A souvenir is a wonderful, tactile way to remember a trip you’ve taken. Some people like to buy tacky knickknacks, others go for something high-end, and still, others will find something bespoke, knowing no one else will have something like it. London certainly offers its share of memorable novelties no matter how much you want to spend or the level of uniqueness. You can search them out in gift shops or take them home as part of your experience on a tour. If you want to take home a piece of the city that you won’t find elsewhere, consider one of the ten items below and share with us some of your favorite London souvenirs.
Tube Scarf – London Transport Museum
When touring the London Transport Museum and learning more about how Londoners have gotten around the city, be sure to stop by the museum fit store for some truly unique items, including their beautiful scarves. Woven from lambswool in traditional mills, the scarves include designs that feature the colors of the London Underground and the patterns from Underground and Routemaster seats.
Picnic Basket – Fortnum & Mason
Fortnum & Mason is the oldest department store in London, having opened in 1707. Having begun as a grocer, their food is what they’re best known for, including their own well-regarded brand. The best thing to get from them are their hampers (what we think of as picnic baskets). F&M offers dozens of hampers full of their own brands of food for all manner of occasions. Be ready to shell out some money, though, as the cheapest hampers go for £60, and the most expensive is £6,000.
Paddington Bear – Paddington Station
“Please look after this bear thank you.” is one of the most famous lines in children’s literature. Calling upon memories of children being shipped off from London at Paddington Station, Michael Bond crafted the story of Paddington Bear after seeing a lone teddy bear in a department store. The train station has a statue commemorating the character as well as a gift shop where you can buy your own Paddington Bear based on the books, shows, or films.
Iconic and Kitschy Knickknacks – Cool Britannia
Some people love to collect the most cliched items, and Cool Britannia is a store that is full of them. From Union Jack-covered bulldogs to teapots shaped like London icons such as Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and the Routemaster bus. You can find much more at one of its two locations and even order items online.
Antiques – Street Markets
London has plenty of great street markets from Portobello Road in Notting Hill to Camden Lock. Each market is filled with antiques and vintage items you won’t find anywhere else. Old records, plants, t-shirts, knickknacks, books, and more are waiting for you to discover at the market stalls. They also tend to have great street food and are worth wandering since you never know what you’ll find.
Umbrella – James Smith & Sons
James Smith & Sons have been in the umbrella business since 1830. The shop’s location on New Oxford Street is a Grade II listed structure with much of its original Victorian interior. It’s been featured in TV shows and films and, most importantly, produces some of the best umbrellas in the whole of the United Kingdom.
Cuddly Corgi – Buckingham Palace
Queen Elizabeth II’s furry companions have been were her since she was still a princess and have become an iconic symbol of her reign, even after her death. While Buckingham Palace isn’t always open for tours save for limited periods when His Majesty is not in residence, you can still visit the palace’s gift shop and bring home one of these Cuddly Corgi plushes.
Toy Theater – Pollock’s Toy Museum
Pollock’s Toy Museum is a wonderful little spot in the city that chronicles the history of our playthings. In addition to being a museum, it doubles as a shop and sells all manner of classic toys including paper toy theaters. One of the best toy theaters they offer depicts Shakespeare’s Globe during a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The museum recently closed, but it’s looking for a new home.
Beefeater Gin – Beefeater Distillery
Beefeater has been distilling gin in London since 1863 and is widely regarded as one of the best producers of the beverage in the world. Visitors to the Kennington distillery can choose a standard tour or the VIP experience, which includes a walkthrough of the company’s history as well as a chance to taste its wares. You also have the option of bringing home one of its fine bottles for purchase.
Fabric – Liberty of London
Regent Street is a top shopping destination in the city, and Liberty is one of its finest department stores there or anywhere in London. It’s been in business since 1875 and its fabric is some of the most unique that you’ll find. You can buy the fabric on its own to make something special or purchase a shirt, dress, or other item made from it within the store.