Trafalgar Square is a tourist attraction located in the heart of London and is guarded by the towering monument, Nelson’s Column. Both visitors and Londoners visit the attraction as a place for relaxtion. It is particularly crowded during events including Chinese New Year, St. Patrick’s Day, and Christmas ceremonies. Trafalgar Square is also often used as the starting point for a symbolic Central London tour. The name of the square reminds people of the famous Battle of Trafalgar that took place during the Napoleonic Wars and that ended with the British naval victory.

Highlights

  • Nelson’s Column – On top of this Corinthian column, you can see the statue of Nelson that was built as a reminder of the British Victory in Trafalgar. The massive construction was built between 1840 and 1843, but the 4 lions were added 24 years later, in 1867.

  • The Statues – Nelson’s Column is not the only statue that you can find in Trafalgar Square. As you walk around it, you will notice the three busts of Lord Admiral Cunningham, Lord Beatty and Lord Jellicoe. The statues of George Washington, James II and Charles I also sit nearby. In the original scheme, 2 featured plinths were created especially for sculptures. Eventually, 3 plinths were designed. Here, you can see the statues of Sir Henry Havelock (Major-General), Sir Charles James Napier (General) and George IV. The Trafalgar Square also has a fourth plinth that is usually used to showcase specially commissioned artworks.
  • The Fountains – The imposing Trafalgar Square is also home to two beautiful fountains dedicated to Lord Beatty and Lord Jellicoe. In 2009, the fountains have been restored and now they feature an amazing LED lighting system and a 24-meter jet of water. These fountains are the perfect retreat during the hot summer days and they offer a superb light spectacle at night.

Tips

  • The National Gallery – After you have lingered for a while in Trafalgar Square, it would be a pity not to visit the neighbouring attraction: the National Gallery. The impressive landmark overlooks the square and inside you will find state-of-the-art exhibitions with a variety of world-class paintings.

  • St Martin-in-the-Fields – This church is located in the north-east corner of Trafalgar Square and it is also a shop, a concert venue and a café. Don’t miss it while visiting the square and indulge yourself in great architecture and music.
  • The Events – Numerous events take place in Trafalgar Square throughout the year. From concerts to political demonstrations. Visit the London events page to see if there are any events happening in the square while you are in London. You can also see this list of annual celebrations organized in Trafalgar Square.

Transport

  • London Underground – This is probably the simplest and most affordable way to reach the Trafalgar Square. Take the Bakerloo and the Northern lines to get to Charing Cross Station that is situated less than 1 minute away from the square. There are two other stations located within minutes away. The first is Leicester Square on the Piccadilly and Northern lines. The second is Embankment which uses the Bakerloo, Northern, Circle and District lines. You can use the Oyster Card to travel with the tube or you can get a one-way ticket that costs minimum £4.50 for an adult.
  • Bike – There are various docking stations, that belong to Barclay’s Cycle Hire, located nearby the Trafalgar Square. These are: St. Martin’s Place, Orangte Street, St. Martin’s Street and Duncannon Street (all within walking distance). The fee for the bike hire is £2 for the 24-hour access.
  • Bus – There are numerous buses running past Trafalgar Square: routes 453, 176, 159, 139, 91, 88, 87, 53, 29, 24, 23, 15, 13, 12, 11, 9 and 6.

History

In the past, the area that now accommodates the Trafalgar Square featured the King’s Mews. In 1732, they were divided and formed the Green Mews and the Great Mews. The Green Mews were to become the site for the National Gallery and the Great Mews were later transformed into the Trafalgar Square.

The first plans for a large square in Central London emerged in 1826. That was also the year when the ground around Charing Cross was cleared to make room for the beautiful square. The Trafalgar Square was constructed following the plans of Charles Barry who wanted to highlight the National Gallery.

The official opening of the Trafalgar Square took place on 1 May 1844 and it soon became a political and social focus for the Londoners and a one-of-a-kind attraction for the tourists. The square was redeveloped in 2003, when the steps leading to the National Gallery, a café, public toilets and lifts for disabled access were added.

Interesting Facts

  • Every Christmas, Trafalgar Square features London’s biggest Christmas tree. The tree is offered annually by the city of Oslo.
  • This is not the only Trafalgar Square in the world. Other smaller and less significant squares with the same name can be found in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, Barre, Massachusetts, Derbyshire town, Long Eaton, Scarborough, North Yorkshire and Bridgetown, Barbados.

17 Reviews

  1. Avatar
    brendalsh 27 Comments
     -  16 Aug 2018

    great location

    You will definitely drop by Trafalgar Square as it’s near the center of the city. There are museums and restaurants located nearby. I was there during the pride parade and sadly couldn’t see all the monuments in the area.

  2. Elena Madalina
    Elena Madalina 23 Comments
     -  14 Jul 2018

    Fantastic location

    When you think about London, you think about the Royal Palace, Big Ben, London Bridge and of course, last but not least Trafalgar Square. Situated in an impetous location, surrounded by elegant arhitecture and important buildings like the Nation Gallery, Trafalgar Square combines taste and history in a very harmonius way. Its central location and easy public transportation access- makes it a social hub filled with street entertainers, tourists and locals. Definitely a place you will want to visit! Very helpful article!

