Soho is the most sort after nightlife region in London. It is also the central region for many LGBT+ communities, a feat that has set Soho apart from other London areas in the past several decades. Soho should be your first pick when searching for a great lesbian or gay bar in London, only second to Covent Garden.
It is a London borough bordered on all sides by Regent Street, Chinatown, Charing Cross Road, and Oxford Street. The fashion sense and music prominence of Soho are seen in the fourteen streets of Carnaby, while Oxford Street shines with its world-class electronic stores like Apple Store.
You won’t run out of things to do in Soho with its huge 2.6 square kilometres filled with bars, pubs, and fine dining restaurants. Theatres are in plenty, but if that is not to your liking, then the cabaret and burlesque shows are a must-visit.
The risqué lifestyle in Soho is what the region is known for. Take a look at the city’s buzzing LGBT+ bars, and do not forget to see the fashion-centric hot spots and performing arts venues for the theatre nerds.
Best Things to Do & Places to Visit in Soho, London
- Location: Westminster, London W1D 3QJ
- Things to do: visit the central hut, reset on the grass
The Soho Square is a public square in Soho where many local shoppers and workers come to bask and rest. It is a fancy garden square behind Oxford Street filled with paved pathways and spaces with multiple green spots for trees and shrubs.
Many aspects of Soho Square have changed over the years, including the name, which once was King’s Square (after Charles II). The two-storey black and white structure at the centre of the square is one of the permanent structures still intact, with a small renovation in 2009.
The small square is the perfect place to rest when walking around Soho. It is a rare gem since not lots of places in Soho have much greenery. Also, head into the central hut to learn of its emergency function as a bunker during the Second World War.
- Location: 22 Ganton Street, Carnaby London, W1F 7FD
- Things to do: visit a restaurant, shop, drink at the numerous bars, take pictures of street art
Carnaby Street is famously known as the home of London West End’s best bars, restaurants, boutiques, and fashion households. It is made up of fourteen streets, all surrounded by more than 60 dining destinations and over 100 shopping centres.
Street art is plenty on all streets, including the Giant plug on Ganton Street, which flashes brightly at night. Also, look up at the Union Jack, art suspended above the pedestrian street.
Fashion is best on Carnaby Street with stores like Dr Martens, Adidas, Levi’s, Annie’s, Barbour, Birkenstock, Fred Perry, and Gilly Hicks. Beauty stores are in plenty with the likes of Too Faced, War Paint, Skin Laundry, Sweaty Betty, and Marshall Street Leisure Centre.
- Location: Regent Street, London, W1B 5AH
- Things to do: shop for beauty products, take a store tour, partake in masterclasses
Liberty is the most outstanding department store on Regent Street. It was established in 1852, and more than a century later, it has become popular for its floral fabrics and unique fashion items.
Fashion is not the only attractive feature of Liberty. Liberty is housed inside mock-Tudor, an architectural marvel of a building with vintage touches, protruding window design, building-wide sunroof, and feminine personality.
Special events are hosted at Liberty, including wreath making masterclasses, jewellery store events, and exclusive tours of the Liberty store itself.
Spirit of Soho Mural
- Location: Broadwick Street, Carnaby, London W1F 9PE
- Things to do: take pictures, learn of Carnaby Street history
Spirit of Soho Mural rests on the opposite side of 9 Carnaby Street. It is a huge mural created by the people of Soho in 1991 to commemorate the things and people who made Soho great.
The first inspiration of the mural is St Anne at the top, with her clothing making the ground for the streets of Soho. Animals are in plenty, signifying the hunting days of Soho between the 16th and 17th Centuries, while Lee Fung and pagoda represent Chinatown.
Residents and visitors to Soho are denoted at the bottom with notable figures like William Blake, Dylan Thomas, and the infamous Karl Marx, who lived at 28 Dean Street in the 1850s.
- Location: 10 Wardour Street, London W1D 6BZ
- Things to do: visit shops and restaurants, and attend special events
Chinatown is a staple of London’s West End, with a great cultural heritage filled with international restaurants, shops, and an upbeat ambience. It is the one place in London where you can get a true taste of Chinese culture.
Gorgeous Chinese lanterns light up Chinatown’s skyline, and you can expect a lot of East Asian communities in the area during Chinese New Year. Visit the stone lions, art sculptures, and the biggest Chinese gate in England at Wardour Street.
Hamleys Toy Store
- Location: 188-196 Regent Street, London W1B 5BT
- Things to do: buy toys, attend store events
The biggest Hamleys store in London is located on Regent Street in Soho. It is also considered the biggest toy store in London. The store has a long history spanning more than 255 years, a long period in which it has served the children of Soho well with its huge collection of toys and collectables.
Go in to buy or browse through their huge collection of toys. Be prepared to spend a few hours walking around since it is a huge space made up of five floors filled with toys from floor to ceiling. Take a look at the love demonstrations of the toys or attend the many store events that feature cartoon characters.
