Hampstead London 101: Hampstead Heath Ponds, Cafes, Charity Shops…

Have you heard? Hampstead Heath London is the new Central London. When we think of London, we mostly picture the center of the city, with Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, and the oh-so-famous Leicester Square. Yet, there are tons of other cool places you could always stroll by, like Hampstead Heath. It’s one of my very favorite places in London. Once, I was always stuck in Central and East London, where you can legit find lots of things to do. Especially if you’re walking around Shoreditch, Brick Lane, and Bethnal Green. And then I grew up. Peaceful, village-like North London and places like Hampstead Heath, Muswell Hill, Highgate and Wood Green started appealing to me big time.

Hampstead Heath 101 – The Introduction

If you’re in North London, you might like to check out the following:

But for now, let’s focus on Hampstead London – one of the greenest park areas in London, where the village-like feel of the main street will make you wish you could move there in a heartbeat. Hampstead Heath is one of the most popular green spaces in London. With its infamously famous pergola, only peaceful moments can happen during a Hampstead Heath walk. That’s one of the reasons why the place is adored by many locals and visitors.

If you like spotting London sunsets as you can do in Primrose Hill, Hampstead Heath will conquer your heart in the blink of an eye. The large stretch of beautiful countryside close to Central London will make you relish picturesque views of the capital’s skyline unlike what you’d ever expected in London.

Why Visit Hampstead London: Hampstead Heath Ponds, Cafes, Pergola

Hampstead Heath is the lungs of London, no doubt about it. Whether you’re just taking a walk there during the winter or having a relaxed picnic in summer, this place will surely knock you off the ground.

With this article, I’ve tried to make my own little Hampstead guide. Much like Primrose Hill, there’s not that much to do in London Hampstead Heath. But you can still enjoy a full day shopping at antique shops, charity shops, and resting at one of the amazing independent coffee shops in London.

It’s all about taking a little tour of some of the most aesthetic places in this amazing part of North London. Whether you’re there to soak in the beauty of the area or dine at one of the posh restaurants in Hampstead Heath, you’ll soon be spellbound by this place.

A Bit of History: Where is Hampstead Heath?

London Hampstead Victorian House Hampstead in London Hampstead Heath Pergola Hill Garden Hampstead Heath Ponds 1
Photo: Barrons

Hampstead Heath, known by locals as Heath, is a large and ancient land that covers roughly 320 hectares (790 acres). This green, grassy land sits beside a sandy ridge, one of the highest points in London which runs from Hampstead to Highgate.

How do I get to Hampstead Heath?

London Hampstead Heath Tube Underground Hampstead in London Pergola Hill Garden Hampstead Heath Ponds
Photo: Ham & High

It’s quite simple to get to Hampstead Heath. The closest Hampstead Heath Stations (tube station) are Hampstead, Belsize Park, and Tufnell Park. They’re all on the Northern Line (just make sure to get on the correct branch, as it splits north of Camden Town).

If you want to go to the Hampstead Heath Extension in the north, Golders Green is a good Hampstead Heath Station to use as well. I don’t know if you’re aware that Golders Green and Wood Green are other amazing places in London. There, you can go shopping or get a good cup of coffee before shopping for some budget gems at charity shops (or candle brands at TK Maxx, too). Now you know.

Okay, now that I’ve set the tone, let’s get on with the amazing things you can do in Hampstead Heath in London!

1. Visit The Cool Independent Cafes in Hampstead Heath London

I don’t know how I could possibly write about things to do in Hampstead in London without telling you about amazing cafes. There are so many cafes in Hampstead Heath that you’ll locate one or two wherever you turn your head as you’re walking around. Whether you’re looking for the perfect spot to have breakfast, lunch, or brunch in Hampstead or you just want to satisfy your urges with a coffee and cake, here is a small list of my favorite spots for cafes in Hampstead Heath.

Of course, I will write a more extensive article about all the best Hampstead Heath coffee shops – bear with me. In the meantime, if you love London cafes, check out this cool list of the best coffee shops in Shoreditch to study, work, or just chill!

1. Roni’s bakery hampstead

Roni’s Bakery in Hampstead is one of the North London coffee shops that offer great food. We’re talking healthy snacks, fresh fruit juices, and amazing bread. I love European cafes in London as they always remind me of home. If you’re French and live in London, I know one thing you must be missing are our famous croissants and pains au chocolate.

Well, a moment at Roni’s Bakery in Hampstead will definitely make you feel better in the blink of an eye. How could decadent flakey croissants not make you feel psyched? If you’re looking for other great cafes in North London, Roni’s Bakery has other coffee shops in Belsize Park and Muswell Hill, notably.

