Are you looking for things to do in Soho? From wandering Carnaby Street to shopping on Regent and Oxford Street (and grabbing a meal in Chinatown), here’s the best things to do in this lively bit of Central London — from a Londoner.
If you’re looking to live your best London life for a day, Soho is the place to do it.
Smack in the middle of Central London and you’ll find the wonderful Soho, swimming with culture and waiting for you to explore it all.
With the taste of Chinatown right on its doorstep, a spirited LGBTQ+ scene, marvelous galleries to wander, bookshops to ponder, and numerous stores where you shop can till your arms get sore, Soho has it all.
So, without further ado, here are the best things to do in Soho, London.
The Best Things to Do in Soho, London
1. See a West End Show
London’s West End. The epitome of glitz and glamour with theatres around every corner — and behind the doors, unbelievable talent and one-of-a-kind voices just waiting to be shared with the world.
If you’re looking to catch a show in one of the most iconic theatres in London, head to Shaftesbury Avenue. With six of the most famous theatres, The Apollo Theatre, Gielgud Theatre, Lyric Theatre, Palace Theatre, Sondheim Theatre, and the Shaftsbury Theatre, you can’t go wrong with whichever you decide.
Although seeing a show at one of the larger and more well-known theatres is part of the draw, the West End also has a myriad of smaller theatres showing their own spectacular shows.
Places like the Arts Theatre, Fortune Theatre, and Ambassadors Theatre all have less than 500 seats, perfect if you’re looking for a more intimate experience.
You’re probably wondering, ‘umm well that’s great information, but how much is a show going to run me?’
Surprisingly not much! Tickets for a West End show can range anywhere from £15 on the cheaper side to £150 on the more expensive end. It all really depends on when you plan to go and where you want to sit.
But what good would I be if I didn’t also recommend ways to get cheaper tickets?
If you book your tickets through sites such as TodayTix, you can find tickets for the most popular shows for more than 50% off, with some starting at just £15.
The process is quite simple as well, just go to the TodayTix website, choose the show you want to see, select your seat, pay, and you’re all done!
Keep in mind if you’re going with a group, finding last-minute seats together might be a bit of a challenge on budget sites, but if you don’t mind sitting apart, this is definitely the way to go.
You can also book directly through the London Theatre Website, but these tickets will be more expensive.
P.S. – If you’re looking to see a classic, The Lion King has been running at the Lyceum Theatre since 1999, and still one of London’s most anticipated shows.
2. Explore the LGBTQ+ scene
For as long as London has had history, Soho has had a buzzing LGBTQ+ scene. But even though the community is known for its acceptance of everyone, historically, the world has not felt the same way.
Soho was a haven for the gay community in 20th century, but many of the entrances to their clubs were hidden down alleyways, like that of the Caravan Club.
The front door of this historical landmark can still be found down the narrow alleyway off Endwell Street.
Throughout the roaring 20s and even during the depression of the 30s, Soho continued to see a lively club scene, with a handful of gay-friendly cafes, which despite often being shut down, always opened a new right around the corner where the festivities would continue.
After WWII, Soho began to thrive once more, leaning all the way into the sex, drugs, and rock and roll motto that had taken over the global youth.
People could once more return to the neighbourhood, and in 1981 the first mainstream LGBTQ+ bar opened — Madame Jojos, by Paul Raymond.
And good news! The renowned bar is set to reopen this year, after having to close back in 2014.
It will rejoin the still thriving LGBTQ+ scene in Soho alongside gay venues like Ku Bar & Club, G-A-Y, She Soho, Comptons of Soho, and many more.
In the early summer every year, Soho also holds a ton of events as part of London Pride, and will often have pub discounts making it even more the perfect place to celebrate LGBTQ+ joy after the parade, (and all the time).
3. Roam Carnaby Street
As one of the smallest pedestrian-only streets in London, Carnaby Street is packed full of things to do.
Famous for the swinging 60’s the area burst into life, nurturing the rebellion of identity, music, and art, attracting creative youngsters from all over London seeking inspiration.