  3. Jillibeankc6
    Jillibeankc6 45 Comments
     -  02 May 2018

    Busy but Fun

    We had a quick lunch in Trafalgar Square after visiting a museum nearby. It was full of intriguing military history. However, there were crowds packed into the area. We were approached many times by panhandlers, walking salesmen, and a few men who said they wanted to “practice their English.” It was a little off-putting to be addressed by strangers wanting one thing or another while we were having lunch beside the fountain, so we didn’t stay long.

  4. dewimayangsari
    dewimayangsari
    Indonesia 20 Comments
     -  28 Nov 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    There is always something going on in Trafalgar Square, and interesting to check out when you pass this place. During the night, the lights lit and makes this place looks even more amazing with the colors contrast and less people in it. Love the free entertainment available all over London like this one!

  5. NicoleH
    NicoleH
    Canada 52 Comments
     -  15 Oct 2017

    Excellent

    My boyfriend and I stopped here after a visit to the National Gallery. Great place to people watch but look out for the pigeons! We happened to be there on a day with live music which made for a great atmosphere.

  6. dzammit
    dzammit
    Canada 54 Comments
     -  03 Aug 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    I really like Trafalgar Square! Its a great starting place to get to museums and its a great atmosphere. Now, if you are squeamish about pigeons, maybe don’t go here…there are SO many!
    There is a little cafe you can pick something up and enjoy while checking out the sculptures and the huge fountain.

  7. Avatar
    Tara
    United Kingdom 7 Comments
     -  15 Jul 2017

    Excellent

    An iconic square to visit in London, and a typical scene you would expect in the city. It can get very busy especially with tourists so it’s best to visit early or later in the day. Make sure you take notice of the statues and sculptures around the square including the massive lions.

  8. sattard
    sattard 15 Comments
     -  15 Jul 2017

    Excellent

    What’s special about Trafalgar Square is how it brings people together – whether its when England win a large sporting event (rarely) or for major protests (very regularly). Keeping that in mind do be careful when you visit – you might get caught up in a large crowd. On other occasions, check the what’s on calendars online because there many events and festivals taking place here throughout the year.

  9. AlanStock
    AlanStock 41 Comments
     -  05 Jun 2017

    Excellent

    You can’t really visit London without visiting this famous square. The excellent National Gallery sits at the top of the steps, a must-visit. The 4 huge lion statues always have people climbing around them, and folk messing about in the fountains. The place is plagued by pigeons. There’s always something going on here, from buskers, to protesters, to events and tourists and locals of every kind can be seen here. Definitely worth a stop plus it’s close to lots of other attractions.

  10. tsomer
    tsomer 10 Comments
     -  03 Jun 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    Really one of the coolest place in London. There you can see street performers-musicians and other entertainments. It’s almost always crowded with people, day and night. Really fun place to be around. Very easy to reach from different parts of the town.

  11. Avatar
    Sarah 10 Comments
     -  23 Apr 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    It’s a great place to see street performances, galleries and historic buildings! It’s fairly accessible from tube stations. I love to observe the statues and the water fountain in the middle of the square. Highly recommended for a short stopover after exploring London.

  12. Avatar
    ColeStephenson 7 Comments
     -  21 Apr 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    An awesome place to stop through while exploring the streets of London! It is very centrally located with easy access on foot or public transport! It is fairly crowded with people, but it is big enough to relax and enjoy street performers.

  13. ajamoppical
    ajamoppical 9 Comments
     -  14 Mar 2017

    Excellent

    Trafalgar Square is just a perfect place to hang out after half a day browsing collections of paintings inside The National Gallery. The open area is famous among tourists and if you’re into people watching, Trafalgar Square is a perfecf place for it. Engage with the street performers for some fun-filled photos!

  14. Avatar
    Gillian Miller 6 Comments
     -  13 Mar 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    This is the perfect place for anyone who loves people watching! Whether it’s street performances, protests, or a special event, there’s always something interesting happening in Trafalgar Square. Its close proximity to the National Gallery makes it the perfect place to spend an afternoon in London.

  15. Avatar
    lindseyg 7 Comments
     -  09 Mar 2017

    Excellent

    A great place to relax and take in some history! Expect it to be fairly crowded unless you visit early in the morning. This is a great place to catch street performances and snap pictures of those iconic London landmarks, like the two-story buses and phone booths!

  16. ChristineIv
    ChristineIv 11 Comments
     -  25 Feb 2017

    Excellent

    A must-see, but expect crowds at all times. It’s a place for a good selfie, street performance and a lot of events – from movie-making to pillow fights.

  17. Avatar
    Celina Tolbert 17 Comments
     -  21 Jan 2017

    Fantastic attraction

    Right in front of the National Gallery, this is a site that can’t be missed. You might even catch some street performers putting on a show!

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