2. Boulangerie bon matin hampstead

I remember the first time I ever set foot in the Boulangerie Bon Matin. It is quite a huge bakery in North London, and it’s located on the famous Hampstead street, Flash Walk. I don’t know why this street is so famous, but I do know I felt amazing spending time there over and over again. Flash Walk in Hampstead does have this very village feel to it, much like Richmond Park’s surroundings – or Montmartre, as Boulangerie Bon Matin sets it.

The viennoiseries and pastries here are delicious, and the coffee is roasted locally in London. Everyone is trained rigorously at this London bakery, and you can see for yourself that the quality standards are high. The first Boulangerie Bon Matin actually opened in 2010 in Finsbury Park.

In 2017, founder Dahmane Ladjassa opened his second branch in Hampstead Heath. In this independent bakery and coffee shop, the Paris-trained chef offers a wide array of the best pastries in London. I’ve written about super instagrammable bakeries and pastry shops in London a while back. Well, Boulangerie Bon Matin definitely deserves this title too.

3. Ginger & White

Ginger & White is a Hampstead cafe focused on British food, artisan coffee, and a super trendy atmosphere. Sourdough toasts, chicken salads, and an array of mouthwatering cakes all sit proudly on the Ginger & White menu. I am a sucker for sourdough bread (I’ve mentioned it when I talked about Grounded and their amazing halal Full English breakfast in East London) and that at Ginger & White is unforgettable.

I’d also like to add that since the eggs are free-range and cakes handmade in the cafe’s kitchen, it’s a great place if you pay attention to that kind of detail. I know I prefer buying locally sourced produce and handmade pastries in London. It seems like Hampstead cafes do put the emphasis on local and sustainable ingredients, so that’s almost a staple in this North London area. So, if you’re like me, Ginger & White might be a cafe in London you love.

2. Grab a bite at one of Hampstead Heath Restaurants

Hampstead Heath in North London has many restaurants serving all the delightful cuisines you could ever imagine. Indeed, there are plenty of options offered for fine dining, pub dining, and casual dining in those restaurants. If you’re a world cuisine lover, you’ll be served there. I’d recommend visiting the ponds and pergola in Hampstead Heath before resting at the likes of Italian, French, and Indian restaurants. Why not get some proper British food at one of the Hampstead pubs for instance? Fish and chips is always the way to go!

There are so many spots you can grab a bite from, and what I love the most about the food in Hampstead in London, is the uniqueness. The majority are independent restaurants with a single branch in London Hampstead Heath. The odd brand name will have a few branches in the city, but it’s pretty rare. I’ve listed three restaurants in Hampstead that you’ll love if quality and affordability are in your dictionary.

The Holly Bush : English pub restaurant

You’ll come across plenty of pubs in North Hampstead London but the Holly Bush always seems to come on top and it just might be the most popular because of its deep history and lovely décor. You feel you’ve been taken a few centuries back when you’re sitting at the Holly Bush – word.

The Holly Bush is a fuller’s pub but luckily it also has an awesome restaurant on-site. Their delicious menu also includes… Hampstead Heath Sunday Roast menu (not halal). So don’t forget to add this restaurant to your list when you visit Hampstead in London!

The Fish Cafe : British Restaurant

The Fish Cafe in Hampstead Heath North London is a fish and chip shop, but this is not your usual chippy joint. You can have the classic fish and chip takeout at the store’s front but when you walk to the back of this shop, you’ll find a fine dining Hampstead Heath restaurant with lots of experience and great service serving.

They have the finest, yummiest, and freshest fish and seafood with a variety of options for both lunch and dinner. This joint is very popular among the locals and thus earns a spot in one of the best restaurants you can visit in North Hampstead London.

The Spaniards Inn

The Spaniards is a great joint that is mostly known for their delightful Hampstead Heath Sunday Roasts (not halal). They have established quite a following in Hampstead. How could they not? The Spaniards Inn is one of the most historic pubs in London. It’s even said that John Keats used to come here to write poetry.

Today, the Spaniards Inn is famous for its outstanding cuisine culture. We’ve got a superior line-up of British meats which includes succulent beef and farm-assured chicken, alongside homemade Yorkshire puddings (they also include veggie options for the vegans).

3. Hampstead Heath Lido

London Hampstead Lido Hampstead in London Pergola Hill Garden
Photo: Daily Mail

If you’re not keen on the look of the Hampstead Heath ponds, the Lido is a great place for outdoor swimming. The Hampstead Heath Lido is an amazing place to visit with your children during summer, and additionally, there is a playground close by. The Lido is situated in the southeastern corner, not far from the Gospel Oak overground station.

The Hampstead Heath Lido is not heated but there are hot showers and a sauna available, plus a limited number of lockers. This Hampstead Heath Pond is massive but still, come early to secure a spot, especially during summer. You know how few outdoor swimming spaces there are in London.

