Neighbourhood Guide: Islington

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islington london

The vibrant, diverse and bustling neighbourhood of Islington is a great place to visit when you’re enjoying a stay in London. With a great mix of culture, nightlife, history and business, there is always a lively spirit around its streets, while still having plenty of peaceful spots to enjoy a calmer pace of life.

If you’re planning a trip down to the capital soon, read on for some great suggestions on things to see and do around Islington during your stay.

How to get to Islington

Islington is quite easy to access, wherever you are in London. Both the Angel and Highbury and Islington Tube stations are well served, by the Northern and Victoria lines, making it a quick place to reach by public transport. A number of Overground train connections also come into Highbury and Islington, so if you are staying at the M Montcalm Shoreditch, the Overground train from Shoreditch High Street provides a fast and direct route to the area.

If you’re in Hotels near Moorgate Tube Station, then the Northern line to Angel is always a convenient and speedy option. For those planning to drive into London, Islington is quick to access via the A40, and you’ll find plenty of reasonable parking around the area.

Islington’s rich history

Islington is a fairly small neighbourhood, compared to others around London, but it still has a rich and diverse history, that spans back to the Medieval age. Just a mile and a half away from St Paul’s Cathedral, the area provides some welcome spaciousness and calmness to Londoners, with ample green spaces around.

The area has seen a rich, multicultural life over the centuries, with beautiful Georgian and Victorian homes constructed in the 18th century, a thriving rural marketplace for working class inhabitants, and a number of famous inhabitants over the years, including the writer, George Orwell, and the renowned composer, Benjamin Britten. The area also boasts the second oldest pub theatre in the city, with The King’s Head Theatre and Pub, which dates back to the sixteenth century.

Places to eat and drink

While there are definitely some great restaurants in Shoreditch, Islington has a fantastic variety of places to eat and drink, with many independent bars and restaurants, as well as some well-established and popular London chains.

If you’re in the mood for an indulgent pancake-based delight, head to the Crepe Affaire near Camden Passage, where you can enjoy both savoury and sweet crepes, served with all kinds of delicious fillings, alongside fresh juice and great coffee.

For dinner with friends, choose the stylish tapas bar, Llerena, which provides great value and a sumptuous variety of small plates to enjoy, when gathered with some of your favourite people. For a little afternoon sophistication, Ottolenghi is a café and bakery situated in central Islington, and serves up deliciously healthy and flavoursome salads, small dishes and baked pastries through the day.

Islington buzzes through the day and night, with fantastic coffee shops providing gourmet brews. The CoffeeWorks Project provides no-frills great coffee and delicious food, while providing a spacious and calming place to relax in. And if you have a serious sweet tooth, put Udderlicious on your list of places to visit, as the home-made ice cream store is open late into the night and serves some of the best vegan and dairy frozen treats in the city.

Things to do in Islington 

For guests staying at the M Montcalm Shoreditch and in search of an alternative place to head out in the evening, Islington can be a great choice. There is a wide selection of places to explore, whether you fancy a quiet and relaxing night, or something a little more fun and lively.

The Screen on the Green cinema, located by Upper Street, is a favourite gem in the neighbourhood, close to Angel Tube Station. With just one screen, the much-loved cinema has a stunning old-school façade, lit up in neon, with classic lettering highlighting the cinema’s offerings of the day.

For live music and other performances, check out the Islington Town Hall, which has a packed schedule throughout the year. The spacious venue has seen fantastic bands grace its stage in recent times, including popular indie band, Vampire Weekend, and the political folk rock singer, Billy Bragg.

Or if you’re staying in Hotels near Moorgate Tube Station and want to experience a more intimate atmosphere, head towards Angel, where you’ll find the Lexington Arms pub. With a tiny stage downstairs, it’s a great place to catch up and coming bands and surprise gigs, while the bar upstairs has a fantastic selection of drinks to choose from.

If you just fancy a laidback night out, there are also some fantastic cocktail bars around Islington. Best of all is the Laki Kane, ideal for a night out with friends, where you can soak up the tropical atmosphere with tiki-style rum drinks.

Where to shop in Islington 

Islington has some fantastic places to shop, whatever you might be looking for. The busy Angel Central Shopping Centre is a useful place to find plenty of familiar brands, including Muji, H&M and Monsoon, with some familiar restaurant chains nearby if you need a snack whilst shopping.

However Islington’s true shopping gems lie further on, down the magical stretch of Camden Passage. This small alleyway is packed with a treasure trove of fantastic independent stores, where you can find delicate lingerie, quirky lifestyle products, and wonderful vintage gems, artwork, stationary and more. The passage also has several lively markets, packed with great items.

Free of cars, this lovely pedestrianized spot has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, with something hidden behind every doorway. It’s the perfect place to while away long hours, and once you’ve had your fill of antiques and other charming items, it’s also a fantastic people-watching spot. Head into one of the sweet coffee shops or bars lining the street and enjoy a delicious coffee, Japanese tea, or indulgent chocolate brownie, while watching the world go by.