5 Essential Camden Town Tips, Written By A London Local
Written by Jaillan Yehia
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As a native Londoner I’m pretty passionate about the place where I (mis)spent my youth: Camden Town.
So when I hear tourists saying they don’t like London (crazy, but it happens!) I feel duty bound to share some ideas about places to go in the capital which might make them change their mind – and I always tell people to come to Camden Town.
This bustling part of North London is one of the most amazing, fun, diverse and enjoyable places you can spend some time while in London.
Most visitors to the capital prioritise the top tourist sights on their trip: places like Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Oxford Street and Leicester Square, and that’s totally understandable. After all, if I go to Rome, I’m going to want to see The Colosseum.
But traveling like a local is a buzzword thesedays for a reason – if you want to soak up some of the atmosphere of the real London you’re not going to do it with a visit to Madame Tussauds are you?
And whether you want to shop in the market, munch on the street food, drink at a famous boozer, check out the street art or just do some epic people watching, one thing is for sure: Camden won’t fail to keep you entertained.
So this London local is going to share some tips for the checking out the tourist mecca meets international melting pot that is London’s Camden Town.
Don’t Miss These Camden Town Tips
1. Tube Tales
Before you even think about heading to the English capital it’s well worth taking some time to learn a few of the basic do’s and don’t for tourists in London – like NEVER, EVER stand on the left of an escalator on London’s tube network because that will drive people mad.
And if you are taking the tube to Camden then right off the bat there’s something you need to know: Camden Town tube station gets incredibly busy on weekends, so much so that the tube is closed on Saturdays and Sundays during peak hours.
What this means in practice is that you can get off the tube at Camden Town Tube or you can change trains, but you can’t get in. It’s really important that you factor this into your journey, especially if you have a tight schedule and want to jump on the tube and head to another part of London after your visit.
The solution is pretty simple – my biggest Camden Town tip is to visit on a weekday when the lessened crowds and more relaxed atmosphere will help you love Camden much more, and you won’t have to contend with closures (hopefully).
But if you are set on visiting Camden Town on a weekend then you can walk to Mornington Crescent Tube (which is towards the West End) or Chalk Farm Tube (towards Primrose Hill), both of which are a fairly short distance.
There’s always buses, bikes and walking – which in my opinion is the best way to really see everything.
If you’re headed to the market and checking out places like The Roundhouse or fancy a drink at established boozers like The Enterprise pub, or if you plan to walk up to Primrose Hill, then your route will take you to Chalk Farm anyway, so it’s all good.
2. To market, to market
Camden Market is no secret to any tourist in London – as well as shops selling hippy trinkets, vintage and retro clothes and crazy goth gear (fun fact: my home phone number in Camden used to be the old number for Cyberdog which led to some interesting calls) the market has a LOT of good food.
So the best local tip I can share with you is that if you can time your visit to be there in the last hour or so of trading, you can try a lot of the food for knockdown prices.
From Moroccan, Turkish and Chinese food to cakes and donuts the traders in the market are all vying for your custom and once it hits about 5pm they just want to unload their food stock so they can go home – which means you can get a huge portion of food for £1 or £2.
As a local I’ve always been on the lookout for cheap things to do in London, scanning all the deal sites as well as having Tastecard which gives you half price meals out, but this is probably the best food bargain in London.
3. Canal Capers
The Regent’s Canal is probably the best kept secret in North London.
If you’re visiting Camden Town you could be forgiven for being put off the entire canal by the busy and let’s face it, garbage-strewn, area alongside the canal at Camden Lock.
But by using Camden as your kicking-off point you can enjoy some fantastic walks along the Regent’s Canal and this historic waterway will transport you to some of the other most interesting areas of North London without encountering any road traffic, which has to be a bonus in such a built-up city.
From London Zoo, Kings Cross and Little Venice to Paddington, Islington and even Shoreditch you’ll find that walking or biking from Camden Town in either direction along the canal is your ticket to exploring another side of London.
4. Zoo For Zero
If you want to get a taste of London Zoo but want to keep all your pennies in your pocket and don’t have all day, Camden has a treat in store for you.
You can see a few animals at London Zoo without buying a ticket. By walking through the park and along the Outer Circle you can get lucky and see animals without going inside the zoo itself.
I’d often see animals while jogging through the park which makes a lovely unexpected view. I found it happened most in late afternoon / early evening, but you can always try your luck at any time of day!
5. Art Crawl
Another tip for tourists in Camden is that you can get your art fix here for free with endless exciting graffiti and street art that is ever changing – and better than anything you’ll see at a central London gallery (probably).
One of the best things about discovering a new neighbourhood is happening upon little gems that others may have missed and in Camden this happens all the time if you simply walk around, especially on the back streets.
Because things are always changing in Camden there’s no guarantee you’ll see any of the pictures of the street art I’m sharing here – but instead you’ll probably see something completely new, and that’s a huge part of the fun. In fact no matter how many Camden Town tips I share, you’ll find something incredibly cool that I have no idea about – that’s the beauty of a place as buzzing as Camden Town.
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