The south of the district borders the City of London and Clerkenwell and was long seen as something of a poor relation to those two areas. That all started to change in the 1990s when the typical Victorian houses of Islington became very desirable and the area went through huge gentrification to become a highly fashionable address. The area around The Angel, Upper Street and Essex Road is of special interest to visitors; it is home to a number of interesting shops selling antiques and collectibles as well as art galleries.
Further north, the district becomes a little less grand and largely lower-end residential. Finsbury Park is an area in the north-east of the district which grew up around an important railway interchange at the junction of the London Boroughs of Islington, Haringey and Hackney. The park is a large important green space in an otherwise densely populated area.
In the north-west of the district its character changes again and Highgate takes on many characteristics of the neighbouring district of Hampstead.
Islington has long been known for its left-wing politics and in the 1980s the oft-used moniker of the Socialist Republic of Islington was not unwarranted. The legacy of that still remains: the borough's two MPs—including current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn—and Council administration are all from the Labour Party, and a number of regular festivals of a distinctly liberal nature are hosted here.
Islington is also known for being the place where writer and explorer Mary Kingsley was born.
Islington is served by the following Tube stations, in fare zones 1, 2 and 3:
- Angel (Northern line) (Zone 1)
- Highbury & Islington (Victoria line) (Zone 2)
- Tufnell Park (Northern line) (Zone 2)
- Archway (Northern line) (Zones 2 and 3)
- Highgate (Northern line) (Zone 3)
- Finsbury Park (Victoria and Piccadilly lines) (Zone 2)
- Holloway Road (Piccadilly line) (Zone 2)
- Caledonian Road (Piccadilly line) (Zone 2)
- Arsenal (Piccadilly line) (Zone 2)
Overground stations include Highbury & Islington, Essex Rd, Canonbury, Finsbury Park and Upper Holloway.
Bus routes 41, N41, 134, 390, 43, 17, C11, 4 and W5 serve Archway and the surrounding area.
Routes 29, 19, 4, 259, 253 and 254 connect Finsbury Park with the centre of London.
The Angel, Islington is served by the following routes: 19, 30, 38, 43, 56, 73, 153, 205, 214, 274 and 341.
- 1 The Arsenal Museum, Emirates Stadium, Highbury House, 75 Drayton Pk, N5 1BU (tube: ), ☏ . M-Sa 10:30AM-6PM; Su 10:30AM-4:30PM, closed match days. Impressive museum charting the history of the heralded football club. £7.
- 2 City Road Basin Plaza (Off City Rd next to McDonalds and Texaco. Tube: ), ☏ . A former industrial site which fell into decline in the 1950s and 60s. The site remained undeveloped and inaccessible to the public for many years. A multi-million pound project has created public access to the waterway (one of the largest open stretches of water in North London) complete with a newly landscaped public park facing onto the canal.
- 3 Crafts Council, 44a Pentonville Rd, N1 9BY (tube: ), ☏ , fax: . Tu-Sa 11AM-5:45PM; Su 2PM-5:45PM. This gallery promotes contemporary craftspeople working materials such as metal, glass, pottery and textiles but with a unique take on each medium. The work frequently strays into contemporary art and blurs the border between art and craft. The small shop inside provides individually crafted pieces, that are as expensive as you would expect. Free.
- 4 Gillespie Park Ecology Centre, 191 Drayton Pk, N5 1PH (tube: ), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Daily except on Arsenal FC home match days. Award-winning education centre in this small park in a heavily built up area of the district. Managed habitats include woodland, wetland meadows and ponds. Free.
- 5 Highgate Wood (tube: ), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A 28-hectare remnant of the great Middlesex Wood which once spread across north London. There is a supervised children's playground, a café and an information centre.
- 6 Parasol Unit, 14 Wharf Rd, N1 7RW (tube: . Next door to Victoria Miro), ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Contemporary art gallery, which looks closed from initial appearances, but press the buzzer to have the door unlocked. Free.
- 7 Victoria Miro Gallery, 16 Wharf Rd, N1 7RW (tube: ), ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-6PM. An excellent contemporary art gallery in a converted Victorian furniture factory. Press the buzzer to unlock the door, it is not a typical Tate-tourist magnet. Free.
- 1 Almeida Theatre, Almeida St, N1 1TA (tube: ; just off Upper St), ☏ . Theatre with a reputation for daring and innovative productions.
- 2 Arsenal FC, Emirates Stadium, Hornsey Rd N7 7AJ (tube: ), ☏ (customer service). Arsenal play in the Premier League, the top tier of English football: they're one of the leading clubs and routinely qualify for European tournaments. Their home ground is Emirates Stadium (capacity 60,000) and they play to near-capacity crowds, especially against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Their women's team plays in the Women's Super League, with home games at Borehamwood. .
- 3 Everyman Screen on the Green (formerly Screen on the Green), 83 Upper St, N1 0NU (tube: , 5 min walk up Upper St). One of the leading art house cinemas in London. Refurbished.
- 4 Vue Islington, 36 Parkfield St, N1 0PS (tube: , 1F of the N1 shopping centre), ☏ . Multiplex cinema.
