Farringdon, situated between Holborn and Clerkenwell and the City of London, is a historic area known for the famous Smithfield Market, as well as being the location of many great cafes, restaurants and bars. You might also know it for being home to the super club Fabric, regularly voted among the top clubs in the world.
The new Elizabeth Line station has really opened up this cute neighbourhood to all parts of the capital! So grab a coffee and hit up all the famous historical landmarks and museums, then splurge on some great food and get ready for a night out. So here’s some of the best I’ve seen and Farring’done’.
Great Things To Do in Farringdon
Take a trip into the distant past with a tour of the Charterhouse. This former priory turned Tudor mansion turned schoolhouse turned almshouse (social housing) is such a joy to explore. Each of its former parts are on show, such as the stunning monastery tunnels, grand wooden Tudor interiors like The Great Hall, and impressive courtyards. It’s like taking a walk through several hundred years of London history. There’s also a modern museum to enjoy as well. What’s more, people still live in social housing today, really bringing meaning to the phrase ‘living museum’.
This hidden museum in nearby Clerkenwell gives you a fascinating interactive overview of the famous religious Order of St John and St John’s Ambulance and is based inside the incredible 16th-century gatehouse of St John’s Gate. Tours will guide you to the historic rooms of the Priory Church & Crypt.
Museum of London (closing in December 2022, and relocating to West Smithfield in 2025)
People often ask me what the best museum in London is, and this secret treasure trove often tops my list of recommendations. Why? Well, aside from its reproductions of London streets dating back to the 1600s, taking you through the city’s past, it also has really inspiring temporary exhibitions, covering everything from music to technology – stuff that really gets you thinking. The fact it’s not on the tourist hit list means you can also catch a breath and not get too overwhelmed queuing or trying to find your way through crowds of people.
The Barbican is a concrete cultural temple with so much on offer you won’t know what to take advantage of. Aside from just looking stunning, the place has huge exhibition galleries, a grand theatre and cosy cinemas which all put on new and contemporary shows. There’s also something culturally enriching to see and do within this complex. Shh! Don’t tell anyone, but the best bit is the indoor Barbican Conservatory (link), which has over 2000 species of trees and plants, including cacti and succulents and a fish and turtle pond. There’s also Afternoon Tea amid the trees.
It might not seem much from the outside, occupying a townhouse opposite Smithfield Market, but within its hallowed walls, you’ll experience some of the best DJs in the world, serving up everything from techno to house and drum and base. With its nights lasting from around 11pm to 6am in the morning, it’s definitely the place to keep the party going.
Farringdon Restaurants You’re Not Going To Want To Miss
As you exit the train station you’ll probably head down the small pedestrianised Cowcross Street, which has great options and chains, but do explore St John Street, Charterhouse Street and beyond for some fantastic places to eat. Here are some of my favourite places to chow down:
St. JOHN (St. John Street) – the minimalist white canteen-style place may be Michelin-starred, but it’s welcoming and has a menu you won’t be forgetting any time soon, with unique things like Roast Bone Marrow, Smoked Eel, Grouse, Ox Heart and lots, lots more. Don’t be afraid if you’re not a huge meat fan, there are vegetarian options too – I’m a big fan of the fennel on cheese dish.
Luca (St. John Street) – I’m always a sucker for traditional Italian restaurants, but this one blew me away, mainly for its famous parmesan fries, deep fried cheese that looks like a giant chip or a churro. Honestly, I could just eat these for starter, main and dessert. But there’s more here, and it’s all about pasta for me, specifically the conchiglie and tagliatelle, absolute carb heaven.
APULIA (Long Lane) – Yep, it’s another Italian, but APULIA deserves a mention for its pizza-riffic menu and quirky deco – with a bicycle hanging on the wall, cute decorations and adorable tiled tables. My go-to’s are the focaccia and the simple Margherita pizza, which just melts in your mouth.
Iberica (Turnmill Street) – It may be a chain, but this Spanish tapas place is definitely worth your time. I would order three plates of their hazelnuts, beetroot and cheese option if I had the chance.
