With over 8 million residents and 48 different neighbourhoods spanning nearly 1,600 square kilometres, London remains to be one of the largest and most diverse cities on the planet.
As a matter of fact, even before major cities were being put on world maps, London was growing at such a massive rate, it eventually started splitting into several different “mini cities,” each of which had their own unique history, culture and vibe that can still be seen today.
Strolling from one neighbourhood to the other, it's easy to see why each and every one of London's many neighbourhoods is unique and special in its own way. While some neighbourhoods are home to London's most historic landmarks, churches and theatres, others boast some of the finest examples ground-breaking modern architecture on the planet. Some neighbourhoods in London are famous for their vintage street markets and multinational street food, while others have become popular for their massive collections of street art, bustling nightclubs or quintessential English pubs.
But with so many neighbourhoods to choose from, it makes sense that a few would obviously stand out from the rest. Here is a rough guide on some of London's most famous neighbourhoods that shouldn't be missed by any first-time visitor to London:
Soho tends to be the first famous neighbourhood in London that comes to mind, as it's home to sites like Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden and London's bustling theatre district. But there's other London neighbourhoods that have become more and more famous throughout the years.
Notting Hill has become a household name since the release of the classic 1999 Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts film Notting Hill, and is also home to many celebrities, the Notting Hill Carnival, and world-famous street markets.
Shoreditch has become the capital of alternative culture in London since the 1990s thanks to its impressive collections of street art (some of which have been painted by the likes of Banksy and ROA), and is also home to a ton of different street markets, music venues and nightclubs which attract visitors from all over the world.
And let's not forget about Greenwich, a famous neighbourhood in London in its own right, as it is home to the Prime Meridian Line as well as several notable attractions like the Cutty Sark, The Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, and The O2 Arena.
And although it's not technically a neighbourhood, the City of London is not only one of the oldest areas in London, but also the financial heart of the English capital as well. Here you can find several historic sites like the London Wall and The Tower of London, as well as some of the most jaw-dropping modern architecture in the city like The Shard and 30 Mary St. Axe (AKA The Gherkin).
Unfortunately many of the most famous neighbourhoods in London are a tad on the expensive side, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to break the bank in order to visit them; (unless you want to dine in a fancy restaurant, of course).
Soho is perhaps one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in London for accommodation and restaurants, and souvenir shops tend to be overpriced as well. The City of London is also quite pricey as many of its restaurants, cafés and shops cater to those working in the area, as well as to couples on a romantic getaway in London.
Shoreditch or any other neighbourhood in east London tends to be cheaper than neighbourhoods in central or west London, and here you can find a ton of great deals in restaurants, shops and cafés.
And of course, by shopping at some of the many street markets in London's most famous neighbourhoods (like Portobello Market in Notting Hill, or the Greenwich Market) you're bound to find a great bargain on food clothing, jewellery, accessories, household items and more.
While the City of London generally comes to life during the nine to five hours, the majority of shops and restaurants stay open much later in Soho than anywhere else in the city. Oxford Street, for example has shops that stay open as late as 9 p.m. on some days, but usually have shorter hours on Sunday (from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.), while restaurants in Chinatown generally open at 12 p.m. and close at 12 a.m. Cafés in Greenwich may open as early as 7 a.m., but the majority of restaurants usually close around 10 p.m. (or even earlier during the week).
It's also important to point out that how you experience a famous London neighbourhood truly boils down to not only what day of the week you're visiting, but what month of the year you're visiting as well.
Soho is perhaps best visited in December when the streets are lined with brightly-lit Christmas , as well as in January when Chinatown becomes the epicentre of London's annual Chinese New Years Celebrations.
If you plan on visiting some of the many street markets in London's famous neighbourhoods, Shoreditch and Camden's markets usually take place on the weekends, while Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays are best for the Greenwich Market, the Leadenhall Market and Covent Garden Market.
Luckily some of London's most famous neighbourhoods (like Soho, the City of London and Notting Hill) are all relatively close to each other, so you could easily walk from one to the other in several hours (or even less). However, other neighbourhoods like Shoreditch and Greenwich are a bit out of the way from central London, so you will need to travel by tube, bus, train or coach to get to them.
Some of the more central neighbourhoods in London are easily accessible by tube (like the City of London, Notting Hill and Soho) while Shoreditch is perhaps best visited by bus. Also, be aware that if you are travelling by car, neighbourhoods in central London have very expensive parking costs and/or incredibly busy streets, so you may want to use public transport to get around instead of using your own car.