It doesn’t take much to signal summer in London. As long as the sunshine is out, it barely has to reach 20 degrees in the capital before Brits deem it appropriate to slap on sunglasses and flip flops. But we’re not complaining, because as soon as the weather decides to play ball in London, you can guarantee we’ll be heading to one place and one place only: an ice cream parlour. Specifically, one of the spots in this line-up of the best ice cream shops in London.
Now, London’s selection of ice cream shops is eclectic and wide-ranging, which is why we’ve gone ahead and broken them down into helpful categories for you. To kick off, have a scroll through our list of places where you can find the best gelato in London. This Italian take on ice cream is, perhaps, the most superior version of all, being slightly lighter than classic ice cream and with a softer, velvety texture.
But if you prefer your ice cream drenched in chocolate sauce, carved into the shape of a rose or a vibrant shade of purple, then keep on scrolling for a list of some of the most Instagrammable ice cream in town. And, if you are looking for a decadent sundae with all the trimmings or a creamy-meets-crunchy ice cream sandwich, you can find that, too. Our pick of the best ice cream in London should have something for you.
To help you out, we have divided our pick of the best ice cream London has to offer into themed sections, so all you have to do is click on the sub-headings below to skip to your preferred category. Then, after that is sorted, simply head on down to your chosen spot, order some ice cream and melt those troubles away.
Best gelato in London
If you've found yourself yearning after some authentic Italian gelato, these awesome gelato spots where flavours abound are sure to satisfy your cravings.
Why: One of London’s most high-profile ice cream shops, Gelupo was founded in 2010 by Victor Hugo and chef Jacob Kennedy, who also runs neighbouring Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo. Ice cream is churned fresh every day here and only natural flavours are added – think ricotta and sour cherry, blood orange, and bacio (milk chocolate with hazelnut). Be sure to check out the deli while you're there too, so you can bag some Italian cooking staples.
Where: 7 Archer Street, W1D 7AU
Book now: Gelupo
Why: Eschewing gimmicks and out-there flavours, Nardulli is a truly classic gelataria and a popular one at that, with queues often snaking out the door on Clapham’s sunnier days. It’s the perfect pit stop before an afternoon spent relaxing on the Common, while flavours to try include rum and raisin made with Cuban rum, black cherry, and a fig variety that uses fresh figs sourced from Southern Italy.
Where: 29 The Pavement, SW4 0JE
Book now: Nardulli
Why: This is the debut London site for this Italian-based chain of ice cream parlours, which seeks to serve traditional gelato in the old style. You can enjoy your ice cream in a cone or paper cup, and you can fill these vessels with the likes of Italian nougat, green pistachio or caramel with Himalayan pink salt. If you prefer to keep things simple, stick to the signature serve, which is a blend of pastry cream and lemon peel.
Where: 16-18 Piccadilly, W1J 0DF
Book now: Grom
Gelataria 3BIS, Borough and Notting Hill
What: Found trading at either Borough Market or Portobello Road, this ice cream parlour might have a tongue-twister of a name (the postcode of the first ice cream factory in Italy apparently), but its ice cream is delightfully uncomplicated. 3BIS is a little on the expensive side, but it’s worth it for this level of quality and flavour. Don’t miss their gelato crepes either.
Where: 4 Park Street, SE1 9AB; 178 Portobello Road, W11 2EB
Book now: Gelateria 3BIS
Gelateria Danieli, Richmond
What: This small, but perfectly formed shop in Richmond is something of a childhood dream, specialising in both authentic Italian gelato and high-quality chocolate. There are a whole myriad of flavours to choose from too, ranging from the traditional likes of strawberry and rum and raisin to more contemporary options such as Bakewell tart, elderflower and honey and Champagne truffle.
Where: 16 Brewers Lane, TW9 1HH
Book now: Gelateria Danieli
Gelatorino, Covent Garden
What: The ice cream at this cutesy cafe is about as authentically Italian as you can get without booking a flight to Rome. The gelato is made daily in machines imported from Italy and served via a spatula, because it is so creamy and smooth that there is no need to use a scoop. Flavours are just as old-school as the methods used to make the stuff, with options to try including pistachio, dark chocolate and Amarena cherry.
Where: 2 Russell Street, WC2B 5JD
Book now: Gelatorino
La Gelatiera, Covent Garden, Crouch End, Southbank and Stratford
What: Now boasting four locations across the capital, La Gelatiera has rightfully won legions of fans over the years thanks to its wide range of ice creams. The menus change often, but there is always an intriguing array of flavours on rotation, with top orders including the likes of Calabrian liquorice and Porcini chocolate cream.
Where: 27 New Row, WC2N 4LA; 17 Topsfield Road, N8 8PP; Barge House Street, SE1 9PH; 1 Park Walk, East Village, E20 1DH
Book now: La Gelatiera
Morelli’s, Covent Garden
What: Found in a tiny unit along Covent Garden’s Piazza, Morelli’s is a fourth-generation ice cream parlour that has been around since 1907. There is a tempting range of traditional flavours to choose from and if you’re short on time or want to see the Covent Garden sights, you can simply grab a scoop to go. If you do have some extra time though, we’d recommend nabbing a table and treating yourself to one of Morelli’s decadent sundaes.
