London is one of the most gay and lesbian-friendly cities in all of Europe. I’ve lived and worked in London for almost all of my life. And I’ve always been grateful for its tolerant and open-minded attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community. As not only can you be yourself without fear of discrimination, but the gay and lesbian nightlife in London is some of the best in the world. From pulsating gay nightclubs and exclusive lesbian bars, to the cities world-famous PRIDE events, gay and lesbian London has a lot to offer.
London’s fabulous gay scene aside, the British capital is a thriving metropolis, bursting with culture, history, fashion, architecture, and an eclectic culinary scene. Not only that, but the city boasts an endless realm of attractions and places to visit that will keep you entertained for days on end. So if you’re looking for an action-packed, gay-friendly, city break in Europe, London is a winning choice.
You can honestly never get bored in London and all it has to offer. And this guide aims to provide you with all the information you need to have an unforgettable time. I’ve listed all of the hottest gay bars and nightclubs; gay-friendly hotels and hostels; the best LGBT+ centred events; as well as all the top things to do around the city. We will also touch on LGBT+ rights and social opinions in the UK, so you come fully prepared.
So let’s get to it. Here’s our comprehensive travel guide to gay and lesbian London.
Gay In: London – A Guide to Gay & Lesbian London
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LGBT+ Rights in the UK
Same-Sex Sexual Activity: Legal since 2000.
Same-Sex Marriage: Legal since 2013.
Rights to Change Legal Gender: Legal since 2005 (no surgery required.)
Same-Sex Adoption: Legal since 2002.
LGBT Discrimination: Illegal since 2010.
If you are keen to learn more, Equaldex elaborates further on LGBT+ rights in the UK.
Like most places around the world, the road to LGBT+ acceptance in the UK has been a volatile one. Historically, being gay clashed with the idea of being a ‘good’ Christian, and acts of homosexuality between men were punishable by death. Women were never subject to the same legal restrictions; however, would often be punished by the law nonetheless.
When you consider the liberal society the UK is today, it’s encouraging to think how dramatically LGBT+ rights have evolved. While acts of homosexuality got decriminalised in 1967, it was only with the turn of the 21st century that we have seen the most progression. In the past two decades, we’ve not only accomplished equal rights for the LGBT+ community, but the UK is now considered one of the most gay-friendly countries in Europe.
Growing up queer in the UK, we can both vouch for this whirlwind turn of events. We both recall being at school and barely even knowing what a lesbian was. And the term ‘so gay ‘merely described something pathetic or uncool. Now elements of LGBT+ culture are prevalent throughout society, and while acts of discrimination do happen, they are rare. In fact, recent polls show most people in the UK support gay marriage and believe homosexuality should be accepted.
Is London Safe for LGBT+ Travellers?
Despite some unsavoury reports regarding LGBT+ safety in Britain, the UK, especially London, is considered safe for gay travellers.
As I say, I’ve lived in London most of my life. Natalie spent a few years living in the city with me as well. We both agree it’s one of the only places in the world where we’ve felt comfortable to display our relationship in public.
In fact, we were so used to holding hands and sharing the odd kiss while out and about in London, that when we travelled to Asia, it took some getting used to not to be affectionate in public.
Unfortunately, there have been some recent incidents of hate crime and discrimination in London; however, these are rare. I don’t think any city in the world is entirely exempt from homophobic attacks, but London is up there as one of the safest along with Berlin and Amsterdam.
The Gay Area in London
London’s gay scene is fabulous, vibrant, and diverse. You can find gay bars and nightclubs in most neighbourhoods across the city. However, the epicentre of LGBTQ+ culture in London is Soho.
Soho is a chic central neighbourhood boasting a realm of nightlife, restaurants, and shopping. Not only a hotspot for the LGBTQ+ community but the night owls and fashionistas too.
It’s here that you’ll find the vast majority of London’s gay and lesbian bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants and shops. Rainbow flags drape from buildings and adorn windows, and the overall vibe feels welcoming to all who visit.
