What’s the deal with Peckham?
The beating heart of Peckham – home to Del Boy, road rap hero Giggs, national acting treasures Olivia Colman and John Boyega, and a much-photographed pink staircase – is Rye Lane. It’s a throng of colours as stalls sell fruit, veg, clothes, handbags and trainers, jumbled up with the smells of saltfish and raw meat. Walk past the kiosks playing Nigerian pop and the Chinese supermarket inexplicably blasting dance bangers and you’ll reach the Rye: a sprawling patch of green that stretches all the way to East Dulwich.
But Peckham isn’t all about Rye Lane’s rickety shopfronts, crowded arcades and creative endeavours in looming warehouses. The side streets are leafy and low-rise, with cast-iron bollards by artist Antony Gormley. The railway arches house mechanics, breweries, bars, a tattooist and even a foundry. To the east, the streets around Queen’s Road station have started sprouting bars and cafés. And past the landmark library you’ll find shockingly good Filipino restaurant Filishack just round the corner from M Manze Eel & Pie House, where you’ll still see the Pearly King of Peckham tucking in to his lunch.
If you only do one thing
Drop in to The Prince of Peckham pub. It’s a great community boozer where you’ll find all walks of Peckham life and incredible Caribbean-British fusion food.
Go off the beaten track
Don’t walk past Rye Lane’s many arcades and alleyways. Shop for fruit and secondhand books down the passage opposite the station; hit Holdrons Arcade to spot DJs at Balamii radio station or buy vintage garms at Little Sister, local-made leisurewear at Sturla and vegan food at Deserted Cactus. Or dive into Bussey Alley and explore CLF Art Café, alias the Bussey Building.
Soak up the sun
The lesser known Burgess Park has a serene lake and well-used community barbecue area. Get there early on sunny weekends to bag a grill.
Hide from the rain
Catch a film at unbelievably cheap local institution Peckhamplex. There’s another, much smaller, cinema in the back room of The Montpelier pub, showing arthouse films and docs (you can take your pint in too). Or you could play vintage arcade games at Four Quarters.
Peckhamplex. Photograph: Rob Greig
Copeland Gallery, behind Bussey Building, has a great programme of events and exhibitions, from shows like Peckham 24 photography festival to music events. Then there’s Flat Time House gallery – studio of the late John Latham – and Hannah Barry Gallery, heading up the annual Bold Tendencies sculpture show at Frank’s Café, as well as the Hub + Culture shop for contemporary African design.
Stay up late
Pop in to the bustling Peckham Springs between the train tracks, especially on a sunny evening, for top-notch Whisky Sours before a night of bashment, dancehall and grime at Tola nightclub. Try Canavan’s Peckham Pool Club if you want to break up your dancing with a few frames of pool, or catch local DJs like the Touching Bass collective at Tasty Bakery on Rye Lane: a Caribbean bakery by day and impromptu club by night.
How to get to Peckham
Peckham Rye station drops you right in the thick of Rye Lane, while Queens Road Peckham is located to the east, closer to New Cross. Both stations are served by the London Overground. Peckham Rye also has frequent trains to and from central London – it's only an 11-minute ride from London Bridge, and if you time it right you can even get here direct from St Pancras. A regular stream of buses also serves the entire area.
What else is nearby?
To the east of Peckham, you’ll find the numerous cosy pubs of Nunhead within a short walk. To the west, Camberwell is a mere stone’s throw away – head there in search of yet more outrageously tasty cheap eats. And to the south, you’ll find the more suburban (but still increasingly trendy) East Dulwich.
The best of eating and drinking in Peckham
Peckham is packed with great eats these days, and some fairly high-end joints rub shoulders with the area’s budget institutions. Ramshackle but delicious backstreet BYOB Kurdish joint Yadas is a must. The jackfruit tacos at Taco Queen will change your life, and their nachos are seriously addictive. Ganapati is the place for South Indian communal dining, with a thali inspired by Gandhi’s diet, while Peckham Bazaar serves pan-Balkan delicacies on a quiet residential corner.
Peckham has got itself a serious drinking scene, from some of London’s most buzzing rooftop bars to railway arch hangouts. Don’t miss Mae J’s Café, a café/bar in an afro salon named after the first black woman in space. Basement record store Rye Wax doubles up as a cocktail bar and gig venue. And check out The CLF Art Lounge & Roof Gardens, brand new rooftop bar next to the station by the same team who’ve turned the Bussey Building into one of Peckham’s biggest draws.
It’s known for bars, but Peckham also rivals any area of London when it comes to old-school boozers. Drop in to The Peckham Pelican for the 6pm happy hour and stay for the goat’s cheese pizza. Don’t miss The Prince of Peckham, a gem of a community pub. And strike out into the backstreets to discover low-key hangouts like The Montpelier.
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