Things To Do in Piccadilly Circus

Things To Do in Piccadilly Circus featured image
Published on April 24, 2023

If you're planning a visit to Piccadilly Circus, you might be wondering about the best things to do, places to eat, and experiences to enjoy.

In this article, we will explore:

  • What are the most recommended activities for families visiting Piccadilly Circus?
  • Are there any free things to do in and around?
  • Where can I find the best places to eat near Piccadilly Circus?
  • What are the best photo spots or viewpoints?

By addressing these questions, we aim to provide you with valuable insights, insider tips, and a comprehensive guide to help you plan a memorable and enjoyable experience in Piccadilly Circus.

So let's dive in and uncover the best of what this vibrant London destination has to offer!

Top 9 Things To Do in Piccadilly Circus

1. Visit the National Portrait Gallery

Visiting Piccadilly Circus without seeing this incredible National Portrait 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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. 

Are you wondering what to do in Buckingham Palace? Read our guides here for more ideas and useful tips and tricks! 

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.

Activities for families visiting Piccadilly Circus

When visiting Piccadilly Circus with your family, there are plenty of exciting activities to enjoy together. Here are some top recommendations for a memorable family outing:

Families Visit Piccadilly Circus

Explore Ripley's Believe It or Not! London

Ripley's Believe It or Not! London is a fascinating museum filled with unusual exhibits and interactive displays.

From shrunken heads to mind-boggling illusions, this attraction guarantees a fun-filled experience for both kids and adults.

Catch a Show at the Criterion Theatre

The Criterion Theatre, located near Piccadilly Circus, often hosts family-friendly shows and performances.

Treat your family to an entertaining theatrical production, whether it's a musical, comedy, or drama, and create lasting memories together.

Visit the Hamleys Toy Store

A visit to the world-famous Hamleys Toy Store is a must for families. Located just a short walk from Piccadilly Circus, this seven-story toy paradise offers a wide range of toys, games, and interactive experiences that will delight children of all ages.

Enjoy Street Performances and Buskers

Street Performances

Piccadilly Circus is known for its vibrant atmosphere and street performances. Watch talented street performers, magicians, and musicians showcase their skills, creating a lively and entertaining ambiance for the whole family.

Explore the Nearby Green Spaces

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus by visiting the nearby green spaces. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through Green Park or Hyde Park, where children can play in playgrounds, ride bicycles, or have a picnic amidst beautiful surroundings.

By engaging in these recommended activities, families visiting Piccadilly Circus can have an unforgettable and enjoyable time together.

Remember to check specific opening hours and any additional requirements or restrictions before planning your family adventure.

Free things to do in and around Piccadilly Circus

Exploring Piccadilly Circus and its surrounding areas doesn't have to break the bank. There are several free activities and attractions that visitors can enjoy. Here are some suggestions for cost-effective experiences

Free Things To Do in Piccadilly Circus

Marvel at the Piccadilly Lights

One of the iconic features of Piccadilly Circus is the dazzling array of electronic billboards known as the Piccadilly Lights.

Spend some time in this bustling area, soak up the vibrant atmosphere, and enjoy the captivating light displays, all for free.

Visit the National Gallery

Situated near Piccadilly Circus, the National Gallery houses an extensive collection of world-class art.

Entry to the gallery is free, allowing you to admire masterpieces by renowned artists such as Van Gogh, Da Vinci, and Monet.

Take a leisurely stroll through the gallery's magnificent halls and appreciate centuries of artistic brilliance.

Explore Chinatown

Explore Chinatown

Located adjacent to Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown is a vibrant neighborhood offering a glimpse into Chinese culture and cuisine.

Take a leisurely walk through its colorful streets, marvel at the ornate Chinese arches, and soak up the lively atmosphere.

Although dining and shopping options are available for a fee, exploring the area itself is completely free.

Wander through Soho

Just a short walk from Piccadilly Circus, the vibrant district of Soho beckons with its unique charm. Take a stroll through its eclectic streets, filled with trendy boutiques, quirky shops, and bustling cafes.

Soho is perfect for people-watching, immersing yourself in the local culture, and enjoying the energetic vibe without spending a penny.

Enjoy Street Performances

Piccadilly Circus is known for its lively street performances, and watching these talented artists is absolutely free.

From musicians and magicians to acrobats and dancers, the area offers a constant stream of captivating entertainment. Grab a spot, sit back, and be entertained by the talented performers.

Things to Do in Piccadilly Circus at Night

Piccadilly Circus at Night

Piccadilly Circus truly comes alive at night, with its illuminated billboards, bustling atmosphere, and vibrant energy.

If you find yourself in Piccadilly Circus after the sun sets, here are some exciting activities to make the most of your evening:

1. Experience the Dazzling Lights

One of the highlights of Piccadilly Circus at night is the mesmerizing display of lights. Marvel at the iconic billboards and digital screens that illuminate the area with vibrant colors and captivating advertisements.

