Not gonna lie, this was a SUPER difficult article to write. No, not because there aren’t a lot of pretty places in London. Rather, I found it difficult to narrow the list down and choose just 25 of the prettiest places in London.
I mean, London is just so damn beautiful! Where do you even start?
If you read my blog even a little bit, then you know that my general attitude towards life is basically, “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED”.
And since I love taking pretty pictures whenever I go (Shameless self-promotion here. Check out my Instagram account! I pinkie promise that it’ll change your life. Okay, not really but it’s nice to look at!), I figured, why not write an entire article dedicated to all of the petty places in London that I’ve casually (and not-so-casually) stumbled upon throughout my time in London.
Rather than needlessly word vomiting all over my website, let’s cut to the proverbial chase and visit 20 amazingly pretty places in London.
Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high chance that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
***Not sure where to stay in London for the first time? For a super luxe experience, enjoy the beautiful rooms and exquisite service at The Savoy (rooms start at $700 a night so not like I’ll be staying there any time soon but a girl can dream). However, for a more reasonably priced stay in London, check out the Z Hotel Soho (The service is great, the location is fantastic, and the rooms are comfortable and start at just $75 per night), Premier Inn Leicester Square (Rooms here start at $125 per night and offer comfortable beds, modern bathrooms, and plush linens. Staff are also incredibly helpful and the location is super central), and the Good Hotel London (This is ultramodern, centrally located, super cool, floating hotel that sits at the Royal Victoria Dock. The stylish, cozy, and comfortable rooms here start at $70 per night).***
1. Houseboats of Regents Canal
Umm, cute AF right?
I feel like all the colorful boats nestled up against the shore instantly make this one of the prettiest places in London.
Not gonna lie:
It also kind of makes me want to sell all my earthly possessions, become a full-fledged hippie, and travel the world as I float on my boat with the greatest of ease.
Yes, I’ve never actually owned or operated a boat myself.
But whatevs. This is a fantasy and it doesn’t really need to be practical.
This beautiful piece of London awesomeness stretches from Little Venice to Limehouse (Thanks Google maps. You rock my socks) and was carved out at the start of the 19th century.
Formerly an important trade route:
This pretty place in London effectively became a haven of peace and serenity for the city’s many boating enthusiasts when the Regents Canal Dock was closed back in 1969.
A community of over 15,000 houseboaters has emerged, drawn to London’s vast network of canals, basins, and locks by a multitude of economic advantages as well as the allure of a nomadic lifestyle.
If you want to enjoy a scenic boat ride down the canal, or just fancy a quiet stroll along the area’s many beautiful walkways, just take the tube to Camden Road station and let your GPS show you the rest since yes, I suck at directions.
***If you pass through the Camden section, look out for the site of a heated street art war between King Robbo and Banksy. It all started in 2009 when Banksy painted over Robbo’s famous, 1985 mura with a stenciled mural of workman putting up wallpaper. Yup, shizzle just got real .***
Are you shocked to your core that SkyGarden made this list of pretty places in London?
Yeah, me neither.
Especially since this is the highest public garden in London.
Even though SkyGarden is an obvious choice, it’s still gorgeous AF.
That’s why, this iconic London tourist attraction just had to make the cut.
Be prepared for long lines and for security to go through all of your belongings since this place is NOT a secret (visit as early as possible to avoid the crowds).
Want to make your visit to the Skygarden extra special?
For £39.50 per person:
You can enjoy a sumptuous, 3-course brunch, with non-alcoholic drinks included, amidst the panoramic views and stylish decor of this amazing London restaurant.
You can take all these EPIC photos without people CONSTANTLY walking into your shot. Yup, the struggle is 110% real.
If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable experience in London, then definitely consider adding a relaxing brunch at Darwin Brasserie to your SkyGarden visit.
***PSST, want a photo op without gobs of tourists practically shanking you with their selfie sticks? Then, once you arrive at SkyGarden, ascend the side stairs. Once here, turn around and you’ll see the second set of stairs that will take you to a quiet little promenade, where you can enjoy stunning, unobstructed, panoramic views of Skygarden, but without anyone bothering you. Perfect for an anti-social hermit like me.***
3. The Garden at 120
Just a hop, skip, and jump away from SkyGarden is The Garden at 120.
