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What's your favourite thing in Croydon?

Tell us what you love most in the area - and why!

Mark Glassman

Next up in our weekly series of area guides: Croydon! We'd love to hear your recommendations, so let us know your favourite things in the area (and what makes them so good!) in the comments below.

Photo: Mark Glassman


Liz S

My goodness - where to start?  Perhaps at the Smoothbean coffee shop in Dingwall Road, which now offers live jazz on a Friday evening with local 4-piece group InFusion. There's the Croydonites Festival of New Theatre, returning this autumn, and Stanley Halls, a beautiful venue used for the festival in Upper Norwood. There's outdoor theatre in Wandle Park bandstand (alongside the Wandle river, re-surfaced in 2012), from the Croydon Operatic and Dramatic Association. There's the Breakfast Cat Theatre company which performs regularly in the great space at the Oval Tavern, and Theatre Utopia in Matthew's Yard just off Surrey Street, a great coffee shop, bar, burger joint, workspace and community venue. There's Coulsdon Theatre Workshop which puts on more great shows in the south of the borough, and Surrey Street itself is the site of an ancient open air fruit and vegetable market granted its Royal Charter in 1276 and still running to day, and now hosts a vintage clothes market on a Sunday too.

Back in the town centre there's the 50-seat theatre above the Spreadeagle Pub in Katharine Street, right next door to the 68 seat arts cinema, the David Lean.  That's very close to the world's largest urban saffron farm, Croydon Saffron Central, which has brought back the growing of Croydon's namesake flower, the crocus ('Croh-denu' means 'valley of the crocus') grown here since Roman times.  There's a lovely restaurant quarter, South End, and the very beautiful minster church in Old Town. And getting bang up to date, there's all the excitement of Croydon Tech City which has made Croydon a fast-growing tech hub, and the Croydon Citizen newspaper, whose contributors are all local people and citizen journalists, which was founded in 2012.

I could go on! There's lots to discover in Croydon, and it's great that the reputation it deserves as an interesting and vibrant place to live with a strong sense of pride and community is finally coming its way. 

Meels C

our parks!

coombe woods

croham hurst

shirley hills

riddlesdown common

our croydon football team! crystal palace. 

surrey street market over 100 years old. 

our transport links are EXCELLENT - west croydon to dalston - east croydon - all central LDN stations

Matthews Yard - one of croydons hidden gems

david lean cinema

croydon clocktower library

the reggae shop down the high street alleyway! 

Josi K

Why not take a 15 min train ride from Victoria Station and have a look around Croydon & make up your own mind???

When people come to visit Croydon they're often shocked as how nice it is & decide that its bad press is totally unjustified. There's loads to do in terms of Arts, Music, Sport, Food and Nature & in comparison to the rest of London housing is spacious and really cheap.  

Here's a few pointers: 

The arts scene is buzzing with the fab RISE gallery who's just done a full BANKSY retrospective at the centre of whats now called Croydon ARTS QUARTER,, there's TURF PROJECTS which supports local artists with a huge gallery space, there's CLUB SODA, there's an incredible amount of fantastic STREET ART - so what out Shoreditch!

Croydon's very green; it  has 127 PARKS including a 16 acres BANG in the centre of town - Park Hill Park - so Croydon's rep as a concrete Jungle is wrong. There's loads of really active Green fingers in Croydon running community garden programmes including in Park Hill Park, Wandle Park & Thornton Heath Rec.

Yeap its got 1960's Brutalist buildings (dead trendy these days) but if you look Croydon's got every era of architecture throughout town including - Medieval Almshouses & Churches and a Royal Palace a Bishops Palace, buildings designed by Sir Christopher Wren & Gilbert Scott, Art Deco all over town including Croydon Air port the Worlds first purpose built passenger airport which has applied for UNESCO World heritage status. Need I go on???

Going out to find somewhere to eat is easy & compared to London its so much cheaper. I've over 80 restaurants within 15 mins from cheap fab pub grub (Tree House or the Oval) to incredible Indian food (too many to choose one to mention) to super posh award winning restaurants (but NOT at central London Prices) like (Albert's Table or  Brasserie Vacherin. If you want a great cup of Coffee, breakfast or lunch in the centre of town try the Smooth Bean Cafe next to east Croydon Station.

