The east central areas of Farringdon and Clerkenwell are technically two separate areas, but ask Londoners where the boundary between them is, and you’re likely to get different answers. In short, they make a handsome pair, and time spent wandering between them is always time well spent. Besides, Farringdon station (Underground, Elizabeth Line, Mainline Rail) is the closest to both neighbourhoods. This part of London rewards the curious, with plenty of culture, food and interesting history. Here’s our guide to some of the best things to do in Farringdon and Clerkenwell.
Eat, drink and shop at Exmouth Market
One of the best places to start is Exmouth Market, especially on warm and sunny days when you can eat outside and people watch. But it’s worth visiting all year round, there are plenty of independent shops, restaurants, cafés to explore. You can do everything here from sipping coffee to buying gifts, getting a haircut and getting your bike fixed. Food wise, take a wander to Moro for Spanish food or grab tapas at its sibling restaurant Morito. Lunch times are pretty busy, but if you can get a table, check out Necco Japanese café bar , Caravan or La Petite Ferme. There are also a couple pubs in the area including the Exmouth Arms, but in the summer, head to Cafe Kick for beer and foosball (aka table football)
See contemporary dance at Sadler’s Wells
Take a short walk from Exmouth Market towards Angel and you’ll get to Sadler’s Wells Theatre. The theatre is famous for contemporary dance shows by renowned choreographers and dance companies including Matthew Bourne and the English National Ballet. But this very much an international venues, with shows including Broken Chord, a retelling of the first African Choir to perform in the UK and US in the 19th Century, and Jungle Book Reimagined by Akram Khan Company and you can find tickets from around £17,
Stock up on olive oil and lightbulbs at Embassy Electrical Supplies
The name and the exterior of Embassy Electrical Supplies on Compton Street in Clerkenwell may suggest an old school place to stock up on light bulbs and cables. And it is, but it’s also, more surprisingly, also a place to pick up the kind of cooking items you’d expect to find in a fancy deli or Borough Market.
Combining these two worlds is owner Mehmet Murat. An electrician by trade who decided to sell produce made in his family’s groves in Cyprus and Turkey. Foodies pop in for fragrant cooking oils, strings of chilli peppers, candied walnuts and pomegranate molasses. Mehmet Murat even has the nickname Mr Olive Oil, and has been featured in New York Magazine.
Enjoy pasta and negronis at Brutto
Take a short walk from Farringdon station and you can take your pick of excellent restaurants. One of which is Brutto, a Tuscan-style Trattoria by chef Russell Owner of the Polpo chain. It’s also a bar, so you can come for a £5 negroni or stay for a menu of Florentine dishes including peposco, a beef shin stew, florentine T-Bone steak, and tagliatelle al ragu. It’s not all meat-based though, there are some select veggie and vegan options too.
Explore hidden London history at The Museum of the Order of St John
The area is home to some interesting, less-well known museums. If you want to explore some of London’s hidden history, visit The Charterhouse Museum and The Museum of the Order of St John. The Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery and now a museum, boys’ school and almshouse (housing charity for single people over 60). Inside the museum you can discover 600 years of London history and it has a beautiful garden to wander in too. Another of the area’s hidden gems is The Museum of the Order of St John. If you’ve been to the area, chances are you’ve walked under the arch of St John’s gate without knowing there was a museum there. Inside, you can find out about the ancient religious military order through to its modern incarnation as a St John Ambulance. Entry to the museum galleries and gardens are free, but you can also book guided tours.
Grab street food at Leather Lane market
We could easily make this a foodie’s guide to Farringdon and Clerkenwell, but if you’re pushed for time and want food on the go, head to Leather Lane Market. It’s arguably one of London’s best street food markets, and it’s certainly one the oldest. The market runs on weekdays from 10am-2pm, so prepare to go elbow-to-elbow with hungry office workers. Once there, you can find everything from fresh produce to Caribbean food, Turkish wraps, Pan-Asian food from Kin, vegan food and Mexican food and there’s plenty of places to grab coffee on the go including Prufrock, Federation Coffee and Attendant Coffee Roasters.
Go for lunch or dinner at St John
Another Farringdon foodie favourite is St John. It’s a nose-to-tail restaurant, famous for its bone marrow on toast, so not one for vegetarians or vegans (or even more squeamish meat eaters). That said, it’s very good food in a relaxed, unpredictable atmosphere where service is never rushed and it’s a great spot for a leisurely lunch or dinner. If you’re short on time, it’s still worth popping in for a drink at the spacious bar downstairs.