While London is expansive, there are pockets of the UK capital that are more inviting to solos, meaning that making new friends in your 30s and 40s is definitely possible. Of course it doesn’t come without its challenges but head to the right places and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
And it’s important to find the right way to navigate what can be an intimidating situation. In a survey by Campaign To End Loneliness, feelings of isolation are thought to be one of the largest public health challenges we face. The survey found that 49.63% of adults in the UK, which is over 25 million people, reported feeling lonely at some point. And, in research from Gravity Co, it found London to be the UKs loneliest city. So it’s imperative we know how to seek out new friendships and avoid feeling alone.
There are plenty of events and experiences geared toward bringing like-minded people together, no matter what your interests. Affordable or free classes are available in the Royal Parks and fitness stores, while creative classes and events are held city wide and social nights for solos are taking off. From calligraphy to gin-making to social events like Flash Pack’s Solo Cities, there’s plenty of opportunity to get out and make new friends.
How to meet new people in London
London is a diverse yet sprawling metropolis, so navigating your way around can be overwhelming to say the least, especially if you’re doing it all alone. But, know where to head and it can completely change your experience. And, you may even find new friends to share it all with. From the classic walking and bus tours to networking masterclasses to crafting in some fashion, there are endless events and activities to keep you entertained in the city and form those new friendships.
Meet up groups
Meet up groups are a really easy way to meet other like-minded people as you’re all there for the same reason. Meet Up is a great platform for finding mixed gatherings in your area, such as the Work Life Balancer group or London Socials. There’s also an abundance of independent groups. Gutsy Girls offer female-only guided hikes on the edge of London, while The Proper Blokes Club run a walk and talk club in various locations across the capital. And, of course, Flash Pack host regular Solo Cities events, bringing together people in their 30s and 40s.
In amongst all the pricey classes, crazy gym memberships and extortionate event fees, London also has some brilliant group freebies. Eventbrite has a wealth of cost-free events, from social walks to craft clubs. With eight Royal Parks across the capital, there are complimentary guided walking tours or mindfulness workshops on offer, meaning you can idly wander or breathe en masse. Some fitness stores offer free running clubs or fitness sessions, including big hitters like Sweaty Betty to Gymshark. And, of course, there’s Park Run, which hosts no-booking 5k runs across the city.
Lots of people who sign up for a class or to learn a new hobby do so alone, meaning you’ll be in the company of other like-minded people looking to connect through a shared interest. There’s a plethora of options, from countless yoga glasses to the likes of calligraphy, flower arranging and gin-making. There’s also the more unusual activities, such as circus-style aerial skills to Frame’s music video dance class. Some of the city’s libraries also offer free classes, including knitting, reading and games clubs. And the Good Gym has free running classes in exchange for runners helping with community projects along the way.
Group tours offer the chance to see the city or sights with others, meaning you don’t have to experience it alone. You’ll find everything from free walking tours to small group tours to larger more specific itineraries. Free London Walking Tours has a selection, from Secret London to Changing of the Guard. Food tours are an alternative way to explore the city, from markets to gourmet tours. For something a little different, try The Ultimate Cheese Crawl where you’ll try different varieties and wash them down with a few beverages along the route.
Join a club
Clubs are a great way to build friendships over time. You invariably see the same faces each week, having the chance to build a rapport and solidify new relations. You also get to do something that interests you at the same time, meaning it’s a win win. There are hundreds of clubs that cover everything from a love of books to photography to knitting.
Friend finder apps
Finding friends can be difficult, especially during our 30s and 40s when most friendship groups have already been formed. But it’s not impossible, you just need to know where to look. Apps like Bumble BFF allow you to find people that share interests and similar outlooks on life, as you would on a dating app. And Go Friendly is a new app launched by two women in Sweden who wanted to make new friends themselves.
If you’ve never considered volunteering, now is a good time to give it a go. It’s a wholly altruistic act, as well as an ideal way to meet new people. Those who volunteer tend to do so regularly, as well as enjoying the social element that comes with it. There are plenty of opportunities, from charities to corporations to mentoring programmes. The City of London Government website has a list of options, including the Mayor of London’s volunteering team. Food Cycle has numerous locations across London where volunteers can help with food collection, cooking and serving.
Best areas to meet new people in London
London’s 32 boroughs spread around 50 miles east to west, meaning there’s a lot of ground to cover. Knowing where to go to meet like-minded people without having to put in hours of ground work is a game changer. Here are the best places to make friends in London.
London’s East End is a hive of social enclaves, from bars to coffee shops to late-night venues, there’s a whole host of places to mingle and make friends. Shoreditch’s industrial past is reflected in its spaces with large art galleries, members clubs and restaurants, all ideal for bigger crowds. Further north in Hackney, you’ll find buzzy coffee shops, lively pubs and parks sprawling with like-minded people. Wilton Way in Dalston is home to the Royal’s favourite coffee and cake shop (1) Violet, and the Wilton Way Deli and Wines where people spark up conversations on the tables outside. (2) Victoria Park is a mecca for social interactions, from walkers to fitness fanatics to pub goers. Markets are also a great conversation opener, with food outlets on (3) Broadway Market, craft and clothing stalls at The Truman Brewery Market and flowers on Colombia Road.
West London’s Notting Hill is a vibrant hotchpotch of antique markets, pubs and clubs and brunching spots, all perfect fodder for sparking up new conversations. Well known for its annual carnival, the second largest in the world, the area’s spirited atmosphere continues somewhat throughout the year. Buzzy (4) Portobello Road Market is open daily, with the full market open on Saturdays, selling everything from trinkets to vintage wares to clothing and food. (5) Notting Hill Arts Club is an impressive live music venue, showcasing up-and-coming musicians and established artists. There’s also a great pub scene in the area, from (6) The Elgin to The Castle to The Sun in Splendour.
