Both suburbs are amongst the most expensive London suburbs in which to live. Located less than 8km (5 mile) from central London, they are a haven for artists, writers, actors and celebrities. With a historic feel, several independent cafés and restaurants and plenty of green space, the area is perfect for spending time outdoors. Read our guide for the perfect Highgate and Hampstead walk.
Travel Essentials – Highgate to Hampstead walk
Directions | Duration | Distance | Difficulty
Start point: Archway underground station – Zone 2 and 3. Northern line.
Finish point: Hampstead underground station – Zone 1. Northern line.
Map: TfL Tube Map.
Cost: The walk is free but £10 (Adult single) entry for Highgate East and West cemeteries.
Duration: 6-8 hours with stops including the cemetery.
Distance: 13km (8.07 mile).
Difficulty: Slighty hilly in places.
Notes: This is a long walk so take your time.
Quick facts about Highgate and Hampstead
- Communist revolutionary Karl Marx is buried at Highgate cemetery.
- John Constable, the English Romanic painter, lived in Hampstead.
- The average price for a property in Highgate is £1,265,892.
- The first-ever cable car in Europe was on Highgate Hill.
- Hampstead Heath has three open-air public swimming ponds.
- Hampstead Heath is also home to seven species of bats.
Highgate to Hampstead walk – Points of Interest
- The Whittington Stone.
- Highgate Cemetry – East and West.
- Waterlow Park – including Lauderdale House.
- Highgate Village.
- Hampstead Heath – including Kenwood House.
- Hampstead Village.
- Hampstead High Street.
Route map Highgate to Hampstead walk
1. The Whittington Stone
Leaving Archway underground station, the first point of interest is The Whittington Pub. In front of the pub is The Whittington Stone, where Dick Whittington heard the bells calling him back to be Lord Mayor of London. The cat, who accompanied him back to London, is made of black limestone arriving in 1964. The Dick Whittington charity today is worth upwards of £100 million.
At the end of Magdala Avenue is the Highgate Branch Library, a Grade II listed building from 1906.
Continue along Chester Road and at the junction with Swain’s Lane is a Gothic horror-film style building called Holy Village built in 1865. This location opposite the Highgate cemetery adds to the spookiness level.
2. Highgate Cemetery – East and West
On Swain’s Lane is Highgate Cemetery. It consists of two sites, Highgate Cemetery West and Highgate Cemetery East. Over 170,000 people are buried at both sites, which covers 37 acres. The west site has more graves and, although larger, feels more enclosed.
The east site hosts Highgate’s most famous burial, Karl Marx. Two attempted bombings of his grave took place in 1965 and 1970. Several other Communist leaders’ graves are in the vicinity. The east site is open plan and tranquil with wide, well-marked paths.
The cemetery is active, and the designs of the tombstones, coupled with the famous burials, attracts tourists. It is a Grade 1 on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Some of the tombstones are worth over a million pounds, excluding the price of the burial plot. The demand far outweighs the availability of land.
An association exists with the supernatural and black magic with so many burials. The Highgate Vampire, a media sensation from the 1970s’ gained plenty of press at the time.
3. Waterlow Park – including Lauderdale House
Set on a hillside of 29 acres near Highgate Hill, the park gets its name from Sir Sydney Waterlow, the Lord Mayor Of London. The park is a nice place to take a break and enjoy the surroundings, particularly across London.
Near the top end of the park sits Lauderdale House, built in 1580 and now used as a tea room.
Rumour says that Nell Gwyn, the mistress of King Charles II, used it as a summer retreat.
4. Highgate Village
Leaving Waterlow Park, the gate at the rear of Lauderdale House leads to Highgate Hill. On turning around, there are fine views over the city of London. At the top of the hill is the village, where the hustle and bustle of Highgate come together. The Gatehouse, a 1930s pub with a fringe theatre and the Prince of Wales pub are decent places for food. A good spot for people-watching and to enjoy a coffee and cake is Gail’s Bakery.