The great thing about Soho is that regardless of when you go, you can always guarantee a great atmosphere. Of course, it’s busier at the weekends or during PRIDE events, but even on a school night, we never fail to have a good time.
In the next section, I will be documenting the best gay and lesbian venues in Soho as well as other parts of the city.
Gay & Lesbian Nightlife in London
The gay and lesbian nightlife in London is some of the best in the world. It honestly feels like Pride every day in Soho, with the wealth of gay pubs, bars, and nightclubs waving the rainbow flag loud and proud for all to see.
Having said that, you shouldn’t feel like you have to stick to strictly gay venues. The London nightlife, in general, is wildly diverse, so you never have to worry about being in like-minded company. It’s not uncommon to see straight people in gay bars and vice versa.
Nonetheless, you would be foolish to visit London and not experience what the queer nightlife has to offer. From dance clubs and fetish events, to drag shows and cocktail bars, there is something to satisfy every desire.
So with that, here are some of the best queer bars, clubs and parties in London.
The Best Gay & Lesbian Bars in London
The following bars attract a mixed crowd. You’ll find a list of male and female only venues further down.
G-A-Y Bar: After becoming somewhat of an institution for queer London, I’m sure the iconic G-A-Y Bar needs little introduction. The world-famous bar has everything you might expect, trashy music, sticky floors, affordable drinks, and a fun-loving crowd. It’s the venue that all gays and lesbians love to hate. But it doesn’t stop us dancing the night away to cheesy pop classics while sipping away on sugar-laced cocktails. Show up here after a few drinks elsewhere, and you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
The Yard: One of my personal favourites, The Yard is one of the more unique queers bars in London. Nestled in an intimate courtyard tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Soho, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet drink or two pre-dinner. Or if you’re anything like my group of friends, you’ll treat it as the calm before the storm before hitting London’s more energetic gay bars later on. There’s a pretty simple food menu to accompany the delectable cocktails, and it’s an all-round charming little venue.
Rupert Street – Located in the heart of Soho, Rupert Street Bar is a premium cocktail bar and an all-around favourite amongst the LGBT+ crowd. Hosting a daily happy hour from noon through to 8 pm, it’s especially popular for after-work drinks or pre-party drinks. But regardless of when you visit, it’s always packed with people. During the Summer months, the crowd often spills out onto the street, and you can expect a warm and lively vibe all year round.
Friendly Society – Another of my favourite London haunts, Friendly Society appears to be an unassuming back-alley bar from the outside. Once inside, however, you’re greeted by one of the most quirky drinking holes in all of Soho, where barbie dolls hang from the ceiling, and the entire place is decked out in whacky 70s decor. Work your way through the delicious albeit slightly expensive cocktail menu, and mingle amongst an alternative crowd at this idiosyncratic London gay bar.
Freedom Bar – If you fancy a slightly more sophisticated night out, Freedom Bar is a classy cocktail bar ideal for a quiet drink with friends. This London gay bar in the heart of Soho is the destination of choice amongst West End performers, and its ambience reflects as such. From its signature cocktail list and luxurious decor, Freedom bar oozes fabulousness. And frequented by west end stars, you never know who you might meet!
Admiral Duncan – This traditional English pub, doubles up as one of the oldest-standing gay bars in London. Sadly, it’s most famous for being the site of a fatal attack against the LGBTQ+ community, when a neo-Nazi set off a nail bomb in 1999, killing three people and injuring many more. But this legendary boozer triumphs over the hatred and continues to be a beloved venue amongst the LGBTQ+ community. When you visit today, a memorial of the victims lies inside the pub.
Ku Bar Leicester Square – Ku Bar is one of the largest gay & lesbian bars in London, with an area to suit every occasion. Enjoy a quiet after-work drink or date at the chic cocktail bar on the first floor. Or head downstairs to the Ku Klub where DJs blast out tunes until the early hours of the morning. We love the vibe at this gay hotspot and have no doubt you will too!
