London Neighborhood Guide – 14 Best Areas for Tourists Chosen by a Local
Heading to London soon? Wondering where to stay and what to explore? This London neighborhood guide is the answer you’ve been looking for!
I was born and raised in London and I can assure you that I know the best bits and areas that are worthy of exploring. Only if you want an unforgettable vacation, of course!
London’s many neighbourhoods have an abundance to offer for those looking to visit. The sprawling city is divided into no less than 48 different neighbourhoods, each with their own unique flair and characteristics to offer for visitors.
This guide will explore 14 of London’s most interesting and unique neighbourhoods to visit and delve into what each of them has to offer. Here’s my list of London neighborhoods covered in this article: Shoreditch, Camden Town, Notting Hill, Brixton, West End, Greenwich, Knightsbridge, South Bank, and Soho.
But first, here’s a map of London neighborhoods so you can get a better overall understanding of how the city is divided:
Keep reading to learn about what makes each of these different parts of London so special and worthy of a visit. This guide will cover both characteristics and attractions available that make each of these locations extraordinary places to travel!
Let’s get this started:
1 - City of London
City of London is… no, not an entire city, but one of London’s areas; it’s even considered to be the very centre of the city because this is literally Old London. Yes, London used to be this small! Being the business and financial centre of London, here is where you’ll find the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England, among other buildings of economic importance. Which, if you ask me, is not that interesting for tourists setting foot in London for the first time, so let’s discuss some really exciting places instead.
City of London, or simply “The City” or the “Square Mile”, is the place where you’ll find St. Paul’s Cathedral and Smithfield Market, for example. Another cool attraction is Barbican Centre, a good place to add to your itinerary if you’re into art and cinema. You’ll also find plenty of pubs and bars here, especially rooftop ones, as well as (quite pricey) restaurants.
In short, The City is the place to go for some interesting sightseeing, especially if you’re into skyscrapers, as well as Victorian architecture – a unique combo for sure!
2 - Shoreditch
Located in the East End of London, Shoreditch is widely recognized as the creative and artistic hub within the city. This neighbourhood is known in particular for its vast street art culture, with murals and paintings that decorate many of its streets and alleyways.
Visitors to Shoreditch looking to explore the streets in search of art can do so by themselves or by taking an official Shoreditch Street Art Tour. Guided tours are a fantastic way to get to know the layout of the neighbourhood while also taking in the many artworks that line the streets.
Shoreditch also has unique shopping opportunities to offer visitors, with many independent and vintage shops to choose from, most of which are located on the iconic Brick Lane. The neighbourhood also offers a variety of galleries, bars, and restaurants, all of which make it a must on any visitor’s Shoreditch exploration to-do list!
3 - Camden Town
Camden Town is located in North London and is celebrated for its diverse and eccentric music scene and nightlife. Visitors can enjoy a wide variety of musical genres, from jazz and blues at The Jazz Café to major mainstream artists at The Roundhouse, and even metal bands and hard rock at venues such as Underworld.
Aside from its many music venues, Camden Town is also notable for its vibrant nightlife, offering all types of bars and nightclubs for the more party-prone visitors to enjoy. This neighbourhood is known for its skilled bartenders and overall lively atmosphere.
However, Camden Town has more than just the party scene to offer – it also has a wonderful selection of daytime and open-air markets for visitors and locals alike to enjoy. Take, for instance, Camden Market which is home to over 1,000 unique stalls, shops, and cafes.
In short, Camden Town truly has attractions for all sorts of people – from the day dwellers to the night owls.
RELATED READ: I only listed a few highlights here, but if you want to get an in-depth look at one of the best districts in London, I recommend checking out my Complete Guide to Camden Town.
4 - Notting Hill
Notting Hill is a well-known and internationally recognized neighbourhood, thanks to being the primary setting of the 1999 hit film of the same name. However, there’s more to this neighbourhood than just being the setting of a famous rom-com.
Arguably the biggest attraction this neighbourhood has to offer is its annual Notting Hill Carnival – one of the largest street festivals in all of Europe. This carnival provides all kinds of entertainment that appeal to visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
Aside from the annual carnival, Notting Hill is also known for Portobello Market. Plus its aesthetically pleasing and colourful houses and architecture that make it a great location for a daytime stroll! Heh, I’m sure you’ve already seen a plethora of beautiful pictures taken on the streets of this area! Additionally, this neighbourhood has many unique book shops and cafes, making it a great location for more romantic-minded visitors.
