The best things to do in Brixton, South London

Brixton street art sign

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Located in the heart of south London, bohemian Brixton is one of the capital’s most vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods.

The area has long been home to London’s biggest Afro-Caribbean community, giving it a unique cultural identity that’s unlike anywhere else in the city.

Between the lively markets, the tantalizing aroma of exotic spices, and the mellow sounds of reggae music drifting through the air, Brixton is a feast for all the senses.

Once a poor working-class area, Brixton has undergone a fair amount of regeneration in recent years, with an influx of craft breweries and trendy cocktail bars. But this hasn’t completely taken away the neighbourhood’s gritty and authentic multicultural charm.

Today, you’ll see young creatives rubbing shoulders with dreadlocked rastafari, and a hipster coffee shop sitting next door to Mama’s jerk chicken stand.

There are plenty of cool things to do in Brixton, from exploring the vibrant markets and hunting for colourful street art to enjoying the unbeatable offering of international restaurants.

Ready to explore more?

Here’s my guide to the best things to do in Brixton, London:

Grab a Bite to Eat at Pop Brixton

  • Fried covered in Masala chicken at Pop Brixton London

Pop Brixton is a vibrant community hub located in the heart of Brixton. The space is made up of colourful shipping containers that have been transformed into independent shops, restaurants, bars, and temporary workspaces.

The concept behind Pop Brixton, which opened in 2015, was to provide affordable space for local businesses and entrepreneurs, while also creating a cool hangout space for locals and visitors to enjoy.

The many fantastic food options are one of the highlights of the space, with a variety of international street food traders representing the neighbourhood’s diverse community.

You can find everything from Mexican Tacos and Italian pizza to Indian-style Masala Burgers and Mama’s jerk chicken. There are a few bars serving craft beers and refreshing cocktails too of course!

The space also hosts regular events during the weekends and holidays, with the likes of vintage and craft markets, yoga and wellness sessions, and even full-blown parties and music festivals.

Visit Brixton Market on Electric Avenue

“Oh we’re gonna rock down to, Electric Avenue! And then we’ll take it higher!

Did you know that Eddy Grant’s 1983 pop hit “Electric Avenue” was inspired by an actual street in Brixton?

Built in the 1880s, Electric Avenue in Brixton was the first market street in the capital to be lit by electric lights, resulting in its unusual name.

Almost a decade later, the quirky street name caught the eye of singer and songwriter Eddy Grant, who spent a lot of time in the London neighbourhood.

The song itself was written as a response to the Brixton riots around that time, which saw violent clashes between black youths and the Police in the area.

But there’s no need to worry about riots on Electric Avenue anymore.

Today, the crescent-shaped street – which sits just off of Brixton High Street close to the tube station – is home to vibrant Brixton Market, with a huge range of local traders selling everything from fresh produce to affordable clothing and homeware.

The market largely caters to the area’s many Caribbean and African residents, which you’ll notice in the abundance of colourful clothing and the smell of exotic spices.

Brixton Market is a great place to wander around and soak up the local atmosphere. There are plenty of great food options available too.

Shop in Brixton Village and Market Row

Okay, Brixton Village and Market Row are technically two different markets. But they’re sat right next to each other and have a similar vibe, so I’ve lumped them in together.

The shopping arcade and neighbouring covered market are a little more *how do I put this nicely* gentrified (?!) than their counterpart on Electric Avenue.

They’re still a cool place to visit to explore the many independent shops, cute cafes, and fantastic international restaurants – just make sure to head over to Brixton Market too!

Within the markets, you’ll find over 100 traders selling an eclectic mix of goods, from cheese and spices to fabrics and vintage clothing, plus so much more.

The markets are also famous for their huge variety of food choices. No matter what you feel like eating, you’ll find it here!

Some of the best places to eat in Brixton Village and Market Row include:

  • Light of Africa – for vegan Eritrean and Ethiopian dishes.
  • Sarava Creperie – for sweet and savoury crêpes and Brazilian-influenced tapas.
  • Black Bear Burger – for indulgent and mouthwateringly delicious burgers.
  • Three Uncles – for Cantonese roast meat.
  • La Nonna – for fresh homemade Italian pasta.
  • Whipped London – for some of the tastiest cheesecakes in the capital.
  • Cheese & Fizz – for cheese and champagne (treat yourself!).

See the Brixton Bowie Mural

David Bowie memorial mural in Brixton, London

Did you know that Brixton was the birthplace of one of England’s most notable rock stars… the one and only David Bowie?

Bowie was born in Brixton and grew up in his family home just a stone’s throw away from Brixton Academy. A claim to fame that Brixton has very much hung on to over the years.

The David Bowie mural (here on Google maps) was painted by Australian street artist James Cochran in 2013 on the wall of Brixton Road as a tribute to the legendary musician and songwriter. It features Bowie’s iconic lightning bolt makeup from his 1973 Aladdin Sane album cover.

