Formerly the capital of beatnik counterculture, Soho has evolved into a multicultural tourist hotspot that offers visitors everything from swanky restaurants and cozy cafés to great live music and gritty sex shops.
During the day, the main thoroughfare of Old Compton Street doesn’t hide from the fact that it’s the center of London’s gay community, with tons of restaurants, bars, and live theaters pulsing with patrons ready to spend their “pink pounds.”
Although the live music scene may be a shadow of its former self – the careers of The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols, and Eric Clapton were all launched here – the beat lives on at stalwart DJ-driven clubs like The Roxy, as well as in the odd jazz joint like Ronnie Scott's, which has survived Soho’s transformation.
Nearby Covent Garden had much more placid origins as the one-time home to London’s largest fruit and vegetable market, but this district has become even more tourist-driven than Soho in recent years. Home to the Royal Opera House and the majestic St. Paul’s church, the area is best known as the home to London’s theater district. Most of the city’s grandest live performance venues surround the Covent Garden Piazza, a famous market hall and entertainment center that routinely fills with street performers, professional actors, and hordes of tourists, allowing visitors to catch everything from experimental one-woman shows to mainstream musical hits.
The streets of Covent Garden and Soho may be bustling with out-of-towners, but it’s for a good reason – from dining to dancing, shopping to sightseeing, this is one area of London that no visitor should miss.
Reviewed by Tara R.
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90 St. Martins Lane
London WC2N 4AP
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49 Dean Street
Soho, London W1D 5BG
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23-25 Old Compton Street
London W1D 5JL
Bar / Indian Restaurant
100 Wardour Street
London W1F 0TN
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29-30 Maiden Lane
London WC2E 7JS
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19 Carlisle Street
London W1D 3BY
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33 D'Arblay Street
London W1F 8EU
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19-21 Old Compton Street
London W1D 5JJ