PRIMROSE HILL ULTIMATE GUIDE
Open: Everyday: Open 24 hours
Time Needed: 2 hours
With so many attractions in London to choose from, climbing to the top of a hill might not be everyone’s idea of a holiday. But once you see the stunning panoramic views of the London skyline from the top of Primrose Hill, you’ll see why it’s such a popular place to visit in London.
Up until the 19th century, Primrose Hill was no more than just a woodland area filled with trees and wolves, and it was even once used as a hunting ground by the English monarchs. It is believed to have been named Primrose Hill due to the number of primroses which once grew here; (although not much of them can be seen today), but some experts believe it was named after Archibald Primrose, who was famous for the expansion of the London underground.
Throughout its history Primrose Hill has changed very little, and just strolling around its surrounding streets you will feel as if you’re walking around a London village during the 20th century.
Today Primrose Hill is a highly desirable place to live among the rich and famous, and some of the many celebrities who once lived (or still live) here include Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Dylan Thomas, Boris Johnson, Kate Moss, Gavin Rossdale, Jude Law, and many more. As a matter of fact, Primrose Hill became so famous because of its famous residents, a group of London-based celebrities like Kate Moss, Davinia Taylor, Ewan McGregor, Sadie Frost and Jude Law became known as the “Primrose Hill Set” during the 1990s.
By climbing to the top of Primrose Hill, visitors can enjoy views of the London skyline from 63 metres above sea level from six different viewpoints. The trees in Primrose Hill are kept low so the view won’t be obscured, and on a sunny day you’ll be able to see attractions and landmarks like The London Eye, The Shard, and The BT Tower. If you happen to be visiting Primrose Hill on a cloudy or rainy day, you can still read the plaques at the top of the hill which name the buildings you might be able to see from the view points.
At the Primrose Hill summit lies a York stone which is inscribed with a William Blake quote, as well as the famous “Shakespeare’s Tree.” In 1864 an oak tree was planted here to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, although the tree that stands there today is a replacement tree which was planted in 1964.
Not just limited to Primrose Hill, walking around its surrounding streets is a highlight in itself, as many of the streets, buildings, homes and pubs have been left untouched for many years, giving a very unique, architectural feel that is unlike any other in London.
A lot of visitors head to Primrose Hill to do some celebrity-watching, as many famous names are known to both live and visit in and around Primrose Hill. Some of the many houses which were once lived in by famous residents have been marked with English Heritage blue plaques such as:
Visitors can also easily walk to the nearby Regent’s Park, ZLS Zoo, and Camden Town, and by walking through St. John’s Wood visitors can cross the famous Abbey Road, and even see Abbey Road Studios. There is also a Primrose Hill market which draws both locals and tourists to the area every Saturday.
If you want to avoid the large crowds, visit Primrose Hill during the weekdays rather than on weekends.
For a picturesque walk to Primrose Hill, walk from Camden Town along the canal.
Try to dress warmly or bring a sweater or jacket with you, as it can get extremely cold at night; (and even in the day during the summer months).
If you can, try and visit Primrose Hill during the spring when the flowers and trees are in full bloom.
Keep your eyes peeled for some famous celebrities (especially around Chalcot Square).
Although there may be a few benches to sit on when you get to the top of the hill, it may still be a good idea to bring a blanket with you, just for safe measures.
Primrose Hill, London, United Kingdom (See map).
The nearest station is Chalk Farm Tube Station (which is eight-minutes away from Primrose Hill)
The nearest station is Kentish Town, which is a 21-minute walk away; (although it's highly recommended that you take the London Underground to the Chalk Farm tube station)
You can reach Primrose Hill via routes 1, 13, 18, 27, 30, 31, 74, 82, 113, 139, 159, 189, 274, C11 and C2.
There is a car park located on King Henrys Road (which is half a mile from Primrose Hill) and Regent's Park Road (a quarter of a mile away from Primrose Hill).
Recommended visiting time is around two to three hours, depending on whether you want to sit down and enjoy the views from the top of Primrose Hill. Perhaps it may go without saying, but a climb up to the top of Primrose Hill during the sunrise and/or sunset hours are the best time to visit the area.
Because it’s quite a steep climb to the summit, all visitors should wear comfortable walking shoes, bring a bottle of water, and dress warmly if you plan on visiting in the evening/nighttime hours.
Visitors are welcome to have picnics anywhere on Primrose Hill, and both locals and tourists are also welcome to go for a run, walk their dogs, or even have a get together with friends and play some music; (although not too loudly, of course). There is also a playground for children, as well as sports facilities and public toilets with disabled access.
If you happen to be visiting during the Christmas or New Year’s holidays, then head up Primrose Hill for stunning views of the fireworks; (make sure to dress warmly though!)
Primrose Hill can be accessed any time of the day or night; (as a matter of fact, it’s not uncommon to see visitors at the Primrose Hill summit in the wee hours of the morning).
The Primrose Hill Market takes place every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The market is located at the bottom of Primrose Hill (at the St. Paul’s School grounds), and visitors can park for free outside the market; (although the use of public transportation is highly recommended).