Leicester Square is in the centre of London’s West End and is always a busy place for people visiting London. The square is filled with street performers, bars, clubs, casinos and restaurants as well as plenty of cultural things to do. When you are visiting the square you will want to know the best way to escape the tourist traps and make the most of your time there. This insider’s guide will help you to find the best things to do in and around Leicester Square morning, noon and night.
This area of London is just a stone’s throw away from Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus as well as London’s Chinatown. This means there is lots of choice and always somewhere to go. It has lots of pubs, casinos and cinemas as well as a very cool sweet shop.
It also holds a London traditional German Christmas market every year in the square with Christmas food stalls and mulled wine too. The famous square is also the perfect place to take a break during the day when you are in this area of London. There are also plenty of Theatres such as the London Coliseum and Her Majesty’s Theatre nearby making it a great place to grab a ticket to a show and a pre-theatre show meal.
28 best things to do in and around Leicester Square for a day or evening
Take a look at these must-see places next time you are in London’s west end with these fun and cool things to do in Leicester Square.
Find the Scenes in the Square Statues
One of the top things to do in London’s Leicester Square is find the series of bronze statues that you can get up close with and take photos! The Leicester Square Statues are famous stars of film immortalised in bronze in and around the square. You can walk up to each statue and take a selfie with them! Some of the words best-loved film characters and iconic scenes have been brought to life! Meet the Mary Poppins statue, Sit next to Paddington Bear and eat lunch. You can even take a seat with Mr Bean or see Bugs Bunny, Harry Potter and even Wonder Woman. There is a QR code to scan and a free audio walking tour of the scenes in the square trail.
Have a picnic in Leicester Square Gardens.
Leicester Square Gardens is a public park in the heart of the Square so you are free to sit on a bench with a picnic. Grab a sandwich or a sausage roll from the nearby Greggs bakery and take some time out on a bench in the park.
The gardens were initially laid out in 1670 as a private garden for the 2nd earl of Leicester but were opened to the public in the 19th century. There is a statue of William Shakespeare in the centre of Leicester square park as well as a water fountain and a large lawn great for picnics.
Watch the Swiss Glockenspiel Clock
The Swiss Glockenspiel Clock is situated outside the Swiss Centre building a 2 min walk from the square. It is a replica of the original in Bern, Switzerland and puts on a fantastic display of little figures moving around the clock.
It was installed in 1985 to mark the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation and as a gift from Switzerland Tourism. The clock has a wooden mechanism and 27 bells, which chime every hour and a half. At 12 pm and 6 pm every day, a parade of Swiss figures emerge from the clock tower and perform a short show, complete with music and dancing.
Eat M and M’s in the M&M World Store
M&M’s World London is a four-story building that offers a wide range of M&M products and of course M and M’s! You can find personalised M&Ms, clothes, accessories and more. It also features interactive exhibits and displays. Some of these include a chocolate wall and a London-themes M&M statue of Liberty.
Have a bite to eat
There are so many restaurants in and around Leicester square you will spoilt for choice. Some are chain restaurants you will be familiar with whilst others are more surprising. Here are more of the best restaurants surrounding the square;
- Bella Italia
- TGI Fridays
- The Shake Shack
- Little Itlay
- Pizza Hut
- Steak and Company
Build bricks in the LEGO Store
Who doesn’t love Lego? This store is only a few doors down from the m&m world Store and is the largest LEGO store in the world. It has two floors that feature a range of LEGO sets, including rare and exclusive items. There are plenty of interactive displays and full-size models made entirely from LEGO bricks such as Big Ben. The LEGO store offers the chance to build your own Minifigure and a Pick & Build wall where you can buy individual bricks in bulk. The Lego store is free to enter however sometimes there is a queue.
Shop in the Wizard and Wonder the Harry Potter-style store
Shop in the Wizard and Wonder Harry Potter style store in Coventry street for a real treat of wizard paraphernalia and gifts. Here you can find Licensed merchandise from Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, Fantastic Beasts, The Hobbit and Vikings. This is just a small selection of the types of things you can find available at the Wizards & Wonders fandom theme store.
Stroll down Cecil’s court.
Just a few minutes away is Cecil Court a historic pedestrian street close to Leicester Square. Cecil Court is known for its charming atmosphere and diverse collection of independent bookshops, antique stores, and galleries.
The street has a rich history dating back to the late 17th century when it was named after Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury. Over the years, it has become a popular destination for book lovers, collectors, and tourists interested in literature and antiquarian items. Cecil Court has maintained its distinctive character with its Victorian architecture, narrow passageways, and old-world charm.
The shops in Cecil Court offer a wide range of book shops, including rare and second-hand editions, as well as prints, maps, and manuscripts. Many of the bookshops specialise in specific genres or subjects such as Alice in Wonderland. The street has also been featured in several films and is often considered a hidden gem for bibliophiles.
Watch a movie at Odeon Leicester Square
This iconic Odeon cinema is one of the largest and most well-known cinemas in the UK. It has hosted many world premiers and features state-of-the-art technology its perfect to catch one of the latest movie releases.
