The famous streets of London are many and varied indeed. They include some of best in London shopping, from the flagship Oxford Street shops to the thriving London street markets of Camden and Brick Lane.
Some of them are home to the most famous sights in London, steeped in history and an essential part of any London sightseeing trip. Other famous London streets are well-known because they’ve been immortalised in song or literature.
Each of the famous streets in London we describe reveals a different side to this amazing city. Some of them also make great places to stay in London. We’ve covered over twenty, and if you get to see all of them, you’ll get to see how incredibly diverse London is.
- 1 ABBEY ROAD
- 2 BAKER STREET
- 3 BOND STREET
- 4 BRICK LANE
- 5 CAMDEN HIGH STREET
- 6 CARNABY STREET
- 7 CHEYNE WALK
- 8 DOWNING STREET
- 9 FLEET STREET
- 10 KING’S ROAD
- 11 LUDGATE HILL
- 12 OLD COMPTON STREET
- 13 OXFORD STREET
- 14 PICCADILLY
- 15 PORTOBELLO ROAD
- 16 REGENT STREET
- 17 SAVILE ROW
- 18 SHAFTESBURY AVENUE
- 19 THE MALL
- 20 THE STRAND
- 21 WHITEHALL
Abbey Road is home to the world’s most famous zebra crossing. This happens to be just outside Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles were recording their album – titled Abbey Road – in 1969.
The album cover was finished within a ten-minute shoot, with police holding up traffic either side. It has gone on. To become one of the most iconic album covers of all time, and many make the pilgrimage to St John’s Wood to make the crossing, shoot their own images or videos, and scratch graffiti on signs and walls nearby.
Nearest Tube: St John’s Wood
This busy London street owes its fame to the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, created by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Sherlock Holmes wasn’t the first fictional detective, but he is arguably the most famous. Conan Doyle wrote 60 Holmes books, and many films and TV series have been based around the Holmes character. We recommend the BBC Sherlock series, with Benedict Cumberbatch playing Holmes. To put the fame of the character in perspective, a series of Sherlock Holmes TV films was commissioned in the USSR, running through the early 1980s.
Holmes and his lodger-cum-assistant John Watson resided at 221B Baker Street, and.the Sherlock Museum occupies the ground floor of the building. A commemorative blue plaque also marks the location on the wall above. A statue of Holmes can be found around the corner, on Marylebone Road, close to Madame Tussauds waxworks museum.
Nearest Tube: Baker Street
There is actually no ‘Bond Street’ in London. It’s the collective name applied to New Bond Street and Old Bond Street, which run through the heart of Mayfair. We’ll also stick with ‘Bond Street’ for convenience.
Bond Street runs from Oxford Street in the north to Piccadilly in the south. New Bond Street adjoins Oxford Street, and Old Bond Street continues to Piccadilly, ending a few doors down from Burlington House and the Royal Academy.
Bond Street is one of the best streets in London for high end shopping. This is London Boutique Central, with all the prestigious big brands in clothing, jewellery and accessories (Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tiffany, Jimmy Choo and many more) well represented.
It may not be one of the most interesting or beautiful streets in London, but Bond Street shopping still holds great allure for many.
Also close to: Oxford Street, Piccadilly, Savile Row
Nearest Tube: Bond Street or Green Park
Brick Lane, in London’s East End, is home to one of the best weekend markets London is famous for. On Sundays, the street is packed with great food stalls, and vendors selling everything from apparel to furniture. It’s sometimes referred to as Brick Lane vintage market, though we’ve found that stalls can vary from week to week.
The street has always been associated with immigration. Over the centuries, French Huguenots, Irish, eastern European Jews, and most recently Bangladeshis have made the area their home. In recent times Brick Lane has become the unofficial curry capital of the UK, and there’s a great choice of restaurants along the street. At the Shoreditch (northern) end, two fantastic Brick Lane beigel bakeries keep this wonderful Jewish tradition alive, with queues often through the door day and night.
Brick Lane also has a range of bars, pubs and clubs, with the best gig venue 93 Feet East in the old Truman Brewery. Brick Lane has also become one of the richest cultural streets and areas in London. There is a wealth of excellent Brick Lane street art, and tours that cover the artworks in great detail. It also has probably the best record store in the UK in Rough Trade East.
If you love Camden High Street, you’ll probably adore Brick Lane too.
