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A complete guide to the London neighbourhoods

Trafalgar Square London Neighbourhoods

Disclosure: I may earn a small commission from the companies or products mentioned in this post.

Whether you’re looking for the best places to visit in London on a trip to the capital or trying to decide where in London to live, getting to grips with the different London neighbourhoods is a must.

London is a huge city and trying to get your head around the many different areas of London can be a little difficult at first. But not to worry, as a born and bred Londoner, I’m here to help make things simpler.

There are 32 boroughs of London, and within each London borough there are multiple different neighbourhoods. Each neighbourhood of London has its own unique vibe, atmosphere and attractions.

I’d be here all day if I tried to take you through every single area in the capital, so here are 24 of the best London neighbourhoods, as well as the top things to see and do in each area…

London Neighbourhoods Map

 

Central London Neighbourhoods

📍 Westminster

London Borough: Westminster.

Area of London known for: iconic landmarks and political importance.

London Underground

Westminster is perhaps the most well-known of all of the neighbourhoods in London, with one of the highest concentrations of landmarks and tourist attractions in the entire city.

Some of the most important sites you’ll find in Westminster include:

  • The Palace of Westminster – better known as the Houses of Parliament
  • Big Ben – the iconic clock tower (actually called the Elizabeth Tower)
  • Westminster Abbey – Medieval church which has hosted many of Britain’s most significant events
  • Buckingham Palace – the Queen’s official London residence and a working royal palace
  • 10 Downing Street – the official residence and the office of the British Prime Minister
  • Churchill War Rooms – underground bunker where Winston Churchill lived and worked during WWII

 

 

📍 The West End

London Borough: Westminster.

Area of London known for: theatres, nightlife and shopping.

It feels wrong to lump all of the parts of London’s West End into one, but I could be here all day talking about them individually. So as they’re all just a short walk from each other, I’ll stick with referring to the West End as a whole for now.

The West End is central London’s main entertainment and shopping district, made up of:

There’s so much to see and do in the West End, from watching a show in London’s world-famous theatre district, shopping on high-end Regent Street, admiring the street performers in Covent Garden, grabbing dinner in fashionable Carnaby or heading for a night out in one of the many vibrant bars or clubs of Soho.

The West End is one of the most popular areas in London with both locals and tourists alike. An exciting neighbourhood where you could easily spend an entire day shopping, eating, drinking and exploring.

 

 

📍 Victoria

London Borough: Westminster.

Area of London known for: its transportation links.

Victoria London Where to stay

A few years back I wouldn’t have bothered adding Victoria to a list of the best London neighbourhoods, being simply one of the city’s main transport hubs. However, the area has overgone a huge renovation over the last several years and has finally earned itself the title of a must-visit destination in its own right.

Nova Food is a brand new dining and shopping complex just a couple of minutes away from Victoria station. Nova is home to many of the capitals most popular eateries such as Bone Daddies, Rail House Cafe, Timmy Green and Franco Manca.

For a night out, you can head to Flight Club for a cocktail and high-tech game of darts or see the West End production of WICKED at the Apollo Victoria theatre.

Not only is Victoria a major transport hub for visiting other cities in the UK, but it’s also just a short walk from many of London’s biggest attractions in neighbouring Westminster, making it a great place to base yourself on a trip to London.

 

 

📍 Bloomsbury

London Borough: Camden.

Area of London known for: it’s top cultural, intellectual, and educational institutions.

Where to Stay in London

UCL campus in London’s Bloomsbury

Bloomsbury is a true hidden gem and lesser-known London neighbourhood in central London.

Not only is Bloomsbury known for its fashionable residential area, elegant Georgian townhouses and picturesque tree-lined green squares, but it is also home to many of London’s top cultural, intellectual, and educational institutions including:

  • The British Museum – the largest museum in the UK
  • Many top London Universities – incl. University College London, SOAS, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
  • Famed Bloomsbury publishing house – published the Harry Potter books

A literary hub within the capital, Bloomsbury has been home to many notable writers over the years, including Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and William Butler Yeats. Today you can join the large student population enjoying the areas many bookshops, libraries and quaint little cafes.

