From the punk-rockers of Camden Town to the chic fashionistas of Notting Hill, or the vibrant Bangladeshi communities of Brick Lane, few cities are as cosmopolitan and eclectic as the British capital, and London’s diverse neighborhoods have all boxes checked. If you’re looking to explore further than Buckingham Palace and the bright lights of the West End, head out of central London and check out some of these popular haunts.
With its affluent neighborhoods (Mayfair, Kensington and Chelsea top the list of London’s most expensive postcodes) and idyllic green spaces (Richmond Park and Kew Gardens are both popular choices), West London is one of the most picturesque areas of London. Head to Notting Hill, made famous by the Hugh Grant film of the same name; hit the shops in Knightsbridge, home to mega-store Harrods; scour the stalls at the world-renowned Portobello market; or relax in a historic riverside pub in Chiswick or Barnes.
Despite being revamped for the 2012 Olympics (the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park now covers over 560 acres of Stratford), throughout history, London’s East End has notoriously been the home of the working class, the birthplace of Cockney Rhyming slang and the stomping ground of London’s criminal gangs. Thankfully today, areas like Shoreditch, Whitechapel and Hackney are more likely to house hipsters and artists than gangsters, and the East is known instead for its creative vibe and unique blend of ethnicities. Take a walking tour or a food tour of the East End, tucking into a curry on the famous Brick Lane and strolling around Spitalfields market; pedal from the City business district to the City Walls of Aldgate and the historic docklands on a bike tour of East London; or follow in the footsteps of the East End’s infamous serial killer on a spooky Jack the Ripper walking tour.
Most visitors venturing south of the Thames head to the riverside borough of Greenwich, where boat cruises or cycling tours are a popular way to take in sights like the landmark Cutty Sark tea clipper, the Royal Observatory, the maritime museum and Greenwich park. Alternatively, check out South London’s markets with a trip to Brixton Market or the legendary Borough Market, known for serving up some of the best artisan foods in the capital.
Central & North London
With world-class shopping around Oxford Street and Covent Garden, the bustling nightlife of Soho and Leicester Square and the Thames riverfront lined with attractions like Big Ben, the Tower of London and the London Eye, it’s no surprise that central London is the focal point of most tourist itineraries. For a change of pace, head north of the center to Camden Town to discover the colorful weekend markets and lively rock music scene, or enjoy the breathtaking views from Primrose Hill or Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath.