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At the very heart of London’s West End, Soho has seen it all over the years. From the Algerian Coffee Stores (opened in 1887!) through the Swinging Sixties to today’s gamut of gentrification, Soho has changed immensely – and yet it still keeps some of its non-conformist charm.
A top theatre and dining destination and a vital part of London’s LGBTQ+ scene, there are lots of things to do in Soho and it is a cultural hub that retains a little of its grittiness around the edges (if you look hard enough).
From bawdy bookshops to cracking karaoke (and all that late night jazz), most cultural and carnal tastes can be catered for in Soho.
Here is our guide to the best things to do in Soho, London in 2023:
Things to do in Soho London Map
Things to do in Soho London
Table of Contents
1. Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club
Perhaps Soho’s best known live music venue, Ronnie Scott’s was established in the 1950s and is now one of the most famous live jazz venues in the world. It has been in its current Frith Street Soho location since the mid 1960’s.
It has hosted many famous musicians over the years from Nina Simone to Curtis Mayfield.
We’ve been to Ronnie Scott’s in Soho a couple of times and enjoyed it immensely. The venue is small and intimate, meaning you get up close to the live artists.
If you are planning to listen to some live jazz here when visiting Soho, just make sure you book in advance as some of the well known artists sell out very quickly.
Table service for food and drink means you can enjoy the music without disturbing the performers. A fine London establishment and top thing to do in Soho, long may Ronnie Scott’s continue.
Address: Ronnie Scott’s, 47 Frith Street, London W1D 4HT
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2. Kingly Court
Kingly Court is a cool restaurant and bar complex just off Carnaby Street in Soho based over three levels, home to Cahoots, Dishoom, Shoryu, The Good Egg and many other delicious London food court and drink joints.
It is always a nice atmosphere at Kingly Court as a lot of the restaurants have outdoor terraces in the courtyard meaning it is always abuzz with conversation and nice food smells.
With around 20 restaurants to choose from at Kingly Court, you’ll never go hungry here. Most also do takeaway too so you could always take your food to Soho Square Gardens if the terrace is full.
Address: Kingly Street, Carnaby, London W1B 5PW
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3. Photographer’s Gallery
The first gallery in the UK solely dedicated to photography, the Photographer’s Gallery in Soho hosts a diverse range of photographic exhibitions, talks and events as well as onsite shop and cafe.
Located on Ramillies Street, The Photographer’s Gallery can easily be reached from Oxford Street and is just a 2 minute walk from Oxford Circus London Underground station.
The Photographer’s Gallery entry fee is £8 per adult on the door for exhibitions, £6.50 if booked in advance. Admission is free every Friday after 5pm – prices correct as of August 2023.
Address: The Photographer’s Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW
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4. Carnaby Street
One of London’s most popular and well known fashion streets (especially in the swinging sixties), Carnaby Street in Soho to this day continues to be a hive of activity.
It is renowned for its riot of colour, particularly during festivals and special events when bright banners are hung across the street. Carnaby Street is certainly one of the most colourful places in London.
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5. The Rolling Stones Store / RS No. 9 Carnaby
Can’t get no ‘Satisfaction’ in Soho? Try the recently opened Rolling Stones / RS No. 9 Carnaby shop, complete with ‘Big Red Lips’ in the window in Carnaby Street.
Returning rock and roll and the swinging 60’s to Soho and the surrounding areas, here you’ll find the world-first flagship store with exclusive Rolling Stones merchandise – just remember not to pick it up with ‘Sticky Fingers’.
Address: Carnaby Street, Carnaby, London W1F 9PE
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6. Chinatown (one of the best free things to do in Soho)
As you walk around exploring Soho, you’ll occasionally catch a glimpse of Chinese lanterns or the huge, iconic Chinatown gates denoting the entry of Chinatown London.
Surprisingly, this area of London didn’t have a Chinatown until the 1970s so it isn’t that historic. What London’s Chinatown lacks in legacy is made up for by the sheer number of restaurants and Chinese supermarkets.
Chinese New Year in Soho and London is a particularly wonderful time to visit (usually January – February).
Apart from the Chinatown Gate, our favourite bit of Chinatown to visit is the alleyway known as Newport Court – there are several authentic bakeries around here and as the area is so enclosed, it often smells delicious.
Address: Chinatown, London W1D 5QA
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7. Soho Record Shops
In the market for fantastic plastic or rare records? Looking for Vinyl Lionel Richie or LP J Harvey? Then search no further than the record stores of Soho, the best place in central London to look for rare LPs or hard to find discs.
On Berwick Street, you’ll find Reckless Records and Sister Ray or look for Phonica Records on Poland Street. Famous independent music store Rough Trade can also be found on Beak Street.
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8. Soho Square Gardens
A gorgeous green space in the heart of Soho (plus a nice respite from Oxford Street), Soho Square Gardens is a popular place for picnics and ping-pong (seriously, there are a couple of outdoor table tennis tables here – it can get VERY competitive).
Whilst in Soho Square Gardens, you might notice the little black and white hut in the middle.
There are loads of urban rumours that this is a secret passageway to an underground bunker but the truth is a bit more mundane – it is nowadays just a storage shed for the gardeners (who it should be said do a stellar job of keeping the gardens nice with mowed lawns and blooming flowers).
Address: Soho Square, Soho, London W1D, UK
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9. Bar Italia
A little bit of Italy in the heart of Soho, Bar Italia has been part of the local community since 1949, when it was opened by Italian brothers Lou and Caterina Polledri.
Their Italian style coffee drew crowds and the rest as they say is history. Interesting fact, Bar Italia is located in the former home of John Logie Baird, the inventor of the television set – it was first here he first demonstrated television in 1926.
Fast forward to today and Bar Italia is still going strong. It is particularly popular in Soho not only because of its heritage and good food and drink but also because it is open practically all day (7am to 4am daily) meaning it is enjoyed by both early birds and night owls.
Address: Bar Italia, 22 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4RF
10. Lucky Voice Soho Karaoke
Sing to your heart’s content in Lucky Voice, a popular central London karaoke joint. And even if you aren’t blessed with a good voice (to be fair, it never hurt Ed Sheeran’s career..), don’t worry as you’ll be in a private booth.
Open until 3am most mornings, Soho’s Lucky Voice is a late night karaoke classic with rates starting from £8 per person for a 2 hour off-peak session, going up to £15 pp on Saturday nights – prices correct as at August 2023.
One of our favourite late night sings to do…. sorry, things to do in Soho.
Address: Lucky Voice Karaoke, 52 Poland Street, Soho, London W1F 7NQ
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11. Denmark Street
Often referred to as London’s Tin Pan Alley due to its musical heritage, Denmark Street is renowned for the famous musicians, recording studios and music venues that have been here over the years.
In the past, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones and Elton John have all recorded along Denmark Street and visiting artists like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin would congregate in the bars and cafes here.
These days, Denmark Street in Soho is still known as a good place to buy musical instruments (particularly guitars). In 2014, a special blue plaque was installed commemorating the street’s musical history.
Address: Denmark Street, London, WC2H 8LU
12. The Coach and Horses Pub
Soho’s Coach and Horses pub is good stuff and often referred to as Soho’s most famous pub!
Frequented by locals and tourists alike, The Coach and Horses is a nice spot for a cold pint of Fuller’s beer, with a historic interior and seats outside on the streets, for prime people-watching.
Soho’s Coach and Horses is a listed building and there has been a pub on this part of Soho since the 18th century. We’ve spent many an afternoon on the seats outside drinking pints of London craft beer watching the world go by (and the occasional celeb like Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker).
To note that in the past and when we first visited, The Coach and Horses pub in Soho used to be the first pub in London to have a vegetarian only menu but this is no longer the case.
Address: The Coach and Horses Pub, 29 Greek Street, Soho, London, W1D 5DH
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13. The French House
Le French… sorry…THE French House is a fine Soho bar and restaurant renowned for its culinary delights in the upstairs dining room plus a huge range of European and craft beers on tap downstairs (often served in smaller measures, such is their strength).
Unlike a lot of the cookie cutter central London pubs, The French House has real character, including its no technology or music rule downstairs.
Walk past the French House most afternoons and you’ll see patrons sipping beer and wine outside, as the tricolour flags flutter in the wind. Check out the French House website for a handwritten menu that changes daily. C’est tres bonne!
