15 Exclusive and Unusual Things to Buy in London, and 15 Things to Avoid

Looking for the best things to buy in London? Look no further! As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, London has an abundance of souvenirs to choose from.

But – and there’s a BIG BUT – most “souvenirs” in London are absolute tat (that’s cheap crap, to my American friends).

There are some great exceptions, you just have to know where to look. From classic British treats to unique finds, I’ll show you the best souvenirs in London (from someone who actually lives here).

Whether you’re looking for gifts for loved ones back home or simply want to treat yourself, read on to discover the best souvenirs from London.

Let’s look at the best things to buy in London, and exactly what to avoid.

The Best Souvenirs from London 

1. Gourmet Foods from Borough Market 

Borough Market is the perfect place to find unique souvenirs from London!

Borough Market is an incredible gourmet food market with stalls upon stalls of produce, cheese, butchers, vintners, bakeries, cookware and more. So many cool things to buy in London are right here in one place!

Pick up a unique souvenir here like a posh pot of jam, a bottle of wine, nice kitchenware, or a cookbook. 

2. A Bottle of London Dry Gin, Distilled in the City

The gin craze of the 18th century left its lasting mark on London, and we have some of the world’s best gin distilleries right in the heart of the city.

Take a distillery tour and purchase a bottle of your favorite at the end, or find them at your local liquor or grocery store. Kew Organic, Sipsmith, and Beefeater are some of the most classic things to buy in London to take home with you.

3. Durable and timeless British clothing from Barbour, Burberry, Joules, or anywhere on Savile Row 

Some of the world’s most iconic clothing came from right here in England.

If you’re looking for something bespoke (tailored just for you), iconic Savile Row is the place to go. But there’s also plenty of affordable high street clothing unique to Britain, including outerwear by Barbour and Joules.

Or invest in a posh Burberry trench that will be a staple in your closet forever. You can also pick up iconic fabric from Liberty and take it home to make what you wish.

4. An Umbrella from James Smith & Sons

One of the most famous things to buy in London is a bespoke umbrella from this very old shop.

James Smith and Sons has been producing their iconic, durable umbrellas since 1830. Have one made just for you, or browse their incredible selection of umbrellas and walking sticks made from local materials. 

5. A Piece of London Street Art, Directly from the Artist

Walking through London, you’ll frequently see artists hawking their pieces on the streets, and so many of them have incredible talent. Purchase directly from them to support local art, and go home with a unique piece you can enjoy forever. 

Clusters of artists can be found in markets in Covent Garden, Spitalfields, Borough, and more. Original art is one of the the most unique and timeless things to buy in London.

6. Vintage Bus & Underground Signs

The Underground roundel never goes out of style! Purchase very cool home decor items from the London Transport Museum (you’ll see them in other places, too, but these are the “official” ones) that will give a graphic art punch to your walls at home.

My favorite thing is actually the Underground socks, which feature the iconic seat fabric patterns for your feet. It’s a subtle nod to your time in London! But a classic underground sign is definitely one of the most iconic and recognizable things to buy in London.

7. Anything from Fortnum & Mason 

Wondering what to buy in London as a gift for the pickiest person? Fortnum and Mason is where to go; a luxury British food brand established in 1707.

You can have tea in their amazing tea rooms and browse the massive shop to find unique treats to take home.

Boxes of chocolates, tea, biscuits, candies, and so much more are available in cute and distinctive packaging. Fortnum & Mason is known all over the world as a posh food brand, and one of the best gifts to buy in London for even the pickiest recipient.

8. A Personalized Wax Seal Stamp Set

Harkening back to the olden days when ladies of the manor would seal their correspondence in wax with their initials, this is a unique gift that is ultra cool. Personalize letters and invitations with your very own bespoke wax seal from the Little Blue Brush.

Some artisans in markets like Covent Garden, Borough, and Spitalfields also sell these, and carve them right in front of your eyes. This is one of the most personal and unique things to buy in London!

9. Antiques 

Looking for totally unique things to buy in London? Antique markets are everywhere, and you can actually own a piece of London history by browsing for totally one of a kind items.

My favorites are at Spitalfields Market and Camden Passage, but there are so many throughout the city that you’re bound to run into one on your travels. 

10. Silverware

When shopping for antiques on holiday, I always go for the silverware. Why? You can find quality, real vintage silverware that you will use forever. Also, it easily fits into your luggage.

To save some silver (forgive the pun), go for mis-matched sets: 3 forks here, a few spoons there. It’ll give your table a unique and eclectic vibe, and you’ll remember your trip every time you stir your tea. 

11. British Candy

What to buy in London cheap? Candy.

Britain has so much excellent candy, and you don’t need to spend a fortune to bring gifts back to your loved ones. My favorite is anything by Cadbury. Find these in literally any grocery or corner store.

You should probably just sample all of Britain’s sweet treats to know which ones are the best! Candy is one of the best souvenirs from London because you can pick up a whole lot of it for cheap, and everyone loves seeing the treats that foreign countries enjoy.

Don’t forget to try the iconic Percy Pigs at M&S.

12. Anything from Harrods 

The iconic posh department store in Knightsbridge has a wide array of gifts for every price range, and you’ll take your goods home in the distinctive green and gold bag that is recognizable all over the world. 

13. Tea 

No, I’m not talking Tetley. London has a huge selection of really excellent teas, and you can find them anywhere.

Teapigs is a great British brand that has a wide variety of flavors, but places like Fortnum & Mason and Harrods also have their own lines of teas that make great gifts. 

Tea is one of the best souvenirs from london because it packs easily, it’s affordable, and London is known for it.

14. Biscuits 

One of the most common and popular things to buy in London is the old standard: biscuits!