Dalston Superstore – It might sound like a supermarket, but actually Dalston Superstore is an eclectic LGBT space boasting a bar, a gallery, an all vegan-cafe, and a performance space. Their weekly drag brunches are a firm favourite, but keep an eye on their events calendar as theirs always something fun and fabulous to look forward to.
The Best Gay & Lesbian Nightclubs in London
The following nightclubs attract a mixed crowd. You’ll find a list of male and female only venues further down.
G-A-Y Late: When G-A-Y Bar shuts at midnight, continue the fun at G-A-Y Late located just around the corner. If you’ve made a good impression on the bouncers at G-A-Y Bar, they’ll likely give you a wristband that allows you free entry to the after-party. The vibe is mostly the same, but you can dance into the early hours of the morning. I have painful memories of rolling out of here at 3 am, only to have work in a matter of hours. Ouch!
Heaven: Heaven nightclub is iconic to London’s gay scene, and a venue I have no problem returning to time and time again. Natalie and I went through a stage of going here most weekends when we lived in London, and not once have we been disappointed. The multi-floored venue combines open planned concert halls hosting live-acts and drag performers, with dark and dingy club rooms playing a variety of music genres. It’s easy to get carried away in Heaven, and before you know it, you’re rolling out of here at sunrise.
Circa: Another favourite on the LGBT+ nightclub scene, Circa is a versatile venue that always delivers. Enjoy a relaxed midweek drink from Monday to Thursday, and from Friday onwards look forward to a crazed party atmosphere. Saturdays are their busiest nights when some of London’s best DJs take to the decks playing deep and progressive house music. Friday’s are equally as fun, however, when you can expect cheesy pop classics and club anthems.
Ministry of Sound: Not a gay club, but positively gay-friendly, the Ministry of Sound is one of our favourite nocturnal venues in London. Located in Elephant & Castle, this mainstream club attracts a mixed alternative crowd with its jam-packed events calendar of international DJ’s. If you like your music loud, wait until you see the speakers in the main box room. Your ears will be ringing for days afterwards.
Torture Garden: So Torture Garden is neither a venue or specifically LGBTQ, but it’s certainly gay-friendly and an event many of you might be interested in. Torture Garden is the worlds largest fetish event, and with monthly parties in London, there’s a reasonable chance that your trip coincides with one. Natalie and I attended an event out of curiosity a few years ago, and it was a night we will never forget! The strict dress code ensures everybody looks the part and their strict etiquette rules ensure a safe environment for all.
Exclusively Lesbian Bars in London
Unfortunately, like many other cities around the world, lesbians in London are notoriously under-represented. Through the years, many optimistic lesbian bars have opened, only to shut up shop not so long afterwards.
Several factors contribute to the reasons behind this, and I prefer to leave the politics to somebody else. However, I do agree it is a pity that lesbian culture in London of all places is bordering on extinct.
That said, there’s still plenty of fun to be had for Lesbians in London. Like I say all of the gay clubs and bars above welcome a mixed clientele. But for those looking for solely lesbian hangouts, I’m afraid there are limited options.
If I had to choose the bars with the best lesbian crowds, it would be G-A-Y Bar, Friendly Society, and She Bar, which I talk about below.
SHE Bar: Shockingly, this underground basement bar is London’s sole exclusively lesbian venue. Naturally, this is a title they don’t take lightly, so the great news is that they put in a lot of effort to ensure everyone has a great time. As well as lively club nights and cabaret shows, they also host regular comedy events, karaoke, and quiz nights. The bar attracts a mixed bag of beautiful ladies across all ages and backgrounds. But as a heads up, unless you’re a queer woman or her friend, you won’t be getting in!
