Five streets in London you have to visit
by Megan Thomas
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Please say it’s not just me who has “Streets of London” by Ralph McTell in my head as a result of this magazine’s theme? It makes the most sense to quote from the legendary song - “Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London” - because it’s exactly what I’ll do by introducing you to these five unmissable streets of London.
London is one of Europe’s shopping capitals, while Oxford Street is one of London’s. It attracts half a million visitors daily, and is home to roughly 300 shops. This means, by simple deduction, that Oxford Street is a compulsory spot to visit if you’re partial to a healthy dose of retail therapy. From the flagship Selfridges store to your high-street gems like TopShop and H&M, anything you need is likely available on Oxford Street. It’s also a sparkling wonderland over Christmastime, with lights aplenty and festive cheer galore.
2. BRICK LANE
This street in London’s East End, which runs south all the way from Swanfield Street in Bethnal Green, crosses Bethnal Green Road in Shoreditch, and enters Whitechapel, is essentially five markets in one, meaning the diversity of produce is staggering. The area is historically a major home and community for immigrants from Bangladesh, meaning you’ll find South Asian delicacies that make you drool. It’s also home to Beigel Bake Brick Lane Bakery, a famous 24-hour bakery (that’s right - it never ends!) known for traditional Jewish-style filled bagels. You might be lining up for hours at a time, but I assure you it’ll be the best salt beef bagel you’ve ever had.
3. CECIL COURT
This pedestrian street near Leicester Square has iconic Victorian shop-frontages, and yet this isn’t even what makes it most famous. Instead, it’s known affectionately by bookish folk everywhere as Bookseller’s Row, because of the sheer number of bookshops which trade here. After antiquarian books on the topic of mind, body and soul? Watkins Books. Signed, hardback crime fiction? Goldsboro Books. Children’s books? Marchpane. Name the genre and it’s a sure thing that it’s sold on Bookseller’s Row.
4. COLUMBIA ROAD
Columbia Road Flower Market is famous in London, and has been since it opened in 1869. Every Sunday, this street in Bethnal Green transforms into what seems like a scene plucked from Oliver Twist. Traders shouting about their fresh posies, and greenery wherever you look, you don’t go to Columbia Road and leave empty handed - no matter the colour of your thumb.
5. PORTOBELLO ROAD
“Portobello Road, Portobello Road
Street where the riches of ages are stowed.
Anything and everything a chap can unload
Is sold off the barrow in Portobello road.
You'll find what you want in the Portobello road.”
Familiar? If not, you need to watch the 1971 animation, get it in your head so you can suffer like me (it’s on a constant loop right now…) and enjoy some feel-good Disney magic. After that, you’ll take the lyrics to heart, because even though it’s not WWII London anymore, you can still get anything and everything a chap can unload, from antiques to delicious street food, on Portobello Road on a Friday or a Saturday at their famous market - although they’re going with stalls over barrows nowadays.