4. Go For a Swim at the Hampstead Heath Ponds

It wouldn’t make sense to write about parks in Hampstead without talking about actually swimming in Hampstead Heath. There are not many lakes in London or outdoor places where you can go swimming in the city.

On your visit to Hampstead in London, one cool and unique thing you can do – and slightly different from your usual activities – is taking a dive in one of the many Hampstead ponds! Hampstead does have swimming pools, but who needs a pool when you can swim with the ducks?

All year round, there is a male bathing pond, a female bathing pond, and a mixed pond. As you can imagine, the ponds are quite busy in summer and the Hampstead Heath ponds have garnered endless fame over the years.

5. Flash Walk Hampstead Heath London

London Hampstead Flash Walk Hill Garden and Pergola Independent shops in London Hampstead Heath
Photo: MaCheDavvero

Hidden in plain sight off Hampstead High Street lies Flash Walk, an alleyway full of eccentric character. Flash Walk might very well be the most famous street in Hampstead London. There are many more independent shops and brands in London than you could ever imagine, and lots are hidden there in this patch of North London goodness.

Secondhand books, independent coffee shops and bakeries, designer shops… Flash Walk has got it all. I’ve fallen in love with this street the first time I ever set foot on it. It’s got a vibe of Diagon Alley and tucked at every corner, you’ll find pretty facades, cute cafes, and unique shops.

I know that buying a house on Hampstead Heath is far from being in my plans, but it doesn’t hurt to enjoy something different than Hill Garden and pergola, right? But still, the magical pergola is something to visit, so continue reading just below to know more about it!

6. Explore Hill Garden and Pergola Hampstead Heath in London

London Hampstead Pond Hampstead in London Pergola Hill Garden Hampstead Heath Ponds Hill Gardens
Photo: Camden Gov

Exploring the Hill Garden and Pergola Hampstead Heath is a pretty unique thing on your visit to North London. Everyone will tell you to go to Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill as I have above. Yet, not everyone will have knowledge of Hill Garden and Pergola Hampstead Heath. For that reason, it remains a hidden gem prized by photographers and makeup artists for photoshoots in London.

To be honest, I got lost the first time I tried to locate the Hill Garden and Pergola. I think that’s why I didn’t really like North London the first months I moved to London. It’s so tiny and huge at the same time, and it’s so hard to find the parks and streets there! Over the years, I learned to love the North London parks, like Primrose Hill.

Close to Golders Green, the pergola is absolutely lovely and the gardens are picturesque. You might know by now how crazy I am about instagrammable places in London. After all, I’ve already told you about instagrammable cafes in London for a pink latte fix, and the most colorful houses in Notting Hill.

Well, the Pergola in Hampstead Heath definitely is the perfect spot to take your Instagram photos. Head there to learn and understand the beautiful history or take a relaxed walk as you take photos. In any case, you’ll come back home with lots of pictures.

7. Hampstead London: Spot Plaques of Famous London Authors

There’s much more than the Hill Garden and Pergola in Hampstead Heath. Really. I know that Instagram mostly shows us beautiful parks in Hampstead and the occasional sunset, but now, we’re going to see about some history. Hampstead has been the home of many famous people in London. That includes writers and poets, and even politicians such as Charles de Gaulle.

One way to spot where famous people have lived in Hampstead is to find the small historical plaques. You’ll find the ones of George Orwell, John Keats, and famous female writer Daphne du Maurier. I remember Reading Rebecca by Du Maurier years ago, and I absolutely fell in love with the author’s writing style.

Plus, I would even suggest having a walk around Hampstead in London, getting a nice book at one of the Hampstead charity shops, and reading it in a chill cafe. I don’t see how the afternoon could get any better when you start by doing that.

8. Visit the Hampstead Antiques and Craft Emporium

London Hampstead Antique and Craft Emporium Hampstead in London Pergola Hill Garden Hampstead Heath Ponds
Photo: Tripadvisor

The Hampstead Antique & Craft Emporium has got to be one of the most famous shop streets in Hampstead London. This is an antique street where shops sell anything from antiquity to our present-day and any kind of vintage from East to West. There are 25 shops in the area, so you’re bound to find something you’ll love there. They’re all kind of split in terms of what they’re selling, too. That should definitely make it easier for you to browse if you’re an antiques and vintage lover.

Whether you’re looking for jewelry, vintage or antique buttons, fine crystal, or designer clothing, you’ll be served at the Hampstead Antique & Craft Emporium. I don’t know that many independent shops in London where the offer is so large. Of course, everything has been carefully handpicked for us.

I love the 20th Century decades. When I was a makeup artist, Epoque makeup was something I particularly loved doing. All the antiques, Art Deco, and contemporary furniture, decorations, and accessories at this Hampstead street remind me of my love for 20th Century fashion and way of living.

