Are you looking for the best things to do in Hackney? Dripping in parks, pubs, and independent markets this East London neighbourhood is a great place to explore. Here’s what to get up to in the area — from a Londoner.
Hackney, London is a vibrant and popular East London area with plenty to get up to.
From local attractions like museums and markets, to great places to stop for a drink or meal, there’s something for everyone in Hackney.
So, whether you’re looking for your new Hackney brunch or Hackney cafe spot — or simply keen to spend a day exploring the area, here’s how to spend the day in Hackney like a local.
The Best Things to Do in Hackney, London
1. Go to Broadway Market
Broadway Market is a large Victorian outdoor market with 120 regular stalls selling a variety of tasty and vintage items and is one of the most popular things to do in Hackney.
When wandering the 120 stalls you will be met with endless items like tasty tomato creations you can find at The Tomato Stall, or a delectable array of fudge flavors at Get Fudged.
There’s not just food either; you can find the best vintage wares at Broadway Vintage.
The market is open on Saturdays from 9am until 5pm, but the street itself has over 70 shops, like cafes, bakeries and more that are open all week.
2. Wander Through London Fields
As one of the most popular parks in Hackney, London Fields is a great place to relax and enjoy an afternoon.
The gorgeous green space is filled with a bunch of things to do and explore, including regular tennis on one of their two courts, to good ole table tennis — so plenty of choice for a good game.
If you’re looking for a way to spend a calm East London afternoon, it’s also worth taking a stroll through their wildflower meadow.
The park itself is also quite flat, making it the perfect place for a yummy picnic or simply bringing a blanket and a good book.
3. Take Up the Neighbourhood on Chatsworth Road
While in Hackney, stopping at Chatsworth Road is a must. If you know anything about London, you know that the high streets can be the best bit of a neighbourhood & this definitely stands true for Hackney.
As one of the first planned high streets, Chatsworth Road is now home to more than just necessities. You can find some of the best restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world, like Vernerdi, which plates up incredible Italian favourites or tasty Turkish at Pivaz.
Every Sunday, this road transforms into a bustling outdoor market filled with local vendors selling fresh produce, and other goodies, like handmade bags from Bramble and Mr. Twigg.
Hungry? No problem, the weekend market continues the global flavor with stalls like Hanoi Kitchen and Slovaki Street.
There’s always something new to discover at Chatsworth Road Market, so definitely worth paying a visit!
4. See Hackney Wick
This sister neighbourhood to Hackney is best known for its connection to the 2012 London Olympics with Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, but there is so much more to discover.
First off — the lovely Victoria Park, which is actually the oldest public park in Britain, and other than being a place to enjoy an afternoon reading or walking, there’s also frequent events held in the park & open to everyone, like the Sunday Market.
The Marsh is best known for being the hub of Sunday football, with 82 pitches available to play on. There is also the Marshes Center with 31 changing rooms, a cafe where you can grab a coffee after playing, and a public viewing terrace with panoramic views.
The food and drink scene here is unmissable as well, especially when the restaurant has views of the serene river lea like the outdoor seating at CRATE Brewery & Pizzeria , or Barge East where you’re right on the water.
5. Check Out the Hackney Coffee Scene
East London has some of the best coffee shops, especially Hackney. Not only will you be able to find a revitalizing cup of joe, but the interior of some of the shops are great for studying or spending an afternoon when working remote.
Here are some of my top recommendations:
E5 Bakehouse – Serving up sweet (and ethically baked) bread and treats alongside crisp cups of coffee
Hackney Coffee Company – Crafting flavour-filled coffee with seasonal menus
And more! If you want the real low down, check out my blog post on the 10 best Hackney coffee shops.
6. Shop at Mare Street Market
Mare Street Market is the place to be if you are a foodie. And being indoors there’s no excuse not to go, even on a notorious rainy Hackney day!
This funky market is serving up everything thing you can think of, from a classic sandwich at their deli counter, to tattoos. Yes! You heard that right; tattoos are available to book at the market and done by artist Uxia Santos.
If you aren’t feeling a tattoo, no worries! Enjoy a bite at The Dining Room or The Open Kitchen, operated by the markets creative director himself.
Of course, for those of us who run on caffeine — they also have a coffee joint, The Flying Horse, where you can recharge before wandering the rest of the market.
The market is open Sunday through Thursday 9am-12am and Friday – Saturday 9am-1am.
7. Visit Sutton House and Breaker’s Yard (a National Trust Site!)
This National Trust location is a two-for-one!
Built in 1535, Sutton House is one of the last remaining Tudor houses in London.
For the best experience, you can explore the interior and its elegant oak paneling through a guided history tour.
Situated directly next door to Sutton House, you’ll also stumble upon Breakers Yard. Revamped from an industrial wasteland of car scraps, it has incorporated this history to create a playful place for all ages and is one of the most fun things to do in Hackney.
With a garden and views of Sutton house, its refreshed personality is a great little addition to the rich history of its neighbour.
Prices are £8.50 for adults and £4.50 for children, and you can book your visit via the National Trust Website.
8. Climb St. Augustine’s Tower
This Hackney activity is not for the weak!
To get to the top of Hackney’s oldest building, you have to ascend up 135 small and winding steps of the centuries-old tower, but the panoramic Hackney views are definitely worth it.
However, if you are keen to see the sights, but not ready to trek the stairs (valid), on the ground floor there’s a virtual reality exhibition available for use, which immerses you in the views from the roof.
P.S. – It’s free to see at any time, but the St. Augustine’s Tower bit is only open to the public on the last Sunday of every month!
9. Explore Jewish History in Stamford Hill
This neighbourhood is home to the largest community of Haredi Hasidic Jews, and holds an abundance of history.
