Charing Cross to Piccadilly
Welcome To London’s West End.
Approximately 2.5 Miles / 4 Km
Fast walk – less than 1 hour. Allow a full day to visit most of the sites.
Start: Charing Cross, Bakerloo & Northern Lines. (Brown & Black - On the tube map).
End: Piccadilly, Piccadilly & Bakerloo (Dark Blue and Brown)
Highlights Include: Trafalgar Square, St Martins In The Fields, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, English National Opera, London Transport Museum, London Film Museum, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Market, St Paul’s Church (Not the Cathedral), Leicester Square, Chinatown, Soho, Piccadilly Circus
If you have just arrived in town this short walk is a great introduction to London’s West End. It’s packed with interesting locations and great places to visit.
A: Charing Cross
Head for the Trafalgar Square Exit and you will see Nelson’s Column directly in front of you
Trafalgar Square celebrates Admiral Nelson’s great naval victory over the French at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The 169 foot / 52 meter column was built in 1863.
Today Trafalgar Square is a symbol of British national democracy and protest. Rallies and demonstrations are frequently held at weekends. They are generally well-managed peaceful events. At the end of the year the square becomes the center of London’s Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Walk to the north of the square and the National Gallery is in front of you
B: National Gallery – Free Admission
This place is an art lover’s paradise! My favourites include: Rembrandt, Cezanne, Monet, and Van Gogh. Look at the website for special exhibitions and events.
The National Portrait gallery is next door
National Portrait Gallery – Free Admission
Visitors often overlook the National Portrait Gallery but this is one of London’s great Museums. The portraits range from Henry VIII to Kate Middleton. As well as the excellent permanent collection, there are always exciting temporary shows of paintings and photographs. Check the website for booking details and cost.
Exit the Gallery and cross Charring Cross Road and turn left to St Martin In The Fields.
C: St Martin In The Fields
This beautiful church was built in 1726. Today, as well as being a busy working church St Martin In The Fields is famous for its music and award winning café. The lunchtime concerts are free and the evening candle lit concerts are good value. This place is one of London’s premier classical and jazz music venues. Check out the website for details.
Exit the church turn right, walk up to William IV Street turn right and then left to St. Martins Lane. The English National Opera is in front of you
English National Opera - The London Coliseum
This imposing building was originally built as a Variety Theatre in 1904. The London Coliseum is the largest theatre in London with 2,359 seats. Today it is home the English National Opera. See the website for performance and booking information.
Turn back to William IV Street and turn left onto Chandos Place. This turns into Maiden Lane
D: London Transport Museum
The ideal venue for train spotters and kids! This museum is very popular with children. There are many fun and educational interactive activities that are designed for children to get the most from their visit. For the under 18’s admission is free. See the website for details
Just behind the Transport Museum is Wellington Street and the next location
E: London Film Museum
If you are a fan of James Bond and his cars this place is for you! It houses the largest collection of Bond Vehicles in the world. As well as the Aston Martins, exhibits include the yellow and black 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca de Ville driven by Goldfinger, the Lotus Esprit which converts into a submarine from The Spy Who Loved Me and the Ford Mustang Mach 1 from Diamonds Are Forever. Alongside the cars screens show the vehicles in action. See the website for admission and special exhibition details.
Exit and turn left.
F: Royal Opera House
This important London landmark is often just called ‘Covent Garden’. The Royal Opera House was opened in 1858 and is home to The Royal Ballet and Royal Opera. Both are regarded as world-class companies. Book in advance if you can, as the inexpensive seats, some are as low as £8, are very popular.
Covent Garden Market
Originally this was the site of London’s fruit and vegetable market. Today the market is filled with small handcraft stalls and interesting shops. The street entertainers are good fun and the place has a very engaging youthful buzz to it. It’s a great place to browse and people watch from any of the numerous cafes.
G: St Paul’s Church – The Actors Church
This beautiful church was designed and built by Indigo Jones In 1633. Inside it has many memorial plaques dedicated to actors, dancers and musicians. Don’t miss Bruce Denny’s stunning sculpture of St Paul in the churchyard. If the weather is good this is a good place to sit down and relax with a lunchtime sandwich.
Turn Left onto King Street.
H: Leicester Square:
This place has lots of action, nightlife and energy. There’s a last minute theatre ticket office with bargain prices. The statue of Shakespeare was erected in 1874
Turn Right onto Leicester Street and Right onto Lyle St.
These streets between Lyle Street and Shaftsbury Avenue are full of restaurants ranging from the cheap ‘all you can eat’ buffets to serious fine dining. Londoners like to eat here before going to see a show.
Cross Shaftsbury Avenue
I: Piccadilly Circus
Both day and night Piccadilly Circus is a vibrant and colorful place. It gets its name from a rich tailor, Robert Baker, who made piccadillies. These frilly gentlemen’s collars were the height of fashion in the 17th century. He called his house Piccadilly Hall it was located along a street that would later become known by the same name.
The statue we all call Eros is actually of Anteros but the public, at the unveiling 1893, saw the bow and arrow and assumed that the statue was of the mischievous Greek god of love Eros. The unofficial name stuck!
If you enjoyed this walk please like, share and subscribe on the 1 Minute Walks YouTube Channel. Many thanks - Pat Fleming