Things to Do in Piccadilly Circus: 12 Great Attractions
Piccadilly Circus is a name that we can only associate with one thing - London. The famous intersection in the English capital has been the site of several famous movie scenes, is a popular meet-up place for friends on a night out and is one of the most iconic spots for those romantic city meetups. Whether you're a seasoned traveller or a first-time visitor, Piccadilly Circus offers an array of experiences you’ll absolutely love when you visit the city.
If you are staying in the area, there are plenty of things to do in Piccadilly Circus, it’s a fascinating place to explore. You can’t help but feel the undeniable energy of London. Once you hop off the Piccadilly line at the Piccadilly Circus tube station, all these attractions are within walking distance, meaning you can explore the area and see the sites on foot.
Here are 12 captivating things to do in Piccadilly Circus, including experiences to explore in and around this dynamic hub of excitement and culture.
1. Literary Exploration at Hatchards
For lovers of literature and history, visiting Hatchards is akin to stepping back in time. Established in 1797, this famous Piccadilly site is the oldest bookshop in London. Nestled at number 186 Piccadilly, Hatchards offers a curated selection of both fiction and non-fiction. This charming store is also famous for supplying books to several members of the Royal family. You’ll find everything from new bestsellers to some other classics and perhaps some hidden gems to add to your book collection.
2. Check Out the History of Science at The Faraday Museum
Delve into the world of science at the Faraday Museum, an institution dedicated to making scientific knowledge accessible to all. Named after the eminent Michael Faraday and working in association with the Royal Institution, this museum showcases the contributions of fourteen Nobel Prize winners. Engage with interactive exhibits and exciting demonstrations that bring science to life. Despite its modest size, the Faraday Museum underscores the enduring importance of British innovation in advancing scientific understanding.
3. Catch A Show at Piccadilly Theatre
For theatre enthusiasts, the Piccadilly Theatre is the gateway to Broadway-style entertainment in London. Opened in 1928 and with a seating capacity of 1,232, it has seen a fascinating evolution from cabaret and casino to hosting timeless classics like "Grease" and "Annie." There’s nothing quite like dinner and a live theatre performance in a venue that is part of the rich theatrical tapestry of the West End. It’s a truly epic London experience that you will carry with you as one of the best memories from your London travels.
4. Elegant Shopping at Piccadilly Arcade
Step into the refined ambience of Piccadilly Arcade, a shopping haven that exudes timeless elegance. The arcade opened in 1909 and connects Piccadilly Circus and Jermyn Street. This arcade boasts an array of distinguished shops. The Piccadilly Arcade offers customers bespoke tailors like Benson & Clegg. You will also get to explore stores and museum-like establishments like The Armoury of St. James', which specialises in royal artefacts and tin soldiers. This offers a shopping experience that is as sophisticated as it is diverse. What’s more, simply walking around this exciting shopping area is an experience of luxury and sophistication.
5. Experience The Legacy of Karl Marx On A Walking Tour
Embark on a thought-provoking journey with a Karl Marx walking tour, a tribute to one of the world's most influential economic and political thinkers. Starting in front of the Criterion Theatre every Sunday at 11 AM, this tour takes you through the streets of Soho, where Marx lived and worked. Gain insights into Marx's time in London, his involvement in Communist movements, and the profound impact of the city on his political theories. This is certainly an attraction that is one for those who enjoy dabbling in politics and some of London’s history.
6. Learn About the History of the Anglican Religion at St James’ Church
St James’ Church is certainly one of the more historical sites in Piccadilly Circus. The Church was built by Christopher Wren, the building of which commenced in 1676. It is worth visiting if you are interested in religious history, and the stunning architecture inside and outside is a must-see for anyone who loves a bit of old brickwork. The church also offers you the opportunity to learn more about the Anglican Church’s history in England and will show you several burial sites of some famous names. Romantic poet William Blake was also famously baptised here.
7. Take a Stroll Through Green Park to Escape the City’s Hustle and Bustle
Green Park, often overshadowed by its neighbouring parks, possesses its own unique allure. Sandwiched between Hyde Park and St. James Park, it offers a serene escape from the urban hustle and bustle. Notable for its lack of playgrounds and formal flower beds, this park boasts the RAF Bomber Command Memorial, the Diana Fountain, and the Canada Memorial. Enjoy a tranquil stroll in the heart of the city. You can also walk through the park to get to the famous Buckingham Palace, the gates of which are just on the other side of the black and gold fences that demarcate the stunning park.
8. Feast Your Eyes at A Gourmet Wonderland in Fortnum & Mason
Indulge your senses at Fortnum & Mason, a premier department store founded in 1707. Originally known for reselling candles, this establishment has become a purveyor of exquisite foodie goods. You can explore the finest teas, take a look at their renowned picnic hampers, or simply marvel at some of the gourmet goodness that’s on display in the famous shop. This is an absolute must-stop for anyone who is even vaguely into food or who just wants to experience what true culinary luxury actually entails.
9. St. James’s Palace: A Glimpse into Royal History
Explore the grandeur of St. James's Palace and take in a bit of London’s history at one of the city's greatest Royal Residences. While it may no longer be the primary residence of the Monarch, it remains the most senior royal palace. Built for King Henry VIII, this palace has witnessed many royal events and is a hugely significant site in royal history. Some parts are open to tours, providing guests with insights into the monarchy's past. This is truly a royal site steeped in history and should be on the cards for anyone who wants to add an educational element to their trip to Piccadilly Circus.
10. Have The Ultimate Fan Moment at Hard Rock Cafe
The Hard Rock Cafe franchise is a must-visit in any city, especially if you are one for rock and roll, pop, and general music memorabilia. London’s Hard Rock cafe is in the heart of Piccadilly Circus, making it one of the most iconic places to visit for music lovers. The bar serves all the refreshments you could ask for after a day of exploring. You can also take a walk around the restaurant and check out original clothing items from the likes of Shakira and look at guitars once prized by various rock legends. This is an experience any music enthusiast will absolutely love.
11. Immerse Yourself in Art History at the National Gallery
As someone who knows a thing or two about art, a visit to the National Gallery is a must. Just a short walk from Piccadilly Circus, through the exciting hub of Leicester Square, this world-renowned institution houses a treasure trove of masterpieces by artists like Van Gogh, Botticelli, and da Vinci. The gallery's centrepiece, "The Ambassadors" by Hans Holbein, is a mesmerising work that invites you to explore its intricate details. Even if you don’t know all that much about art, you’re bound to come across a piece you recognise from somewhere. Don't forget to venture outside and admire Trafalgar Square, home to ever-changing art installations on the fourth plinth.
12. See the Sights on a Thames River Cruise
For a unique city perspective, embark on a Thames River Cruise departing from nearby Westminster Pier. As you cruise along the iconic river, you'll pass landmarks like the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London. The Thames, steeped in history, has witnessed the passage of time and countless stories. No London trip is complete without a cruise on its waters. The Westminster Pier is an easy walk from Piccadilly Circus and is a great way to spend an hour in the afternoon or at sunset.
How Will You Explore Piccadilly Circus?
As you can see, there are so many wonderful activities to do and sites to see in the historical and bustling hub of Piccadilly Circus. If you spend any time in London, this part of the city simply cannot be missed. If you are lucky enough to be staying nearby and looking for ways you can spend a few hours, why not try out one of our top 12 suggested things to do in Piccadilly Circus? Whether you’re culturally, historically, musically, or culinarily inclined, you’ll, no doubt, find something memorable to do in Piccadilly Circus.