Hackney is London’s most liveable borough, making it an ideal home for the pop-ups, start-ups and hipster hang-outs that have sprung up here in recent years. An area rich in history and community spirit, there are plenty of things to see and do in Hackney, from diving in a local lido to browsing a quaint bookshop.
Take a break from city life in the heart of Hackney at the City Farm, where you can pet goats, feed chickens and feel all warm-hearted over baby lambs. Sure, it’s mostly for kids, but it also has adult pottery classes, woodcraft classes and organic allotment projects for those with green thumbs.
There’s a museum for everything in London, and the Geffrye is proof. This marvellous institution explores the history of Britain’s domestic interiors. Located in a gorgeous Grade I-listed building, you’ll feel like a time traveller as you wander through 11 period rooms from the 1600s to the present day. Please note that the Geffrye is closed for redevelopment until spring 2020.
Luckily for the warm-blooded among us, London Fields Lido is a heated Olympic-size swimming pool, making it perfect for a dip year-round. Make a day of it in the summer, and enjoy the café and sunbathing facilities on the sundeck.
A firm favourite with locals, Broadway Market is a proper London food market – and more affordable than Borough Market. Here, you can shop for fresh fruit and vegetables that rival the supermarkets not only on price but also taste and colour. You can also enjoy delicious cooked food from around the world and browse for some bargain vintage clothes.
Once a giant of the film industry – producing such melodramas as Fanny by Gaslight (1944) and Caravan (1946) – Gainsborough Studios has long since been demolished and turned into a block of flats. A blue plaque commemorates its historical origins, as well as a Hitchcock sculpture.
From film history to TV legend, Fassett Square is largely unremarkable save for the fact that it is the model for popular soap opera East Enders’ fictional ‘Albert Square’. It is a perfect place to indulge your small-screen fantasies of being a Mitchell brother or walking down to the Queen Vic for a pint.
Commemorated by a small blue plaque, Nevill Road is the site of the first bomb to be dropped on London during World War I. It’s well worth a look for those interested in British history and an interesting fact to know if you ever end up in this part of London with friends.
Housed in a Grade II-listed building, Rio Cinema on Kingsland Road showcases a great collection of classics, new releases and foreign flicks. Dating back over 100 years, this place boasts 1930s Art Deco furnishings. Alongside watching films, you can enjoy comedy, cabaret and live music in the main auditorium.
Hackney Empire is a 1900s music hall turned modern theatre. Boards that were once trodden by Charlie Chaplin now host comedy nights with the likes of John Cleese and Jennifer Saunders, as well as great updated youth productions of classics such as Macbeth and even operas.
Located on the canal end of Broadway Market, the vibrant and independent Broadway Bookshop is an Aladdin’s cave for bookworms looking to get their hands on old classics and bestsellers alike. The shop specialises in fiction but also has a beautiful travel section, largely focused on books dealing with the local history of London. It’s a real find for those who want to learn more about Hackney and the city.