Islington has always been known for its shops, theatres and music halls. Recently, its Georgian squares and Victorian terraces have been smartened up, making it one of the most desirable areas in London. North from the tube along Upper Street is the Camden Passage antiques market. Past the triangle of Islington Green, you’ll eventually reach Highbury: close by is Arsenal football club’s new Emirates Stadium, where there are guided tours.
Located on the banks of the river Thames, Greenwich offers a welcoming sense of space with its beautiful parks and open spaces, inspiring museums and stunning views. With its rich mix of history, culture, shopping and local food and drink, Greenwich is an unmissable London experience.
Home to a World Heritage Site, The O2 arena, London’s oldest enclosed royal park and the Prime Meridian of the World – longitude zero. Wander through Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory and the Planetarium, or fly 90m high on the Emirates Air Line cable car into a world class show at The O2 arena. Browse designer-maker arts and crafts in Greenwich Market, and visit Cutty Sark, the fastest ship of her time. Explore Britain’s momentous naval history at the National Maritime Museum and enjoy the views in a riverside pub. Walk in the footsteps of royalty and movie stars at the Old Royal Naval College. Speed down the river in a streamlined catamaran or cruise through London’s landmarks to Greenwich, Greenwich Peninsula, the mighty Thames Barrier and the historic Royal Arsenal.
Home to the world-famous tennis tournament, Wimbledon is a wealthy, handsome, suburb. It also has a huge, wild and partly wooded common, crisscrossed by paths and bridle paths and complete with its own windmill. On the edge of the common is the charming and trendy Wimbledon Village, which holds cosy tea shops and elegant boutiques. At the tennis club itself is the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum.
The affluent area of Richmond has been linked to royalty for centuries: Edward III had a palace here in the 1300s and Henry VII loved the are so much that in 1502 he built another, though all that’s left is the gateway on Richmond Green. Once the site of jousting tournaments, the green is now less noble, but it’s still surrounded by gorgeous pre-Victorian architecture. Royal Heritage invariably means parkland: Richmond Park is London’s largest park, a vestige of the region’s once dominant oak woodland. The meadows and remaining woods provide a natural habitat for free-roaming herds of red and fallow deer.
To find London’s centre of after dark cool, head to Shoreditch. The Big Chill Bar (Old Truman Brewery, off Brick Lane) dishes up drinks and dance music in a relaxed and agreeably casual setting, and the £6.50 cocktails are respectable.
Dreambagsjaguarshoes (34-36 Kingsland Road) is still as achingly trendy as the day it opened. Glam scruffs lounge on the battered sofas, surrounded by scrawled-on walls and lots of tatty art; music is edgy.
Nearby, Loungelover (1 Whitby Street) is a louche cocktail lounge, with distressed wooden armoires, vintage chandeliers, a stuffed hippo’s head, Chinese urns and a giant disco ball.
The brinks ‘n’ arches of Cargo (83 Rivington Street) offer plenty of great live music, but DJ nights such as Go!Zilla, Karen P’s Broad Casting and WonkyPop have also featured.
And if dancing is on the agenda, try the Tea bar (56 Shoreditch High Street), an always-buzzing spot that offers regular DJs.
Columbia Road Market
On Sunday mornings, this unassuming East End street is transformed into a green swathe of fabulous plant life, and the air is fragrant with blooms. But it’s not just about flora; alongside the flower market is a growing number of shops selling everything from pottery and Mexican glassware to cupcakes and perfume. There are also a couple of nice spots for a lunchtime drink.
Columbia Road, Bethnal Green.
Liverpool Street Tube, then 26, 48 Bus
Portobello Road Market
Best known for antiques and collectibles, this is actually several markets rolled into one. Antiques start at the Notting Hill end; further up are food stalls; and under the walkway to Ladbroke Grove are emerging designer and vintage clothes.
Portobello Road, Notting Hill (www.rbkc.gov.uk/streettrading).
Ladbroke Grove Tube
London’s only historic market set in a World Heritage Site, Greenwich Market is a covered market surrounded by independent shops, cafes and pubs. With arts and crafts from the best of London and local designer makers, you will also find street food from around the world, intriguing antiques, treats for your pets, fashion and jewellery.
Cutty Sark DLR or Greenwich Pier