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Best Things to do in Hackney: An Insider’s Area Guide

Best Things to do in Hackney: An Insider’s Area Guide

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Looking for the best things to do in Hackney? Great, you are in the right place. 

This is one of London’s most diverse and unique boroughs. Hackney has a strong community feel and is well-known for its unmatched food scene and bustling nightlife. 

Located at the heart of the East End, Hackney was not always the vibrant place it is today. It was once a series of small hamlets and farmlands that supplied food to the city of London. 

The rich marshes and woodland saw it become popular among Medieval Royals as an area that was close to London with a tranquil outdoor life and exceptional natural beauty. 

Over the years, Hackney has become a cosmopolitan area that’s a global destination for arts, culture, and nightlife. This means you’ll find loads of fun and quirky things to do in London’s most trendy borough.

This comprehensive guide covers all you need to know to explore Hackney in all its glory.

Things to do in Hackney

Delving into the spots you shouldn’t miss.

Victoria Park 

Victoria Park

London’s oldest park plays host to several interesting monuments on its grounds. This includes two alcoves from the Old London Bridge, brought to the park in 1831 after its demolition. 

Victoria Park opened in 1845 and has won a Green Flag Award consecutively each year since 2010. Wander along the paths meandering next to the Regent and Hertford Union Canals and stop for a moment at the picturesque boating lake. 

The park is also a great spot to set up a picnic and home to some of London’s most raucous summer festivals. 

Viktor Wynd Museum

The Viktor Wynd Museum is a museum of curiosities, fine art, and unnatural history. A visit to this rather strange and macabre museum is one of the most unusual things to do in Hackney, London. 

When you think of a museum, whatever comes to mind is probably not what you’ll get here. Curated by Viktor Wynd himself, you’ll find an eclectic mix of, well, oddities. A lock of Elvis’s hair and a half-eaten biscuit by David Attenborough are among the stranger things you’ll see. While British surrealist etchings form part of the ‘fine art’ section. 

All you need to enter this weird and wonderful world is £10 and an open mind.

Once you’re done, feel free to digest what you’ve just seen in the upstairs Absinthe and Cocktail bar with a stiff drink – you may need it!

Hackney Marshes

A post shared by Hackney Marshes Centre (@hackney_marshes)

An inner-city gem, the Hackney Marshes is an area of grassland on the western bank of the River Lee and leads up to the Hackney Stadium. A sports lover’s haven, the marshes have great facilities for all types of activities.

From rugby, football (it’s known as the home of Sunday football), and cricket pitches with changing rooms and toilets to a rooftop terrace and pavilion are just a few things on offer. If you’d like to use the facilities, be sure to check out prices and book. 

You may have heard of “Hackney Beach,” the nickname for the water marshes found here. People often swim in the water, but you should really avoid the temptation to take a dip due to it being polluted.

Hackney City Farm

Hackney City Farm is one of the best things to do in Hackney with kids, although even adults will enjoy the visit. Experience rural life in the heart of the city. You can pet goats, feed chickens, and melt over baby lambs. Children are also taught about vegetable gardens and can plant their own seeds in the garden. 

Before heading home, drop by the farm shop for fresh produce and eggs.

Museum of the Home

The Museum of the Home boasts centuries of interior design from 1600 to the present. You can marvel at various home and home life scenarios with a series of 11-period room displays. 

Located in a stunning Grade I-listed building in Shoreditch, this is a great place to explore the history of Britain’s domestic interiors through several permanent displays, and a number of temporary exhibitions.

Entry is free, and if you have any interest in social history, or the evolution of how we see home throughout the years, this is a must-visit.

St Augustine Tower 

Standing majestically in St John’s Church Gardens in Hackney central is St Augustine Tower. 

The Tower is what remains of the 16th-century parish church of Hackney, St Augustine. The gorgeous 16th-century clock has remained on the Tower’s third floor since around 1608. 

The St Augustine Tower is present in the coat of arms of the London Borough of Hackney, showing its symbolism and importance to the area. The Tower is impressive, and a visit to Hackney’s oldest remaining building is essential if you’re a history buff.

The tower is open to the public on the final Sunday of every month between 2 and 4:30pm.

Sutton House 

Sutton House – a Grade-II listed Tudor Manor House and National Trust found in the centre of Hackney, is worth a visit. The building was built in 1535 for Ralph Sadlier, a courtier of Henry VIII, and has seen many different residents since then. 

From anarchist squatters in the 1980s to hosting various gigs – this house has seen it all. Today you can tour the building with Tudor finishes and carved fireplaces. The tranquil courtyard is also a magnificent place for a silent, reflective moment.

Mare Street 

The energetic pulse of Mare Street is reason in itself to visit. Along the street, you’ll find fabulous wining and dining options and Mare Street Market. This street offers it all; a glimpse into London’s history, an artisan cocktail and a supermarket shop. 

Give yourself a little while to explore what’s on offer from Rebel Rebel Flowers and retro record store, Stranger Than Paradise. If you’re after some more ink, Nobody’s Business Tattoo is perfect, while guys can get their grooming fix at Well Groomed Barber – and ladies can have their hair cut or blow-dried every Tuesday with Hannah.

Of course, no respecting market is complete without food, and Mare Street hits that nail on the head emphatically, with the Deli & Bottle Shop, as well as a bar, open kitchen, and dining room.

Hackney Markets

Black Owned Hackney Market

Hackney has some great markets, which are also some of the best places to do some shopping. If you are travelling from afar, you’ll find charming curios to gift those back home. If you’re a local, you’ll find unique vintage goods and trinkets. 