Located at 120 Fenchurch Street:
This free, rooftop garden sits fifteen stories up in the air and offers guests stunning views of the London skyline (most notably the Gerkin, SkyGarden, the Shard, Tower Bridge, etc.).
The elevator ride is short, pre-booking isn’t necessary, the crowds are minimal, and from this vantage point, you can capture the Skygarden in all of your photos.
Some of the nearby skyscrapers can obstruct your view slightly, but the perspective you get from this pint-sized garden is truly exquisite
This garden is only open during the week (and not on bank holidays) between 10 am and 9 pm (open until 6:30 pm during the winter).
But if you can:
Stop by at sunset and enjoy fantastic views of London from this botanical oasis of serenity.
The only thing I love more than taking pictures of pretty places in London is stuffing my face with delicious food.
When I can combine the two, like at Biscuiteers, I know that I have found pure, unadulterated, Girl with the Passport heaven.
Not only does this quaint, vintage cafe make all the Instagram mavens swoon, but it also serves delicious, hand-iced desserts that anyone with a sweet tooth will love.
Yup, this chick right here always sports a food baby after an impromptu jaunt here.
Can you blame me?
From cookies to cupcakes to chocolates, this place has almost every confectionary creation imaginable, all of which are designed to resemble London’s iconic telephone booths, cabs, and more!
This place even has two-hour-long, icing classes that you can join, for a small fee, if you want to embrace your not-so-inner child and create beautiful, confectionary delights that may, may not, make Martha Stewart super jelly.
If you want to leave the cake decorating to the pros, you can just make a reservation for a relaxing, afternoon tea instead.
Your choice. But, whatever you decide:
Be sure to book well in advance since all the ultra-cool, London hipsters are obsessed with this tres chic eatery.
5. Neal’s Yard
Not far from Covent Garden is the multi-colored splendor and beauty of Neal’s Yard.
Only accessible via two tiny, cobblestone alleyways:
This quaint little courtyard is hidden in plain sight and is brimming over with vivacious colors, quirky designs, and delightful eateries.
If you can:
Try to drag yourself out of bed EARLY, like when the sun rises, so that you can have this quaint courtyard all to yourself.
Not really a fan of the morning?
Yeah, me neither. Not to worry though since Jacob the Angel is nestled within this courtyard and will keep you well-caffeinated with their amazing coffee.
And while all of the surrounding buildings do conceal Neal’s Yard from public view, this place is still becoming more and more well known, thanks to various social media channels out there…COUGH…Instagram.
Geez Instagram, way to ruin EVERYTHING.
That’s why, you should haul ass here, sooner rather than later, before hordes of “influencers” rob this place of its quiet, simple charm.
Now, am I helping the situation by posting this article?
Nope, but what can ya do? This place was uber-famous long before me. Besides, I’m NOT all that powerful. Thank God.
But, once you step inside:
Definitely take some time to relax, sip on a latte, read a book, and enjoy the semi-solitude (depending on the time and day of your visit) as you watch the people stroll by.
6. Sketch Bathroom
No, I swear:
I’m not some ultra-pervy weirdo who skulks around London bathrooms in her free time.
Truth be told:
I visited Sketch for their super indulgent, £59 per person afternoon tea.
You betcha! But their afternoon tea is AMAZING!
You start with a quail egg and egg truffle gougere amuse that is then followed by a selection of savory finger sandwiches that include cucumber ricotta (yeah, these wizards somehow made cucumber sandwiches taste good), smoked salmon and Jacob’s cream, Comte cheese panini, and more.
But my fave part?
You guessed it, the super snazzy selection of desserts (think pineapple and coriander tarts, passionfruit opera cake, coconut and cranberry marshmallow, and a vanilla/ hazelnut Battenberg) and warm Sultana scones.
Sigh. Total carbohydrate bliss.
It also doesn’t hurt that practically every corner of this place is pure, unadulterated, Instagram bliss.
Every room here offers a truly unique, over the top, design aesthetic that would make even Lady Gaga herself jealous (Old, outrageous Lady Gaga. Not the new, more conservative one).
And their bathrooms? Yeah, they are definitely not the exception.
You could literally take a tour of this eatery’s vast collection of toilets since every bathroom here is totally different and totally outrageous but in the best possible way.
