Places to see in London Holborn
For the sheer amount of secret London crammed into the smallest possible space, Holborn takes first prize. There is as much to do in this one little area as there is in the rest combined, and we recommend checking out as much of it as you can. You could grab a coffee in Betterton Street’s famous Poetry Café, get a French onion soup on Sicilian Avenue and wonder at the marble architecture, grab a pint in The Ship (if you can find it! Clue; it’s next door to Holborn Station), walk through the Inns of Court for a romantic sojourn, get another pint in the cavernous and antiquated Knights Templar pub on Chancery Lane, go bowling at the All Star Lanes or have the most authentically Victorian drink you’re ever likely to have in the Princess Louise on High Holborn.
Recommended Attraction in Holborn
But our one must-do activity is to visit one of England’s (and indeed the whole world’s) most important churches: Temple Church. Built in 1185, this church was the home of the Knights Templar and was where they marched from to go on their crusades in the Middle East. It’s tucked away just off the bustling thoroughfare of Fleet Street (if you’ve seen The Da Vinci Code then you’ll recognise it) and is free to go in and have a look around. If you fancy it, they do a great organ recital, too!
Holborn Attractions List
The attractions in Holborn are all within easy walking distance of each other, which makes the area easy to explore. The below itinerary has a selection of some of the best things to see in Holborn. Make sure you use our Holborn hotel booking service to book yourself an affordable place to stay.
Starting at the north of the area you’ll find Doughty Street at the Charles Dickens Museum. Charles Dickens lived here from 1837 until 1839 and it’s his only surviving London home. it was opened as a Museum in 1925 and is still welcoming visitors from all over the world! There are four floors on which you’ll find paintings, rare editions, manuscripts, original furniture and many items relating to the life of one of the most popular personalities of the Victorian age.
Address: 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX
Phone: 020 7405 2127
This is the October Gallery. It was the first London gallery to exhibit cutting-edge contemporary art from all cultures around the planet. It’s a leading pioneer of the ‘Transvangarde’ (meaning the shape of things to come) so if you love art, you’ll be inspired here!
Address: 24 Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AL
Phone: 020 7242 7367
Gray's Inn is one of London's four Inns of Court and was the last to be founded, in 1569. The hall's 16th century screen is said to be made from the wood of a galley from the Spanish Armada and has survived in tact! During World War II, Gray's Inn suffered serious damage, but much of it has been rebuilt. The garden here was once a convenient site for staging duels, but now it’s a quiet haven for lunchtime strollers.
Address: 8 South Square, London WC1R 5ET
Phone: 020 7458 7800
This is the unmissable British Museum which houses some fascinating collections. Why not marvel at the seven million objects that represent the history of human cultures? And be sure to take in the amazing Ancient Egyptian exhibition.
Address: Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
Phone: 020 7323 8299
If you want to soak up the atmosphere of Holborn and take in a few shops, then you’ll be able to do that here, in High Holborn. Here you’ll find numerous shops, bars and cafés that are well worth a visit.
Address: High Holborn, London
Just off High Holborn you’ll find Leather Lane market. It sells everything from clothes and jewellery, to pot plants and household items - so you can browse and shop until your heart’s content.
Address: Leather Lane, Holborn, London EC1N 7TP
This is Lincoln's Inn Fields - the largest public square in London. It’s thought to have been one of the inspirations behind Central Park in New York. Prior to development, the area was made up of two irregular shaped fields. It was laid out in part by Inigo Jones in the early 17th century, and opened to the public after its acquisition by London County Council in 1895.
Address: Newman's Row, London WC2A 3TL
Phone: 020 7974 1693
This is Sir John Soane’s Museum. Soane was born in 1753 and died in 1837 after a long and distinguished career. Soane designed this house to live in, but also as a setting for his antiquities and his works of art. After the death of his wife in 1815, he lived here alone, constantly adding to and rearranging his collections. He established the house as a museum and wanted 'amateurs and students' to have access.
Address: 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP
Phone: 020 7405 2107
The oldest building in Lincoln’s Inn Fields is Lindsey House - which was built in 1640. You’ll find it at numbers 59 and 60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. In Charles Dickens' novel ‘Bleak House’, the sinister solicitor, Mr Tulkinghorn, has his offices in Lincoln's Inn Fields. The description of his building corresponds most closely to Lindsey House. After a spell as a patent agency, Lindsey House (together with the neighbouring building, which includes a geometric staircase designed by Sir John Soane) has become home to the leading civil liberties barristers' chambers, Garden Court Chambers.