- 1 Camden Passage Antiques Centre, Camden Passage, N1 8ED (tube: ). One of London's leading antique and collectible centres for the past 40 years. The complex is home to dealers in a wide variety of fields and is a must for any visitor to London interested in antiques. Controversially, the main arcade has now become another branch of Jack Wills, but many dealers remain in the area.
- 2 Get Stuffed, 105 Essex Rd, N1 2SL (tube: ; rail: Essex Road), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Open by appointment. Taxidermy shop offering a stock of stuffed animals and bones, for an unusal purchase, and service for preparing your own specimens.
- 3 Map, 93 Junction Rd, Upper Holloway, N19 5QX (tube: ). M–Sa 10AM–6PM. Trendy gift shop with cool products. Much too nice to be in Archway!
Diners are spoiled for choice in Islington, especially the Upper Street area between Angel and Highbury & Islington tube stations. A wide variety of cuisine and price ranges are available. Mediterranean food dominates but with options like Indian, Afghan, Italian, French, Thai, and South American there is food for all tastes.
A few minutes walk from Archway station up Highgate Hill will lead you to Highgate, the upmarket end of Archway. There are a selection of nice cafes, restaurants and pubs to choose from. Swain's Lane, five to ten minutes walk from Archway station just near Hampstead Heath, has a few nice places to eat.
Angel to Upper Street can be a diner's paradise if you know where to go. Close to Angel places are geared towards the daytime sandwich eaters and coffee drinkers. From Islington Green on you will generally find nicer restaurants at better value. As a rule, the further towards Highbury & Islington the cheaper the restaurants, although the quality does not necessarily decline. Take a walk down the side-streets too as they hold some of the best restaurants, pubs, and bars.
In Archway, coming out of the Tube station you will see two kebab houses on Junction Road, neither of which are anything special, but rather comically one carries the slogan "best kebabs in UK" while the other says "best kebab in world"; these are not to be believed. You may find other interesting little restaurants down Holloway Road.
The Finsbury Park area is home to many minority groups such as Algerians, Greeks, Turks, and sub-Saharan Africans and as such has some of the most diverse range of restaurants available in London. Down Blackstock Road, a locals' favourite is Sim Sim. Just outside the station on Seven Sisters Road, The Red Zone offers cheap but good food.
- The Afghan Kitchen, 35 Islington Green, N1 8DU (tube: ), ☏ . One of the best cheap eats in London. Authentic Afghan food which is a hugely better than you expect when looking at the place!
- Angel Mangal Ockabasi, 139 Upper St, N1 1QP (tube: ), ☏ . Excellent Turkish meals.
- Gallipoli, 102 Upper St, N1 1QP (tube: , tube: ), ☏ . Well known and serve great Turkish meals, for very reasonable prices. Another branch nearby.
- Le Mercury, 140a Upper St, N1 1QY (tube: ), ☏ . Cosy, romantic French restaurant split amongst three floors. Typical French cuisine at low prices. Mains around £6.
- Little Bay Farringdon, 171 Farringdon Rd, EC1R 3AL (tube: ), ☏ . Opulent bohemian restaurant serving traditional high-end European cuisine at very low prices 3-course meal from £10-16.
- Tortilla, 13 Islington High St, N1 9LQ (tube: , opposite the station), ☏ . Californian and Mexican take-away, serves fajitas/burritos/etc and Mexican beers. The food is fresh and mostly organic. Well priced, very friendly staff, open kitchen. Small number of benches for eating in. £5.
- 1 Iberia, 294-296 Caledonian Road, N1 1BA (train: , bus: 91 from King's Cross), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-F 6PM-11PM, Sa 1PM-11PM, Su 1PM-9PM. Charming Georgian restaurant serving unsophisticated, but incredibly tasty, national cuisine: stews, pies, dumplings, breads. An all-Georgian wine list, with the bottles stacked cellar-fashion (floor to ceiling) against the back wall, complete the experience. The slow pace of dining, either inside or on the terrace, is a welcome deviation from the London norm. Mains £10-£15.
- Kalendar, 15A Swain's Ln, N6 6QX (tube: and 15-20-min walk), ☏ . Stands out as a bohemian deli/cafe with beautiful if not cheap food. Excellent for brunch/long weekend lunches. Chunky rustic furniture, specials on blackboards, free newspapers. Quite child friendly.
- Masala Zone, 80-82 Upper St, N1 0NU (tube: ), ☏ . This hip Indian restaurant chain's Angel branch. Good value Indian food, try a Thali for a good sized meal with a variety of flavours. Mains around £8.
- Mem & Laz, 8 Therberton St, N1 0QX (tube: ), ☏ . Large menu of great Mediterranean food, friendly staff, very reasonably priced. Their lunchtime two-course special around £7 is available to 6PM, an excellent option for an early dinner.
- St. John's, 91 Junction Rd, N19 5QU (tube: ), ☏ . Expensive gastro pub. Quite pleasant.
