London is a notoriously, unreasonably, gargantuanly expensive city to live in. I’m something of an expert in the matter – as I write this, I’m angrily spooning Pot Noodles into my mouth whilst eyeing an unpaid electricity bill on my desk. Ah, the joys of student life!
High prices often drive students and other impoverished twentysomethings to areas where they can share their troublesome plight with their kin. Camden Town is particularly popular among students, for several reasons. A) It is reasonably close to central London – a half hour walk from King’s Cross and about forty minutes away from Oxford Street. B) It’s well connected – there are tube and bus stops galore. C) It’s one of the cheapest boroughs in Inner London. D) It’s absolutely fabulous. Yes, all of these are purely objective points, why’d you ask?
If you cannot tell by now, Camden Town is one of my favourite areas of London and also the place where I currently live. I’ve already written about the reasons why you should visit Camden Town when you’re in London – and one of them are its cheap prices. Although the area may be one of London’s cheapest, it’s still bloody expensive by pretty much any international standards. On days when my bank account does not greet me with a sorrowful song of emptiness, I love to hunt for vintage dresses at one of its lovely markets before ordering a cocktail at Fifty Five Bar – but those days can be rare. Luckily for everyone, Camden has a lot to offer at little to no cost. Wondering what mischief you can get up to in the area if you’re broke? Here is my list of top five free things to do in Camden Town!
1. Admire Street Art
If you’ve been in London long enough, you’ve probably heard some flannel-clad hipster refer to Shoreditch as the “mecca of street art” or something equally trite. Now, don’t get me wrong – East London has some of the most impressive street art out there. But Camden deserves some recognition. Just look at that three-eyed pig above – that’s just the beginning! Ever heard of Banksy, the genius social critic and graffiti extraordinaire? Of course you have. Well, a number of his works have been appearing in Camden since the 90s, so why not go on a little Banksy-hunting tour?
2. Visit a Gallery
But you don’t have to confine your artful experience to the streets. To me, no visit to the Camden Lock market ever feels complete without a short trip to Proud, an art gallery by day and popular club by night. The Camden Arts Centre is also free and well worth a visit – they even host ceramics-making workshops and the like.
3. Visit Cyberdog
Visiting Cyberdog is an experience like no other. I could post a photo of what awaits you once you go through those green-tinted doors, but it’s a place to be experienced first hand. The shop sells anything from neon rave attire and Manic Panic UV hair dyes to skull-shaped ice makers. The shop keepers look like they travelled back in time from the 22nd century as they sway to the beat of loud electronic music… but I’m giving too much away already. Just a final note: although visiting the place is free, you might pay a high price in the form of an agonising headache.
4. People Watch
The streets of Camden are full of weirdos. I say that with nothing but love and the knowledge that I am one of them, but it is true. For a long time, Camden has been the epicentre of all things alternative and its inhabitants continue to do it justice by being their lovable, unforgettable selves. Aside from throngs of sock-and-sandal donning tourists, you will run into goths, hippies and anything in between. All subcultures are present but one – if you’re looking to find hipsters, go to Hackney instead.
5. Eat Up!
True talk: There are probably more than a hundred food stalls in Camden, all competing for business. To get customers, they rely on loudly shouting and handing out samples. If you say yes to every vendor who screams “wouldyalikeataste?” in your face, I promise you won’t need to eat lunch for the next two days.
Have these free things to do in Camden Town still not convinced that you need to add it to your London itinerary? Stubborn one, aren’t you? Let me at least show you a few more photos in hopes you’ll change your mind. Yes, those are for free too!
Have you ever been to Camden Town? Would you like to visit?
What are your favourite free things to do while travelling?