Lesbian Parties in London
So we might not have many exclusively lesbian bars in London, but there are plenty of sporadic lesbian parties. You might have to check the dates to verify they coincide with your trip, but with events happening most weekends you’d be unlucky to miss one. Here’s a list of the best Lesbian parties in London.
Lick – This monthly event is strictly for queer women and non-binary people. Expect fire-breathing, pole dancing, and lots of sexy women twerking to dance music. Click the link for event dates.
Gal Pals – As the name suggests, this regular club night in London & Brighton is the perfect girls night out. Blasting out the best club bangers in the pop, rock, hip hop and R&B genres, it’s a firm favourite among lesbians and gender-nonconforming individuals.
Femme Fraiche – A regular lesbian event at the gay hotspot Dalston Superstore, Femme Fraiche attracts big-name DJs and a sexy, fun-loving crowd. Enjoy trashy club classics upstairs, or dark techno beats in the dingy basement.
Pxssy Palace – Well damn, with a name like that you know it’s going to be good! This event hosts monthly themed events, attracting queer womxn, non-binary and trans people of colour, with a free taxi service for the latter.
Butch, Please – Held bi-monthly at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall, this night celebrates our butch subculture. Expect wild live performances, energetic DJs and a whole lot of dyke energy.
Exclusively Gay (Men) Bars in London
Naturally, this isn’t our area of expertise; however, there is an abundance of gay bars and parties in London exclusively for the boys. Admittedly, many of them are sex clubs or cruising bars; but there are several others where lesbians or women in general just don’t tend to go. You can check out a comprehensive overview of London’s gay scene here, and this list of gay men-only clubs in London.
Gay Events in London
Alongside the vibrant, all year round LGBTQ+ nightlife in London, there are several LGBTQ+ focused events that are worth noting in your calendar. Add these to your London bucket list:
Pride in London: London Pride is the biggest Pride celebration in the country, and the whole city likes to get involved. From the official Pride month in June and throughout July when we host the festival and parade, shops, train stations and billboards show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. If you’re lucky enough to be in London for the Pride celebrations, it will be a weekend you’ll never forget.
UK Black Pride: London is proud to host the largest LGBTQ+ event for queer BIPOC, and this day is all about celebrating diversity and inclusion. Held annually every July, everybody is welcome, and you can expect nothing but love and great vibes.
GFest – Gaywise FESTival – Held annually in November, GFEST celebrates LGBTQ+ artists and talent, including the visual arts, theatre, dance and short films. Throughout the week, there are a series of debates, workshops, and parties designed to bring the community together.
Fringe! Queer Film and Arts Festival – “An eclectic week of films, art, events & parties rooted in London’s queer creative community & welcoming everyone each November and in our year-round programme”.
Gay-Friendly Hotels in London
Unsurprisingly, you will struggle to find any hotels in London that aren’t gay-friendly. After all, it is illegal to discriminate against same-sex couples when renting a room in the UK. However, we completely understand the need to feel accepted and treated equally.
While there are no specific gay hotels in London, by staying in the Soho area you can almost guarantee you’ll be in the company of other LGBT+ travellers. I’ve also done some digging on the best-rated hotels amongst the gay community, and here’s what I come up with.
Check rates and availability for all London accommodation here or using the map below.
Hostel $: St Christopher’s Inn Village
For a unique hostel experience in London that’s positively gay-friendly, check out St Christopher’s Inn Village. They are the first hostel in the city to implement private pod-style accommodation. Which means you can enjoy the perks of a friendly hostel vibe, as well as the comfort of having your own space. What’s particularly great about this hostel, however, is the location. Located just 5-minutes away from London Bridge, it’s in a prime location for many of the cities main attractions. You would usually expect to pay a premium price for hotels in this area, but this funky London hostel is strangely affordable.
