Aerial photo of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London
Hackney is one of the most exciting areas in London. The borough has an absolutely thriving art scene, many beautiful parks, and if you’re looking for some of the best cafes, pubs and clubs in the city, you’ve definitely come to the right place! Hackney is one of the largest Inner London boroughs and can be found just to the northeast from the City. The area comprises many famous neighborhoods and areas of London, such as Shoreditch, Hoxton and parts of the Regent’s Canal. It also borders the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which was the site of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The area flawlessly combines the old with the new, and will definitely take you by surprise!

Welcome to Hackney

Hackney is roughly bordered by City Road and the City in the south, Southgate Road and Islington to the west, Amhurst Park and Harringay to the north, and the River Lea and Stratford to the east. It’s serviced solely by the London Underground along its southern and northern borders, but is easily reachable with the London Overground, which has several stops in the borough. The southern neighborhoods of Hackney are internationally renowned for their nightlife and many galleries and creative shops. Meanwhile, the center and north of the borough are up-and-coming areas that provide attractive options for affordable accommodation within an urban environment. The many fantastic markets, restaurants and pubs in the area also attract their share of celebrities! For example, Russell Brand is often spotted in Hoxton cafes such as Love Shake. In this article we’ll tour some of the top spots in the neighborhood, and show you what it’s like to live in Hackney like a local!

Go Shopping in Hackney

Picture of Hackney’s famous Broadway Market in London: Peter Jozwiak
The popular Broadway Market in Hackney, London. Photo: Peter Jozwiak
Hackney is best known for its many amazing open-air markets and countless independent shops selling everything from high fashion to antiques.

  • To kick off with the markets, stop by Broadway Market, one of the most popular in Hackney. Every Saturday, the street (of the same name) is turned into an open-air shopping area, lined with vendors selling everything from delicious food to vintage clothing. The Ridley Road Market is a nice alternative to Broadway Market, as it offers plenty of fresh food for top prices. It is open every day: during weekday mornings and from 9 to 5 on Fridays and Saturdays. Another popular market is the Columbia Road Flower Market. It’s one of the best flower markets in the city. Every Sunday, people flock to this colorful street in the early morning to enjoy the many flower stalls and delicious scents that fill the narrow street. Three other great markets include Netil Market, Roman Road Market and the Street Feast in Dalston.
  • Broadway Market also offers an array of great vintage shops, as well as two fantastic bookstores. Artwords is a quaint bookshop with an impressive selection of books and magazines on art, graphic design and photography. Broadway Bookshop is another lovely small bookstore with an emphasis on contemporary literature and a nice selection of travel guides.
  • The Burberry Factory Shop is a well-hidden gem on Chatham Place offering great discounts on Burberry clothing. Fore more high fashion, head to the shopping mall Westfield Stratford City. Technically just outside Hackney, this mall boasts a huge selection of high-end fashion stores such as Prada, Mulberry and Hugo Boss, as well as many chain stores such as Primark, The Body Shop, H&M and many more.
Image of Boxpark in Hackney
Pop-up stores at Boxpark in Hackney, London
  • Lastly, Boxpark offers a fun collection of pop up stores, which are ever changing so you’ll be sure to discover something new!

Hackney Cafes, Restaurants & Bars

As we mentioned before, Hackney boasts a huge array of fantastic cafes, pubs and restaurants. Hoxton and Shoreditch in particular are famous for their many quirky coffee shops and amazing clubs.

  • Cafes

If you’re in dire need of a proper cup of coffee, head to Climpson & Sons on Broadway Market. Just try to avoid going on a Saturday (the lines are out the door on this day!). Tina, We Salute You on King Henry’s Walk is a lovely neighborhood café that also brews a mean cup of coffee. Railroad on Morning Lane is a great little place for brunch, and serves delicious sandwiches! Although it hardly counts as a café we also really want to mention the E5 Bakehouse. This bakery on Mentmore Terrace may be difficult to find, as it is located under a railroad viaduct. It’s definitely worth the search though, just for a taste of their delicious fresh bread. A tiny café inside provides seating space, though you can also take your bread to go and enjoy it at home!

