London is a city full of winding streets and roads that spiral off, splinter into many smaller streets, or continue solidly on into the distance. And it contains within it many A-roads that can take you all the way to the other ends of the country. In fact, London’s relationship with roadways has gone so far as to act as an unofficial guide to what is and isn’t London – the common wisdom goes that if it’s outside the M25, it isn’t London. But within the city’s constraints, what is the longest road in London? The honourable title goes to the South London, Thames-hugging Rotherhithe Street.
Now, in advance of the inevitable “well actually…” comments – Rotherhithe Street is the longest continuous street in London that does not undergo any name changes. Sure, roads like the A5/Edgware Road may run far longer, but they undergo many a name change along their route. Plus, we have to set some ground rules – one of which is that the road must actually be wholly inside London. Otherwise, who knows where you’d end up if we sent you there? We’re also deferring to pedestrian access and narrow dictionary definitions, with the distinction that a street “often has houses or buildings on both sides“.
Now, logic may dictate that London’s busiest streets would be among their longest. Those such as Oxford Circus, for example. But, despite being one of Europe’s busiest shopping streets, it measures a comparatively paltry 1.9 kilometres. Rotherhithe Street, meanwhile is almost 30% longer at about 2.4 kilometres.
Where is Rotherhithe Street?
Rotherhithe Street runs from just outside Surrey Docks Farm, tracing a path along a promontory that sits on the opposite side of the Thames from Canary Wharf. From there it meanders in a semi-circle, across two bridges, before petering out in a narrow pedestrian street that joins with Elephant Lane outside the King’s Stairs Gardens.
Along the way, if you decide to walk from one end of the longest street to the other, you’ll find green spaces, historic pubs (such as the Mayflower – purportedly made using wood from the titular boat), and even city beaches. You might not necessarily want to go for a swim from Rotherhithe Beach – but it sure makes for a peaceful stroll. Rotherhithe Street goes through a number of narrow points, with historic London buildings that speak to the area’s crucial maritime history towering over you as you stroll along its length.
As well as providing a plethora of historical sights, and plenty of watering holes, Rotherhithe Street is also a must-visit for delightful London views across the Thames. Thanks to its shore-hugging route, visitors can take advantage of plenty of viewpoint opportunities.
- Edgware Road/A5: this remarkably straight stretch of road changes name multiple times and runs from Marble Arch to Edgware
- Green Lanes: forming part of the A105, this interrupted stretch of road lays claim to one of the longest stretches of road to use the same name. Runs between Newington Green and Winchmore Hill.
- Upper Street: Carry on along Upper Street, which becomes the bottom portion of the A1, all the way to its end and you’ll end up all the way over in Edinburgh, travelling along London Road! (After almost 700 kilometres that is…)