Discover – Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace is a hidden gem in south London, offering impressive views over the capital. The area takes its name from the beautiful glass palace it once housed, which was destroyed by fire in 1936. Crystal Palace has so much to offer as it boasts independent shops, exciting new eateries and a Victorian park full of life-size models of dinosaurs and extinct mammals. Transport links into central London are excellent, with London Bridge and Victoria National Rail stations just under 30 minutes away by train. This month there is more reason to visit, as the Crystal Palace Overground Festival takes place – a free community-run arts and culture festival with live music, film, food and entertainment and activities for all ages (12-18 Jun).
Roam among the oldest life-size dinosaur sculptures in the world at Crystal Palace Park. This Victorian pleasure ground also houses a maze, giant chess board, children’s farm, the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, pretty flower gardens and the remains of the glass palace walls. There are six Grade II-listed sphinxes, too, which have recently undergone restoration.
Westow Hill has many dining options. Enjoy food with a view at Joanna’s brasserie, which boasts sweeping vistas over London. Opened in 1978 by a husband-and-wife team, it is famous for its signature hamburgers and Sunday roasts. The Exhibition Rooms, meanwhile, offer modern British food, from fish and chips to lamb shank, in a classic dining room.
Lovers of vintage have a good reason to visit: Haynes Lane Market is an indoor Aladdin’s cave crammed full of items, including vinyl, antiques, clothes and toys. You can also have your tarot cards read.Tucked away off Westow Street, the market can be tricky to find, but it’s definitely worth a visit. In the same area, you’ll find the Crystal Palace Food Market, which takes place every Saturday. This community not-for-profit farmers’ market brings you the best organic produce and locally prepared food, including guest stalls.
Standing at 219m tall, the Crystal Palace TV transmitting station serves many homes in London. You can see the transmitter from the other side of the city, but looking at it up close is something else. The station is the fifth-tallest structure in the capital.
The independent bookshop Bookseller Crow beats a high-street chain any day. The store stocks the latest books and old classics, as well as quirky and unusual publications, so there’s something for everyone. If you are looking for inspiration, the friendly owners Jonathan Main and Justine Crow are very knowledgeable.