20 Things To Do Near Kings Cross St Pancras in London


20 Things to Do near Kings Cross St Pancras London Main

Got some time near Kings Cross St Pancras in London but don’t want to take on the vastness of the city? Or perhaps you’ve ‘done’ Covent Garden so many times you feel like you could become a tour guide.

20 Things To Do Near Kings Cross St Pancras

Why not explore one of London’s most up and coming postcodes? Here’s 20 things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras.

1. Track down Platform 9 and 3/4

Things to do near kings cross st pancras london platform 9 and 3-4

It’s just plain bad luck that you didn’t get your enrolment letter for Hogwarts but you can still recreate the magical moment of trying to slam a luggage trolley through the wall of platform 9 and 3/4 at Kings Cross St Pancras. Trolley supplied.

No idea what I’m talking about? Start here with the Harry Potter books. You’re welcome.

How to do it:

Wander around Kings Cross station long enough and you’ll find the platform. Or, check out my map below for the exact location. Be prepared to queue if you visit on a weekend. You can buy ‘skip the line’ tickets here if you prefer.

Other Harry Potter Tours

If the mention of Platform 9 and 3/4 has whet your appetite for a bit of Potter mania, you’re in the right place – London is not short on Harry Potter themed activities. Here’s some of the most popular and best rated options:

Magical London: Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour – at only £15 for a 2.5 hour tour, this is definitely one of your best value options and includes Diagon Alley and Platform 9 and 3/4.

3-Hour Harry Potter London Landmarks Tour – you get 8 landmarks for £38 on this tour which includes the sights above and a few more besides.

Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio tour from Kings Cross – having consistently failed to get my mitts on tickets to visit Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio, you might need a bit of planning for this. That said, tickets were sold out for two months solid on the official WB site whereas this tour company had availability (including next day availability) when I checked. The cost is £80 and includes round-trip transport from Kings Cross.

Harry Potter 3-Hour Bus Tour of London Movie Sites – for when it’s raining cats and dogs and you can’t stomach the idea of getting increasingly wet/poked in the eye by umbrellas, you can see the movie sights by bus tour. And powered by the speed of bus, you’re going to see more, too. Only £28.

Harry Potter Tour of London by Black Taxi Cab  – don’t want to mix with the masses? Got a group to split the cost? Take the luxury option of your own private tour of the sights by taxi. It’s from £310 (which is about the price of a black cab in London generally – joking) but does include door to door pick up and comes with the added bonus of riding in one of London’s iconic black cabs.

2. Explore St Pancras Station inside and out

Things to do near kings cross St Pancras St Pancras Station

For years I used to commute through St Pancras station and never took time to look around. I also never stepped outside the building, which was borderline criminal because…well, just look above.

Highlights of Kings Cross St Pancras:

Things to do near kings cross St Pancras London - Meeting Place Statue

The Dent Clock – located on the upper floor, near the Eurostar, the Dent Clock is a replica completed within painstaking attention to detail after the original was dropped and shattering in a billion (guesstimate) pieces.

The statue of John Betjeman – also on the upper floor, Mr Betjeman is famous for saving the station from being knocked down in the 1960s.

The Meeting Place –  also known as the Lover’s statue, the original design had the lovers kissing but British prudishness prevailed and the lovers are more innocently knocking heads. You’ll find it under the Dent Clock.

The Olympic Rings – you can now park your bottom on the rings that hung in the station while London hosted the 2012 Olympics. They have been carved up and turned into seating outside the Southeastern high speed platforms.

Is Kings Cross and St Pancras the same station?

Strictly speaking, Kings Cross and St Pancras are two separate stations. However, they are right next to each other, separated by one road. Since recent renovations, they are commonly referred to as one station – Kings Cross St Pancras.

3. Have a glass of Champagne at Europe’s longest Champagne bar

Things to Do New Kings Cross St Pancras Searcys Champagne Bar

Searcy’s Champagne bar, located on the upper floor of St Pancras Station, is in a perfect spot for some pre-Eurostar fizz. But that’s not its only attraction – it happens to be Europe’s longest Champagne bar, stretching 98 metres under the station’s sweeping glass roof.

How to do it:

Reservations aren’t required (why would they be – this is the longest Champagne bar in Europe) but you can book ahead if you prefer.

The bar serves food and afternoon tea as well as Champagne and other tipples.

Tip: take a warm layer if you’re visiting in winter – all that glass makes for a chilling experience. The bar does provide blankets if you get cold but you may prefer your own items.

Alternative? If Champagne’s not you’re thing but you’re after a fun night out near Kings Cross St Pancras, try a pub crawl around neighbouring Camden.

Otherwise, this Historic Pub Tour includes some of my all time favourite pubs in London.