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street or Aldgate East
CAMDEN HIGH STREET
Camden Market is right up there with the most famous markets in London. It’s not a single market as such, rather a series of them spread either side of the northern reaches of Camden High Street.
Camden has long been something of an alternative mecca, with a great live music scene going back to the 1970s and the heyday of punk. Some of the music venues from that time are still going, but most people visiting Camden come to explore one of the best shopping areas in London.
This is where you’ll find some of the best vintage clothes shops in London. You’ll also find many London souvenir stalls, and punk, Goth and steampunk gear galore. As well as the market stalls, the shops on Camden High Street stand out, with giant Doc Martens, angels and elephants adorning the building fronts.
There’s also an enormous range of street food stalls to try out (we love Kim’s Vietnamese Food Hut). Most of the action is to the north of Camden Town Tube station. It’s a shameless London tourist trap, and I love the place.
Nearest Tube: Camden Town or Chalk Farm
Carnaby Street is the nearest thing there is to a London fashion district. It’s a pedestrianised street in the north of Soho, close to the Liberty department store and Oxford and Regent Streets.
The heyday of Carnaby Street was in the Swinging Sixties, when many boutiques and fashion outlets opened on the street and close by. The likes of John Stephen, Mary Quant , Lord John and Irvine Sellars all opened shops there by the mid ‘60s.
Carnaby Street was especially popular with mods in the late ‘60s, and the Who, Small Faces and Rolling Stones all frequented the street around this time. Ray Davies of the Kinks lampooned the street and trends in his 1966 song Dedicated Follower of Fashion.
The street still has a wide range of fashion stores, and there’s a good selection of pubs and restaurants in the surrounding streets.
Also close to: Regent Street and Oxford Street
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Chelsea’s second most famous street sits discreetly back from the Thames, with the beautiful Albert Bridge close to one end.
Cheyne Walk is one of the most expensive streets in London. Properties there go for eye-watering prices, and you’d need an 8-digit bank account balance in pounds to buy one of the magnificent townhouses there.
Cheyne Walk has had a rich and colourful history. England’s King Henry VIII once had a manor house there. Many famous faces have resided there since, including no less than three Rolling Stones, painters JMW Turner and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, authors George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Ian Fleming, poet TS Eliot and footballer George Best have all resided there.
Chelsea Old Church, halfway along, is also well worth a visit. A fine statue of the English martyr St Thomas More, who sang in the choir there, sits outside.
Also close to: King’s Road
Nearest Tube: South Kensington or Sloane Square
Downing Street is one of the most famous London streets of all, but very few visitors get to see anything of it.
It’s a small side street off Whitehall, yet it’s the focal point of British politics, Number 10 is the official residence of the Prime Minister of the UK. Number 11, meanwhile, is the official home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The latter sets annual government budgets, and it has been known for the resident of Number 11 to move next door.
Also close to: Whitehall, The Strand
Nearest Tube: Westminster
Fleet Street is one of the great streets of old London. It continues on from The Strand, occupying the western part of the City of London financial district.
Its heyday lasted over 200 years until the 1980s, when the main UK newspapers moved operations elsewhere. Some buildings remain from this era, including the fine Art Deco Daily Express building.
If you’re interested in historic London pubs, then Fleet Street is a great place to start. The Old Bank of England has one of the most opulent pub interiors in the city. Further along, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was once the watering hole of Charles Dickens. It’s a wonderful labyrinth of darkened dining rooms. The Old Bell Tavern, across the street from there, is another of the best pubs in central London.
Add in St Bride’s Church, whose tiered spire inspired the wedding cake, and some of the most interesting lanes and alleyways in London, and you have enough to detain you at least half a day.
Also close to: The Strand, Ludgate Hill
Nearest Tube: Blackfriars
King’s Road – often referred to as ‘the King’s Road’ – started out as a private road for King Charles II. It was around 170 years later, in 1830, that it finally became a public road.
King’s Road became one of the main London fashion streets, with Mary Quant opening her first boutique in the building now occupied by the Santander Bank. It was one of the birthplaces of the miniskirt, and very much part of Swinging London in the mid to late ‘60s.
It had a strong countercultural emphasis right through until the end of the 1970s. The shop at number 430, World’s End, is still owned by one of the great British designers, Vivienne Westwood. She co-owned the boutique SEX which was in the same building. This small shop gave birth to the famous punk look, spiky hair and all. It’s also where one of the two biggest bands in British punk, the Sex Pistols, were brought together by the other co-owner, Malcolm McLaren.
