Area Guide

The Complete Holborn Guide for Your London Trip

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If there’s one question I receive more than any other, it’s about how to decide where to spend your time in London during a trip. London is a huge city compared to many North American cities, especially considering that you won’t be driving during your visit.

Tucked away in the bustling heart of London, Holborn is more than just a nexus of history and culture; it’s an invitation to discover the capital’s hidden gems and experiences. Dive deep into the top things to do in Holborn, and you’ll find a tapestry of tales, from ancient inns to cutting-edge galleries.

Things to Do in Holborn Hero

And, as the British might put it, exploring Holborn is much like a pot of Earl Grey – steeped in tradition yet remarkably refreshing. Whether you’re a seasoned Londoner or a curious traveler, Holborn has a story waiting just for you. Best of all, Holborn is easy to discover – it’s right in the heart of Central London, and you’ll probably pass through the area a few times during your London trip without even realizing it!

So, pop on your best walking shoes and prepare for a splendid jaunt through one of Central London’s most intriguing – and most overlooked – districts. Let’s explore together!

Practical Tips for Visiting Holborn

Let’s cover some basics quickly before diving deeper into the area. Holborn is a place most people pass through, but it has a lot to offer if you decide to spend some time here.

📍 Location: Holborn is located in Central London, just east of the most central areas like Soho and Covent Garden. From a geographic standpoint, the intersection of A40 and A4200 is roughly the center point of the area.

🏰 Landmarks: Officially, Holborn does not have major landmarks or sites within its bounds – but don’t let that deter you! The British Museum sits just on the border of the area, and there are a few other, smaller museums and attractions within the area… more on that below!

🏺 History: Holborn is outside the historic Roman wall, so its history doesn’t go back quite as far as areas within the City of London. However, there are some Tudor sites in Holborn (and other lesser-known eras of English history both before and after.

🚇 Public Transit: Holborn has excellent transit options; unlike some areas, it is actually a bit easier to visit the area by bus than by Tube. While there is one main station – Holborn – with Central Line access to the rest of London, many, many buses pass through and can deposit you in this area. (Check out suggestions for transit apps in my essential London apps list to find one that will help you get here.)

✈️ Nearest Airport(s): As it is so centrally located, Holborn is far from the major London-area airports (HeathrowGatwickStansted), but is still convenient because of that central location. If you’re coming into London via Heathrow, you can take the Elizabeth line directly from the airport, changing at Paddington.

Holborn Guide Map

Holborn Guide Map
Click to interact with the map.

Open this map to accompany the rest of my Holborn guide – it features many of the activities, dining and drinking establishments, and the top hotels I recommend for the area.

5 Great Things to Do in Holborn

If you’re still reading and intrigued about exploring Holborn, here are some of the best things to do in the area. Don’t worry though – it’s not all museums; there are some delicious experiences to enjoy too.

1. Visit The British Museum

The British Museum is not just one of the best things to do in Holborn, it may even be one of the best things in all of London! (And free too, unless you’re visiting a special exhibition!)

With eight million permanent works, the world’s national public museum was founded in 1753 and has the largest permanent collection in the world. This free London attraction documents two million years of human culture, from its beginning to the present day, with exhibits from different countries, such as ancient Egypt, China, and America. (The most famous currently is probably the Parthenon Marbles, which have been the object of much contention between Greece and the U.K.) 

The comprehensive collection is so vast, that you’ll need an entire day and sturdy walking shoes if you really want to see everything properly!

2. Explore Sir John Sloane’s Museum

Open to the public since 1837, the current Sir John Sloane’s Museum building is where 19th-century architect, Sir John Sloane, used to live. Sir John Sloane was the son of a bricklayer who went on to become a famous Regency architect. If you’ve visited the Bank of England or the Museum on Lincoln Inn’s Fields, you’ll have seen his work!

The house was designed in several different styles, to inspire architectural and drawing students, and has a wide range of sculptures, architecture, and paintings, including works by Turner and Canaletto. Today, the Museum also houses interesting events, such as conversations with art historians and the Artist-in-Residence.

Sir John Sloane’s Museum is only open from Wednesday to Sunday. You can walk in for a look around but do book in advance if you want to join a highlights tour. Oh, and did I mention that entry is free?

3. Admire Temple Church

Just north of the River Thames lies this simple round church that was built in 1162. Linked to the Catholic military order, the Knights Templar, there are nine human-sized marble effigies on the floor by the entrance to marvel at.

The headquarters of this mysterious organization was initially in Holborn before the Knights moved to this circular building known as The Round Church. It remained the base for the military group till 1307 when the organization was outlawed. (The Temple Church was then handed over to the Knights Hospitalier, another Catholic military group.)

