When you visit London, you’ve got to visit Soho and Carnaby Street London in particular; best known amongst tourists for two key things – shopping and nightlife. It does a brilliant job in both departments. However, there’s another side to Carnaby Street London.
Soho, and especially Carnaby Street London, holds a very dear place in London’s heart as an iconic area with a very distinctive character. For much of the 20th century, Soho was home to London’s film, nightlife and sex industries. A time when late night clubs were found below film offices, and the streets were lit with red lights and sex shops. Today, it still holds its reputation for nightlife, alongside amazing restaurants, independent stores and as the thriving heart of London’s gay scene. There’s even a few sex shops that remain to pay homage to its history.
Soho and Carnaby Street London are also incredibly rich in cultural and live entertainment making it popular with tourists and locals alike. From staples like Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Bar to comedy nights at the Soho Theatre and big productions at the many West End theatres in the area. Shopping down Carnaby Street London is also a favourite pastime. If you prefer independent boutiques, just wander the streets of Soho and get a bit lost to find what you’re looking for, go to the top guide for more tips on shopping in London!
There’s something for everyone in this bustling and unique part of London.
Prepare your visit to Soho – Carnaby Street London
When to visit Soho – Carnaby Street London
If you’re visiting to take advantage of all the shopping in the Soho – Carnaby Street London, you should aim to arrive early to avoid the crowds. However, if you want to simply explore and soak up the buzzing atmosphere, evenings and weekends are the perfect time to visit.
How long is needed to visit Soho – Carnaby Street London
You’ll need at least 3-4 hours to explore the Soho area, especially if you’re intending to do some shopping. When you have a spare afternoon or evening, consider catching a show at one of the many West End theatres. Otherwise, find a cosy bar for a cocktail or two and enjoy the best of what Soho has to offer.
What should I wear to visit Soho – Carnaby Street London
If you’re ready to hit the shops in Soho, wear some comfortable layers. In the evenings, Soho really comes to life so be sure to wear something a little dressier if you plan to stay around for some dinner or drinks. Also, if you’re planning a trip to the theatre, evening wear is best.
What is there to see in Soho – Carnaby Street London
Soho’s shopping is brilliant and unique. The area is filled with stylish independent boutiques, hipster record shops and the famous Carnaby Street. So wander through the jumbled streets and you’re sure to stumble upon several hidden gems. If you head to the popular Carnaby Street London, you’ll find some high street favourites mixed with independent fashion boutiques. The stunning tudor-style Liberty building is also nearby, stocked with lovely, luxurious brands.
Theatres and cinema
Soho – Carnaby Street London is part of London’s lively West End. The area is known for its theatres and cinemas, of which Soho has plenty. The Prince Edward Theatre’s art deco interior is a must see, while the Prince Charles Cinema hosts regular fancy-dress and sing-a-long film sessions. The incredibly popular Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is also currently playing at the Palace Theatre.
Ronnie Scott’s jazz bar
Soho is home to Ronnie Scott’s – a legendary jazz bar venue that’s been around since 1959. This particular jazz bar is renowned as one of the greatest in the world. Many prestigious artists have played at Ronnie Scott’s including Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Dianne Reeves and Prince. If you walk up the historical staircase, you’ll also find a hidden 50’s speakeasy cocktail bar.
Where to stay in Carnaby Street London – Soho
This upmarket boutique has 96 individually designed rooms right in the heart of Soho – Carnaby Street. With an incredible location, paired back design and a casual vibe, it’s the perfect stay to enjoy a night out on the town.
This bright and funky hostel provides an affordable stay right in the heart of Soho – Carnaby Street. While you can choose from dorm rooms, twins or doubles, the real perk is the private hostel bar on the roof terrace!
The Hoxton Holborn
The Hoxton Holborn is a trendy hotel that’s loved by both tourists and locals. The vibrant common lounge area is a popular creative hub and the hotel also has its own excellent restaurant serving weekend brunch, and a specialty coffee shop on-site.
Things to do in Carnaby Street London – Soho
2-Hour Coffee Tasting Walking Tour of London Soho & Covent Garden
This 2 hour walking tour gives you an insiders look into finding the best coffee in Covent Garden and Soho. Visit popular coffee houses, sample coffees and also get tips on where to find the best brews in the city.
Pub Tour of London’s West End: Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden & Soho
On this guided 3-hour afternoon tour you’ll visit five historical pubs in London’s West End and sample different beers or ales in each one. You’ll learn about brewing traditions in the UK, explore Soho and surrounding areas and also hear the tales, trivia and history of London’s pub scene.
Soho’s Infamous Murders Walking Tour in London
Learn about famous, gruesome murderers like Dennis Nilsen, William Crees and the Blackout Ripper on this 2-hour walking tour of Soho. These small group tours are a great way to discover some of London’s darkest history. However, be warned – it’s not for the feint hearted!
How to get to Carnaby Street London – Soho
Access Carnaby Street London – Soho by air
Soho – Carnaby Street is easily accessible from London’s biggest airport – Heathrow, which you can reach on the Picadilly line in approximately 45 minutes.
Access Carnaby Street London – Soho by car
Street parking around Soho – Carnaby Street is rare and so it’s mostly reserved for permit holders. However, there are some paid car parks in the vicinity. For example, the NCP Car Park London Shaftesbury is the largest car park nearby.
Access Carnaby Street London – Soho by Train & Bus
Soho – Carnaby Street can be accessed via Oxford Circus, Picaddilly Circus and Leicester Square stations. Covent Garden and Tottenham Court Road stations are also just a short walk.
What to eat in Carnaby Street London – Soho
Barrafina Dean Street
This beloved tapas bar has a reputation for serving some of the best Spanish tapas in the country. These high-end dishes won’t disappoint, so don’t be put off by the queue.
Bob Bob Ricard
This fine dining restaurant has incredible food but it’s also famous for one very important thing – their ‘Press for champagne’ button at the tables.
This Sri Lankan gem is incredibly popular for its excellent quality and reasonable prices. So put your name on the waiting list and enjoy a drink over the road. It’s well worth the wait!