Music wise there's the ever fantastic Oval pub, Matthews Yard, Project B to name just a few of venues and there's more coming with a big new Theatre arts centre called the Barn on London Road.

I won't go on but why not come explore ???????

Carol W

Pretty much what everyone else has already said...I'll  to keep it to things that no-one else has mentioned yet. 

Lots of hidden secret gems - more green space than any other borough including a newly done-up Wandle Park which has music and theatre on regularly, and Wettern Tree Garden, an off-the-beaten-track arboretum.

Lots of community groups - people who put in a lot of time and effort to make our corner of South London a lovely place. You want a Ukranian Children's Choir? Or any other type of choir, for that matter? Dance groups of just about every kind you can imagine (a choice of 3 morris sides for a start!) ? An internationally known ukulele group? Several allotment societies? An ambitious brand new "festival of festivals" lasting almost all summer as each neighbourhood celebrates in turn? Independent (as well as mainstream) cinemas? An astronomical society with its own observatory? Informal language learning in Spanish conversation groups? We've got them all and loads more besides, these are just the ones that spring to mind immediately.

Of historical interest  - Surrey Street Market, 6 -day market established in the 13th Century; the 18th C. Venetian ambassador's residence, Ruskin House, (now home to political debate, music clubs and a great real ale bar); Croydon Minster (a fine Sir George Gilbert Scott building); 16th C. almshouses nestling in the main shopping street near Primark; the airport which saw the start of the Spanish Civil War and Winston Churchill's flying lessons; a 19th C. tower windmill, plenty more and a local history society and an annual heritage festival to help you explore. 

If you fancy something more sporty, we've got a host of football teams, from Crystal Palace to Whyteleafe FC; golf courses galore; a Roller Derby team; renowned cycling club, Addiscombe Cycling Club; archery, caving, gliding, croquet, boxing, bowls, lacrosse and diving clubs to name but a few. 

And you'll have worked up a hearty appetite after all that so choose from a diverse range of cuisines in our award-winning restaurants, pubs and cafes, perhaps indulging in some locally brewed beer (The Cronx Brewery or Clarence & Frederick's) or wine (Godstone Vineyard) at half the price you'd have to pay elsewhere in London. 

Speaking of which, while it is only 15 or 20 minutes to Victoria, it is also only 15 or 20 minutes to the North Downs Way and proper countryside.  And most importantly, we're friendlier here than in the rest of London - I've yet to make a tram journey (did I mention we have trams?) without ending up chatting nicely to someone. Croydon is just waiting to become your new best friend. 

Downsides? Its reputation, but that keeps the snobs away so we're not too bothered about that. 

Okay, the shops, bizarrely touted by town developers as the key to "regeneration", are a bit dull and "identikit Britain". The quirky unique ones that gave the place an unique identity such as Beano's (once Europe's biggest 2nd hand record shop) don't seem to be encouraged by the managers of the shiny new shopping "malls". If  big faceless corporations realised we don't need a 4th branch of W.H.Smith or Next within a 200 yard radius but that we DO need more chances for locals to explore bright new entrepreneurial ideas it'd be way better. Where such unique shops do exist, they not only thrive but are of world-renown, such as Jonathan Myall Music  - housed in an exquisite 16th century shop, this is quite simply THE best flute shop in Europe. Regardless of whether you play the flute or not, just go and have a look! You never know, you might end up buying a ukulele and joining the uke group!
Esther S

Culture with a Croydon edge - we're not too precious or pretentious; and we have a dry, self-deprecating sense of humour born out of years of suffering derision! See the Arts Quarter around St. George's Walk, Turf Projects on Keeley Road and exhibitions at Matthew's Yard.

Our central library is a fantastic resource, plus the David Lean cinema and Museum of Croydon are in the same building.

Live music at Matthew's Yard, Fairfield Halls, Ruskin House, Oval Tavern, plus theatre and comedy at The SpreadEagle.

Wonderful parks and open spaces: Park Hill and Wandle Park; Shirley Hills and Coombe Woods.

A brand new crowd-funded Saffron Farm! Right in the centre of town! (Croydon means 'crocus valley' and some very determined individuals have set up a sustainable farm on the site of our old council offices.) 

