Travel

Best Neighborhoods in London for tourists

Are you visiting Britain in the near future? If you are planning a trip across the pond to UK’s capital city then you need to know how to find the best neighborhoods in London. Vistors to the British Isles and will find the locals friendly and welcoming, and the history of the nation is extensive and varied.

This guide will help you discover the best areas to visit and no matter what you are looking for you are bound to find it in one of these places. From fantastic shopping to bars and theatres, London has it all. 

Covent Garden

best neighborhoods in london covent garden

Until the 1970s, Covent Garden was home to London’s largest fruit and vegetable market. Today the area has transformed into one of London’s best neighborhoods. It is one of the foremost cultural and entertainment districts.

Whether it’s operas and ballets, or a show at one of the many theatres in the area. You will find plenty of entertainment here. If you are on a budget then you can enjoy the much-loved street performers who align the cobbled streets.

The area is dominated by the glass-covered market and surrounding piazza. The several alfresco cafes lend Covent Garden a distinctly continental feel. Enjoy sipping a cappuccino and sample small plates. This is the perfect place to sit and watch the passing crowds, morning, noon or night.

The indoor Apple market houses stalls selling antiques, vintage jewellery, and handicrafts, all surrounded by small boutique shops. The maze of narrow streets spreading from Seven Dials is a haven for unique shops.

Whether it’s vintage clothes, limited edition trainers, or organic beauty treatments, you’re sure to find it somewhere along the way. Don’t be afraid to explore, some of Covent Garden’s best features are found off the beaten track.

Camden

Camden Town has made its name in history as a centre of alternative culture since the 1960s. It was once a Bohemian paradise made famous by its eclectic street markets and picturesque location. It is situated along Regent’s Canal and Camden Lock is one of the most vibrant places to visit in London during summer months.

Camden has strong connections with London’s musical history, seeing debut performances from Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd. It was on the frontline when the acid jazz scene hit, and more recently has been synonymous with Amy Winehouse’s rapid rise and fall.

The wide array of musical venues and shops in Camden cater to every taste imaginable from classical to contemporary. The is one of the best neighborhoods in London to experience the world-famous Camden street market.

Find unique items of one-off clothing, sample food from around the world, shop for antiques, and buy handmade crafts. Camden is one of the last unique places to shop in London, well away from chain stores and retail giants.

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Islington

Located to the north-east of central London. The borough of Islington extends from Farringdon at one end to Arsenal at the other. Engulfing Angel, Clerkenwell, and Newington Green on the way.  It has become a popular residential area, home to a rich mix of restaurants, shops, theatres and gig venues.

Upper Street is one of Islington’s most popular areas. Restaurants, bars, shops, and theatres line the way. Camden passage tucked away behind the high street features antique shops, cozy pubs, and cafes. There is also an excellent street market every Wednesday.

Islington borough is the home of the Arsenal football club. |With over 100 parks in the area, there’s plenty of opportunities to practice your ball skills.
After dark, the masses tend to gravitate towards Angel, so expect it to get busy at weekends.

Kensington

best neighborhoods in london

Kensington one of the best neighborhoods in London and one of the most affluent areas of the city. It is renowned for its wealthy neighborhoods and cultural offerings. From Exhibition Road and the Victoria and Albert, Natural History and Science museums to the Kensington Palace.

This area is packed full of places to see and explore.  Kensington’s cultural scene is embodied by the iconic Royal Albert Hall. The venue has hosted an impressive roster and a variety of musical performances.

Kensington has a number of famous shopping districts and is home to the department store Harrods. It is close to the popular street market on Portobello Road. The district also encompasses Hyde Park which is a popular location for outdoor activities.

Oxford Street

Running from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Street is the best neighborhood in London for shopping. This is the busiest shopping street in Europe, providing one and a half miles of retail heaven.

The historic Selfridges department store is well worth a visit just to check out the impressive window displays. For bargain clothes at the other end of the spectrum head to the Primark flagship opposite.

Further down the street is the unmissable Topshop. Set over 4 floors with an ever-evolving clothing range. It features with nail bars, a hair salon, and a café, it’s an easy place to lose an afternoon in.

The crowds can become overwhelming, especially on a weekend, so for some respite head to the continental St Christopher’s Place. Here you will find numerous cafés, bars, and restaurants to relax and recharge in.

