I lived in Hampstead for 2 and a half years and I love this London neighbourhood. Known to locals as Hampstead Village, Hampstead does have a very village atmosphere to it thanks to its relaxed vibe, green areas and historical buildings, but it’s still in zone 2 on the tube and only 3 stops away from the craziness of Camden Town.
I know Hampstead pretty well, I’ve spent many weekends wandering its streets and I’m always telling people that they need to visit! Although I’ve written a few blog posts on Hampstead already I thought it was about time I gave you a big list of the best things to see in Hampstead, the best places to eat in Hampstead, the best places to drink in Hampstead and some unique things to do in Hampstead too!
So get a day blocked out in your diary because you’re going to want to visit Hampstead in London after reading this!
Things To See & Do in Hampstead!
Go House Spotting
Hampstead is a wealthy area of London and this show’s in its houses. Hampstead is full of huge mansions- old and new, to smaller quirky houses and cottages with colourful doors.
The best way to see these houses to wander the streets and take any little street that takes your fancy.
Go Plaque Spotting
Hampstead is full of History, it’s been home to many famous writers, poets and artists like George Orwell, John Galsworthy, John Keats. It also has some really important and iconic buildings so when you’re wandering around Hampstead be sure not only to look at all the pretty houses with the nice doors but also look out for plaques. When you start looking out for them you’ll soon realise that Hampstead is covered in them and it’s fascinating to read who used to live in that house and what they used to do.
Going up onto Hampstead Heath is a must-do. The Heath is absolutely huge and you won’t see it all in one day but it’s a lovely area to walk around taking in the fresh air, the ponds, the footpaths and basically feel like you’re in the middle of the Countryside.
See a view of London from Parliament Hill
A popular place in Hampstead Heath is Parliament Hill and rightly so. From the top of Parliament Hill, you can see an awesome view right over London and see most of the cities main landmarks. Even on a cloudy day, the city skyline seems to pierce through the clouds so don’t let the weather put you off visiting.
Go Swimming in the Hampstead Bathing Ponds
A unique thing to do in Hampstead and something slightly different is to take a swim in one of Hampstead Heaths swimming ponds! Hampstead does have a lido but who needs a man-made lido when you can swim with the ducks in a pond!?
Open all year round there is a male bathing pond, a female bathing pond and a mixed pond. As you can imagine they are considerably busier in the Summer than in the Winter. Check out my tips to bathing in the Hampstead ponds post including costs and their location.
Visit Kenwood House
Another place to visit on the Heath is Kenwood House. It’s a beautiful former stately home located in a really quiet and tranquil area of the Heath. You can head inside to see the interior of the home or enjoy the gardens from the outside. There’s also a cafe and toilets at Kenwood House so it’s a lovely spot to stop at on a walk around Hampstead Heath.
Explore Hampstead Pergola and Hill Garden
This is a pretty unique and different thing to do in Hampstead. Everyone will tell you to go to Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill as I have above, but not as many people seem to know about Hampstead Pergola and Hill Garden, and because of that it’s a hidden gem!
Located in the North-Western section of the Heath, closer to Golders Green it is quite hard to find but Google Maps knows the way and when you see it, you’ll know about it! The Pergola is absolutely gorgeous and the gardens are totally immaculate. For some history, a relaxed walk and a beautiful spot be sure to head here!
Search in Keith Fawkes Antique Shop
Located in the narrow street of Flask Walk is Keith Fawkes Antique shop, you can’t miss it as its more often than not spilling out onto the street. You can find all sorts here- furniture, artwork, rugs, and many many books. It’s a bit of a Hampstead institution and well worth a look even if you’re just passing by whilst walking up the pretty street that is Flask Walk.
Check out the Antiques and Craft Emporium
Inside the Hampstead Antique and Craft Emporium are 25 independent shops that offer something for everyone from antique artefacts, jewellery dealers, silverware, painting and furniture, so it’s a nice, friendly place to pop into on a visit to Hampstead. On a Sunday they host an artisan market in here.
Go to the Cinema
If it’s a rainy day you could make use of Hampstead having a cool Everyman cinema to pass a few hours and then go for food and a drink in one of the pubs I’ve mentioned below afterwards.
Go on a Walking Tour around Hampstead
Hampstead is full of history with many historic people having lived there as I mentioned. It’s also full of different styles of architecture which you can view on your own, but if you really want to see and learn about Hampstead properly I would recommend doing a walking tour.
The Heath and Hampstead Society also offer Plaque Walks, Flower Walks and General Walks around Hampstead and the Heath.
If you would prefer a self-guided walk of Hampstead
2 Willow Road is a really interesting building and worth a visit if you like history and architecture. It was designed by architect Ernő Goldfinger and completed in 1939 however it was designed to be modernist home and at the time was very futuristic. These days you can visit the inside of the house and see all of the original furniture.
Visit Keats House Museum
John Keats, a famous Romantic Poet used to live in this house and it’s now a museum and literary centre.
Again, it costs to enter but inside you can explore the life and work of Keats which tell the story of how he found inspiration, friendship, and love in this house in Hampstead.
Visit Hampstead Museum
Inside Burgh House is Hampstead Museum. This museum is free to enter so it’s worth going in and finding out a bit more about Hampstead. It’s located between Hampstead High Street and Hampstead Heath so it’s a good place to pop in when walking between the two. It also has a nice cafe and outdoor terrace courtyard.