RELATED READ: Excited? Check out my Complete Guide to Notting Hill in order to find out more about this pretty neighbourhood!
5 - Brixton
Brixton is a neighbourhood located in Central London, known for its multiculturalism. One of the highlights of visiting Brixton is its large variety of restaurants, cafes, and pubs that offer a diverse selection of multi-ethnic cuisines.
One of the many attractions available to visitors in Brixton is Brixton Market, which stands out for its rich culture and a wide variety of goods for purchase. This market encompasses several arcades including the Reliance Arcade and Market Row. Brixton is also known for its lively arts scene and the neighbourhood is home to one of London’s popular musical venues – The O2 Academy Brixton.
Also, within the neighbourhood’s limits resides the popular Brockwell Park, a 50.8-hectare park with many beautiful natural and manmade sights, including ornamental ponds, flower beds, and gardens.
RELATED READ: London: Guide to Brixton
6 - West End
Despite its name, the West End is a neighbourhood located smack in Central London (confusing, I know, but please bear with me!) and is best known for its robust theatre scene. Part of this neighbourhood is even dubbed “Theatreland” thanks to it being home to many of London’s most popular theatre venues both big and small, including the famous London Palladium as well as the Dominion Theatre. This is the place where visitors can enjoy the performing arts, from major West End musicals to operas and orchestra performances.
The West End also offers a wide selection of cinemas. Leicester Square (which is widely referred to as the home of film in London) is a great place to visit if you want to catch current cinema hits, both mainstream and independently produced. It’s also London’s location for blockbuster premieres, so don’t be surprised if you find crowds surrounding a red carpet during the early evenings here!
7 - Greenwich
Greenwich resides on the banks of the River Thames and is a great destination for those that are highly interested in London’s history. Here, you’ll find the Queen’s House, one of the neighbourhood’s famed museums that hosts over 400 years of art and royal history.
By the way, Greenwich is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Greenwich Avenue Historic District is a top recommendation for your itinerary in the area. Here, you can enjoy the architectural scenery of Greenwich while also learning more about the deep history of the area.
Another major attraction of this neighbourhood is the Royal Observatory Greenwich, where visitors can stand on the Prime Meridian Line, visit the planetarium, and enjoy the largest refracting telescope within the United Kingdom. Last but not least, the famous O2 Arena (lots of concerts, as well as comedy shows and other entertainment take place here) and Greenwich Market (around 120 stalls with arts, crafts, clothes and lots of food) are located in this area, so you might as well add them to your bucket list!
8 - Knightsbridge
Knightsbridge is one of those iconic upper-class London neighborhoods, located in the centre of the city. This is a great destination for those looking to explore museums, as well as historical and religious landmarks. Or just come for the luxury shopping, why not? But be prepared for killer prices – afterall, this is THE most expensive area in London!
This neighbourhood is home to the famous Victoria and Albert Museum that houses one of the largest collections of artworks and exhibitions in the city. Like all national museums in London, admission is free of charge, making it a great place to visit on a budget. How awesome is that?!
Just when you feel like you’ve saved some pennies, head over to check out one of Knightsbridge’s’ extravagant luxury department stores, the most famous and iconic of course being Harrods. Visiting Harrods is experience in itself, from the widely acclaimed food hall, to the magical toy kingdom and the insane creativity put into the outdoor window displays.
9 - South Bank
The South Bank is yet another neighbourhood located within Central London and is widely considered to be the cultural heart of London. Why? Well, there are so many iconic attractions here!
One such attraction is the legendary and iconic London Eye, one of the largest observation wheels (Ferris wheels) in the entire world. Visitors who choose to ride in one of the wheel’s carriages can look over the vast expanse of the city, as well as the River Thames.
Theatre lovers will know that the South Bank is home to the National Theatre, one of the most prestigious theatre establishments in the world. It is also home to the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, an excellent destination for animal lovers and families to visit. A bit less family-friendly but equally enjoyable is the South Bank’s London Dungeon, where visitors can explore and learn about London’s more gruesome history. Both fun and interesting!