Fun facts about Kings Cross St Pancras Station

Things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

  • St Pancras is a Victorian masterpiece that was opened in 1868 by the Midlands Railway Company to connect London with cities in the north including Liverpool and Edinburgh.
  • The railway network allowed for thrice daily ‘ale runs’ from the Bass ale factory. In fact, the columns that support the station were built 3-barrels wide to match the design of the brewery.
  • St Pancras also housed the Midland Grand Hotel, which was the grandest hotel in Europe at the time. It featured novelties like hydraulic lifts and revolving doors but sadly failed to include bathrooms in the rooms. Paying for the legions of staff to carry chamber pots contributed to the gigantic running costs and ultimate closure.
  • The Midland Grand Hotel came back to life as the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in 2011 (pictured above). If you don’t stay the night, at least check out the Booking Office cocktail bar and restaurant where you can sip on something inspired from Victorian times. 
  • The station has Grade I listed status – this is the highest level of protection a building can get (Tower Bridge is another example). I’m surprised we’re allowed to touch it.
  • The trains tracks are 5 metres above ground otherwise you’d be in the nearby Regent’s Canal.

4. Visit the British Library

Things to do near kings cross st pancras London British Library Newton Statue

With over 150 million items and a collection that dates back 3,000 years, a visit to the British Library should definitely be on your list of things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras.

How to do it: 

The free and permanent exhibition: Treasures of the British Library is the best way to see the highlights of the library, including the Magna Carta, Jane Austin’s notebook and lyrics written by the Beatles.

Don’t miss: the statue of Sir Isaac Newton (pictured above) in the British Library Plaza.

5. Swing on an IFO

Things to do near kings cross St Pancras St Pancras Station IFO bird cage swing

Wait? What? Let me explain: an art installation, IFO (Identified Flying Object) is a giant bird cage that’s lit up at night. Mainly it’s grounded but on occasions it’s hoisted into the air to decorate the night sky. There’s also a swing inside it – suitable for adults and kids. Tried and tested.

How to do it:

The IFO is a short walk from Kings Cross St Pancras station opposite the German Gymnasium (see my map below). You can find out more here.

6. Take a heritage walk near Kings Cross St Pancras

Things to do near King's Cross St Pancras London heritage walk

Kings Cross has a thick history. It’s roots are in industry thanks to the railroads, but the two World Wars hit the area hard. As freight fell into decline, so did the surrounding neighbourhood. By the 1980’s, Kings Cross was so steeped in iniquity it had become one of the city’s red light districts. But times turned again. The 1990’s heralded significant regeneration and Kings Cross is now one of the city’s coolest postcodes.

What I particularly like about this spate of urban regeneration is the nod to the area’s past. Old buildings have been retained and restored and development has been sympathetic to Kings Cross’ industrial past. Fortunately there has been no ‘thoughtful retention’ of the area’s more illicit phase and anything you see online that suggests otherwise is flatly out of date.

Heritage highlights around Kings Cross St Pancras:

The German Gymnasium – built in 1864 for the German Gymnastics society, this was the first purpose-built gym in the UK. More to my liking, the gym is now a restaurant and bar.

Gasholder No. 8 – one of the original gasholders from the station’s industrial days, it’s now a park because, what else do you do with an empty gasholder? Apart from turn one into apartments, which is also a work in progress near Kings Cross. If you have the millions necessary to buy one, can I come around for tea to have a nose about?

The Granary – the previous function of this building is self-evident. Today it’s home to the world famous Central Saint Martins art college. Have a peak inside to see how vast the granary once was.

How to do it:

You can take a free self-guided walking tour using this downloadable guide (smartphone version also available).

If you prefer to take a tour with someone who is bursting with local knowledge, check out Isabelle Seddon of Unique London Tours. I’m forever in her debt for introducing me to Ruby Violet’s ice cream (see below).

Otherwise, you can see the broader sights with a local guide on this Highlights of London Walking Tour.

7. Enjoy some green space

Things to do near King's Cross St Pancras London Camley Street nature Park

As with most major cities, green space is something you need to search out rather than stumble upon but there are a couple of options to put on your list of things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras if you do want some greenery.

How to do it:

Check out one or all of the following:

Gasholder No. 8 – as mentioned above, this former gasholder is now a park.

Camely Street nature park – a wildlife reserve created from wasteland, Camley Street nature park is a mix of woodland, grassland and wetland by Regent’s Canal. Look out for birds, butterflies and amphibians.

Skip Garden – an urban garden with flowers, veg and herbs, Skip Garden is a community effort that has been built from recycled materials. There’s a restaurant attached where you can taste the home-grown produce.

8. Dance in the dancing fountains at Granary Square

Things to do near King's Cross St Pancras London granary square fountains

If you wait for a warm sunny day to stand amongst the dancing water fountains in Granary Square, you might be waiting a while but you can always dip a toe…or just take a picture, shoes still firmly on.

How to do it:

The Granary Square fountains are accessible all day, all year. Brave enough to go in? Your reward – the Granary Squirt App – control the fountains yourself and chase a snake of colour across the water sprays.