Budget $: Qbic Hotel London City
If a pod is too small for you, perhaps you’ll consider a cube room at Qbic Hotel instead. This innovative and eco-friendly hotel manages to cram all the features that you’d expect from a private room into a small cubic space. The result is a fun and unique hotel experience, that’s not only affordable but in an excellent location too. Shoreditch and Tower Hill can be reached in 10 minutes by foot, so this is an excellent choice for gay travellers on a budget.
Mid-Range $$: Z Hotel Soho
Situated in the heart of bustling Soho, Z Hotel is in the perfect location for exploring London’s gay scene, as well as the rest of the city. The rooms are compact but luxurious. And with all those London hotspots just a stone’s throw away, who wants to be in the room anyway! Enjoy divine comfort in the handcrafted beds, a 40-inch wall mounted tv, and all the amenities you’ll need for a comfortable stay. You won’t find better value for money in this part of the city if you tried.
Luxury $$$: W Hotel London
Seasoned gay travellers will be familiar with the W chain and how they are always open to LGBT clientele. Rooms are a little on the pricy side; however, if you can afford it, 5* luxury and celebrity treatment await at W Hotel London. Features include a modern and innovative theme throughout the hotel, luxurious rooms, a spa & wellness centre, and a trendy cocktail bar. And you’re just a short stroll away from the vibrant gay scene in Soho.
Things to do in Gay & Lesbian London
You’re probably starting to wonder what else there is to do in gay and lesbian London, other than wild parties and debaucherous fun. Thankfully, while this is an iconic side to London’s gay scene, there is so much more to the city than sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Here are some of the other things to do for gay & lesbian travellers in London.
Queer Walking Tours
If you’re keen to learn more about the colourful history behind LGBT+ culture in London, we highly recommend you check out Queer Tours of London. Through creative, educational, and interactive tours, they tell the stories of London’s queer history, and how it came to be the flourishing rainbow capital that it is today.
Gay’s The Word
The only gay and lesbian bookstore in the UK, Gay’s The Word is considered a national treasure amongst the LGBT+ community. Founded over 40 years ago, for a long time, the store served as the only information resource for lesbians and gay men. Unfortunately, the rise of the internet continues to threaten the shops future; however, for now, it’s loyal following has helped to keep it going. The store also featured in the 2014 LGBT movie ‘Pride‘.
The same-sex ponds at Hampstead Heath are renowned for being a potential hook-up spot. This area, in general, has a reputation for being a cruising hotspot for all sexualities, so if you’re into that, it can be an exciting experience. That said, you’ll only find that side of things if you actively look for it. Most of the time, it’s just groups of families or friends enjoying a relaxing day out.
Take a Day Trip to Brighton
If you’re in London for an extended amount of time, Brighton makes for the perfect day trip outside of the city. The charming seaside town is the ‘unofficial’ gay capital of the UK, arguably more gay-friendly than London or any other city in the country. There’s so much to love about Brighton. From it’s thriving gay scene and laidback bohemian vibe, to the iconic pier adorned with arcade games and fairground rides. It’s one of the most cultural places in the UK, and if you can make it for a day or 2, I guarantee you won’t regret it. Don’t forget to check out our guide to gay and lesbian Brighton for more.
Other Things to do in London
As I’ve mentioned before, London is an action-packed city with an eclectic mix of exciting things to do. In my opinion, the perfect London Itinerary combines a mixture of touristy sights such as the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, thrown in with some cool hidden gems and alternative neighbourhoods. So with this in mind, here’s my list of unmissable things to do in London.
Did you know there are a ton of day trips and tours that you can go on in London? Often, organised tours can be the best way to explore a new city. We suggest checking out Strawberry Tours for free walking tours in London. Or for more paid tours and day trips, check out this extensive selection from Get Your Guide.
The Tower of London
Out of all the historical sights in London, The Tower of London is one of the most significant. So that’s why when people ask me which paid attractions are worth visiting in London, it’s always at the top of my list. I would recommend booking in advance, as not only can you skip the line, but you’ll save a few pennies as well.
