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Barbican area guide

Discover all the best things to do in and around Barbican, including the iconic brutalist arts centre

Barbican Centre - area guide 2018
Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock.com

If you thought the City of London was all suits and no soul, take a trip to Barbican, home of the fabulous Barbican Centre. A leading UK arts complex, it houses a cinema, art gallery, theatre, dedicated workshop and learning spaces, and its own glorious conservatory where you can take afternoon tea. Tourist footfall in Barbican is further boosted by the Museum of London, so there's buzz and bustle even at weekends, when City bigwigs are home putting their feet up and enjoying a well-earned G&T. The trendy bars and restaurants of Shoreditch are only a short walk away, so there's never any chance of being bored during a trip to the Barbican area.

RECOMMENDED: London by area

Things to do in Barbican

Barbican Centre
Cinemas

Barbican Centre

A leading London art complex, and a prime example of brutalist architecture. 

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Barbican Conservatory
Attractions

Barbican Conservatory

Discover the brutalist arts centre’s secret, and super photogenic, green heart. 

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Museum of London
Museums

Museum of London

Find out how London became the vibrant, sprawling city it is today.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Postman’s Park
Attractions

Postman’s Park

See the plaques dedicated to those who sacrificed their own lives to save others.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars

Restaurants in Barbican

Chiswell Street Dining Rooms
Bars and pubs Special offer

Chiswell Street Dining Rooms

A lounge-like gastropub.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Osteria
Restaurants Buy tickets

Osteria

Can dinner in a conference centre ever be funky? The brains behind Osteria, an upmarket Italian restaurant in The Barbican certainly hope so. They’ve opted for a look that says: ‘1970s Swedish airport lounge’ (naturally): all chequered fabric seats, low lighting and a sax-heavy smoove jazz soundtrack that wouldn’t sound out of place in a ‘70s Scandi porno (or, erm, so we’ve heard). Waiters buzz around an oak trestle table topped by fat lengths of salami milano, kilner jars of rosemary oil, tomatoes that look like wrinkly bums – you know, all the artisanal produce of Mother Italy. The real highlight is the view, though. Bag a window seat at night and you’re treated to lights twinkling off inky black water features and dramatic close-ups of skyscrapers. The Italian fare’s elegantly presented, simply cooked (unsurprising given that the head chef used to run Arbutus). Think saddle of rabbit draped with endives that look as though a fretting chef had anguished over how best to delicately manicure them into position. Highlights: a soft-poached egg wobbling delicately atop al dente asparagus and aromatic pumpkin-seed-studded pearl barley. But a trio of dry, claggy, ravioli and a bland slice of polenta in salty gravy was less successful. So, dinner in a conference centre: is it funky? Not really. Some of the cooking’s not bad, though.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
2 out of 5 stars
Buy
Pham Sushi
Restaurants

Pham Sushi

Good-value Japanese restaurant.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Bonfire
Restaurants Book online

Bonfire

Venue says: “Bonfire is an edgy eatery located on the first floor of the Barbican, London’s multi-purpose art centre.”

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Users say
3 out of 5 stars
Book online
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Bars in Barbican

The Gibson
Bars and pubs Book online

The Gibson

Venue says: “Time travelling bar The Gibson transport's you through the 1900s via a selection of some of the most innovative cocktails in London.”

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Neo Barbican
Bars and pubs

Neo Barbican

Expansive bar offering cocktails, wine and snacks.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
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Pubs in Barbican

Old Red Cow
Bars and pubs

Old Red Cow

Pub grub and Sunday roasts.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Old Fountain
Bars and pubs Book online

Old Fountain

Traditional family-owned boozer. 

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Jugged Hare
Bars and pubs Buy tickets

Jugged Hare

A very classy gastropub.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Buy
The Distillers
Bars and pubs

The Distillers

A modern and spacious British pub.

Users say
1 out of 5 stars
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The perfect weekend in Barbican

Visit: Barbican Centre
Cinemas

Visit: Barbican Centre

Visit Barbican Centre’s art gallery, cinema, theatre, concert hall and library.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Explore: Museum of London
Museums

Explore: Museum of London

The history of London, from prehistoric times to the present, is told through reconstructed interiors and street scenes.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Drink: The Gibson
Bars and pubs Book online

Drink: The Gibson

Venue says: “Time travelling bar The Gibson transport's you through the 1900s via a selection of some of the most innovative cocktails in London.”

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars
Book online
Shop: Look Mum No Hands!
Restaurants

Shop: Look Mum No Hands!

A super-fun cycling shop-cum-coffee bar. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Users say
4 out of 5 stars

Hotels in Barbican

Hoxton Hotel

Hoxton Hotel

Very cool design in a very cool location.

Users say
5 out of 5 stars
Check prices
The Ned

The Ned

A five-star hotel co-owned by the Soho House Group.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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Rookery

Rookery

A converted Georgian townhouse steeped in local history.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
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Andaz Hotel

Andaz Hotel

Stay here if you like down-to-earth, well-informed service and eco-friendliness.

Users say
4 out of 5 stars
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