Cubana (Charterhouse Street) – This inviting Cuban bar, cafe and restaurant may well do a mean Mojito, but stick around for its delish lunchtime street food menu, including the star attraction that is the Hot Cuban Sandwich. For dinner, they serve up tapas, salads and importantly, Cuban grill meats. If you’re lucky there’s live Cuban music too.
Anglo (St Cross Street) – This intimate Michelin restaurant is the place to be for haute cuisine with its mouth-watering tasting menu. You will have a hard time deciding with such treats on offer like walnut, cheese and sweet corn and their buckwheat berries, beetroot and raw honey. Not only do the dishes wow your mouth, but the visual presentation is incredible.
Le Café du Marché (Charterhouse Square) – Hidden away on a side street, this cosy dining gem delivers French provincial cooking you won’t be able to get enough of. With its classic interior Bricks and French posters, it does whisk you across the channel, but the best thing has to be the cote de boeuf with bearnaise sauce, so full of flavours you’ll be drooling before you enter the door.
Ninth Ward (Farringdon Road) – Set in a former grain trading unit (and later a former strip club!) this rustic treasure trove conjures up a New Orleans atmosphere with American comfort food such as buffalo wings, burgers, mac n cheese and catfish goujons to die for, plus a seemingly endless cocktail menu to explore. While I love their menu, there’s just something about the interiors here that keep calling me back.
Look Mom No Hands (Old Street) – a bit further afield is the bike workshop that not only serves your biking needs, but also your tastebuds, with excellent coffee and a delicious vegan breakfast to put them on the map (the avocado toast shouldn’t be ignored either!).
Other worthy mentions:
Some of the other places you may want to visit include US-style bar/grill Lazybones (Cowcross Street), decent steak chain Gaucho (Charterhouse Street), and vegan burger diner FlipSide (Cowcross Street).
Coffee Shops You’ll Love
There’s a lot of caffeine on offer in the area, but here’s some of my best picks for a lovely latte and a cheeky pastry. Bench (Britton Street) has a great outside seating patio and a red velvet croissant that needs to be eaten, Redemption Roasters (Long Lane) is a good independent chain that does a fantastic iced latter, while EC1 Coffee House (Clerkenwell Road) and Dose (Long Lane) are all worthy of your time. If you’re heading away from Farringdon Station, don’t miss out on the Attendant Coffee Roasters, 21 West, Prufrock Coffee or Triple Two Coffee either.
Pubs In Farringdon
As a historic area, Farringdon has its fair share of landmark pubs ready to serve you up a pint of your favourite. In terms of historic venues, there’s the Hope Smithfield (Cowcross Street) with its incredible glass exterior windows, The Fox & Anchor (Charterhouse Street) with its intricate wooden ceilings and interior, the grand Fuller’s Pub the Butchers Hook and Clever (West Smithfield) and the cosy vintage-styled Holy Tavern (Britton Street). A bit further away is the Slaughtered Lamb, known for its superb live music and burgers.
Bars in Farrindgon
There’s some really unique bars on offer around Farringdon that might surprise you, here’s my top three places for a memorable tipple with on point decor:
Oriole Bar (East Poultry Avenue) – in a sea of places to drink, this bar stands head and tails above the rest, despite being in the basement! The grand, vintage decor, with pink ceilings and old-fashioned murals, make it a feast for the eyes, but the drinks menu will wow your other senses. Served in unique cups with flowers, fruit and more on top, this is a place to savour old world discovery and the best alcoholic combinations you can buy. There’s also a great food menu and live music to enjoy as well.
Wilhelmina’s Lounge (St John’s Square) – If you aren’t on the guestlist for a private member’s club, then this is definitely the next best thing – and even better in my opinion! Antique furniture, quirky decorations and stuffed animals all make this sumptuous hotel bar a great venue to explore while winding down after a busy day.
Clerkenwell & Social (St John’s Square) – This bar/pub/club has nice outdoor seating, delish cocktails and great grub – especially the pizzas. They even do Cocktail Masterclasses to learn everything it is to be a cocktail pro.