There’s so much compelling history wrapped up in the tower that it’s hard to know where to begin. Today the fortress is most famous for protecting the Crown Jewels, but in the past, it’s been home to a wide array of institutions including the Royal Mint, a prison and even a zoo.
The tower is also said to be one of the most haunted buildings in England, which comes as no surprise considering the notorious executions that have taken place behind its walls. Guy Fawkes, Anne Boleyn, and Thomas Cromwell to name but a few met their grizzly end here, and many believe their ghosts haunt the tower to this day.
The London Eye OR The Shard
The next paid attraction I encourage that you do in London is either the London Eye or The View at the Shard – or both, if budget permits. Both provide an unrivalled birds-eye view of the city, and if you ask me, it’s an unmissable London experience. If you can time it just right so that you experience the last light of dusk, followed by a sea of city lights as it gets dark, you’re in for a real treat.
I’ve experienced both attractions, and it’s hard to say which is my favourite. There’s not much difference in the price, and while The Shard is higher, the views are practically the same. So it comes down to your personal preference. But either way, booking in advance is recommended to make your experience more enjoyable.
West End Show
OK, so there’s one final London attraction that I insist you pay for, and that’s a West End Show. You absolutely cannot visit the city without experiencing the fabulousness of London theatre. I was lucky enough to have parents and grandparents who would take me to shows regularly as a kid, and my love for the theatre continues to thrive. Some of my favourite shows include The Lion King, Wicked, Mama Mia, Chicago, and Les Miserables.
Unfortunately, ticket prices have increased substantially in recent years. So if you’re travelling as a family, it’s going to burn a hole in your wallet. But honestly, it’s so worth it. Unless you’re from New York, whose theatre productions may be on par with London’s, this is a once in a lifetime experience. Plus, there are often ways of getting cheap theatre tickets, but check your seats, as often discounted tickets have a restricted view.
The official London residence of the UK’s Royal Family, Buckingham Palace is a must-see when visiting the city. To take a tour inside the palace will set you back $35 per person and they only run between July and October. But in my opinion, it’s quite enough to admire from the outside.
I’ve lived in London most of my life and not once have I visited inside Buckingham Palace. I do, however, love to walk through the neighbouring James Park and up to the palace, which is incredibly picturesque. One of 8 royal parks in London, it is an ideal spot to take a break from the hustle & bustle of the city.
In any case, the highlight for most visitors is to witness the changing of the guard. This ceremony is where the Queen’s Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace to the New Guard, and it’s free to attend. The guards in their traditional red tunics and bearskin hats are national icons, which is why many consider the ceremony a quintessential London experience.
*Please note, the days and times of the changing of the guard ceremony, differ from week to week. Always check the changing guard website on the date you plan to visit.
Go Sightseeing Along the Thames
Possibly the best way to view the sights of this gorgeous city is on the water. With many significant landmarks such as Big Ben, The Tower of London, and London’s famous bridges set along the Thames, it’s the ideal way to take it all in without the burden of crowds.
The most basic Thames river cruise is a 1-hour sightseeing cruise, and that will set you back $12-13. However, if you’re visiting London on a budget, you can always walk along the banks, which is free. If the weather is good, a walk along the Thames is the perfect way to immerse in the infectious London vibes.
London is home to several magnificent cathedrals, but you’ll probably be most familiar with Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. Honestly, both are a sight to behold, boasting striking facades and a treasure house of historical artefacts. But at around $25 to visit each of them, it’s not at all a cheap thing to do.
That is unless you visit when there is a service going on. Not many people know this, but you can visit any of London’s cathedrals for free so long as there is a church service going on. Which means expensive attractions such as St Pauls and Westminster Abbey can be budget-friendly after all. Everyone is welcome to attend these services, but you’ll need to arrive early for a seat, and it’s important to behave respectfully.
London’s Free Museums
It’s no secret that London is a treasure trove of museums, and the best part about them, most won’t cost you a penny to enter. Exploring London’s world-class museums is honestly my favourite London activity. As not only is it a budget-friendly thing to do, but I always walk away having learned or discovered something new.