 

 

📍 Fitzrovia

London Borough: Camden/Westminster.

Area of London known for: upscale homes and creative industries.

Bloomsbury’s neighbour Fitzrovia is another hidden gem, set on the western side of Tottenham Court Road. Once a rather bohemian area, Fitzrovia is now a charming, upscale neighbourhood in central London.

Fitzrovia is home to the offices of many of London’s top creative agencies in industries such as advertising, TV production and architecture.

Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Street is where you’ll find one of the highest concentrations of restaurants in central London, with everything from the elegant dining room of Charlotte Street Hotel to cosy little cafes and many traditional British pubs.

Plus, don’t miss the Fitzroy Tavern, the early-1900s meeting place of famous artists, intellectuals and bohemians, including the one and only George Orwell.

The BT Tower is Fitzrovia’s most iconic landmark, while Regents Park (home to London Zoo) is a short walk to the north and Oxford Street, the West End and Soho are all within walking distance to the south.

 

 

📍 Southbank

London Borough: Lambeth/Southwark.

Area of London known for: the London Eye and scenic walks down the River Thames.

South Bank and the London Eye

South Bank is the area that lines the south bank of the River Thames in central London – as the name suggests – and is one of the most popular places to visit in London amongst tourists.

The South Bank’s long riverside walkway gives you some of the best views along the Thames and takes you past many of the city’s top attractions:

  • The iconic London Eye
  • The Sea Life London Aquarium
  • The London Dungeons
  • Shrek’s Adventure! London
  • The Southbank Center Entertainment and Arts Complex
  • The National Theatre

Plus, keep your eye out for special events taking place throughout the year. There’s the Underbelly Festival each summer, with street food, open-air bars and free live entertainment, and the charming Southbank Winter Market over the festive period.

 

 

📍 Southwark

London Borough: Southwark.

Area of London known for: historic Borough market.

Borough Market London

A little further east along the south bank of the River Thames is the exciting London neighbourhood of Southwark, home to many of London’s major tourist attractions including:

But most importantly, Southwark is where you’ll find one of the largest and oldest food markets in London; the popular Borough Market.

The bustling market has over 100 stalls selling fresh produce, including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cheeses, bread and alcohol, as well as speciality traders from across the world. A foodies paradise in central London!

 

 

📍 City of London

London Borough: City of London (ceremonial county & district rather than a borough).

Area of London known for: its many towering skyscrapers.

Sky Garden London at night

The City of London is one of the most important districts in central London. It contains the capital’s historic centre and the primary central business district.

The City is London’s main financial district, home to both the Stock Exchange and the Bank of England. It’s also full of modern corporate skyscrapers which tower over the cobbled medieval streets and the ancient city walls below.

See London’s tallest and most iconic buildings, including:

  • 30 St Mary Axe – aka The Gherkin
  • 122 Leadenhall Street – aka The Cheesegrater
  • 20 Fenchurch Street – aka The Walkie Talkie
  • 110 Bishopsgate – aka The Heron Tower

Although a majority of the skyscrapers in the City are offices, several also feature luxurious sky-high restaurants with amazing views over the city skyline. Dinner and cocktails overlooking the capital as the sun sets is certainly one of the best things to do in London at night.

 

 

📍 Clerkenwell

London Borough: Islington.

Area of London known for: street food markets and traditional pubs.

Clerkenwell can be found just north of the high-rises of the City and is a residential and business district more regularly frequented by locals rather than visitors to the capital.

The main reason to visit Clerkenwell is for its fantastic street food markets. Cool little cafes and independent shops line pedestrianised Exmouth Market, while Leather Lane Market is a weekday hot spot with locals.

As well as its great foodie offering, the cobbled streets of historic Clerkenwell are filled with cosy traditional pubs packed with local office workers at the end of each day. A lovely spot to get a feel for real London beyond the tourist attractions.

 


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West London Neighbourhoods

📍 Notting Hill

London Borough: Kensington & Chelsea.

Area of London known for: its rows of colourful houses and Portobello Road market.

Portobello Road Notting Hill London

Between the 1999 film of the same name, its rows of colourful houses splattered all over Instagram and the notorious yearly Carnival, Notting Hill is one of the most well-known neighbourhoods in London.

The most popular thing to do in Notting Hill is to explore Portobello Road Market, the world’s largest antique market with over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectible.

If antiques aren’t your thing, there are still plenty of other stalls with the likes of tourist nicknacks, affordable clothes, fresh produce and hot food.

 

 

📍 South Kensington

London Borough: Kensington & Chelsea.

Area of London known for: its world-class museums.

Natural History Museum in South Kensington London

Any good London itinerary absolutely must include a visit to the high-end neighbourhood of South Kensington and its many cultural institutions.

Often referred to as London’s museum quarter, South Kensington is home to a number of London’s free world-class museums:

  • The Natural History Museum
  • The Science Museum
  • The V&A Museum

But the museums aren’t all this affluent area of London has to offer. South Kensington is one of London’s most desirable residential areas, with plenty of beautiful homes hidden down picture-perfect courtyards. And if it’s chic restaurants and pretty little cafes you’re looking for, Kensington’s the place to be.

 

 

📍 Knightsbridge

London Borough: Kensington & Chelsea/Westminster.

Area of London known for: Harrods department store and other high-end shops.

Harrods in Knightsbridge London

Just a short distance from South Kensington, Knightsbridge is an upscale residential area with grand Victorian homes surrounding luxurious private garden squares. This area is where you’ll find some of the most expensive houses and apartments in all of London.

Knightsbridge is also home to many luxury restaurants, cafes and shops, including the famous Harrods department store – self-proclaimed “world’s most famous department store” – and the Harvey Nichols flagship store.

While you’ll have to be flushed with cash to actually buy anything in Knightbridge, browsing the many high-end stores is always a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon in West London.

 

 

East London Neighbourhoods

📍 Shoreditch

London Borough: Hackney.

Area of London known for: colourful street art, vintage shops and vibrant nightlife.

Shoreditch London

Shoreditch is one of London’s coolest and most alternative neighbourhoods and is particularly popular with the capital’s young hipster crowd.

As well as the abundance of colourful street art which covers the entire neighbourhood, you’ll find many independent and vintage shops, cool little cafes, hip late-night bars and countless busy nightclubs. Shoreditch will never let you down for a great night out in London!

Some other things you can do in Shoreditch include:

  • Eating at the capital’s best curry houses on Brick Lane
  • Browsing the quirky crafts and fashion at Spitalfields Market
  • Spending Sunday morning perusing the florals of Colombia Road Flower Market

 

 

📍 Stratford

London Borough: Newham.

Area of London known for: The London Olympic Park.

Stratford is an area in east London that is best known for being home to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, built for the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Since the games, the Olympic Park has been transformed into an exciting sporting, entertainment and art hub, with free walking trails, outdoor art exhibitions, boat hire on the historic waterways and children’s play areas.

You can also climb to the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit observation tower then take the world’s longest tunnel slide back down. One of the most unique things you can do in London.

Right next door you’ll also find the large Westfield shopping center, one of the largest shopping complexes not only in London but in the entire UK. Westfield Stratford City has over 350 shops and restaurants, a 24-hour casino, a 20 screen cinema and three on-site hotels.

 

 

📍 Hackney Wick

London Borough: Hackney/Tower Hamlets.

Area of London known for: enjoying a drink by the canals.

Stratford London

Just a short walk away from the London Olympic Park is the East London hidden gem of Hackney Wick.

While the neighbourhood may look a little run-down at first glance, Hackney Wick is actually a hub of art and creativity in the capital.

Its got artist studios in former industrial spaces (it was once known for having more studios than anywhere else in Europe), coworking spaces filled with hip new start-ups, and many alternative theatre and music venues.