Strolling the street at the height of its history, the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and even The Beatles could be found regularly hanging out in the area relaxing at a pub, eating out at a restaurant, or just vibing like everyone else.
Today the street continues to carry its historic charm through street art on the sides of its buildings, lots of stores to do some shopping, and around the holidays, curates a sensational lights display often celebrating parts of its heritage or work Carnaby is doing to aid the future of London.
4. Shop Til You Drop at Liberty
There’s six floors of luxury to be found at Liberty, and it’s sure to leave you feeling boujee in London.
Would you believe me if I said the founder Arthur Lasenby, began the store with only £2000? It’s true! And shocking considering that could very easily be the price tag of an item from within the store.
Of course, it was 1875, so £2000 meant a little something different than it would today, but still, crazy!
Today, the store is listed as a heritage site and provides a posh and lovely shopping experience.
With their own in-house studio, you’ll be able to find designer dresses, new suits, and other clothing designed by the Liberty designers.
Or you can treat yourself to a stylish new JW Anderson bag, Gucci Sunglasses, a sparkling earring set, or that fancy new necklace you’ve been pining for.
P.S. – You have to check out their candle section — they smell SO good!
5. Hang Out in Soho Square
One of the best qualities of London is that even in the most building-centric bits of the city, you’ll be able to find a public green space.
Going back as far as the 1680’s Soho Square is what remains of Soho Fields, with small gardens adding pops of colour throughout.
Right next to Oxford Street it’s perfect for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle. Whether you’re taking a breather, reading a book or enjoying a picnic, all while still being close to the center of it all.
In summer, this square is a hot spot full of good vibes — with friends spending quality time together, lots of laughing (and drinking), dogs running about, and even some folks attempting to get a tan while doing the city version of sunbathing!
6. Have a Soho Brunch
No day out in London is complete without stopping somewhere for a bite to eat, and when that bite is brunch, your day is guaranteed to be great.
Alongside some great dinner and lunch restaurants, Soho is known for its brunch scene.
Scarlett Green somehow seamlessly combines Australian, Mediterranean, and Asian to make the best brunch dishes, and a stop at Balans Soho, No.34 for their pancake stacks will fill you right up.
Petit Dejeuner also has a great Full English, and is the perfect place to go before or after the aforementioned West End show!
These are just a couple of great spots, but if you still aren’t sure check out my Brunch’in in Soho blog post for more great places to stop by!
7. Discover Soho’s Hidden Gem — Kingly Court
Tucked away just behind Carnaby Street is is the hidden gem of Soho, Kingly Court.
Imagine this, a three story open air oasis with countless places to eat. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like heaven to me.
There are 21 different food spots with numerous cuisine options, and if you fancy being transported to different city without having to leave London — classic NYC comfort food can be found at Dirty Bones.
If you’re instead looking for a place to have a few drinks, Disrepute is a must. Tying in the 60’s culture that Carnaby is framed around, you can relive the feeling of that decade while sipping on avant-garde cocktails.
Although it’s arguably better in summer, the court closes off all openings to the outside so it can stay open (and warm) year-round — bringing a delicately curated and one-of-a-kind experience to visitors and Londoners alike.
P.S. – The venue is open from 6:00am – 11:00pm, seven days a week.
8. Peek at 76 Dean Street
76 Dean Street is part of the elusive Soho House, but also home to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s famous first date, where he was late!
In fact, have you read Spare yet? I did and spoiler…it’s juicy.
Although you do have to be a Soho House member to gain entry inside, if you know someone you can visit as their guest.
If you do manage your way inside, the ambience will give you old luxury vibes and is only enhanced by fantastic food and drinks.
Either way, it is yet another stunning London townhouse to adore!
9. Go to The Photographer’s Gallery
Over the years, London has grown to have one of the largest populations of galleries out of any city, but it was only just 1971 that Sue Davies opened The Photographers Gallery.
You’re probably wondering okay…and…?
