london panoramic cityscape
Trafalgar Square London
London WC2N 5DN
TfL Fare Zone 1
Trafalgar Square is the heart of London and can be considered as the hub of a wheel, the spokes of which guide the visitor to most of the sights they may wish to see.
Recent changes to the square have made it far more visitor friendly with traffic now only encircling three sides. The roads leading off the square go to Buckingham Palace, Whitehall and Westminster, Charing Cross and the Strand, the Haymarket Theatres District and Piccadilly Circus.
In the centre of the square is Nelson’s Column surrounded by huge bronze lions and illuminated fountains. The square is positioned exactly halfway between the City of London (the ancient commercial heart of London) and Westminster (the ancient royal heart of London).
Battle of Trafalgar
In 1812 John Nash designed a public space which was officially named Trafalgar Square in 1830 to commemorate the historic naval Battle of Trafalgar. This 1805 battle is credited with saving Britain from being invaded by the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte. The hero of the battle was, of course, Horatio Nelson.
The development of the square started with the building of The National Gallery in 1832. The gallery is the large building on the (north) non-traffic side of Trafalgar Square. It holds one of the greatest collections of European paintings in the world and admission is free.
Sir Charles Barry, designer of the current Houses of Parliament, created the Square's design which the new redevelopment has followed. Stairs lead down from the front of the gallery to the lower level square which accommodates Nelson’s memorial, the lions and the fountains.
Nelson's Column
High atop his column, Admiral Lord Nelson gazes out across London. He is carved out of granite, stands 16 feet (5 metres high) and has been there since 1843. On the plinth at the base of the column are four bronze panels illustrating scenes from some of Nelson’s battles. Guns captured in battle were melted down to provide the bronze for the panels.
In 1845 the fountains were added but the dolphins, mermaids and mermen (tritons) were included later. The famous bronze lions which guard Nelson’s Column were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer in 1867. Although the lions are criticized by purists as not being anatomically correct, their flat backs are a favourite place to sit on and be photographed.
The Fourth Plinth
There are three plinths in the square bearing statues of two generals famous for their Indian Empire exploits, and one of King George IV, monarch during the Napoleonic Wars. The Fourth Plinth on the north-west side of the square is reserved for changing exhibits of modern art.
If you have ever wondered about the exact length of those quirky British measurements like the ‘chain’ or ‘pole’, you can check them for yourself from the Imperial Standards set in the north terrace wall near the Café on the Square. They have been here since 1867 and all distances in London are measured from this point.
Norwegian Christmas Tree
Trafalgar Square is often the focus of public events ranging from celebrations of sporting triumphs to political demonstrations. Each year at Christmas time it hosts a magnificent illuminated Christmas tree, a gift of the people of Norway.
National Gallery & Admiralty Arch
Notable buildings around the square include the National Gallery to the north, St Martin-in-the-Fields church on the east side, and Admiralty Arch to the south. Admiralty Arch is the beginning of The Mall which runs besides St James's Park to Buckingham Palace.
If the visitor walks down Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and Westminster Abbey they will pass, on the way The Banqueting House, The Cenotaph, Horse Guards and 10 Downing Street.
However, if the visitor heads north-east up The Strand they will pass Charing Cross Mainline Station with St Eleanor’s Cross in the forecourt, The Savoy Hotel, the Strand Palace hotel, and the Courtauld Galleries. The Strand eventually becomes Fleet Street which leads to the historic City of London and St Paul's Cathedral.
The maze of streets behind the National Gallery is home to London’s Theatreland including The Coliseum Theatre and the cinemas in Leicester Square.
The roads exiting from the western side of Trafalgar Square lead to the West End and Piccadilly Circus. Here the visitor will find Regent Street, Oxford Street and the exclusive specialty shops of Bond Street and the Soho District.
Plan Your Visit
Public toilets are situated on the west side of the square at the base of the central staircase. They are open daily from 08:00 - 20:00. From the north terrace, the toilets and the Cafe on the Square can be accessed by lift.
Explore London
The centrality of Trafalgar Square makes it a great place to start from when exploring London. Helpful Heritage Wardens are available to give visitors information on local attractions, the square's history and to provide assistance during events. They wear distinctive uniforms and are on Trafalgar Square 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Getting There
To find the best way for getting to Trafalgar Square, visit TfL Journey Planner.
- By Underground
Charing Cross Station Bakerloo and Northern Lines
Take the exits marked Trafalgar Square.
- By Rail
Charing Cross Mainline Station
About 1 minute’s walk from the square.
- By Bus
Routes 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 53, 77A, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176, 453 go past Trafalgar Square.
We suggest that you use the TfL 'Journey Planner' on this page.
Google Maps - Trafalgar Square

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