Living in London
Start your creative future in the UK’s vibrant capital.
Ranked No. 1 in the world in the 2019 QS Best Student Cities list, it’s no wonder that thousands of students from across the globe choose to study in London. Its world-class universities, thriving cultural sector and abundance of start-ups and enterprises make it the perfect place for our students to develop their creative practice and build their future careers.
Museums and galleries
London has one of the most vibrant arts and culture scenes in the world. The city is home to over 200 theatres, 170 museums and countless independent art galleries and cultural spaces. Larger galleries such as the Tate Modern and The Royal Academy of Arts host special events called ‘Lates’, where doors are opened after hours to host DJs, performances and private views. Nearly all London museums are free to enter, with discounted rates available to students for special exhibitions.
The British Museum, Bloomsbury
House of Illustration, Kings Cross
Tate Britain, Millbank
Unlike many other large cities, London is famous for its abundance of parks and green spaces. From the gigantic Hyde Park and St James’s Park in the West, to the wilds of Hampstead Heath in the North, there are endless opportunities to escape the noise of the city and immerse yourself in nature. If you're after breathtaking views of the city, nothing beats Primrose Hill on a warm summer evening, while the stunning gardens at Kew regularly host art installations and other events.
Pub on the Park, London Fields
Myatt's Field Park, Camberwell
The world in one city
Home to more than eight million people, London is one of the world’s most multicultural and diverse cities. The sprawling capital is made up of many different areas and neighbourhoods, each boasting its own unique atmosphere, architecture and local community. Much of the inner city can be explored by foot, while a bus ride of any length costs just £1.50. Here’s our guide to some of the city’s must-visit areas.
The old industrial area of Kings Cross has been transformed in recent years and is now home to the Central Saint Martins campus and its iconic Granary Building. The creation of the Coal Drops Yard shopping development has seen the area become a cultural and social hub, while global businesses such as Google have their headquarters next door. The British Library, just a few minutes' walk from the station, makes for an inspiring location to lose yourself in reading.
Most people know Camden for its famous Camden Market, and the area remains at the heart of the city’s alternative fashion and music scene. It plays host to plenty of intimate venues, as well as larger spaces like the legendary Roundhouse. The Camden Lock area has some lovely canal walks, with the market just next door offering an array of street food and drinks.
Home to a largely Jewish community, this beautiful neighbourhood is full of amazing Kosher cafes and restaurants, quaint bookshops and the London Jewish Cultural Centre, located in the former home of the famous ballerina Ana Pavlova. The high street is known for its range of local food places, from Turkish and Lebanese to Thai and Iranian.
Shoreditch and Brick Lane
Whether day or night, Shoreditch is always bursting with life. Brick Lane is packed full of vintage shops, small art galleries and curry houses, while the bars and clubs on Shoreditch High Street are popular with students and locals alike. The cozy Electric Cinema is a film lover's dream, while Boxpark offers live sport, world cuisine and DJ nights, all in one giant venue.
One of London’s newest cultural hubs, the Stratford area underwent major redevelopment for the London 2012 Olympics. It now has a wealth of sports facilities open to the public, including the London Aquatics Centre. Alternatively, you can follow the canal walk into nearby Hackney Wick to discover a local community packed with arts venues - our favourite is Grow, Hackney, which hosts everything from club nights to zine launches.
Waltham Forest has one of the most diverse ethnic populations in the UK and is home to large communities of Eastern Europeans and British Pakistanis. You’ll find a variety of architecture, restaurants and shops, along with the beautiful William Morris Gallery. If you're after something a bit more unusual, God's Own Junkyard is stuffed full of art pieces created entirely from neon lights.
Camberwell and Peckham
Camberwell is a lively and unique area of London, with the famous Rye Lane running through its centre, offering everything from kebab shops to street markets. Nearby Peckham is home to various creative spaces, including Peckham Levels - a space for artists to create and sell their wares that has made its home in an old carpark. Nearby, local favourite the Peckhamplex cinema allows you to see a film for just £5, anytime.
Declared the unofficial capital of the British African-Caribbean community, nearly a quarter of Brixton’s population is of African or Caribbean descent. There are countless Caribbean restaurants and music shops, along with jazz bars and clubs on every corner. Hosting a combination of Mexican food, resident DJs and reggae nights, Brixton Hootananny is a favourite with students.
Known as ‘Little Korea’, the New Malden area boasts over 20 different Korean restaurants and cafes as well as Korean-language churches and nursery schools. The area also hosts the Korean Food Festival every year, and you won’t have to venture far to find a karaoke bar or two.
West and Central
Soho and the West End
The West End is London’s entertainment district, known for its huge numbers of theatres, restaurants and bars. Just next door is Soho - creative, dynamic and filled with people day and night, it hosts many of the city’s best-known comedy clubs. Soho is also known for its high concentration of LGBTQ+ venues, and is a hub for Pride celebrations each year, while nearby Chinatown is packed full of Chinese supermarkets, bakeries, and over 80 different Chinese restaurants.
Kensington and Chelsea
The centre of the 1960s cultural scene in London, Chelsea is home to the famous King’s Road, a huge high street packed with luxury fashion stores and boutiques. It’s a beautiful area to wander around on a weekend afternoon, and it also hosts many of the city’s most famous museums and galleries – try the Saatchi Gallery and the V&A to get started, or visit the nearby Design Museum, which recently hosted a major Stanley Kubrick exhibition in collaboration with UAL.
Nicknamed ‘Little Punjab’, Southall is a neighbourhood thriving with Indian and south Asian culture. With shops packed full of items, from traditional clothing and jewellery to spices and sweet desserts, you can find food from nearly every country in South Asia. Tooting, a lively neighbourhood in the south west of London, is another area known for its large South Asian community and delicious curry houses.
Hear from our students
Ella Caton: BA (Hons) Textile Design, Chelsea College of Arts
Ella Caton, a BA (Hons) Textile Design student, shares her experience of studying in London.
Tanikha Allen: BA (Hons) Theatre Design
Tanikha Allen, a BA (Hons) Theatre Design student, shares her experience of studying in London.
Daniela's London experience
Meet Daniela Navaes from Brazil, currently studying MA User Experience Design at London College of Communication.
Hear about her experience as a Brazilian international student and how she found the move to London.
Life as a UAL student
Listen to students from across UAL talking about their experiences of studying and living in London.
Learn about Arts SU: University of the Arts London (UAL) Students' Union.
Find out more about our student support services, including counselling, health and disability support.