London's Soho lit up neon blue at night
Ian Packham

Top things to do in Soho London

Some may still remember Soho’s seedy past, but tucked in between Mayfair and Covent Garden this part of west London has once again found its stride as a fashionable and upmarket place to be. Whilst it may not have the historic attractions of other neighborhoods, no one can say there aren’t things to do in Soho London!

It’s an area that’s actually something of a rare find – a part of London where locals and visitors rub shoulder to shoulder without distinction. Packed full of bars and nightspots, it also has shopping on Regent’s Street and the theaters of the West End to help maintain its stance as the capital’s entertainment hub.

But amongst the rainbow flags and shopfronts of everyone-is-welcome Soho, you’ll also discover an array of galleries and restaurants. What are the best things to do? Keep reading to find out all you’ll ever need to know with this guide to London’s Soho.

Must-visit shops

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The western bounds of Soho are delineated by Regent’s Street and its northern bounds by Oxford Street – two of London’s most famous and most important shopping thoroughfares. Running for almost two kilometers, Oxford Street is dominated by flagship stores for the country’s big names and department stores including Selfridges’ five floors of delights.

Regent’s Street has a slightly more genteel air thanks to its mix of high-end fashion boutiques and Hamleys – the world’s oldest and biggest dedicated toy shop, with a range that spans 50,000 items. For contrast, drift into Carnaby Street, which was the center of fashion during the swinging sixties and continues to go its own way with its selection of independently-owned stores.

Between the two, on Great Marlborough Street, is the mock Tudor edifice of Liberty London. A department store with a difference, Liberty highlights bold handcrafted designs from smaller workshops and artists. Known for its floral prints, it has previously championed everyone from arts and crafts designer William Morris to the creator of the punk look Vivienne Westwood.

Soho theaters and shows

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Following Regent’s Street round to its natural end at the Statue of Eros on Piccadilly Circus will bring you to Shaftesbury Avenue. Otherwise known as the West End, it’s where many of London’s major theatres are located, including the London Palladium, Gielgud and Lyric.

Seen as the pinnacle of performances alongside New York’s Broadway, its theaters are a favorite with movie stars. Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Ian McKellen and Benedict ‘Sherlock’ Cumberbatch have all played to packed out audiences in recent years. Shows range from productions of Chekov and reinventions of Shakespeare to the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer behind The Phantom of the Opera and Cats.

If sitting down in one place for two hours leaves you cold, you don’t need to look further than the Crystal Maze Live Experience, recreating the television game show with its four zones and four different challenge types teams must take on.

Soho’s top nightspots

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It’s nightspots like G-A-Y and Ronnie Scott’s that take much of the attention, but Soho London nightlife also includes traditional British pubs and semi-secret cocktail bars, ensuring there really is something for everyone – including teetotalers thanks to some choice late night coffee bars.

G-A-Y is just one of a clutch of LGBTQ+ venues dotted around Old Compton Street, creating a hub for queer individuals and their allies, alongside the original branch of Patisserie Valerie – a demonstration of just how diverse Soho can be.

When it comes to live music, one of the best places to head is Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, which has played host to some of the legends of jazz and blues including Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix and Jamie Cullum. Spice of Life and Ain’t Nothing But Blues have similar vibes.

Galleries in Soho

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Although just a stone’s throw from the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square and Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly, you don’t even have to leave the area for artistic things to do in Soho London.

The first private art space created for nothing but life through a lens, The Photographers’ Gallery has a pedigree which dates back to 1971. During that time it has brought new international artists to British audiences whilst also supporting homegrown photography talent, bringing the very best imagery of the moment to the streets of Soho.

The main space of Frith Street Gallery on Golden Square has developed such a reputation for its exhibitions of painting, sculpture and installation art that the artists it represents are entering the permanent collections of museums globally.

But if it’s moving images that capture your attention, the Curzon Soho Cinema provides an escapist’s delight, with some of the largest screens in London to watch the latest Oscar contenders.

Places to eat in Soho

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Dine at each of our favorite places to eat in Soho and you’re either going to need a longer vacation or a larger stomach. Or possibly both. Trustworthy places to spend your hard-won cash include the flavors of Bombay of Dishoom’s Carnaby outlet and modern British cuisine of Bill’s Soho.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s NOPI is one of a host of restaurants where it’s easy to impress and be impressed, with a menu comprising Middle Eastern and Asian-inspired dishes. Korean, Italian and pan-European meals all vie for attention just a few steps away.

However, it’s Quo Vardis that takes the crown for staying power in a part of the capital where restaurants can seem as if they come and go with the seasons. First opening its doors in 1926, before that it was the home of Karl Marx, who now resides in Highgate Cemetery.

The best things to do in Soho London

Filled with entertaining ways to spend a morning, afternoon or evening, there are lots of worthwhile things to do in Soho London. Helpfully located not all that far from other attractions including the Household Cavalry Museum and Westminster Pier – for Thames sightseeing cruises – there’s really very little reason not to pay the area a visit as part of your travels with Go City!

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