Visit Fenton House
Fenton House is Hampstead’s oldest mansion, a 17th-century merchants house. If you’re into music or art, you can go inside and see hidden treasures and collections of early musical instruments and ceramics.
There is also a 300-year-old walled garden that you can walk around too.
Check Out the Admirals House
Just behind Fenton House is the Admirals House so if you see one, you should see both. This is a really unique building and is said to have inspired the character Admiral Boom in Mary Poppins. The house is meant to look a bit like a ship as a past owner and eccentric former naval officer, constructed two decks on the roof and used to fire salutes from the cannon, not impressing his neighbours!
Do Yoga in Keats House, Burgh House and on Hampstead Heath
If you’re looking for a unique place to do yoga in London. Nicole Rose offers classes in Keats House, Burgh House and on Hampstead Heath in the Summer.
Keep a lookout for Celebrities
Hampstead and Belsize Park, which is just down the road, are popular places for celebrities to live. I remember my mum telling me that years ago she saw Jonathan Ross here, I’ve seen Ricky Gervais a few times. Sting, Judi Dench and Boy George are all said to live in Hampstead so always keep your head up and eyes open as you never know who you might see!
Check out the Charity Shops
There are lots of Charity Shops in Hampstead, some are on Hampstead High Street close to the underground and some down by the overground station. What makes these perhaps better than any other charity shop is that you can often find some really great bargains in them because as I said, Hampstead is quite a wealthy area and you never know who has donated some items!
Talking of shops, Hampstead does have some pretty nice shops along its High Street too. They’re a little bit more upmarket as you may expect but there’s a Gap, Oliver Bonas, Kiehls, Reiss, Hobbs, Petit Bateau, Zadig & Voltaire, Waterstones, Brandy Melville, Jane & Dada, Sweaty Betty and Kurt Geiger to name a few!
Go to the Fair
Ok so the fair isn’t on all the time in Hampstead but a fair does come to Hampstead on pretty much all of the bank holidays and is on for at 2-3 days. It’s a great thing to do with children in Hampstead and it’s located in the car park of Hampstead Heath closest to the overground station.
The Best Food & Drink In Hampstead!
Get a Coffee at a Red Phone Box
Start your day by visiting a telephone booth on Hampstead High Street for your Coffee, Tea or Smoothie fix! Yes, that’s right, Kape Barako is a converted red phone box just in front of Barclay’s bank selling an array of drinks. It’s open from 8:00am-2:30 pm every day except Sundays and it’s a pretty unique thing to do in Hampstead.
Go for Brunch
Another way to start your day off right in Hampstead is to go for brunch! Hampstead has loads of cafes, both chain and independent cafes that offer brunch. I put together a full list of recommended brunch spots in Hampstead because there are so many options!
Get Ice Cream at Oddono’s
This isn’t the only ice cream shop in Hampstead but it is the only one that has a line out of the door on pretty much every day of the year, even in the winter! So you know the ice cream at Oddono’s on Flask Walk is good!
I can recommend the Salted Caramel, the Pistachio, and since turning Vegan the Banana Sorbet. If you go and there is a queue I promise you it’s worth the wait!
Go for a Beer or Meal in an English Pub
Hampstead has some gorgeous pubs perfect for enjoying a beer, lunch or dinner in. They’re very traditional English pubs and that’s because most of them are so old and do hold so much history. Most of the pubs have outside seating which is used all year round and offer great Sunday Roasts!
The pubs I recommend going to are The Flask, The Wells Tavern, The Garden Gate, The Freemasons Arms and the very famous and picturesque Holly Bush.
Have a Sunday Roast at The Holly Bush
The Holly Bush deserves its own point. The Holly Bush pub is a bit of an institution in Hampstead. It’s located down a beautiful old side street and really shows what Hampstead, and even London, used to look like many many years ago especially if you consider the fact that it was built in the 1790’s!
The Holly Bush serves food all day, all week but if you want a truly British experience in Hampstead then I would recommend going for a Sunday Dinner and a beer on a Sunday afternoon.
Get a Crepe
Another food place in Hampstead that you’re bound to see a huge queue for is La Creperie de Hampstead, selling a mixture of sweet and savoury crepes known to be London’s most typical Parisian Street Crêperie.
Located on the High Street just a few meters from the underground station, it’s been there since 1980 and the crepes are well worth the wait I promise.
Have the Best Pizza
One of the best places I have had pizza (including pizza in Italy) is at Mimmo La Bufala opposite Hampstead overground station. It’s a really authentic Italian restaurant, the food is incredible and the staff are really nice and hospitable!
Have the Best Fish & Chips
Who knew Fish and Chips could be so fancy but The Fish Cafe in Hampstead has made it pretty fancy and very tasty. You can sit in or dine outside on a nice day, you can also get a takeaway and take it to the park or sit on a nearby bench and enjoy them.
Go for a Fancy Italian
If you want to go somewhere a bit fancier for lunch or dinner then Villa Bianca is the answer. It’s a long-standing Italian restaurant down the laneway of Perrin’s Court. It’s gorgeous from the outside as it’s covered in flowers and in the warmer months, you can eat on the small terrace overlooking Perrin’s court.