Featured image credit: Greg Hawthorne photography
Discover the vibrant and eclectic neighborhood of Soho, London, where excitement and creativity intertwine.
From buzzing nightlife to cultural gems, this guide will unveil a variety of things to do in Soho. Get ready to immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere as we answer these essential questions:
- What to explore in Soho?
- Where to dine in Soho?
- Are there any hidden gems or quirky shops to discover in Soho?
With its bustling streets, diverse cuisine, lively entertainment, and captivating charm, Soho offers an unforgettable experience for visitors. Get ready to delve into the vibrant tapestry of Soho, London!
What to explore in Soho?
Take a Walking Tour
There are several London Soho walking tours you can book online, but the neighborhood is small enough to explore on your own.
You can confidently pick one of the winding streets and find real gems, including graffiti art, quirky shops, strip clubs, and restaurants.
Some of the best boutiques and vintage stores can be found on Carnaby Street and Berwick Street.
Sniff Out the Seven Noses of Soho
The Seven Noses refer to a series of sculptures of the artist's nose created by artist Rick Buckley.
You can find these sculptures throughout the neighborhood, and they were designed to draw attention to overlooked architecture and details of the neighborhood.
See if you can sniff them out in Admiralty Arch, Bateman Street, Dean Street, Meard Street, Endell Street, Great Windmill Street, and D'Arbly Street. Be warned: they aren't easy to spot!
Ring in the New Year in Chinatown
Soho is home to a large Chinese community. Chinatown, Soho, offers delicious food, herbalist shops, and regular markets where you can buy everything from traditional clothing to teas and medicines.
If you are lucky enough to visit London in February, you can enjoy the colorful parades and dragon dances as the community rings in the New Year.
Take some time to see the historical and cultural landmarks, including the Chinese arch at the entrance of the small neighborhood.
Watch a Show or a Movie
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment. Prince Charles Cinema, just north of Leicester Square, shows classic and modern movies, cult films, and arthouse productions all year round.
There are also plenty of special events, including sing-alongs and quote-alongs, to keep you entertained.
If that doesn't strike your fancy, you can spot the Prince Edward Theatre, which is an easy walking distance from Leicester square as well.
You can see some of the best productions the West End has to offer, including plays and musicals like Mamma Mia! and The Book of Mormon.
The theater building itself is Grade II listed and features opulent decor you won't want to miss, but if your favorite show is sold out, you can choose any one of the many theaters along Shaftesbury Avenue.
If you are looking for The Best Theatre Shows in London, make sure you check out our guides for best deals and helful tips!
Follow the Magic
You may not know this, but Soho served as inspiration for Diagon Alley, a fictional shopping street in the Harry Potter series.
The exterior of the Leaky Cauldron pub in the Harry Potter movies was filmed on Greek Street in Soho.
There are regular Harry Potter tours that move through Soho, but you can also get your Potter fix at The House of Minamalina, a store run by graphic artists that focus heavily on Harry Potter. The store features a few pieces borrowed from Warner Bros Studios as well.
Get Your Fill of Photographic Arts
The Photographer's Gallery in Soho was the first of its kind in London when it opened its doors in 1971. It features work from local and international photographers across a full six stories.
There are regular classes as well as a bookstore and a café where you can relax and reflect.
Visit the Buildings Where Famous Residents Lived
Soho has always been synonymous with the arts, so it's no surprise that some famous writers and musicians were born or lived here.
William Blake was born on Broadwick Street in 1757, when it was known as Broad Street, and held several (unsuccessful) exhibitions there.
Karl Marx lived on Dean Street when he immigrated to England in 1849. Today, the building is home to the luxurious Quo Vadis restaurant.
Dean Street was also one of the most popular haunts for historical figures like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Charles Dickens.
Grab a Bite to Eat at One of the Many Restaurants
There is no shortage of eateries, cocktail bars, and restaurants in Soho.
Try Bar Termini on Old Compton street for Italian cocktails, the French House bistro on Dean Street, the Bar at the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane, the Groucho Club, or the Soho Hotel on Richmond Mews.
Take a Trip to the Swinging Sixties
Carnaby Street has a dark history. It was used to house Plague victims in the 1600s.
