Forget the Tube, the Overground, and even double-decker buses. On a warm summer’s day, London is best discovered on foot. Take in breezy open spaces, rummage around a bustling market and spend an hour (or three) sampling bite-sized treats from the capital’s most tempting street food stalls. Stay cool by the water: here’s our guide to making the most of a day along the Regent’s Canal.
Start the day at this Regency-era park on the edge of Camden Town, a prettily-landscaped park complete with elegant flowerbeds, alfresco cafés and four playgrounds. Soak up the scenery with a boat trip around the meandering lake, then treat yourself to tea and cake at the Boathouse Café. Catch live performances at the Open Air Theatre, and get to know more than 750 animals at the London Zoo.
It’s packed and gloriously tacky (look out for the tourist-crowded Winehouse statue), but Camden Market’s indie traders create a shopping experience unmatched in the capital. From a small craft fair, it’s become London’s fourth most popular attraction. For every cheesy keyring store, there’s a quirky-cool clothing, art or vintage stall to visit, plus a tempting spread of street-food picks.
It’s packed and gloriously tacky (look out for the tourist-crowded Winehouse statue), but Camden Market’s indie traders create a shopping experience unmatched in the capital. Once a small craft fair, it’s now become London’s fourth most popular attraction. For every cheesy keyring store, there’s a quirky-cool clothing, art or vintage stall to visit, plus a tempting spread of street-food picks.
This Colombian street-food joint fills boxes with colourful, authentic, gluten-free dishes that give a powerful flavour hit. It’s set in the belly of the Stables, so expect to queue. The menu’s worth the wait: enjoy cheesy pandebono buns packed with chorizo, avo mayo and halloumi, chilli-sprinkled plantain salads, and meat-topped garlicky rice with balsamic-spiked cabbage.
34 traders set up shop at this open-air street food market by the canal every day. You’ll need to hone your queuing skills for some of the capital’s most moreish (and Moorish) street food. This is indulgent snacking at its best: give in to gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese, fluffy naans, or fresh pasta rolled in a whole wheel of cheese. The Hackney-brewed root sodas aren’t bad, either.
For a musical interlude on the water, hop on this gondola by the bridge at Camden Lock. Cruise in comfort – the boat is decked out with pillows and blankets – while a rotating crew of musicians provides the background tracks to your summer escapade. You’re welcome to bring your own food and drink on board, too, so grab snacks from the market for a floating picnic.
A mandatory stop on the water for bookworms, this charming 1920s Dutch barge is now permanently moored at Granary Square. Browse the lovingly curated collection of second-hand volumes and give the resident dog a pat. In the summer, a programme of thought-provoking talks, poetry readings and live jazz livens up evenings on the canal.
Give in to irresistible ice creams, crafted from organic milk, free-range eggs and the freshest fruit. Flavours change seasonally, but have included rhubarb and custard, charred orange and coconut, and even horseradish. Vegans can opt for almond milk and sorbet alternatives. Look out for the mobile tricycle and trolley plying their frozen delights in the neighbourhood.
Sample upmarket brews from Yumchaa, or grab a spot on the terrace of the Granary Square Brasserie or Caravan for a bit of people-watching. On a warm day, kick off your shoes and join the kids and local art students dodging the water jets. You can even download the Granary Squirt app to turn the fountains into a giant game of Snake.
Our pick of some of the quirkier water-side hang outs in the city.
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Grab a fancy sandwich at Kerb's market during the day and dance the night away at Camden's electric gig venues.