Waterloo to Westminster
- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
If you only have a short time to see the best of London, this may be the walk for you. This short but action-packed walk takes you past some of the best Central London has to offer. Highlights include the London Eye, Golden Jubilee Bridge, the Thames, the Strand, Trafalgar Square, Chinatown, Piccadilly Circus, St James Park, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament!
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Route Description for Waterloo to Westminster
This short walk takes in some of the most popular attractions in London, and the trip up the London Eye is a highlight for many. This is also a walk where it’s easy to get lost, so make sure you have a smartphone handy so you can find out where you are.
Trying to find the right exit while Leaving Waterloo Station is a challenge. Follow the signs for the the South Bank Exit. This should deposit you onto York Road, where you go left. Follow York Road for 110 m before turning right onto Chicheley Street. Walk straight for 230 m towards the Thames until you reach the London Eye.
The London Eye provides spectacular views of the city. This giant Ferris wheel takes about thirty minutes to complete a rotation. At 135 m tall, it is Europe's tallest Ferris wheel; it was also the world's tallest when it was built in 1999. Additionally, it is the second highest public viewing point in London (the first being The Shard). Tickets range from £22 to £27 and can be bought ahead of time online to minimize queuing.
From the London Eye go right and follow the Queen's Walk along the river for about 270 m then turn left to cross the Thames using the Golden Jubilee Bridge. After crossing the Golden Jubilee Bridge, the map shows cutting through Embankment Place before making your way back to the path on the River Thames. Another option is to come down the steps and turn back to cross the busy Victoria Embankment to a path on the other side of the road that hugs the River Thames. Follow the River Thames on the Victoria Embankment for 400 m before turning left onto Savoy Street. While walking along the Victoria Embankment, look out for Cleopatra’s Needle, an ancient Egyptian obelisk near Golden Jubilee Bridges.
Walk down Savoy Street for about 170 m; turn left at the Strand. A worthwhile diversion once you reach the Strand (but not shown on the map) is to go right when you reach the Strand for a block and reach the incredible Somerset House, a popular spot for ice skating during the months leading up to Christmas.
If you don’t take the diversion, you will follow the Strand for about 600 m, passing the Savoy Hotel on your left, then turn right to enter Trafalgar Square. If you need a bite to eat, stop at Melba at The Savoy, the hotel's takeaway gourmet counter. The Coal Hole is also a popular pub in the Savoy’s old Coal Cellar. On the other side of the street is the fine Nell Gwynne Tavern, another popular pub.
Follow the Strand down past Charing Cross Station and into Trafalgar Square, a highlight of London. From Trafalgar Square you must visit The National Gallery, a world-class art museum that features several famous works of art including “Mars and Venus” by Sandro Botticelli and the “Ambassadors” by Hans Holbein the Younger. The museum is open 10:00 am to 6:00 pm from Monday to Thursday and 10:00 am to 9:00 pm on Friday. There is no admission fee to visit the National Gallery.
After visiting the National Gallery, turn left and walk towards the pretty church across from you. This is St. Martin-in-the-Fields, a stunning Neoclassical church designed by James Gibbs. There is an excellent Café in the Crypt, which is a very unique way of seeing this fine church.
Head North from here, heading for St Martin’s Lane, a lively street. Walk along St Martin’s Lane, on the way you will pass the Duke of York's Theatre. If you’re looking for a break, The Salisbury is a pub with an interesting history noted for its fine late Victorian interior. You will also walk past Steak & Co, a popular steak restaurant.
Continue until you reach an intersection of roads going in six directions. Go left at Cranbourn Street. Follow Cranbourn Street for 100 m, passing the Leicester Square Tube Station, before turning right onto Charing Cross Road. Walk down Charing Cross Road for 40 m then take a left onto Little Newport Street.
Continue on Little Newport Street for 65 m and turn right at Newport Place and enter into Chinatown. You will find many delicious restaurants here. Among them is Shuang Shuang, a fun hot pot restaurant. Follow Newport Place for about 85 m before turning left onto Gerrard Street. Walk along Gerrard Street for 170 m until it brings you out onto Wardour Street.
Turn right and continue on Wardour Street for 50 m then turn left onto Shaftesbury Avenue. Follow Shaftesbury Avenue until you reach Piccadilly Circus. Head for the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and then continue past it and down Lower Regent Street, in the distance you can see a statue ahead.
Keep straight for 450 m on Lower Regent Street and continue onto to Waterloo Place as it brings you onto Carlton House Terrace in front of the Duke of York Column at the top of some stairs. Near the stairs, you will find several sculptures, including one of the famous Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott who died trying to reach the South Pole. At the base of the stairs, you will see the Institute of Contemporary Arts on your left and The Royal Society on your right.
Continue down the stairs and head straight for 500 m, crossing over The Mall and entering St James's Park. When crossing over the Mall, look to your right to see Buckingham Palace. St James's Park is the oldest of London's Royal Parks. The park is surrounded by some of the most famous landmarks in the country and the center of ceremonial London. It is also a tranquil place to just stop and relax. Duck Island is an enjoyable nature reserve within the park and is home to the park's bird collection.
Turn left onto the path after passing Duck Island Cottage by the lake, and walk for about 20 m before turning right onto Horse Guards Road. Follow Horse Guards Road for about 110 m and then turn left at Birdcage Walk. To your left along Horse Guards Road, before reaching Birdcage Walk, is the Imperial War Museums, Churchill War Rooms. The museum is open from 9:30am to 6:00 pm and the entrance fee ranges from £10.50 to £21 if bought on the day. Note, it is cheaper to buy tickets in advance online.
Walk down to Birdcage Walk and go left for about 25 m and then take a right onto Storey's Gate. Continue on Storey's Gate for 200 m and cross Victoria Street to visit Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is an incredible place to see. The building is 700-years-old and is the traditional coronation and burial site of British monarchs. Westminster Abbey is open for visiting Monday to Friday from 9:30 am - 4:30 pm and on Saturday from 9:30 am - 2:30 pm. Tour times vary each day and the entrance fee varies from £9 to £22. Again, it is slightly cheaper to buy tickets in advance online.
Facing Westminster Abbey, go to the left through Parliament Square Garden, passing St Margaret's Church on your right. In the square, you will find statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill. At the square's Winston Churchill Statue, turn left and cross Great George Street then cross Parliament Street and continue straight for about 110 m.
To your right, you will see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Parliament itself is home to the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Tours of the Houses of Parliament are offered throughout the day on Saturdays and most weekdays during parliamentary recesses on a timed ticket basis. The Ticket Office is open Monday to Friday 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday 8.45 am to 4.45 pm. Tickets can also be purchased online if you wish to avoid the queue.
Ahead of you and on your left, you will find Westminster Station. Just before the station, however, is St Stephen's Tavern, a traditional British pub to enjoy a well-earned pint.
Insider Hints for Waterloo to Westminster
- Bring a picnic for St James Park. If you don’t have one there is a Tesco Express by the southern end of Trafalgar Square.
- It’s impossible to spend less than an hour at the National Gallery, it is spectacular. We prefer coming here for a few short visits rather than one long visit.
- Book tickets for the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament in advance to ensure entry and that you are not disappointed.
Getting to the Waterloo to Westminster Trailhead
Take a bus, tube or overland train to Waterloo Station.
Waterloo to Westminster Elevation Graph
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Waterloo to Westminster Reviews
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