Featured image credit: Greg Hawthorne photography
Soho is one of the most vibrant and exciting neighborhoods in London. From street art to theater shows, from shops to eateries and pubs, there is truly something for everyone. Soho is located in Central London, on the West End, covering just over one square mile, making it perfectly accessible and easy to explore on foot.
Whether you are a tourist visiting London for the first time or a local looking for something to do, we've compiled a list of the top things to see and do in this trendy neighborhood.
There are several London Soho walking tours you can book online, but the neighborhood is small enough to explore on your own. You can confidently pick one of the winding streets and find real gems, including graffiti art, quirky shops, strip clubs, and restaurants. Some of the best boutiques and vintage stores can be found on Carnaby Street and Berwick Street.
The Seven Noses refer to a series of sculptures of the artist's nose created by artist Rick Buckley. You can find these sculptures throughout the neighborhood, and they were designed to draw attention to overlooked architecture and details of the neighborhood.
See if you can sniff them out in Admiralty Arch, Bateman Street, Dean Street, Meard Street, Endell Street, Great Windmill Street, and D'Arbly Street. Be warned: they aren't easy to spot!
Soho is home to a large Chinese community. Chinatown, Soho, offers delicious food, herbalist shops, and regular markets where you can buy everything from traditional clothing to teas and medicines.
If you are lucky enough to visit London in February, you can enjoy the colorful parades and dragon dances as the community rings in the New Year. Take some time to see the historical and cultural landmarks, including the Chinese arch at the entrance of the small neighborhood.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to entertainment. Prince Charles Cinema, just north of Leicester Square, shows classic and modern movies, cult films, and arthouse productions all year round. There are also plenty of special events, including sing-alongs and quote-alongs, to keep you entertained.
If that doesn't strike your fancy, you can spot the Prince Edward Theatre, which is an easy walking distance from Leicester square as well. You can see some of the best productions the West End has to offer, including plays and musicals like Mamma Mia! and The Book of Mormon.
The theater building itself is Grade II listed and features opulent decor you won't want to miss, but if your favorite show is sold out, you can choose any one of the many theaters along Shaftesbury Avenue. There's the Palace Theatre, the Apollo Theatre, and the Gielgud, to name a few.
You may not know this, but Soho served as inspiration for Diagon Alley, a fictional shopping street in the Harry Potter series. The exterior of the Leaky Cauldron pub in the Harry Potter movies was filmed on Greek Street in Soho.
There are regular Harry Potter tours that move through Soho, but you can also get your Potter fix at The House of Minamalina, a store run by graphic artists that focus heavily on Harry Potter. The store features a few pieces borrowed from Warner Bros Studios as well.
The Photographer's Gallery in Soho was the first of its kind in London when it opened its doors in 1971. It features work from local and international photographers across a full six stories. There are regular classes as well as a bookstore and a café where you can relax and reflect.
Soho has always been synonymous with the arts, so it's no surprise that some famous writers and musicians were born or lived here. William Blake was born on Broadwick Street in 1757, when it was known as Broad Street, and held several (unsuccessful) exhibitions there.
Karl Marx lived on Dean Street when he immigrated to England in 1849. Today, the building is home to the luxurious Quo Vadis restaurant. Dean Street was also one of the most popular haunts for historical figures like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Charles Dickens.
There is no shortage of eateries, cocktail bars, and restaurants in Soho. Try Bar Termini on Old Compton street for Italian cocktails, the French House bistro on Dean Street, the Bar at the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane, the Groucho Club, or the Soho Hotel on Richmond Mews.
Carnaby Street has a dark history. It was used to house Plague victims in the 1600s. Fortunately, today this street is closely associated with a far happier time: the 1960s. Paul McCartney of the Beatles met his wife in one of the nightclubs, while Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones, and Elizabeth Taylor all spent their evenings in the bars and restaurants in their heyday.
For a truly authentic experience, head to one of the many vinyl stores in Soho, including Sounds of the Universe, Phonica Records, and Sister Ray.
Speaking of shopping, don't forget to head to Oxford Street. You'll find department stores, luxury brands, high-street shops, and vintage gems right alongside each other for you to peruse. It's also a popular spot for street performers, including magicians and musicians.
If you get tired of shopping or run out of cash, you can take advantage of London's excellent metro system or head to nearby attractions, like Regent and Bond Street, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square.
There's no better place to while away the hours than Soho Square. There are public table tennis and chess tables you can use, and concerts and events are held throughout the year.
If you want to get your fill of history, you can visit important sites like the statue of King Charles II, St Patrick's, and St Anne's church. If all else fails, spend the day people-watching with a refreshing drink at one of the bars or restaurants.
This world-famous neighborhood offers plenty of fun things for you to do (and plenty of unusual things to see).