For most visitors to London, the trip would not be complete without a walk around Trafalgar Square, one of the most photographed areas in the capital. Your visit can be simply to feed the pigeons or alternatively to embrace its culture which is steeped in history. If you are on serious "see the sights" type of day then we suggest that you allow a full day and combine it with a visit to Covent Garden which is only a 10 minute walk away.
Trafalgar Square is situated in Westminster just west of Covent Garden and north of the Houses of Parliament. If your hotel is in the West End then it will be an easy walk but you can get there easily via Leicester Square or Charing Cross tube stations.
This John Nash designed London square dates back to 1840 and was conceived as a commemoration of the British naval power and also to make the area a little more presentable. The centre piece is the familiar statue of Horatio Nelson who died during the battle of Trafalgar In 1805. During WW2, German bombers had strict instructions not to destroy the statue as Hitler wanted to transfer it to Berlin.
If you look to the South of the square you will see an easily missed statute of King Charles 1 on a horse. If you read the plaque, you will see that this is the official centre of London and that all signposted distances throughout London are calculated from this point.
On the north side of the Square is the National Gallery which was founded in 1824. Here you will see one of the world’s finest art collections with works by Turner, Constable and da Vinci. Check out the 13th century religious pieces which are amazing.
Admission is free of charge and the gallery is open daily. There are information stands, cloakrooms and caves available.
Also in Trafalgar Square is the National Portrait Gallery. This is a really entertaining place to visit as it not only covers subjects from as far back as the Tudor period, but also characters right up to modern times from film to sport.
The works are arranged in chronological sequence so as you work upwards to the second floor you go back in time.
On the eastern part of the square you can find St Martin in the Fields. A church has stood here since the 1200's with the current building having been built in 1726 by James Gibbs. In the small graveyard are buried Hogarth and Reynolds. This is a brass rubbing centre where you test your skills.
On the south west corner is the entrance to the Mall which runs to Buckingham Palace. The start is marked by the impressive Admiralty Arch which houses the offices of the Sea Lords. This was built in 1911 as a tribute to Queen Victoria and also as a grand entrance to the Mall and Buckingham Palace.
Wander south of the square a few minutes and you arrive at Downing Street. This is the official residence of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The area around Trafalgar Square is perhaps the epicentre of London tourism and it is far too easy to keep discovering interesting things. Allow a full day for this area as also close by are Covent Garden, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Cathedral.
Hotels near Trafalgar Square
There are many! No matter which was you leave the square you will find upmarket accommodations including the Savoy on the Strand which has recently undergone a major refurbishment. Don't expect to get a cheap hotel near here its prime tourism land and caters for the high end market.
One of the closest is the 4 star Grand at Trafalgar Square Hotel on Northumberland Avenue, just 2 minutes walk away.
A hotel that is getting almost every accolade going is the Corinthia Hotel which is just 200 metres from Trafalgar Square. This 5 star accommodation offers state of the art facilities within an historic building.
If you are on a budget then have a look at the area around Victoria which is walking distance away from Trafalgar Square.
Useful Link: Find Hotels near to Trafalgar Square