The Peckham neighborhood of London is filled with highlights and hidden gems, including its impressive, food scene, its charming village center, its legendary indie cinema, and the local art gallery. Use this guide to plan a day exploring the neighborhood, and then get to know a few others with these guides to Brixton and Walthamstow.
It Has a Diverse Food Scene
You can sample dishes from all corners of the globe without leaving the perimeters of Peckham. Mr. Bao serves fluffy Taiwanese buns and cocktails; the Begging Bowl dishes up spicy Thai sharing plates; Persepolis Cafe delivers delicious Middle Eastern platters; and for hearty Italian fare, check out Forza Win, a restaurant in a converted grain store lined with long communal tables. Rye Lane is lined with shops and market stalls selling a colorful range of ingredients from yams and tropical fruit to Turkish baklava and Asian spices.
The Peckhamplex is something of a Peckham institution. Set back from the high street and a little rough around the edges, this independent cinema screens the big releases for a small price: tickets are just 5 pounds all day, every day (additional for 3-D films). It's nearly always full on the weekends, so it's best to book tickets in advance. And what you save on tickets, you can spend on post-film cocktails at Frank's bar just next door.
Frank's rooftop bar sets up shop on the 10th floor of a multi-story parking lot every summer. While it doesn't sound like the most salubrious spot, the views are stunning and the crowd is as eclectic as they come. Order an Aperol Spritz or a campari-based cocktail as you take in the views and the artwork (it's run by local non-profit arts collective, Bold Tendencies).
With a striking design that resembles an upside-down letter L, Peckham Library scooped the prestigious Stirling Prize for Architecture in 2000. The local landmark is clad in green copper and colored glass and features an elevated reading room and a fun children's library up on the fourth floor. It sits in Peckham Square, which also hosts a popular farmers' market every Sunday.
One of London's leading centers for the creative arts, the Bussey Building on Rye Lane is a converted Edwardian factory that once manufactured cricket bats. It was saved from demolition by a passionate community group and now serves as Peckham's cultural hub with a regular series of art installations, theater productions, and workshops across multiple floors. The post-industrial building also serves as one of London's best nightlife venues with events spanning all sorts of music genres including the legendary monthly funk and soul night, South London Soul Train. There's a cool vinyl record store and cafe in the basement, and in the summer months, you can watch films up on the roof.
The Village Center Is Beautiful
Home to elegant Georgian houses, gastropubs, independent boutiques, and top-notch restaurants, Bellenden Road feels like a posh village in the heart of Peckham. British sculptor Antony Gormley used to have a studio in the area and designed a series of cast-iron street posts as part of a regeneration project back in 2002. You'll also see street art and murals scrawled onto the sides of pubs and houses as well as pieces commissioned by the nearby Dulwich Picture Gallery. Shop for fancy groceries at the General Store, pick up quality vintage clothes at Threads, or join a chocolate and wine tasting workshop at the Melange Chocolate Shop.
Founded in 1891, the South London Gallery is a center for contemporary art and focuses on presenting new work by British and international artists. Free tours are offered daily and there's an interesting line up of talks, workshops, and family-friendly events. The cafe serves locally roasted coffee, cakes, and a great brunch menu, and when the weather's nice you can sit outside in the small courtyard. Don't leave without strolling through the peaceful garden designed by Mexican artist, Gabriel Orozco.
It's Full of Cool Bars
From posh gastropubs to late night boozers, Peckham is full of cool bars. Rye Lane is home to Four Quarters, a former butcher's shop full of retro arcade machines and an impressive menu of craft beers, and John the Unicorn, a hip hangout for beer, cocktails, and pop-up food options. Head towards Bellenden Village, and check out Bar Story, an industrial space in a railway arch that serves cocktails and pizzas to the sounds of live DJs and The Montpelier, a traditional pub with colorful interiors, a back-room cinema, and regular live music events. When the weather's nice, make a beeline for The Rye, a charming pub with a massive beer garden.