Once the shops drop their shutters and the crowds disperse, Oxford Street becomes something of a ghost town. As the focus is retail there is little in the way of nightlife. Luckily it’s only a hop skip and a jump to the neighboring Soho, which has a lively bar scene.

Picadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus is located in the heart of the West End. Instantly recognizable by the iconic statue of Eros and the glow of its huge neon signs. It is also one of the best neighborhoods in London from which to explore other areas. See a show at one of the Shaftsbury Avenue theatres. Or visit the traditional tailors and shirt makers on Jermyn Street.

Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, and Haymarket converge at Picadilly providing easy access to shopping and entertainment venues. Hamleys on Regent Street is one of the world’s largest toy stores and a must-see for the kids. The busy and exciting Trocadero entertainment center will keep kids busy for a whole afternoon. 

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Soho

Home of London’s media and sex industries, Soho is the closest thing London has to a red-light district. Once the center of London’s influential post-war jazz scene, its status today is the gay capital of the UK. There’s never a dull moment within its labyrinth of narrow streets. 

Soho has been home to the likes of Eric Clapton, Brian Jones, the Sex Pistols. Monuments of its seedy past have now become cultural icons including the infamous Windmill Theatre. During daylight hours it’s the best neighborhood in London to go record shopping. Enjoy a coffee and watch the metropolitan catwalk in full swing. As night falls, the streets are lit by the neon glow of the clubs and bars.

Whether its glamourous celeb hangouts, metal bars, LGBT bars or underground drinking dens, Soho covers all aspects of bar culture. To the south of Shaftesbury Avenue in Chinatown, there is a non-stop colourful parade of all-night restaurants, supermarkets, and shops.

Southbank

London Southbank is one of the best neighborhoods of London for tourists and locals alike. This is due to the amazing amount of famous venues, things to do, and general entertainment. All are available along this incredibly scenic walk along the Thames. 

From the London Eye to the Tate Modern, the area is heavy with important London names. The Southbank becomes most popular when the warm weather arrives. Hundreds of visitors flock to the wide walkways along the river to admire the view. Here you can see street performers and enjoy the pubs, shops, and restaurants. 

The theatre scene is especially busy in this area thanks to a number of great fringe and larger venues. This provides a great variety of Southbank performances. There are also some art galleries on the side streets along the main Southbank walk.

Westminster

westminster london best area for tourists

Home to the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben. Westminster encompasses all the famous London landmarks. This is one of the best neighborhoods in London for tourists. There is rarely a quiet moment in this part of town, but visitors can escape the crowds by going for a walk along the River Thames.

If Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament aren’t your style, then why not take a riverboat trip? Sail along the Thames to the Tate Gallery which is guaranteed to have an exhibition worthy of your attention. Finally, after a hard day’s sightseeing, while away the evening at Gordon’s Wine Bar, the oldest wine bar in London. 

Hoxton and Shoreditch

Hoxton and Shoreditch are vibrant areas in the London Borough of Hackney.  Recently this area has become increasingly popular. Making it one of the best neighborhoods in London for a trendy and particularly vibrant arts scene. 

Its change in fortune has occurred over time due to its highly desirable location. Just north of the City financial district and east of Islington.  The southern part of the area tends to be the central hub of arts and entertainment. It includes numerous popular restaurants and nightclubs.

Some of the prominent residents of Hoxton include celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, EastEnders actor Peter Dean and filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.  A statue in honor of Hitchcock stands near Gainsborough Studios where he began his career. 

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Hackney

Hackney is officially the greenest borough in London, with London Fields and Victoria Park both particularly popular during summer months. The administrative hub is the area around Hackney Central, and it typifies the new-look Hackney.

There’s an elegant ‘30s Town Hall, a massive 24-hour Tesco, and 13th-century church tower. Houses range from beautiful Victorian terraces to a number of council blocks; highlighting the wide appeal of Hackney.

This one of the best neighborhoods in London for ethnic and cultural diversity. Cheap rent means the area also hosts a number of artists’ studios and galleries. There are some lovely local pubs, a world-famous theatre in the Hackney Empire, and great Vietnamese and Turkish restaurants.

Notting Hill

notting hill carnival - best neighborhoods in london

Some locals worry that the ongoing gentrification of Notting Hill is diluting its eccentricity. But there is still plenty of character to be found in the area. Notting Hill was made even more famous by Richard Curtis’s movie of the same name.