Address: The French House, 49 Dean Street, London W1D 5BG
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14. Curzon Soho Cinema
The Soho cinema scene has changed over the recent years – gone are most of the traditional seedy cinemas and now, it is all about independent cinema.
The Curzon Soho Cinema shows a combination of big Hollywood blockbuster movies and art house style films in its three screen building with a cafe and a bar.
Given its location in Soho and central London, it also attracts a number of stars to its screenings and Q&A sessions.
Tickets at the Curzon Soho Cinema start from £8 in the daytime and £10 in the evening from Monday to Thursday.
Curzon as a chain has also introduced free membership for under-25s, giving access to £5 tickets all-day Monday to Thursday. Bargain!
Address: Curzon Soho Cinema, 99 Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho, London W1D 5DY
15. The Prince Charles Cinema
Budget conscious London cinema goers may want to visit The Prince Charles Cinema on Leicester Place (just off Leicester Square), which is more arthouse and shows lots of classic movies.
Screenings at the Prince Charles Cinema start from £1 if you become a member.
They are also proud of their Q&A sessions and celebrity screenings. Very recently in early 2023 for instance, Brendan Fraser appeared unannounced to introduce a screening of his classic 90’s monster movie, The Mummy – very cool!
Address: The Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BY
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16. Soho’s LGBTQ+ scene / Old Compton Street
Over recent years, Soho has changed so much with many of the famous bars and restaurants knocked down to make way for new developments.
In the last decade, two of Soho’s most famous LGBTQ+ bars in Soho have been demolished including Madame JoJos and London’s first lesbian bar, Candy Bar. Nearby London Astoria, where G-A-Y had a residency has now also been pulled down.
Most of the LGBT bars and pubs in Soho are based in and around Old Compton Street with bars such as The Village, The Admiral Duncan Pub and Comptons being very popular. A little further away, the Yard has a huge outdoor courtyard with Manhattan loft style interiors.
Address: Old Compton Street, London, W1D 5JR
17. G-A-Y Soho
Soho has some of the best and most popular gay bars in London, perhaps none more so than legendary LGBT+ venue G-A-Y.
The heart and soul of London’s Old Compton Street, G-A-Y was originally established at the (now demolished) London Astoria before setting up a residency in nearby Heaven nightclub (still going strong).
Renowned for its club nights and surprisingly drink cheap prices for Soho, G-A-Y is open from noon until midnight seven days a week For after hours fun, G-A-Y Late is open nearby from 10pm to 4am daily.
Address: G-A-Y, 30 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 4UR; G-A-Y Late; 5 Goslett Yard, London WC2H 0EA
18. See a show at Soho’s Prince Edward Theatre
From Soho to Agrabah….until recently, you could catch Aladdin (if he isn’t in his lamp) at the Prince Edward Theatre on Old Compton Street.
In 2023 and 2024, the Temptations musical Ain’t Too Proud is booking until early January 2024 whilst MJ the Musical (Michael Jackson) is due to run from March 2024.
Right in the centre of Soho on Old Compton Street, this also means you can easily do pre or post theatre drinks or dinner. Many Soho restaurants have theatre dining offers if you show proof of your theatre tickets for that night.
Address: The Prince Edward Theatre, Old Compton Street, London W1D 4HS
19. Liberty London
The best looking department store in London (housed in a Tudor style black and white building), Liberty London is a luxury shopping experience.
Libertys was founded in the 1870s but moved to its current timbered building in the 1920s (incredibly, the store timbers were taken from two old ships, HMS Hindustan and HMS Impregnable). It is now a listed building.
Liberty is famous for its fabrics plus has one of the best Christmas shops in London. So if you want a bold and beautiful dress or a Corgi tree or London bus Christmas decoration (for real), Liberty of London is for you!
Address: Liberty London, Regent Street, W1B 5AH
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20. Charing Cross Road and Book shops
From erotica to economics, Soho’s centre for books is Charing Cross Road, with dozens of specialist bookshops and second hand book stores.
Here you’ll find big famous chains like the flagship Foyle’s London store (said to have over 200,000 books!) to small independents like Any Amount of Books. Take a leaf out of our book (sorry not sorry) and plan a short stroll browsing along Charing Cross Road.
Address: Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0AW
21. Soho Theatre
In the heart of London’s West End, the Soho Theatre is a little less flashy than some of the more famous London theatres and possibly all the better for it.
