Apart from great bars, hedonistic clubs, delicious restaurants, wonderful theatres, buzzing coffeeshops, quirky boutiques, iconic department stores, inspiring galleries, secluded green spaces, raucous music joints, stunning hotels, and dozens of hidden treasures…
…there aren’t many things to do in Soho.
But if you still somehow want to go and explore it, then, well, here are a few humble suggestions…
Check Out Some Great Music
Ronnie Scotts may well be the preeminent jazz bar in the country, let alone the city, making it easily one of the best things to do in Soho – but spare a thought for Ain’t Nothin But A Blues Bar, which shrugs off its silver medal by making itself ridiculously fun to compensate.
Strike The Croc Bowling Alley
The Ham Yard Hotel is one of the area’s most beautiful hotels, yet it’s hidden in an alleyway off the main stretches of road. The upshot? This gorgeously retro bowling alley is one of the most undiscovered things to do in Soho. A true hidden gem.
Play Mini-golf In A Big Space
Swingers West End is the place that all mini golf venues want to be when they grow up. Three courses, attentive caddies, great cocktails, a rooftop terrace, and some wonderfully old fashioned English Riviera stylings.
Play Dumpling Roulette in Chinatown
Roulette wheel no.1: picking the restaurant. Roulette wheel no.2: picking the dumplings.
Check Out Some World-Class Photography
The clue is really in the name here, but The Photographers Gallery is unrivalled in its exhibitions of top-shelf snappers. In fact, they gallery has even created an outdoor alfresco photography show in the street itself. If you’re looking for cultural things to do in Soho, this one’s both free and inspiring.
Browse the Berwick Street Market
Berwick Street Market‘s been going for literally hundreds of years. You’ll find a couple of dozen traders ready to arm you with a great lunch, plus coffee, flowers, and more. It’s where places like Pizza Pilgrims got their start, so you may well literally stumble across the next big thing.
Catch a show at the Soho Theatre
The Soho Theatre specialises in new writing covering comedy, cabaret, drama, and more. They like to take risks, and show off some of the city’s more cutting edge stuff, but whatever you see it’ll be high calibre. And there’s a first-class bar there to boot.
Take on the Crystal Maze
Get ready to channel your inner Thanos (in the sense of collecting precious gems. Not committing galactic genocide.)
Explore the hidden whisky bar at Milroy’s
Yes, this wonderfully old fashioned whiskey shop, packed to the rafters with exotic & rare bottles, has a hidden bar behind one of the shelves. Just don’t go randomly pushing walls like a lunatic.
Eat some exotic ice cream at Chin Chin
Chin Chin use liquid nitrogen to super-cool their ice cream to ludicrously low temperatures when they make it, meaning that it has no ice crystals, meaning that it’s one of the smoothest ice creams you’ve ever tasted. And then they turn it into stuff like Yuzu Pina Coladas with rum candy floss or sticky toffee pudding sundaes with Earl Grey ice cream.
Browse Lina Stores, the shop
Open since 1944, Lina Stores has been, well, a store for approximately 93% of its existence. Take a gander at the beautiful produce, and see why it’s become such an icon.
Travel back in time at Cahoots
Talking of 1944, there’s a place that never left it: Cahoots is a theatrical, vintage tube carriage-containing, live music-delivering, nostalgia-driven cocktail bar that does everything except the rationing. If you lean into the theme, you can have a jolly marvellous night out.
Have dinner in a sex shop
Well, you walk in through a sex shop. Find your way past the silicone toys and into the restaurant itself, and you’ll be presented with La Bodega Negra: a candlelit Mexican cavern with a killer tequila list and some seriously strong date-night game.
Gaze down upon the rabble from the rooftop at Aqua Kyoto
Aqua Kyoto is a zen refuge above the chaotic streets of Soho, and the roof terrace bar – Aqua Spirit – makes a perfect nightcap spot after a meal in the dimly lit Japanese restaurant.
Unleash your vocals at Lucky Voice
One of those obligatory things to do in Soho once you hit a certain blood alcohol level, Lucky Voice is a solid gold, multi-platinum karaoke spot with thousands of songs, cocktail summoning buttons, and a 3am license.
Potter around at the House Of MinaLima
MinaLima are the design studio behind the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films, and their shop is a veritable Aladdin’s cave, crammed with framed prints; wanted posters; packaging and adverts for the Weasley twins’ joke shop; Hogwarts house exercise books; Daily Prophet notecards with lenticular photographs; tea towels and tote bags; tickets to the Quidditch World Cup; public notices from the Ministry of Magic; and so much more…
Sniff out the Seven Noses of Soho
Credit: Flickr / Betsy Weber
Created by artist Rick Buckley in 1997, the seven noses are, well noses. Planted on the sides of walls throughout Soho. And if you fancy tracking them all down, then you need to look very carefully at Admiralty Arch, Great Windmill Street, Meard Street, Bateman Street, Dean Street, Endell Street and D’Arblay Street.
Go to the Theatre
Yes, this is a hub of great shows, not just for London, or the UK, but for the world at large. See what’s on at the Theatre right now.
Sample a few drinks at the London Gin Club
The London Gin Club has been around since the early thirties, and its collection of fine juniper juice has never been bigger than it is today – drop in for a tipple, and leave hours later…
Have a break in Soho Square
Credit: geo sharples / Soho Square / CC BY-SA 2.0
We’d love to tell you that the central wooden hut here was once the site of subterranean code breaking during the war, or houses London’s smallest swimming pool…but unfortunately it’s literally just a tool shed.
Go shopping on Carnaby Street
It’s become a tiny bit more sanitised than in its heyday but Carnaby Street still has a lot to offer, and not just from the boutiques (particularly on Newburgh Street running parallel to it) but also from the many restaurants in Kingly Court, and cocktail bars like Nightjar Carnaby.
Take a jaunt around Liberty
Credit: Leslie Archard / Flickr
From its beautiful Tudor-style facade to the cornucopia of luxury goods packed inside, Liberty never fails to impress. Just remember, those bold prints come with bold prices too.
Explore some old school record stores
Soho is well known for its excellent record stores, filled with enough obscure vinyl to make a hipster faint. If you want to do a littler perusing yourself, head to Berwick street and find a trio of shops (Sister Ray, Reckless Records, and Selectadisc) just up from to the market.
Press for Champagne at Bob Bob Ricard
We’ve all seen it, and we’ve all wanted to do it. Settle into a booth at the now legendary Russian restaurant, press the button, and await bubbly.
See a classic at The Prince Charles Cinema
It’s the only independent cinema left in London’s West End, which is both sad and exciting, as it speaks to the quality of its programming. Because the only criteria they have is that a film is good…
See The John Snow Pump
Credit: Flickr / Betsy Weber
Sure, this one might not float everyone’s boat. It’s just the pump where scientist John Snow first proved that cholera was spread by water, thus stopping the terrifying outbreaks, effectively preventing the deaths of millions, and allowing the modern city to be born. But, we get it, it’s not exactly brunch.
See the Radha Krishna Temple
Credit: Ethan Doyle White
Of all the things classic to do in Soho, this one might be the most obscure. Founded in the ’60s and popularised by George Harrison, this is a bona fide, actual temple. In Soho Square. And it’s open to all.
While you’re there… you’ll want to have a bite at one of the best restaurants in Soho, followed by a drink at one of the best bars in Soho too…