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Places to see in London Charing Cross

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Charing Cross Attractions
Charing Cross can feel a bit like a tourist hub, with everyone milling around the millions of bus stops that surround the already packed Trafalgar Square, but don’t let that put you off. Yes, there are the normal tourist traps (like Trafalgar Square!) but there’s also a lot of secret stuff available in the area where you can build some lasting memories. From the Strand to Villiers Street and Northumberland Avenue, there’s something for everyone here.

Recommended Charing Cross Attraction
Here’s the lowdown on something pretty tucked away and hidden, and that little something is the Charing Cross Theatre, located under the arches about halfway down Villiers Street. The theatre itself puts on some pretty brash and excellent material, most notably new writing and musicals, and the associated bar is a mainstay for theatre aficionados but without any pretence. With live piano music every night and usually a pretty amazing singer to boot, you’d be wrong to expect high culture here. It’s a ribald evening full of frivolity and fun where you’re guaranteed to make some new friends. It used to be called the New Players Theatre, and the attached “Players Bar” is infamous amongst the theatre industry. We’ve never had a bad night out there, and it’s a pretty boisterous place. Highly recommended as a good, late-night alternative to clubbing.

Alternative Things To Do in Charing Cross
First up, you’ve got the Strand. Whilst, technically, it’s not Charing Cross, in reality it very much is, and there’s a load to do along there. As well as some hugely famous hotels, such as The Savoy, and some of London’s more famous theatres, like the Vaudeville, there are some fantastic bars and the very old and extremely well hidden Little Nell (look for the sign for the alley on the north side of the Strand) and Gordon’s Wine Bar, tucked away at the end of Villier’s Street (see our Embankment section). There’s also the Lyceum Tavern, which is stretching the definition of Charing Cross a little bit as it’s the other end, near Waterloo Bridge, but it’s a fantastic pub where you’re bound to make a friend or two, or just chat quietly in the snug booths. Then, of course, there’s the tourist stuff: the Sherlock Holmes pub on Northumberland Avenue; the massive gate into Whitehall Place; the National Portrait Gallery and so on.

Attraction List in Charing Cross
Charing Cross epitomises London, so you should definitely check out our Charing Cross hotel booking service in order to make sure you get your hands on a cheap hotel deal in the area. This is as “London” as it gets, but deals get snapped up fast, so don’t delay!

Eleanor cross

Just outside of Charing Cross Station you will see the Eleanor cross. The cross was originally made in 1290 and put up in an area south of Trafalgar Square. In 1647 its decaying remains were ordered to be demolished, and in 1863 a beautiful replica of the cross was erected just outside of the station.

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Charles I monument

One of the finest statues in the area is the Charles I monument, located just south of Trafalgar Square. The statue was erected in 1633 and is especially pertinent to the Charing Cross area as it sits on the original location of the Eleanor cross. You will find a Blue Plaque here marking the Eleanor cross. You will want to pay a visit to this site to get a full history of this fascinating area.

Address: Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London WC2N 5DN

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Trafalgar Square and more..

One of the most famous squares in the world is Trafalgar Square. This historic landmark is just minutes from Charing Cross Station and is home to a number of attractions in its own right. The square was designed in 1812 by the legendary architect John Nash, to serve his vision to create an improved London and offer the public a cultural space. Today Trafalgar Square has its own café and you’ll also find the fountains, Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery as well as the 4 plinths.

Address: Westminster, London WC1N 5DS
Phone: 020 7983 4750

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Nelson’s Column

Nelson’s Column is undoubtedly one of the most striking and imposing landmarks in London. It stands at over 50 meters to commemorate Admiral Nelson and the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The column was designed by William Railton in 1838 and built between 1840 and 1843. It has four bronze panels at its base, all cast from captured French guns to depict Nelson’s four greatest victories, and in 1867 Sir Edward Landseer added four lions to the base, said to be there to protect Nelson’s Column. You really should come and get a closer look at this important landmark during your time in London.

Address: Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London WC2N 5DN

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4 plinths

There are 4 plinths in Trafalgar Square, 2 of which represent famous British Generals; General Sir Charles James Napier and Major General Sir Henry Havelock. The North East plinth represents King George VI and the 4th plinth, located in the North West of the square, sat empty for many years until recently being used to display a rotating programme of modern art.

Address: Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London WC2N 5DN

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National Gallery

The National Gallery sits at the northern end of Trafalgar Square and is connected to it by part of an extensive restoration programme that finished in 2003. The gallery is home to one of the finest collections of Western European painting in the world and you can take advantage of guided tours to explore all it has to offer. The only thing that costs money are refreshments in the café, bar and restaurants, so not only is this an amazing place to visit, it’s absolutely free of charge!

Address: Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London WC2N 5DN
Phone: 020 7747 2885

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St Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican church is a must see attraction in Charing Cross. It was believed that the church dated back to the 13th century, although in 2006 an excavation of the site found a grave dating back to 410. The church itself was rebuilt in 1721 and has a unique rectangular shape. It has had a £36.00 million renewal in recent years but you’ll still get a huge sense of history when you visit.

Address: Trafalgar Square London WC2N 4JJ
Phone: 020 7766 1100

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Courtauld Institute Gallery

Perhaps a lesser knows attraction in this landmark-rich area is the Courtauld Institute Gallery. The gallery contains some of the finest Impressionist and Post Impressionist work in London, particularly highlighting the work of Monet, Renoir, Gaugin and Van Gough. It is housed in a beautiful 18th Century building and has 530 paintings, 7000 drawings and 15,000 prints in its collection.

