Carnaby Street is an iconic heritage site and is now a tourist destination not only for international visitors but national ones too. In addition to Londoners, themselves are drawn to the area for its shopping, bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants that are just too good to let only the tourists enjoy them.
This Carnaby be street is steeped in history as far back as the 1600s. But most of what you see today was created around the 1960s.
Originally it was a home of Mods, Punks, and Skinheads before becoming the street-style tribe of today. Over the years, Carnaby Street has established itself as the epicenter of lifestyle and culture in the West end of London.
Bright, colourful, trendy and with a dash of street art, it’s among the best places to visit in Soho.
A Little History Of Carnaby Street
Before the 1960s, the history of the street starts in 1682 when Richard Tyler laid the first brick of the strait. This year, the first house was built along the street. Several houses were built between 1682 and 1720 when the area was redeveloped to accommodate more shops.
Vegetable, fish, and meat shops were added into the area, forming what is now known as the Carnaby market. A notable building in the street is the Shakespearean public house, which is believed to have been built in 1735. In 1823 the street was completed segregating Mayfair from Soho and Carnaby Street.
In 1854 after segregation, Soho became an epicenter of the cholera outbreak, which hindered the street’s development. Nothing much major happened for the next 50 years until 1910, when the new redevelopment of the street began again.
The development aimed to clear the old-fashioned houses and build modern market stalls and houses that could accommodate the fast-growing market.
For many years before the 1960s Carnaby Street was one of the best places where creative people in search of inspiration would love to live. It was during the 1960s that the street gained momentum, and it started to get some credentials that you see today.
During this time, there was no state that was better than Carnaby Street with its new cultures, new exciting music, and rebellious identity. Everybody loved to live in this place.
Music lovers started seeing stars like Jimi Hendrix, Brigitte Bardot, Rolling Stones, and Elizabeth Taylor becoming regulars in the street. In 1961, Cranks vegetarian restaurant opened.
Later in 1964, Lord John, a popular chain of menswear shops, was opened in the street. This meant that you could find almost everything you wanted on this street.
In the 1970s, the street was pedestrianized after British designers moved into the area. Mary Quant, Pam Hogg, John Richmond, and Vivienne Westwood were among the first wave of British designers who moved into the area because they believed that this area was a place to showcase their talent.
The area had continued to evolve and in 2012, Rolling stones and Carnaby London collaborated to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Ever since the street has received hundreds of locals and tourists every month.
Things To Do In Carnaby Street
Let’s talk about Carnaby Street’s hidden gems, places to eat, and where to hang out and shop around Carnaby Street.
Carnaby Street Shopping
Carnaby street shopping is a unique and fantastic experience that will leave you yearning to return. The street is filled with all kinds of stores, everything from cosmetics, clothing shoes, glasses, cafes and everything in between.
Whether you are looking for fashion boutiques, groceries, or just want to do general shopping, everything is here. You will not break the bank to get whatever you want either. Carnaby Street is among London’s famous shopping streets.
Liberty Department Store
Liberty Department store is an excellent place to shop if you are looking for fabric or designer clothes. You can also get great beauty products and stylish homeware here.
You can explore some of their products online before actually visiting the shop. The quality of the clothes and fabric is exactly as described online. Liberty is not only a popular department store in London but globally known.
Kingly Court Food
Are you on Carnaby street and wondering where you can get something to eat? Kingly Court is a great dining destination, a food court filled with a wide variety of cuisines. The perfect places to explore gastronomy in Soho.
The Photographers Gallery
As the name suggests, the Photographers Gallery is all about photography. This Gallery in Carnaby street is home to talented photographers from around the globe. Visit to see some of the best shots from great photographers. If you are starting with photography, this is somewhere you can get inspiration.
Love jazz? Then a stop at Ronnie Scotts is a must. Ronnie Scott’s is one of the oldest and finest Jazz Clubs on Carnaby street, opened in 1959. Since its opening, the club has featured popular and legendary names in modern jazz. There is also food and drinks available as you enjoy cool jazz music.
This is a major road named after the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. It is an essential street with many exciting West End theatre shows. You will always find concert and film lovers moving around this area. If you love theatres, this is the avenue that you might consider visiting.
Notable Carnaby Street Shops Worth Checking Out
Below are notable stores in Carnaby Street that you simply cannot miss out on:
- The Kooples – 30-31 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DL
- IZIPIZI – London Carnaby St – 28 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DQ
- size? – 32-34 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DW
- Dickies – 35 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DP
- Diesel Men’s Clothing – 25 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DE
- Monki – 37 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DT
- Pepe Jeans Carnaby Street – 26-27 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DG
- MUJI Carnaby Street – 41 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DX
- Swatch London Carnaby Street – 21 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DA
- Ray-Ban – 23 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DD
- Office – Carnaby Street – 16 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9PB
- Freshly Cosmetics – 44 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9PP
- Camper Carnaby St London – 22 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 7DB
- VANS Store London Carnaby – 47 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9PT
- Dr. Martens – 48 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9PX
- Replay Store Carnaby Street – 11-12 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9PQ
- Nobody’s Child – 50 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9QA
- Levi’s® Carnaby Street – 51 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9QB
- PUMA Store London Carnaby – 52-55 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9QE
- Timberland Retail Carnaby Street – 5/7 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9PD
- The North Face London Carnaby – 8 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9PD
- G-SHOCK London – 56a Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9QF
- Scotch & Soda – 14 Carnaby St, Carnaby, London W1F 9PW
How To Get To Carnaby Street
Getting to Carnaby Street is super easy as you can easily get to it via a number of underground stations nearby in addition to a huge number of bus routes passing through Oxford Street and Regent Street.
Tube stations nearby include Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus as well as Leicester Square.