London's King's Cross neighborhood has undergone a complete reinvention over the last 10 years. Its canalside warehouses have been transformed into hip restaurants and bars and some of the world's leading tech companies occupy sleek new skyscrapers. Here's our pick of the best things to do in the area.
Heading to Paris by train from St Pancras Station? There's no better way to start le weekend than sipping a glass of something chilled at Searcys St Pancras, Europe's longest champagne bar. Overlooking the Eurostar train tracks, the bar is a great people-watching spot that serves an impressive selection of champagne by the glass including some British sparkling wines. Grab a seat in one of the leather banquettes that feature Art Deco lamps and 'press for champagne' buttons. There are blankets and heaters on hand for when the station gets a little chilly.
Get an alternative art fix at the Crypt Gallery, where work is displayed in a warren of underground corridors underneath St Pancras Church. The crypt was used for coffin burials between 1822 and 1854 and opened as a gallery space in 2002. It now serves as an atmospheric backdrop to a year-round program of art exhibitions and events.
While you can't board the Hogwarts Express from King's Cross Station, you can visit Platform 9 3/4 for a photo opportunity. Just outside the Harry Potter shop to the left of the main ticket office, you'll see a luggage trolley embedded into the brick wall and a long line of Muggles waiting for a picture. You can get a professional photo taken with props (wands, glasses, Hogwarts house scarfs) or take your own photos. The shop has been designed to look like Ollivander's Wand Emporium and stocks all sorts of souvenirs from school jumpers to Golden Snitch necklaces.
Between King's Cross and Clerkenwell, Clink78 is a hip hostel in a converted Victorian courthouse where you can book a private room in an old prison cell from just £65 per night. It's great for value-seeking vacationers who like the buzz of a hostel but want the seclusion of a private room. Kick back in the TV room which occupies a former court room and enjoy a nightcap in the ClashBar, named after the punk band that once stood trial at the court.
Granary Square is a buzzy canalside hub near King's Cross Station. It features over 1,000 choreographed fountains that dance throughout the day and are lit up at night. The square is home to a number of hip restaurants including Caravan, an industrial-chic spot that serves brilliant brunches, and Dishoom, a Bombay-style restaurant that dishes up Indian street food. In the summer months the steps leading down to the canal are carpeted to provide a comfy seating area. Regular events take place in the square throughout the year.
Channel your inner DJ by spinning some tunes on the free-to-play retro jukebox at St Pancras Station which features Top 40 songs from the last 50 years. It's located underneath the South Eastern Trains platforms and was installed following the success of the station's free-to-play pianos near the Eurostar terminal. The pianos have been played by big-name musicians including Elton John and John Legend.
Visit Some of London's Quirkiest Museums
Get a quirky culture fix with a visit to one of London's unusual museums. The Wellcome Collection on Euston Road features artifacts, artwork and tools that explore relationships between medicine and art from the collection of Sir Henry Wellcome, a 19th-century pharmacist. Some of the quirkier items include Napoleon's toothbrush, Peruvian mummies and ancient surgical instruments.
At the House of Illustration on Granary Square you can check out the world's first public gallery dedicated to promoting and celebrating illustration with a permanent display of political cartoons, adverts and fashion designs. Join a masterclass or a family workshop to hone your own drawing skills.
Learn all about London's waterways at the London Canal Museum, housed in a converted 19th-century warehouse. The museum runs regular Tunnel Trips, a guided narrowboat tour of Islington's long canal tunnel.
Stroll Along the Regent's Canal
London's Regent's Canal is an 8.6-mile waterway that links Paddington Basin and Limehouse Basin. It runs through the heart of King's Cross and you can follow a lovely scenic route to Camden which takes around 30 minutes. Head along the towpath and stroll past colorful houseboats and luxury waterfront apartments housed in converted warehouses. You can walk further on to picturesque Little Venice or head through Islington and on to hip Dalston with its canalside bars and restaurants in the other direction.
Created from an area of wasteland between King's Cross and Camden, Camley Street Natural Park is an inner city oasis with distinct woodland, grassland and wetland habitats. The two-acre spot attracts kingfishers, moorhens, reed warblers, frogs and more and features a visitor centre and a floating viewing platform. It's a great place for families with an outdoor eating area and plenty of seating.
Shop For Books at a Floating Bookshop
Word on the Water is London's only floating bookshop. It's stuffed full of affordable books and hosts live music and poetry events up on the roof of a restored 1920s Dutch barge. It was saved from closure after a passionate campaign and is now moored permanently at Granary Square near King's Cross Station.