The most famous streets in London celebrate British culture, pop music, literature, fashion, history and politics.
This post is about how and why those streets became famous, how they got their names and which ones you really need to take a selfie in 🙂
Most of the streets in this selection are in central London.
On an average visit to London, you’re likely to see them anyway, but now you’ll know why they’re important, iconic or world-famous.
I’ve included a couple of famous streets I love in the west and east of the city too.
They are well worth a visit and are not very far from the centre.
Sherlock Holmes made this central London street famous, thanks to the fictional address of the house where he lived with Dr. Watson and their landlady, Mrs. Hudson, in the beloved book series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Holmes fans used to write letters to the 221B address for years, hoping to reach a literary detective in real life…
The building used to belong to the Abbey National Building Society who had to employ staff to reply to those letters 😉
These days, Baker Street is one of the most popular streets in London. 221B Baker Street is home to the Sherlock Holmes Museum and has a blue plaque stating “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective, 1881-1904”.
It is a listed building, which in the UK means it’s been recognised for its “special architectural and historical interest”.
Have a look inside the museum:
Sherlock is all around when you visit Baker Street…
The silhouette of Sherlock’s character decorates the nearby Baker Street Station.
You’ll see a bug Sherlock statute when you step out of the station.
The 4-star Holmes Hotel is a few minutes walk from there, on Chiltern Street.
There are Sherlock Holmes themed guided tours as well, that will take you to locations from the books and to film locations of the BBC series “Sherlock”.
Address: 221b Baker St, Marylebone, London NW1 6XE
This street isn’t associated with one particular famous character, but rather with a cultural phenomenon – the “Swinging Sixties” in London.
Famous fashion designers had their boutiques on Carnaby Street, which turned it into an iconic place.
These days Carnaby Street and its side streets make one of the prettiest shopping areas in London.
It’s in Soho and full of cute cafés, stylish shops and concept stores, just moments from Oxford Street. Oh, and it’s also car-free 🙂
Address: Carnaby Street, Soho, London W1
London’s main shopping street is probably the most famous street in London.
It’s a place tourists love, but Londoners love to hate, notorious for being flooded with tourists, especially in the summer months.
Oxford Street is the London shopping street. It really is a very busy street, but if you travel for shopping, you can’t miss it.
It has hundreds of shops of any kind imaginable: Posh, cheap, small, big, well-known chain stores, huge department stores and everything in between.
Oxford Street is also one of the few places in London where shops stay open quite late. If you’re visiting London from a country where you’re used to everything being open late, you’re going to thank me for this tip 😉
Address: Oxford Street, London W1
Close to Oxford Street is another famous street in central London.
Even if you’ve never been to London, you probably have seen Piccadilly Circus, with its statue of Eros and the massive neon signs when you look up.
Piccadilly Circus is pretty crowded, but when you walk into Piccadilly Street you’ll find it’s a little less busy and you can take a leisurely stroll among the upmarket shops and restaurants.
You’ll pass by the Royal Academy of Arts that’s always worth checking out, as they always have some excellent exhibitions on.
You can also visit Hatchards bookshop on 87 Piccadilly Street, which prides itself on being the UK’s oldest bookshop
As you keep walking you’ll see the famous Ritz Hotel and reach the beautiful Green Park.
Address: Piccadilly Street, London W1J
From Piccadilly Circus you can easily reach the avenue that is a theatre lover’s paradise…
The West End district is where London’s theatre magic happens every night and Shaftesbury Avenue is at the heart of it, with theatres all along it.
Some of the famous theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue include The Shaftesbury Theatre, Lyric Theatre, Palace Theatre, Gielgud Theatre, Sondheim Theatre and Apollo Theatre. The Covent Garden ODEON cinema, which used to be a theatre in the past, is also on the same avenue.
Address: Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H
This central London street is famous for quality suits.
It’s been the place where men’s tailors have been selling bespoke suits since the late 18th century and has attracted famous figures as clients over the years, like Charlie Chaplin and Winston Churchill.
Apart from fashion, the street is also known for being the place where the Beatles played their last live performance. That was on the rooftop of their office at 3 Savile Row in 1969.
Address: Savile Row, Mayfair, London W1S
This part of east London has been one of my favourite streets in London for years now.