Without a doubt, my fave bathroom is the one you’ll find in the Gallery, the section of the restaurant that is devoted to serving afternoon tea.
Walk inside and you’ll find these wonderfully quirky, giant, white, chicken-egg-like, pod toilets that have been illuminated by an assortment of colorful skylights.
The kaleidoscope of neon hues here definitely makes this bathroom look more like a spaceship than a toilet.
And while yes, the decor is totally wonky, it’s also totally wonderful, making this one of those amazingly pretty places in London.
7. Churchill Arms Pub
Truth be told, this location is more for you than me. I personally am not a huge fan of Churchill Arms Pub, even though their Thai food is flipping delicious, and reason enough to visit.
But besides that:
Everything about this pub just screams over the top, eccentricity.
Walk inside and you’ll find Churchill memorabilia across every square inch of the place.
And the outside?
Yeah, it’s gorgeous…if you like buildings that make it seem as though the botanical gardens have thrown up all over the place (In fairness, I visited during Christmas so Churchill Arms wasn’t bedazzled in swaths of ivy and bouquets of flowers).
Okay, I’m exaggerating.
It’s not THAT bad. But, I definitely wouldn’t rearrange my schedule just to do a mini photoshoot here.
It’s a nice enough pub, but there are also like 12 billion other pubs in London that you could check out too.
If the insatiable need for Instagram fame and glory has totally taken over, then hop on the tube and get off at Notting Hill Gate station.
It’s just a four-block walk to Campden Street and the famous, Churchill Arms Pub.
I will say this though:
One of the fantastic things about this pub is that there are a ton of different angles and distances that you can shoot from, making for an incredible array of photographic opportunities.
I took a distance shot but I have seen some incredible photos from close-up, as well as mid-level distances.
Just do yourself a favor and avoid photographing at noon since all of my photos had this gross, washed-out quality about them that, DUH, is never a good thing.
Try and visit at either sunrise, or sunset, and enjoy a rich, golden hue of sunlight that will help make your photos look significantly more vivid and alive.
You’ll also encounter even shadows all across the pub, a quality that always makes for a much better photo.
8. St. Paul’s Cathedral at One New Change
Do you know what I love most about St. Paul’s, besides its obvious beauty and historical significance?
The fact that there are quite literally 10,000 different ways to photograph this awe-inspiring structure.
Just off the top of my head, I KNOW that you can get exquisite views of St. Paul’s from Madison’s Rooftop Bar, Canon Alley, Millenium Bridge, and more.
I’m a purist at heart and will forever and always LOVE the immortal view of St. Paul’s Cathedral from One New Change.
The double reflection of St. Paul’s in the surrounding buildings are just straight up, Harry Potter level magical.
You’ve probably seen this shot before since this spot isn’t exactly a well-kept secret, but whatever.
The view here is stunning, even if it isn’t exactly new.
If you want to take a photo (and who doesn’t?), be sure to kneel and capture the Cathedral from the ground up since there’s this heinous, glass roof that comes up from the Underground and dominates your shot.
***PSST: I’m not a huge fan of visiting places just for photo ops (no judgment if you like doing that). Instead, I’m all about culture, history, and all that jazz. Therefore, I recommend visiting the inside of St. Paul’s Cathedral since it’s beyond words amazing. Just be sure to purchase skip the lines and purchase your fast track ticket in advance so that you can avoid the queue of DOOM!***
9. The Pink House at St. Luke’s Mews
Umm, can I live here? Pretty please with sugar on top?
Probably not since there is no way that I can afford to live in a multi-million dollar home along St. Luke’s Mews (If you have no idea what a Mews is, it’s a type of street that is typically narrow, lined with cobblestones, and quaint AF. These streets also tend to be perpendicular to busier roads since they were historically used to house carriages and stables.).
But can you blame me?
I mean, what kind of pink hating monster doesn’t love a posh, blush-colored, carriage house that is lavishly adorned in floral bliss?
In fairness, this charming home might be a bit too feminine for some, but not this chick right here!
I for one consider this pink house along St. Luke’s Mews to be a true must-see for anyone with is afflicted with an acute, Instagram addiction and accordingly, needs to see ALL the pretty places in London.