Take a stroll through the illuminated streets and capture stunning photographs of this iconic intersection.

2. Enjoy a Show or Musical Performance

Musical Performance

Piccadilly Circus is surrounded by world-class theaters and entertainment venues.

Treat yourself to an unforgettable night out by catching a show or musical performance at one of the nearby theaters, such as the Criterion Theatre or the Piccadilly Theatre.

Immerse yourself in the magic of live performances and indulge in the rich cultural scene of London's West End.

3. Discover Late-Night Dining

Piccadilly Circus is surrounded by an array of dining options that cater to late-night cravings. From trendy cafes to international cuisine and fine dining establishments, there is something to suit every palate.

Enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants open late in the area and savor the flavors of the city.

4. Experience Nightlife in Soho

Nightlife In Soho

Soho, a vibrant district just a short walk from Piccadilly Circus, is renowned for its nightlife scene. Explore the lively streets filled with bars, pubs, and clubs offering a variety of entertainment options.

Whether you're in the mood for a laid-back evening drink or a night of dancing, Soho has something for everyone.

5. Take a Nighttime City Walk

Piccadilly Circus serves as a great starting point for a nighttime city walk. Enjoy the city's architectural splendors as you stroll through nearby streets, such as Regent Street or Shaftesbury Avenue. Admire the beautifully lit buildings, historical landmarks, and charming ambiance of London at night.

Immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife of Piccadilly Circus, and create unforgettable memories as you experience the energy and excitement of London after dark.

What are the best places to eat near Piccadilly Circus?

When it comes to satisfying your taste buds near Piccadilly Circus, you'll find a plethora of dining options catering to various cuisines and budgets.

Whether you're craving traditional British fare or international delicacies, here are some of the best places to eat in the vicinity:

Brasserie Zédel

Brasserie Zédel

Credit: Brasserie Zédel 

Located just a short walk from Piccadilly Circus, Brasserie Zédel offers an authentic French dining experience. 

Indulge in classic French dishes like steak frites, escargots, and crème brûlée in an elegant and lively Art Deco setting.

Address: 20 Sherwood St, London W1F 7ED, United Kingdom


If you're in the mood for Indian cuisine, Dishoom is a popular choice near Piccadilly Circus. This Bombay-inspired eatery serves up delicious and flavorsome dishes, including mouthwatering biryanis, curries, and delectable street food snacks.

Address: 22 Kingly St, Carnaby, London W1B 5QP, United Kingdom

Also featured in:

Duck & Waffle

Duck and Waffle

Credit: Duck & Waffle

For a unique dining experience with breathtaking views, head to Duck & Waffle. Situated a short distance from Piccadilly Circus, this restaurant offers a 24/7 menu featuring innovative British-European dishes, including their signature dish, crispy duck leg confit served with a waffle and maple syrup.

Address: 52 Haymarket, St. James's, London SW1Y 4RP, United Kingdom

Bocca di Lupo

Bocca di Lupo is a renowned Italian restaurant in the vicinity of Piccadilly Circus. Enjoy an authentic taste of Italy with their wide range of regional dishes, including homemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and indulgent desserts.

Address: 12 Archer St, London W1D 7BB, United Kingdom

The Wolseley

For a touch of elegance, The Wolseley is an iconic dining destination near Piccadilly Circus. 

Housed in a grand Art Deco building, it offers a sophisticated atmosphere and an extensive menu featuring British and European classics, afternoon tea, and indulgent pastries.

Address: 160 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9EB, United Kingdom


If you're in the mood for Mexican flavors, Wahaca is a vibrant option nearby. This lively eatery serves up a variety of street food-inspired dishes, including tacos, quesadillas, and refreshing margaritas.

Address:26-28 Great Portland St, London W1W 8QT, UK

These are just a few of the many fantastic dining options near Piccadilly Circus. Whether you're seeking a fine dining experience or casual eats, there's something to suit every palate and preference in this vibrant part of London.

Best photo spots or viewpoints in Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus offers several fantastic photo opportunities and viewpoints where you can capture the essence of this bustling London landmark.

Whether you're an avid photographer or simply want to snap some memorable shots, here are some of the best spots for capturing the perfect photo in Piccadilly Circus:

The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain

Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain

The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, located at the center of Piccadilly Circus, is a popular spot for photography.

The iconic statue of Eros, poised atop the fountain, serves as a distinctive symbol of the area. Capture a photo with Eros and the vibrant billboards of Piccadilly Circus in the background for a classic shot.

From the Balcony at Ripley's Believe It or Not! London

If you want a unique perspective, head to the balcony of Ripley's Believe It or Not! London.

From this elevated vantage point, you can capture stunning aerial views of Piccadilly Circus and the surrounding area. This spot offers a fresh and captivating angle for your photographs.

