reflect this. Here, you will also make your way to the Stables Market. Originally, many of the boats traveling through Camden Lock along the Canal were often pulled along by horses, who walked along the canal, tugging the craft. This was previously the stables where those horses were kept (keep an eye out for the life sized horse statues dotting the Market here), but is now a large, vibrant warren of shops, stalls, crafts, and food. It’s easy to get yourself lost in the Stables at Camden Market, but there are few better places to find yourself!
It is here that your tour will end.
- Charles Dickens – Author who lived here in the 1820s
- Bon Scott – Lead Singer of AC/DC who died in Camden Town in 1980 from alcohol poisoning
- Alan Bennett – Famous playwright who lived here for several years
- Dylan Thomas – Poet who owned a home here
- Amy Winehouse – Lived in 2 separate homes in Camden, the second of which was where she later died in 2011.