Brixton underground station and Electric Avenue at night.
Stuart Bak

Things to do in Brixton London

One of London’s most culturally rich neighborhoods, Brixton has a bit of something for everyone. Glorious green space rubs shoulders with vibrant urban street art and the best saltfish fritters you’ll taste this side of the West Indies.

Brixton Village life

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Brixton’s kaleidoscopic Afro-Caribbean heritage is writ large across its bustling market. A huge neon sign points the way to Electric Avenue – the street immortalised in Eddy Grant’s 1983 smash hit – where you’ll find stalls selling fresh produce from plantains to crustaceans, as well as fashion accessories and household goods.

Cross the road to enter Brixton Village beneath the railway arches, where trains rumble overhead and the delicious aromas of jerk chicken and freshly roasted coffee vie with dozens more intimate independent eateries. Here, you’ll find everything from artisan pizza to Chinese and Vietnamese street food, burritos, burgers and authentic, modern Caribbean cuisine: think cod fish fritters, curried mutton roti and fried plantain. Yum.

On the other side of the railway arches is Pop Brixton, a buzzing pop-up mini-village built from shipping containers. Drop by for poetry nights, community yoga, open mic events and yet more sizzling street food, independent bars and boutiques. Follow the railway line a few yards further to find the Brixton Brewery Taproom. Tucked away under the arches, this local success story serves up a thirst-quenching range of small-batch craft lagers and pale ales from Wednesday to Sunday. Grab some of their colorful cans – inspired by the vibrant batik fabrics sold in Brixton market – to take away.

Brixton’s cultural heritage

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Eye-catching street art is on display at almost every turn in Brixton. It’s like one enormous open-air gallery of contemporary artworks and, best of all, it’s free! Up-and-coming local graffiti artists ensure this highly Instagrammable ‘exhibition’ is ever-changing, but many of the neighborhood's best-loved murals are here to stay.

Fully restored to its former glory in 2021, Nuclear Dawn is a Cold War-era masterpiece that depicts a grimacing skeleton striding over a bomb-ravaged London. It’s just across the street from Brixton Village. Meanwhile David Bowie – one of Brixton’s most famous sons – is immortalized in a much-loved portrait on the side of Morley’s department store. The painting has become something of a shrine for fans since the starman’s death in 2016.

Many other murals reference the area’s Black heritage and the Brixton uprising. Steven Pusey’s Children at Play is well worth checking out. This huge painting just off Brixton Road was created in the wake of the 1981 riots and portrays racial harmony among local kids.

For more on the history of Black heritage and cultural identity in the UK, head to the Black Cultural Archives on the east side of Windrush Square. Inside this Georgian townhouse, you’ll find important collections and temporary exhibitions documenting the Black British experience and celebrating prominent Black Britons. Windrush Square itself – named for the ship that brought the first Caribbean immigrants to the UK in the 1940s – carries huge local significance and is frequently used as a site for celebrations and events including mini-festivals and food markets.

Arts and culture in Brixton

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Brixton’s Ritzy cinema has been keeping locals entertained for over a century, since its inception as the Electric Pavilion during the silent movie era. Nowadays it’s as much community hub as cinema, with a trendy bar serving food and craft beers, and tables that spill out onto the street in summer. Expect a mix of the latest blockbusters, independent movies and old classics showing across its five screens. Head to the top-floor bar, Upstairs at The Ritzy, for nightly entertainment including live music and DJ nights.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brixton isn’t short of a music venue or two. Within the hallowed walls of the O2 Academy, a striking Art Deco building that dates back to the 1920s, fans have witnessed epic performances from the likes of Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, the Foo Fighters and Iggy Pop. Grab yourself the latest hot ticket and follow the crowds towards the venue’s near-iconic neon-lit dome. Gallery seating upstairs and a clever sloping floor downstairs mean you get a decent view of the action even if, inevitably, you’re stuck behind the world’s tallest person.

Over on Brixton Hill, the Electric’s mix of live bands, celebrity DJs and reggaeton club nights caters for an eclectic range of tastes, whilst Windmill Brixton is the place to go to catch up-and-coming acts before they make it big enough to graduate to the Electric or O2 Academy.

The great outdoors

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Stroll a few minutes south from Brixton’s intoxicating urban thrum, and you’ll find yourself in the enormous expanse of green space that is Brockwell Park: 50 acres of gently undulating hills with splendid views across the city. Scan the skyline and even the untrained eye will pick out The Shard, the London Eye and the distant dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.

Entering the park from Brixton’s Water Lane, the paths diverge left and right. Head left for the popular Brockwell Lido, a 50-meter outdoor pool that’s open year-round. It’s unheated though, so you might want to consider a wetsuit if you’re visiting in January! Just beyond the lido, hop aboard the cute miniature railway that operates from spring through fall.

Bearing right from Water Lane, you’ll pass a fantastically fun kids’ playground with tunnels, rope bridges and fortresses, before emerging at the duck ponds, home to a range of wildlife including swans and gray herons. There’s a delightful walled English garden just opposite the ponds, with a central fountain and mulberry tree, as well as lots more to discover around the park: wildflower meadows, BMX tracks, tennis courts and, perhaps most importantly, a hilltop café serving ice cream.

Save on things to do in Brixton

Save on admission to London attractions and explore Brixton and beyond with Go City. Check out @GoCity on Instagram and Facebook for the latest top tips and attraction info.

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