History and the Heath
On route you’ll pass Burgh House & Hampstead Museum and The Wells Tavern, both definitely worth a pit stop or returning to later in the day.
Green and quaint aren't typically two words you'd associate with London as a tourist, but this trip will reveal a new side to the capital. Hampstead Heath is the emerald of North West London – enchanting woods, green hills and there's even three swimming ponds. This easy to navigate walking-only daytrip includes beautiful natural scenery, a stunning stately home, artistic masters and one of the best pubs in London.
Hampstead started out as a quiet Saxon village known as Hampstede – by the late 17th Century it had started to fill with affluent residents who wanted to escape the noise and pollution of London, but still be close to the action. Famous past residents include Sigmund Freud, Keats, D.H. Lawrence and more recently, Sting and Boy George from Culture Club.
Unless you’re getting an uber the easiest way to reach Hampstead is by tube (Zone 3 Northern Line). As the deepest station on London Underground at 192 feet below ground level, even the tube station is worth a visit. Starting at Hampstead Underground, the first thing you want to do is make your way down to Flask Walk and then walk through to the end of Well Walk, where you’ll hit an entrance point to Hampstead Heath.
Burgh House & Hampstead Museum
This delightful Grade 1 listed building built in 1704 is a great place to find out more about Hampstead and its rich history. In addition to the permanent collection, which charts the history of Hampstead from the prehistoric era up to the present day, there are regular exhibitions featuring local artists. Soak up the sunshine (or rain) and treat yourself to traditional English cream tea in the garden. To reach Burgh House, take the turning off Flask Walk and walk up New End Square.
“Burgh house is an elegant 18th Century home hidden amongst the cobbled streets of one of London’s loveliest villages. Hampstead Museum, on the first floor, will delight any history enthusiast. The Buttery Café is the perfect place to unwind after a walk on the Heath and our gift shop is ideal for picking up a unique artisan gift.” – Ann Hartigan, Burgh House & Hampstead Museum
The Wells Tavern
Originally a Georgian Town House, The Wells Tavern is situated in a beautiful spot at the top of Hampstead. Both Keats and John Constable previously lived on Well Walk (No 46 and No 40), something to ponder over whilst sipping a cold pint. Not just a pub, the restaurant menu is impressive serving top-notch modern European cuisine with three elegant dining rooms upstairs. The Wells received the 2016 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.
Once you’re on Hampstead Heath, you'll want to head towards Kenwood House – there’s not much network coverage on the heath, but if you’re lucky you’ll be able to bump into someone who can point you in the right direction.
Kenwood House & The Brewhouse Café
Kenwood House is a breathtaking stately manor built originally in the 16th Century and remodelled in 1764 by 18th Century Scottish architect Robert Adam. Home to paintings by masters including Rembrandt, Turner, Gainsborough and Vermeer to name but a few, this is a "must visit' for art lovers. If architecture or gardening are your thing, you also won’t be disappointed. The Brewhouse Café is an ideal spot to enjoy a cup of Earl Grey and listen to the robins sing. The history tours of Kenwood House are worth planning your visit around.
After a relaxing walk on Hampstead Heath, you may wish to do a spot of shopping or make an evening of it. There’s no need to trek into central London for any of this, everything you need is right there in Hampstead.
La Creperie etc
If you have time, a short walk down this high-end highstreet with its luxury boutiques and delectable cafés is recomended. The crepe stall La Creperie De Hampstead on the corner of Perrins Lane is a North London institution. Try one of their crepes and you’ll know why.
Hampstead Antique and Craft Emporium
If the high street gets you in the mood for shopping but you’re craving more original offerings, take a peek at the Hampstead Antique and Craft Emporium. Tucked behind a coffee stall at the top of Heath Street, there are plenty of magpie-worthy trinkets to be discovered.
"The Emporium is a place to buy universal gifts, there is a diverse range of goods to be had – come and enjoy the nice friendly atmosphere.” – Joel Nathan, Hampstead Antique and Craft Emporium
The name Hampstead Theatre can be misleading. Whilst not far from Hampstead, a homegrown Londoner would technically class the location of this award-winning theatre as Swiss Cottage. Fear not though, it's just around the corner and easily accessed from Hampstead High Street by the 46 or 268 bus or from South End Green by the C11 bus. If you like to walk, it’s about twenty minutes on foot from Hampstead Underground, simply walk to Heath Street and then down Fitzjohn’s Avenue.
If you're in need of some more mainstream audiovisual entertainment (or you didn’t plan ahead and book theatre tickets), Everyman Hampstead is one of the most indulgent cinemas in London. Press a bell and have cocktails served to your seat during the film. If you only have a couple of hours to spend in North London, make it Hampstead. Rich in history, the architecture and ambience of Hampstead Village are one of a kind. And if the frenetic buzz of London gets too much, the Heath is the perfect place to escape to.