No visit to London would be complete without soaking up the unique atmosphere in the West End. It is one of London's most vibrant areas for shopping, shows, culture and history as well as food and drink.
When people refer to London's West End, they are talking about:
- London's entertainment district around Leicester Square and Covent Garden
- Shopping along Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Bond Street
- The city centre area to the west of the historic City of London, within the City of Westminster
Travel to and around the West End
If you're going to be in London for more than a day, it's worth buying a Visitor Oyster Card in advance. The Visitor Oyster Card is delivered to your home before you arrive in London. It is one of the easiest ways to get around London.
If you do not have a Visitor Oyster Card, but still plan to travel around London for more than a day, buy an Oyster card at the Tube station. Learn more about Oyster Cards.
Things to do in the West End: Museums and Galleries
London’s top attractions include sites within the West End. The most popular museums and galleries in the area are The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, The Royal Academy of Arts and the London Transport Museum.
Things to do in the West End: Shopping
The West End contains some of London's finest shopping streets. Check out Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and St Christopher's Place for big-name flagship stores such as Topshop, Ralph Lauren, Selfridges, Hamleys, and The Apple Store.
Read more on shopping in London.
Things to do in the West End: Theatre
Perhaps the most famous thing about London's West End is its theatre scene. Alongside Broadway in New York, West End theatre represents the highest quality theatre in the world.
There are around 40 theatres in London's "Theatreland." Theatre performances in the West End tend to be musicals, classic plays and comedies. Visit the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for discount theatre ticket for on-the-day performances and advance booking shows.
At the moment, you can choose from a wide range of West End shows: From musicals like Wicked, Billy Elliot, Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, to plays like War Horse, The Woman in Black and The Mousetrap.
Find out more about London theatre.
Things to do in West End: Cinema and Casinos
The West End is also London’s glamorous centre for red carpet movie premieres. Hollywood stars can be seen posing for photos almost every week.
This historical square is also where you’ll find the 24-hour Hippodrome Casino which has space for live shows as well as a restaurant and five bars.
Things to do in West End: Bars and Clubs
There is never a dull moment in London’s West End bar scene. You can dance the night away at Cafe de Paris or Tiger Tiger. You can find trendy bars such as Dirty Martini on Covent Garden piazza or Albannach Scottish bar in Trafalgar Square. Or you can simply enjoy a romantic cocktail or two in the swanky surroundings of hotel bars like Artesian at The Langham, and Scoff & Banter Leicester Square in the Radisson Blu Edwardian, Hampshire
Soho is the best area in the West End for bars and clubs. It’s also the place to go to find the most gay and lesbian bars and clubs in London.
Things to do in West End: Restaurants
Take some time to explore the extensive options West End restaurants have to offer. This area of London has possibly the most diverse range of food, from decadent fine dining to cheap eats and take-outs.
In Chinatown you’ll find the highest concentration of authentic Asian cuisine in the UK. In Mayfair, you’ll enjoy more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other UK postcode. In Covent Garden’s Opera Quarter, you’ll find the best pre-theatre dining in London.
Throughout the West End you can enjoy:
- Asian delights of Mint Leaf, Tamarind, Imi Street and Cinnamon Soho
- fresh seafood at Pescatori and Cape Town Fish Market
- the sharing craze at Polpo, Opera Tavern and Blanchette
- a taste of the Far East at Inamo St James and Aqua Kyoto
- the familiarity of comfort food at Jamie's Italian or Spaghetti House
- and the traditionally British cuisine of Rules and Scoff and Banter Covent Garden
Read more about restaurants in London.
Hotels and Hostels in London’s West End
Some of London's finest hotels can be found in the West End. Take your pick from the following, or browse our hotels section for more options:
- One Aldwych
- Hilton Waldorf
- The London EDITION
- Café Royal
- St Martins Lane
- The Savoy
- Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel
- The Trafalgar
- The Hampshire
- The Langham
- The Charing Cross Hotel
Read more about accommodation in London.
Special Events in the West End
The West End hosts a number of fantastic events and festivals. Trafalgar Square is home to special events throughout the year. Both Oxford Street and Regent Street have family-friendly traffic-free days during the year.
During Christmas in London, the West End sparkles with festive decorations and seasonal special events. The Christmas lights along Regent’s Street and Oxford Street always prove popular with Londoners and visitors alike. London's New Year's Day Parade also takes place on the streets of the West End.