Living la vida local

Joe Allen smiling at camera in front of his shop of the same name, wearing a suit and hat with a tape measure around his neck

Islington’s brilliant small, local businesses are a big part of what makes the borough such a great place to live, work, and visit. And by shopping for gifts at an independent shop, dining out at a local restaurant, popping to your nearby pub or doing your grocery shopping at one of our many markets, you can make a massive difference to them. Need some inspiration? Check out our guide to Islington’s neighbourhoods and discover where to go for what


Caledonian Road is one-and-a-half miles of diverse shops, bars and restaurants, with cuisines from across the globe. Its trademark community spirit – embodied by the likes of the family-run Sunflour Bakery which sells breads, cakes, sandwiches and coffees, and supplies nearby restaurants and cafes – makes it a truly special place.

What’s more, with the launch of the Love LoCally loyalty card, you can now get more for your money. Check out @thecallylondon on Instagram or visit the LoveCally website for more information and to get your hands on one.


Archway is a pedestrian and cycle-friendly area and the ideal place to visit if you love independent shops and quirky cafes. It’s also a great place for activities and experiences: from bingo at the Oak and Pastor pub, to comedy at Siorai Bar or The Archway Tavern, there’s plenty of night-time entertainment to take in. For something more creative, head to an exhibition at The Bomb Factory Art Foundation, or have a go at painting or pottery at Living Space Art School.

Finsbury Park high street

Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park is a brilliant all-round shopping destination for everything from food to flowers to gift shops. Fonthill Road is a hotspot for fashion, while Stroud Green Road is great for unique finds from independents: be it vintage and mid-century homewares at Mosey Home, beautiful gifts from the Pretty Shiny Shop, or bargains for a good cause from Crisis. Once the shopping bags are full, take a load off and drop into one of the many bars or restaurants for a well-earned treat.


Angel is packed with restaurants and cafes, designer shops, pubs, bars and theatres. Mosey on down to Camden Passage. Head to Pistachio and Pickle to pick up your Christmas cheese, then check out the boutiques – great for gift-buying, particularly if you’re after something for a lover of antique homeware. Try Turn on Antique Lighting, for a beautiful new (old!) lamp. Or, if you want to freshen up your festive outfit, head to Joe Allen’s on Cross Street, a third-generation master tailor, for service with flair and a smile… and perhaps treat yourself to a handwoven rug from Tribe Rugs, while you’re there.

Then, of course, there’s Chapel Market. The heart of the Angel, this 150-year-old street market sells everything from fruit, veg and flowers, to cards, toys and gadgets. It’s open seven days a week until Christmas, too.

Steve, co-founder of Pistachio and Pickle


Whitecross Street Market serves up delicious lunches every weekday, all year-round. You can eat your way around the globe, be it Brazilian, Indian, Korean, Italian, Spanish or Turkish food.

But there’s plenty more to Bunhill: check out Meleks Jewels if you’re in the market for a special gift, or Vilma’s Toys to stock up on surprises for the kids. Get ready for party season at Aura Beauty Clinic, 193 Whitecross Street, or Minimal Waves, and if you’re still looking for a venue for your festive meal, The Iskelé and Cozzo offer fantastic meze and pizza, respectively. All that shopping is thirsty work: quench it with a drink at The Two Brewers.


You can’t get that traditional London festive vibe anywhere better than you can in Clerkenwell. The legendary chicken escalope sandwich at Scotti’s Snack Bar on Clerkenwell Green will put you in good stead for a festive amble up to Exmouth Market for Christmas gifts. I Found it in Space is a stockist of Sheepers cosy, traditional Polish slippers, made in Finsbury Park, and you’ll no doubt find something special at Marby and Elm, which offers bespoke stationery and jewellery, all handmade in the UK.

Spanish deli Furanxo and Briki, Greek cafe and deli, will meet any continental cravings and if by now you’re ready for a sweet treat, get yourself to Sweet Boulangerie and Patisserie across the road and grab a canelé – we promise you won’t regret it.

Exmouth Market

Nag’s Head

Nag’s Head is home to Islington’s only department store – and local institution – Selbys. Shoppers are also particularly spoilt for choice when it comes to fresh fruit and veg, with many street traders in the town centre, as well as speciality greengrocers selling African and Caribbean produce and two Chinese supermarkets. Fresh fish shops and butchers add to the mix, while dozens of cafes, restaurants and food halls – including The Upper Place street food market above Nag’s Head Market – contribute to the buzz.

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