Things To Do in Piccadilly Circus

Things To Do in Piccadilly Circus featured image
April 24, 2023
Hermillis Haden

Picadilly Circus in Central London is one of the city's most famous intersections and public spaces, known for the neon Piccadilly lights and billboards and the iconic statue dedicated to the god of love.

Catch a show at London's West End theater district, shop your way down Oxford and Regent Street, or enjoy a meal at the many cafés and eateries in the area.

Here are just a few of the top things to do at Piccadilly circus:

Visit the National Portrait Gallery

Visiting Piccadilly circus without seeing this incredible national gallery would be a crying shame. The gallery dates back to 1865 and holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world, including pictures from the Tudor and Stuart period.

Have High Tea at the Ritz Hotel

Most people would have heard the phrase "putting on the Ritz," but few know that its origins date back to this luxurious hotel on Piccadilly street. It's known for its opulent decor, Louis XVI style, and impressive service.

If your budget doesn't stretch enough for an overnight stay, spring for the famous afternoon tea service in the Palm Court.

Take a Rock 'n Roll Tour

Take a Rock 'n Roll Tour

If you want to learn more about the musical history of Piccadilly circus, book a rock 'n roll tour. You'll see where John Lennon met Yoko Ono and where Jimi Hendrix debuted in London.

Your London pass also entitles you to a free lunch at the famous Hard Rock Cafe, where you can enjoy some American dishes and memorabilia.

Visit the West End

West End Things To Do in Piccadilly Circus

The West End in Piccadilly Circus is known for its historical buildings, world-class theaters, vibrant nightlife, and luxurious shopping.

From this central location, you can head to nearby Leicester square to visit the Leicester Square multi-purpose theater, the Prince Charles Cinema, or the Odeon, or catch a show at the Criterion theater.

The Criterion theater dates back to 1874 and still hosts plays and revues to this day. You can also head to the Palace theater for large-scale musicals, see a play at the Gielgud theater, or visit the Apollo and Lyric Theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue for operas and plays.

Take a Harry Potter Tour

Harry Potter is arguably the most famous tourist to visit Piccadilly circus. Piccadilly Circus features heavily in the Harry Potter movies, including the Deathly Hallows, where the titular hero appears in the square.

Every good Harry Potter tour stops in Piccadilly Circus and nearby Soho, and it's a fun way to see the city.

Shop at Oxford Circus

Shop at Oxford Circus

At least 30 flagship stores have opened their doors in Piccadilly circus in recent years, particularly on Oxford Street. It's one of the busiest shopping areas in the city, where you will find everything from the largest bookstore in the city (Waterstones) and the Lego Store to popular department stores like Selfridges and Primark.

You can even shop at the London Pavilion, a former music hall dating back to 1885. While some of the biggest performers of the 19th century made their debut here in its heyday, it's been converted into a large Primark store.

Snap a Selfie at the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain

Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain

The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain depicts a tribute to requited love. The Anteros statue in the middle is flanked by four smaller statues, the four continents of the world.

The fountain was built in honor of Victorian philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury (for whom Shaftesbury Avenue is named).

The famous statue of the Greek god Eros is another famous landmark, standing more than 18 feet tall and facing the fountain. Visitors often take photographs with the Eros statue and fountain as a backdrop.

Marvel at the Architecture

Piccadilly Circus is home to fascinating architecture. Swing by Burlington House, near Green Park and Bond Street.

This mansion currently houses the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society, the Geological Society of London, the Linnean Society of London, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Society of Antiquaries of London, and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

You can also see the Piccadilly Lights, London's most famous billboard. It's not quite as impressive as Times Square, but it has been the advertising space of choice for major brands, including Coca-Cola.

Visit the Famous Palaces

Visit the Famous Palaces

Britain is known for its famous royal family, and you can find some of their most famous residences while you are in Piccadilly Circus. Both Buckingham and St James Palace are close by.

St James's Palace is the oldest royal palace still in use in the United Kingdom. Built in the 16th century, this palace was going to be one of King Henry VIII's many homes.

It housed many of the modern royals, including the Duke and Duchess of Kent and Princess Royal, and it's still used for important state occasions.

The Chapel Royal and Queen's Chapel are open to the public on certain days of the year, so you can view the impressive mix of Tudor, Jacobean and Georgian styles of the Palace building. You can also visit the beautiful Palace Garden on certain days or see the Changing of the Guard ceremony from the gate.

You can also head to nearby Buckingham Palace, the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. The palace dates back to 1761 and was acquired as a private residence for Queen Charlotte.

It became the official royal palace of the British monarchy in 1837, although King Charles rarely stays there today. While much of the palace is off limits to the public, you can tour the Queen's Gallery, the Gardens, and many of the State Rooms.

With so much to see and do in Piccadilly circus, you should definitely swing by during your next trip to London.