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London Travel Guide

The Complete Guide to London’s Neighborhoods

London is one of the largest cities in the world, so you’ll want to stay as central as possible. These are the top neighborhoods in Central London.

Whether you’re staying two days, a week, or a month, the most important part of planning your perfect London stay is choosing the right neighborhood. You shouldn’t underestimate how long it can take to get from one side of London to the other. Plan to stay as central as you can afford: between 32 different boroughs, there’s plenty to choose from, and you’re bound to find the perfect spot to call home. Though this guide doesn’t include every London neighborhood, these are the top areas to stay in London.

Related: The Best Things to Do in London

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WHERE: Central London

You could easily spend a whole day exploring London’s bustling beating heart: from shopping in Oxford Circus and Regent Street to listening to live music at the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, relaxing in Soho Square, or marveling at the art at The Photographer’s Gallery, there’s always something to do in Soho. Shop heritage London icon Liberty, the only luxury department store you’ll ever need. Dine and wine at Dishoom (crowned the best restaurant in the UK in 2022), Señor Ceviche, or Lina Stores, try out Disrepute’s excellent cocktails, and don’t miss the epicenter of the Swinging Sixties, Carnaby Street, where everyone from Hendricks and Jagger to Clapton and Bowie would party into the wee hours of those culture-defining nights. Music lovers: hunt down some cool vinyl records at Sister Ray before catching a play at Soho Theatre. The area also has some of London’s most famous LGBTQ+ hangs, like G-A-Y, Heaven, and The Yard, for a guaranteed night of extra camp fun.

INSIDER TIPGet a half-pint (the only beer they serve) at Grade-II listed The French House to join the likes of Francis Bacon and Charles de Gaulle, who were big fans of this iconic pub.

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King’s Cross and Euston

WHERE: North London

The King’s Cross / St. Pancras / Euston triangle makes up London’s busiest transport hub, so it’s the ideal choice if you plan to explore the rest of the UK during your stay or even catch the Eurostar to Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels or Rotterdam. This is where you’ll find cultural havens like the British Library, home to the Magna Carta and Beatles lyrics handwritten by Lennon and McCartney, but also the Bloomsbury Theatre, the Gagosian Gallery, and the outstanding Wallace Collection. Take a stroll down Regent’s Canal and Regent’s Park. Browse the independent shops and cafés (and the 1000 colored fountains!) of Granary Square, and have a bite at The Lighterman and a drink at The Euston Tap. Walk the cobbled streets of Coal Drops Yard, just minutes away from King’s Cross station, where you’ll find a unique mix of independent shops and restaurants in a recently refurbished derelict industrial site turned into a new shopping district. Catch a movie at The Curzon Bloomsbury, and speaking of movies: Harry Potter fans, don’t miss platform inside King’s Cross station!

INSIDER TIPIf you’ve got time for a drink before your train, head to the charming Booking Office 1869 or the longest Champagne bar in Europe, St Pancras by Searcys.


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Notting Hill

WHERE: West London

You’ve seen the movie, so now is the time to see how the real thing stacks up. Considering the cool bars, excellent restaurants, unique independent shops, and the world-famous colorful houses, the answer is pretty well! Take a stroll through Portobello Road Market ––where you can check out the bookshop of rom-com fame–– and down Westbourne Grove to marvel at the postcard-pretty painted homes, and for a less crowded Instagram backdrop, head to the picturesque St Luke’s Mews. Notting Hill is a quintessentially romantic neighborhood, so lean into it: have your own picture-perfect movie moment in Holland Park’s gorgeous Kyoto Garden, snuggle up for a movie night on the comfy couches of Electric Cinema Portobello, then finish off your night with a drink at the flower-covered Churchill Arms pub and a bite at French-inspired Buvette.

INSIDER TIPLunch like a local at Books for Cooks, the neighborhood’s cookbook shop with a twist whose owner knows all the regulars by name.