If this sounds like you:
Then hop on the tube and get off at Ladbroke Grove station. From here, it’s just a short, four-block walk to the mews.
Enjoy the endless array of photographic opportunities that unfold before you.
Try not to be a total dick when taking photos here and drape yourself all over people’s homes.
You’re photographing private property and have ZERO right to be here.
Always be kind, considerate, and respectful of the people who live here since they are NOT required to tolerate society’s frivolous love of all things Instagram.
That’s why, you need to get in, get out, and go home.
People can happily go about their daily lives without some rando stranger all up in their business, feverishly snapping photos as they scream at their significant other for scratching the car.
Also (and this should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway some people are silly), NEVER go on private property.
These houses exist for people to live in, not for you to take photos.
10. Peggy Porschen
Truth be told:
I’m not really a big fan of Peggy Porschen Cakes.
Don’t get me wrong:
I love the flowery pink exterior just as much as the next girl…and that’s about it.
I tried one of their “best” cupcakes, per a super lovely staff member’s rec (and I mean that wholeheartedly), and it was meh.
I’m a diehard, sugar addict through and through, and I ended up throwing half of my cupcake out.
And if you know me, you know that NEVER happens. So clearly, impressive this cupcake was not.
Maybe I visited on an off day or just had a one-off, bad batch of cupcakes.
However, regardless of the reason:
I’d come here for the photo op and that’s about it. I’d also try and arrive EARLY (like the crack of dawn) so that you can get that Insta-awesome shot without all the crowds.
And if you’re hungry after your photo sash:
Just sashay on down the street to Dominique Ansel’s, where you can enjoy a fresh and tasty cronut because yeah, you’ve earned it.
11. St. Dunstan in the East Church
Honestly, and don’t tell any of the other places on this list, but I think this is my most favorite location of them all.
Not only does St. Dunstan in the East Church have this haunting, ethereal beauty, but it also stands as a living piece of history, forever reminding us never to repeat the horrors of the recent past.
It’s way more than just a pretty picture, although you should definitely take a ton of photos while you’re here.
But, once the photo frenzy has come to an end:
Definitely take a moment to explore this church turned park since you’ll discover a wealth of hollowed-out windows, decaying walls, and crumbling towers that are enveloped with cascades of beautiful ivy and flowers.
It almost feels as though nature is finally taking back its claim to a church that was first constructed almost nine centuries ago.
Damaged by the Great Fire of London, in 1666:
The church was once again restored, four centuries later, only to be decimated during the bombings of London in WWII.
Rather than restore this edifice to its former glory, a park was planted inside the ruins, creating a beautiful Memoriam to all those who lost their lives during that horrible, global conflict.
A sadly somber but amazingly wonderful place to visit, even if you’re not into photography.
12. Shad Thames
Nestled along the south bank of the Thames, just east of Tower Bridge, you’ll find Shad Thames, a historic, riverside street that truly is a feast for the senses.
Originally known as St John at Thames’, a nod to the Knights of St John who formerly owned this place, the region gradually shortened its name and was later transformed into a series of warehouses that shipped a variety of goods from nearby, Butler’s Wharf.
Because of the importance of the shipping industry to this part of the city:
A series of aerial bridges were developed to help people more quickly and easily move goods between warehouses and eventually, to the Thames itself.
A century later:
All of the warehouses have been closed and the neighborhood has been completely redesigned into a variety of modern offices, shops, cafés, bars, and restaurants.
These crisscrossing, aerial bridges remain as a silent ode to the past and make this an exceptionally beautiful place to walk and savor the exquisite beauty of London’s vibrant history.
To get here:
Simply hop on the tube, get off at London Bridge station, and prepare for a leisurely stroll back in time.
13. Canary Wharf Escalators
As an avid history lover, I’m always drawn to places that will help me take one giant leap into the past.
The past has long since faded into relative obscurity.
What about the hope and potential promise of the future, minus the whole Global Warming thing?
I’ve found it at the Canary Wharf tube station, which sits along the Jubilee Line of London’s Underground (between Canada Water and North Greenwich).
Located within the Canary Wharf financial district:
This chic, other-worldly transportation center pays homage to the neighborhood’s many modern skyscrapers, like the iconic, One Canada Square building.