Address: Somerset House, Strand, London, Greater London WC2R 0RN
Phone: 020 7872 0220

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National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is a must see attraction during your time in Charing Cross. The collection of portraits date from the 15th century to the modern day, and whilst not having quite as much exceptional and historic artwork as the National Gallery, it does contain a range of work that will intrigue, amaze and even amuse you!

Address: St.Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE
Phone: 020 7306 0055

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Edith Cavell statue

Here is the Edith Cavell statue, a poignant monument that is well worth seeing. Cavell was a British World War I humanitarian and nurse and the statue celebrates her work helping hundreds of Allied soldiers escape from German occupied Belgium.

Address: St.Martin's Place, London WC2H 0HE

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London Transport Museum

Having recently undergone a £22.00 million refurbishment, the London Transport Museum will give you an insight into the 200 year history of public transport. When you come here you should not only tour the displays, but also head to the theatre to see the ‘What’s On’ programme, grab a bite to eat in the restaurant and take home some gifts from the two storey shop.

Address: Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB
Phone: 020 7379 6344

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Whitehall, one of London’s most famous roads, runs towards Charing Cross and is recognised as a centre for British Government. The name of the road was taken from the huge Palace of Whitehall which used to occupy the area, and now you will find famous landmarks along it that include the Cenotaph, Monument to the Women of World War II, and Banqueting House.

Address: Westminster, London SW1A 2BX

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The Cenotaph monument

The Cenotaph monument sits in the heart of Whitehall and acts as a memorial for Remembrance Day, which marks the end of World War 1 on November 11th 1918. The Cenotaph is a Grade I listed building and was designed in 1919 by Sir Edward Luytens. Come here to get a sense of the respect shown to soldiers.

Address: Whitehall, Westminster, London SW1A 2BX

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The National Monument to the Women of World War II

You could spend all day walking around Charing Cross in awe of the sculptures, memorials and monuments that remember the great wartime battles of this country, but this is one of the most recent. The National Monument to the Women of World War II was sculpted in 2005 by John W. Mills to commemorate the dedication of the British women in the Second World War.

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Banqueting House

Banqueting House continues the theme of attractions in the area that are rich in heritage and history. It is the only surviving building of the original Whitehall Palace and can be found at the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall. There is plenty to see in Banqueting House, including Rubens’ ceiling and Charles I scaffold, and the house also holds classical music concerts. A historic and diverse venue, this is well worth a visit during your time in Charing Cross.

Address: Whitehall, London SW1A 2ER
Phone: 0844 482 7777

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Institute of Contemporary Arts

Visit the Institute of Contemporary Arts and you’ll be able to visit three galleries, a cinema, restaurant, late bar, café and a bookshop. The ICA changes its artwork every six weeks so you can guarantee that a fresh exhibition will be on display when you visit.

Address: The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH
Phone: 020 7930 3647

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Villiers Street

For such a small street tucked away behind Charing Cross Station, Villiers Street has an awful lot going on. From the pubs, restaurants and eateries on the drag itself to the venues under the archways and round the little corners, a hefty night out could easily be had within 50 metres squared. Indeed, some of our favourite London venues are crammed into this small space!

Address: Villiers Street, Charing Cross, London, WC2N 6NL

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Charing Cross Theatre

Originally called the New Players Theatre, the Charing Cross Theatre is as hidden a venue as you’re likely to get in the glitzy world of show business. Tucked away underground and under the arches off Villiers Street, this 275-seat theatre principally offers musicals, comedy and musical comedy, but due to its affordability as a hire venue, you’d be well advised to keep your ear to the ground for up-and-coming companies staging something vivid and new.

Address: Villiers Street, Charing Cross, London, WC2N 6NL
Phone: 08444 930 650

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Players Bar

Linked to the Charing Cross Theatre, this infamous theatre bar has been a stalwart amongst the theatre profession for decades. Subtly hidden away underneath the arches off Villiers Street, the bar offers live piano music every night, very reasonably priced drinks and a good menu. It’s open late towards the end of the week, and the upstairs room is available to be hired out for parties.

Address: Villiers Street, Charing Cross, London, WC2N 6NL
Phone: 020 7930 5868

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Gordon’s Wine Bar

Gordon’s Wine Bar is undoubtedly one of our top picks for a night out in London, and is placed so perfectly amongst London’s thronging milieu that whether you’re nipping in for a quick sip of Chateauneuf-du-Pape or whiling away the whole evening over a bottle of Chardonnay, this is a must see bar for all and sundry.

Address: 47 Villiers Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 6NE
Phone: 020 7930 1408

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Lyceum Tavern

A little-known chain of pubs among tourists is the Samuel Smith pubs, in which you won’t find any of the familiar names of your average bar but a range of beers, wines, spirits and snacks brewed and made by the company themselves; and a gem of those is the Lyceum Tavern on the Strand. With wooden booths, darts, wood panelling and an upstairs saloon with true British decadence, this pub is a rare jewel in the heart of London’s tourist area.

Address: 354 Strand, Covent Garden, London, WC2R 0HS
Phone: 020 7836 7155

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The Sherlock Holmes Pub

The country’s most famous detectivehas his own pub, on Northumberland Avenue near Charing Cross. And while it’s become one of the more commercially driven chain-owned pubs in recent years, the décor still maintains that essential Britishness that epitomises our favourite sleuth so well. Drinks are pricey as far as pubs go, but not by comparison to more “sophisticated” bars in the locality.

Address: 10-11 Northumberland Street, Westminster, London, WC2N 5DB
Phone: 020 7930 2644

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