The Soho – Carnaby Street area of London is best known amongst tourists for two key things – shopping and nightlife. It does a brilliant job in both departments. However, there’s another side to this part of London.
Soho holds a very dear place in London’s heart as an iconic area with a very distinctive character. For much of the 20th century, Soho was home to London’s film, nightlife and sex industries. A time when late night clubs were found below film offices, and the streets were lit with red lights and sex shops. Today, it still holds its reputation for nightlife, alongside amazing restaurants, independent stores and as the thriving heart of London’s gay scene. There’s even a few sex shops that remain to pay homage to its history.
Soho is also incredibly rich in cultural and live entertainment making it popular with tourists and locals alike. From staples like Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Bar to comedy nights at the Soho Theatre and big productions at the many West End theatres in the area. Shopping down Carnaby Street is also a favourite pastime. If you prefer independent boutiques, just wander the streets of Soho and get a bit lost to find what you’re looking for.
There’s something for everyone in this bustling and unique part of London.
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Prepare your visit to Soho – Carnaby Street
When to visit Soho – Carnaby Street
If you’re visiting to take advantage of all the shopping in the area, you should aim to arrive early to avoid the crowds. However, if you want to simply explore and soak up the buzzing atmosphere, evenings and weekends are the perfect time to visit.
How long is needed to visit Soho – Carnaby Street
You’ll need at least 3-4 hours to explore the Soho – Carnaby Street area, especially if you’re intending to do some shopping. When you have a spare afternoon or evening, consider catching a show at one of the many West End theatres. Otherwise, find a cosy bar for a cocktail or two and enjoy the best of what Soho has to offer.
What should I wear to visit Soho – Carnaby Street
If you’re ready to hit the shops, wear some comfortable layers. In the evenings, Soho really comes to life so be sure to wear something a little dressier if you plan to stay around for some dinner or drinks. Also, if you’re planning a trip to the theatre, evening wear is best.
What is there to see in Soho – Carnaby Street
Soho’s shopping is brilliant and unique. The area is filled with stylish independent boutiques, hipster record shops and the famous Carnaby Street. So wander through the jumbled streets and you’re sure to stumble upon several hidden gems. If you head to the popular Carnaby Street, you’ll find some high street favourites mixed with independent fashion boutiques. The stunning tudor-style Liberty building is also nearby, stocked with lovely, luxurious brands.
Theatres and cinema
Soho – Carnaby Street is part of London’s lively West End. The area is known for its theatres and cinemas, of which Soho has plenty. The Prince Edward Theatre’s art deco interior is a must see, while the Prince Charles Cinema hosts regular fancy-dress and sing-a-long film sessions. The incredibly popular Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is also currently playing at the Palace Theatre.
Ronnie Scott’s jazz bar
Soho is home to Ronnie Scott’s – a legendary jazz bar venue that’s been around since 1959. This particular jazz bar is renowned as one of the greatest in the world. Many prestigious artists have played at Ronnie Scott’s including Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Dianne Reeves and Prince. If you walk up the historical staircase, you’ll also find a hidden 50’s speakeasy cocktail bar.