On the hunt for the best London souvenirs? Look for further than this handy guide to the top presents from the capital.
Words by John Rogers
As you wander around London, you’ll find the main tourist areas stacked with shops selling “London souvenirs” that meet just about every possible London cliche imaginable. Bears dressed as Beefeaters, London taxis, red double-deckers and the Union Jack everywhere you look.
Scratch beneath the surface of London’s cheap but popular tourist veneer, and there are some beautiful, high-quality reminders of your time in the city available without having to break the bank.
Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.
Best Souvenirs From London
Tea and Biscuits
After decrying London cliches in our intro, we’re going to suggest the most British of stereotypes as one of the best souvenirs to buy in London, tea.
It’s no secret that we Brits like our tea to the point of obsession. Tea with cake, tea with biscuits, tea with sandwiches, tea with absolutely anything you can lay your hands on.
While you could leave the city with a box of PG Tips, we’d suggest hunting out one of the endless numbers of loose-leaf tea stores to turn you from a tea lover to a quintessential tea snob.
Once you’ve got your tea, it’s time to find biscuits to dunk! From cookies to shortbread, gingerbread to decadent chocolate-topped delights, London is full of excellent Biscuiteers.
From Charles Dickens to Sherlock Holmes, and James Bond to Harry Potter, some of literature’s most famous names are deeply rooted in London’s streets.
Indeed, London is one of the world’s finest stages for literature, something that continues to this day through the works of Monica Ali, Bernadine Evaristo and many other incredible contemporary London authors.
Finding something to read, set in London, while travelling back from London, is an activity we can’t recommend enough, particularly if purchased at Foyles on Charing Cross Road. Or, even better, at one of London’s fantastic second-hand bookstores, such as Hatchards in Piccadilly Circus.
If you enjoy remembering past trips and a challenge on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon, finding a jigsaw puzzle on your journey through London to take home with you is an excellent choice.
Finding a puzzle of a London landmark or vista across the city can fill the most boring afternoons indoors with warm and fuzzy memories of your visit to London and the sense of achievement that comes with fitting the 1000th and final piece into place to complete the picture.
Museum Gift Shop Presents
London is stacked with museums, each of which comes with its very own gift shop. Some of London’s best and most niche souvenirs can be found here, especially if you visit a museum about London and its rich, unique historical past.
For example, if you simply must have something to do with the Yeoman Warders at the Tower of London (Beefeaters to you and me), find something at the Tower of London gift shop. Likewise, if a taxi or bus floats your boat, head to the London Transport Museum shop.
In our experience, the smaller the museum, the better the gift shop for finding something genuinely memorable to mark your visit.
Cheese (Yes, Really)
Usually the preserve of our continental European cousins, London has unbelievable independent cheesemakers that offer a truly unmatched flavour, aromatic experience, and a genuine taste of London.
We highly recommend visiting one of London’s many food markets, such as Borough Market, where you cannot turn around without coming across another cheese stall. We recommend a small wheel of stilton that goes perfectly with another quintessential London experience, afternoon tea.
Again, perfumes are better associated with Paris and Milan than London. Still, the capital has several boutique and independent fragrance houses that produce some of the most beautiful natural scents imaginable.
Covent Garden and Seven Dials are great locations with charming independent perfume houses where you can sample and sniff to your heart’s content while you find the perfect fragrance to take home.
Then, each time you sprinkle some on you when you head out, you’ll be reminded of your time in London.
London isn’t just an iconic city in real life; it’s equally well-known in map form. Whether it’s the familiar windy route taken by the Thames, or the colourful, interwoven patterns of the Underground map, taking a map of the city home with you is an excellent reminder of the city.
You could buy a cushion cover, travel bag, poster, or even a duvet cover with a map of London in one form or another to keep the memories of your visit to the capital alive at home.
From the swinging 60s to Punk in the 70s, the New Romantics of the 80s to floppy-haired Britpop in the 90s. London and the music scene have gone hand-in-hand for decades.
So what better way to mark your visit to the city than by scanning the shelves at one of the city’s endless number of record stores to find classics from the likes of The Who, The Clash,
Spandau Ballet and Blur to play at home as you sit back and dream of London.