It is home to the world-renowned Notting Hill carnival that features Caribbean style costumes and floats. The mile-long Portobello Road market features lively bars, restaurants, vintage shops, and cinemas.

There is plenty for everyone to enjoy in this neighborhood, from the cash-strapped student to the spend-happy tourist. Notting Hill is popular for its colourful and diverse locals, eclectic shops, and quaint cafes.

Brixton

Like Shoreditch and East London, The South London town of Brixton has seen a remarkable turnaround in recent years. This area has been at the forefront of multi-cultural Britain since the late 1950s. It has seen many ups and downs over the years.

Brixton has been a melting pot for Anglo-Caribbean culture and acted as a proving ground for many of London’s musical exports. From David Bowie and The Clash to Basement Jaxx and So Solid Crew.

It’s probably no surprise that music still forms the backbone of Brixton’s cultural life. With several high profile venues, every night sees establishments serving up everything from punk to reggae.

Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury is located south of St Pancras and to the north of Covent Garden. It’s still best known for being home to the ‘The Bloomsbury Set’ a group of authors. The set included Virginia Woolf who lived and wrote here in the early 20th century.

Other residents of note include Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and more recently Ricky Gervais. The intellectual kudos of the area live on in the educational institutions, museums and teaching hospitals that are found here. 

Thanks to the large leafy areas and lack of stereotypical tourist attractions, Bloomsbury is a fairly relaxed area. A nice change of pace to the usual speed makes it one of the best neighborhoods in London to unwind.

It is home to a couple of London’s universities and several museums. Bloomsbury offers a slightly more cerebral feel than most places, and a wander around the various shaded squares and coffee shops will highlight this.  

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Whitechapel

Just to the east of the City is Whitechapel. This area is rich with history, home to a mix of cultures, traditions, and people. Perhaps Whitechapel’s most famous inhabitant was Jack the Ripper, making this one of the best areas in London for crime fans.

The serial killers went on his infamous murdering spree in the cobbled alleys and dark streets of Victorian London. He was never caught. In the first part of the 21st Century, Whitechapel played a leading role in London’s underground music scene.

With bands like The Libertines, The Rakes and Razorlight all making use of the area’s pubs and music venues. Nowadays, Whitechapel is a busy urban hub with residents taking advantage of its close proximity to central London.

Brick Lane is a mile-long stretch of lively bars, clubs, boutiques and of course the famous curry houses. Shop for vintage clothes while appreciating street art.

Dalston and Stoke Newington

Dalston and Stoke Newington have transformed to become centre of a new cultural London. Where Shoreditch left off almost a decade ago, Dalston picked up. Enticing a new generation of young London creatives down the Kingsland Road.

During the day, the coffee shops around Church Street buzz with young families and professionals at work. As night falls the pubs, clubs, bars and snooker halls fill up with a young hipster crowd. 

Kingsland Road is home to the more underground arm of London’s club scene. Each weekend the numerous basement clubs see internationally renowned DJs plying their trade. 

The area also has a large Turkish and Kurdish population. There are several Turkish restaurants in the area and its a great place to go to sample some traditional cuisine.

Chelsea

chelsea

Chelsea might no longer be drawing in the hippies or rock n’roll crowds of the ’60 and ’70s, but it’s still one of the best neighborhoods in London for a good time.

The neighborhood’s main artery is the famous King’s Road. A shopping mecca of designer stores, high street shops, exclusive boutiques, bolt-hole pubs, and independent restaurants.

The Saatchi Gallery and Royal Court Theatre are amongst Chelsea’s cultural gems. It is home to some of London’s biggest events and museums. The V&A, London Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum all attract many tourists. The long-running Chelsea Flower show is one of the area’s largest and most popular events.

Chelsea is renowned for being the epicenter of London’s Sixties and was once the bohemian quarter of Cool Britannia. The Rolling Stones bought up rows of houses and even Bob Marley took up residence in the neighborhood.

These days Chelsea is very much an area of the affluent. Come nightfall, Chelsea is populated by a young crowd who have money to spend. Wealthy professionals mix with celebrities like Kylie Minogue, and footballers from local football clubs.

Summary

Whatever your tatses you are bound to find one of these areas has something that appeals to you. London has some of the best neighborhoods for shopping, nightlife and dining in the country.

With it’s mix of museums, theaters and art galleries it provides much in the way of culture. The history of the monarchy and the ancient buildings provides a glimpse of London life through the ages. 

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