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8 Must-See London Neighborhoods and How to Visit

Where to experience the city’s hidden gems.
Hi, I'm Jade!

Jade is a writer with a passion for travel, drag queens, and baked goods. Her happy place is South America, but when she's not exploring the world, she enjoys cooking and reading Gothic novels in her London flat.

There’s much more to London than Southbank and Shoreditch—just a short ride from the capital’s center, you’ll find neighborhoods so distinct that you’ll feel like you’re in a different city entirely. Each point of London’s compass has its own unique personality—east is famous for street art and hipsters; south for Caribbean culture and leafy parks; north for historic monuments and grand architecture; and west for its world-class museums and for being home to London’s rich and famous. So whether you’re looking for food, fashion, architecture, or art, you can find it in the city’s bright and bustling boroughs.

1. Hackney

People walk and cycle on a street in Hackney in London.
Take to the streets of Hackney for culture and cuisine.Photo Credit: / Shutterstock

Canals, coffee shops, and cutting-edge cuisine.

Universally hailed as the hipster capital of London, Hackney has undergone a radical transformation in the past decade. Leafy streets dotted with quirky bars and coffee shops characterize this bohemian borough, where the capital’s creatives gather in converted warehouse studios, art galleries, and vintage stores. It’s also home to some of London’s most cutting-edge restaurants, and has seen an influx of Michelin stars and craft beer breweries in the past several years. Immerse yourself in Hackney’s artistic vibe on a street art tour.

2. Brixton

A food market in Brixton in London, filled with people.
Brixton has its own unique vibe.Photo Credit: ElenaChaykinaPhotography / Shutterstock

Where London’s Caribbean spirit thrives.

Brixton dances to a rhythm all of its own. As soon as you step out of the tube station, you’re likely to be greeted by the sound of steel drums and the enticing scent of jerk chicken wafting over from street-food stalls in Brixton Market. Sample food from around the globe at Brixton Village; catch a live gig at Brixton Academy; and go on a walking tour to delve deeper into the neighborhood’s rich Caribbean culture.

3. Kings Cross

Bars and restaurants in a thriving part of Kings Cross in London.
There's more to Kings Cross than its train station.Photo Credit: Octus_Photography / Shutterstock

Industrial wasteland turned cultural hot spot.

There’s so much more to Kings Cross than Platform 9¾. The former industrial area is now a thriving cultural hub, home to Granary Square—where you’ll find outdoor art installations and choreographed fountains—and Coal Drops Yard, a super-chic food and shopping district. Plus, a wander down the tranquil Regent’s Canal makes you feel a million miles away from the center of London—don’t miss the floating bookshop at the start of the canal path.

4. Soho

A gate to London's Chinatown in Soho.
Soho's history runs deep.Photo Credit: William Barton / Shutterstock

Glitz, glamor, and gastronomy abound in this central spot.

Whether you’re basking in the neon glow of the theater district, bopping to bangers in the LGBTQ+ bars of Old Compton Street, sampling refined small plates off Soho Square, or wandering beneath the red lanterns of Chinatown, Soho is guaranteed to delight and intrigue you in equal measure. With its hidden alleys and colorful history, there’s much more to Soho than meets the eye.

5. Notting Hill

Colorful buildings on a Notting Hill street in London.
Notting Hill is home to colorful weekend markets.Photo Credit: QQ7 / Shutterstock

Pastel-colored houses and a world-famous market.

Birthplace of London institutions such as Notting Hill Carnival and Portobello Market, this west London gem is as arty as it is affluent. Though immortalized by the 1999 rom-com of the same name, the neighborhood has a rich musical heritage and a smattering of stylish brunch and cocktail spots. Spend the day browsing antique shops and snapping social-media worthy shots outside of brightly colored houses.

6. London Bridge and Borough

Shoppers explore Borough Market in London.
Borough Market is home to lots of food stalls.Photo Credit: Viator

Renowned buildings and bites.

Forever famous for its eponymous bridge, London Bridge is also home to some of London’s top attractions. Foodies flock to Borough Market, while architecture buffs gawk at the futuristic City Hall and the Shard, which is also home to London’s highest observation deck. You’ll also find the spine-chilling London Dungeon, a great pick for families, and the grand Southwark Cathedral, one of London’s oldest churches.

7. Crouch End

Highgate Cemetery in Crouch End in London.
Highgate Cemetery is where Karl Marx and others are buried.Photo Credit: Studio Eggy / Shutterstock

A treasure in Haringey.

Tucked away in the leafy borough of Haringey, Crouch End is one of London’s best-kept secrets, with a village feel that sets it apart from the rest of the bustling metropolis. It’s presided over by a landmark 19th-century clock tower, and is full of thrift stores, book shops, artisan cafés, and independent cinemas. The neighborhood’s northwest London location means you can easily combine it with a trip to Highgate Cemetery, the final resting place of Karl Marx and countless other artists, musicians, and writers.

8. Elephant and Castle

Art in the park in Elephant and Castle in London.
Look for outdoor artworks in the Elephant and Castle area.Photo Credit: Cristian M Balate / Shutterstock

An eclectic mix of culture and history.

Best known for the enormous roundabout at its core, the bizarrely named Elephant and Castle has enjoyed a cultural metamorphosis. Outdoor art installations abound in Elephant Park, home to different representations of the majestic mammals, while Mercato Metropolitano, specializing in Italian food, is one of London’s biggest and best street-food spots. Just down the road toward Waterloo, you’ll find the enormous Imperial War Museum, which documents Britain’s military heritage.

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