Architecture - notably Old Palace, Croydon Minster, the Almshouses, Jonathan Myles music shop, Wrencote, Braithwaite Halls, Croydon Airport; plus the Brutalist beauty of the 50p Building - we got it all. Croydon buildings are really interesting if you look up!    

Amazing diverse food! Yummy South Indian curry at Banana Leaf or fine dining at Albert's Table, quality kebabs at Beirut Gate or great pasta at Bagatti's.

Great pubs! Some lovely gems tucked away: The Royal Standard, The Dog and Bull, The Glamorgan, The Builder's Arms - but best of all is The Oval Tavern!

Neil W

Curry at Amera Rani or Taste of Bengal in South Croydon. Top quality.

Music at The Oval. One of top pub venues in London, with massive variety of music, comedy, beers, and great food.

Matthews Yard, doing great things to build a community venue.

So many great, charitable, unpretentious and interesting people doing music and other stuff.

Bad points? - Foxton's are setting up shop. 

Faye M

I love the existing and growing appetite for the arts in Croydon. This includes a fantastic community of local musicians and bands who have been performing in Croydon for many years in local pubs, cafes and live music venues such as The Oval Tavern, Matthew's Yard, Scream Lounge and previously The Ship pub and The Green Dragon pub. There is a great appetite in the town for more live music venues to showcase the town's talent and talent from the rest of London and further afield.

Also arts including The BRIT School in Selhurts, Rise Gallery and The Cultural Quarter (the growing popularity of top quality street art is great), Turf Gallery and exhibition spaces in Matthew's Yard. The Fairfield Halls, which hosts some great comedy names and classical music, and has the potential to be a cultural base in South London for visual and performing arts. A fantastic space.

The following lovely, quaint, arty, interesting pubs/cafes: The Oval Tavern, Matthew's Yard, The Dog and Bull, The Ship (rock music pub), The Green Dragon, the cafe in Coombe Woods. Many including a great selection of lovely craft beers and/or fantastic food.

I love the public transport - from East Croydon you can be in central London within 15-20 mins or you can be in the countryside within half an hour or possibly less.

Some of the edges of the borough itself (near the White Bear pub, which is lovely) are just like the countryside.

The Restaurant Quarter is amazing - so many high quality eating establishments all in one place.

Lovely green space and parks/woods including Coombe Woods, Shirley Heights, South Norwood Country Park, South Norwood Lake, Wandle Park, Park Hill and Hayling Grove.

The Cronx brewery - great, locally produced craft beer.

Croydon central library and clocktower.

Very interesting mix of old and new architecture.

Saif B

To drink: DogandBull Croydon on Surrey Street has been spruced up and has a good range of ales and a huge beer garden, with bits that can be used all year round. For fancy cocktails you have Playground Cocktail Bar - or Apatura Bar Restaurant & Grill, who we just discovered do some awesome cocktails (and steaks). If you are lucky enough to catch the Street Cocktails crew in action you can get something a little more down to earth with cocktails made out of corner shop ingredients like Super Malt, Nurishment and Um Bungo. If drinking alone or at home is more your thing, hit up The Cronx Brewery

who brew some great Ales up in New Addington. 

If you like a bit of culture in your life for theatre check The Spread Eagle Pub & Theatre which hosts touring fringe theatre shows of a high quality. The David Lean Cinema has reopened and is in the hands of the community and run by volunteers. We also just signed a contract which will see our own 70 capacity studio theatre upgraded and hosting more independent theatre, film and comedy events, run independently. 

For live music check out Croydon's newest venue Hoodoo's (at Matthews Yard) who host high quality open mic every Tuesday and live music most weekends. Other great live spots include The Oval Tavern, Croydon, which is now run by Croydon's leading landlady, formerly of the Ship and Green Dragon fame. The Edge Croydon also has frequent live music as does Project B.

For Art there are now a gaggle of independent Art Galleries across the town centre including @descart.es, Turf Projects, @Rise Gallery and the Click Clock Gallery who host regular exhibitions and have pieces for sale. Rise gallery currently has a Banksy exhibition.

For late night partying and clubs not in a chain space you could tryBad Apple, or The Treehouse. 