Catch a red carpet event at Vue Leicester Square.
This cinema is much more modern having replaced the previous Warner West End cinema and now has nine screens. There are some luxury seating options, including reclining seats and VIP seats. You might be lucky enough to spot a film premier here too.
Watch a movie at Empire Cineworld Cinema.
The Empire is currently operated by Cineworld on the north side of the square. It features a mix of mainstream and independent films and also is known to host premiers and special events. The perfect spot to grab some popcorn and watch the latest release.
Watch a classic film at the Prince Charles Cinema
The Prince Charles Cinema is an independent cinema just off Leicester Square. It re-runs and screens a mix of classic, cult and contemporary films. It also runs regular sing-along and quote-along showings of people’s favourite old classics.
Grab some fast food
There is plenty of fast-food restaurants in the area within minutes walk to choose from. Try one of these well-known chain restaurants;
- Pret a Manger
- Burger king
- Greggs Bakery
- Costa Coffee
Have a well-earned pint in one of the many pubs
There are plenty of pubs in and around Leicester Square where you can have a pint especially if you are doing the monopoly board pub run.
The main pub in the park’s heart is the Moon Under Water which is Wetherspoon Pub. The pubs situated in and around the square include:
- The Moon Under Water: Located on Leicester Square, this Wetherspoon pub offers a relaxed atmosphere, affordable drinks, and a food menu.
- The Salisbury: Situated on St. Martin’s Lane, just a short walk from Leicester Square, The Salisbury is a classic Victorian pub known for its traditional charm and historic interior.
- The Porcupine: Located on Charing Cross Road, The Porcupine is a cosy pub that often attracts a mix of locals and theatregoers. It offers a wide selection of beers, ales, and pub grub.
- The Harp: Situated on Chandos Place, a short stroll from Leicester Square, The Harp is a traditional pub focusing on real ales. It has a friendly atmosphere and often features live music.
- The White Swan: Found on New Row, just off St. Martin’s Lane, The White Swan is a traditional pub with a charming exterior and a range of drinks to enjoy.
- The Bear and Staff and Nicholson’s pub serve traditional pub food.
- The Imperial: A small traditional pub in Leicester St.
- Tom Cribb: A Pub named in honour of a famous 19th-century boxer. It sells food and has boxing photos, memorabilia and prints on the walls.
Have a Cream Tea at the Londoner Hotel
The Londoner is a luxury 5-star boutique hotel where they boast you can step into the limelight of The Stage with a spectacular programme dedicated to Champagne and life’s great delights.
Set across three acts; The Champagne bar serves a Champagne breakfast, Champagne afternoon tea, as well as a Grand Finale of cheese, charcuterie and more. The star of “The Stage” is their reserve collection of Champagne, with over 35 bottles to choose from and a selection of Champagne cocktails.
Act Two – Champagne Afternoon Tea is served Saturday & Sunday: 12:30 – 16:00
Catch a theatre show
Leicester Square is also located in the heart of London’s theatre district. There are several theatres within a short walking distance from Leicester Square. Here are some of the closest theatres to the square;
- The Prince of Wales Theatre
- The Harold Pinter Theatre
- The Leicester Square Theatre
- Wyndham’s Theatre
- Noel Coward Theatre on St. Martin’s Lane
- The Hippodrome Casino Theatre while primarily a casino is it now showing Magic Mike.
- The Garrick Theatre
Drink Cocktails with friends
There are plenty of places to grab a cocktail in and around the square here are some of the closest bars for Cocktail;
- All Bar One
- 8 at the Londoner
- At the Hampshire Lounge bar
- Simmons Bar
- Zoo Bar and Club
- Cork & Bottle Wine Bar
- Ruby Blue
- The Perception at W London
- LSQ Rooftop – Leicester Square
Visit the theatre cafe and hear West End singers while eating
The Theatre cafe has regular live performances from the stars of the West End and Broadway whilst theatre Memorabilia lines the walls. You can find the diner in St Martins Lane near the Duke of York’s theatre.
Watch the street performers and the golden lady.
Leicester Square is known for its street performers entertaining visitors in the area. While the specific performers may vary depending on the day and time, here are some of the types of street performers you may encounter in Leicester Square:
- Statues and Living Statues: These performers dress up as statues and remain completely still for extended periods, surprising and amusing passersby when they suddenly move or interact with the audience. One of the more famous ones is the Golden Lady.
- Magicians: Street magicians showcasing their sleight of hand tricks, illusions, and mind-boggling feats to captivate audiences.
- Musicians and Buskers: Talented musicians and buskers can be found throughout Leicester Square with various instruments like guitars, violins, keyboards, and even singing performances.
- Jugglers and Acrobats: You may encounter skilled jugglers or acrobats showcasing their stunts.
- Comedians: Some street performers put on comedy shows
Spin on the roulette at Leicester Square Casinos
Leicester Square is also known for its lively entertainment scene. There are several casinos around the square. ID is needed to enter all of these casinos and all are exclusive to those over 18s. You can go to any of these casinos;
- The Hippodrome Casino
- The Empire Casino
- Horizons Casino
Have a cocktail on the rooftop in the Icon Balcony Bar
The Icon Balcony Bar is on the roof balcony of the Horizons casino. It is absolutely great for sipping a cool cocktail while people watching below.