And while this place really is nothing more than a set of beautifully innovative escalators:
It’s still a fantastic place to stop and snap some photos as these giant escalators take Londoners back towards the relative peace and serenity of their homes (Per usual, get here early to avoid the crowds. OR, visit during the week when everyone else is at work).
***While you’re here, definitely check out the nearby Crossrail Place, pedestrian overpass. It has this awesome, angular design and a distant vanishing point that make it the perfect place for an impromptu photoshoot, minus all the pedestrians of course.***
14. Leadenhall Market
Could I really create a list of pretty places in London without mentioning at least one gorgeous, Harry Potter related location?
I think NOT! Talk about total blasphemy.
Besides, Harry Potter is a total British, national treasure.
Harry Potter and London go together like peanut butter and jelly, or chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers if peanut butter is your kryptonite.
It just works.
And Leadenhall Market is extra special since, well, just look at it!
It’s like all the best attributes of historic architecture, but with this amazingly central location that is right in the heart of London’s financial district.
Seriously, what more could you ask for?
Maybe a little history since I’m a card-carrying member of the history nerd herd.
Founded in 1321:
This historic, covered market was almost completely redone in 1881, when it was transformed into the Victorian Era, architectural gem that we know today, with its bold, red and green rooftops, cobbled lanes, and exquisite metalwork.
This architectural wonder has become immortalized as the filming location for both Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron in the Harry Potter films.
I know, WICKED cool, if I do say so myself.
Just try and get here early though, so that you can snag a photo without herds of clueless muggles wandering into and out of your shots.
***PSST: Walk along Bull’s Head Passage and you’ll find the blue door of an eyeglass shop. This storefront was the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron in the Goblet of Fire. ***
15. Brick Lane Street Art
There’s definitely no shortage of amazing street art adorning the walls of London’s iconic, Shoreditch neighborhood.
It’s not really a matter of finding fantastic street art, but rather choosing your favorite piece along the vibrantly colored, street art laden lanes of Shoreditch.
My picks for some of the prettiest places in London to find street art include Brick Lane, Redchurch Street, Rivington Street (this is where you’ll find Banksy’s designated graffiti wall), and the side streets along Brick Lane.
To really get the most out of your street art tour through Shoreditch, you may want to sign up for an awesome, 2.5-hour street art tour with a local expert.
Not only will you learn about the artists responsible for these fantastic murals, but you’ll also understand the meaning behind these amazing pieces; works of art that you probably never would have found on your own.
I didn’t have enough time to do a street art tour during my last trip to London, but it’s definitely on my bucket list for next time.
16. Daunt Books
As a self-proclaimed bibliophile:
I’ve never really met a bookstore that I didn’t like. Some just happen to be more aesthetically pleasing than others.
And while there are a ton of charming, Daunt Bookstores scattered throughout London, their flagship store at 83 Marylebone High Street is probably one of my favorite purveyors of books in London.
Just walk inside this behemoth bookshop and you’ll understand why this store is routinely referred to as one of the most Instagrammable spots in London.
You’ll find three floors of narrow, oak bookcases that are exquisitely illuminated by skylights and charming, Edwardian style windows.
There are even beautiful, hardwood staircases that are perfectly framed by vibrant, William Morris printed wallpaper.
My fave spot for a panoramic shot of the store is from the middle of the second-floor balcony.
Many women, with uber-awesome Instagram husbands/ friends, like to have someone take their photo as they effortlessly glide up the stairs from the basement to the ground floor.
I might be bitter since I love this shot but can’t actually take it since I only have a tripod and don’t want to look even weirder than normal by using this piece of photographic equipment inside a bookstore. I mean, I do have at least a tiny bit of pride.
See, solo travel in London just got real!
17. Hintze Hall at the Natural History Museum
You know what I love about museums in London, besides the obvious history and allure of priceless artifacts?
The fact that they’re all free!
Something that is absolutely mind-blowing to a New Yorker like me, who is 110% used to paying like $25 for a single ticket to a museum.
Definitely a refreshing change for me.
But aside from the fantastic price-tag, London’s Natural History Museum, and outdoor garden, is also home to a vast wealth of information.
Spread across 5.7 hectares, with 80 million specimens on display, it’s no surprise that this museum is also home to Hintze Hall, one of the most insanely pretty places in London.
