Trafalgar Square

Covent Garden and Strand


Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square
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See the famous lion statues, the iconic fountains and Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square.

What is Trafalgar Square?

Trafalgar Square is a public square that features some of London’s top attractions, from galleries and historic buildings to statues and monuments. It also plays host to a range of events throughout the year that are supported by the Greater London Authority, who manage the square.

Where is Trafalgar Square?

Trafalgar Square is in Westminster, in central London. Charing Cross is the nearest station (Underground and local train services). It’s surrounded by the National Gallery to the north; St Martins-in-the-Fields Church and The Strand to the east; Whitehall to the south; and Admiralty Arch and The Mall to the south west.

Scroll down to the venue and map tab below for a Trafalgar Square map.

Trafalgar Square history

Trafalgar Square is named after Britain’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Although Britain won, war hero Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson was killed during the battle on his ship, HMS Victory. Nelson's contribution was remembered with Nelson’s Column, a key feature of the square.

The site of Trafalgar Square was previously the Royal Mews from the 14th to the 17th centuries. The mews moved to its current location at Buckingham Palace in the early 19th century.

John Nash subsequently redesigned the square, which officially opened in 1844. More recently, it was redeveloped to include a pedestrianised area at the north of the square in 2003.

During its history, the square has been a place for protests, demonstrations and large-scale events, which continues to this day.

Trafalgar Square events

A lion dance takes place among the crowds during Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square 2017. © Greater London Authority

You can attend one of the numerous family-friendly Trafalgar Square events today. Supported by the Mayor of London, these Trafalgar Square free events include multicultural festivals and religious celebrations, ranging from Chinese New Year and Pride in London festivities, to carol singing beneath the Christmas tree, an annual gift from Norway every year since 1947.

Find more London events.

Things to see in Trafalgar Square

Discover what to see in Trafalgar Square, from historic statues to contemporary art.

Nelson’s Column

Gaze up at Nelson’s Column, the centrepiece of Trafalgar Square. William Railton’s Trafalgar Square monument, which was erected in 1805, honours Admiral Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar and includes a 5m-tall (16ft) statue of the naval hero.

Trafalgar Square lions

Snap a selfie with one of the Trafalgar Square lions. The four bronze lion statues in London’s famous square were added in 1867 by Sir Edward Landseer and sit at the base of Nelson’s Column as protectors of the monument.

Trafalgar Square fountains

Gather around the two spectacular Trafalgar Square fountains, which were added to the square in 1845. Sir Edwin Lutyens redesigned the fountains in the 1930s to include new centrepieces featuring dolphins, mermaids and tritons. Visit Trafalgar Square at night, and you’ll see these fountains illuminated with LED lights.

Trafalgar Square statues

Spot the four plinths in the corners of the square. Three of these support bronze statues of General Sir Charles James Napier, Major General Sir Henry Havelock and King George IV. The fourth was left empty until 1999, when it housed the first of a series of contemporary artworks  – find out what’s currently on The Fourth Plinth.

Police Box

Don’t miss the Trafalgar Square police box, which was the smallest police station in London – although some argue it wasn’t technically a police station.

Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in the background, with the fountains lit up in the foreground © Reid

Things to do in Trafalgar Square

Discover artworks from the Middle Ages to the 20th century at the National Gallery, or marvel at some of the world’s best portraits at the National Portrait Gallery (closed until 2023 for development), which are both to the north of the square.

Wander into the spectacular St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, which hosts regular services and concerts, and has a charming cafe in its underground crypt.

Tuck into lunch or dinner in one of the many Trafalgar Square restaurants and cafes, such as relaxed dining at Café on the Square or The National Café, and more refined meals at Bronte, The National Dining Rooms and The Portrait Restaurant.

Enjoy a drink at Trafalgar Square pubs and bars, which can be found around the square and in adjoining streets. Try The Rooftop at Trafalgar St James for cocktails and panoramic views or The Admiralty for a traditional pub feel.

How to get to Trafalgar Square

The nearest station to Trafalgar Square is Charing Cross, which is on the Bakerloo and Northern lines, and has mainline rail services connecting to the south east of England. There is a dedicated Trafalgar Square Tube station exit, which leads directly onto the square.

Other nearby Trafalgar Square Underground stations include Leicester Square (six-minute walk), Embankment (eight-minute walk) and Piccadilly Circus (nine-minute walk).

You can also take a bus to Trafalgar Square, with the following bus routes stopping at the square: 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176 and 453.

There is limited Trafalgar Square parking in the vicinity, so you’re advised to take public transport where possible, particularly during events. Nearby parking facilities are provided by Q-Park.

Hotels near Trafalgar Square

There are many places to stay near Trafalgar Square, from luxury hotels to budget options. Take your pick from these nearby hotels.

Trafalgar Square facts

  • Trafalgar Square was officially given its name in 1830.
  • In 2006, it was discovered that Nelson’s Column is actually 169ft 3in (51.6m) high, 14ft 6in (4.4m) shorter than had previously been thought.
  • Sculptor Sir Edward Landseer insisted on using a dead lion from London Zoo for his initial sketches of the bronze lions.
  • A hawk flies around the square every weekday morning to deter pigeons. In 2003, feeding the Trafalgar Square pigeons became illegal in most of the square, with a full ban in place by 2007.
  • Imperial measurements were added to the walls of the northern part of the square in 1976, during the time of metrication in the UK – these can now be seen next to the Cafe on the Square.


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Events at Trafalgar Square