A narrow passage called Pond Square near The Prince of Wales pub leads into South Grove, once Highgate’s village green. The Highgate Society and the members-only Highgate Literary Institution are on the edge of the green.
Walking along South Grove and towards Hampstead, there is The Flask Pub. In the 18th century, it was the site of the Hampstead wells, a source of mineral water for sale.
Across the road is St.Michael’s Church, on the original site is where the philosopher Francis Bacon suffered a fatal chill in 1626. Opposite the church is Witanhurst, the most expensive property in London, after Buckingham Palace. This Grade II listed 65-room residential Georgian revival mansion sits on five acres and includes a nine metre-deep basement.
Walking down Highgate West hill are other gated, impressive residences. One building, The Old Fox and Crown pub, gained notoriety in 1837 when the landlord rushed out to save a young Queen Victoria from serious injury when her horses bolted on the hill.
Past the bend on the hill, turn right into Merton Road. This slopes gently downhill, leading to the Millfield Lane entrance of Hampstead Heath.
5. Hampstead Heath – including Kenwood House
Hampstead Heath is over 800 acres of grass, woodland and ponds. There are various walking routes and vantage points.
Walking in between the two ponds, continue up the gradual slope, through the forest and into the grounds of the English Heritage owned Kenwood House.
The former stately home has an impressive art collection, including Rembrandt’s ‘Portrait with two circles’, intricate interiors and Henry Moore sculptures in the gardens. Edward Guinness, the head of the Guinness brewing family, lived here until 1927.
Following the path in front of the house for some way and then turning right leads towards Hampstead. Continuing straight on for another 20 minutes leads to the best-known panoramic view in London from Parliament Hill.
6. Hampstead Village
Leaving Hampstead Heath at the western side, head into Well Walk. Along this street is the drinking fountain that made Hampstead a popular spa area in the 1700s. The famous landscape painter John Constable lived at number 40 from 1827 for the final 10 years of his life. On the corner of Well Walk and Christchurch Hill is the popular, award-winning gastropub, The Wells Tavern, a perfect place to stop for refreshments.
Walking down Christchurch Hill, itself a pleasant street leads to Willow Road. On the right is number 2, the former home of Ernö Goldfinger. Built in 1939, it is a fine example of modernist architecture. The National Trust now own the property. The two houses on either side, number 1 and 3, are private residences.
Continuing onto South End Road, turn right into Keats Grove. On the left is where John Keats, the English Romantic poet, lived and wrote some of his best work.
At the end of Keats Grove, turn left into Downshire Hill, one of Hampstead’s finest residential streets. At number 49a Devonshire Hill is Hopkins House, another example of an ultra-modernist build from 1976, made from tubular steel with glass walls and subtly dissolved into a traditional neighbourhood.
7. Hampstead High Street
At the end of Devonshire Hill, turn right onto Rosslyn Hill leading to Hampstead High street. On the left is Snappy Snaps, the non-descript photo shop made famous when in 2010 George Michael crashed his car into it. Opposite is the King William IV pub, frequented by celebrities and well-known faces. The pub also boasts the ghost of a little girl either from the 18th century.
Further along, turn right into Flask Walk, named after the old Flask Tavern where spa water was bottled for sale in London. The street is wide at the bottom and narrow at the neck and joins Hampstead High Street. Turn right and continue for 50 metres to Hampstead Tube station, where the walk ends.
The verdict – Highgate to Hampstead walk
Strolling from Hampstead to Highgate is pleasurable, with plenty to observe, including historical points of interest, greenery and shops. It is possible to extend the walk and to explore areas such as Hampstead.
There is a National Trust and an English Heritage property on this walk, a cemetery, a heath, some of London’s most fashionable residential streets, modernist architecture, and plenty of renowned places to eat and drink. Allocate an entire day for this walk and savour what North London has to offer.
Cabin Bags Only rating: 8/10
Read about our other walks.