Walk around the National Gallery
The National Gallery is the most impressive art museum in London and it can be found in Trafalgar Square. It is home to some of the world’s finest collections of Western European paintings, ranging from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Many famous artists are featured, including Vincent van Gogh and Leonardo da Vinci. There are several temporary exhibitions each year which focus on a particular artist or theme.
Opening times: Mon-Sun 10 am-6 pm (open till 9 pm on Fridays) (Closed 24-26 December and 1 January)
Get some culture at the National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is dedicated to showcasing portraits of important and influential people throughout history, including monarchs, politicians, artists, and scientists. It was founded in 1856 and moved to its current location in 1896. The gallery hosts a range of temporary exhibitions over the year which often feature loans from other museums and galleries. The National Portrait Gallery offers a unique insight into British history and culture.
Opening times: Mon-Thurs & Sun- 10:30 am-6 pm, Fri & Sat- 10:30 am-9 pm (reopens June 2023)
Find the Time capsule plaques.
Leicester Square is home to a number of time capsule plaques, which were installed in a 2010 renovation project. These plaques commemorate various events and organisations associated with Leicester Square and its history. Some of these include:
Leicester Square- The main plaque is located in the centre of the square and commemorates the entire renovation project.
First Cinema- This commemorates the first cinema in the UK that opened in 1896 and can be found on the north side of Leicester Square. It mentions a brief history of its operation.
Empire Theatre- This is on the south side of Leicester Square commemorating the Empire Theatre which was once on the site. It mentions some of the famous performers who appeared there, including Charlie Chaplin and Judy Garland.
Go inside the Church of Notre Dame de France
The Church of Notre Dame de France is a French Roman Catholic Church. It was established in 1861 to serve the growing French community in London. One of the most remarkable things about this church is the delightful murals by French artist, writer, poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. The current building was constructed in the 1950s and the church offers regular Masses and other religious services in French and English.
Visit the TKTS booth for cheap theatre tickets.
In the centre of the square is the only official theatre ticket booth in London called TKTS. TKTS London is the number one place for discount and cheap theatre tickets for London’s West End shows. The world-famous Ticket booth is in the heart of Leicester Square and is open daily to purchase some of the best price theatre tickets. You can also view and purchase last-minute tickets on their website up to 3 days in advance. This is the only authorised theatre ticket booth on the Square for all of the main theatre shows in London and it is situated outside Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Hotel.
Explore Chinatown for a Chinese meal and fortune cookies
Chinatown is right behind Leicester Square and is a lively and bustling area that offers a glimpse into Chinese culture, cuisine and traditions. You can experience lots of Chinese heritage and flavours from its many restaurants. Here is what you will find in Chinatown Soho London;
- Restaurants and Cuisine: Chinatown offers a wide variety of regional Chinese cuisines, including Cantonese, Szechuan, Dim Sum, and more.
- Asian Grocery Stores: There are several Asian grocery stores and supermarkets where you can find a variety of ingredients, spices, fresh produce, and imported Asian products.
- Bakeries and Desserts: In Chinatown, you’ll find numerous bakeries and dessert shops offering delicious treats such as egg tarts, bubble tea, dumplings, buns, and traditional Chinese pastries.
- Cultural Celebrations and Festivals: Chinatown hosts many celebrations and festivals, such as dragon and lion dances, colourful lanterns, parades, street performances, and fireworks displays.
- Gift and Souvenir Shops: You’ll find an array of gift shops in Chinatown selling traditional Chinese goods, such as tea sets, silk products, calligraphy supplies, lucky charms, and other cultural souvenirs.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine: Chinatown is home to traditional Chinese medicine shops offering herbal remedies, acupuncture, and other traditional health treatments.
- The Chinese Community Centre: Located in Chinatown, the Chinese Community Centre serves as a hub for the local Chinese community, organizing events, and workshops, and providing support services.
Have a laugh at the Comedy Store.
The Comedy Store is a popular comedy club in Leicester Square. The Comedy store was established in 1979 and quickly became one of the most popular comedy venues in London. It has hosted many of the UK’s most famous comedians such as Eddie Izzard and Jo Brand. It seats around 400 people and has a bar and restaurant serving a range of drinks and snacks. Every event is different with various comedians and it is advisable to book.
Where is Leicester Square station and how do you get there?
Leicester Square tube station is located in the heart of London’s West End. It is on the Piccadilly line and Northern line of London’s underground station.
The station is at the crossroads of Charing Cross Road and Cranbourne Street and has 4 main entrances.
To get there you can take either the tube lines of the Piccadilly or the Northern lines on the London Underground or take a bus. Buses that stop near the station include routes;
Staying Safe in Leicester Square
Leicester Square is a busy tourist place so it can be a magnet for pickpockets. Be aware at all times and keep your phone, and wallet in a safe front pocket or bag.