After his death in 2016, the mural became a popular tourist attraction and a beloved landmark for Bowie fans from all over the world. Still today, you’ll find notes, flowers, and other tributes left by fans.

Fan of Bowie? Check out this David Bowie walking tour of London.

Uncover More of Brixton’s Amazing Street Art

Black and white street art of man holding crown in Brixton, London

The Bowie Memorial isn’t the only mural in Brixton worth seeing. Along with Shoreditch and Camden Town, Brixton is one of London’s main street art hubs, with amazing – and often politically charged – murals all over the neighbourhood.

The huge ‘I come from Brixton, baby’ mural under the railway arches (here on Google maps) is one of the area’s most famous pieces and is a must-visit for that classic insta-photo (see this post’s cover image).

Some other pieces include the Brixton Station Food Mural (here) and the Nuclear Dawn Mural (here).

As with anywhere in London with street art, Brixton’s murals are always changing and evolving, so keep an eye out for new pieces when you visit!

Cosy Up With a Good Read and the Resident Cat at Bookmongers Second Hand Book Shop

Bookmongers secondhand bookshop is a true Brixton institution and a constant on Coldharbour Lane since 1992.

The bookshop is famous for its eclectic and ever-changing selection of secondhand books, from children’s classics to rare finds, as well as its warm and welcoming atmosphere.

At the back of the shop, you’ll even find a cosy reading nook to relax while you find your next read. But if you do, you may be joined by the shop’s resident cat, Popeye – a stray who decided to move into the Brixton bookshop over 5 years ago and hasn’t left since.

Visit the Black Cultural Archives

The Black Cultural Archives is an archive and heritage centre in Brixton devoted to preserving and celebrating the culture and history of people of African and Caribbean descent in Britain.

The archive’s main collection is open to visitors from Thursday to Sunday each week. Entry costs £5, while some exhibitions are free to visit.

No matter what your race or background, the Black Cultural Archives is a great place to learn about the contributions that black communities have made to British society over the years.

Soak up the Sun in Brockwell Park

For one of the best things to do in Brixton on a sunny day, head south to the expansive green space that is Brockwell Park.

The large hilly park boasts amazing views over the London skyline and is perfect for a picnic, a game of football with friends, or simply a leisurely stroll around the beautifully landscaped gardens.

The park is probably most famous for its large outdoor lido, which is a great place to cool off on a hot summer day in the city. You will need to make a booking to use the pool. And remember, it’s not heated, so brace yourself for a rather bracing experience (it’s England after all!).

Go for a Boozy Brunch at Canova Hall

Located inside a beautiful building that was once part of the high-end Bon Marché department store (the first department store in the UK), Canova Hall is one of Brixton’s most popular restaurants.

The venue is known for its lively atmosphere and stylish decor, which features an eclectic mix of vintage and modern elements.

The bustling restaurant serves a range of Italian-inspired dishes, including wood-fired pizzas, fresh pasta, and small plates designed for sharing. The bar offers an extensive selection of cocktails, craft beers, and wines from around the world.

Then on the weekends, Canova Hall hosts one of the city’s best bottomless brunches, with a delicious menu of brunch dishes and Italian favourites accompanied by two hours of free-flow bubbles or rum punch.

And if you’re ready for an all-day sesh, stick around after (maybe book an afternoon slot) to enjoy more cocktails, live DJs, and the lively atmosphere until the early hours.

Oh, and if you’re a remote worker, the restaurant is also a popular work spot during the weekdays, with hot desking, fast wifi, and great coffee!

Enjoy a Beer at Brixton Brewery Taproom

There are plenty of craft beer breweries and pubs in Brixton, but the Brixton Brewery Taproom is my personal favourite.

The taproom belongs to Brixton Brewery (as the name suggests), which began producing craft beers in the neighbourhood since 2013. Some of the beer names even pay homage to the brewery’s Brixton roots, with the likes of the Electic IPA (the most popular) and Coldharbour Larger.

Sitting within the railway arches, the small bar is open Wednesday to Sunday and serves a selection of Brixton Brewery’s freshest brews and taproom exclusives, plus cans and merch for you to take away.

Catch a Show at the O2 Academy Brixton

O2 Academy Brixton

The O2 Academy Brixton is a legendary music venue that has hosted some of the biggest names in music over the years. From David Bowie to The Clash, Amy Winehouse to Madonna, the historic grade II listed building has seen it all.

Catching a show at the O2 Academy Brixton is a must-have London experience for music lovers. Or if there are no gigs on during your visit, the venue regularly hosts live comedy and club nights too.

If you’re seeing a show in the evening and have some time to kill before or after, remember there are plenty of things to do near O2 Academy Brixton, from exploring the nearby markets to sinking a few craft beers in one of the area’s many bars and pubs.

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London City Calling

Emily is a born and raised London girl, starting life in the north of the capital then moving down to Fulham in the southwest. She has a master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London and now works full-time running this blog and as a freelance travel writer, splitting her life between London and travelling the world as a digital nomad.

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