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Piccadilly Circus Guide: Best Things to do in Central London

Piccadilly Circus can be found in London’s Zone 1 and is a stone’s throw away from other Central London attractions such as Oxford Circus and Regent’s Street. Here’s a guide to the best things to do near Piccadilly Circus, as well as travel tips and a quick history of the area in central London.

A Little History of Piccadilly Circus and its surrounds

One of the main streets which branches off Piccaddilly Circus and one which is famous in of itself is that of Regent Street. Though it may surprise visitors today, there wasn’t always intended to be shops along Regent Street. Situated in London’s West End, today Regent’s Street is most famous for its many flagship stores and international brands.

When it comes to Piccadilly Circus itself, it’s worth noting that over 72 million people visit Piccadilly circus annually. The central London square also happens to be the location of a giant advertising board where Coca-Cola has been advertising since 1995!

The origin for the name ‘Piccadilly’ is incredibly interesting; the ‘piccadil’ part comes from a 17th century neck collar worn by men and was invented by Roger Baker who lived in the area. 

The Circus part comes not from some nearby attraction but the actual architecture of the area; the name comes from the Roman word ‘circus’ meaning circle or ring. 

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Things to do near Piccadilly Circus

Central attraction of Piccadilly Circus 

The main focal point at the heart of Piccaddilly circus is the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. Popularly believed to be a statue of Eros, this is actually incorrect. Instead, the London water feature portrays Anteros.

Though the winged god is also one of the Erotes, he is actually the god of requited love and is the avenger of unrequited love. The monument was erected between 1892 and 1893 and remembers the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, a Victorian philanthropist.

Shop for toys at Hamley’s- Regent Street

By stocking over 50,000 toys in their flagship store, Hamley’s is not only the oldest toy shop in the world but also one of the largest! We all know the saying- ‘everyone’s a kid at heart’ etc etc. Well, when I visited, I really wanted a demonstration of Every. Single. Gadget. In there! Who doesn’t want a toy car that can be driven on any surface?!

As well as all the latest gadgets, they also stock classic teddy bears, dolls, board games, etc. Whilst In Hamley’s toy store, make sure you make it to the top floor- they have life sized lego models of all the royals. 

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Topshop- Oxford Circus, Oxford Street

Once upon a time, one of the best shops to check out close to Piccadilly Circus was a stone’s throw away on Oxford Street. Topshop was the first high street store to be featured in London Fashion Week, and the brand’s flagship store was located along Oxford Street, at the intersection of where Oxford Street meets Regent’s Streets. Due to financial difficulties, the store closed down in 2020. 

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Shop for books at Waterstone’s- Piccadilly

Very close to the illustrious Fortnum and Mason’s, the flagship Waterstones store is simply enormous. It’s no secret that I absolutely love books and there is every possibility that I could spend days exploring this store! According to the Waterstones’ Website, every single one of their stores is specifically tailored to suit the people who shop in them!

Whilst I may love reading, I also love coffee and so a combination of the two is often close to heavenly! The flagship store near Piccadilly tube station has a café set at the back of the store and is well worth a visit with your new purchase!

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