Address: 59 and 60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Newman's Row, London WC2A 3TL
This is the Royal College of Surgeons and the front of the building was designed in 1836 by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament. It houses the Hunterian Museum and the Wellcome Museum of Pathology and Anatomy. The Hunterian Museum has a fascinating mix of anatomy and pathology specimens, plus modern surgical instruments and technologies (as well as paintings, drawings and sculpture!). The Wellcome Museum contains a collection of dissections detailing the human anatomy, along with a large collection of other teaching specimens.
Address: 35-43 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PE
Phone: 020 7405 3474
The Old Curiosity Shop on Portsmouth Street dates from 1567 and claims to be the inspiration for the shop in Charles Dickens’ novel of the same name. It currently operates as a shoe store.
Address: 13-14 Portsmouth Street, London WC2A 2ES
Phone: 020 7405 9891
You’re now on The Strand, and this impressive building is England's primary civil court - The Royal Courts of Justice. Legend has it that the courts contain 1,000 rooms and three and a half miles of corridors. You’re allowed inside the courtooms themselves! The building was the last Gothic revival building to be built in London and was designed by G E Street. Queen Victoria officially opened the Royal Courts of Justice in 1882.
Address: Strand, London WC2A 2LL
Phone: 020 7947 6000
Today London takes its place among other world cities as one of the most visited, diverse and cosmopolitan cities on earth. A vital part of London's success as a city was the transport system that developed in the 19th and 20th centuries - so the London Transport Museum is a must-see!
Address: Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB
Phone: 020 7379 6344
The Vaudeville Theatre held vaudeville shows and musical revues in its early days. It opened in 1870 and was rebuilt twice - although each new building retained elements of the previous structure. The current building opened in 1926, and it has 690 seats. Rare thunder drum and lightning sheets, together with other early stage mechanisms, survive in the theatre.
Address: 404 Strand, London WC2R 0NH
Phone: 0844 412 4663
You’re now on the famous London street, The Strand. In the 19th century much of the Strand was rebuilt and it became a really fashionable address. Many avant-garde writers and thinkers gathered here. Virginia Woolf writes about the Strand in several of her essays; T S Eliot alludes to the strand in his 1905 poem ‘At Graduation’, and John Masefield refers to a "jostling in the Strand" in his well-known poem ‘On Growing Old’.
Address: Strand, London
There has been a theatre called The Lyceum here since 1765. The present venue opened in 1834 and the building was unique in that it had a balcony overhanging the circle.
Address: 21 Wellington Street, London WC2E 7RQ
Phone: 0844 871 7627
Temple is the area between Fleet Street and the Thames and was the quarters of the Knights Templars - a religious order founded in the 12th century to protect the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The order was dissolved in 1313, and in 1346 it was leased to the students of common law. Ever since then it’s been one of the centres of legal learning and study in England. The Temple Gardens are sometimes open to the public, and during early summer it holds the Flower Show of the Royal Horticultural Society - the finest show of this kind in London!
Address: Temple, London, EC4Y 7HL
Phone: 020 7353 8559
This is Temple Bar, the barrier that marks the furthest westerly point of the City of London, on the road to Westminster. Until 1878, this boundary was marked by a stone gateway designed by Christopher Wren. A statue of a dragon tops the present-day Temple Bar marker.
Address: 8 Crane Court, London EC4A 2EJ
Phone: 020 7353 2898
An archaeological puzzle, this Roman Bath is said to be fed by spring water from a holy well. It was restored in the 17th century, and is believed to hold Roman origins.
Address: 5 Strand Lane, Aldwych, London WC2R 1AP
Phone: 020 7641 5264
The Adelphi Theatre is a 1500-seat West End theatre. The present building is the fourth on the site and was Grade II listed in 1987.
Address: Strand, London WC2R 0NS
Phone: 0844 412 4651
This is beautiful Somerset House, which stands on the site of the Tudor palace of the Dukes of Somerset. Once offices of the Inland Revenue, Somerset House now contains the Courtauld Gallery (one of the finest small art museums in the world!) and the Gilbert Collection (a glittering collection of gold and silver items). It’s well worth a visit!
