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When visiting London, most tourists stay in the centre of the city and explore the same famous and well-trodden attractions. The capital of the United Kingdom has many different boroughs and locations to explore, however, each with their own specific personality.
Located in the southwest of the city, Clapham is an idyllic place to spend a weekend. From markets to festivals, Clapham has a lot to offer year round for tourists and locals alike. We look at the top 12 things to do in one of London‘s trendiest areas.
Given to the Parish of Clapham by Alexander Glegg in 1906, the Clapham Tower is one of the most historical and defining sites of the area, thus definitely something to go and see. Old is gold as we all know, and being over 100 years old, this structure is a major historical treasure.
If you’re in search of a varied menu, a great selection of beers and cool upholstery, BrewDog bars are often, if not always, a safe bet. The Clapham edition is no exception, complete with an outdoor area for drinking summer days. A selection of board games are free for patrons to enjoy while they sample one of the widest beer selections of any London BrewDog. Add to that the great menu, with vegan options courtesy of the legendary Temple of Seitan, and you’re onto a proven winner.
No district is complete without a quality street market, a place for local vendors to congregate and flog their wares. For Clapham, that’s Venn Street Market, mere seconds from Clapham Common station. It runs every Saturday, and features fresh produce, baked goods and treats from around the world, such as Portuguese sweets and South African salted meat, otherwise known as biltong. Add to that a flower shop and a top-notch coffee place, and you’ve got a full day of browsing locked in.
The charity shops in Clapham are numerous, with the largest concentration being around Clapham Junction, and more still around the High Street and Common stations. Standards like Traid and the Royal Heart Foundation are present and correct, and given the young, trendy local demographic, there are plenty of finds out there if you’re willing to dig through the racks.
Finding a great spot for breakfast is sometimes more challenging than it should be – it is the most important meal of the day, after all. The Breakfast Club stands out not only for the directness of its name, but also for its gorgeous decor and sumptuous menu. The ’50s-style surroundings and the long, varied menu are enticing enough in and of themselves, but it also holds regular special events to keep you coming back. Best of all, though, it’s open until 5pm, so brinner is always a viable option.
Many a Millennial and Gen Xer will likely go all misty-eyed at the mere mention of Scalextric, the bedroom-floor racing circuit that graced so many Christmas stockings in its heyday. Well, in Clapham, you can relive your childhood memories with an ice-cold drink in your hand. Hidden inside the Four Thieves pub, Moonshine Raceway sports a miniaturised race track with tiny cars operated by regular-sized steering wheels and pedals. Race your friends, colleagues or complete strangers, then have a drink and explore the rest of the arcade.
Another attraction housed inside the Four Thieves pub, Handmade Mysteries is one of the foremost escape room brands in the UK. Its Clapham edition is entitled Lady Chastity’s Reserve, and is themed around hijinx, alcohol and betrayal. A kind of comedic spin on the murder mystery theme, you are pitted directly against the eccentric titular character, and as the game progresses, things get increasingly abstract and silly. Ideal for when you’re already a few beers deep.
For a slightly more upmarket dining experience, you could do a heck of a lot worse than the Metro Garden. It’s hidden behind an otherwise unassuming street, and opens out into an astounding garden dining space covered in artwork sourced from local creatives. The menu itself is varied, and caters to all tastes, including an extensive vegan list. If (somehow) you get tired of looking around the venue, it sits right next to St Mary’s Church and the attached monastery, so you can marvel at some local history while you eat.
You have to venture to the edge of Clapham to reach Le Gothique, but you’ll spot it a mile away. It was the first actual gastro-pub when it first opened in 1987, but the towering Victorian building’s history stretches all the way back to 1857, when it was the Royal Victorian Patriotic Building, and served as an orphanage and school for children who had lost parents in the Crimean War. Now it’s an upscale restaurant serving a variety of French bistro-style dishes with fresh local ingredients. With views of Wandsworth Common, there are many good reasons to book a table at Le Gothique.
Additional reporting by Callum Davies.