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Kensington and Chelsea

WHERE: West London

One of London’s most prestigious boroughs, Kensington and Chelsea is a neighborhood fit for a royal stay. With glamorous shopping haunts including Queen Elizabeth’s top pick, the iconic Harrods department store, and many upscale restaurants doubling as celebrity-sighting spots like The Imperial, Brinkley’s, and No. Fifty Cheyne), pick a stay around Sloane Square, Knightsbridge, or Belgravia, and you’ll feel like a million bucks in no time. Culture lovers, don’t despair: Kensington is also home to the “museum mile,” which counts the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum all within a few blocks, but also the Saatchi Gallery and Serpentine Gallery for contemporary art, and the National Army Museum for history enthusiasts. Between grand Victorian homes (don’t miss the colorful houses of Bywater Street), the independent shops and cafés on Pavilion Road, and the tranquility of a stroll around the Chelsea Embankment, there truly is something for everyone.

INSIDER TIPYou’ll fall in love with Holland Park’s Kyoto Japanese Garden, a true zen oasis.


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WHERE: East London

Shoreditch may no longer be the most up-and-coming spot for all the cool kids to hang out in, but it’s still pretty cool. Preferred by trendy travelers and creatives, the area has seen a huge boom in recent years. Shoreditch comes alive at night, so don’t miss your chance to try one of the area’s famous nightlife spots—Queen of Hoxton, Callooh Callay, Nightjar, and The Rooftop at 100 are some of our favorites—and then try London’s best (and most famous) bagels at Beigel Bake Brick Lane Bakery, open 24 hours a day. Speaking of Brick Lane: this street is famous for its authentic curry houses, but in recent years all sorts of unique independent shops have opened alongside brilliant street vendors and cool cafés. Don’t miss the Sunday market, after which you can browse vinyl records at Rough Trade, a true music lovers’ paradise, or the market stalls at Old Spitalfields Market and the Truman Brewery. Take a stroll around Columbia Road Flower Market or stop in Hoxton Square for a quick siesta. Thrift some jewels at Brick Lane Vintage Market. See contemporary art at the Whitechapel Gallery. Shop at Boxpark Shoreditch, the world’s first pop-up mall, which turns into a late-night venue once the shops close.

INSIDER TIPThe Orange Buffalo has the city’s best buffalo wings; you won’t regret a visit. 

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WHERE: North London

Residential yet fashionable Islington will have you feeling like a local living in a gorgeous Georgian townhouse in no time. At its heart sits Angel, whose Upper Street has some of London’s most unique independent shops, including brilliant vintage finds and antique markets (check out Camden Passage in particular), and some of the best bars in the capital. Have a drink at Humble Grape, eat at must-visit local favorite Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi, and relax at Highbury Fields afterward. See local theater at the Almeida Theatre or Pleasance Theatre, and catch a dance performance at the world-famous Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Eat your way around the world at Chapel Market and Exmouth Market, then take a leisurely stroll down Regent’s Canal Walk.

INSIDER TIPCheck out hidden local park New River Walk for a true hidden gem.


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West End

WHERE: Central London

No London stay would be complete without the hustle and bustle of one of the city’s most quintessential neighborhoods, the West End. Tucked between nearby Soho, Chinatown, Covent Garden, and Westminster, London’s famous theater district —also known as Theatreland— comprises forty different venues within only a few blocks: take your pick from crowd favorites like Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Moulin Rouge, Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys, and so many more of the latest releases. You can shop at Queen Elizabeth’s favorite department store, Fortnum & Mason, or along tourist favorites Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Bond Street. Take in the buzzing atmosphere of Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square, or the world-class portraits at The National Portrait Gallery. Leave some time for an authentic meal in Chinatown, where you’ll find some of the best dim sum in the city.

INSIDER TIPThe world’s longest-running show, Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’, opened in November 1952 and is still running to this day at St. Martin’s Theatre.