Nowadays it takes quite a leap of the imagination to picture King’s Road as a bastion of alternative culture. The street and surrounding area is completely gentrified. These days you can expect plenty of small boutiques and art galleries, as well as pretty shops with Instagrammable arches of flowers.
King’s Road’s most notable recent contribution to culture is the excellent Saatchi Gallery. This outstanding contemporary art collection is housed in the Duke of York’s Headquarters, near the Sloane Square end of the street.
Also close to: Cheyne Walk
Nearest Tube: Sloane Square or South Kensington
Ludgate Hill is the eastward continuation of Fleet Street, at the heart of the City of London.
It’s a fairly short thoroughfare, and may not be among the best-known London street names. It’s also walkable in less than five minutes. It’s on our list for one reason alone: the awe-inspiring view up the hill towards St Paul’s Cathedral. The approach up Ludgate Hill is magnificent, towards the grand west front flanked by twin towers, with the spectacular dome behind.
It’s a great street to walk up, the left / north side offering the better view. Halfway up, a much smaller church by Sir Christopher Wren, St Martin Ludgate, is well worth a look around.
Otherwise, try to bag a seat at the front of a double-decker bus for the grandstand view.
Nearest Tube: Blackfriars
OLD COMPTON STREET
Soho has long been the heart of gay London, and Old Compton Street is the epicentre of Soho. It’s one of the most popular streets in London, and one of my personal favourites.
You’ll often see rainbow flags hanging from the likes of G-A-Y nightclub and the Admiral Duncan pub. The latter has some hilarious drag shows, which are often audible in the street outside.
There are also a host of places to eat on Old Compton Street, with sushi, Italian, fish and chips and Herman Ze German all vying for your custom.
Special mention goes to our nomination for the best-smelling shop on the planet. It’s the Algerian Coffee Stores, next door to the Admiral Duncan at number 52.
Also close to: Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus
Oxford Street is the most famous London shopping street of all. It’s home to many flagship stores of prominent UK high street retailers, so it’s where you’ll find some of the best shopping in London for clothes.
Oxford Street shopping is the reason many people come to London, and there’s a huge choice of stores. The likes of John Lewis, Next, Top Shop, Uniqlo, House of Fraser, Adidas and Primark all have major stores there.
Also close to: Regent Street, Old Compton Street (10-minute walk), Carnaby Street
Nearest Tube: Marble Arch, Bond Street, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road
Piccadilly also has some of the best shopping in London, but there’s more to this mile-long street than retail.
True, it has Fortnum & Mason, a grand department store dating back to 1707. It is undoubtedly one of the best shops in London, and the Grocer to the Queen, no less. You can also explore the Piccadilly Circus shopping at one end, and browse some of the finest shopping arcades in London. The Burlington Arcade is full of luxury stores and boutiques. It was opened in 1819, and is still patrolled by watchmen, or beadles, who ensure that appropriate decorum is kept and that visitors do not behave in a raucous and boisterous manner!
Piccadilly is also home to Hatchards, the only bookshop in London, and the flagship Waterstones store. The latter is the UK’s biggest book retailer.
Burlington House, next to Burlington Arcade, is home to several august national institutions, including the Royal Academy, the Royal Astronomical Society and Royal Geographical Society.
Several of the best luxury hotels in London are on Piccadilly, including the Ritz, the Intercontinental, the Athenaeum and Park Lane Hotel. Some rooms in the Ritz overlook Green Park, which occupies the south side of Piccadilly on its journey to its end at Wellington Arch and Hyde Park Corner.
Also close to: Savile Row, Bond Street, Jermyn Street, The Mall, Shaftesbury Avenue, Old Compton Street, The Mall
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park
Portobello Road is a long narrow street running through the heart of Notting Hill in West London. It starts out as a quiet residential street before morphing into one of the busiest of all London markets.
Parts of Portobello Road Market run throughout the week, but Saturday is the one day to visit if you want to see all the stalls. This is when most visitors come to see the Market, with the result that they outnumber locals for large parts of it.
You can buy anything from antiques to bric-a-brac to clothes to furniture to street food there. The busiest areas we saw were the southern end, around the antique shops and stalls, up to the Westway bridge. North of there the crowds thinned out considerably.
