Whether one is looking for an artistic and cultural trip or for a friends' weekend break in the English capital, London never fail to answer its demands. From elegant North London roads to quirky East End haunts, here is our best and prettiest neighborhoods in London that are beautiful, interesting or just very unique, and can be easily reached from the city centre.
London is well known across the world. The city has been around for almost 2,000 years and is the capital and heart of the United Kingdom. Each year, millions of visitors flock to London for a chance to experience its vibrant art culture, lively pubs, and historical attractions. But if you’re planning a trip for the first time or even want to relocate to the city, it can be a bit overwhelming figuring out which areas to visit.
But fear not, because we’ve put together a list of the 10 best neighbourhoods in London. Spending some time in any of these locations will give you the full London experience. So, grab your passport and get ready for endless cups of tea because we’re heading to London!
Photo: Southbank Centre
South Bank — The South Bank of London is a cultural hotspot where you can experience a diverse art and music scene. Located in the center of the capital, along the River Thames, it’s a wonderful place to walk the streets, discover historic architecture, and tour the many museums and galleries that London has to offer. The Southbank Centre is one of the largest art venues in the world, where you can catch exhibitions, classical music performances, poetry recitals, and much more.
There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of a city than visiting the local markets. South Bank is home to the Borough Market, which was established in 1885. Today. It’s a common spot for locals to pick up produce and artisanal goods. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, it’s an exciting place to wander around. Come with an appetite because the market has mouth-watering food stands that will leave you speechless. Of course, when you’re in South Bank, taking a ride on the London Eye is a no-brainer!
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Soho — London is known for its style, nightlife, and live entertainment, and you can find all of that and more in Soho. During the day, the borough is an excellent choice for people looking to pop into the many boutiques, quirky stores, and art galleries. Music lovers will want to take a stroll down Denmark Street (also referred to as Tin Pan Alley), where there are top-quality instrument shops. The Berwick Street Market, which dates back to 1778, is an excellent location to walk through history and take in the sights.
If you think Soho is alive during the day, just wait for what it has in store at night. From jazz clubs to karaoke bars, you’ll have no trouble finding something to match your mood. Soho is also the center of London’s LGBTQ scene, and there are tons of bars, clubs, and restaurants waving the rainbow flag.
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Mayfair — Mayfair is one of the most affluent neighborhoods in London. The area got its name from the fair that took place in the area every May from 1689 to 1764. While the original fair no longer takes place, it has been succeeded by the Shepherd Market which is located at the site of the original May Fair.
The borough is an elegant place where you can sip cocktails at fancy bars and enjoy high-class dinners. There are plenty of expensive designer stores to upgrade your wardrobe or simply window shop. Don’t worry if the attractions in Mayfair seem a bit out of your budget because seeing the stunning architecture is an event in and of itself. The pristine St. James Royal Park is a wonderful place to relax in greenery.
The Royal Institution is located on Albermarle Street and has been a hub of state-of-the-art scientific technology since 1799. Tours of the main facility are available, but you can also explore the Faraday Museum for free.
Covent Garden — If you are looking for the ultimate shopping and culinary experience in London, Covent Garden is the place to be! Whatever your food craving is, there’s a restaurant nearby to satisfy it. Some of the most popular eateries are Balthazar, The Barbary, and Chick ‘n’ Sours. You won’t regret grabbing a bit to eat at any of these establishments!
Convent Garden is where the world-renowned Royal Opera House is situated. The venue first opened its doors and began hosting performances in 1732. For musicians, ballets, and singers, it’s the mecca of all venues. When you visit Covent Garden, it will be right at your fingertips. Heading to a five-star restaurant before catching an event at the Royal Opera House is a one-of-a-kind experience.
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Camden — The liveliness of Camden is unlike any other neighborhood in London. Pop-up shops and street markets flood the districts and offer a unique shopping experience. Whether you’re looking for clothes, books, handmade crafts, jewelry, or odd knickknacks, you’ll have no trouble finding a stall selling them.
Camden hosts a myriad of small music venues, where up-and-coming artists perform day and night. Head over to the Jazz Café or Electric Ballroom to hear live music played by new artists and household names. If you want to grab a drink before the show, Camden has outstanding pubs. Brewdog, Lock Tavern, and The Black Heart are all must-visit locations.
Hackney Central — Over the last few years, young artists have made Hackney Central their home base. As fresh blood rolled into town, a whole new community sprung up overnight. What used to be an industrial hub is now full of trendy coffee shops, restaurants, communal living areas, and clubs. On sunny days, the parks are filled with locals enjoying the warm weather.
With so many artists living in the area, street art and pop-up galleries can be found on every corner. In Hackney Central, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see exhibitions and performances at wonderful theatres and venues like the Hackney Empire. Foodwise, this borough is in a class of its own. The options are diverse, tasty, and never-ending. From Italian to Turkish cuisine, you can chow down on it all in Hackney Central.
Greenwich — Greenwich is famous for the Prime Meridian, which represents longitude 0º–, the line that splits the eastern and western hemispheres. This area of London, which is nestled up to the river, has a deep maritime history. Visiting the Cutty Sark, a British clipper ship built in 1869, is an unforgettable way to get a perspective of what life as a sailor used to entail. The ship is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Greenwich Picturehouse has been playing blockbusters and indie movies since 1989. It’s a great place to have a drink and dinner with views of the historic neighborhood before catching a film. If movies are not your thing, Greenwich has a popular comedy club called Up the Creek Comedy. Each week, comedians can be found cracking jokes–taking the piss, as the locals say.
Photo: William Barton/Shutterstock
Brixton — Brixton has an Afro-Caribbean influence that gives the neighborhood a distinct flare compared to other parts of London. To get a taste of the delicious cuisine of the area, Brixton Market is the place to go. The market is located on Electric Avenue where there are additional stalls and vendors to explore. The avenue was one of the first main streets to host electricity, and it’s been a hotspot in London ever since.
While it can feel like every neighborhood in London has a famous venue; the Brixton Academy is one venue that just can’t be ignored. The building was originally built as a cinema but was converted to what it is now in 1983. Some of the most renowned rock bands and musicians have graced its stage, and you can still enjoy performances there today.
Photo: Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock
Shoreditch — Who’s up for street food? Shoreditch is known for having excellent pop-up food vendors. Every Saturday, you can indulge at the Urban Food Fest, where vendors offer gourmet street food and artisan beers. The event has an amazing atmosphere, and there’s always live music.
History buffs will be thrilled to know that The Curtain Theater, where Shakespeare’s early plays were performed–including Romeo and Juliet–was in Shoreditch. The building was established in 1577. Unfortunately, it is no longer standing, but there’s a plaque that marks the location. However, you can find new venues and theaters in Shoreditch to enjoy contemporary art.
Kensington and Chelsea — Home to some of the wealthiest individuals in the UK, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is a beehive of luxury. The area boasts numerous luxury shopping options, as well as boutique stores, bars, and nightclubs to check out.
The best way to dive into the history of the borough is to visit Kensington Palace, which was the birthplace of Queen Victoria. Today it still acts as a royal residence, and there are many tours and events that take place on the property. Since people still live there, only the palace’s historical sections are available to the public.
London is a fascinating city with a history that goes back to the Romans. For first-timers, knowing where to go and what to see can get confusing. While each district of London has something special about it, these neighbourhoods in London are must-visit locations. Enjoy your time in London!