You could easily go for the grocery store digestives, but similar to teas, each shop has their own distinctive biscuits that are delicious and super easy to transport home. Plus, many of them come in cool tins and cute packaging. 

15. Tote Bags  

You need something to carry your gifts around in anyway, so why not purchase a cute London tote bag that doubles as a souvenir?

Bookshops like Daunt Books have iconic tote bags, but pretty much anywhere that you visit will have one. Pick the one you like best and use it forever.

Souvenirs from London: The Absolute Worst & Tackiest Things to Buy 

1. Anything from a Souvenir Shop in Trafalgar Square or Piccadilly Circus

There are so many incredible markets to buy gifts, like Apple Market in Covent Garden. Go there instead of a terrible scam shop in a tourist trap!

These shops are notorious fronts for money laundering and other illicit activities. Plus, everything is overpriced garbage that they just bought on Amazon to resell. 

Junk like this from a place like this is one of the absolute worst things to buy in London.

2. Anything from a Candy Shop in a Tourist Trap 

Sure, they might have a cute Union Jack lollipop and Harry Potter-themed jelly beans, but your money is going directly to scammers. These are cheap things to buy in London, sure, but for what they are, it’s overpriced and a total rip off.

3. Union Jack Anything 

Sure, some of it is cute, but the Union Jack is pretty much the most unoriginal gift you can get.

A flag? C’mon. It’s one of the worst souvenirs from London.

4. Anything that says “Keep Calm and…” 

It was original the first time someone used the wartime phrase to make a cheeky pun. The 10,000th time? It’s just overplayed. 

5. Official Royal Merch 

Go to a pretty shopping district like Covent Garden; not the gift shop at Buckingham Palace.

Royal merch is not unique to London; it’s all over the UK, all over Amazon, all over everywhere. There are so many unique and cool gifts to bring home from London that don’t involve the Palace!

6. Marmite

I will get hate for this, but here goes: Marmite is gross. And if it breaks inside your luggage, you will never get the yeasty smell out.

Plus, it’s widely available across the world and not unique to London. What to buy in a London supermarket instead? Candy, tea, or biscuits, for a start.

7. T-shirts 

Unpopular opinion: graphic t-shirts are terrible. Graphic tees or sweatshirts that say “London” or “England” and aren’t repping a football team? Terrible. Save your money.

8. Street Market Stuff

It’s one thing if you’re in need of some winter gloves or an emergency spare suitcase and quickly buy off the street. It’s another if you’re aiming for an original and cool gift and end up with some junk the seller bought in bulk from Alibaba. 

Cheap things to buy in London are in street markets everywhere; it doesn’t mean they’re good gifts.

9. Corgi Stuff 

The Queen is gone, and her corgis were gone long before that. If you want to get a cute stuffed animal for your niece who loves puppies, have at it. But the corgi merch is overplayed and unoriginal. It’s also a really sad reminder for the royalists who really miss Queen Lizzie. 

Somehow there are still corgi things to buy in London everywhere. Why?

10. Anything with a Crown. 

Somehow these people print a crown on a shot glass and call it a London souvenir. It’s tacky and silly and you can do so much better!

11. Tea Cups or Tea Sets. 

These are really impractical things to buy in London. Unless you’re investing in Wedgwood bone china or a very cool vintage tea set, there’s nothing here in the UK that you can’t get elsewhere.

It’ll break, it’ll take up too much space in your luggage, or you’ll spend a fortune shipping it home. 

12. Trinkets and Tchotchkes

If you’re in a touristy place like here in Chinatown, avoid the shops selling junk and hunt down local gift shops or markets instead.

Bobbleheads, shot glasses, a mini Tower Bridge– these things are a dime a dozen. You’ll spend £20 on a tiny red phone booth that will just sit on your shelf collecting dust for years. You can do better! 

13. Shortbread 

You’ll see tins and boxes of this everywhere, but shortbread isn’t actually a very popular thing in London. It actually originated in Scotland.

It’s cheap to produce, tastes terrible and dry, and these companies make a fortune pumping it out for tourists to bring home to relatives.

If you want some really tasty shortbread, go to Fortnum and Mason or Waitrose, and they make nice flavors, too.

14. Anything from M&M World 

Leicester Square is bad enough; why does this place have to exist inside of it? I really don’t know.

M&M’s are not unique to London, or even to England. It’s a big fat terrible chocolate tourist trap. Stay away. 

15. Masks 

Why do paper masks with Royal and celebrity faces on them exist? It’s as big a mystery as M&M world.

Save your money for something you can use and that will last and isn’t a tacky party favor. 

Final Thoughts on What to Buy in London

There are so many things you could spend your hard earned money on in London, why not be a little picky and get something that’s really worth buying?

Avoid the tourist traps and seek out places and gifts that are truly unique to London and England. But the best souvenirs of all? Photos and memories of what you did here. That’s what’s really worth investing in. 

More on Shopping in London 

15 Exclusive and Unusual Things to Buy in London, and 15 Things to Avoid

The Best Thrift Shops in London: 7 Areas to Score the Best Second Hand Bargains

Where’s the Biggest & Best TK Maxx in London? 

15 of the best Christmas Shops in London, from Budget to Luxe 

Grocery Shopping in the US vs UK: 5 Important Differences You Need to Know 

21 of the Best Korean Shops in London for K-Pop, K-Beauty & More

More on Visiting London: 

London Hotels for Family: 10 Great Values to Book Now

Your Ultimate Guide to a Family Trip to London on a Budget

33 Best Non-Touristy Things to Do in London

Printable London Packing List to Save you Money 

London 1 Day Itinerary 

Itinerary for 3 Epic Days in London: An Insider’s Guide

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