With 90 synagogues, and five community centers, it is a very welcoming place for the Jewish community in London.
If you enjoy history, Jewish History, or are looking to learn more, a great way to do this is just by walking around the area, and stopping into one of the many kosher stores.
10. Have a Cosy Day at Hackney City Farm
Located in the heart of East London, for 35 years, Hackney City Farm has been a working farm and home to a wide range of animals. There are a ton of activities offered as well that the whole family can enjoy making it one of the best things to do in Hackney.
You’re welcome to hang out with the animals and can even get up close to the resident cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens — or explore their lovely garden section.
Here you’ll find an orchard with apple trees, pear trees, and plum trees, as well as a bog which hosts wetland plants and other native animals. There’s also a bit made up of raised beds growing fresh vegetables, and herbs, so a great way to spend a wholesome day in Hackney.
If being able to be close to nature in the heart of East London isn’t enough, the farm also holds events where you can show your skills in pottery, woodworking, or painting.
P.S. – You can hire the farm for personal events too (including weddings!)
11. Become a Plant Mom at the Conservatory Archives
This Hackney spot is a plant lovers’ haven.
Entering the shop is like walking into a beautifully curated forest with greenery from floor to ceiling.
Once in, you can find all types of plants from small cacti and succulents, perfectly sized for your windowsill, to a potted Monstera — great for breathing life into your living room.
The Conservatory Archives also has an online shop they launched amidst the pandemic, making it even easier to bring some Hackney plants your way.
12. See a Show at Hackney Empire
Opened in 1901, this Hackney venue is a staple of the East London arts.
Hosting events from opera, to dance, music, and comedy there’s a show for everyone here and the Hackney Empire team works endlessly to make art accessible and entertain for everyone and anyone who is interested.
Young people are at the heart of the Empire, with events like weekly workshops, and a youth forum. This makes it a fantastic environment for young people in Hackney or East London who are enthused about art to spend time and get involved.
So, if you find yourself in Hackney and itching for a show — put this on your list!
13. Dip Into the Hackney Pub Scene
No London neighbourhood would be complete without a pub! Here’s a few in Hackney to kick back and enjoy a pint.
Pub on the Park – Enjoy classic pub food with a cold pint in their covered outdoor beer garden
The Cat & Mutton – A traditional pub, pouring up your favourite pints
Prince George – A go-to for locals, with vibes that are unmatched!
Old Ship Hackney – A hip and upbeat pub cooking up juicy burgers right in the centre of Hackney.
Hackney Tap – Classic feeling of a pub but with a twist (cue Gyoza galore)
Chesham Arms – A Victorian-style and dog-friendly pub
14. Catch a Film at Rio Cinema
Although this is in Dalston, Rio Cimema still deserves a shout.
With its vintage red velvet seats and retro backlit signs, Rio Cinema gives classic movie theatre feel from start to finish.
Screening all types of movies from independent films, to mainstream blockbusters there is most definitely something worth seeing here while you’re in the East End!
It’s also a non-profit charity and London’s longest-running community cinema, still engaging the community today by hiring local folks each year to be on their board of directors.
P.S. – You can book tickets on their website and they also have their own streaming service — Rio Player where you can bring the Dalston experience to you!
15. Discover the West Reservoir Centre
Another London hidden gem is the West Reservoir Centre in Hackney.
With a vast body of water, 23 acres to be exact, there’s lots of Hackney-fied water activities to get up to here.
Get your captain on by taking a certified sailing, or kayaking class. Or, for £11 you can cool off in the open water swimming area — fantastic for a London summer day.
Their youth club also runs teams that invite kids to partake in and learn the ropes of various water-sports.
If you’re not keen on anything water related, they’ve got you covered with the calm waterside cafe where you can stay dry with a nice coffee or tea, and watch Hackney life go by.
16. Have a Swim at the London Fields Lido
Do you know the origin of the word Lido? Turns out it’s just the Italian word for beach!
Anyways, across London you can find various Lidos, essentially just outdoor pools, that offer a refreshing activity to escape the heat of those warmer months.
The London Fields Lido is the only olympic size (50 meters) pool in the capital, and you guessed it. it’s in Hackney.
Able to stay open all year round due to it being heated, you can sign up for swim lessons or if you already are a water bug, take up their lane swimming available all day. There’s also a sundeck and cafe if you are more the ‘dip your toes in’ type.
P.S. – Make sure you pre-book your visit in advance as it tends to fill up quite quickly!
17. Explore Shoreditch & Dalston Nearby
Near Hackney, there are two neighbourhoods close by that are just as cool. I’m sure you’ll be seeing blogs in the future about things to do in Dalston and things to do in Shoreditch, but for now, here’s a few ideas!
Both known for their hipster and artsy aesthetic, you can’t go wrong spending the day vintage shopping.
While on that note, Brick Lane in Shoreditch, has to be mentioned as it is filled with some of the best vintage stores in London. While you’re there make sure to stop at Beigel Bake for an amazing and authentic Salt Beef, and with it being open 24/7 you there is no excuse not to pop by!
In Dalston — you can spend the day at Ridley Road Market and pick up some fresh fruit or veg. When the sun sets, immerse yourself in its exciting nightlife by going to one of the many basement clubs or hoppin cocktail bars. After spending the day in Hackney of course.
Map of the Best Things to Do in Hackney, London
Thanks for reading my Things to Do in Hackney, London Guide. If you enjoyed it, let me know on Instagram!
CHECK OUT MORE LONDON GUIDES:
- Stratford to Hackney Wick Walk: London Walk Series (Episode #7)
- Where to Brunch in Hackney: 10 Best Breakfast Spots
- The Best Shoreditch Cafes: Coffee Shop Guide to Shoreditch