For almost 150 years, The Round Church served two functions: it was a place of religious worship and a place at which one could deposit valuables or, in other words, one of England’s first banks! The Temple Church was also the site at which many debates about the Magna Carta took place, although the agreement was eventually signed at Runnymede.

Note that entrance to the church is ticketed and that it only opens from Monday to Friday.

4. Visit the Charles Dickens Museum

The Charles Dickens Museum is located at 48 Doughty Street, where Charles Dickens lived between March 1837 and December 1839. Back in the day, this exclusive street had porter-manned gates at both ends! It was almost demolished in 1923 before fortunately being listed in 1954.

This typical Georgian terraced house is also where Dickens wrote some of his most famous works: Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers, and Nicholas Nickleby. (His writing desk still stands in the house today.) At the museum, you’ll be able to find Dickens’s curiosities, such as a plaster bust of the Man himself, and take a tour to experience life as a housemaid in 1838, the Victorian Era.

Like Sir John Sloan’s Museum, the Dickens Museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday. (Last entry is at 4 pm.) If you’re intrigued, I wrote a review of my visit to give you more detail on whether I think it’s worth visiting. (Spoilers: yes!)

5. Eat Your Way through Leather Lane

Situated between Halton Gardens and Chancery Lane, Leather Lane is home to a weekday market. (There has been a market held here since the 17th century!)

Unlike Borough Market and Smithfield Market, which are mainly food markets, you can find a wide range of things for sale at Leather Lane, such as jewelry and food. Leather Lane is not quite as gentrified as Borough Market or Exmouth Market. However, it also feels more local, making it one of the best things to do in Holborn if you want to get away from the tourist hordes.

If you need other ideas for things to do in Holborn, I’ve got you – click here for my full list.

Where to Eat & Drink in Farringdon

If you’d like to indulge in a hearty breakfast before your adventure exploring more of the area or Central London as a whole, Holborn has a great selection of cafes and coffee shops to fuel up with caffeine. The best options include Prufrock Coffee (an excellent independent coffee shop with locally sourced breakfast options), Becks Cafe (what a typical Londoner might refer to as a greasy spoon), and Kozzy Cafe (a no-frills affair where you can enjoy a great breakfast).

For other food, let me tell you, there’s no shortage of culinary options in the Holborn area. Kintan Japanese BBQ, which serves authentic Yakiniku (grilled meat) is great if you crave some Japanese – they also have a fantastic happy hour! For a local meal, Holborn Dining Room in the Rosewood Hotel is one of the best restaurants in Holborn for British food, such as Scotch Egg and Beef Wellington. Another of the best restaurants in Holborn is Barrafina. This modern Spanish tapas restaurant is one of the most lauded restaurants in the London food scene – it does not take bookings, and the queues can get quite long.

Last but not least, Holborn is home to some fantastic pubs! Pubs are one of the most important and typical elements of British culture, so you should absolutely include a visit to one during your trip. In the Holborn area, Penderels Oak is one of the best Holborn pubs with a beer garden. It has two floors with a cellar bar – during lunchtime and after work, it still gets quite packed though. Seven Stars is a small, quirky pub situated in a Grade-II listed building and it’s by its famous landlady, Roxy Beaujolais (you can read all about her on the pub’s website). The Duke is another great place if you want to get away from the tourists thronging through Bloomsbury and Clerkenwell. (Charles Dickens lived round the corner, at Doughty Street, in the 1830s.)

Where to Stay in Holborn

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After reading all this, you may want to make Holborn your base during your trip. Luckily, the area is dotted with many hotels for every budget and travel style.

  • The Hoxton Holborn is one of the best Holborn hotels for travelers looking to stay somewhere stylish, with a great bar with innovative cocktails, and even better food.  (Book on or
  • NYX Hotel London Holborn is one of the best hotels in Holborn for those looking for a city break: it has a spa, steam room, sauna, swimming pool, and even rooftop bar. It’s also only 5 minutes away from the British Museum and a 15-minute walk from Kings Cross.  (Book on or
  • Premier Inn London Holborn is a decent choice, with well-sized rooms for budget travelers wondering where to stay in Holborn.  (Book directly.)
  • Rosewood London is a great hotel for those wanting to spoil themselves. This grand old dame is set in a beautiful building, with a spa, sauna, restaurant, and one of London’s best bars on its premises.  (Book on or

Have any more questions after reading my Holborn guide? Let me know in the comments below – I can add more info to this guide or write a whole new article to help you!

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