London’s Soho neighborhood is a vibrant center of arts, culture, shopping, theater, and nightlife. I think that it would be hard to visit London without stepping inside Soho – the small area is bursting with things to see and do. This is my guide of what to do in Soho, London.
I have stayed in Soho before, it is a convenient location close to the tube and within walking distance from many major attractions. If you do decide to stay in Soho, just be aware that it can be loud and rowdy.
What to do in Soho, London:
See a Show
London’s theater district is within Soho, and ticket prices for the theater are far less expensive than Broadway’s. I highly recommend seeing the two-part Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Visit Carnaby Street
This is one of the best places for shopping in London. The street is closed off to traffic and is home to a wide range of retailers and plenty of pubs. In the evenings the pubs are so crowded that people sipping pints are standing in the streets.
Shop at Liberty London
The flagship store is at the end of Carnaby Street and it has several floors of shopping. Liberty is famous for their floral patterned fabric but the store carries lots of other designer brands too.
Find the 7 Noses of Soho
Yup, this one is weird. Back in 1997 an artist stuck 35 of plaster noses on buildings around London to protest the “big brother is watching you” changes happening in London. Most of the noses were removed immediately, but seven remain. Searching for the seven noses makes for a fun scavenger hunt that takes you through Soho. You can definitely add this mission onto other sightseeing plans in the neighborhood.
Finding a couple of the noses was very difficult. I had thought that I would encounter other people searching for the noses, but it is a pretty obscure thing to do. When I was totally stumped I asked bartenders at pubs on the block where the nose was supposedly located, but they didn’t know where the noses where! They had only heard rumors about them. Lucky for me, the bartenders were excited by the prospect of finding the nose and offered as much help as they could give and I was successful in locating all seven noses. At one point five of us were searching Bateman Street!
The D’Arblay Street nose is next to impossible to find. I searched up and down the block several times – people probably thought that I was a crazy person! Just as I was telling someone that I had given up after an hour of searching and researching online, I glanced up and there it was. You want to look right under the sign for the Wardour Mews. Even with that major hint, it is still hard to find! (It is hiding under some white paint right now).
I do want to let you know that the nose on Bateman Street might be endangered. A construction crew was working on the building when I was there, and I chatted with them briefly since apparently someone walking up and taking a photo of a nose on the building caught their attention. They hadn’t even noticed the nose, and they didn’t know the story behind it. Hopefully it isn’t removed as part of whatever renovation they are working on.
If you decide to find the 7 Noses of Soho, make an afternoon of it! Stop for lunch or tea at the Dean Street Townhouse (3 of the 7 noses are within 3 blocks of the restaurant) and pop into a few pubs for a half pint. For me, stopping into pubs for a drink became necessary since the pubs have WiFi and I needed to do extra research to find some of the noses.
One last important piece of information regarding finding the 7 Noses of Soho – the walk will take you through seedy parts of Soho. One nose is beside a strip club, and you will walk by sex shops so you may not want to do this activity with children.
Chinatown isn’t technically in Soho, but it is next to Soho and therefore worth mentioning.
This massive bookstore hosts lots of events. It is a fun place to browse around and pick up a vacation read.
This is one of the best places in London to see live jazz. Many of the shows sell out so I recommend booking tickets in advance.
Soho Square Gardens
This small park in Soho is one of the neighborhood’s only parks, and it is filled with people lounging on sunny days. The buildings landmark is the market cross building that was built in 1926 to hide an above-ground electricity station.
Where to Eat in Soho:
Berwick Street Market
This food market has about a dozen different vendors selling everything from tacos to falafel, and is open during lunchtime.
I love this Peruvian restaurant, it’s a treat to try cuisine that is hard to find in Chicago, and everything I have tasted at both Ceviche and their sister restaurant Andina has been exceptionally delicious.
Bob Bob Ricard
This restaurant is famous for the “Press for Champagne” buttons at each table. Not so surprisingly, this restaurant serves more bubbly than any restaurant in Britain. The interior is chic and glamour without feeling too stuffy. This is a great place for just a drink or a full meal.
This courtyard tucked away off of Carnaby Street is filled with bars and restaurants. It is a lively place featuring a wide variety of different cuisines, I like the Greek spot called The Life Goddess.
I think that technically Bombay Bustle is half a block outside Soho, but this place is so delightful and it is so close to Soho that I am including it here. This Indian restaurant has elegant decor inspired by railcars and the menu features Mumbai’s most loved dishes. We loved this place and we were able to secure a same day reservation on Open Table. Often time Indian restaurants are lacking in atmosphere, but this restaurant is beautiful.
Dean Street Townhouse
This restaurant beside Soho House is open to the public and they serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. The space is formal but the atmosphere is casual. The cuisine has a mix of British classics and trendy options. It’s a popular spot so I recommend making a reservation.
A modern Israeli restaurant and one of my favorite London eateries. The menu has classics like baba ganoush and handmade pitas along with more adventurous items like balsamic glazed chicken livers with artichoke cream. This restaurant is small, and you will want to make a reservation.
I love this Vietnamese restaurant just outside the gates to Chinatown. We went last winter and joined my cousins and ordered tons of food, enjoyed everything, and ate more than we should have.
Dishoom is one of the most popular Indian restaurants in London. They have multiple locations, including one at Carnaby. They only take a limited number of reservations, and they only take reservations for 6 or more for dinner. I recommend going for breakfast so you won’t have to wait in line.
This restaurant is in a prime location for pre or post theater dining. They have a great list of classic cocktails and they serve everything from shellfish to pasta – and on Sunday’s they have Sunday Roast.
I haven’t made it to this Mediterranean restaurant yet, but it has been recommended to me several times. The Soho location has a pre-theater menu, in addition to serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu it loaded with vegetarian options along with some fish and meats.
A little gelato shop with creative flavors. Perfect for a mid-day pick me up or a post dinner treat.
Where to Drink in Soho:
Cahoots is a speakeasy located in an old Underground Station and it is just so much fun! The old signage and even the old “Mind the Gap” lettering remains.
One seating area is located in an old underground car. The authentic details that remain from the space’s time as a tube station make it feel like a real speakeasy.
The Dog and the Duck
A classic pub that was built in 1734 and was visited by historical figures like George Orwell. The menu has all the British classics too.
This pub is right on the main stretch of Carnaby Street and it is fun to grab a table outside and peoplewatch.
The Village is one of the oldest gay bars in Soho, and I might have had a wild night there in the past. Let’s just say that Charles was overwhelmed by the experience.
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