There are some museums, such as the British Museum and the National History Museum, that I’ve visited countless times since I was a kid. Walking through the endless halls of ancient artefacts or the giant remains of dinosaurs and other prehistoric species never fails to blow my mind. Schedule a day of visiting all the top museums & galleries in London, and it will be the cheapest day of your entire trip!
Piccadilly Circus & Trafalgar Square
Monopoly fans will want to make their way to Piccadilly and stroll the famous street lined with luxury hotels and designer stores. Eventually, you’ll end up at Piccadilly Circus, which is London’s answer to Times Square. Albeit anticlimactic when compared to the NYC hub, it’s a great atmosphere all the same. Featuring all things iconic to London such as underground signs, red phone boxes, and red double-decker buses, it’s one of the top London Instagram spots.
8 minutes walk from Piccadilly Circus will land you in Trafalgar Square. A bustling public square, that’s often the centre point for demonstrations, protests, and annual events. Regardless of when you visit, you’ll always find something to keep you entertained, whether it be local street performers and artists, or something on a much larger scale. Otherwise, admire the monuments and fountains that adorn the square. Or visit the grand National Gallery which is free to enter.
If you want to experience our city like a true Londoner, you have to experience at least one of our plentiful markets. Most take place over the weekend, so you can expect them to be loud, busy, and full of energy. But with a market to suit all tastes and interests, you’re sure to bag yourself a bargain.
Some of my favourite markets include Borough Market – One of London’s oldest food markets. Camden Market – where you will find a mix of all things weird and wonderful. Portobello Road Market – the world’s largest antique market. And Brick Lane Market for vintage fashion, arts and crafts, and a realm of international food. Check out this article for 12 of the best London markets.
London is a truly multicultural city, but you won’t feel it as much in the city centre. To fully appreciate the mosaic of cultures, you’ll want to venture to the outer London neighbourhoods. The iconic London landmarks are famous for a good reason, but a big part of the cities charm can’t be found in any guidebook or travel blog. You need to get in amongst it, to feel what it is that makes London so unique.
One of the first neighbourhoods I suggest you visit is Shoreditch. The past decade has seen this once run-down area, transform into one of the trendiest places to be in London. Famed for its diverse nightlife, eclectic culinary scene, hipster street markets, and quirky street art, it’s one of my favourite spots in the city. It’s also known for its Indian culture, and you’ll find the best curry houses in London along Brick Lane.
Camden is another of my favourite neighbourhoods in London. Many know this part of North London for its legendary music scene, paving the way to success for many British artists. In fact, if you do make it to Camden, checking out a live music venue such as The Roundhouse or Electric Ballroom would be an awesome addition to your itinerary.
Tips & Advice for Gay & Lesbian London
Here I’ll list some of the local insider tips that I believe will help you have a hassle-free time in the city.
Getting Around in London
While I usually love to explore new cities on foot, London is way too vast for that. In terms of the itinerary, I’ve tried to be as strategic as possible, which means that you won’t be hopping on and off buses or trains all day long. Having said that, you will be covering several neighbourhoods in London, so you’ll need to know how to get around.
Thankfully, London’s public transport network is one of the best in the world. OK, it could do with some upgrades here and there (erm, air conditioning on the Central Line would be a start), but it’s super reliable and in my opinion, very easy to understand.
First and foremost, I strongly encourage you to get a London Card or an Oyster Card. As I mentioned earlier, the London Card is an incredible deal if you plan on visiting several of London’s key attractions. And it also comes with the option to include free public transport. If you’ve found that the London Card may not be of great value to you, then an Oyster Card is your better bet.