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The City

WHERE: Central London

Also known as the Square Mile, this is the heart of the capital’s business district, so get ready to see swaths of elegantly dressed Wall Street types descend on the neighborhood every morning. Don’t be surprised when the area turns eerily quiet as soon as 9 am rings: it’s going to stay that way until 5 pm, so enjoy the silence! Grab a coffee at The Wren café in St Nicholas Cole Abbey ––yes, it’s inside the church–– then visit the stunning St Paul’s Cathedral, a quintessential British landmark where funerals for Admiral Nelson, Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher took place (and where Martin Luther King once gave a sermon.) See some art at the Guildhall Art Gallery or ancient manuscripts at Guildhall Library, and when it’s time to relax, know that the City is, unsurprisingly, brimming with upscale post-work-drinks spots. Between Mercer Roof Terrace, Madison at One New Change, and Savage Garden, you’ll be spoiled for choice if a cocktail with a view is what you’re after.

INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the striking ruins and gardens of St Dunstan-in-the-East.

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London Bridge

WHERE: Central London

Just a stone’s throw from St. Paul’s Cathedral, the City, the skyline-defining Shard, the Tate Modern museum, the Tower of London, and the famous Tower Bridge, the area around London Bridge is one of the best places to stay in the capital if you plan to do some exploring. Then, once you’ve had enough of iconic landmarks and picture-perfect Instagram backgrounds—cross the Millennium Bridge for stunning views, which you might recognize from an endless list of movies—you can sample some of the freshest food the city has to offer at the world-famous Borough Market, followed by a stroll along the Thames to get your energy back. You’ll find it hard not to be in awe of the oldest Gothic church in London, Southwark Cathedral, but the ruins of Winchester Palace are pretty striking, too. Oh, and did we mention you can see where Bard’s plays were performed in 1500, right at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre? And if you’re in the mood for history, why not have a drink at one of London’s historic pubs, the 17th-century George Inn?

INSIDER TIPYou’ll want to catch the 360°view from one of London’s most iconic buildings, The Shard.

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WHERE: West London

If you land at Heathrow Airport, your speediest way into town will be through the Paddington-Heathrow Express. So why not take advantage of the many hidden gems this somewhat under-the-radar neighborhood has to offer? Paddington is full of residential charm, but with easy access to London’s main attractions from Paddington Underground Station —served by the Bakerloo, Elizabeth, Circle, Hammersmith, and District lines— you’ll get the best of both (tourist and chill) worlds. Shake waxy hands with the Royals at Madame Tussauds, then make your way to the picturesque Little Venice and its Rembrandt Gardens, where you can hang out on the uber-cool Skylark Roof Garden and enjoy views over Notting Hill and Regent’s Park. Hyde Park is just a stroll away if you’re in the mood for a picnic or a family day, but so is Marylebone, a chic area known for its independent boutiques, cafés, The Sherlock Holmes Museum, and The Wallace Collection, which features one of London’s most impressive art collections.

INSIDER TIPRent a boat and sail down the canals of Little Venice!

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WHERE: North London

With Regent’s Park, Regent’s Canal, the ZSL London Zoo, and the world-famous Camden Market all nearby, it’s easy to see why Camden remains such a tourist favorite. Catch a concert at The Roundhouse and the Electric Ballroom, a live show at The Blues Kitchen, or simply hang out with the locals at one of the old-school pubs and lively bars. Check out the street art, and don’t miss Amy Winehouse’s portrait on Camden Road. Learn about English folk music at Cecil Sharp House or Jewish heritage at the Jewish Museum. Watch the sunset from the top of Primrose Hill, and don’t forget to check out the colorful houses around Chalcot Square (where Sylvia Plath once lived) on your way down. Camden is cool, vibrant, and always alive ––perfect for the bohemian crowd to find their new favorite home away from home.

INSIDER TIPEat your way around the world at Camden Market for some of the best street food in the capital.

