Take a steep seven-minute walk from Gipsy Hill station, or a flatter stroll from Crystal Palace, and you’ll hit Westow Street: one third of the minor marvel of Victorian town planning that Norwooders call the Triangle. Each of these three interlinked streets has plenty for south London explorers to discover. Church Road is filled with vintage and antiques stores, while Westow Hill is home to some lovely pubs and a community-run library. But it’s Westow Street that feels most like Upper Norwood’s high street.
Although there’s a large Sainsbury’s on one side, this characterful patch of suburban south London is dominated by independent shops and restaurants offering everything from Portuguese to Vietnamese food. If you overindulge (you probably will), burn off those calories afterwards by strolling around nearby Crystal Palace Park, which boasts its own maze and some famous, very Instagram-friendly dinosaur sculptures.
Despite the area being a bit of a commuter dormitory, Westow Street feels lively throughout the week, but for a real taste of Crystal Palace life it’s best to visit on a weekend morning and mingle with a cross-section of the local community. Just be sure to allow extra time, as you’ll probably end up queuing behind a good few of them for brunch.
Crab mac ’n’ cheese at Domali Bar & Kitchen, a vibey restaurant that used to be pescatarian but now serves meat dishes too.
Buttermilk waffles at LWS, a buzzy social-enterprise café whose profits help women moving out of refuges.
A delicious slice of autumn-spiced apple cake or blueberry crumble at cute coffee shop Dalhousie.
A sourdough pizza baked in the wood-fired oven at Four Hundred Rabbits. Look out for its south London specials.
Hué noodle soup at Urban Orient, an excellent Vietnamese café that gets very busy at lunchtimes.
Traditional fish stew at A Torre, a friendly, family-run Portuguese joint.
A bloody mary at The Sparrowhawk, a smart gastropub with an extensive food menu.
A premium G&T at The White Hart. This popular neighbourhood pub is more spacious than it looks.
A decadent milkshake from Alistair’s American Diner, a local institution that’s actually more of an English greasy spoon.
Scope the contemporary, urban and mid-century paintings at Inaspace Gallery.
Get acupunctured at The Little Escape, a holistic therapy centre on Westow-adjoining Paxton Mews.
Visit The Secret Garden, a charming garden centre tucked away down Coxwell Road.
Offbeat toys and games from Papagaio, an independent gem of a children’s shop.
Borscht and pickles from Piast, a Polish deli that sells produce from across Eastern Europe.
A signed edition from Bookseller Crow on the Hill, which recently celebrated 20 years in business.
Unusual gifts and homeware bits and bobs from the very eclectic Smash Bang Wallop.
And if you only do one thing…
Bring a pair of binoculars and take in the cracking view from the Gipsy Hill end of the street. At 110 metres above sea level, this is one of the highest points in south London, giving you an eyeful of city skyline. #iconic