The Oyster Card will ensure you get the cheapest rates when travelling around London. It also caps your spends once it reaches a certain amount, which is great if you’re moving around a lot through the day. You get the same deal if you use a contactless payment card. If you’re travelling with children, order them an Oyster Card 4 weeks in advance. That way, children under 10 travel for free, and under 18s at a discounted rate.
Many transport networks are operating in London, from buses and trams to trains and riverboats. But you’re most likely to be using the underground and buses the most. Either way, you can plan out your journey using the Transport for London journey planner.
Finally, when mooching around Hyde Park or somewhere similar, look out for our good old Boris bikes. In fact, they aren’t actually called Boris Bikes anymore. Now they are known quite boringly as Santander Cycles. But regardless of the name, they are low priced and a fun way to explore our greener areas.
The Best Time to Visit London
There isn’t any right or wrong time to visit London, as there is a great atmosphere all your round. Although, if you are relying on warm and dry days for sightseeing, between May and September will be your safest bet. Though this is London, so you should always prepare for some rain.
July and August tend to be the warmest months, but it’s also peak season, so expect inflated rates for flights and hotels. A lot is going on in the Summer, however, such as festivals and outdoor food markets. Londoners love to celebrate when the sun is shining, so you can expect a great vibe in the city.
London is also very festive throughout December. The Christmas lights in the city are stunning, and there are a few Christmas markets. The most acclaimed being Winter Wonderland which is not to be missed if you find yourself in the city during this time.
Is London Safe to Visit?
As somebody who has lived in London for most of my life, I would confidently class London as a safe place to visit. That said, I’ve grown up there. I know the do’s and don’t, and of course, I have the privilege of being a local. The actual answer is far more complex, and I strongly recommend you educate yourself on how to stay safe in London before you travel.
Like many places, theft and pickpocketing pose the most significant risk to tourists. There’s also a trend of gangs on motorbikes who snatch bags, phones, or whatever they can get their hands on as they drive past. We suggest keeping your belongings close to you at all times and use a small padlock or compartmental bag to keep your valuables safe.
It’s also no secret that London has been the victim of terrorist attacks in recent years. And according to MI5, the threat level is still ‘substantial’. You needn’t be scared, though. Millions of Londoners travel throughout the city on a daily basis. But it’s something to be aware of.
Common scams pose another risk to tourists, and we advise being vigilant at all times. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and walk away from the situation. Check out this article for examples of common scams in London.
With that, don’t even think about going to London without travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. If the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll want the best cover money can buy.
For this reason, we always recommend World Nomads for travel insurance. They are affordable, offer a variety of packages and add ons, and allow you to make amendments to your policy while travelling.
If you need further convincing, read our article on why you need travel insurance. Or get an on-the-spot quote from World Nomads using the form below.
Meeting Other LGBT+ People in London
With a thriving gay scene like London, it’s incredibly easy to meet other members of the LGBT+ community. Although, we understand it isn’t always easy to stroll into a gay bar or event and attempt to make friends.
That is why the internet is such an excellent tool for connecting with like-minded individuals. We suggest using social media to locate other LGBT+ travellers or locals in London. You can use Facebook, for example, to yield dedicated LGBT groups in the area. Similarly, navigating specific hashtags on Instagram such as #gaylondon or #lesbianlondon, can help you locate all things LGBT near you.
Similarly, dating apps can be a great way of connecting with like-minded people – and not necessarily for a hook-up. If you’re lucky, you could find yourself connecting with a local who can give you a full insider low down of the area. We always suggest using a secure VPN when surfing the web internationally. We use Surfshark VPN to keep us safe and secure. Register here and use promo code: ourtasteforlife for 85% off and 3 extra months free!
More on London
Travelling to London soon? Perhaps these other articles from our London series will be of some interest to you.
Did you enjoy our Guide to Gay & Lesbian London?
Let us know! That concludes our guide to gay and lesbian London. We hope you enjoy your time in this exciting city. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, or through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here, where we share further travel advice & inspiration.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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Last Updated on September 25, 2021 by Our Taste For Life