Exploring North London: The Best of Islington

If you’re looking for a great neighbourhood to explore in London, Islington is a great choice. This North London District encompasses high street, Upper Street, Essex Road and Southgate Road.

As a Zone 2 residential district, it is in neither bustling London nor its leafy suburbs making it perfect for adventure seekers and those searching for history. We’ll highlight the past, and three fun things to do in Islington, so it’s easier to plan your after-tattoo appointment adventure.

The Historical Makeup of Islington

Islington is originally known as Giseldone, a Saxon word meaning the hill of a man named Gisla. The district sat on the estates of the Bishop of London. It was defined by large moated manor houses until the 1540s when the rich and eminent began moving into the area, thanks to its seamless access to the cities of London and Westminister. The hill it sat on and is famously named after was a popular water source for the city of London in the 15th and 16th centuries, a factor that greatly contributed to its growth.

In the 17th century,  natural water sources were no longer adequate, and an artificial river was constructed to deliver fresh water from the River Lea throughout Islington. Besides being a popular water source, the waterway also saw agriculture thrive in Islington, fueling its growth further. By 1720, the area had tea gardens, and by the 19th century, it was a popular entertainment hub with music halls, theatres, billiards, and nearly endless classic entertainment options.

Things to Do in Islington

Thanks to its early growth, Islington is today one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in North London. It has undergone gentrification in recent years and now boasts a good mix of historical and urban attractions you’ll love adding to your itinerary. That said, here are five fun things to do in Islington:

Feast on some Street Food at Exmouth Market

Islington’s Upper Street market boasts restaurants with nearly all cuisines, but for the best street food experience, head to Exmouth Market. Located only ten minutes from Islington’s Upper Street, Exmouth Market is lined with endless food stalls, restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating that offer nearly everything from sweet potato hash to queso fundido. The street also features stores with wonderful handmade crafts, succulents and many other creative bits that make for a perfect souvenir.

Grab a Beer at The Narrowboat

Famous for its extensive range of craft beers and cask ale, The Narrowboat is one of the oldest pubs in Islington. This double-fronted gem is set on the Regent Canal and, beside perfectly-brewed beers, also offers revellers unobstructed canal views and a rich food menu.

Catch a show and Drink at the King’s Head Theatre

The King’s Head Theatre is one of London’s oldest operating pub theatres and the first of its kind since the Shakespeare era. It’s housed in an old Victorian building, and although it only began operating as a theatre pub in 1970, a pub is said to have been on site since the 15th century. Besides its epic history, the King’s Theatre also hosts stand-up comedy, contemporary musicals, and numerous live productions.

Getting to Islington

Islington is easily accessible via Angel, Archway and Arsenal tube stations. The Angel tube station is the closest to Islington district, but you can always take a bus or walk or take a cab if coming from nearby Shoreditch.

Official Islington Website: https://www.islington.gov.uk/