With over 200 million visitors each year, Oxford Street is the busiest shopping street in Europe, and the most popular shopping destination in London. And although many of its stores are packed full of high-end, boutique items, you don't necessarily need to be made out of money to enjoy all that Oxford Street has to offer.
Oxford Street has been one of the main arteries pulsing through the heart of the London's West End for centuries, and its origins can be dated all the way back to Roman times. The 1.5-mile-long street (stretching from Tottenham Court Road station to the east and Marble Arch station to the west) used to be called Tyburn Road during the Middle Ages, and was the main road leading from London to Oxford, (hence the name).
During its earlier years, the street was lined with independent traders selling wares, but today has expanded to include over 300 retailers ranging from flagship stores, retail chains and designer outlets.
The most famous of Oxford Street's many stores is none other than the world-renowned Selfridges, which was founded by the American businessman Henry Gordon Selfridge in 1909. With over 10 acres of shopping space which occupy an entire block of Oxford Street, Selfridges is the second largest store in London after Harrods, and has been coined as “an extraordinary temple of the retail business” thanks to its neoclassical columns and jaw-dropping main entrance.
Oxford Street Highlights
No matter what time of the year you visit, Oxford Street is bound to be packed full of locals and tourists rushing through the streets with an armful of shopping bags, But it's during the Christmas season when the street truly comes to life, as it's lined with all sorts of Christmas decorations that are lit up at night, which makes for a truly dazzling sight.
Walking from one end of the street to the other, visitors will see stores like Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis, as well as flagship Nike, Adidas, H&M and Topshop stores (which attracts more than 200,000 shoppers every week). And of course, no visit to Oxford Street would be complete without browsing around Selfridges (at 400 Oxford Street), which boasts six floors, 11 places to eat, and over 11,000 pairs of jeans
The bigger department stores tend to be located more between Marble Arch and Oxford Circus, while the smaller department stores or shops selling consumer electronics can be found more towards Tottenham Court Road.
From Oxford Circus to Tottenham Court Road you can find stores like Topshop, American Apparel and Next, and if you walk along the area between Oxford Circus and Bond Street, you will also find some other big-named stores like H&M, Debenhams, Gap, the House of Fraser, and Zara.
From Marble Arch to Bond Street, you'll see a Marks & Spencer, New Look, Primark, River Island, and Selfridges. Charing Cross Road and Denmark Street to the south-east is home to many stores selling books and musical instruments, while Edgware Road (to the north-west) has more of a focus on electronics.
If you feel like doing some sightseeing during your visit to Oxford Street, Marble Arch (to the west) is a famous London landmark in its own right, and was once a place of public execution from 1388 until 1793. Hyde Park is less than a two-minute walk away from Marble Arch, and you can easily walk to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Speakers' Corner and the Serpentine Lido before your visit to Oxford Street as well.
But Madame Tussauds in London isn't just a celebrity wax figure museum. The attraction also offers taxi rides through London's historic tales (called “The Spirit of London”), a Marvel Super Heroes 4D mini-movie experience for children, and even a full bar for adults to enjoy!
- If you want to park your car near Oxford Street, you can get a discount on parking costs at the Q-Park Oxford Street by pre-booking a spot online beforehand.
- If you happen to be visiting during the slower months, many of the larger 4-star hotels near Marble Arch offer discounts.
- When walking up and down Oxford Street, don't forget to take a quick stroll down some of the smaller side lanes as you're bound to come across some sort of gem or architectural delight.
- Some stores will not allow you to enter if you're carrying a suitcase of rucksack, so try to avoid bringing them during your visit.