Built by architect Alfred Waterhouse, in 1881:
The unique design of this grandiose entranceway brings the ethereal beauty of the Victorian Era to life since this space more closely resembles a cathedral nave than it does an actual museum.
Using a mixture of Gothic Revival and twelfth-century Romanesque architectural styles, Waterhouse was able to construct a magnificent, cathedral-like foyer that is dedicated to the beauty of nature.
At first glance: though:
You probably won’t notice any of the building’s intricate architecture.
You’ll probably be too preoccupied with the giant, blue whale skeleton that hangs from the ceiling, a specimen that was relocated here after spending 81 glorious years in the mammal hall.
If you can tear yourself away from this awe-inspiring creature then you’ll be able to enjoy the room’s marvelous, gold, vaulted ceilings, which display 162, hand-painted panels with unique illustrations of plant species from across the globe.
All in all:
A gleaming canopy of art, constructed out of intricate layers of wood, glass, and metal, that exquisitely compliments the ancient specimens below and that expertly captures the Victorian spirit of collecting, cataloging and interpreting the natural world around us.
If you do decide to visit, try to stop by on weekdays after 2 pm, once all the school groups have left, or on weekends, right when the museum opens.
***If you have time, definitely visit the Dinosaur Gallery, as well as the Cadogan Gallery, which is an eclectic collection of unrelated artifacts that tell unique stories about our natural world. ***
18. Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel
Before we go any further, I want to clarify one thing.
This is Leake Street GRAFITTI Tunnel, not Leake Street Street Art Tunnel (which sounds terrible anyway).
If you do decide to visit, don’t expect to find fancy-schmancy commissions and elaborately painted, large scale murals.
That’s just not how they roll here.
Instead, you’ll find a ton of graffiti that is super rough and ultra-urban, with a multitude of obscenities thrown in for good measure.
It kind of looks like a bunch of spray paint cans just exploded and vomited up color all over the place…but in a really good way.
Because Leake Street Grafitti Tunnel is home to the largest legal street art area in London, you can expect to find a diversity of graffiti here that includes works from Banksy, an artist who immortalized this space by hosting the Cans Festival here in 2008.
On that day:
Thirty talented street artists gathered together and transformed this tunnel into a vibrant, ever-changing, public art gallery, that now has professional lighting.
Oh, la la.
And while this space is amazing, it can also be a bit dodgy at night.
DO NOT visit alone after the sun goes down (during the day I had no problem though.).
But other than that:
Just relax, take some photos, and enjoy the feast of artistic magic that sits before you.
As you exit the tunnel and come out onto Lower Marsh street, be sure to stop by the amazing market here (of the same name), which is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
It’s seriously one of the best markets in all of London so yeah, you’re welcome.
***To visit, just get off the tube at Waterloo Station and take the exit with the descending stairs. Once at the bottom, turn left and follow the road around the station, until you see Leake Street and can turn left again. From here, continue walking towards the wide, dark, slightly scary looking, enclosed alley that is known as Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel.***
19. The Burlington Arcade
Ever since my last visit to Paris:
I’ve been OBSESSED with covered passageways and shopping arcades.
It’s like they have this regal beauty about them that makes me want to throw on a hoop skirt and pretend like I can do fancy things like curtsey and sashay.
I thought they were just a Parisian thing until I found the Burlington Arcade during my last trip to London over Christmas (as if all the Christmas lights didn’t give it away).
Found within London’s posh AF West End:
This super-luxe consumer corridor has been selling designer goods here since 1819.
Connecting Bond Street with Piccadilly:
This shopping arcade was the first in London to be outfitted with a roof.
Talk about serious advances in technology!
Actually, the owner built the roof because he didn’t want “ruffians” continually throwing oyster shells in his garden. LoL. The nerve!
But the coolest part?
See, because there was such a high concentration of luxury goods being sold here, the owner, Lord Cavendish, got a little nervous.
He didn’t want the “criminal elements” of London to swoop in and rob him blind.
And since the metropolitan police hadn’t been formed yet, he decided to get creative and build his own mini police force.
Known as the Burlington Arcade Beadles:
These bad boys of the West End are still around today, faithfully serving in the world’s oldest, and smallest, private police force.
