No matter the season, ice cream is the ultimate indulgence anywhere you travel. London particularly boasts a strong ice cream and gelato game, with shops all over the city that cater to every taste. Whether you're looking for simple perfection in the form of vanilla gelato or something crazier (like a cone wrapped in cotton candy), there's an ice cream shop in the British capital with your name on it.
Here are 15 of the best around town.
With two locations in London, Udderlicious boasts some of the city's best flavors like blueberry sorbet and mulled wine. The handmade dips, which include vegan options, rotate monthly. It's a family-owned business, and you're free to indulge in a few samples before you order. The location in Covent Garden is a great stop between sightseeing excursions in central London.
The sister establishment of Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo, this Soho gelatería features dozens of artisanal flavors—many of which change daily. Look for flavors like blood orange, bitter chocolate, and melon. Gelupo also serves up alcoholic sorbets, including a refreshing Campari and pink grapefruit. Check the menu online before going if you're looking for a specific flavor.
Those who want their ice cream with a little bit of flair should head to Chin Chin Dessert Club in Soho. Add creative toppings and sauces (think truffle crumble or hazelnut sand) to classic flavors such as tonka bean. Everything is made with liquid nitrogen, so you can be sure to expect perfect texture and consistency. There's a second location in Camden called Chin Chin Labs.
Milk Train's whimsical treats are just as tasty as they are Instagrammable. The soft serve cones come surrounded by a cloud of cotton candy (known as candy floss in the U.K.) and dotted with toppings like Oreos, popcorn, or sprinkles. Sure, you can opt for a more traditional serving in a cup, but it seems like a waste to stand in line and not get the massively indulgent, sugary dessert.
The original Soft Serve Society in Shoreditch's Boxpark serves up Japanese-inspired flavors like matcha and charcoal coconut. Get a simple cone, or opt for a sundae or "freakshake." In case you want to go totally over the top, the Cloud 9 sundae involves pink cotton candy. If you're visiting Buckingham Palace, check out the second location in nearby Market Hall Victoria.
Featuring flavors like dulce de leche, panna cotta, and stracciatella, traditional gelato can be found at Gelatorino. There are plenty of sorbet options for those who want to skip dairy, including melon, lemon, and mango. You can even select a gelato cocktail (try the negroni). Everything is made right in the store, and the shop also serves coffee, crêpes, and cookies.
La Gelatiera serves up creative scoops, with flavors like basil and chili, porcini chocolate cream, and Cornish blue and walnuts. It's great for those who want to try something unusual, and there are usually several vegan options on offer. The shop also features coffee, waffles, and cake, or you can grab a take-home tub of your favorite flavor. Follow La Gelatiera on social media to keep up with the ever-changing menu of gelato.
For something a little different, pay a visit to Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream. The Filipino ice cream parlor is known for its authentic flavors: ube, queso, black buko, and more. If a simple cone doesn't do it for you, treat yourself to one of the signature desserts (we recommend the bilog, ice cream scooped in a toasted milk bun). The shop also serves coffee drinks if you need a pick-me-up.
Head to Chalk Farm to discover Marine Ices, one of London's most classic gelato shops. It's been around since 1931 and features over 40 flavors based on family recipes. Everything—from tiramisu to roasted pistachio and chocolate fudge brownie—is available by the scoop, and there are also several fruit sorbets to choose from. The menu includes sundae options (we're talking banana splits ad Belgian waffles with ice cream) if you want to truly indulge yourself. Sign up for a loyalty card online if you plan to become a regular visitor.
Order up some soft serve ice cream in a cone shaped like a fish at Bake, a Chinatown bakery known for its pastries. The cones are actually waffles and come with vanilla, chocolate, or matcha green tea ice cream. It's not only delicious, but it's practically a requirement for anyone documenting their London experience on Instagram.
With several locations around London, there are over 130 flavors at this neighborhood gelato shop. You can expect mostly traditional options like pistachio and chocolate here, and everything is made from scratch in the Kensington store. It's known for having lines out the door on weekends and bank holidays—so arrive early or check it out during the week. Their motto is "Life's too short to eat bad ice cream" and they live up to the promise.
With dual locations in Tufnell Park and Kings Cross, Ruby Violet is the premiere ice cream shop in north London. The seasonal flavors rotate daily and you can score a "tasting menu" of six flavors if you eat in the store. They also serve up wine, cocktails crafted with ice cream, and milkshakes. Check Ruby Violet's website or social media pages for the current flavors—and hope they include the tasty black sesame.
Journey to Shepherd's Bush to uncover one of London's best ice cream parlors, Bears Ice Cream Company. The shop has Icelandic-style soft serve that can be paired with a wide variety of fun toppings or dipped in chocolate. You get to customize your order, which means no cone will ever look (or taste) alike. It's worth the trek out to west London, especially on a hot summer's day.
Gelato is a dime a dozen this side of the world, but good gelato can be hard to find. The texture and taste is on point at Unico, which has several locations around London, including in St. Johns Wood, Notting Hill, and Fulham. The flavors are mostly consistent, with a few rotating options. For a delightful and engaging treat, pair the due torri flavor with the caffè. There are also coffee, pastries, and focaccia sandwiches on the menu.
Vegans rejoice: Soho is home to a great ice cream shop that is completely dairy-free. Yorica! serves ice cream, soft serve, and shakes—all of which are made with coconut and rice instead of milk. Flavors include banoffee, popcorn and caramel, and HazelNOT, and you can elect to add your frozen treats to a waffle or crêpe. The store is completely cash-free, so be sure to bring a credit or debit card.