I wrote an entire guide to Brick Lane when I realised that quite a lot of visitors to London don’t know about it.
Saying that, it is full of people during the weekend, thanks to the famous Brick Lane markets.
The street has several different popular markets, including the Sunday Market, The Vintage Market and Backyard Market.
Brick Lane is famous for other things too.
It’s one of the best places to find top quality street art in London, taste some Bengali food at one of its many curry houses, shop for vintage clothing or spend some time in chic cafes.
The best time to visit Brick Lane is on Sunday or Saturday for the markets, but you can visit on any other day of the week and still enjoy the atmosphere and cool shops.
Brick Lane has also inspired some excellent novels, including “Brick Lane” by Monica Ali and “Salaam Brick Lane” by Tarquin Hall.
Address: Brick Lane, London E1
A short bus ride away from Brick Lane, you can visit Columbia Road, famous for its flower market, the place to buy flowers and plants.
The market is immensely popular and can get really crowded, with a lively atmosphere, street bands, cool shops, restaurants and pubs.
The Columbia Road Flower Market opens early in the morning on Sunday and runs until the afternoon. Combine it with a visit to Brick Lane’s Sunday Market for a full day of east London experiences.
Address: Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG
The cover of the Beatles album Abbey Road turned the pedestrian crossing outside Abbey Road Studios into a popular spot and a world-famous street.
Fans come to get their pictures taken there all the time, but it’s not just music lovers who think this place is important.
The British government awarded the crossing with a Grade II listing for its cultural and historical significance.
Who would have thought a zebra crossing could become a national monument 😉
This isn’t the only place in London the the Beatles made famous.
There are many music themed and Beatles tours in London that will take you around the city to where they worked, recorded, performed etc.
More Beatles tours in London:
Address: 3 Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, London NW8 9AY
A main street in Notting Hill is one of the most famous London roads for quite a few different reasons.
The main reason Portobello Road is famous is because that’s where locals and tourists flock to one of the most popular markets in London, Portobello Road Market.
The market is one of London’s oldest. It offers fresh food on weekdays and has all the vintage, retro, antique and second-hand treasures you might imagine on Saturdays.
The street itself has plenty of vintage shops that you can visit any day of the week.
What else makes Portobello Road famous?
If you’re ever in London in August, Notting Hill Carnival is an experience you want to enjoy at least once.
The carnival is a massive street party that takes place each year on the August Bank Holiday.
The entire neighbourhood is blocked for traffic in favour of sound systems, dancers, street food and cheerful crowds.
And finally, the “Notting Hill” movie, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant was inspired by places in the neighbourhood and some famous scenes were filmed in it.
If you’re a fan of the movie, you can spot some filming locations on Portobello Road and on smaller streets around Notting Hill, such as Will’s Bookshop on 142 Portobello Road (which isn’t actually a bookshop) and the blue door on 280 Westbourne Park Road, near the corner of Portobello Road.
Address: Portobello Road, London W11
“Strond” is old English for “edge of the river”. The location of this street close to the River Thames gave it its historic significance, as it connected Westminster and the City of London.
Some noteworthy places along the Strand these days are Somerset House, an amazing cultural complex that I strongly recommend you visit whenever you’re in the area; Savoy Hotel with its beautiful Art Deco design and right next to it – The Adelphi Theatre; and the The Twinings flagship teashop on 216 Strand, which has been at the same spot for more than 300 year…
Address: The Strand, London WC2
This is one famous street in England that you can’t actually enter.
No. 10 Downing Street with it famous black door is the official residence of the British prime minister.
For security reasons, it isn’t accessible to the public, so you’ll have to make do with seeing it on the news (or in political cartoons…)
Address: You know it!
The Mall is a large boulevard , lined with trees and Union flags, used for royal parades, ceremonial events and royal weddings.
The street leading from Trafalgar Square all the way up to Buckingham Palace is obviously one of the most famous streets in London.
Don’t forget to visit the lovely St. James’s Park while you’re there.
London street names can be funny sometimes, especially when you wouldn’t expect an American shopping centre on the way to the palace…
But the name “Mall” actually comes from the name of an old ball game called “pall-mall”.
Address: The Mall, London SW1A
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