Over the years, the Soho Theatre has worked hard to showcase new and upcoming acts and writers – their what’s on schedule is an eclectic mix of cabaret, theatre and comedy, from punk to Pride.
Soho Theatre are also working hard to establish a new cultural and creative theatre hub at the former Mirth, Marvel and Maud venue in Walthamstow (or should that be awesomestow).
Address: Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE
22. Piccadilly Circus
A short stroll from Soho brings you to the world famous Piccadilly Circus, one of the main thoroughfares in London. Piccadilly Circus is best visited at night, as the neon lights and brightly lit advertising boards kick in.
Whilst it is no Times Square, it is home to the Eros statue, installed in 1892 and said to be the most famous meeting point in London for courting couples (and also seemingly school exchange schemes these days!).
Address: Piccadilly Circus, London, W1J 9LL.
23. The Leicester Square Theatre
One of London’s best loved and longest running theatres and performing arts centres, The Leicester Square Theatre is a recently restored 400 seater venue that hosts hundreds of live acts a year, from stand-up and comedy musical through to podcast recordings and dance shows.
Over the years, The Leicester Square Theatre has played host to such comedy icons as Joan Rivers, Michael McIntrye, Stewart Lee and Bill Bailey.
Address: The Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BX
24. Oxford Circus and Oxford Street
For most people, Oxford Circus and Oxford Street are a marmite affair – people seem to either love it or hate it.
If you’re visiting Soho for shopping, obviously Oxford Circus is your best bet as it has hundreds of high street brands along it plus famous department stores like Selfridges and John Lewis.
That said, most local Londoners avoid it like the plague as the traffic is bad, the pavements can get busy and there are better places to shop.
If you love to shop, you’ll find all your favourites brands around Oxford Circus like H&M and Zara. We are pretty sure the two branches of Primark along Oxford Street are now also two of the most popular ‘attractions’ in London (the amount of times we get asked directions for Primark…)
These days, you’ll also notice a lot of American Candy stores popping up in the vacant Oxford Street stores and around Soho. Avoid these like the plague as they are scam central often selling counterfeit goods or being used for money laundering.
Address: Oxford Street, London W1B 3AG
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25. Regent Street
Similar to Oxford Street, Regent Street is packed full of shops galore, but is a little more sedate (and possibly more upmarket).
Flagship stores in Regent Street include a fine looking Apple store, Hamleys toy shop (more on this below) and fashion brands like REISS, Arket, Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Hollister and Kate Spade.
In the summer months, Regent Street also closes to traffic on selected Sundays so you can enjoy shopping without the traffic (if only Oxford Street could do the same!).
Address: Regent Street, London W1B 3AG
26. Hamleys Toy Store
If you or your kids are into toys, no trip to Soho and central London is complete without a trip to Hamleys Toy Store on Regent’s Street.
Officially the oldest and largest toy shop in the world, Hamleys is a happy place with several levels of toys and board games.
Love LEGO? They’ve got loads and it doesn’t have the queue to get in like the nearby Leicester Square LEGO branch.
Hamleys is a fun place to visit plus has lots of exclusive merchandise like a LEGO Red London bus – throughout the day, you’ll also see magicians and performers and toy demonstrations.
Address: Hamleys Toy Store, 188-196 Regent Street, London W1B 5BT
27. Algerian Coffee Stores
Another venerable Old Compton Street institution, the Algerian Coffee Stores has been around in Soho for almost 140 years (it opened in 1887) and today, still has one of the largest tea and coffee collections in the world, with around 80 coffee bean types and over 120 teas.
The Algerian Coffee Store in Soho receives visitors from all over the world (although much of their business is now done online). Full of beans, this is the one of the most perfect Soho things to do for coffee connoisseurs.
Address: Algerian Coffee Stores; 52 Old Compton Street, Soho, London W1D 4QE
28. Cahoots London
Soho’s very own time-warp, Cahoots is an underground bar harking back to the blitz spirit of the 1940s; a veritable vintage feast of cocktails and food ‘rations’.
Lovingly decorated and themed like a war-time tube station and train carriages, walking down the steps from modern day Kingly Court to the Cahoots basement bar for the first time is genuinely like stepping back in time.
