London is a sprawling city with so many different offerings that it’s easy to get stuck in one area. But it’s also a city of neighborhoods, each with its own identity and distinct atmosphere.
Get out of the tourist hubs and explore some of London’s most iconic neighborhoods.
Gritty, lively, and full of hidden gems, Brixton is a hub for food and music lovers — or anyone on a budget.
Brixton Market offers ever-changing food stalls, pop-ups, established restaurants, and food from around the world. It also happens to be home to London’s best sourdough pizza (Franco Manca) and dumplings (Mama Lan). The area comes to life during the Brixton Night Market, so make sure to check the dates before you visit. Close by is one of London’s oldest cinemas, Ritzy, which screens everything from Hollywood blockbusters to independent and short films. And if you’re looking for music venues, you’ll find a mix of big names and up-and-comers at O2 Academy Brixton.
Located in South London, Brixton is accessible from the Brixton Underground Station in zone two (served by the Victoria line).
North of central London on the Northern Tube Line, Camden is home to a buzzing music scene, a huge market, foodie haunts, and beautiful parks — it was even Amy Winehouse’s old stomping ground. The stores and markets around Camden Lock, on the edge of Regent’s Canal, teem with crowds searching for vintage clothing, vinyl records, and handmade crafts.
Eateries surrounding the Lock offer everything — sushi, falafel, crepes, roti, tacos, and kebabs — so you can literally eat your way around the world, if you so choose. The area also offers nightlife filled with live music, comedy shows, and plenty of opportunities for dancing.
Also, if you’ve been searching for the ultimate free view of London, you can walk up to the top of Primrose Hill — just 15 minutes away.
Just south of the River Thames, the historic area of Greenwich is the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Meridian Line. Its striking 17th and 18th-century buildings include the Royal Observatory and the National Maritime Museum.
Greenwich is also known for its antiques and crafts markets (on Greenwich High Road and off Stockwell Street), river views, green parks, Naval College, and Cutty Sark — one of the world’s most famous clipper ships.
Greenwich is an area of southeast London, located 5.5 miles (8.9 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross. The closest Underground station to Greenwich is Canary Wharf (served by the Jubilee Line), but you’ll have to connect to the Lewisham line of the Docklands Light Railway in order to cross the river.
Want to step back in time and enter a quaint village away from the hustle and bustle of central London? Hampstead is the place to go. Surrounded by the open parkland of the Heath, this neighborhood has been a favorite of writers, actors, and artists including T.S. Eliot, Dame Judi Dench, and John Constable, just to name a few. Hampstead High Street offers cafés and small shops, while Hampstead Heath beckons with scenic parks perfect for an afternoon stroll.
If you visit during the summer, don’t forget your “swimming costume” — the natural bathing ponds in Hampstead Heath are open to anyone wanting a swim.
Hampstead is located north of central London, and is accessible via the Northern Tube Line.
Hoxton and Shoreditch
Located in London’s East End, Hoxton and Shoreditch form the center of the capital’s cutting-edge art and media scene. These boroughs are best known for their eclectic nightlife, trendy hotels, funky cafés, and boutique stores.
In the streets surrounding the bustling borough, independent designers gather under the glass canopy of Spitalfields Market, selling everything from handmade bags to vintage leather jackets. A few streets away, you’ll also find London’s curry haven, Brick Lane. If you visit on a Sunday, the market is in full swing, Brick Lane is lined with stalls, and empty warehouses are transformed into antique emporiums. And if you head to Hoxton Square, you’ll find the contemporary art gallery, White Cube.
The area can be explored from Liverpool Street Station, which is served by the Central, Circle, Metropolitan, and Hammersmith & City lines.
Kensington and Chelsea
Located in West London, Kensington and Chelsea is the smallest borough in London and the second-smallest district in England.
As one of London’s most affluent neighborhoods, Chelsea is the place to go for designer labels, expensive brunches, and one of the city’s top football clubs. But while King’s Road may come with high-end price points, Chelsea’s Saatchi Gallery offers contemporary art for anyone to enjoy. Dining options are a bit on the expensive side, but you can easily find a packed pub when the Chelsea FC team is playing … just follow the sound of cheering fans.
Kensington, on the other hand, emotes a regal elegance with an inviting nature. Old-world buildings, artisanal cheese shops, pastry bakeries, and international consulates line its streets, while Exhibition Road stretches with the Science, Natural History, and Victoria and Albert Museums — all of which are free to enter. While you’re there, you can even tour Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace, and the Royal Albert Hall.
The Underground stations situated in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea are High Street Kensington, Notting Hill Gate, Earls Court, Gloucester Road, South Kensington, Sloane Square, Holland Park, Latimer Road, Ladbroke Grove, and West Brompton.
A chic residential area with a village feel, Marylebone revolves around the independent boutiques, bookstores, and smart restaurants of High Street. So if you’re looking for brunch spots, pubs, and homeware stores, this fashionable, upmarket neighborhood is the place to go.
For the ultimate tourist experience, visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street, explore the Madame Tussauds waxwork museum, or wander through the Georgian mansion that houses the Wallace Collection of Aart.
Marylebone is bounded by Oxford Street to the south, Marylebone Road to the north, Edgware Road to the west, and Great Portland Street to the east, and is accessible via the Bakerloo Tube Line.
West of central London on the Central Line, Notting Hill is a trendy, upmarket neighborhood with a gritty past. Home to the famed Portobello Road Market, the annual Notting Hill Carnival, and various cafés and novelty shops, it’s the perfect area to spend a lazy Saturday.
For a glimpse into the local lifestyle, head to the area around Westbourne Grove and Ledbury Road, where you’ll find Hummingbird Bakery, the Ledbury, quirky boutiques, brunch spots, and even the iconic blue door from the film, “Notting Hill.” If you are in the area after dark, the Notting Hill Arts Club offers music and dancing, and the Electric Cinema offers a movie-watching experience paired with posh chairs, wine, and hummus and flatbread.