But what makes this gallery special is that it was the first gallery in the entire UK dedicated to just photography!
Since its opening, it has evolved into a collaborative space offering classes on how to pursue a creative career and workshops.
‘Folio Fridays’ are a big hit amongst the photographer community, an initiative where they can come and have their personal portfolio reviewed.
Impressive exhibitions are always on display, and tickets can be booked on their website.
Walk ins are welcome, but tickets are almost 50% cheaper when you pre-book!
P.S. – Entry to the exhibition is free to everyone Fridays after 5pm!
10. Catch a Film at Prince Charles Cinema
Looking for something a little different than a play or musical, but still want see a show in the West End? Why not catch a movie?
Nestled right amongst all the other West End theatres, you’ll find Prince Charles Cinema. The last independent theatre in the area, but one of the most popular in the entire UK, and it doesn’t take long to see why.
The cinema shows all genres of films attracting a wide crowd of film lovers and movies filmed in both 35mm, and 70mm for film aficionados.
This is by far one of the best things to do in Soho, so time get out your popcorn!
P.S. – Tickets can be booked on their website for £14.00.
11. Smell the Seven Noses of Soho
Okay, so you can’t actually smell these noses, but finding them can be a fun addition to your day out in Soho.
Born out of a protest against CCTV cameras popping up around London in the 90’s, artist Rick Buckley decided to blow back — haha see what I did there.. because you blow your nose…anyway…
Making multiple models of his own nose, Buckley went out on the streets of London with a bottle of strong hold glue and plastered 35 copies of his nose on various London landmarks.
Even though it was all done very quietly, the majority were found and removed, but some still remain around Soho, and legend says if you find all seven you will be granted great wealth!
So, can you sniff out all seven?
12. Read (or work) at Foyles Bookshop
Alongside all the wonderful independent bookshops you can find in London, if you’re looking for something with a bit more of a Barnes & Nobels feel while visting the capital, Foyles is the place to go.
Their flagship store is located, you guessed it — right here in Soho.
On Charing Cross Road this shop has 5 levels filled with thousands of different books right at your fingertips.
Not only do they have books, but the on the second level you’ll find all sorts of vinyls, sheet music and a bounty of jazz CDs and other DVDs.
It only gets more exciting as you ascend up the stairs with level four being the language wing, and all the way at the top, level 5 is a popping cafe with uni students coming to study, professionals coming to work, and bookworms coming to enjoy a warm coffee while catching up on their current read.
P.S. – If you’re really keen to get work done while in central check out my reel where I share all the best places!
Read More: 25+ Best Cafes to Work in London (from a Londoner)
13. Have a Jazz Night at Ronnie Scotts
If you choose to spend an evening at Ronnie Scotts, you’ll be part of history, as they’re one of the oldest Jazz clubs in the world!
Opening in 1959, they have hosted some of the most well known jazz musicians and continue to provide one of the greatest audience experiences. With the dark wood fixtures, small table lights and deep red furnishing this club will transport you right into an old movie.
Tickets do need to be booked in advance, and can be done so on their website, or by calling the box office, which operates Monday – Friday 10:30am – 5:00pm.
Prices for tickets will vary depending on where you choose to sit, but usually can always be purchased in the £35 – £55 range.
P.S. – Ronnie Scotts not sounding like your jam? Check out my post on the Best Jazz Bars in London for more recs!
14. And a Karaoke Night at Lucky Voice Soho
I know karaoke can sometime get a bad rap, but I promise you Lucky Voice Soho is making it fun.
With private rooms to book, and over 11,000 songs to pick from, you can sing the night away (and by night I mean two hours) with just your friends.
If you’re looking for something a little larger, the rooms can hold up to 30 people — so time for a Soho party perhaps?
The pricing for a private room starts at only £8pp, with a bar, dance floor, and DJ’s all weekend, so your night doesn’t have to end once your time in the booked room expires.
P.S. – Did I mention they also have a stellar pizza menu?
15. Record Shopping at Sounds of the Universe
With possibly the largest collection of records in the UK, a stop at Sounds of the Universe is a must.
