Known throughout the city for being a bit rough and ready, Finsbury Park hasn’t always had the best reputation. However, look beyond the scruffy pubs and graffiti and you’ll find a vibrant, cosmopolitain area with a real sense of community, as well as brilliant transport links, a huge park, and the rare opportunity to find a bargain (for London, anyway) rental property in Zone 2.
Not to be confused with Finsbury Square in Moorgate, Finsbury Park sits firmly in North London, up the road from Angel and west of Stoke Newington. While these neighbouring areas have seen swathes of gentrification bringing in finance professionals and affluent couples, Finsbury Park is still the domaine of recent graduates, families, and long-established Turkish, Cypriot and Ethiopian communities. It’s also hugely popular with dedicated Arsenal fans, with the Emirates stadium on the doorstep and epic match-day traffic to boot.
The area is mostly residential, with many streets of Victorian terraces, local authority properties and a few contemporary apartment buildings surrounding the park. This is pub rather than club territory, with a mix of old boozers and refurbished gastropubs providing all the watering holes you could need, along with the legendary Rowan’s Ten Pin Bowling Alley which was recently saved from demolition by fans of it’s cheap n’ cheerful decor and bright blue slushies.
Aside from old-school pubs and decent rents, the park is one of the area’s biggest draws, with 110 acres of open land, tennis courts, football pitches and even a boating lake, as well as regular musical performances - the likes of Bob Dylan, Pulp and the Sex Pistols have all played in Finsbury Park in the past, and since 2014 Wireless Festival has been held here every July.
On a map
Finsbury Park is located in North London, crossing the boroughs of Hackney, Haringey and Islington. It sits to the north east of Stoke Newington and the north west of Holloway, and covers the postcode N4.
History of Finsbury Park London
The area of Finsbury Park was originally created out of a remaining patch of Hornsey Wood in the 1700s as a place for Londoners to escape the smoky air in the city and enjoy an afternoon in the purpose-built tearooms. During this time the original lake was built, and specific parts of the park were used for archery, shooting and cock fighting.
By the mid-1800s, the area had become increasingly urbanised with the addition of the railway station in the 1860s followed by other businesses and housing for the railway workers. It was around this time that locals began to petition for a formal park as a place where local working-class families could enjoy fresh air and green space, similar to the parks that were popping up in Paris during this period. Eventually the council gave in, and Finsbury Park was formally opened in 1869.
Transport from Finsbury Park London
Finsbury Park Station is somewhat of a travel hub, with one of London's busiest stations outside of Zone 1. The tube station covers both the Piccadilly and Victoria lines, meaning a direct journey to Piccadilly Circus takes only 15 minutes, while the National Rail station offers trains to locations including Moorgate, Kings Cross and Welwyn Garden City.
In addition, the area is served by a high number of bus routes both day and night to locations across the city.
Image credit: Paul Hudson
Cost of living in Finsbury Park London
The property market in Finsbury Park is dominated by quiet streets of Victorian terraces, some whole and some separated into apartments, as well as more modern new-built blocks overlooking the park, and a few ex-local authority buildings too.
While prices in the area are steading rising and reportedly up by around 20% in the last year, the area is still cheaper than neighbouring spots such as Holloway, Highbury and Stoke Newington. As of April 2016, the average rental price of a two-bedroom apartment in Finsbury Park is around £1800 per month, although similar properties can be found starting at £1250.
Restaurants in Finsbury Park London
Forget what you've heard about there being no decent food in Finsbury Park. Delicious Korean-Japanese restaurant Dotori has been a low-priced local favourite since it opened in 2008 - so much so that you'll have to book in advance, or put up with a takeaway instead. If you're hungry for Korean food its hard to go wrong with the authentic Bibimbap, while on the Japanese menu the Danbury is unmissable.
Address: 3 Stroud Green Rd, London N4 2DQ
Phone: 020 7263 3562
Part of the trendy cafe wave currently sweeping through Finsbury Park, Vagabond is the place to come if you're looking for a decent cup of coffee. They use beans from small producers including Has Been and Union Coffee for the ultimate taste, while the homemade cakes and flaky pastries are also worth a try.
Address: Charter Court, Stroud Green Rd, London N4 3SG
Phone: 020 8616 4514
Frequently touted as the best pub in Finsbury Park, the Faltering Fullback is a charming Irish pub filled with three floors vintage furnishings. It's main selling point is the huge garden which is packed with locals come rain or shine, but the Thai food is also worth a try.
Address: 19 Perth Rd, London N4 3HB
Phone:020 7272 5834
Shops in Finsbury Park London
Deck yourself out in Arsenal kit and paraphernalia at this dedicated team shop on Station Place, filled with all the Gooner goodies you could ever want. Try to steer clear on match day though, unless you want to be queuing out the door!
Address: 6/9, Station Pl, London N4 2DH
Phone:020 7272 1000
If you can't quite bear the thought of commuting on the x everyday, pop into local bike shop Finsbury Cycles and find yourself some two-wheeled transport instead. With a great selection of bikes, accessories and an in-store workshop for repairs, you're guaranteed to cycle away a happy customer.
Address: 185 Seven Sisters Rd, London N4 3NS
Phone:020 7263 0007
Bagels are up there with burgers as the ultimate bread-based comfort food, and this independent bakery does them to perfection. For a truly traditional taste try their salted beef bagel, or go rogue with fillings such as halloumi, smoked salmon and BBQ chicken.
Address: 284A Seven Sisters Rd, London N4 2AA
Phone:020 8809 1519
Things to do in Finsbury Park London
In a world of virtual reality games and 3D cinema, there's something incredibly nostalgic about a traditional game of Ten Pin Bowling. Rowan's is one of the last places in London where you'll find neon decor which hasn't changed since the 1980s, cheap games, vodka-spiked blue slushies and even a karaoke machine for after. It's no wonder they seem to hold more birthday parties here for adults than for kids!
Address: 10 Stroud Green Rd, Finsbury Park, London N4 2DF
Phone:020 8800 1950
One of the first Victorian parks laid out in London, the 110-acre Finsbury Park is potentially the area's greatest asset. With a mix of open ground, formal gardens, woodland areas and activities including boating on the lake, bowling, tennis and basketball, there's always something different to do here.
Address: Endymion Rd, London N4 1EE
Cultural outings don't immediately spring to mind when thinking of Finsbury Park (and no, bowling doesn't count) but this small independent theatre is busy changing perceptions with their curated program of new talent and experimental dramas. An excellent spot to look out for rising acting and directing stars, the theatre also has a friendly cafe bar which is worth a visit in its own right.
Address: Clifton Terrace, London N4 3JP
Phone:020 7870 6876
Main image credit: Achim Hepp