If you’re looking to stay in London, and are looking for cheaper options in zone 2, here’s a quick rundown of London’s zone 2 tube stop areas to help you narrow down your choice. Stay near the tube stop if you can – it’s easy to spend longer on the walk to the tube than you do on the tube itself; no point doubling your commute!
London was originally a lot of little villages, and it shows. That said. lots of areas are blending towards being the same boring high UK high street these days – especially near the tube stations, which often came long after the original village centre and aren’t actually near the traditional centre to the area.
Details below start at 12 o’clock and works clockwise from most central outwards. Tube map here – I’ve ignored overground / DLR stations as they’re less useful for tourists, tending to skirt the centre.
Broad brush strokes
West London tends to be more wealthy, with nicer houses/architecture, and have better transport links than south of the river.
The East End has traditionally been poor and was heavily bombed during the war – so more unattractive post-war housing. It’s also becoming more hipster now (Shoreditch, on the Overground, is ground zero for hipsters), with good coffee and graffiti.
South London has few tube stops and has usually been poorer than north of the river, but with some lovely exceptions, and more green space.
A ‘basic high street’ in London tends to have the ‘usual’ franchise names – Pret, WH Smith, Boots, Costa etc. In the less affluent areas – the majority in zone 2 – these are replaced by random corner shops, chicken shops and estate agents. In the wealthier areas, expect more independent and artesian cafes, grocers and bakers. Yes, fried chicken versus coffee as a way of mapping the area is A Thing. Lots of the tube stops outside the centre are in more residential areas with only a couple of shops near the tube, and flats / housing otherwise.
Northern line, north
- Mornington Crescent – mostly main road, high traffic noise/pollution. Close to centre (and Camden, if you want)
Camden Town – lively, punky. Hectic famous market and street scene, shop sculptures, always busy / buzzy. Lots of pubs and clubs – and high/drunk folks. Dirty and a bit rough (not dangerous, but not pleasant). Nice canal though.
Chalk Farm / Kentish town – cheap, slightly punky with overflow from Camden
Belize Park – expensive, posh.
Hampstead – expensive, posh. Next to the gorgeous Hampstead Heath and lakes for swimming.
Tufnell Park, Archway – basic high street London.
Piccadilly line, north
- Caledonian Road, Holloway Road, Manor House – poorer high street London.
Arsenal – famous for its football team, which might be an attraction or turnoff. Busy at match times.
Finsbury Park – usefully on two lines, Victoria and Piccadilly. Area’s pretty basic; park is pleasant enough.
Victoria line, north
- Highbury and Islington – posh, expensive area. Upper street is very good for restaurants.
Finsbury Park – as above
Central line, east
- Bethnal Green – basic to poor high street London
Mile End – usefully on three tube lines. Nice park and canal path. Still in generally poor area but getting gentrified.
District and Hammersmith & City lines, east
- Whitechapel – massive main road, area feels dirty and run down. Traditionally Middle Eastern / Indian population; Brick Lane is famous for Indian restaurants. Close to hipster areas of Hoxton/Shoreditch with much graffiti.
Stepney Green, Bow Road – typical poorer high street London
Mile End – as above
- Bermondsey, Canada Water – poorer high street London, both fairly close to riverside
Canary Wharf – this is the financial district, skyscraper central. Very different to most of London, all clean glass modern buildings and eerily empty at weekends (full of suits during the week).
North Greenwich – not to be confused with historic Greenwich village centre, which is 3km bus/walk away. Dominated by the O2 centre (outlet shopping, franchise restaurants, major concert venue) and all-modern buildings around, many still in progress. Riverboat links to centre and cablecar across the river.
- Canning town – on the poorer end of basic high street
- Stratford – was renovated for the 2012 Olympics (Queen Elizabeth Park has most of Olympic Park facilities and is a lovely area, as are the Lee Valley and its canal paths). High street is on the poorer side, but also has the relatively nice Westfield shopping centre. Also on Central line (and DLR, train and overground)
Northern line, south
- Elephant and Castle – lovely name, grim area. Hideous shopping centre and old tower blocks currently being renovated. Conveniently close to the South Bank though. Also has Bakerloo line.
Kennington, Oval, Stockwell – basic high street London.
Clapham North, Clapham Common, Clapham South – yuppie commuterville; wealthy-ish families tend to move here when they sprout. Nice bars / restaurants and huge green space, though.
Victoria line, south
- Vauxhall – LGBTQ central, wide range of gay bars / clubs / theatre. Lots of big new building work in progress. Varies between dirty / authentic, and sleek modern glass.
Brixton – traditionally Afro Caribbean, buzzy with popular market and nightlife. As with Camden, can feel a bit dirty / rowdy – but full of character and some pleasant spots.
District line – south branch
- Earls Court – traditionally full of Australian backpackers; some nightlife options and a giant exhibition centre. Bit dirty, but back streets are nice. Also on Piccadilly line.
West Brompton, Fulham Broadway, Parsons Green, East Putney – all on the nicer / wealthier side of basic London high street
Putney Bridge – also has the riverboat service. Pleasant area, like its neighbours
District line – west
- West Kensington – Kensington is one of the richest areas in London – though the tube station feels like basic high street London.
Barons Court – basic residential area, but also on Piccadilly line.
- Hammersmith – busy intersection of main roads and tubes. Not particularly beautiful, but plenty of basic shops, pubs and restaurants, well connected with 4 tube lines (District, Piccadilly, Circle, Hammersmith & City)
- Ravenscourt Park, Stamford Brook – basic residential London, slightly wealthier than some.
Turnham Green – basic high street London, but nice park and also on Piccadilly line
Piccadilly line – west
- Earls Court, Barons Court, Hammersmith , Turnham Green – as above
Circle and Hammersmith & City – west
- Hammersmith – as above
- White City – this is BBC land, where their main HQ is.
- Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush Market, Wood Lane, Latimer Road, Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Park, Royal Oak – though they’re all zone 2, it’s surprisingly slow to get to the centre. All tend to be on the slightly nicer end of residential / high street London.
Central line – east
- Holland Park – bit posh and expensive.
- Shepherd’s Bush – another famous area for Australian backpackers, so expect lively.
- White City – as above
- East Acton / North Acton – on the poorer side of basic high street London
Bakerloo line – north
- Warwick Avenue, Maida Vale, Kilburn Park, Queen’s Park, Kensal Green – all on the slightly nicer side of residential London.
- Willesden Junction – Poorer end of high street London. Many Overground connections, not terribly useful to most.
Jubilee line – north
- St John’s Wood – leafy and clean, posher end of residential London
- Swiss Cottage – surrounded by major roads. Normal high street London.
- Finchley Road – large O2 shopping centre next to it; normal high street otherwise
- West Hampstead – wealthy area; normal high street but more upmarket surrounding area (especially around Hampstead Heath)
- Kilburn – Kilburn has traditionally been the Irish centre for London. Normal high street; various bars and restaurant options
- Willesden Green – average high street London.