London is a vibrant, diverse and jam-packed city, and nowhere is this more apparent than on Oxford Street.
One of the most well-known streets in the world, Oxford Street is a hub of mainstream shopping culture with hundreds of shops lining it’s nearly 2-kilometre length (that’s a lot of shopping!). Rent is sky-high so you won’t find little independent boutiques here but it’s an unrivalled highway of big brands and dizzying department stores.
Despite only stretching a short way, Oxford Street sees thousands of visitors every day. In fact, in 2017, French group BNP Paribas released data showing Oxford Street gets on average a whopping 13,500 visitors an hour, topping the list for Europe’s busiest street.
This is hardly surprising when you consider Oxford Street is both incredibly well-connected (with five underground stations nearby) and rubs shoulders with other hugely popular areas of the city. Taking a left up onto Regent Street brings you into Soho and Carnaby Street, both popular for smaller brands and mouth-watering restaurants, while further South sit Hyde Park, Green Park and St James Park, giving you a wide choice of green spaces, buzzing in summer or perfect for an autumn walk.
Whilst a haven for big brand shoppers, navigating Oxford Street is definitely somewhat of an art. The secret balance of getting to where you want to be, in the shortest time, without getting in the way of bustling professionals or being held up behind slow-going tourists, is a tough one to find!
I suggest if you’re heading there on a mission to find something in particular, get there earlier in the day before casual shoppers arrive and slow down your shop-to-shop hurrying. If you’re off to take in the atmosphere, or perhaps see the lights at Christmas strung across the road, then head to Oxford Street any time from 12 noon onwards (or after 5pm if you’re brave enough to take on the crowds of commuters heading home!).
For any first-time sightseer to Oxford Street, a visit to Selfridges is a must. Their Oxford Street store is their flagship masterpiece and in 2014 saw an average of 20 million visitors every year. Taking up an entire block, it is the second largest department store in Europe (behind Harrods, another London store, located in Knightsbridge). The Grade II listed building is stunning inside and houses a treasure trove of luxuries in every category you can imagine. Make sure you leave plenty of time to wander around this incredible building before stepping back out onto Oxford Street, the hours will quickly slip by!
Oxford Street really does seem to have a little bit of everything, no wonder it’s so popular with both Londoners and tourists. If you’re considering a visit, make sure you choose the best time to suit your needs and get those walking shoes on!