We tried the Cahoots Cocktail cuppas and cakes afternoon tea, held every Sunday (£28 per person as at 2023) which we’d thoroughly recommend – one of the more memorable things to do in Soho, read more about Cahoots Bar (and see more the Cahoots Bar interior).
Address: Cahoots Bar, 13 Kingly Court, Carnaby, London W1B 5PW
29. Soho Walking Tours and Bicycling Tours
Several Soho walking tours (that include other parts of central London) are available:
- London Old City Half Day Walking Tour >
- Soho London Rock and Roll Walking Tour >
- Original Harry Potter Locations Tour – London >
30. Lina Stores, Greek Street
Lina Stores is an iconic Italian restaurant chain which began life as a Soho delicatessen in the 1940s on Brewer Street.
Fast forward to 2023 and Lina Stores now have several restaurants in and around London including at Kings Cross, Marylebone and Clapham. Most recently, Lina Stores have opened a restaurant on Greek Street, just a few steps away from their original deli.
From polenta to pasta, spaghetti to sorbet, this is one of the best pasta places in London (although we found portion sizes are quite small).
Address: Lina Stores Soho Restaurant, 51 Greek Street, London W1D 4EH
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31. The Shakespeare’s Head pub and restaurant, Soho
A Shakespeare pub in Soho? “Ale’s Well That Ends Well” we say!
If you are looking to sup a pint or watch live sports in Soho, this is one classic Carnaby Street pub with a terrace out front (great for people watching).
Whilst Shakespeare may not have set foot here, this is still a nice bar in Soho to visit, especially on a warm sunny day.
The Shakespeare’s Head is a historic pub serving classic British dishes and traditional English foods – think steak and ale pie, bangers and mash or fish and chips.
A bust of Shakespeare and his image look down as you drink – just remember to not drink too much or you’ll be ‘bard’ (yes, that was a Shakespeare joke!).
Address: The Shakespeare’s Head, 29 Great Marlborough Street, Carnaby, Soho, London W1F 7HZ
32. Gosh! Comic Books Soho
Oh my Gosh! One of central London’s best known comic shops, Gosh! Comic Books is your best place in Soho to catch-up with comics, get more manga or grab graphic comics.
There are two floors of comics and novels plus a dedicated Manga basement – if you can’t attend in person on your next trip to Soho, they also do online sales and international shipping.
Gosh! Comic Books often hold in store events and in store signings and is open 7 days a week from 10.30am to 7pm.
Address: Gosh! Comic Books, 1 Berwick Street, London W1F 0DR
33. Bar Soho
We can’t really write a ‘things to do in Soho’ guide without mentioning the eponymous Bar Soho, located on Old Compton Street and just across from G-A-Y.
One of Soho’s longest established pubs and bars, Bar Soho has been churning out cut price cocktails and one of Soho’s most popular happy hours for years.
The decor has always been interesting with bathtubs for seats and big red lips in the toilets (gaudy or glam – the decision is in the eye of the beer-holder).
Address: Bar Soho, 23-25 Old Compton Street, London W1D 5JL
Our final thing to do in Soho London
Like most places in the world, there are very few actual record and music stores left in London – all the famous record store chains like HMV and Tower Records have pretty much disappeared from the High Street.
Luckily for London record lovers and vinyl collectors, one of the few remaining music stores in Soho is Fopp (which is actually owned by HMV).
Based over two levels, this is one your one stop (music) shop in central London for vinyls, DVDs, Blu-ray and CDs.
Fopp is also one of the cheapest bookshops in London with many two books for £5 deals plus has an excellent collection of arthouse movies in the basement.
One of the last bastions of British music stores, Fopp has around 100 stores in the UK and is open daily in Seven Dials / Soho from 10am to 9pm (12pm to 6pm on Sundays).
Address: 1 Earlham Street, London WC2H 9LL
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Where to stay in/near Soho
Astor Museum Hostel
Highly rated hostel located a short walk to Soho and opposite the British Museum. Room options include both dorms and private rooms.
The Z Hotel Soho
Affordable hotel with compact rooms in an excellent location near the Prince Edward Theatre and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
Centrally located and stylish 5-star hotel with elegant rooms housed in a Grade II listed building.
Did you enjoy our things to do in Soho London blog post? Let us know in the comments or by sharing it on social media.
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