Fortunately, today this street is closely associated with a far happier time: the 1960s. Paul McCartney of the Beatles met his wife in one of the nightclubs, while Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones, and Elizabeth Taylor all spent their evenings in the bars and restaurants in their heyday.
For a truly authentic experience, head to one of the many vinyl stores in Soho, including Sounds of the Universe, Phonica Records, and Sister Ray.
Shop Until You Drop
Speaking of shopping, don't forget to head to Oxford Street. You'll find department stores, luxury brands, high-street shops, and vintage gems right alongside each other for you to peruse.
It's also a popular spot for street performers, including magicians and musicians.
If you get tired of shopping or run out of cash, you can take advantage of London's excellent metro system or head to nearby attractions, like Regent and Bond Street, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square.
Spend a Day in Soho Square
There's no better place to while away the hours than Soho Square. There are public table tennis and chess tables you can use, and concerts and events are held throughout the year.
If you want to get your fill of history, you can visit important sites like the statue of King Charles II, St Patrick's, and St Anne's Church.
If all else fails, spend the day people-watching with a refreshing drink at one of the bars or restaurants.
This world-famous neighborhood offers plenty of fun things for you to do (and plenty of unusual things to see).
Where to Dine in Soho?
Soho, London is a culinary haven, offering a wide array of dining experiences to satisfy every palate. Here are some top dining destinations in Soho:
Step into the nostalgic charm of Bombay with Dishoom. This renowned restaurant captures the essence of Indian cuisine, serving up delectable dishes inspired by the bustling Irani cafes of Mumbai.
From their signature bacon naan rolls to flavorful biryanis and comforting curries, Dishoom is a must-visit for those seeking an authentic taste of India.
Address: 22 Kingly St, Carnaby, London W1B 5QP
For an unforgettable Spanish dining experience, Barrafina is the place to be. This Michelin-starred restaurant specializes in exquisite tapas, prepared with the finest ingredients.
From succulent grilled meats to perfectly cooked seafood, each dish at Barrafina showcases the vibrant flavors of Spain.
The lively atmosphere and open kitchen add to the overall excitement of the dining experience.
Address: 26-27 Dean St, London W1D 3LL
Prepare your taste buds for an explosion of flavors at Bao. This trendy eatery brings the tastes of Taiwan to Soho with their renowned fluffy steamed buns filled with a variety of delicious ingredients.
From classic options like braised pork to innovative creations like the confit chicken, Bao offers a delightful journey through Taiwanese street food.
Address: 53 Lexington St, Carnaby, London W1F 9AS
Transport yourself to the canals of Venice with a visit to Polpo. This rustic Venetian-inspired eatery serves up a delectable selection of small plates, perfect for sharing.
Indulge in mouthwatering seafood, flavorsome meats, and delightful vegetarian options, all expertly crafted with quality ingredients.
With its charming setting and relaxed ambiance, Polpo offers a memorable dining experience in the heart of Soho.
Address: 41 Beak St, Carnaby, London W1F 9SB
5. Duck & Rice
Experience the fusion of Chinese and British flavors at Duck & Rice. This contemporary gastropub combines traditional Chinese dishes with modern twists, creating a unique culinary journey.
From delectable dim sum to aromatic duck dishes and comforting rice bowls, Duck & Rice delights with its flavorful offerings.
Pair your meal with a selection from their extensive drinks menu for a truly satisfying experience.
Address: 90 Berwick St, London W1F 0QB, UK
Website: Duck & Rice
Embark on a culinary adventure to Sri Lanka at Hoppers. This vibrant restaurant brings the bold and aromatic flavors of Sri Lankan cuisine to Soho.
Indulge in their famous hoppers, crispy dosas, fiery curries, and fragrant rice dishes, all bursting with authentic spices and ingredients.
With its lively atmosphere and mouthwatering dishes, Hoppers promises a memorable dining experience.
Address: 49 Frith St, London W1D 4SG, UK
Website: Hoppers London
For a taste of modern Chinese cuisine, Yauatcha is a must-visit destination. This sophisticated Michelin-starred restaurant serves exquisite dim sum and a range of contemporary Chinese dishes.
