Things You Might Not Have Done Around Charing Cross

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 24 months ago
Things You Might Not Have Done Around Charing Cross
Use your time wisely next time your train is delayed. Photo: Londres Pra Você

Ever find yourself waiting for a friend (or a delayed train) at Charing Cross, and need something to kill time? We're guessing you've been to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery before, and feeding Trafalgar Square's pigeons isn't an option anymore. So what is there to do? Quite a lot, actually.

Go to a concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields

Photo: solarsnake2012

You'll have noticed this church, situated across the road from Trafalgar Square, but did you know about the array of concerts that go on there, from classical music to jazz nights? On weekdays, free lunchtime concerts are often held.

No concerts take your fancy? Pop into the church's Cafe in the Crypt for lunch or a drink (it's open until late on weekdays, with jazz performances on Wednesdays, so is ideal for waiting out any train chaos going down at the station).

Have a chat with Oscar Wilde

Photo: Paul Sweeney

Cross the road from Charing Cross station to Adelaide Street and come face to face with a granite and bronze incarnation of the witty writer.

What's more, it's a bench (we've been through this before), so take the weight off your feet for a few minutes. The memorial is officially called A Conversation with Oscar Wilde, the idea being that his oh-so-inviting visage entices the passer-by to take a seat and engage the famous playwright in conversation. You might want to hold your nose while in the vicinity though...

Browse Waterstones

Let's be honest, there's a real thrill in nosing round a good bookshop for hours. Waterstones on Trafalgar Square is not the biggest branch in town (that honour belongs to the Piccadilly offering) but it's usually less busy than you would expect for a store sitting right on Trafalgar Square — as is the Costa Coffee upstairs. Most importantly, there are toilets.

If you're lucky, they might even let you stay in when they close for the night.

Admire the art at Canada House

Canada House on the western side of the square. Photo: Francesco Camardo

Sitting proudly on the western side of Trafalgar Square is Canada House, home to the Canadian High Commission. Unless you've had much to do with Canada, you've probably never been inside, but it's not all passports and visas; Canada House is home to an impressive art collection, featuring over 300 works.

If you fancy a gander, book onto a free tour — they only happen once a month and they book up fast. Otherwise, check which exhibitions are currently on.

Visit the Savoy's museum

Maybe save this one for when you've got your glad rags on. Photo: David Williams

One of the best kept secrets on Strand is The Savoy's cocktail museum. It's free to visit, and although it's petite, it's a fascinating insight into this world famous hotel, particularly its legendary American Bar and the various bartenders. Alas, the drinks in the American Bar are very much not free.

Visit Benjamin Franklin House

Inside Benjamin Franklin House. Photo: Treble2309

The only remaining home of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, is located practically underneath Charing Cross station. It's open as a museum, with guided tours, and occasional special events including lectures on American democracy and an annual science fair for kids.

Relax in Victoria Embankment Gardens

Victoria Embankment Gardens. Photo: weathergil

If you've ever walked down Villiers Street and noticed Victoria Embankment Gardens but never been in, you should know this; it's a Tardis of a park, with plenty of grass, flowerbeds and benches crammed into it. It's also home to a statue of a camel, what is possibly London's raciest statue, and York Watergate, once part of York House on Strand, marking the original course of the river.

Done all this? See what's on at these other venues nearby:

Last Updated 23 December 2016