The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Trafalgar Square

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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Trafalgar Square

Strolling around Trafalgar Square is the best way to see why it’s known as one of London’s best attractions. Surrounding Trafalgar Square are many of London’s most popular tourist destinations, (like The National Gallery), making the square an epicentre for many visitors to base their visits from. Whatever you plan to see during your stay in the capital, no trip to London would be complete without seeing Trafalgar Square.

This blog will cover everything you need to know about Trafalgar Square.

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What is Trafalgar Square?

The origin of Trafalgar Square, as it is today, can be dated back to the 1800s when it was named after the British Navy’s historic victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. 

The site itself has been a landmark of note all the way back to the 13th century, when it contained the King’s Mews.  

During the 1820s, King George IV hired an architect to redevelop the area to create an ‘Italian style’ piazza in the heart of the city of Westminster. Between 1832 and 1838 The National Gallery was built on the square’s northern flank. 

Fitting with its popularity and recognition around the world, it’s been included in many film and TV series, such as The Avengers and Casino Royale.

Other landmarks close by include the wonderful St. Martin’s in the Fields which lies to the east, Admiralty Arch and the Mall to the southwest, Whitehall to the south, and the stunning Canadian Embassy to the west.

The central iconic figure of Lord Admiral Nelson sits atop Nelson’s Column in the centre of Trafalgar Square. Sometimes seen as the very heart of London, it’s synonymous with British culture and recogniseable all around the world. It hosts cultural events throughout the year and notable celebrations here have included the street party that marked the end of World War II.

Today, visitors flock here to capture photos of the famous stone lions and fountains, as well as for functional reasons because of its ideal and central location giving easy access to many other attractions. 

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Top tips

  • Buckingham Palace is easily accessible from Trafalgar Square. Just follow The Strand/The Mall from the square and the journey will take about 18 minutes by foot. 
  • For St. James’s Palace, stroll down Cockspur Street and follow Pall Mall for about 11 minutes.
  • Head down to Piccadilly Circus and enjoy the stunning eight-minute walk by following Cockspur Street, and then onto Haymarket.

What will you see?

Today, Trafalgar Square provides the epicentre for some of London’s best known and most popular festivities. Hosting a wide range of events, performances and celebrations throughout the year, Trafalgar Square is just as important culturally as it is historically. 

No matter when you visit, there is sure to be something happening as the square is busy all year round. Christmas in particular is popular with tourists as they come to see the famous Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree. This tradition has been ongoing since 1947 when Norway donated a tree to thank Britain for its support during World War II. The official lighting ceremony is now a huge draw for tourists and happens in late November, but if you miss this you;ll still get to see its wonderful decorations and lights.   

Also in Winter, the square has an annual firework event on New Year’s Eve. Tourists and locals gather here every year to party and dance (often in the square’s fountains!) as the new year counts down. Free broadcasts of the nearby fireworks display are projected onto large viewing screens making sure revellers don’t miss anything.

Throughout the year there are several parades and events held in memorial and remembrance of Britain’s wars and veterans. More typical events are also celebrated here such as St. Patrick’s Day and the Pride in London Parade which are great fun and can be very lively! 

Did you know?

It’s actually forbidden to feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. So make sure you keep your sandwiches to yourself!

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When is it open and how do you get there?

Trafalgar Square remains open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is a public space all year round and people can visit or pass through whenever they like. 

Very rarely, if filming is ongoing, the square may be temporarily closed off or be restricted.  

Trafalgar Square is easily accessed by public transport. Due to its location, right in the heart of the capital, it enjoys excellent transport links to both the underground and overground networks. 

The nearest London Underground stations are Charing Cross, Embankment and Westminster, all of which are a walkable distance. The nearest overground railway station is Charing Cross, which is a mere 3 minute walk away. 

There’s also a myriad of bus routes that connect Trafalgar square, including the 6, 9, 11, 12, 15, 24, 29, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176 and 453! If you’re planning on boarding a bus, why not try one of London’s bus tours? This is a fabulous way to see some of the cities most iconic landmarks and the majority of which all stop in Trafalgar Square, (being an iconic landmark itself). 

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