Address: Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Phone: 020 7845 4600
The Savoy Theatre opened in October 1881 and was built by Richard D'Oyly Carte as a showcase for the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. The theatre was the first theatre (and the first public building in the world!) to be lit entirely by electricity. In 1889, Richard D'Oyly Carte built the Savoy Hotel next to the theatre. Richard's son Rupert D'Oyly Carte rebuilt and modernised the theatre in 1929, and it was rebuilt again in 1993 following a fire.
Address: Savoy Court, Strand, London WC2R 0ET
Phone: 0844 871 7627
Savoy Palace was the London residence of John of Gaunt - Richard II's uncle and the nation's power broker. In the 14th century the Savoy was the most magnificent mansion in England, but during the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 it was demolished. In 1512 it was rebuilt as the Savoy Hospital for the poor which gradually fell into dereliction until it was demolished in the 19th century. The illustrious, up-market Savoy Hotel now occupies the site.
Address: Strand, London WC2R 0EU
Phone: 020 7836 4343
This is Fleet Street! It was home to the British press until the 1980s. Even though the last major British news office, Reuters, left in 2005, the street's name continues to be used in reference to the UK press. The length of Fleet Street marks the expansion of the City in the 14th century. At the east end of the street is where the river Fleet flowed against the mediæval walls of London; at the west end is the Temple Bar which marks the current city limits, extended in 1329.
Address: Fleet Street, London
Dr Johnson's House at 17 Gough Square was built in 1700. It was a home and workplace for Samuel Johnson from 1748-1759, and it was here that he compiled the first comprehensive English Dictionary.
Address: 17 Gough Square, London EC4A 3DE
Phone: 020 7353 3745
The medieval church of St Andrew survived the Great Fire of 1666 but in 1686 Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to redesign the building. The lower part of the tower is virtually all that remains from the original church. During World War II St Andrew Holborn was gutted but following 1945 it was carefully restored as the church of the London trade guilds.
Address: 5-7 St Andrew Street, London EC4A 3AB
Phone: 020 7583 7394
Hatton Garden has been the centre of London’s jewellery trade since medieval times. It has since developed its international reputation as one of the world’s finest and renowned centre for jewellers and jewellery.
Address: Hatton Garden, London EC1N
You’re now near Holborn Circus, and this is Ely Place - the site of the Bishop of Ely's palace. All that remains of the Bishop's once extensive residence is the charming 1291 church of St Ethelreda, the oldest pre-Reformation Roman Catholic Church in London.
Address: Ely Place, London EC1N
Smithfield (also known as West Smithfield) is mostly known for its centuries-old meat market and its bloody history of executions of heretics and political opponents. Meat has been bought and sold here for over 800 years, making it one of the oldest markets in London.
Address: 201-232 Charterhouse Street, London EC1M 6JN
Phone: 020 7248 3151
This is The Old Bailey - also known as Justice Hall, the Sessions House, and the Central Criminal Court. Over the centuries the building has been remodelled and rebuilt in ways which both reflected and influenced the changing ways trials were carried out and reported.
Address: London EC4M 7HS
One of the few pubs on the Wetherspoons chain that we’ll feature on this website deserves a special mention because of its sheer size and capability. As a Wetherspoons, you can expect cheap food and budget drinks.
Address: 64-68 Kingsway, Holborn, London WC2B 6BG
Phone: 020 7404 8846
Knights Templar Pub is, frankly, spectacular. It sits in the law-heavy streets around the Royal Courts of Justice and is a cavernous, bank-like building evidently having been made for people of much higher station than your casual, workaday drinker.
Address: 95 Chancery Lane, Holborn, London WC2A 1DT
Phone: 020 7831 2660
One of a small London chain, the All Star Lanes offers high-class bowling, a great cocktail menu and adult group outings that remind you what it was like to be a kid. The setting in Holborn is one of their smaller venues, and once the bowling is over, transforms itself into a reliably fun club; not too alienating, not too commercial.
Address: Victoria House, Bloomsbury Place, London WC1B 4DA
Phone: 020 7025 2676
The fabled Princess Louise pub is an absolute must for those wanting to plunge themselves into British history. The layout is, frankly, baffling; but once you’ve staked yourself out a spot at the booths that divide up the bar, you’ll feel like you’re in your own little Dickensian world.
Address: 208 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 7EP
Phone: 020 7405 8816