Where: 20A The Market, WC2E 8RB
Book now: Morelli's
Oddono’s, South Kensington
What: Alongside this Kensington shop, Oddono's actually boasts seven outposts across the capital, including Hampstead, Wimbledon and Chiswick to name but a few, making it something of a staple among the well-heeled of South West London. Flavours are simple, yet effective, which means you might find yourself tucking into the likes of coconut, strawberry or mango.
Where: 14 Bute Street, SW7 3EX
Book now: Oddono's
Instagrammable ice cream in London
If you're looking to up your Instagram game, a shot of some over-the-top ice cream is guaranteed to rake in the likes. It doesn't necessarily have to be a case of style over substance either – these Instagrammable ice cream spots in London are a treat for both the eyes and the taste buds.
Chin Chin Labs, Camden
Why: Liquid nitrogen might seem gimmicky these days, but Chin Chin were among the first to use it with ice cream when they started out back in 2010. There’s reason behind it too, as the ice cream’s custard base is frozen instantly, giving it a nice, dense flavour. The best part is that you can pimp up your creation with all sorts of sprinkles and toppers, while flavours include rhubarb pannacotta, burnt butter caramel and coffee and olive oil.
Where: 49-50 Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF
Book now: Chin Chin
Milk Train Café, Covent Garden
Why: Taking pimping up your ice cream to brand new heights, Milk Train café is an ice cream lover’s (and Insta fanatic’s) paradise. Here, cones are filled with matcha soft serve ice cream, before being topped with the likes of colourful sprinkles, cookies or chocolate chips. What happens next is Milk Train’s piece de resistance – the team will weave a circle of pastel-coloured candy floss around your cone, making it pretty as a picture.
Where: 12 Tavistock Street, WC2E 7PH
Book now: Milk Train Cafe
Soft Serve Society, Shoreditch
Why: Known for its over-the-top creations, Soft Serve Society has reinvented ice cream for the social media generation. Vanilla, matcha green tea, charcoal and coconut are the four base flavours, but your ice cream can be topped with all manner of items, including waffles, crushed Oreos and honeycomb. The most Instagrammable order is Cloud 9, a tooth-achingly sweet concoction of vanilla ice cream, berry candyfloss, strawberry crunch, strawberry sauce and popping candy. If that's too much though, you can always keep things simple, like above.
Where: 2-10 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6GY
Book now: Soft Serve Society
What: Italian restaurant Manteca were feeling nostalgic when they thought this one up. This rather adorable creation is inspired by a mini milk ice cream, made with condensed milk and cream and served with freeze dried strawberries and flaky salt. Ok, it's definitely fancier than the stuff we grew up with, but we're still here for it. Find it on the menu on your next visit.
Where: 49-51 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT
Book now: Manteca
Snowflake, Marble Arch and Soho
Why: With more than 40 flavours to choose from, this ice cream parlour means business. There are branches in Marble Arch, Soho and Kensington, and although its usual flavours are pretty classic - think coconut or biscotto - Snowflake has been known to pander to the Instagram crowd before, like when it unveiled a matcha flavoured gelato that was shaped to look like a halved avocado.
Where: 44 Edgware Road, W2 2EH; 102 Wardour Street, W1F 0TP
Book now: Snowflake
Why: Forget buying us flowers, we just want a bouquet of ice cream instead. Amorino is known for topping its cones with layers of ice cream that are shaped to look like petals, resulting in a gorgeous flower-esque ice cream. At Amorino, fruity flavours abound, so tuck into the likes of organic lemon, Amarena (cream and black cherries) and lime and basil, and there’s the option to enjoy your scoops on a waffle or crepe too.
Where: 41 Old Compton Street, W1D 6HF
Book now: Amorino
Ruby Violet, King’s Cross
Why: With its bright pink neon signage and powerful blue walls, Ruby Violet is delightfully kitsch and fun for all of the family. All the classic flavours can be found here and in many forms too; try an ice cream float, a milkshake or a hand warmer, which sees two scoops of your choice drenched in Ruby Violet’s hot salted caramel or chocolate sauce. For the grown-ups, there’s also the option to add booze to your milkshake – cheers to that!
Where: 3 Wharf Road, N1C 4BZ
Book now: Ruby Violet
Greedy Goat, Borough
Why: If you love ice cream, but ice cream doesn’t love your stomach, you’re probably better off lowering the lactose and enjoying a scoop or two at this family-run Borough Market favourite, where ice cream is made using goat’s milk. Flavours to choose from include everything from the standard vanilla and strawberry, to the more adventurous likes of chocolate orange, rhubarb and custard, and caramelised biscuit.
