Trafalgar Square

Akinwalere Olaleye
Feb 14, 2024 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Oct 07, 2021
Outside perspective of National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.
Age: 0+
Read time: 4.5 Min

  • Discover the heart of London with a visit to Trafalgar Square, one of the most central locations in the city.
  • Enjoy the interesting statues and sculptures that line the Square, including Nelson’s Column and the fourth plinth, dedicated to public art.
  • Participate in one of the many events taking place at the Square, including the vast Christmas celebrations.
  • Explore the museums and venues that surround the Square, such as the National Portrait Gallery and other great London museums.

Trafalgar Square has been a place for Londoners and visitors from all across the world to meet and congregate for centuries, and today it is no different. This beautiful plaza is seen by many as the centre of the entire city and is connected to so many great things to see and do.

While the area had already been important for many generations of Londoners, the Trafalgar Square we know today was designed in the 1820's by Georgian architect John Nash, the man who was also responsible for Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch. 

The Square was named in honour of the Battle of Trafalgar, which took place in 1805 and saw a British naval victory against the forces of France and Spain. Admiral Horatio Nelson led the British navy in that battle but died due to the wounds he suffered. A statue was thus created in his memory to stand in Trafalgar Square to celebrate his sacrifice. Today, Nelson’s Column is the most famous of the many statues that can be found in the Square and features a statue of Nelson atop a 50-metre plinth. 

Nelson’s Column isn’t the only statue at Trafalgar Square. At the bottom of the Column are the four famous Trafalgar Square lions that guard the Square. There are also many statues and sculptures dedicated to British military leaders of the last few hundred years. 

While most of the plinths in the Square have permanent statues, the designers of the “fourth plinth” ran out of money before they could complete it. For a long time, the plinth stood empty. However, in 1998, it was decided that it would be a place for public art. Since then, numerous British artists have had the opportunity to display their work for some time on the plinth. The artwork changes every couple of years, and it’s a great place to visit.

Trafalgar Square hosts lots of fantastic events throughout the year. Every Christmas, crowds flock to the Square to see the famous Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. Since 1947, the tree has been donated each year by Norway, as a thank you to the British people for fighting the Nazis in World War II. The tree is usually over 20 metres tall and stands in the Square from early December to 6 January.

Other Trafalgar Square events include an alternative New Year’s celebration to the one at the London Eye and parades for events such as Pride, sports celebrations, and St. Patrick’s Day. If there’s a major celebration, you can bet there’ll be people congregating in Trafalgar Square to enjoy the festivities together. 

While Trafalgar Square is a major attraction in its own right, it’s also a great stepping stone to other amazing venues that London has to offer. Within the Square, you’ll find the brilliant National Gallery, which houses some of the most significant artworks by the most celebrated European artists of the past few hundred years.

The Square's central location means that it is easy to fit in two venues into one day. Nearby attractions include Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, the British Museum, and the Southbank Centre. Trafalgar Square’s brilliant transport links make it simple to jump on a tube or a bus and go almost anywhere in the city.

What to know before you go

  • Trafalgar Square is open for 24 hours a day. Celebrations often take place there at night, such as the lighting up of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree.
  • There’s plenty of choices if you’re looking for places to eat near Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar’s Café on the Square sells snacks, lunches, and other bites to eat. A short walk along the Strand will also give you loads of options. There are family favourites such as Pizza Express and Prezzo nearby, as well as unique options, including tapas bar Barrafina.
  • There are public toilets on the west side of the Square, which are open from 9 am to 8 pm every day. There are stairs to the bathrooms, so, unfortunately, they are not wheelchair accessible. There is also a 20 pence charge for using the toilets.
  • The main areas of the Square are wheelchair and buggy friendly, with flat, paved surfaces.

Getting there

  • With its busy location, there are not many large car parks near Trafalgar Square. The largest car parks are Q-Park Trafalgar, which is a three-minute walk away, and Q-Park Leicester Square, a six-minute walk away.
  • Parking in Central London can be expensive, but Trafalgar Square is brilliantly served by public transport instead. Charing Cross tube station has an entrance that leads right onto the Square and is served by the Bakerloo and Northern lines. There’s also Leicester Square, on the Northern and Piccadilly lines; Embankment, on the Bakerloo, Northern, District, and Circle lines; and Piccadilly Circus, on the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines. All of these stations are around a five-minute walk from the Square.
  • For railway trains, there’s Charing Cross railway station, which serves Southeastern trains and is a three-minute walk from Trafalgar Square.
  • Trafalgar Square is also well-served by bus routes through the capital. These include the 12, 88, 139, 159, and 453.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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