- Sunderban, 50 Blackstock Rd, N4 2DW (tube: ), ☏ . Su-Th 6PM-midnight; F Sa 18PM-12:30AM. Arsenal match days: afternoon games noon-2PM, evening games 5:30PM-midnight. Delicious North Indian/Bangladeshi cuisine and a good value. One of the best curries in London. Starters £1.75-4.45, Mains £3.25-11.50.
Angel and Highbury areas
- The Angel, Pentonville Rd, N1 9LQ (tube: ).
- The Nag's Head, 12 Upper St, N1 0PQ (tube: ), ☏ .
- 'Round Midnight, 13 Liverpool Rd, N1 0RW. M 3:30PM-11:30PM, Tu-Th 3:30PM-12:30AM, F 4PM-1:30AM, Sa 3PM-1:30AM, Su 3PM-11:30PM. Jazz and blues bar.
- 69 Colebrook Row (The Bar With No Name), 69 Colebrook Row N1 8AA (5 minute walk north from Angel Station), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Su-W 5PM-midnight; Th 5PM-1AM; F Sa 5PM-2AM. Exceptional seasonal cocktails in a quiet, intimate setting from famous mixologist Tony Conigliaro. You'll need to book ahead. Their barrel-aged Negronis are particularly good. £££.
- The York, 82 Islington High St, N1 8EQ (tube: ), ☏ .
There are plenty of pubs in the area, some of them managing to be slightly more lively or more stylish than the typical local boozer.
- The Archway Tavern, Archway Cl, Archway Rd, N19 3TD (tube: ), ☏ . Pub with a reputed republican history. Live music some nights.
- The Hideaway, 114 Junction Rd, N19 5LB (tube: ), ☏ . Nice pub/bar. Good pizzas and cheap happy hour drinks. Bar staff can be a bit grumpy.
- The Landseer, 37 Landseer Rd, N19 4JU (10 min walk down Holloway Rd from Archway Stn and off to the left on Landseer Rd), ☏ . Smart pub with posh food. Fairly lively. Nice hanging plants.
- Tufnell Park Tavern, 162 Tufnell Park Rd, N7 0EE (tube: ), ☏ .
- The Charlotte Despard, 17-19 Archway Rd, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 5PM-1AM. A relaxed and friendly place, with a nice and eclectic clientele.
There are many pubs in the area.
- 12 Pins, 263 Seven Sisters Rd, N4 2DE (tube: ), ☏ . Irish pub which gets very busy on Arsenal match days.
- Faultering Fullback, 19 Perth Rd, N4 3HB (tube: ). Beautiful pub, popular with locals watching football and eating their Thai Food. Since the smoking ban, a lot of money has been spent on the beer garden at the rear, which now offers a wooden mezzanine floor.
- Gaslight, 5 Station Pl, N4 2DH (tube: ). Get very busy on match days.
- Kings Head, 26 Blackstock Rd, N4 2DR (tube: ), ☏ . Local pub with friendly Irish landlords and locals.
- The T-Bird, 132 Blackstock Rd, N4 2DX (tube: ), ☏ . Open mic night on Thursdays and a free jukebox on Mondays.
- The Coronet, 338-346 Holloway Rd, N7 6NJ (tube: ), ☏ . A large and unusually nice Wetherspoons pub with a wide range of cheap drinks, including guest ales, and reasonably price food. Does tend to get busy on Arsenal home matchdays.
- Big Red, 385 Holloway Rd, N7 0RY (tube: ), ☏ . A biker-themed pub with several pool tables and live music some nights. Normally quite busy on Friday and Saturday evenings.
- London City Apartments, 104 Offord Rd, N1 1PF (tube: ), ☏ . Budget studio apartments with kitchens. Maximum 2 person occupancy. From £44.
- Pembury Hotel, 326-328 Seven Sisters Rd, N4 2AP (tube: ). Budget hotel opposite Finsbury Pk Stn. Popular with football fans as it is close to the Emirates Stadium. Cheap, clean and noisy. From £50.
- Hilton London Angel Islington, 53 Upper St, Islington, N1 0UY (tube: ), ☏ . Next door to the Business Design Centre. From £125.
- Jury's Inn Islington, 60 Pentonville Rd, N1 9LA (tube: ), ☏ . Large mid-market hotel offering decent value for money. From £79.
|Routes through Islington|
|END ← North London ← Mill Hill East and High Barnet branches ←||N S||→ Mill Hill East and High Barnet branches → Camden → Bloomsbury|
|North London ← Bloomsbury ← Bank branch ←||N S||→ Bank branch → Holborn-Clerkenwell → The City|
|Bloomsbury ← Camden ←||S N||→ North London → END|
|Bloomsbury ← Camden ←||S N||→ North London → East London|
|END ← East London Line ←||N S||→ East London Line → Hackney → East End|
|Richmond-Kew ← Camden ← North London Line ←||W E||→ North London Line → Hackney → East London|
|END ← Hampstead ← Gospel Oak to Barking Line ←||W E||→ Gospel Oak to Barking Line → North London → East London|
|Routes through Islington|
|Watford ← Highgate ←||NW SE||→ Clerkenwell → The City|