Portobello Road is one of the best-known movie locations in London. Most famously, much of Notting Hill was shot there and nearby, and The Travel Bookshop, with its poster of Julia Roberts in the window, still draws the crowds. Alice’s Antiques shop has doubled as Gruber’s Antiques for Paddington 2. It’s one our favourite shops to visit in London with fantastic displays inside and out on the street.
Nearest Tube: Notting Hill Gate or Ladbroke Grove
Regent Street – which intersects with Oxford Street – is another main shopping street in London. It’s a grander affair than Oxford Street, with many of its buildings dating from the time it was built, in the early 19th century.
The street was named after the Prince Regent, later King George IV. It runs from the University of Westminster down to Piccadilly Circus. It has some of the best places to shop in London. Our top tip is Hamley’s Toy Store, a paradise for kids, with brilliant staff who put on a great show to draw the crowds in. I saw two of them dancing in greatcoats on one of the hottest days of the summer – good on them!
If it’s your thing, there are plenty more Regent Street shopping options, with the likes of Zara, Superdry, Burberry and Anthropologie all having a big presence there.
Also close to: Oxford Street, Carnaby Street, Piccadilly
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
Savile Row is one of the most exclusive shopping streets in London.
This Mayfair street is home to some of the finest tailors and gentlemen’s outfitters in the UK. They include the likes of Gieves & Hawkes, Ozwald Boateng and Huntsman & Sons.
Savile Row is another London street with a place in music history. The rooftop of number 3 was where the Beatles last played live.
Also close to: Bond Street, Piccadilly
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park
Shaftesbury Avenue isn’t just in the London West End, it is the London West End. It runs from High Holborn in the north to Piccadilly Circus in the south. The street signs all signify you’re in Theatreland, and you pass several along the way.
The Palace, Queen’s, Gielgud and Apollo theatres are all along the Avenue. It passes Covent Garden and Chinatown on one side and Soho on the other so is right at the heart of London nightlife.
Also close to: Old Compton Street, Piccadilly
Nearest Tube: Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus
The Mall is the main royal ceremonial and processional route in London. It leads from Trafalgar Square, through Admiralty Arch, to the Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s London residence.
Unusually for London streets the road surface is coloured red. The purpose of this is to create the effect of a long red carpet all the way to the Palace.
The Mall passes glorious St James’s Park on one side and St James’s Palace and Green Park on the other.
The Mall is one of the few main streets in London without any London traffic. The Mall isn’t part of the main London road network. Instead it is separately maintained by the Royal Parks. No buses ply this route – you make your own way or take a black cab on weekdays.
Also close to: Whitehall, Downing Street, The Strand, Piccadilly
Nearest Tube: Charing Cross or Green Park
The Strand is one of the grandest central London streets, linking Trafalgar Square with Fleet Street and the City of London.
It’s on the edge of Theatreland, boasting fine theatres such as the Adelphi and Vaudeville. The Strand also has some of the best luxury London hotels, including the Savoy. One of the oldest restaurants in London, Simpson’s on the Strand, can be found a few doors along the street. The fantastic centuries-old Twinings tea shop is further to the east, near the Royal Courts of Justice.
One of the finest buildings in London, Somerset House, stands between The Strand and the river Thames. Two churches stand on islands in the middle of the street – St Mary-le-Strand and St Clement Danes. The latter has strong links with the Royal Air Force. However it’s better known for being mentioned in the famous “Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clement’s” nursery rhyme.
Add in a few specialist shops, part of King’s College London and a ‘ghost’ Tube station and you have one of the most intriguing streets in all of London.
Also close to: Shaftesbury Avenue, Whitehall, Downing Street, The Mall
Nearest Tube: Charing Cross, Covent Garden or Temple
Whitehall is the street running between Downing Street and Trafalgar Square. It’s one of the main streets in London, right at the nexus of British history and politics.
It’s home to several government ministries, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Cabinet Office. The sublime Banqueting House, the only surviving part of the original Palace of Whitehall, stands stately on the east side, just across the road from the entrance to Horse Guards Parade.
This is one of the most popular tourist spots in London, where crowds gather for photos of the mounted guards. The famous Changing of the Life Guard ceremony also takes place in the parade ground through the archway.
Also close to: Downing Street, The Mall, The Strand
Nearest Tube: Westminster or Charing Cross
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.