Where: Borough Market, Bedale Street, SE1 9AL
Mamason’s Dirty Ice Cream, Chinatown, Westfields and Kentish Town
What: You’ve heard of dirty fries, but allow us to introduce you to ‘dirty’ ice cream. This Filipino ice cream parlour is inspired by the street food snacks found in Manila, which means you’ll encounter some pretty unusual ice cream flavours here - think the signature ‘ube’ flavour made with a native purple yam or coconut with activated charcoal that is served in a black cone.
Where: 32 Newport Court, WC2H 7PQ; Ariel Way, W12 7GF; 91 Kentish Town Road, NW1 8NY
Book now: Mamason's Dirty Ice Cream
Udderlicious, Covent Garden and Islington
Why: With two branches in the capital, Udderlicious is a popular spot for some truly democratic ice cream. Wondering what we’re on about? Well, the ice cream flavours here are voted for each month by customers, which means it’s a little bit of a guessing game when you pay a visit (but that’s all part of the fun!). Flavours you might come across include malt and crushed Maltesers, a banana and Nutella combo, and chocolate honeycomb.
Where: 24 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LN; 187 Upper Street, N1 1RQ
Book now: Udderlicious
The best luxury ice cream in London
If you want to indulge in some fancy chilled treats, you can give ice cream the sense of ocassion it deserves at these posh ice cream shops and restaurants.
The Parlour at Fortnum & Mason, Mayfair
Why: Perfect for both children and big kids, this colourful space on the first floor of Fortnum’s foodie emporium is a haven for all things sweet and sugary. Unsurprisingly, this is a bit of a tourist hotspot, but we think it’s worth battling the crowds to try out Fortnum’s range of shakes, sundaes and floats. As for the flavours, you can expect to find the classic likes of raspberry ripple, mint chocolate chip and pistachio at The Parlour.
Where: 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER
Book now: The Parlour
The Colony Grill Room, Mayfair
Why: Although it’s only been open since 2014, The Colony Grill Room feels like it’s been around for decades, and we mean that in a good way. Traditional grill fare and old-school charm are the major draws here, but for us, dessert is just as much of a highlight. If you opt for a sundae to end your meal, you get the unrivalled childish thrill of ticking off which toppings you like, and these range from chocolate flakes and marshmallows to honeycomb and crushed meringue.
Where: 8 Balderton Street, Brown Hart Gardens, W1K 6TF
Book now: The Colony Grill Room
Harry's Dolce Vita, Knightsbridge
Why: Found a short distance from Harrods and other upmarket shopping destinations, Harry's Dolce Vita is perfectly accomodating for a spot of post-shopping dining. If lugging around all of those bags has worked up a sweat, you can cool down with one of Harry's delicious ice cream sundaes. You're able to enjoy them either inside or out on the terrace, and flavours to choose from include almond and cherry, bitter chocolate, and lemon. Or, opt for the Amalfi Sundae which sees lemon sorbet topped with candied lemon, whipped cream, milk gelato, meringue, lemon sauce and sugared rosemary.
Where: 27-31 Basil Street, SW3 1BB
Book now: Harry's Dolce Vita
Why: The guys at Festok sell their signature Lebanese ice cream at A.Wong, Harrods and Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, so we think it’s fair to say their ice cream is on the luxury side. Lebanese ice cream is known for its lighter, elastic texture and you’ll find that traditional flavours such as achta, pistachio and rose really show off what makes it so special. Look out for bespoke creations too, including halva, date and turmeric, and don’t forget to top with crushed pistachios. Festok is available for delivery and also sells ice cream cakes and ice cream by the tub.
Where: 87-135 Brompton Road, SW1X 7XL; 109-125 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7RJ
Why: Not strictly an ice cream shop, but still worth a special shout out, there is one particular cool and creamy dessert in London that will change the way you view ice cream forever. BAO in Soho only offers one sweet option on its menu, and it’s this: a fried Horlicks ice cream bao bun. It’s simultaneously hot and cold, with a crispy fried doughnut-like bun housing a single ball of malty Horlicks ice cream. It’s awesome and needs to be eaten to be understood.
Where: 53 Lexington Street, W1F 9AS
Book now: BAO Soho
Paul A Young Fine Chocolates, Bank, Islington and Soho
Why: Don’t let the name on the door fool you, Paul A Young may be a master chocolatier, but he also sells ice cream at his trio of upmarket boutiques across the capital. Scoops here are provided by Hackney Gelato, while chocolatey toppings are naturally left to Young and his team. Complete your ice cream by showering it with the likes of cocoa nibs, dark chocolate pearls and hot chocolate sauce, or just go all out and ask for all of the toppings at once (we won’t judge).
Where: 20 The Royal Exchange, Threadneedle Street, EC3V 3LP; 33 Camden Passage, The Angel, N1 8EA; 143 Wardour Street, W1F 8WA
If you’re enjoying ice cream, that must mean it’s sunny outside (at least, we hope). On that note, it might be an idea to read through our top pick of the best al fresco dining spaces in London.