Oh, and we can’t forget the delicious street food and produce that vendors whip up at most of the markets. From weekend markets to monthly affairs, these are some of the best markets to visit in Hackney:

  • Chatsworth Road Market: Runs every Sunday and is a popular market for families. Keep the kids entertained at Lolly’s toy and homeware accessories while you remain satisfied with the wide variety of food on offer
  • Hackney Flea Market: Running monthly, here you’ll find the best vintage goods and furniture
  • Ridley Road Market: The freshest fruit and vegetables are on offer at Ridley Market in Dalston, running daily – except Sundays
  • Broadway Market: A Saturday street food market foodies shouldn’t miss
  • Bohemia Place Market: Showcasing London’s best black-owned eats, artisan traders, and more every Friday night
  • Mare Street Market: Already mentioned above, but worth cementing in the memory

Take an Ohros Candle Making Classes

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Hackney, how about getting your creative juices flowing? There’s plenty of that to be found in Hackney but one of our top favourites are the candle making classes at Ohros

No matter if you’re already a knowledgeable candlemaker or a total novice, over the course of a few hours Orhos’ charming owner Georgia will teach you everything you need to know to create your very own scented candle. 

That’s comprehensive lessons in picking scented oils, and how to incorporate them into a candle you’ll shape from scratch. The classes are really fun and totally relaxing, perfect for an afternoon’s unwinding. 

Check Out the Peace Mural

London is adorned with some amazing pieces of street art, yet few have endured as long as the Hackney Peace Mural.

Created by local artist Ray Walker at the height of the Cold War, the peace mural features a diverse cast of characters marching for peace against the threat of the nuclear bomb.

The mural was painted by Mike Jones and Anna Walker, Ray’s wife, in 1985 after the untimely death of Walker the year before aged just 39, and remains as relevant today as it was four decades ago.

VR Gaming at Other World

Virtual Reality gaming is taking off in a big way, and Hackney is home to one of the best immersive gaming centres in London. 

Other World is an immersive VR gaming experience where you enter a pod on your own, but can play with or against friends, colleagues, or dates in exciting virtual worlds. 

There are 16 of the world’s finest VR games and virtual worlds to choose from, including a digital theme park. The immersive experience doesn’t simply extend to the graphics, the pod will has wind, heat, and rumble effects to really take you into a new world.

Explore new planets, take out zombies at will, and battle ancient spirits while having the time of your life.

Hackney Community Sauna and Baths

Imagine being able to have a fully-fledged spa experience without having to leave East London and check into an upmarket hotel. Well, Hackney Community Sauna and Baths gives you that exact experience for less than a tenner.

With a 60-minute morning session costing just £8.50, you can take advantage of one of six outdoor communal saunas if you’re heading their solo or with a mate or two, or a 6-person sauna for group bookings.

Also included are ice-cold plunges in either chilled bathtubs, or converted whisky barrels. As sensations go, you’ll be sure to squeal at first as you get into the cold water from the sauna before you begin to settle and really feel the benefit of the ice-cold immersion.

Other treatments are available including a one hour leaf whisking session in a sauna, massage treatments, and other classes including breathwork, life drawing inside a sauna, and sauna yoga. 

Board Games and Burgers

Draughts is an awesome board game cafe where you can book a table and gain unlimited access to their extensive (and we mean extensive!) board games library. Whether its a simple game of Connect 4 or Scrabble, or an in-depth multi-player immersive RPG experience that’ll take all day, this is the place to go.

They hold regular events, and set menus that include food, drinks, and even a dedicated games maker to curate your game-playing experience throughout the evening.

Check out their Games Library to get a flavour of what you could be playing, and enjoy some of the best burgers and beers in Hackney while you play.

Eating & Drinking 

The best spots to grab a drink and bite to eat.

Crate Brewery 

Of all things to do in Hackney Wick, a visit to Crate Brewery should be at the top of your list. Located on the riverside, this beer garden with quirky views of the ever-changing street art on the Hackney Wick Canal is full of character.

Opening in 2012, this was one of the first breweries in Hackney and they set a high standard for those to follow. So, grab a pint and a pizza, and enjoy an afternoon at one of the best breweries in London.

Hackney Brewery

Calling all beer lovers, Hackney Brewery’s taproom has 20 direct-draw taps serving the freshest Hackney beer. This gives you the chance to taste many drinks until you find your favourite. There isn’t a restaurant on the premises, but Pizza Lovers (formerly Milo’s Pizza) rock up on Thursdays through Sunday to satisfy your culinary cravings.


This trendy restaurant gem in the heart of Dalston is sure to impress those taste buds and senses with its unique flavours and chic interior design. Creating a mash-up of Japanese and Italian cuisine, you won’t see dishes Angelina’s offers on many other menus. 

You can grab the £64 10-course Kaiseki menu, which is absolutely to die for, or the 4-course Omakase Menu, which is equally fantastic, and just £40. It comes with a wine pairing for an additional £35, which we think is great value.

Service is down-to-earth, and this, mixed with the relaxed atmosphere and unmatched food, make for a great restaurant experience. 

Night Tales

While we are talking about fun things to do in Hackney, Night Tales has to make an appearance. This trendy Hackney space serves up in house pizza, cocktails and drinks, and some big-name DJs. So what exactly is this exhilarating sounding place anyway? 

It’s a large (300 sqm) terrace consisting the pizza restaurant and multiple bars serving top class cocktails, and an area for dancing. It’s a great place to go for afternoon drinks, especially if you feel like dancing the night away later on.

Some of the DJ gigs are free, and others you’ll need to pay for, so be sure to check out what’s on when you plan on visiting.  

Top Picks for Hackney