10 - Soho
To continue this list of magnificent London neighbourhoods we have Soho, which is actually considered a part of the West End, but is distinguishable as its own area thanks to its uniqueness and energetic charm. If you ask me, this is one of the most iconic sections of London!
Once known as a seedier part of London, the maze of cobbled alleys that make up Soho have been gentrified. Pop up shops, cool and quirky restaurants and a lively bar scene, needless to say this area can be a lot of fun!
Soho is also well known for being a safe hub for the LGBTQ+ community, with many of London’s best gay and lesbian bars being here. Part of this area is Carnaby, the home of the 60’s revolution that brought about Swinging London and embraced many styles and alternative types of people.
11 - Covent Garden
Looking for culture and exciting events? Covent Garden’s for you! The heart and soul of the neighbourhood is considered to be the big open-air mall (Covent Garden Shopping Centre) where you’ll find everything from designer shops to delicious eateries. This place is usually flocking with locals and tourists alike!
Other than this, some notable highlights of this area include the Royal Opera House and Somerset House, a great place to go if you’re into contemporary art. Hey, here’s another perk of this lively neighbourhood in case you’re craving some dumplings or saucy noodles: you’ll be close to Chinatown, which is a bit west of Covent Garden (let’s say around 10 minutes walk). Oh, and don’t forget to visit Neal’s Yard as well – a super colourful corner of the neighbourhood, scattered with vibrant buildings!
Shopping, eating and watching exciting shows and concerts – this is what Covent’s Garden’s all about.
12 - Richmond
The biggest royal park in London. Deer. A stunning riverfront. A plethora of markets, art galleries and shops. This is, in short, what Richmond is all about. Richmond is located in south-west London and it’s an ideal spot for quiet strolls along the river and some relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of the centre. If you ask me, this neighbourhood perfectly combines both a village and an urban feeling – the best of both worlds!
While you’re here, you can go and spot the deers in Richmond Park (10 square kilometers of greenery!), take a stroll and do some shopping on Brewers Lane, and then take a bite in one of the many outdoor restaurants and pubs on the riverfront. On the other hand, if the weather is gloomy or rainy, you can stop by Richmond Theatre for a show.
13 - Westminster
Westminster Abbey, anyone? Yep, we’re talking about the royal part of the city right here! This wonderful neighbourhood is where you’ll find the world-famous Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, as well as Westminster Abbey, d’uh. Plus the Houses of Parliament, right on the banks of the Thames. It’s a tourist hotspot where you can wander around and explore most of London’s royal highlights. Oh, and St. James Park is also located here – make sure to visit it, although don’t expect to see the queen on a walk taking a breath of fresh air!
Do I need to add that you’ll find endless options for bars and restaurants here? I guess not. Plus an excellent transportation service connecting us to the rest of London. No, really, I’m talking about no less than 27 tube stations, baby! So, truth be told, being in Westminster means you’ll be in the centre of the city, only a short ride away from all its other interesting attractions.
14 - Clapham
Clapham is, in my humble Londoner opinion… a bit underrated, especially when it comes to tourists! While other more popular places such as City, Soho or Notting Hill are flocking with countless travellers all year round, snapping pictures and roaming around, Clapham has more of a suburban, laid-back vibe. But this, of course, doesn’t mean you’ll get bored here!
The up-and-coming Clapham has a young, fun vibe and is known for being the district that graduates move to after finishing uni. So naturally, this is the area where you’ll find more affordable accommodation, cool eateries and plenty of bars and pubs. If you’re in the mood for it, you can dance the night away in a music venue or club. In the mood for a movie? Clapham Picturehouse’s your answer. Art lover? Go to Studio Voltaire to see some emerging artists. Tired? Clear your mind at Clapham Common, one of London’s biggest parks.
Here was my list of 14 best neighbourhoods in London! These different areas of London have much to offer to visitors in terms of attractions, style, and entertainment. Any of the above 14 neighbourhoods I have described can be the perfect destination for a day trip or weekend getaway. And yes, I know, there are many other awesome places in the city worthy to be included in this London neighborhoods guide, but this was my hand-picked shortlist!
If you want to learn more about each of these nice neighbourhoods of London, I recommend clicking here and you’ll find my complete guides for each of the above areas!