The West End
Once a haven for the London’s privileged elite, today the West End is London’s cultural and retail epicentre, attracting visitors from all over the world. The area is packed with some of the city’s most notable streets, squares and parks.
The West End broadly refers to the shopping district around Oxford, Regent and Bond streets, the entertainment districts of Leicester Square and Covent Garden, and Westminster. Notable West End locales include Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Soho, Carnaby Street and Hyde Park. These areas are all conveniently connected by the London Underground.
Step from the escalator at Oxford Circus Underground station and into the swarm of busy Londoners and tourists. Explore the franchise flagship stores and designer boutiques of Oxford Street, one of the busiest streets in Europe. Check out British retail institutions, such as Selfridges & Co. and Marks & Spencer. Rediscover your inner child amid the magical toy displays geared toward young ones.
Once you’ve explored Oxford Street, retire to one of the West End’s quieter and quirkier shopping districts, such as Market Place, St. Christopher’s Place or Newburgh Quarter.
There’s still plenty to do if the sky is grey. Check out the portraits of British heroes and icons throughout history in the National Portrait Gallery, one of thirty museums and galleries in the area.
At night, the West End lights up as theatre-goers pour from the Underground and friendly chatter spills from traditional pubs, restaurants and bars. With 50 live theatre venues in the West End alone, there’s no excuse for leaving London without seeing at least one show. Pick up a free local paper or theatre guide to help you choose from the myriad of musicals, comedies and Shakespearean classics on offer. Or, simply grab a ticket to Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, the longest running show in the world. For some behind-the-scenes drama and scandal, join the History of Theatreland Walking Tour.
The West End is located to the west of Charing Cross. The Underground stops in various spots in and around the area, as do city buses.