The Entrance of the Criterion Theatre

The Criterion Theatre, located near Piccadilly Circus, provides an impressive backdrop for your photos.

Capture the elegant facade and intricate details of this historic building. The theatre's architecture and the bustling street scene make for a captivating composition.

From the Streets of Regent Street

Regent Street

Take a short walk from Piccadilly Circus to Regent Street, one of London's most iconic shopping streets.

From here, you can capture the vibrant energy of Piccadilly Circus with its illuminated billboards and bustling crowds.

Experiment with different angles and perspectives as you capture the essence of this lively intersection.

View from the Rooftop Bars and Restaurants

For a more elevated experience, consider visiting one of the rooftop bars or restaurants in the vicinity of Piccadilly Circus.

These establishments often offer stunning panoramic views of the area. Enjoy a drink or a meal while capturing breathtaking photos of Piccadilly Circus from above.

Capture the unique atmosphere and energy of Piccadilly Circus from these recommended spots, and create lasting memories of your visit to this iconic London destination.

Popular events and festivals in Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus and its surrounding area are known for hosting a variety of exciting events and festivals throughout the year.

Whether you're interested in cultural celebrations, live performances, or seasonal festivities, there's often something happening near Piccadilly Circus.

Here are some popular events and festivals you can look forward to:

1. Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year in Piccadilly Circus

Chinese New Year celebrations in London often include vibrant festivities in and around Chinatown, which is adjacent to Piccadilly Circus.

Join the crowds to witness traditional dragon and lion dances, martial arts performances, colorful parades, and indulge in delicious Chinese cuisine.

2. Pride in London

Pride in London, one of the biggest LGBTQ+ celebrations in the city, often features a lively parade that passes through Piccadilly Circus.

This vibrant event promotes diversity, equality, and inclusion, bringing together people from all walks of life for a joyous celebration of love and acceptance.

3. Christmas Lights Switch-On

Christmas Lights

The annual Christmas lights switch-on ceremony near Piccadilly Circus marks the beginning of the festive season.

Watch as the area transforms into a sparkling wonderland with dazzling lights adorning the streets and iconic billboards. The atmosphere becomes festive, and various seasonal activities and markets take place.

4. New Year's Eve Celebrations

As the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve, Piccadilly Circus becomes a hub of celebration.

Join the crowds gathered to welcome the new year, witness spectacular fireworks displays, and enjoy the jubilant atmosphere as people come together to bid farewell to the old year and embrace the new.

5. Cultural Festivals

Cultural Festivals

Piccadilly Circus is often a hub for various cultural festivals and celebrations.

From Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, to St. Patrick's Day celebrations, you may find cultural events and parades near this iconic intersection. These festivals showcase the diversity of London's vibrant multicultural community.

It's worth noting that specific event dates and details may vary from year to year, so it's recommended to check the official event websites or local event listings for the most up-to-date information on upcoming events and festivals near Piccadilly Circus.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the opening hours of Piccadilly Circus?

Piccadilly Circus is an outdoor public space that is accessible 24 hours a day. However, individual attractions, shops, and restaurants in the vicinity may have their own operating hours, which can vary.

It is recommended to check the specific opening hours of the places you plan to visit.

How do I get to Piccadilly Circus using public transportation?

Piccadilly Circus is well-connected by public transportation. You can reach it via the London Underground (Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines) or by bus.

Several bus routes also pass through or near Piccadilly Circus. It is advisable to use the Transport for London (TfL) website or mobile app for the latest route information and schedules.

Are there public restrooms available at Piccadilly Circus?

Yes, there are public restroom facilities available near Piccadilly Circus.

Some options include public toilets operated by the City of Westminster and nearby establishments such as restaurants, cafes, and shopping centers.

It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the nearest restroom facilities in advance.

Is Piccadilly Circus suitable for families with young children?

Yes, Piccadilly Circus can be a suitable destination for families with young children.

There are family-friendly activities and attractions nearby, such as Ripley's Believe It or Not! London and Hamleys Toy Store.

However, it's important to keep in mind that the area can be crowded and busy, so it's essential to supervise children closely and ensure their safety.

Are there any parking facilities near Piccadilly Circus?

While Piccadilly Circus itself does not have dedicated parking, there are parking facilities available in the vicinity.

Several public car parks and parking garages are located nearby, offering both short-term and long-term parking options.

It's advisable to check the availability and rates of parking facilities in advance.

A Bottom Line

Piccadilly Circus is a vibrant hub in the heart of London that offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. From its iconic billboards and bustling atmosphere to its renowned theaters and dining options, there's something for everyone to experience and appreciate.

Soak up the vibrant atmosphere, indulge in delicious cuisine, capture stunning photographs, and immerse yourself in the cultural scene of this iconic intersection.

Plan your visit to Piccadilly Circus and discover why it remains a must-visit destination for travelers seeking the best of London's attractions, entertainment, and vibrant city life.

Ryan S. Mills
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