Hampstead is a North London district (NW3), situated between Highgate to the east and Belsize Park to the south. It stands proudly on the Northern Heights, making it a wonderful viewing platform from which to survey the City of London and out to Greater London.
The heath is one of the biggest London parks and Hampstead is synonymous with green space and open air. Despite it being a leafy suburb with a village-like feel, Central London is in very easy reach – around 15 minutes by tube.
Public transport will deliver you to various areas of the heath. Take your pick depending on your plan for the day. It’s generally well signposted so you should find it pretty easy to navigate (you can always turn to Citymapper for assistance though).
Travelling by overground, you have the choice of Hampstead Heath and Gospel Oak rail stations.
Hampstead Heath station is located at the heath’s south west corner. It’s close to Keat’s House on Keat’s Grove and Hampstead Ponds via South End Road.
Gospel Oak train station is to the south east of the heath, along Gordon House Road. Alight at this station for Parliament Hill, the lido and Highgate Ponds, as well as kids attractions like the adventure playground and paddling pool.
There are several tube stations on the Northern Line that service this area – Hampstead, Golders Green, Belsize Park, and also Tufnell Park. Remember to take the Edgware bound branch line, rather than High Barnet, as the line splits at Camden Town.
Hampstead tube station is in the south west corner of the heath. It’s well placed for Burgh House, Vale of Heath, East Heath and Hampstead Ponds in particular, via Well Walk. Take Heath Street for West Heath.
Belsize Park is to the south, providing another option to access this area of the heath.
Golders Green tube station can be found to the north west of the heath. From North End Road, you’ll find Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath Extension and Golders Hill Park.
Tufnell Park tube station is to the east of the heath, within easy reach of Highgate Ponds or the lido.
There are several bus routes that service the Hampstead area. The 268, 168, 210 and C11 are the main ones to look out for.
The City of London map of Hampstead Heath is really helpful and details public transport stops and the key sights in the area.
First and foremost, you absolutely must visit the green spaces. You’ll find ancient woodlands, vast open space in which to exercise, picnic and play; plus historic houses, playgrounds, swimming pools and even a model boating pond. There’s so much to explore and enjoy.
Highgate Ponds and Hampstead swimming ponds are the spots for wild, exhilarating outdoor dips. For a less wild, but still outdoor swim, head to the lido – a glorious swimming pool in the south east corner of the heath. The bathing ponds have grown in popularity in recent years, attracting the brave and the (fool)hardy wanting the cold water swimming buzz.
The heath’s elevated position makes it a wonderful vantage point for panoramic views of London, and even down to Kent on clear days. Parliament Hill is a lovely open air viewing platform from which to look down to the City, Westminster and beyond.
There’s a couple of exceptionally lovely spots on West Heath. Visit Hill Garden and pergola – a beautiful Georgian arbour and terrace – and stop to admire its beauty. The nearby water garden is also worth a look.
The Holly Bush pub (just off Holly Bush Hill) is a welcoming, traditional 18th century Georgian inn that’s worth taking time to visit.
The Spaniards Inn dates back to 1585. The Grade II listed London pub is said to have fuelled Charles Dickens’s and John Keats’ writing, so its walls have heard plenty of stories.
The Flask pub, on Flask Walk near Hampstead tube station, is a great place for a bite to eat.
There’s a wealth of fascinating history in this area. Written records dating back to 986AD mention Hemstede (Hampstead) in Ethelred the Unready’s time. There’s also evidence of its existence in the Mesolithic era.
Kenwood House is an English Heritage stately home situated within Hampstead Heath. It regularly hosts incredible concerts and events. You may recognise it from Notting Hill, as Julia Roberts’ character Anna was filming there.
Burgh House, to the south of the heath, is a historic, Queen Anne listed home. It incorporates Hampstead Museum and holds interesting art and history exhibitions.
Hampstead has attracted cultural and historic notable figures for centuries. Some of those linked to the area include Karl Marx, John Keats, John Constable, Daphne du Maurier, JM Barrie and Dame Judi Dench.
If you want to discover the area and its stories, there’s no better way than taking a London Walks guided tour.
David, our London Walks maestro may be biased, but he names Hampstead as his number one place in the United Kingdom. There’s little he doesn’t know about the area, so his Hampstead walking tour is a firm favourite.
We also have another article on things to do in the Hampstead area, if you are looking for more suggestions to fill your day in the area!