Things To Do In Soho During The Day

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 19 months ago
Things To Do In Soho During The Day
No, not that. Photo: Sophie Garrett

Great though Soho is, it's really more of an evening district, when the pubs, bars, restaurants and theatres really come alive. But if you find yourself with a couple of daylight hours to kill, there's still plenty to do.

Note: For the purposes of this article we're counting Soho as the area enclosed in the circle of Regent Street to the west, Oxford Street to the north, Shaftesbury Avenue to the south and Charing Cross Road in the east.

House of MinaLima

In 2016, people were queuing round the block to get into this little-known gallery. The reason? Harry Potter.

House of MinaLima's ongoing exhibition about the Boy Wizard features artwork from the film sets. See copies of the Daily Prophet newspaper and Hogwarts textbooks — and of course, buy your own in the shop downstairs. The closing date has been extended indefinitely, and it's so popular, we can't imagine it going anywhere anytime soon.

The Photographers' Gallery

Harry Potter not your thing? Get a dose of culture at The Photographers' Gallery instead. It's the largest gallery in London dedicated solely to photography, with a constant rotation of temporary exhibitions, plus talks, events, takeovers and more.

Go hunting for the Seven Noses

One down, six to go. Photo: Matt Brown

Dotted around the walls of Soho are seven noses, and legend has it that if you manage to track down all of them, you'll have infinite wealth (we're pretty sure the legend pre-dates Google, so armchair searching doesn't count).

The noses were part of a wider set, affixed to London landmarks by artist Rick Buckley in the 1990s. Many have since been removed, but seven remain in the Soho area, plus three others elsewhere in London.

Struggling to find them all, or want to know more about them? Sign up for one of Peter Berthoud's Seven Noses of Soho walks.

Visit a members' club - no membership required

Image: Lights of Soho

You might want your sunnies for this one — Lights of Soho certainly lives up to its name. The light art gallery doubles up as a coffee shop and cocktail bar, as well as a members' club.  After 6pm it's members only, but before that it's open to the public from 10am daily — why not grab a coffee and while away a morning, or browse one of the regularly changing exhibitions.

Go for a swim

If you know you're going to have a bit of time to kill, bring your swimming gear and do a few lengths of the pool in the Grade II listed Marshall Street Leisure Centre. It's an impressive one — marble-lined floor, barrel vaulted ceiling — and plenty of places to undo that good work with a cake (or a curry) nearby.

Tee off

We wouldn't recommend driving golf balls down Old Compton Street. Instead, check yourself into Urban Golf, a virtual reality golf course. Hone your technique or battle your friends in front of a simulator. It's not cheap (starting at £40 per hour) and it's no Muirfield, but we reckon it counts as exercise... it certainly beats going for a run in your lunch break.

Visit a temple

It may not be as glamorous as Neasden Temple, but Soho has its very own temple — thanks, in part, to one of The Beatles. George Harrison became interested in the work of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness when representatives arrived in the UK in the 1960s. This temple opened in Soho Square in 1979.

Today, it's open to the public — although be aware that it's a functioning place of worship so there are certain rules — as is Govinda's vegetarian restaurant next door, run by the temple.

Check out what's on at Foyles

Photo: raghavvidya

On Soho's borderlands (Charing Cross Road, to be precise), sits a bibliophile's paradise; Foyles. If four miles of bookshelves spread over four floors isn't enough for you, the events programme is worth checking out. Author talks, book launches, reading groups and exhibitions are just some of what's on offer. The live jazz events are worth checking out too, although they mainly take place in the evening, after daytime explorers are tucked up at home.

Looking for places to eat and drink in Soho? We've got that covered too, but if you've drunk your way through all of those, why not visit a pub owned by Shakespeare's relatives? See also: how did Soho get its name?

Last Updated 28 April 2017