HeadBox City Guides: Islington

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Islington City Guide

We’ve gathered a great list of things to do in Islington from top London restaurants and trendy bars, to cultural hotspots and havens for the shopping fanatics. So if you want to know what to do in Islington then this is your pocket guide to all the best activities this wonderful part of the city has to offer.
Islington is an area that encompasses Angel, Upper Street, Highbury and Canonbury. It’s full of beautiful houses and greenery and is known for being a desirable residential part of London, that also has a real buzz on its main thoroughfare – Upper Street, which stretches from Angel station to Highbury & Islington station. It has culture and style, and incredible food and drink venues. Our guide to all that’s unmissable in Islington captures some of the top picks in the vicinity.

Restaurants & Bars


Islington is an area known for having brilliant pubs. The Old Queen’s Head has been around for a little while – it’s not overly fancy, but it’s consistently good. The space is within a beautiful old building; it serves decent drinks during the week, throws a good party on a weekend and produces a top-notch roast on a Sunday. You can’t really ask for more from a pub. The Island Queen along the canal is a pub in a top location, and The Canonbury has one of the best – and biggest – pub gardens in the area.

The Dead Dolls House (seen below) is a relatively new addition to Upper Street, opening a few years ago. It has quickly become one of the coolest destinations in the area though, thanks to it’s wow-factor interiors and premium quality food and drink. It’s got it’s finger on the pulse and is always putting on parties and events.

You know how we like to throw in a token cocktail bar in most of these city guides (no idea how we’re so informed…) – well, 100 Wardour Street is the best of the best in Islington – and, in fact, one of the best in London. It’s constantly producing imaginative new concoctions, which are more experiences than simply drinks.

100 Wardour Street offers amazing food and drinks for a night out in Islington – whether that’s for a large scale celebration, a great party or a private dining event. This an exciting venue with live music, great food and great drinks – all you need to do is supply the great company. The upstairs lounge area at 100 Wardour Street serves up a diverse selection from it’s all-day menu and also has a great reputation for its bottomless brunches! The main restaurant also has some amazing choices of snacks and sharing dishes as well as an extensive list of fantastic cocktails and fine wines. So if you’re looking for things to do in Islington then this hotspot is the place to go!

Cultural Hot Spots


If you’ve spend the evening wining and dining and are now looking for things to do in Islington that involve a little more culture then you’re in luck! Housed in this beautiful Georgian villa on Canonbury Square is a family-owned collection of Italian art – the Estorick Collection. The combination of the light-filled rooms and the carefully curated art hanging on the walls make a visit here a very calming, thought-provoking and uplifting experience.

A short walk from Upper Street (either along the canal, or down Essex Road and New North Road) is this locally-loved pub. It puts on plays and performances in its upstairs room and is known for being the artsy pub of choice in the area. It might seem a bit off the beaten track, but it’s perfectly placed for heading to or from any of the surrounding areas – Angel, Hoxton, Haggerston, Stoke Newington or Dalston.

Another dramatic institution is the Almeida Theatre, off Upper Street. A bigger affair than the Rosemary Branch, the Almeida is world-renown and has highly-acclaimed shows and performances – check out their calendar and see if you can squeeze in a trip.

Shopping & Ambling
Once you’ve embraced a morning of fine art then why not hit Upper Street which has a mix of high street shops and small boutiques. There are staples like Gap, Reiss, Whistles, H&M near to Angel station, and further afield and down the side streets are plenty of independent shops. 

Camden Passage Market is hidden just behind bustling Upper Street. Little market stalls, selling antiques and vintage items make up this shopping experience. It’s ideal just for browsing, or for picking up unusual collectors’ pieces that you might not find elsewhere.

There are parks aplenty in the area – Highbury Fields is one of the biggest, but little squares and slivers of green grass can be found all over. Islington Green sometimes hosts street food stalls too. Pick up a book from Waterstones (bordering the green), grab something tasty to eat, and sit out in the middle of the bustle and activity of Angel.
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Islington has a cultural identity all of its own. It’s more chic and sophisticated than its close East London cousins, and more about smart gastro pubs and classic restaurants than the newest, latest bars and food concepts. If you’re after quality, Islington is for you and with this City Guide you will never be short of things to do in Islington.

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