London/Camden

Camden is an inner northern district of London. Its heart lies in Camden Town, a neighbourhood known for its market and the colourful nightlife. Camden is home to three of the most important railway stations in London: King's Cross, St. Pancras and Euston.

Understand

Camden Town - whacky, Bohemian and lots of fun

For half a century Camden Town, the centre of Camden, has been the centre of alternative culture in London, be it punk, goth, hippie or emo. The area is home to large markets selling an extremely wide range of products from glowing t-shirts to digeridoos, mostly from independent stalls. With some of the capital's most varied cuisine, great live music and an anything goes attitude, Camden is one of the most vibrant and interesting of all London districts.

The area has its origins in the early 19th century as a suburban town on the road leading north from London. Later, it developed as a service centre around the railways, canals and other transportation. Virtually the whole of Camden was traditionally a working class, inner-city area with large estates of run-down public housing and some very seedy areas indeed. Inevitably though given its convenient inner London location, considerable gentrification has occurred across the district. Nevertheless, a friendly community atmosphere remains in the area which has in recent years bred such different people as singer Amy Winehouse and Labour party leader Ed Miliband.

Orientation

The district of Camden, as covered here, is larger than Camden Town and smaller than the London Borough of Camden. This is for the sake of usefulness: the former is a rather small historic area and the latter simply an administrative unit, but don't be surprised by seeing contradictory uses of the term "Camden". As the term is used here, the Camden district roughly corresponds with the northern half of the Metropolitan Borough of St. Pancras, which existed until 1965.

Three of the main London railway stations are located in the south of the district. They are all along Euston Road, which is a part of the ring road around inner London. King's Cross and St. Pancras International are just across the street from each other (they're served by a single tube station), and slightly further to the west is Euston. A number of important main roads also converge in or around Camden.

For the traveller, it may be useful to divide the district of Camden into four areas. In the centre is Camden Town, with Camden High Street and Chalk Farm Road as its main thoroughfare. The Northern Line underground runs through this area and it's where most locations of interest are to be found. To the southwest of Camden Town is Euston, with its eponymous railway station but little else apart from office blocks and council housing. To the southeast is an area known as King's Cross, which contains both the King's Cross and St. Pancras International railway stations. The King's Cross area used to be known for prostitution, drugs and crime, but today most of the area is being redeveloped and has become a lot more up-market. Finally, northeast of Camden Town is Kentish Town, linked to the rest of Camden by Kentish Town Road which branches out from Camden High Street. This is an interesting area, in some ways Camden Town's smaller sibling, it's quieter than it's neighbour to the south but has many of the same characteristics.

Get in

By tube

Camden Town tube station

The district is served by the following tube stations, listed from south to north.

By bus

Camden is very easily reached by bus from almost anywhere else in North or Inner London.

By Overground

Camden is connected to the London Overground by two stations on the North London Line and one on the Watford DC Line. This is most useful if arriving in Camden from either East or West London, as most other options from those areas require going in to the centre and then back out to Camden.

By rail

London’s three large railway terminals to the North - Euston, St. Pancras and King’s Cross - are all located in the borough with easy connections from other parts of London and the northern suburbs.

See

The Gothic splendour of St Pancras Station with the British Library in the foreground

Do

There are several nice walks along the canal, but the main focus of Camden are the shops, restaurants and nightlife.

Buy

Markets galore at Camden Town

Camden Town Markets

The markets in Camden Town are why most people come to Camden. Several markets are packed into the area between Camden Town and Chalk Farm tube stations, and in the weekend it can be difficult to distinguish one from another. Sadly, with increased tourism, the markets have become more commercial and less unique than they once were. However it is still possible to find some great things to buy - clothes, art, books, records - simply by persisting through the most commercial bits and going on through to the more interesting parts deeper inside the markets.

Shops

In addition to the markets, there are a large number of interesting shops dotted all around the area.

Take a long slow wander down Chalk Farm Road (it will need to be slow, the sheer number of people makes walking quickly impossible!), checking out the amazing collection of boots and leather that dominate it. Of special note are:

Other shops include:

Eat

Camden has some of the most varied cuisine in all of London. A key part of Camden's food scene are the many stalls offering quick and tasty food from every country possible. Quality varies, but generally it is good and cheap. Stalls tend to be located in and around the Lock and Stables markets, but they appear everywhere. A perennial favourite has been the donut and cake stall located next to the bridge, as have the many Chinese and Thai stalls nearby. Camden also contains a large number of more formal restaurants, many of which are relatively inexpensive and open after the stalls have closed.

Drink

Camden has a great nightlife, with lots of cool bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Pubs, bars and cafes

Clubs and music venues

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Camden has long had strong associations with drugs, in particular cannabis and magic mushrooms. Even during daylight, you are likely to be offered weed or hashish. These dealers will usually accept no for an answer. Remember that these drugs are still illegal, streetside dealers are not to be trusted and often just steal your money if you look interested. Also, there are many undercover police around to catch you.

Walking around Camden at night is generally fine, but gangs of youths can seem threatening, and best avoided if alone. At night walking on well lit streets, such as Camden High Street, is a good idea but take a taxi if you are feeling insecure.

Fake goods are found in abundance in Camden. Most of the time its fairly obvious (Bolex watches, etc.), but be careful when purchasing - refunds are not common. Fake DVDs are mostly terrible quality.

Go next

Three very good parks are within walking distance of Camden:

For shopping, Tottenham Court Road with its famed electronics stores lies south out of Camden, close to Euston. At the other end of Tottenham Court Road is Oxford Street.

Looking further afield, from St Pancras International you can catch the Eurostar for Paris, Lille or Bruxelles.

Routes through Camden

Hammersmith and Fulham Mayfair-Marylebone  W  E  Holborn-Clerkenwell The City
Hammersmith and Fulham Mayfair-Marylebone  W  E  Holborn-Clerkenwell The City
North London Mayfair-Marylebone  W  E  Holborn-Clerkenwell The City
North London Hampstead ← Edgware branch  N  S  Edgware branch → Bloomsbury The City / Leicester Square
North London Islington ← Mill Hill East and High Barnet branches  N  S  Mill Hill East and High Barnet branches → Bloomsbury The City / Leicester Square
Westminster-Mayfair-Marylebone Bloomsbury  S  N  Islington North London
Westminster Bloomsbury  S  N  Islington North London
Richmond-Kew Hampstead ← North London Line  W  E  North London Line → Islington East London


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, November 10, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.