Read Next: Best Record Shops in London
London Dry Gin
London and Gin go hand-in-hand, from the Beefeater Gin that has become synonymous with the Tower of London to our favourite, No. 3 London dry gin made to a secret recipe by Berry Brothers and Rudd, London’s oldest wine and spirit merchant.
Established initially at number 3 St James’s Street (hence the name of the gin) in 1698, No. 3 is, in our opinion, the best dry gin you’ll ever sample anywhere, not just in London.
Available in a gift set with Dolin’s Vermouth from Harvey Nichols, this is the perfect souvenir for an evening of reminiscence about your visit to London.
Buckingham Palace Hand Towel
The iconic emblem of Buckingham Palace, the crown with the Buckingham Palace lion and unicorn, is the British monarch’s official royal coat of arms.
Made from 100% cotton and decorated in gold thread, this is the perfect treat for any royal fan, a cut above anything from the ten-a-penny gift shops that crowd London streets.
The beauty of this 33” by 19” hand towel is that it’ll bring a touch of class and elegance to any existing decor and is outstanding value, giving you (a little) change from £20.
Ultimate Beer Glas
Forgive us for returning to the subject of alcohol, but no trip to London is complete without a visit to a traditional British boozer.
Regulars to our site will know just how much we love to chat about London pubs and a proper London pint, so this is a beautiful way to take a piece of London culture home with you to enjoy a decent beer at home.
We recommend the Ultimate Beer Glass (UBG) made by Dartington Crystal and their beautifully curved crystal-cut glass drinking vessel with a carton packed with British beer trivia.
Call us realists, but there’s a strong chance you’ll encounter rain at some stage if you visit London at a particular time of year.
You could grab a low-cost “I Love London” or Union Jack umbrella, which would keep you sheltered well enough.
However, for a truly authentic London umbrella experience, we recommend visiting one of London’s traditional umbrella makers, such as James Smith & Sons. Here you’ll find a range of artisan, classic-style umbrellas that’ll protect you through years of torrential downpours.
Where to Buy Souvenirs in London
Harrods is the creme-de-la-creme of department stores, setting the standard for others in London and worldwide, and is available for you to visit on West London’s Knightsbridge.
From the world-famous food hall, which stocks some of the best British foods, wines and spirits, to the clothing, jewellery, and endless range of designed goods, there is no better London institution to visit to buy the authentic mementos of your time in London.
A tourist experience in itself, make Harrods part of your itinerary regardless of your budget so that you can say you’ve been.
Famed for the annual Christmas displays that attract visitors in their thousands to Oxford Street, Selfridges is a department store that is an experience in itself. Although perhaps better known for its range of cutting-edge fashion lines than others listed here, it’s also a great place to get a timely reminder of your visit to London.
From hampers to personalised gifts, even eco-friendly earth-conscious souvenirs, Selfridges offers a genuine London shopping experience and some unique London souvenirs anywhere in the city.
Fortnum & Mason
Established in 1707 along Piccadilly, Fortnum & Mason is an institution as English as Harrods, Selfridges and the Royal Family.
Fortnum & Mason are particularly famed for their incredible hampers and gift sets that showcase the best fresh British produce, wrapped in all the pomp and finery you’d hope for from such a quintessentially British brand. Check out their incredible range of loose-leaf teas for the perfect gift.
There are offshoot stores elsewhere in London, notably at Heathrow Terminal 5 and St Pancras International Station, but they are not a patch on the original department store experience.
Food, clothes, merch, mementos – whatever you’re looking for from your visit to London, Camden Market has you covered. Located along the Regent’s Canal, a short walk from King’s Cross and Euston, Camden Market caters to people of all tastes, from the mainstream to the alternative.
We love their more alternative take on the London souvenir scene, mashing different art styles together to give you a unique reminder of the city to take – or wear – home.
Visitors to London are often surprised at the range of foods available, particularly at some of the large markets inside the city. Borough Market is one of the best, bursting with the freshest, tastiest produce and the traditional calling cards of London’s marketeers, the fruit & veg man selling his wares.