From delicate dumplings to tantalizing stir-fries and aromatic teas, Yauatcha offers an elegant setting and culinary delights that are sure to impress.
Address: 15-17 Broadwick St, London W1F 0DL, UK
Website: Yauatcha Soho
Finish your culinary journey with a visit to Gelupo, an artisanal gelateria that delights with its irresistible gelato and sorbet flavors.
Using traditional Italian techniques and the finest ingredients, Gelupo creates creamy and refreshing frozen treats that will transport you to the streets of Italy.
From classic flavors like pistachio and stracciatella to inventive creations like blood orange and basil, Gelupo offers a delightful selection that will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Address: 7 Archer St, London W1D 7AU, UK
Are There Any Hidden Gems or Quirky Shops to Discover in Soho?
Soho is a treasure trove of hidden gems and quirky shops, offering unique experiences for visitors. Here are some notable establishments worth exploring:
1. Labour and Wait
Step into Labour and Wait, a charming store that celebrates the beauty of functional and timeless household goods.
Discover a carefully curated collection of kitchenware, gardening tools, stationery, and other everyday essentials with a vintage aesthetic.
Address: Dover Street Market, 18-22 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4DG
Website: Labour And Wait
2. Gosh! Comics
Comic book lovers should not miss Gosh! Comics, a renowned independent comic shop offering a diverse selection of graphic novels, manga, and comics from around the world.
Explore the shelves and immerse yourself in the captivating world of illustrated storytelling.
Address: 1 Berwick St, London W1F 0DR, UK
Website: Gosh! Comics
3. We Built This City
Celebrate London's creative spirit at We Built This City, a shop showcasing a curated collection of unique and quirky products created by local artists and designers.
Find distinctive souvenirs, art prints, clothing, and more, all inspired by the city's vibrant energy.
Address: 59-61 Regent St., London W1B 4DY, UK
Website: We Built This City
For a futuristic shopping experience, visit Cyberdog. This iconic store is a fusion of fashion and technology, featuring vibrant clothing, accessories, and music that reflect the cyber and rave culture. Step into a neon-lit world of innovation and style.
Address: Chalk Farm Rd, Chalk Farm, London NW1 8AH, UK
Design enthusiasts will find inspiration at Magma, a store dedicated to contemporary design, art, and architecture.
Browse through a carefully curated selection of books, magazines, and unique objects that celebrate innovative design from around the world.
Address: 29 Short's Gardens, London WC2H 9AP
Soho's hidden gems and quirky shops offer a delightful alternative to mainstream shopping experiences. Explore these establishments and uncover the unexpected in the vibrant heart of London.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Soho in London known for?
Soho is known for its lively and vibrant atmosphere, eclectic entertainment scene, and rich cultural history. It has been a hub for fashion, music, and art, particularly during the iconic Swinging Sixties.
Soho is also renowned for its connection to London's LGBT+ community, with a plethora of gay and lesbian bars located around Old Compton Street.
This diverse neighborhood exudes a unique charm that attracts visitors from all walks of life.
What is the most famous street in Soho?
One of the most famous streets in Soho is undoubtedly Oxford Street. Known as London's premier shopping destination, Oxford Street stretches through the heart of Soho, offering a plethora of renowned retailers, flagship stores, and iconic department stores. It attracts millions of visitors each year, making it an emblematic and bustling street in the area.
Is Soho worth visiting London?
Absolutely! Soho is definitely worth a visit when exploring London. Its unique blend of history, culture, entertainment, and culinary delights make it a must-see destination.
Whether you're seeking captivating performances, trendy shops, delectable cuisine, or simply want to immerse yourself in the vibrant ambiance, Soho offers a captivating experience that should not be missed.
Is Soho London a nice area to live in?
Soho is an attractive area to live in for those seeking a vibrant and central neighborhood in London.
It offers a unique urban experience with its lively atmosphere, proximity to various amenities, and a wide range of entertainment options.
However, it's important to note that living in Soho can be vibrant and busy, with a bustling nightlife and a constant flow of visitors.
The area's central location and lively character make it an exciting place to reside for those who enjoy the energetic city lifestyle.