9. Visit the Hampstead Museums

London Hampstead Keats House Hampstead in London Hampstead Heath Pergola Hill Garden 2 Hampstead Heath Ponds
Photo: The Guardian

Aside from the very instagrammable cafes Hampstead Heath has to offer, there are a number of cultural elements to visit in the area. We’ve seen that there is quite a number of historical plaques in Hampstead. Now, I’d like to talk about two museums that are a true bonus to the Hampstead Heath area in London.

Keats House Museum

The Keats House Museum is the first of the Hampstead museums I’d like to mention here today. John Keats gave his name to the house, a romantic poet who trod the streets of Hampstead long before we did. It’s not a free museum in London, and since it opened in 1925, it’s been a literary center and museum. However, this is a worthy museum that allows you to understand how John Keats worked and lived.

Visit Hampstead Museum

Now, if you’ve been looking for free museums in London, the Hampstead Museum is definitely one of the most underrated. There, you can learn about life and culture in Hampstead, for instance. However, there are also great art collections in the Hampstead Museum.

This museum is located inside Burgh House, a towering structure that also hosts changing exhibitions, recitals, and special events. You can even rent it for receptions! Since Burgh House is located right between Hampstead Heath and Hampstead High Street, you could definitely take the detour to enjoy the amazing decor and atmosphere.

10. Visit the London Hampstead Charity Shops

There are amazing charity shops in London wherever you go. I don’t see why things should have been any different when it comes to Hampstead Heath, right? Around the underground station and further off on Hampstead High Street, you’ll find countless charity shops. They offer amazing high-end clothes and vintage finds that people have donated to charity. Keep your eyes peeled, as charity shops in Hampstead often feature super posh and high-end designs.

North London Charity Shops: Boutique By Shelter Hampstead Heath

Boutique by Shelter is the first Hampstead Heath charity shop I’d like to mention here. It’s located on the same road as other famous charity shops in the area. As in all posh areas in London like Mayfair, Chelsea, or South Kensington, you can find actual gems in Hampstead charity shops.

Boutique by Shelter is a foundation that helps people find housing solutions in London. That makes it even more of an enjoyable experience to know you’re doing a good deed while getting awesome charity shop finds. The Boutique by Shelter in Hampstead focuses mainly on designer clothes, vintage, and secondhand high-street designs. As in, you’re bound to find super stylish clothes at a fraction of the cost.

North London Charity shops: Octavia Foundation Hampstead

The Octavia Foundation is a charity shop foundation that supports those of us most in need in Central and West London. They help over 2.000 people every year to escape social isolation, unemployment, or low income.

There’s a bit of everything in this Hampstead charity shop, including books, clothes, and even home decor and small pieces of furniture. The fact that it’s located in one of the poshest areas of London certainly makes the selection even more mouthwatering.

London Hampstead Charity Shops: Oxfam Bookshop

You probably know how crazy about Oxfam bookshops; I’ve talked about it in my article about the best charity shops in London. The good thing about Oxfam bookshops is that they always pay the greatest attention to the condition of their items.

Even in the clothing section, when you’re at a classic Oxfam charity shop, you’ll see that the collections are in great condition. In the Hampstead Oxfam Bookshop, you’ll find not only a great collection of books in all genres, but CDs, DVDs, and vinyls. If you’ve been looking for second hand art books in London, that might very well be your go-to shop!

London Hampstead Charity Shops: Cancer Research UK

In my article about the best charity shops in North London, I included Cancer Research in Camden Town. Wherever you go, I feel like Cancer Research charity shops offer an eclectic collection of items. That ranges from books to homeware, clothes, and lots of accessories. The one on Hampstead High Street is particularly well-furnished when it comes to fashionable second-hand items.

Things to do in Hampstead London: Hampstead Heath Ponds, Cafes, Pergola

You know how much I love writing about amazing activities to do in the city that stole my heart eight years ago. Hampstead in London is definitely one of my favorite places to check out manors and the famous Hill Garden and pergola.

The fact that swimming in Hampstead Heath ponds is possible just makes it that much more exciting. What I’d recommend is visiting the amazing North London area, walking around the park and lido. Since London Hampstead is such a rich and posh area, you can enjoy endless sights. Like most expensive areas like Knightsbridge or Notting Hill and its colorful houses, the streets and cafes Hampstead Heath also provide Instagrammable sights in London. If you love that kind of very chill area in London, you should definitely check out the best spots for coffee and breakfast in the best cafes in Stoke Newington, too!

Hampstead Heath is a great place to visit with a lot of lovely spots to have a picnic or stroll by. From the Lido to Parliament Hill, you’ll find plenty of places to visit and enjoy all year long. There are so many things to do in Hampstead Heath like taking advantage of the excellent sporting opportunities, from its athletics tracks to swimming ponds, but nothing beats a stroll in the weekend as you soak in the peaceful landscape.