You can spend hours strolling around the market and come away with enough produce to sink a battleship! Locally made cheeses (that wheel of stilton awaits!), fresh bakes, eels, oysters, pie and liquor. The perfect place to collect a taste of London for home.
The Queen’s Shop
Think London and the Royal Family won’t be far from your thoughts for apparent reasons. And while most of the common London Gift Shops make a big play on them, if you’re looking for something less tacky but with full royal approval, then The Queen’s Shop is a must-visit.
Nestled just around the corner from Buckingham Palace’s grand facade on Buckingham Gate, The Queen’s Shop serves every conceivable whim and fancy of fans of the royal family, and at real value for money prices too.
Rough Trade East
We’ve talked about the well-trodden path that links London and the British music scene, and anyone wanting a slice of this vibrant arena to take home with them should visit Rough Trade East in the old Truman’s Brewery, just off Brick Lane in East London.
Home to one of London’s oldest and best-known independent record labels, there are shelves stacked with records that provide a compelling soundtrack to London, giving you the chance to take the sounds of the city home with you.
The eagle-eyed among our readers will have noticed we’ve already mentioned Hatchards in this article, and that’s because it’s one of our favourite London bookshops by a mile. Indeed, as London’s oldest bookshop, it’d be ridiculous for us not to be seduced by its many charms.
For bibliophiles wanting to take a slice of London home with them, whether through the lens of fiction or nonfiction, we cannot recommend Hatchards on Piccadilly enough to provide you with lasting readable memories of the Big Smoke.
Columbia Road Market
Although ostensibly a flower market, Columbia Road is well worth visiting in its own right. Blooming with the most beautiful seasonal colours throughout the year every Sunday, this Hackney marketplace also has plenty to offer in the way of genuine London souvenirs.
Whether you’re looking for something for your home or garden, the market stalls and accompanying charming shop fronts that line Columbia Road are filled with gorgeous little mementos and original items that will give you that warm fuzzy feeling you associate with London every time you see them.
Found on Regent Street and the edge of trendy Carnaby Street, Liberty is another of London’s vast, elegant department stores, perfect for finding some bespoke London gifts to take home with you.
In particular, we love their range of fabrics for fans of haberdashery. Pick up a dress pattern to go with it and create a lasting legacy for your London trip with your very own hands. While you’re there, take in the stunning Tudor-revivalist exterior dating back to 1875.
Charbonnel et Walker
Madame Charbonnel met Mrs. Walker in 1875, and together they created Britain’s first luxury chocolatier. Charbonnel et Walker is located in the heart of Bond Street in London’s high-class West End, and their chocolatey delights are worthy of their surroundings.
Previous customers have included Princess Diana, Sir Alec Guinness, Lauren Bacall and Noel Coward, who had a selection box delivered to him every fortnight. The quality of their chocolates and truffles have stood the test of time and are a stunning sweet memento of a visit to London.
To Home From London
This London gift shop is a delightful artisanal gift shop bursting with cute souvenirs of your time in London. To Home From London is based in Camden, with its flagship store in Camden Lock Market.
As well as being one of the best gift shops in London, To Home From London also has a pancake art cafe in Camden where you can enjoy homemade sweet treats while perusing their unique designs. This gorgeous boutique is perfect for anyone with a sense of the cute and who wants to support local artists.
Best of all, they are unashamedly LGBTQ-positive. We love that.
Practical Tips for Picking the Best Souvenirs in London
When in London, you’ll find street vendors and gift shops around every corner bedecked with red buses, post boxes, telephone boxes and Union Jacks. Although they’ll be busy with tourists, we urge you not to get sucked into buying cheap tat at vastly inflated prices.
Dig around and find smaller, independent outlets or retailers at local markets, or grab your souvenirs at museum gift shops to avoid paying a premium for not very much.
That said, some of London’s best and most authentic souvenir shopping experiences in London can be found at the vast range of department stores, from Harrods and Fortnum & Mason to Liberty, Selfridges and dozens more.
Just beware of your budget, though, as some of the best mementos don’t come cheap, and we’d hate for you to have to hitchhike your way home!