- Location: 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW
- Things to do: check out exhibitions, socialize, buy books
The Photographers’ Gallery is just three minutes from Oxford Circus and less than ten minutes from Tottenham Court Road. It is a great venue for enthusiasts looking to check out photography exhibitions, buy books and paints at the onsite store, or socialize. There is also an introductory history course to help visitors learn about the plural histories of photography.
Guests under 19 years of age enter the Gallery for free, and the price is just £5 for non-concessions. Rare and signed books are ready for purchase, and you can buy several films and cameras in the Gallery’s shop. Also, check out the shop for gift cards and presents for your photography-loving friends.
- Location: 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE
- Things to do: catch a show
Soho Theatre is marketed as “London’s most vibrant producer of new theatres”, and it does not disappoint. It is home to lots of live shows, on-demand events, theatre performances, and comedy specials. World-class performers visit the theatre each year when touring, and you are bound to catch the eye of prominent personnel at the venue.
Ticket prices depend on the show. Regular theatre performances like the resident drag shows cost £8, while special events tickets cost more than £25. This is the place to be for London’s best cabaret shows and comedic performances.
Prince Edward Theatre
- Location: Old Compton Street, London W1D 4HS
- Things to do: catch a Mary Poppins Show
The Mary Poppins Show is among many popular shows held at Prince Edward Theatre. Ain’t too Proud is another impressive show that depicts life and times of temptation.
It is among the eight theatres owned and managed by Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, with a large capacity of more than 1700 guests. The ticket prices depend on the show and where you are seated in the vast arena circle. For the Mary Poppins show, tickets range from £32.50 for sideline seats to £175 for VIP seats.
Prince of Wales Theatre
- Location: 31 Coventry Street, London W1D 6AS
- Things to do: catch a show
Prince of Wales is another Delfont Mackintosh Theatre founded more than a century ago in 1884. The current main production at the venue is The Book of Mormon, a satirical comedy show surrounding the lives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The seating capacity is 1160 people, which makes it smaller than Prince Edward Theatre by a few seats. Book a seat at the Dress Circle with a steep rake to get the best views of the stage. Ticket prices range from £25 to £47 depending on the day and show.
- Location: Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 5AY
- Things to do: catch a show, visit nearby restaurants like La Bodega Negra
The production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is at Palace Theatre. The two-part play by Jack Thorne stems from the eight-story in J.K Rowling’s original masterpiece and has been one of the most sorts after theatre shows in London since its preview in 2016.
Palace Theatre has a sizeable seating of 1400 guests spread across four different levels. It is open every day of the week from 12 pm to 8 pm. Book to see part one and two of the Harry Potter show on the same day or on separate days. Tickets range from £85 to £250.
Also Read: Is There a Real Diagon Alley in London?
- Location: Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1D 6BA
- Things to do: cacth a show
The third Delfont Mackintosh Theatre in Soho is Sondheim, where Les Miserables is the main production. The cast of Les Miserables has moved around quite a bit, and Place Theatre is one of the venues that housed the group in the mid 2010s.
Les Miserables has won several awards, including lots of Tony Awards in the original Broadway production and a Laurence Olivier Award in the original West End production. Catch a seat at the 1074-seater theatre by purchasing the premium tickets (£125 – £150) or regular tickets (£47.50 – £89.50).
House of Minalima
- Location: 157 Wardour Street, London W1F 8WQ
- Things to do: shop for Harry Potter merch
House of Minalima is a unique Soho shop that sells Harry Potter collectables and presents. It acts as an exhibition for the popular film franchise but also a shop with adventurous items and magical trinkets that will blow the minds of any Harry Potter lover.
One of the must-have items is the Minalima Harry Potter Book aimed at celebrating the graphic design of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts world.
The exterior of the building looks quite regular, but you are transported into a tranquil environment once you step in. A gallery introduces you to MinaLima’s graphic design work while the décor is filled with Easter eggs and movie memorabilia.
Prince Charles Cinema
- Location: 7 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BY
- Things to do: catch a classic film like the Shining (1980)
Prince Charles Cinema is not your regular blockbuster movie venue. It is a repertory cinema dedicated to airing classic films like The Shining (1980), The Wolf Man (1941), and the classic musical Little Shop of Horrors (1986).
The venue opened up in 1962, showing multiple films at the time and was used as a venue to shoot others like the Trigger-Happy TV at the beginning of 2000. It currently shows more than ten movies each week in a venue that seats more than 300 guests spanning across two screens.
Norte Dame de France
- Location: 5 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BX
- Things to do: attend mass, take pictures
You may be wondering, is Notre Dame in Paris or London? Well, Notre Dame de France is a Catholic Church located in the heart of Soho, London. The church is easily mistaken for Notre Dame de Paris (shortly referred to as Notre Dame), a much bigger medieval Catholic Church in Paris, France.
Notre Dame de France is where Leicester House stood in the 1630s. The church was established in the mid-1800s to support French communities living in London at the time.
Notre Dame de France has become a spectacle with impressive cathedral interiors designed by French architect Louis Auguste Boileau. Attend the masses held every day except Tuesday, or check out their concert series held on select Thursdays.
