Your guide to Bromley, south east London

Franca Manca restaurant on Bromley high street.

Bromley was touted as one of the happiest spots to live in London according to researchers at The Information Capital. So it’s little surprise that the area is becoming increasingly popular with city dwellers looking to exchange overcrowded high streets for something a bit more down to earth.

Discover our top picks in this underrated area.

While Bromley retains much of its former market town charm (think streets lined with Georgian and Victorian architecture and market stall sellers) it’s also stepped up to embrace the latest demands of independent coffee sellers, popular shops and a diverse food scene to please the locals.

How to get there

From London Victoria station, you can catch a fast train every 15 minutes to Bromley South and Bickley stations. Catching the slower train (30 minutes from London Victoria) means you can also access great places in south London like Sydenham, Dulwich and Brixton.

Alternatively, there is an hourly bus straight from Charing Cross down to Widmore Road. The numbers 3 and 227 buses run through Brixton, Dulwich, Sydenham and Beckenham.

Bromley high street.

Cinema and theatre

Bromley offers a more relaxed day out than the centre of London but there are still plenty of activities and attractions to show up to. The Churchill Theatre, on Bromley High Street in the town centre, is one of the best live entertainment venues to be found in the South East. Here, you can see names such as Al Murray and Jimmy Carr on tour, live music concerts, musicals and original productions.

For the big screen, head to Bromley’s art deco picture house on London Road. Inside you’ll find lovingly restored original features in the auditorium and can enjoy a bite to eat in their restaurant beforehand.

Historical surroundings

For something with a bit more history, discover the archaeological delights of Crofton Roman Villa. There you can visit the remains of a former farming estate occupied between 140 – 400AD. You’ll be taken on a guided tour of the site by an archaeologist and given the chance to handle some of the ancient artefacts. You can also explore Chislehurst Caves, a man-made construct dating back to the thirteenth century. Originally used as chalk and flint mines, the caves were used as an air raid shelter during WWII and eventually evolved into an underground city for thousands during the same period. Their more recent use was as a live music venue for David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. Not to be missed!

Fun fact: HG Wells, Charles Darwin and Davie Bowie have all lived in Bromley at one time – in fact, on Beckenham high street, you can still visit the former pub, The Three Tuns (which is now a David Bowie themed Zizzi restaurant) where Bowie played some of his very first gigs.

You may want to also check out The Mansion in Beckenham Place Park – a former Georgian home recently revamped by the brains behind the Bussey Building in Peckham. At The Mansion you’ll find regular food and vintage markets, arts and crafts classes and pop-up cinemas.

Farm and country

If you’re willing to travel a little further afield then Christmas Tree Farm in Downe is also worth a visit for a cheap and cheerful way to spend an afternoon. From Bromley South station, the 146 bus will take you there in 20 minutes, where you can see farmyard favourites after getting your tea and cake fix from the cafe.

Bromley highstreet.


A food centre overlooking Queen Gardens in the town centre hosts restaurants like Giraffe, Wagamama and Byron Burger. If cheap and cheerful is what you’re after, try Miso Noodle Bar. It’s a staple in the south east of England and has restaurants all over. You should also check out Havet, a Turkish-Cypriot restaurant off Bromley high street; Chai Naasto, which serves Indian street food in a Shoreditch-esque setting; and the Star & Garter.

In Widmore Road, there is Franco Manca, Pizza Express, Nandos, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Five Guys. If independent restaurants are more your style, check out Sanxia for chinese food; the rustic-chic Cow & Pig for cocktails and steak on East Street; and Studio Gusto, an Italian gem in the heart of Bromley on High Street.

Pubs and bars

Now you’re sorted for food, you could head out to one of Bromley’s many pubs. If the weather is nice, The Shortlands Tavern, The New Inn and The Elm Tree all have beer gardens. You’ll also want to check out the Barrel and Horn and the Partridge pubs – both are excellent for food and ambience. While Bromley may not spring to mind when you imagine bars and clubs, there are options in O’Neill’s, Burger & Bubbles, Ora, Greater than Gatsby and Bocca Social Bar.

Where to shop

Bromley is home to The Glades, a huge shopping centre and adjoining high street with staple shops including: Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, H&M, Primark, Wilko, Apple and Waterstones. It also includes premium brands such as The White Company, Bobbi Brown, Jo Malone, Whistles and Joules.

On Mason’s Hill, just south of the town centre, you can access a large Halfords and a Currys PC World. You’ll also find no shortage of supermarkets in the area to suit all lifestyles including Waitrose, M&S Foodhall, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Co-op and Lidl.

Parks and recreation

Bromley holds the title of being London’s largest and greenest boroughs, as well as being the only one to boast an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the form of the Kent Downs. Living here you have the advantage of having swathes of countryside on your doorstep, with Lullingstone Country Park being accessible via a 15 minute train from Bromley South or Bickley stations. From there you can take one of the many nature trails towards the park’s historic villages and pubs, or just take in the idyllic scenery while enjoying a picnic.

Closer to home, you have access to plenty of walking trails at Bromley Common; The Hawkwood Estate; and Jubilee Country Park – a large nature reserve providing lots of open space. These are great spots to enjoy a run or read a book and walking among the trees you’ll feel a long way from the bustle of the city.

City gardens

In the town centre, Bromley Palace Park is part of the Grade II listed former Bishop of Rochester Palace, which is now the site of the town’s civic centre. You’ll also find Church House Gardens, complete with its own amphitheatre, tennis courts and skateboard park.