Tired of the hustle and bustle of London? Taking a much-needed break from the chaotic city streets doesn’t have to mean a costly weekend getaway to the countryside. The capital is littered with pockets of cute-as-a-button untouched gems that will give you all the same vibes of a village community and leave you feeling reinvigorated. We’re talking independent coffee shops, quirky newsagents and good old pubs. Take a gander at these cracking spots for an easily accessible afternoon of R&R.
Victoria Park Village
Nestled right next to East London’s Victoria Park, this charming village definitely embodies the atmosphere of a country town. Complete with a twee parade of cutesy buildings, organic veg shops and even its own community shop, the place is thoroughly wholesome.
Drink at: People’s Park Tavern is a brilliant family-friendly neighbourhood pub and brewery. With a colourful beer garden dotted with charming huts, you can easily stroll in from the park to refuel before heading off again.
Eat at: Once you’ve rambled down the streets and popped in to an unconventional shop or two, grab a bus up to Hackney’s Martello Hall. The contemporary chic venue dishes up a mix of 48-hour fermented pizza, homemade pasta and bespoke gin concoctions.
Check out: Have we mentioned that it’s right next to a park? Holding a strong place in many East Londoner’s hearts, Vicky Park is the gift that keeps on giving. Rent a pedalo or paddle boat for a row around the lake, or check out the weekly food market of delicious global nosh every Sunday.
Take a step back in time with a visit to North London’s picturesque Hampstead Village. The light seems crisper, the road noise quieter and leafy streets wider as you find yourself wandering down darling pebbled alleyways, past period-era buildings and nipping into boutique cafes.
Drink at: Housed in a Victorian building, The Flask is the definition of a traditional London pub. An impressive selection of brews and wines make it the perfect place to hunker down for an afternoon of drinking, chatting and card games.
Eat at: Perched on top of Hampstead Heath, The Wells delivers great views and delicious gastro-pub grub. Washed down with a host of craft brews and cocktails, you’re sure to be coming back for more.
Check out: Considering it backs Hampstead Heath, you’d be a fool not to make the most of what’s right on your doorstep. Stretch your legs with a refreshing winter walk across the heathland - finishing off with a warming brewsky and knees up, of course.
It may be diddy in size but what’s there is quintessential village gold - think chocolate box streets, blue plaque-covered Georgian-style buildings and independent shops. If that wasn't enough, it also boasts one of the best views across the city from the top of Regent’s Park.
Drink at: The Princess of Wales is a whopping 150-year-old joint - although after a recent spruce up and some artsy additions it certainly doesn’t show its age. Drinks-wise, the gastro-pub offers up some of the best British spirits and cask ales around, whilst cocktails and a carefully selected wine list are also available.
Eat at: Undoubtedly one of the area’s favourite restaurants, Lemonia is a charming Greek eatery. Beautiful interiors and authentic dishes such as dolmades, moussaka, calamari and tabbouleh make it a must during your visit.
Check out: Amble around the many, many heritage signs before finishing up with a walk to the top of the hill for that breathtaking view of the city. Find yourself there on a Saturday? There's also a weekly weekend market, selling fresh produce, sweet treats and street food.
It’s hard to believe Dulwich village is only 17 minutes from London Bridge. Steeped in history and boasting horse-riding trails, a Grade II listed pub and green spaces aplenty, this South London retreat is a great shout for an easy Saturday outing.
Drink at: The Crown & Greyhound boasts traditional interiors, a brilliant beer garden and a BBQ area for the summer months. They also offer up all the classic pub grub, a good old Sunday roast and a drinks menu to suit all your boozy needs.
Eat at: Just a short walk from the idyllic village, you’ll find burger maestros MEATLiquor. Serving up their renowned patties and delicious nosh, the restaurant's signature dishes include the Dead Hippie beef burger, deep-fried mac‘n’cheese and seitan fingers.
Check out: Tap into your cultural side with a trip to Dulwich Picture Gallery. Along with a regular roster of exhibitions, the venue also houses a collection of masterpieces from some of the world’s greatest artists, including Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Poussin.
Only a stone’s throw from Paddington, Little Venice is an ideal urban oasis for anyone in need of respite in central London. Beautiful canals lined with barge boats transport you away from the commotion whilst riverside cafes offer coffee with a view.
Drink at: Located at the start of the Grand Canal, Lockhouse serves up craft brews, creative cocktails and premium wines in a contemporary, factory-chic inspired setting.
Eat at: Make the most of the area's waterways with Darcie & May Green’s fabulous floating brunch. Tuck into Australian nosh onboard the vibrant barge boat restaurant whilst sipping on bottomless bubbles and watching the world go by.
Check out: During the summer months, it’s a no-brainer: the waterside Rembrandt Gardens are prime for a tranquil picnic and lazy afternoon. However, the brilliantly bizarre and thoroughly British Puppet Theatre Barge is on hand for those rainy days. It’s tiny, a little odd but utterly enchanting.
This southwest Thames-side retreat feels a world away from the everyday London you’re used to. Venture over at the weekend and revel in the iconically village-esque deli, greengrocers and independent bookshops.
Drink at: Nestled in the heart of Barnes, The Coach and Horses boasts a log fire, beer garden and a great selection of brews on tap. The venue's also dog-friendly, making it ideal for a post-walk pub lunch with your furry friend.
Eat at: While away an afternoon or two within The Bridge’s beautiful boathouse dining room. Chow down on classic comfort dishes including fish and chips, sausage and mash, shepherd's pie and more whilst warming your cockles in front of the toasty open fire.
Check out: Pop the wellies on for an afternoon exploring London Wetlands Centre. Head out on your own mini-expedition or join one of the daily walks and talks around the nature site.
You might already recognise Blackheath Village as being the starting point for the annual marathon, however, it’s also worth paying a visit while it's not crammed full of runners. You’ll find an endearing area, complete with a church, communal green, pond and a stong sense of community. Oh, it's also got a weekly farmers market.
Drink at: Located in the heart of Blackheath, The Railway is a no-nonsense boozer. Pop in for a lazy weekend brunch or try out one of their limited edition on-tap craft brews. They've also got a beer garden on the off-chance that a rare spot of sunshine strikes.
Eat at: For a drinks menu that rivals its food, look no further than microbrewery and restaurant, ZeroDegrees. Enjoy an extensive menu of mussels, wood-fired pizzas, pastas, salads and more whilst sipping on a regularly-changing selection of speciality beers.
Check out: Potter around some of the village's top-class charity shops before wandering along to Greenwich Park to take in the popular London vista and check out the historic Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory.
Want some more? Check out our top pick of things to do around London, here.