Peckham is an area of London that dates back a long time. Like, a loooong time. Like included in the Great Census of 1080 long! A mostly working-class and diverse community, gentrification has changed the landscape over all this time.
Now after centuries of redevelopment, Peckham has been named London’s coolest neighborhood by none other than Time Out Magazine in 2019, and the reputation is sticking!
There’s plenty to pack into your time in Peckham, so check the bags you packed at home with Stasher first, then start checking things off the fantastic list of fun things to do ahead in this article.
Culture Around Every Corner
Living up to its reputation, Peckham is kind of a hipster heaven. Full of twisty, turny, mysterious alleyways, it’s easy to wander Peckham and not know what you’re gonna find.
One of the things you’re bound to find is a gaggle of specialized shops and indie art studios. Worth checking out are the many highly respected art galleries in the area, including the very hip and very respected South London Gallery, which opened its doors in 1891! As well as Copeland Gallery, found inside the Bussey Building.
The Bussey Building was mercifully saved from demolition in 2009 and also houses the must-stop CLF Art Cafe. CLF presents theatrical productions you can catch after a ceramic session in the Kiln Room and a yoga session at Yogarise, also located inside the Bussey building.
You will also find the well-hidden MOCA, the London Museum of Contemporary Art, in Peckham, situated just a brisk walk from Rye Lane metro station.
If you’re less of an art and culture person and more in the mood for fun and games, you have options too. Four Quarters is a super fun retro arcade. Tournaments and craft beers top off the fun.
Or cue a few balls into some pockets at Peckham Pool Club at Canavans, which also morphs into a deep groove spot with DJs on Rhythm Section Nights.
Whether you consider it culture or fascination, the Firearms Museum is an interesting quirk found in Peckham as well. This museum dates back further than even South London gallery, having been built in 1867 by munitions innovator George Bussey.
A Memorable Trip Down Rye Lane
Traveling even further back in time is possible on Rye Lane, which was originally developed as a commerce street as far back as 1860. The first store, Jones and Higgins, opened in 1861 and was long an anchor of London fashion retail. It closed its doors in the 1980s.
But since then, Rye Lane has remained a destination for young folks and today it’s got everything from vegan food to vintage fashion!
Historical Architecture and Landscape
Besides the many art galleries, Peckham is a wonder of award-winning architecture like The Peckham Library, which won the highest accolade in the architectural community for its design.
Aquarius Golf Club was built in 1912 over the massive Honor Oak Reservoir, which at the time of its construction in 1901 was the largest brick built underground reservoir in the world. Nature’s grandeur is on display there.
Plus, Peckham is home to both some bigger and lesser-known parks. The earliest and most romantic is Peckham Rye Park on the southern end. The smaller Burgess Park offers a tranquil body of water and outdoor grills.
Double or Triple Your Pleasure
There are some places in Peckham you have to visit twice. Living a double life is Tasty Bakery, which is a Caribbean bakery by day and a hot dance club by night, so stop for a snack in the morning and back for the dance floor in the evening.
It’s not the only place living a double or even triple life. Try triple threat vinyl record store – cocktail bar – gigging venue Rye Wax, which is also inside the Bussey Building. That’s not all – you can get your comic book on to go with the grooves there.
Happy Hours in Peckham
Any hour can be a happy hour in Peckham, but this is London so try a happy hour at one of the fun pubs around the neighborhood. The trip wouldn’t be complete without a pint, now would it?
Also worth noting is house beers are cheap during Happy Hour at the aforementioned arcade Four Quarters.
If you want some fine cuisine in Peckham, diversity awaits you on Bellenden Road. It’s a funky and popular dining destination. From chill cafes like Anderson and Co to classy wine bars like neighborhood tasting joint Peckham Cellars and options ranging from South Indian to traditional Italian to Vietnamese, there is sure to be a flavor for every taste!
Where Locals Go
If you prefer to have a local experience strolling through Peckham, try some of the regular haunts of folks living in the neighborhood.
Local favorites include Babette, a beloved centerpiece French Bistro. The Bishop for a casual pint. The Begging Bowl to share a Thai tapas. The Melange for dessert. K&K Butchers for meats for that grill in Burgess Park.
Sounds like a complete locals menu!
Caught On Film!
Peckham, existing as such a mixture of history and hipstery, is also a popular place for movies to be filmed and movie stars to live!
The neighborhood hails as home for nationally revered actress Olivia Colman and is where future Jedi John Boyega spent his childhood. For you film buffs, TV series and films shot in Peckham include Antonioni’s classic “Blow-Up” and “Entertaining Mr. Sloane”, which used the Stone House entrance as an exterior location.
There are also unusual places to see movies in Peckham. Most notable is Peckhamplex, a notoriously cheap local indie house that showcases blockbusters for a not a budget busting price. Close behind is another one, but read on to the closing segment of things to do in Peckham to find out what it is….
What’s On Top And What’s Inside
Finally, the centerpiece wonder of Peckham must be not just mentioned but spotlighted. It’s an old car park, AKA Levels, that has been converted into a funhouse of culture and cuisine and everything in between, it seems!
The Levels Complex is 6 levels high and houses everything from art galleries to a yoga studio to heavenly foodie clouds, cocktail bars and even a hair salon.
But what’s on top is the cherry on this six-story cake. It’s Frank’s Bar and it is one of the most breathtaking views of the sunset you will encounter surely in London and possibly in all the world! Sip one of their signature cocktails as the sun sinks into the other hemisphere.
Before you kick off your good time in Peckham, a little advice in case Frank’s is too packed. Bussey Rooftop Bar, inside the Bussey Building, is a friendly wave away from Frank’s and if you’re lucky, you’ll be there on one of their Rooftop Club cinema nights, the other unique place to catch a flick in Peckham.
All that should leave you busy in this timeless London neighborhood for a good long time while your suitcase stays stored safely with Stasher! Have fun!