But the highlight of the area has to be the floating bars and craft breweries that line the River Lee Navigation canal. In particular, Barge East and The Milk Float where you can even hire kayaks and canoes to take out on the canals. One of my favourite places to be on a sunny afternoon in London.

 

 

📍 Canary Wharf

London Borough: Tower Hamlets.

Area of London known for: big business and high-rise buildings.

Canary Wharf is the second central business district of London (after the City of London) located on the Isle of Dogs in the east of the city. Much like the City, it is made up of towering skyscrapers belonging to some of the world’s largest companies.

As well as the impressive modern offices, there are also a number of shops and restaurants catering mainly towards the areas many office workers.

While the corporate jungle of Canary Wharf isn’t the most fascinating area in London for visitors, there are certainly a few fun hidden gems such as the Giant Robot street food mothership and Skuna Boats floating hot tubs.

 

 

📍 Greenwich

London Borough: Greenwich.

Area of London known for: its maritime heritage.

King William and Queen Mary Courts, Greenwich

Located in southeast London, the charming neighbourhood of Greenwich has so much to see and do that it makes for a great day out away from the city center.

Greenwich is known for its maritime history, with popular attractions such as:

  • The National Maritime Museum – learn about London’s nautical past
  • The Cutty Sark – the world’s last surviving tea clipper (ship) dating back to 1869
  • Old Royal Naval College – historic Royal Navy training offices and architectural masterpiece designed by Sir Christopher Wren

Greenwich Park is a large and peaceful green space and has fantastic views out across the city from the Royal Observatory which sits at its summit.

This is also where you’ll find the Greenwich meridian line – the historic Prime Meridian from which every other place in the world was measured in terms of its distance east or west and the home of Greenwich Mean Time.

To the north is the area of North Greenwich and London’s most popular music venue, the O2 Arena. You can also take a ride on the Emirates Air Line cable car which lets you soar across the Thames from the Greenwich Peninsula over to the Royal Docks, taking in amazing views across the London skyline.

 

 

North London Neighbourhoods

📍 Camden

London Borough: Camden.

Area of London known for: alternative Camden market.

Camden Market London Itinerary

Camden Town is one of the capital’s more bohemian areas and one of my favourite places to visit in London. The busy neighbourhood is home to an eclectic mix of markets, quirky shops, international restaurants and live music venues. It’s also the meeting point of many of the city’s more alternative subcultures.

Popular Camden Market, which consumes much of the area, is a sprawling indoor and outdoor market with over 1,000 stalls selling everything from clothes and homeware to food and alcohol.

Many of the market stalls and shops cater for the area’s unconventional clientele, with plenty of alternative fashion such as cybergoth, steampunk, grunge and even the more old school hippie.

 

 

📍 Kings Cross

London Borough: Camden/Islington.

Area of London known for: being a major transport hub.

Kings Cross is one of London’s major transport hubs, with King’s Cross station and Eurostar services from St. Pancras.

The area around the station was once a large industrial estate, however, over recent years it has undergone one of the largest and most exciting renovations of anywhere in London.

Now you’ll find modern offices housing tech giants such as Google and Facebook and the bustling Coal Drops Yard, home to many boutique shops, big brands, cool bars and trendy restaurants.

To the north, you’ll also find that Kings Cross is rich with outdoor spaces and activities. With many car-free public squares, open green spaces, scenic walks along the Regents Canals, community gardens and outdoor art installations.

 

 

📍 Islington

London Borough: Islington.

Area of London known for: diverse restaurant scene and live entertainment.

Islington is a chic and trendy north London neighbourhood, popular with creatives and young families who can still afford the ever-rising house prices.

If it’s a great food offering you’re looking for, Upper Street is the place to go. Running right through the very heart of Islington, Upper Street is one of the most restaurant-dense streets in all of London, with every style of cuisine you could possibly dream of. It also has many trendy cocktail bars, independent boutiques and quirky design stores.