Just another one of those awesome, pretty places in London that have way more to offer than fantastic photo ops.
Ummm, who doesn’t love Chinatown in basically any city?
Cheap, delicious food? Check! Cheap merchandise that will help you shop away your feelings? Check! Ethereal red lanterns delicately wafting in the breeze? Check! Vibrantly colored entrance gates to take photos of? Check!
Seriously, what’s not to love? Plus:
London’s Chinatown has the added bonus of being relatively small (but with an incredibly high concentration of awesome), making it an easy place to navigate since you have Shaftesbury Avenue to the north, Rupert Street to the west, Charing Cross Road to the east, and Leicester Square to the south.
Take some time to walk along Gerrard Street and enjoy the neighborhood’s vivacious atmosphere.
Everywhere you turn you’ll find colorful lanterns, vibrant dragons, amazing Chinese symbols, majestic stone lions, and awe-inspiring Chinese gates, like Chinatown’s fourth gate.
Towering over Wardour Street:
This amazing piece of Chinese architecture is not only the largest Chinese gate in the UK, but it was also built using the exquisite architectural style of the Qing dynasty.
This gate is insanely colorful and shockingly beautiful, so be sure to take LOTS of photos.
What if you’re feeling a bit peckish after all this cultural enrichment?
No problem because I’ve got you covered.
If you feel like the hangry beast within is about to come out and play, then stop by Baozi Inn for street food like dumplings, Golden Dragon for Dim Sum, Bubblewrap Waffle for Hong Kong-style egg waffles, Plum Valley for Cantonese cuisine, Shuang Shuang for hotpots, and Imperial China for exceptional Chinese food.
If you feel like getting your cooking SWERVE on, then why not take an epic, Thai masterclass at the The School of Wok, which is literally right next door to Chinatown?
Food really is the answer to all life’s problems!
***To visit London’s Chinatown, just take the tube to either Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square.***
21. The Staircase at St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Talk about iconic, staircase goals right here!
I mean, London has its fair share of awe-inspiring, stairways of grandeur, but this one really takes the proverbial cake, or scone as the case may be.
Dare I say that it’s a real, flight of fancy?
Okay, okay, I’ll tone it down with the lame puns.
But in all seriousness:
You’ve probably seen this iconic staircase make the rounds on Instagram, at least within accounts that feature a significant amount of London photography.
And rightfully so since the decor and historic grandeur of this enchanting spiral staircase is the stuff that fairytale dreams are made of.
Which makes total sense when you realize that this vertical walkway was first designed by George Gilbert Scott back in 1873.
Originaly part of the Midland Grand Hotel:
This architectural detail was purposely designed to be extra wide so that it could accommodate wide bustle skirts and give ladies ample space to pass one another.
This architectural marvel is merely an ode to the past, and a fantastic place to capture a photo…or two…or ten.
If you really wanna feel like a baller and go totally luxe, you can always book a stay here and visit this beautiful staircase as often as you like.
***Fun little factoid for you! This ethereal staircase was actually featured in the video for the song “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. Thanks for ladies for making historic staircases cool again.***
22. The Great Hall at the British Museum
The British Museumquietly sits along Great Russel Street and is known for beingthelargest and most popular museum in the whole of the United Kingdom.
Originally opened in 1759:
This London institution has since become one of the premier, historical repositories (thanks handy dandy thesaurus) in the entire world.
Home to immortal, ancient artifacts like the Rosetta Stone (aka the key to translating Egyptian hieroglyphics), the Parthenon sculptures (They were unceremoniously stolen from the Acropolis. Scandalous!), and everyone’s favorite, MUMMIES, of the Egyptian variety, this place quite literally, has it all.
While I forever and always encourage photo ops of the Instagram variety, this museum really is so much more than a pretty face, or edifice as the case may be.
If you visit JUST to take pictures of the museum’s immortal, symmetrically amazing, domed atrium, then you’re totally missing out on like 8 million ancient pieces of awesome (or as scholars like to say, srtifacts).
This place is free, so why not take some time to see what all the fuss is about.
You spent all that time in the security queue so might as well do a bit of exploring while you’re here, a la Indiana Jones.