Its door is on the corner of two streets, and with a handwritten chalk sign out front and albums lining the windows, the whole aesthetic is straight out of an old music video.
Vinyls are shipped in from a handful of countries like Japan, Brazil, the US, Jamaica and more from within Europe, you’re sure to find some of the best records out there.
They are also on the ball when it comes to new releases, constantly updating the in store collection.
Even if you aren’t looking for a record, you can wander through their CD or book sections and pick up a new find there, perfect for a day out in Soho.
16. Covent Garden
When someone says Covent Garden there’s no shame if the first thing that comes to mind in the Piazza, but there’s so much more to get up to in this chic neighbourhood as well.
First, a little walk through time. Before infrastructure, in 1200 when it was still just open fields, it was known as “the garden of the Abbey and Convent” due to being under ownership of Westminster Abbey.
A couple centuries later in 1540, the property was passed onto the 1st Earl of Bedford, and a couple hundred years after that in 1630, the 5th Earl of Bedford commissioned an architect to build the Piazza and thus was created the first public square in the country.
Through history it has always been a market, from selling fruits and vegetables to Londoners to becoming one of the most prolific modern shopping centres in Europe since the 1980s.
The neighbourhood however, spans through nine streets of London, and with the stunning brick buildings, gardens sprinkled throughout, and shops around every corner, it’s one of the best areas to spend an afternoon getting lost in London.
As part of the West End as well, Covent Garden has its own bit of love for the stage — being known since the 19th century as a hub of high class and home to both The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet.
P.S. – Tickets start at just £5, and can be booked for the opera and ballet right on the The Royal Opera house website.
Read More: 25+ Best Things to Do in Covent Garden
17. Oxford & Regent Street
When in Soho, it’s pretty hard to miss Oxford & Regent Street. And as arguably the two most famous streets in London, you have to make your way down to see them.
You might however, spend a pretty penny while on Oxford Street with shops like Zara, Selfridges, and I don’t know about you but upon stepping into Primark I can already hear the money leaving my account.
At the famous intersection, Oxford Circus, you can turn onto Regent Street.
Regent Street puts the class in classic, with high end shops like Burberry, Penhaligons, and the incredible Hamleys toy store.
Its iconic curve adds a charm to admire, giving a beautiful introduction to Piccadilly. That however, is another famous street for another day.
One of the best times to visit either street, is for sure during the holiday season.
They’re both illuminated with two of the most stunning holiday lights displays, and nothing gets me more in the holiday spirit than admiring the iconic the Regent Street Angels.
Read More: 23 Uber Famous Streets in London You Can’t Miss (+Map!)
Chinatown, my favourite bit of London.
In fact, I think ‘There’s Gerrard Street selling every dumpling and noodle known to man’ is what Hugh Grant should have said in Notting Hill.
In all seriousness, Chinatown is an incredible part of London, and being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, London knows it too — with countless shops and delightful foods to try too.
Some of my very favorites being the the cakes and breads inside Chinatown Bakery, the handmade dumplings from Dumplings’ Legend, custard buns from Bun House and Malaysian cuisine from C&R Cafe.
Wafting out of every restaurant you’ll get a whiff of something even better than the last — with reminiscents of fresh duck, dumplings, custard, and more oozing out the buildings.
19. Berwick Street Market
London should honestly be called the city of markets with the amount it has, but I digress, anyway here’s one more for you to check out!
First opened in 1778 right on Berwick Street in Soho, Berwick Street Market is one of the oldest in London.
The vibe here will give you a total classic farmers market feel, with standing tents and tables covered in overflowing baskets of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Of course it wouldn’t be a London market without some of the best food spots. Make sure to check out Lime Hut for delicious Caribbean, or Paella Fella for a bite of traditional Spanish dishes.
P.S. – The Market is open everyday of the week (minus Sunday), pretty much from sunrise until sunset — which really just means 8:00am – 6:00pm.
Map of Things to do in Soho, London
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