Top 10 Things To Do and See in Hackney

Hackney has an excellent food market every Saturday
Hackney has an excellent food market every Saturday | © DavidCC / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Grace Beard
Assistant Editor26 September 2019

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.

Pet animals at Hackney City Farm

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Pigsty, Hackney City Farm, London
Visit all sorts of animals, including pigs, at Hackney City Farm | © Arcaid Images / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Marvel at centuries of interior design at the Geffrye Museum of the Home

Building, Museum
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A Georgian 1820 drawing room, The Geffrye Museum, Shoreditch, London Borough of Hackney, London, England, United Kingdom
The Geffrye Museum of the Home has several period rooms, including this drawing room from the early 1800s | © Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Dive into an outdoor swimming pool

Natural Feature
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London Fields Lido, UK
Cool off and enjoy the sun at London Fields Lido | © Alex Segre / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Shop at a proper East End market

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Street food stall selling cheese in Broadway Market in Hackney. East London (UK), August 2017. Landscape format.
Broadway Market has many stalls selling everything from cheese to fresh flowers | © Paolo Paradiso / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Visit a historic film site

Historical Landmark, Building, Park
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Gainsborough studios, property development on New North Road, Islington, London, UK. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.
A massive Hitchcock sculpture adorns an outdoor space at the Gainsborough Studios apartments | © Jack Hobhouse / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Pretend you’re in ‘East Enders’

Historical Landmark
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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.

Visit an arthouse cinema

Cinema, Movie Theater
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Rio Cinema, London, United Kingdom. Architect: Burrell Foley Fischer LLP + F E Bromige, 1937.
The Rio Cinema not only screens films but also hosts special events | © Alastair Philip Wiper-VIEW / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Watch a play at a legendary theatre

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Hackney Empire Theatre, Mare Street, Hackney Central, London Borough of Hackney, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
The Hackney Empire hosts a wide variety of performances, including comedy and musical theatre | © Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy Stock Photo
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.

Browse a quaint local bookshop

Shop, Market, Bookstore
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Broadway Bookshop, on trendy Broadway Market in Hackney, East London, E8, England, UK. Image shot 07/2012. Exact date unknown.
The independent Broadway Bookshop is a must-visit for bibliophiles | © Monica Wells / Alamy Stock Photo
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.
These recommendations were updated on September 26, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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