The heart of Central London, Soho is a heady mix of daytime mooching, lunch spots and after-dark venues. And, with a mixed crowd of locals, professionals and visitors, there’s ample opportunity to meet others on a visit. Start in (7) Carnaby Street where you’ll find coffee shops, independent boutiques and fancy food outlets in Kingly Court. Soho is right in the heart of (8) Theatreland. Plenty of people venture to see a show alone, making the interval a brilliant time to engage in chat about the performance. There’s also a wealth of drinking establishments, from swish but welcoming hotel bars, like (9) Ham Yard and Soho House to old pubs, like The Old Coffee House on Beak Street.
The London borough of Southwark, south of the Thames River from Tower Bridge, might not seem like an obvious choice, but head to its southern reaches and you’ll find the pretty Dulwich Village, East Dulwich and thriving Peckham. From parks to galleries, coffee shops to eateries and hidden rooftop bars, the area is a gentler version of nearby Brixton. (10) Peckham Rye Park and Common and Dulwich Park both host seasonal events, from film screenings to concerts to group walks and fitness classes. In Peckham, (11) Copeland Park and the Bussey Building host a series of creative and cultural events, from art shows, to yoga to a poster market. (12) Dulwich Picture Gallery hosts talks and workshops. While Dulwich’s Lordship Lane and the area around Peckham Rye station are awash with social spots to stop for a refresher.
Top five venues in London to meet new people
The area around London’s Southbank Centre sees a constant throng, making it a fantastic place to wander solo and potentially meet others. Situated on the edge of the River Thames, near Waterloo station, there’s loads going on, from funfair rides to festivals to performances. Inside the main Royal Festival Hall, there are regular plays, workshops and panel discussions. Outside, weekly food and book markets perfect for a rummage, sit alongside coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants. A short walk along the river towards The Houses of Parliament, you’ll also find The London Eye, where sharing pods and skyline views are a great conversation starter.
With over 4000 public parks in London, the capital’s green spaces offer a beautiful place in which to meet others. Through photography courses, fitness classes and walking groups, there are many ways to get out in nature and meet like-minded people. Many events are posted on the Royal Parks website or, for smaller parks, their individual websites or council borough’s site. Try a circular group walk in Richmond Park, free yoga in Hyde Park or a book shop exploration from Brixton to Dulwich Park.
Food markets are an ideal place for solo diners. Firstly, you can comfortably blend into the crowd as most have bench-style dining. Secondly, you don’t have that awkward all-eyes-on-you feeling to worry about as lots of people pop in to dine alone. Mercato Mayfair is housed in a deconsecrated 19th century church on North Audley Street in Mayfair. Food and drink outlets, along with the majority of tables, are in the main hall, while wine and cheese is served in the crypt. There’s also a roof terrace for those wanting to enjoy their dining alfresco.
Late-night events are good socials. When everyone else is out at a bar, focusing on things to do can give you a greater chance of meeting like-minded people. Lots of museums across London offer after dark events. The Science Museum Lates are for adults only. They range from exploring the museum galleries at night to pub quizzes to creating your own designs. And the Tate Modern runs late night gallery viewings accompanied by a DJ set with live percussion and exhibition-inspired cocktails.
The capital’s coffee scene is mega, meaning there’s a different spot to get your caffeine fix on nearly every corner. While you’ll find the usual chains in full force, independent stores have found their place on every corner, each one bringing a unique atmosphere and charm. Popular with everyone from locals to remote workers, you’ll see regulars propping up the same seats as well as visitors looking to make small talk over a perfectly poured oatmilk flat white. Allpress in Dalston, East London, has lots of tables and banquets. It also hosts weekend and evening events, from roastery tours, film screenings and supper clubs.
Is it easy to make friends in London?
Making friends anywhere can be intimidating or tricky to maneuver but in a vibrant city like London it can be easier than you imagine. Day or night, there are bars, restaurants, shows and events happening across all 32 boroughs, many of which are ideal for solo travellers. And, out of these minglings come some wonderful new connections. It’s important to remember that some new friendships are formed immediately, while others can take a little time, but all are equally rewarding.
For those still nervous of venturing out alone, group solo events are a superb alternative. Flash Pack’s Solo Cities events include house parties regularly hosted in city hotel apartments and bring together like-minded people wanting to meet new friends. Events are currently hosted in London, Los Angeles and New York, with more to follow. Ticket prices include the event, games, an open bar and snacks – new friendships are free.
Is London fun to visit alone?
While London is a sprawling metropolis, it doesn’t have to be intimidating: pick an area and you’ll be surprised how closely linked everything is. Each place has its own personality, making it easy to find somewhere that appeals to your interests and, in turn, like-minded people. From buzzy drinking spots, bustling markets, live music venues and social hubs to quirky events, festivals, group meet ups and clubs, there’s enough to appease even the pickiest of solo traveler. And, despite Londoners not having the best reputation for friendliness, you’ll likely meet a whole new crowd on any given night.
Flash Pack’s Solo Cities events cater for a range of interests and appeal to those wanting to make new connections but not really knowing how. They are about reclaiming cities for those in their 30s and 40s venturing out alone, bringing solos in rather than making people feel excluded. Events cater to different interests, from social dining to comedy events to house parties. And, with a carefully curated guest list, you’ll be hard pressed to come away from the night without at least one new What’s App contact or social follow.
Flash Pack is a group travel company that specialises in small group adventures for solo travelers in their 30s and 40s. Find out more about how we work, and our mission to build a global community of friendships.