Islington also has a fantastic offering when it comes to evening entertainment, with live music at the Union Chapel, West End shows at The Almeida Theatre and world-class dance performances at Sadler’s Wells.

 

 

📍 Highgate

London Borough: Camden/Islington/Haringey.

Area of London known for: its famous cemetery and famous residents.

Highgate is a charming and extremely affluent north London neighbourhood which will have you feeling like you’re no longer in the busy British capital at all.

Highgate Cemetary is London’s most famous graveyard, with some of the finest funerary architecture in the country as well as many famous residents.

Graves and tombs include those of German philosopher, political theorist and socialist revolutionary Karl Marx, painter Henry Moore, novelist George Eliot, actress Jean Simmons and, most recently, singer George Michael. You can visit the cemetery for just a small entry fee.

Talking of famous residents, Highgate is also an area that is popular with living celebrities too. Many of the elegant Georgian homes and Victorian gothic houses of Highgate are owned by famous faces such as Jude Law, Jamie Oliver and Sting.

It’s not uncommon to spot a celeb wandering down the street or enjoying a pint in their local watering hole.

 

 

South London Neighbourhoods

📍 Clapham

London Borough: Lambeth/Wandsworth.

Area of London known for: its young student and graduate population.

Clapham is a district of South London which can be roughly divided into four areas:

  • Clapham North
  • Clapham Old Town
  • Clapham South
  • Clapham Junction

All surrounding the large green space of Clapham Common.

Clapham is one of the most popular places to live in London among students, recent graduates, young ex-pats (especially Aussies) and families. Much cheaper than Kensington & Chelsea which sits just across the river but with great transport links into the city center, Clapham is still a fairly affluent and middle-class area.

You’ll find plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as an exciting nightlife scene with lively bars and busy nightclubs which are notoriously more affordable than those in central areas of London.

 

 

📍 Brixton

London Borough: Lambeth.

Area of London known for: its diverse food scene and nightlife.

Brixton is another residential area next to Clapham with a much more multicultural vibe.

The area’s Caribbean roots can be seen in the diverse foodie offering at the many restaurants, shops and street food markets.

For shopping, head to Pop Brixton which sits inside up-cycled shipping containers and is home to a number of local and independent community shops and businesses. Plus don’t forget to visit the many indie stores in Brixton Village.

The O2 Academy Brixton is a world-famous music venue that has attracted some big names from across the planet, while the area has plenty of other great nightlife venues where you can party away the night in true south London style.

 

More south London neighbourhoods to be added soon…

 

 

London Neighbourhoods Q&As

How many London boroughs are there?

There are 32 London boroughs. Each borough has numerous different neighbourhoods within it.

What is the nicest neighbourhood in London?

For pretty streets, picturesque green spaces, upmarket shops and restaurants and an all-around lovely atmosphere, head to areas such as Notting Hill, South Kensington, Holland Park and Chelsea in West London, or Bloomsbury, Islington, Primrose Hill, Hamstead and Highgate in the north of the capital.

What are the coolest neighbourhoods in London?

Some of London’s coolest neighbourhoods include Soho, Shoreditch, Hackney Wick, Dalston, Peckham and Brixton.

What are the safest London neighbourhoods?

Generally speaking, London is a pretty safe city no matter which area you visit.

The safest parts of London in terms of lower crime rates tend to be in the outermost suburbs of South and West London such as Richmond and Kingston-upon-Thames.

What is the best London neighbourhood for a night out?

  • Soho for its LGBTQ+ nightlife scene – everyone’s welcome!
  • Shoreditch for unique and quirky themed bars and clubs
  • Camden for live gigs and alternative music scene
  • Clapham to party with students, graduates and young professionals
  • Peckham for its low-key bohemian vibe

 

 


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Emily is a born and raised London girl, starting life in the north of the capital then moving down to Fulham in the south west. She has a masters degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London and now works as a freelance travel writer, digital marketer and VA, splitting her life between London and travelling the world.

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