Only do this AFTER you get an epic shot of the iconic central dome pictured above (For the best photos, visit during the day and photograph the atrium from the small window on the second floor. You’ll get a perfect panoramic shot of the museum’s grand reading room from here.).
23. The Girl with the Dolphin Statue
No, this isn’t some weird Flipper remake gone awry.
I do think it’d be cool to be bestieswith a dolphin.
The above fountain was actually created by artist David Wynne in 1973, after a trippy, pot-induced euphoria where he saw pink dolphins swirling around his head.
Kidding! I made that up. I just think the fountain looks kind of trippy.
Truth be told:
I actually have no idea what this fountain means. I just think it’s pretty.
I also love how the sculptor created a sense of lightness and a freedom of movement, even though the sculpture is totally stationary and constructed from heavy materials.
While you’re here though:
Definitely try and take a distance shot so that you can capture the Shard, the fountain, and the Bridge, all in one photo.
And mad brownie points if you can manage to get a red, double decker bus in your photograoh too!
For the best picture, visit the fountain just before sunrise so that you can capture the warm light of the golden hour.
You’ll probably have the whole place to yourself since most people will still be sleeping (Unless, of course, they have some weird obsession with the morning that I will never understand).
***To visit the fountain, exit the tube at Tower Hill Station and walk towards the bridge. Once there, turn left, walk beneath the bridge, and you’ll find the Girl with a Dolphin Fountain on your left, peacefully looking out over the Thames.***
24. Lancaster Street in Notting Hill
I could name just about any street in Notting Hill and most people would probably consider it one of the prettiest places in London.
Yup, this part of the city is THAT beautiful. I mean:
There are quaint and colorful, pastel-hued homes everywhere you turn, a fact that helps make this one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in all of London (This area is so baller, it even has it’s own Hugh Grant movie).
To savor this magnetic beauty for yourself:
Simply get off the Tube at the Ladbroke Grove station (Stop by Portobello Market while you’re here. It’s super cute) and take a leisurely stroll through this quiet (ish) residential area where you’ll find a multitude of homes in enchanting shades of pink, purple, yellow, light blue, and more.
Visit on a weekend and…you’ll probably want to gouge your eyes out since you’ll have to wade through gross mobs of wannabe influencers everywhere.
The icky influencers who kind of feel like it’s their god-given right to drape themselves all over someone else’s doorstep, while outfitted in vibrant red, floor-length skirts, impatiently waiting to get their piece of Instagram fame and glory.
I may be a teeny tiny bit jealous, but we’ll ignore that fact for now (And I know I’m being uber harsh. A lot of influencers are lovely and not at all self-involved).
While I have no problem with snapping selfies here, especially since I’ve taken photos here myself, I implore you to be respectful of the area’s residents when you visit.
You’re an uninvited guest in someone else’s backyard.
Even though these houses are gorgeous and we’re all desperately trying to get that perfect shot, chances are most people probably don’t want you here and tolerate you…at best.
Get in, quickly get your shot (from the sidewalk), and exit stage left, ASAP.
It’s that simple.
I mean, people didn’t ask for their homes to be Insta-famous. It’s just some weird byproduct of social media mayhem gone awry.
Stay off people’s stoops since it’s private property and you should not be there.
In truth though:
This is all common sense kind of stuff. Just be the kind, caring, and considerate person that I know you are and all will be right with the world.
Okay, lecture over. Back to your regularly scheduled program.
25. God’s Own Junkyard
Away from the well-worn tourist paths of London:
You’ll find this unassuming warehouse tucked away in the Northeastern corner of the city.
It’s home to an eclectic collection of totally colorful and wonderfully quirky neon signs, that are collectively known as, God’s Own Junkyard.
Created by local artist Chris Bracey:
This wonderfully wonky, electric signs were originally designed for the sets of iconic films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Blade Runner.
Over 1,000 electric signs remain on display, creating an eclectic, neon-hued wonderland that is brimming over with disco balls, retro signs, and random car parts.
Talk about the perfect backdrop for the Instagram photo shoot of your dreams.
But trust me, it gets better.
There’s even a small, onsite cafe here called The Rolling Scones that offers visitors reasonably priced coffee, cakes, savory dishes, and, you guessed it, scones.
Because let’s be real:
A life without scones is no life at all!