For food you can now enjoy some of the best burgers in South London right in the heart of Croydon, courtesy of Brgr&Beer. Yumn Brasserie does a very nice steak. For fine dining you could do worse than giving Michelin guide listed Albert's Table a try. Want indian? Try Khyber Croydon or Karnavar Restaurant. Chinese takeaway? The Big Spoon on the high st is 2nd to none. 

For coffee there are a cluster of decent independent cafes up and running now - including Smoothbean near East Croydon Station,Rise 'n Shine at Matthews Yard, Crushed Bean, on the High Street.  (PS, I own Matthews Yard, so am biased). 

For Parks and open Spaces: Recently revamped Wandle Park has a bandstand, cafe, skatepark and plenty of green, the River Wandle has also been de-culverted and now flows above ground for a bit in the park . Queens Gardens in the heart of town is lovely for a quick bite as is nearby Park Hill Park. For panoramic views of South London head to Shirely Hills. In the suburbs of Croydon on the Surrey borders there are plenty of great walking an hiking routes. Others worth mentioning include South Norwood Country Park, Lloyd Park and my personal favourite - the stunning Coombe Park Gardens, which aren't even on Google Maps, so until now, a hidden gem and home to the Coach House Cafe (look for Lloyd park and then switch to Satellite view to find them before you go!  

If and when you get bored, you can jump on a train direct to London Victoria (24 hrs a day), London Bridge, Kings Cross or Blackfriars direct. Or, hop on a tram to Beckenham or Wimbledon for a change of scenery. 

This barely scrapes the surface of the best things Croydon has to offer.. quirky attractions include Shirley Windmill and Croydon Airport. 

Tony J

That's easy. Shirley Hills. Croydon's real secret is that it gives you the benefits of London with a healthy dose of green belt just a few minutes away.

Catch the tram from East Croydon and you can be in the wilderness of Shirley Hills within 10 minutes. 

Nothing beats it.

Ian A

This.. Free entry and its every month too!

Beccy O

We moved to Croydon in January and have enjoyed sussing out what the borough has to offer. 

Best restaurant - Thanh's Bistro (www.thanhsbistro.co.uk). Cannot recommend enough. 

Best pub - The Builders Arms near East Croydon (buildersarmscroydon.co.uk). So glad we made this find! A pretty, traditional pub with such a warm and friendly atmosphere and food far surpassing your usual pub grub fare. 

Things to do - the Museum of Croydon (www.museumofcroydon.com/) in the Clocktower and stand up comedy nights at Mathews Yard. 

Edward A

My other comment seemed to vanish so re-posting...


Everything about Matthews Yard in the old town.

Including amazing burgers at BrgrandBeer.

Breakfast outside at the Coach House Cafe in Coombe Wood, a beautiful setting.

The food at Karnavar in Crpydon's restaurant quarter is great.

The Oval Tavern is a great pub near East Croydon with good food and live music.

The Dog and Bull and The Treehouse for the best beer gardens in town.

nigeld27 n

Croydon Tech City, who represent the South London tech scene, is obviously the best thing in Croydon

Helen W

 I recently found The Oval pub and have to say it is fab - live music, low ceilings, lovely beer garden not disturbed by traffic... I'd definitely vote for Little Bay - I love taking friends who don't come to Croydon often and are always surprised by this great little theatre style gem. The Treehouse pub is great for huge, heavy wooden chairs and the great array of clocks on the wall. Also, Brgr&Beer in Matthew's Yard does the best burgers in Croydon (although admittedly there aren't many to choose from!).

Emma R

Hands down Lost Format Society, launched this summer, Croydon's first and only rooftop cinema and bar. 


Great views, food, drinks and the staff couldn't be any friendlier! Looking forward to its return next year already :o) 

Ro M

 Blue and Orange, Thornton Heath !!!!

Matthew's Yard, Central Croydon !!!

Little Bay, Central Croydon !!!

Sam J

There's a restaurant in Thornton Heath called Santok Maa (http://www.santokmaas.com/) which is a completely undiscovered gem in South London- authentic, family run Gujarati restaurant that's been in the area for over 25 years. Well worth a visit if you're in the area!

Other recommendations for more Central Croydon: Tacolisa (although I think it's closed now), Mirch Masala, Matthew's Yard