Islington: An Explorer Guide

The London Borough of Islington

The second smallest borough in London, Islington is home to an array of shops, galleries, and snazzy food places. If you’re a foodie, a visit to Upper Street (nicknamed Supper Street) is the place to go (we discovered a vegan Chinese)! Forming part of the top 10 most expensive boroughs, houses in the area cost an average of £700,000, with rent for a three-bedroom property costing an average of £634 a week. Here are some of the top spots discovered by our team.

The Estorick collection

sculpture in an art gallery

With the entrance of this gallery tucked away in the corner of the street, the Estorick collection is easy to miss if it’s not something you’re looking for. With three floors of Italian artworks and sculptures, currently featuring works from the futurist and metaphysical art movements, it’s the perfect place to explore without the busyness of London’s mainstream galleries. The creaky staircase and small gallery rooms makes it seem like a relic of the past (it is in fact a Grade II listed Georgian townhouse). You can also browse their selection of books and postcards in the gift shop or stop by for a bite in the café. Regular admissions are £7.50 while student admissions are free!

No 20 Arts

artwork in Islington gallery

A gallery that opened in 2017, No.20 Arts is another space that’s easy to miss. Located on 20 Cross Street, it is home to contemporary works from recent art school graduates in London. Available for buyers to view (and contemplate which ones to purchase on the comfy bean bags) you’ll find a range of unconventional works from various artists, such as British-born Pakistani Khushna Sulaman-Butt and Katya Granova, an artist and curator from St Petersburg, Russia. The current exhibition is titled ‘Yield’ and is available to view until the 4th December!

Tofu Vegan

chinese vegan food in islington

The classic takeout staple of ‘Chinese food’ and a vegan diet isn’t something you usually hear in the same sentence, but Tofu Vegan is known for its appetizing vegan dishes that means you don’t have to miss out when your friends order Chinese. We tried their Wontons and, vegan or not, they were delicious! With a range of classics such as mushroom dumplings and chow mein, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed.


salt works shop in upper street islington

Chinese food isn’t the only glorious scent on Upper Street, and a walk past this shop might have you wondering in. A perfumery based in Kent with over 60 fragrances, Saltworks features a variety of scents, candles, gift hampers, other winter essentials, and a clothing line by Alchemy. You’ll even find a bespoke range of chutneys, cards and jewellery!

After Noah

after noah shop in upper street islington

Want to buy anything and everything that came after Noah? Yes, we’re talking about the guy who worked with the animals in two’s. A shop that sells everything that came after the religious figure (a cool way of saying that they sell, basically everything), After Noah is one of the cosiest finds we’ve come across. Featuring a range of goods – from cards, soft toys, and even a basement full of furniture, this family-run business is the perfect shop to find Christmas gifts. After some vintage furniture? After Noah is the place to browse.

FARA charity shop

fara charity shop

This charity shop features a wide range of clothing, from everyday pieces, vintage wear, to those sparkly outlandish pieces that life only calls for on one occasion before they go back into the cupboard forever! With fitting rooms available so you can be sure of your purchases, you can grab some real bargains! We discovered Ralph Lauren Navy trousers for only £10, as well as a Hobbs 100% Cashmere jumper. While some pieces do highlight potential clothing defects (usually stated on the labels) we’re sure you’ll find some real gems hidden in here.

Camden passage

katsute Japanese dessert in camden passage

A well-known street in Islington, this cosy nook is home to a variety of independent businesses, from a Japanese Gallery, Bird and Blend tea (where you can try some of their flavours!), and Frequency Coffee – café by day and cocktail bar by night. We tried the hot chocolate matcha at Katsute 100, a Japanese café known for its desserts and matcha-infused drinks. We also recommend the freshly made brownies and scone truffle at Paul A Young’s finest chocolate’s, also the creators of a vegan ganache (yes, a ganache without the dairy cream!). If you’re looking to go for a day out, or simply fulfill your Christmas shopping, Camden Passage won’t fail to surprise you. ­­

Find out more…

Want to find more places to explore? Check out some of our other area guides here!

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