Separated from Hampstead by the wonderful wilds of Hampstead Heath, the serene Highgate village is teeming with history, culture, A-list inhabitants and gastro-pubs.
Brimming with beautiful 18th century architecture and green spaces, Highgate maintains the aura of an exclusive village perched on top of a steep hill. It has many unique features that make it well worth a visit. Hampstead Heath is a vast expanse of green space and a great place for a leisurely walk.
The London Cemetery at Highgate is the capital's most famous graveyard. It was one of seven constructed in the 1800s to deal with London's severe shortage of burial space. Today, it continues to attract visitors and inspire artists and writers, such as Audrey Niffenegger and her book Her Fearful Symmetry. Opened on 20 May 1839, Highgate Cemetery was centred around the impressive Egyptian Avenue and included two chapels to accommodate different religious views. With its magnificent views over London, it was soon attracting hordes of wealthy clients and 20 years later the additional East Cemetery was built to meet demand.
You can visit either the original West Cemetery via a guided tour or stroll around the East Cemetery at your leisure. Both contain famous residents, such as Karl Marx, Michael Faraday and George Elliot, as well as an impressive range of tombs and monuments.
If you approach Highgate Village from North Road you will pass Highgate School. Now an exclusive fee-paying public school, it was originally established in 1565 for the local poor. T.S Eliot was a master at the school, and past students include the poet John Betjeman, and Clive Sinclair, inventor of the pocket calculator.
If you take the opposite approach, in the middle of Highgate Hill you'll find the Whittington Stone statue. It commemorates the spot where Dick Whittington and his cat allegedly heard the Bow Bells chiming "turn again, Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London".
As well as admiring Highgate's magnificent Georgian architecture, you can head to the Gatehouse to see where Dickens and Byron drank, or look at the monument to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 'the sage of Highgate', in St Michael's Church, which is the highest church in London.
Art buffs will enjoy the Highgate Contemporary Art Gallery and the Highgate Gallery, which both host regularly-changing exhibitions. You'll also find a range of arts and concerts at Lauderdale House - combine a visit here with a walk in the scenic Waterlow Park. Live entertainment abounds in Highgate. Jacksons Lane offers a diverse range of exhibitions, theatre, cabaret and dance. You can also catch classical concerts and theatrical performances at the Red Hedgehog, or fringe theatre at the Gatehouse. Head to the Boogaloo or the Charlotte Despard for quizzes, arts, comedy or just to dance the night away.
For a quick snack or a scrumptious afternoon tea try the excellent High Tea of Highgate, or stop off at the Pavilion Café in Waterlow Park. Highgate is teeming with fantastic gastropubs. Try the Rose and Crown, the Wrestlers or the Bull, where you can sample a range of the pub's own beers. If the English weather permits, you can also relax in the leafy beer gardens at the Flask or the Red Lion and Sun. For international flavours in Highgate, head to Abi Restaurant for delicious South Indian dishes, or Fabrizio for Italian staples and metre-long pizzas.