So, you’re thinking about living in Camden, the one-time undisputed epicentre of London’s alternative scene where punks, Goths and creative types still congregate? A popular destination for the young professional or student in search of flatmates, Camden boasts a scenic, leafy landscape drawing plenty of dwellers to the beauty of Regent’s Canal and Primrose Hill…
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A brief history lesson:
Initially a mostly barren space of fields, Camden underwent an industrial transformation with the arrival of the Grand Union Canal in 1820 and the Euston Terminus in 1837. Soon a bustling urban hub with shops and entertainments, the railway and Mornington Crescent area were badly destroyed by WWII bombs. Home to London’s alternative scene for the past several decades, Camden Town inhabitants enjoy a vibrant live music scene, glittering nightlife and non-stop shopping courtesy of a selection of markets.
Who lives there now:
As soon as you exit the tube at Camden, you’ll find your senses assaulted from all angles with the sound of music and smells of street stalls. This colourful neighbourhood is still home to purple-haired punks and has a gritty feel, although recent gentrification means you’re as likely to see bankers as you are band members (especially in the Chalk Farm/Belsize Park area). Tourists flock to Camden for the food, the shopping and the nightlife.
Places to eat, drink and be merry:
With cheap eats for every palate, Camden is a great place to try local favourites as well as more exotic cuisines. Enjoy sustainably caught delicious fish and chips at Hook Camden Town or, if you’re looking to spice up your evening, try the Cajun comfort food at The Blues Kitchen. The Black Heart is a heavy-metal playing biker-style bar with delicious brews. For a sweet fix, locals swear by the Italian gelato at Marine Ices on Haverstock Hill – or sample Chin Chin labs for experimental, nitro frozen ice cream in crazy flavours like Guinness malt caramel.
Shopping and culture:
Whether you’re looking for a glow-in-the-dark T-shirt or a one-off vintage steal, Camden is bustling with shops and stalls for every taste and budget, located in the world-famous Camden Market, which comprises Camden Lock Village, the Stables Market, Buck Street Village, Electric Ballroom, Camden Lock Market and Inverness Street Market, where you can stock up on everything from fetish wear to bric-a-brac, retro homewares to second-hand books (as well as sample plenty of global street food options). Search carefully – Camden’s markets have undergone a series of redevelopments and you’ll see a lot of the same merchandise lining stalls as well as some hiked-up prices. But there are gems to be found, like St. Cyr Vintage which has a beautiful, handpicked selection of vintage fashion, books and accessories.
From public street art to street festivals aplenty, you’ll never be lost for something to do in Camden. The Camden Arts Centre plays host to contemporary art exhibitions from boundary-pushing creatives, while The Roundhouse sees your favourite musicians, alternative dance troupes and spoken-word performances on stage each evening. By night, Electric Ballroom turns from marketplace to nightclub and has been hosting world-famous rockers like The Clash and Sid Vicious since the 1950s. For performances of a more eclectic variety, head to Proud Cabaret to see its world-famous burlesque performers in all their glory. And don’t miss London’s Jewish Museum for a history fix.
Parks and recreation:
Cyclists will love the tranquillity of a bike ride along Regent’s Canal and locals enjoy plenty of green space thanks to the 410-acre Regent’s Park, home to many summer music and foodie festivals as well as the London Zoo. The park also has bandstands, tennis courts, rowing boats, rose gardens and playgrounds to tempt any and every visitor.
Camden Town is on the Northern Line and is two stops from King’s Cross and the Eurostar terminal at St. Pancras. It’s also connected to the rest of north and inner London by buses.
The first food stall in Camden opened in 1974 by Olympic Sprinter June Carroll, who competed in the 1952 and 1956 games.
Renting in Camden :
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Looking for peace and quiet? You won’t find it in Camden Town – the hustle and bustle of tourists, artists and musicians means this part of London never sleeps.
MORE: Alex tells us why he loves living in a London flatshare.
Photo credit @Alamy