The moment you step out of Walthamstow Central Tube station you can hear the roar of the fruit and veg sellers shouting out the deals of the day for eagerly waiting bargain hunters. To me this is the heart of London's East End, where I grew up. The atmosphere, along with the vibrant buzz of the market brings back great memories of my childhood, and I think you'll love this thriving part of east London too.
Walthamstow is located conveniently at the end of the Victoria line, so it's very easy to get to.
Here are my favourite things to do in Walthamstow:
London's newest and biggest nature reserve recently opened to the general public and makes for a wonderful spot for a weekend walk. Be sure to check out the cosy tea cafe that's opened in the historic and locally-listed Engine House, as well as enjoying the amazing birdlife of east London. It’s best to get off at Blackhorse Road Underground Station for a short walk to Walthamstow Wetlands.
Mirth, Marvel and Maud (the old Walthamstow cinema)
I used to go to this cinema as a kid, as did my parents and grandparents before me (even Alfred Hitchcock used to see flicks there). It has recently been restored from a dilapidated Grade II listed building back to its former glory. Mirth, Marvel and Maud is now a wonderful cocktail bar and pub with an amazing cultural program and art house cinema. Enjoy a cocktail here (they're served from the original ticket booth, now converted into a bar) and marvel at the rich history of this building. Or perhaps go for a delicious Sunday pub roast with live jazz, an event that has become extremely popular with locals.
William Morris Gallery
The William Morris Gallery is a stunning memorial to one of Walthamstow's most revered artistic heroes. He was a designer, craftsman, and renowned socialist. The house he once lived in is now a beautifully renovated museum that features his stunning designs. You'll likely recognise the intricate patterns from antique wallpapers and other iconic examples of his work.
The gallery offers a great day out for the kids too, as the resources are tailored to be both fun and educational for children. The tea shop within the gallery is worth a visit as well.
Lloyd Park that surrounds the estate is great for a walk, and it also has a wonderful duck pond to admire.
L Manze pie and mash shop
A visit to Walthamstow Market wouldn't be complete without a visit to L Manze, one of London's original pie and mash shops dating back to the 1920s. Manze's shop has served up traditional pies with liquor (parsley sauce) ever since and kept the traditional interior and charm within its walls, it's like stepping back in time. If you're brave enough, try the jellied eels - a dish adored by locals.
God's Own Junkyard
The biggest collection of neon signs in Europe makes for something different to do on the weekend. It's wacky and fun to explore all the different neon signs created by the late artist Chris Bracey, who had a cult following all over the world. There's also a great bar with food and a terrace garden.
Walthamstow Village is a perfect location for brunch, with restaurants such as Eat 17 (Walthamstow's post code is E17). Eat 17 is a relaxed bar and British restaurant that uses locally-sourced ingredients and bread from its own bakery. After eating, it’s well worth exploring this quaint and cute part of Walthamstow. If you have time, pass by the Vestry House Museum, which focuses on the Victorian era heritage of the local area. Lovely Tudor houses can also be spotted close by.
Walthamstow Market is my favourite 'best kept secret' in London. Not many Londoners know they have the longest outdoor street market in Europe on their very own doorstep. With more than 350 stalls, the market has a traditional cockney feel with influences from the diverse cultures of the area. Plus, it's great fun to explore seven days a week! You never know what you'll find, from affordable clothes and stunning fabric to international herbs and spices. You name it, they have it at Walthamstow Market.
Ravenswood Industrial Estate
The Italian Delicatessen of Walthamstow
This authentic and extremely welcoming deli shop sells all sorts of delicious cheeses, meats, antipasti and crudités, with a wonderful selection of wines and spirits too. Pick up a freshly baked focaccia to take home from your wonderful trip to Walthamstow.
London Borough of Culture 2019
Waltham Forest is the first borough to be awarded Borough of Culture. Look out for a year of cultural activities in Walthamstow and beyond next year.