There are simply too many great cafes in the area to list here, but if you’re looking for more great spots, Mess Café, The Shoreditch Station, The Bridge and The Bagel Factory in Brick Lane are all excellent.

  • Restaurants
Image of Buen Ayre, a great Argentinian restaurant in Hackney
The Argentinian restaurant Buen Ayre in Hackney serves a mean steak
The Breakfast Club on Rufus Street is something of an institution in Hoxton, and the place to go if you’re looking for a delicious British breakfast! For lunch, Long White Cloud on Hackney Road is a great option with an extensive menu. For dinner, you can’t go wrong with Buen Ayre on Broadway Market. This Argentinian steakhouse has great service and the steaks are excellent. The Vietnamese restaurant Green Papaya on Mare Street is a low-budget alternative, and includes lots of vegetarian and vegan options. Mangal II on Stoke Newtington Road is another great place for a cheap and quick dinner, and serves some of the best kebabs in town.

Again, there’re too many fantastic restaurants to list, but some other favorites include The Prince Arthur, Fish House, Stingray Globe and Pizza East.

  • Pubs & Bars

The Clapton Heart on Lower Clapton Road is a fun pub with a laid-back atmosphere and lots of different local and international beers on tap. The Prince George on Parkholme Road is a very traditional pub that has a lovely beer garden. For a non-traditional experience, head to the trendy bar Bistrotheque on Wadeson Street, serving some great cocktails and an extensive food menu. For a proper dance club, look up Visions Video Bar on Kingsland Road.

Lastly, two other favorites include Dream Bags Jaguar Shoes and the Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen.

Live Like a Local in Hackney

Can’t wait to start exploring the many cafes and bars in the area? Have a look at our vacation rental apartments in Hackney! By staying in a vacation apartment you’ll attain the authentic experience of living as a local in Hackney. You can enjoy stocking up on fresh food at the local markets and prepare the most delicious dishes back home in the kitchen of your own apartment! If you’re thinking about coming to London for a longer period, also have a look at our Hackney furnished apartments, which can be rented for a month or longer.

What to See & Do in London’s Hackney

Picture of London’s Hackney City Farm
Escape the city at Hackney City Farm in London
Hackney is one of the greenest areas in London, and boasts many spacious parks. In summertime, many of the trendy inhabitants of Hoxton and Shoreditch flock to London Fields to stretch out on one of the lush lawns and enjoy the sunshine, or to take a dip in the Olympic-size pool. Hackney City Farm is a wonderful park to take the kids. Check out Visit London with the Kids for more family-friendly activities! Victoria Park on the eastern border of Hackney is also lovely park, and one of the biggest in the area.

Image of Hackney’s Geffrye Museum in London
The beautiful Geffrye Museum in Hackney, London
When it comes to culture, Hackney has tons to offer. There are countless galleries to be found all around, as the area is often referred to as one of the biggest concentrations of artists in the country. There are also several museums in the area. The Geffrye Museum offers a wonderful look into the history of domestic interior design in England. Sutton House is a beautiful Tudor mansion and the oldest domestic building in Hackney. For fans of modern art, Rivington Place is a gorgeous modern visual arts center. There are also the Hackney Archives and the Hackney Museum.

In summertime Hackney hosts many great outdoor events. There’s the two-day music festival Lovebox, which is held in Victoria Park every year, as well as several other popular festivals that are held irregularly, such as the HotTub Cinema festival, Canalival and Hackney Wicked.

Visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Aerial photo of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London
One of the newest editions to the area is the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This park, on the eastern border of Hackney, was the site of the Summer Olympics of 2012. Now open to the public, there are lots of things to see and do in this green space! You not only have the chance to visit the Olympic facilities such as the Stadium, but also to play sports in them yourself. Starting April 2014, the Aquatics Center and Lee Valley Velo Park will be open for athletes. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to climb the tallest sculpture in the UK: the ArcelorMittal Orbit, which offers an amazing view of Hackney and London!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to Hackney! Have you visited the Olympic Park yet?