Visitors flock to London from all around the world, but thanks to the success of British writers, musicians and filmmakers it’s most famous streets are often more familiar than you’d think.

London is one of the world’s most iconic cities, it’s streets immortalised in so many books, songs and films that most visitors will feel that almost every road seems strangely familiar. Piccadilly, Oxford Street, Mayfair: they are names that trip off the tongue of every child who ever played Monopoly, and the experience starts as soon as you arrive.

Paddington Bear Waiting at Paddington Station. by Gord Bell
Paddington Bear Waiting at Paddington Station., a photo by Gord Bell on Flickr.

Stepping off the train at Paddington Station, you immediately feel like you are reliving some half-remembered childhood memory. Confused, you glance around for a familiar face and almost instantly see one. Paddington Bear, fresh from deepest, darkest Peru, sitting on the station concourse with a note attached to his arm.

Yet he is just the first of dozens of literary characters that London has exported around the world. On Old Kent Road, in the South of London, the characters of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales once made their pilgrimage. In modern times, it’s more famous as the first square and cheapest property in the Monopoly board game.

On Piccadilly Street, expensive flats surround one of the city’s luxury hotels: the Ritz. Among the street’s more famous fictional visitors are Bertie Wooster and Count Dracula.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum - 221b Baker Street, London - lanterns by ell brown
The Sherlock Holmes Museum – 221b Baker Street, London – lanterns, a photo by ell brown on Flickr. 

Then on Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous literary invention, was said to have resided at number 221b. Nearby, at 239, the Sherlock Holmes Museum can be found with the detective’s fictional house number written above the door.

Of course, once you start exploring the collected works of Charles Dickens the number of streets referenced becomes overwhelming, and it’s important not to forget the other reasons that have made London such an icon. As the shopping capital of the UK, it has more than a few locations famous purely for the number of shops on offer.

Regent Street from roof of Piccadilly signs by Matt From London
Regent Street from roof of Piccadilly signs, a photo by Matt From London on Flickr.

Visit Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street and you will find progressively more upmarket stores, all within walking distance of each other. They are a shopaholics dream, and by shopping around for London hotel deals and offers you can stay right in the heart of it.

Nearby, Savile Row can be found in Mayfair. Famous around the world for traditional men’s bespoke tailoring, references to the quality of its products can be found in films like Dr No and Withnail and I, and in the lyrics of artists as diverse as The Kinks, The Streets and Jay-Z.

Val went the wrong way by Nick Smarto
Val went the wrong way, a photo by Nick Smarto on Flickr.

Other artists to leave their mark on the city include The Beatles. Head on over to Abbey Road and you will soon see a nondescript zebra crossing that is famous around the world as the cover to their 1969 studio album, named after the street where they recorded it. The Abbey Road Studios are just next door.
Finally, as the political capital of the UK, London also includes streets that are famous just for the importance of their residents. Chief among these is Downing Street, home to the Prime Minister and Chancellor, where the iconic black door at Number 10 is recognisable around the world.

-This guest post was written by Jamie Monteath

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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

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