Berwick Street Market
- Location: Berwick Street, London W1F 0PH
- Things to do: buy fruits, vegetables, and household goods
The market on Berwick Street is tucked in a small section of the retail centre and serves as a great place to get food ingredients and basic household items. It is open to the public every day of the week except Sunday from 8 am to 6 pm.
Berwick Street Market was established in the late 1700s and has grown since to accommodate notable stores like Jerusalem Falafel and Savage Salads. Visit Afghan Delights Monday to Friday for Afghan street food or Freebird Burritos for Mexican burritos.
Greek2Go is for authentic Greek souvlaki, open all weekdays, while Jerusalem Falafel brings together more than twenty different times of vegetables and herbs to make impressive dishes.
- Location: 107 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DT
- Things to do: buy books
This is the biggest Foyles bookshop in London, with more than 200,000 books on the shelves covering more than 6.5 kilometres. To put this into perspective, the books could be lined up one after the other and make a line from the Tower of London to Battersea Power Station.
The six floors of Foyles bookshop are home to many books from various genres, be it fiction or non-fiction, maps, travel books, biographies, and much more. You can also buy presents and gifts from the onsite shop. Attend the gallery space for free, go to the auditorium to attend an event, or sit at the café to read your new book over a cup of Joe.
The Seven Noses of Soho
- Locations: all over Soho and even outside
- Things to do: take pictures, go on a nose-hunting adventure
The Seven Noses of Soho started off as a protest and activist act by Rick Buckley in 1997. Due to the increase in CCTV cameras across London, people were starting to feel uncomfortable, as if the surveillance systems were pocking their noses into people’s business.
Rick took to the streets to create the Seven Noses of Soho. He used plasters of his own nose and glued them all over London in distinct places, some of which are yet to be found.
If you want a great adventure with no clear end, then the hunt for all Seven Noses of Soho is a fun activity to do on Soho. Legend has it; you will get infinite wealth if you find all of them.
Sounds of the Universe
- Location: 7 Broadwick Street, London W1F 0DA
- Things to do: buy vinyl records
As a music-centric region, Soho is filled with several record stores that are all vintage cassettes and vinyl records. Sounds of the Universe is one of the stores. Others include Sister Ray and Phonica Records.
Sounds of the Universe is among the world’s leading stores with the biggest collection of vinyl records and CDs spanning multiple genres: reggae, house, disco, funk, soul, Latin, African beats, dubstep, and many more. The store also sells books and DVDs related to popular music and beloved artists/musicians.
LGBT+ Scenes and Brunches
- Location: several locations
- Things to do: catch a drag show, socialize
The LGBT+ community is at its fullest in Soho than in any other part of London. This means you are bound to find more lesbian and gay entertainment sports in this neighbourhood than any other. The proof is in the upbeat ambience when it comes to Drag Shows and events around bars and taverns.
If you are looking for a great place to meet up with your gay friends and party like you are part of a 90s drag show, then here are some of the best bars/venues to frequent: G-A-Y Bar, Friendly Society, Ku, She Soho, Halfway to Heaven, Admiral Duncan, Village Soho, and the Yard Bar.
Catch a drag show in Karaoke Hole, or the more exciting Soho theatre, Crazy Coqs in Sherwood Street, and Admiral Duncan.
Also Read: Top 12 Drag Brunches in London
Bars and Restaurants
- Location: several venues
- Things to do: dine, have brunches, happy hours, and much more
Dining is at its best in Soho, including international cuisines, celebrity chefs, and elegant fine dining filled with luxury.
Head into Yauatcha Chinese restaurant for delicious dim sum and tea. Chin Chin Dessert Club serves amazing ice cream, while Bubala is your pick when looking for vegetarian dishes and small Middle Eastern plates.
Bao on Lexington Street is known for its bao buns and golden fried chicken, while NOPI is a great place to go for brunch on weekends. Bob Ricard is among the fanciest restaurants in the city, right across from Russel Norman’s Venetian Italian restaurant.
The bar scene in Soho is at its best in Milk & Honey, Blind Pig, Bar Crispin, Swift, Hovarda, and the hidden speakeasy, Wun’s Tea Room and Bar, served by creators of the famous Chinese Restaurant, Bun House.
What Is Soho in London Known For?
Soho, London, is famous for its upbeat atmosphere, immersive culinary scene, the huge LGBT+ community, great nightlife, and many theatric shows. It is a cultural hub made up of many historic buildings, lots of restaurants, and eclectic brunches.
Is Soho Good for Tourists?
Soho is a great place for tourists to visit due to its vast array of restaurants, theatres for entertainment, several world-class shopping centres, and buzzing entertainment scene.
Soho has a reputation for being risqué and rowdy, but it is statistically one of the safest places in Central London. To be safe at all times, it is recommended you travel during the day and use public transportation.
Does Soho Stand for Something?
Many people mistake Soho in New York for Soho in London. Soho in New York stands for South of Houston. On the other hand, Soho in London gets its name from a 16th Century hunting cry widely used in the region during that time.
Dining, drinking, entertainment, and shopping just about sums up what Soho is all about. The vast region is great for those looking to immerse themselves in London’s fashion and fun side. From lively bars to performing arts in every theatre and fashion products in Carnaby Street shops.