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WHERE: South London

You can’t leave London without experiencing the vibrant soul of Waterloo and the South Bank, one of the capital’s most buzzing cultural hubs. With flagship venues like the National Theatre, the Old Vic Theatre, and Young Vic Theatre just a stone’s throw away, you’ll be spoiled for choice if you’re in the mood for a play. Or are movies more your thing? The British Film Institute’s BFI Southbank is a film lover’s paradise, and its IMAX room has the UK’s biggest screen. Whatever your preference, you cannot miss a visit to the iconic Southbank Centre, Europe’s largest center for the arts: head to the Hayward Gallery for world-class contemporary art, the National Poetry Library to browse the largest poetry collection in the country, and the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room for some of the many music, talks, events, and dance performances they always have on. Cross Westminster Bridge, and just on the other side of the river, you’ll find iconic landmarks like Big Ben, the heart of British politics in Whitehall and at 10 Downing Street, plus the historic Westminster Abbey, where recent Royal weddings and King Charles II’s coronation took place.

INSIDER TIPTake in the spectacular view from the iconic London Eye right across from Waterloo Station.           


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WHERE: West London

Ah, posh, posh Mayfair, with its gorgeous Georgian townhouses and glamorous boutiques: it’s easy to see why it’s the most expensive property in the UK monopoly! Have fun in the morning browsing the art at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Halcyon Gallery, then fill your afternoon with some shopping (or window-shopping) at the world-famous department store Selfridges, or favorite upscale boutiques along Bond Street, Mount Street, or in Burlington Arcade, the world’s oldest shopping arcade. You’ll love the variety of cuisines on offer at church-turned-food-hall Mercato Metropolitano Mayfair, the tranquility of Berkeley Square and Grosvenor Square, or spending a full day relaxing in nearby The Green Park and Hyde Park. Whether you need a new suit or you just want to admire fine tailoring, you won’t regret a visit to Savile Row, and if you need a pampering session after a busy day of exploring Mayfair, the iconic Claridge’s Spa is the only address you need.

INSIDER TIPLook for a blue plaque on Brook Street, and you’ll find Jimi Hendrix’s old house, now a museum.

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Covent Garden and The Strand

WHERE: Central London

A favorite of locals and tourists alike, Covent Garden’s famous marketplace–turned–shopping mall remains one of London’s most thriving creative hubs. At its heart is Somerset House, a striking Neoclassical palace with an incredible history (coups, executions, plagues, it’s got it all) now turned into a cultural center that you can tour for free and puts on a fabulous lineup of events each summer. See art from Van Gogh and Cezanne at the Courtauld Gallery, and contemporary art from Ai Weiwei and Jeff Koons at LUMAS in Seven Dials. Feel like a modern explorer at Stanfords, the traveler’s bookshop par excellence, and trace back European art history at The National Gallery. Don’t miss out on visiting one of the world’s leading opera companies, the Royal Opera House, and the Donmar Warehouse, one of London’s best and most innovative theaters.

INSIDER TIPDress to impress and book a table at London’s most romantic restaurant, you won’t regret it.     

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WHERE: Central London

Tucked away between King’s Cross’ busy streets and Soho’s even busier ones, Bloomsbury is a peaceful oasis of leafy gardens and grand Victorian, Edwardian, and Georgian homes with a rich history to match. Bask in the peaceful tranquility of Brunswick Square Gardens, Coram’s Fields, or Russell Square, and in the history of Georgian London along the picturesque Woburn Walk. Culture lovers, Bloomsbury is the place for you: between the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, the Charles Dickens Museum, the Foundling Museum, and of course, The British Museum. Look for blue plaques all over the houses in the area to spot the former residences of Virginia Woold, Charles Darwin, John Keynes, and Charles Dickens. See some striking Brutalist architecture at The Brunswick Centre, a grade II listed residential and shopping center, followed by a drink at The Coral Room and a bite at Dalloway Terrace.

INSIDER TIPHead to the Bloomsbury Farmers Market on a Thursday morning for your fresh (and delicious) street food fix!