Coming soon: the area surrounding Granary Square – the old coal drops, to be precise – is being renovated with the aim of creating an ‘upmarket Camden’ shopping experience. What that will look like, I don’t know but I’m told the developers are looking for boutiques rather than big brands so watch this space. Literally.

Updated 2018 – exciting news, Coal Drops Yard is now open with shops, food drink and events. Find out more here. 

9. Stop for ice cream at Ruby Violet

Things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras in London Ruby Violet Ice Cream

Small batch, organic and free-range, this high-end ice-cream parlour will leave you stuck for choice.

How to do it:

You can find Ruby Violet on the map below and you’ll get more information here. I tried the Masala Chai and would absolutely recommend it.

Or when it truly is to cold for ice cream (can happen any given day in July), you can still satisfy your sweet tooth with this 2.5 hour chocolate walking tour of London.

10. Take a walk along Regent’s Canal

Things to do near kings cross st pancras london regents canal

Now that you’ve got your ice cream in hand, and your umbrella in the other (probably, even in July – this is London), how about a stroll along Regent’s Canal? Narrowboats are not what immediately come to mind when you think of England’s capital but the canal has earned itself the title ‘Little Venice’.

How to do it:

The canal length is 8.5 miles (about 13.5 kilometres) from Paddington to Limehouse. Here is a route for walking a popular part of the canal from Camden to Limehouse. Dip out any time you like and catch the Tube back.

11. Get crafty at Drink, Shop & Do

Things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras in London Drink Shop and Do

Apart from the delicious food, Drink, Shop & Do is much more than a place to fill your face. With a regular list of events that range from inappropriate Christmas card making to calligraphy and knitting workshops, Drink, Shop & Do is a great place if you’re looking for alternative or crafty things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras.

How to Do it:

I had a go at temporary tattoo making but there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied. You can find the full list of events (and food menus) here.

12. Visit the Charles Dickens Museum

Things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras in London Dickens Museum

Stroll down Doughty Street and it’s very easy to imagine Charles Dickens ensconced inside number 48 working on what will become a future classic. His Victorian home where he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby has been beautifully restored. You can wander through his study and see where he slept and dined. Don’t miss the washer house copper that later featured in A Christmas Carol (Mrs Cratchett steamed her Christmas pudding in it).

How to do it:

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday). The admission fee is £9. I doubt you’d need to book ahead but you can do it online if you prefer.

Want to read some Dickens before you visit? Check out this his greatest works here.

And if you’d like to explore the London from some of Dickens’ best-loved books, you can take a Dickens tour of the city.

13. Explore the Wellcome Collection

The Wellcome Collection is a place I popped into when I had some time between trains and the curiosities I saw there lasted much longer than my visit. The best explanation of the museum is in the video above.  In short it explores health, life and art. There was a fascinating exhibition on forensic investigations when I popped in.

How to do it:

The galleries are open Tuesday to Sunday, closed Mondays. Admission is free. Find out what’s on with the Wellcome Collection website.

14. Refresh on the rooftop of Big Chill House

Things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras in London Big Chill House

Feel like you’ve been doing a lot of wandering around? A bit parched? Grab a seat and beverage on the rooftop of Big Chill House.

How to do it:

Food is available as well as drinks. And, don’t worry, the rooftop is covered in case London decides to rain. You can find more details of Big Chill House here.

15. Hone your skills at the Waitrose Cookery School

Things to do near King's Cross St Pancras in London Waitrose Cookery School

A large supermarket chain wouldn’t be my go-to recommendation for a cooking class but Waitrose won me over when I discovered that their supermarket and cooking school occupies the old produce store and market that used to take the overspill goods from Billingsgate market.

The expanse in the picture above is the old produce store and market. Waitrose has taken up home in the building on the left.

How to do it:

Classes range from a couple of hours to a whole day. Can someone try the Mexican Street Food Class for me? You can check out what’s on and book classes here.

If there are not classes available during your visit, don’t worry there are endless food-related activities on offer in London. Check them out here. Otherwise, I have friends who highly recommend this Medieval Banquet.

16. Play videogames downstairs at Simmons bar

Things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras in London Simmons Bar

Pop into Simmons Bar in Kings Cross and it seems like any other bar, until you head downstairs. With a retro, non-flat screen tv and a Sega Megadrive, this equipment could be in a museum. But it’s not – it’s out for customers to play to their heart’s content.

How to do it:

Find details on the Simmons website here.

17. Grab dinner at Dishoom

Things to do near King's Cross St Pancras in London Dishoom

I confess I’ve never dined at Dishoom in Kings Cross – I’ve only been to the one in Shoreditch. However, if this small, independent chain offers in Kings Cross what it has out east, I’d recommend it in the blink of any eye. Replicating an old Irani cafe from Bombay, this is nothing like your typical British ‘curry house’. Expect small sharing dishes packed with Indian flavours.

(Apologies for the ‘after’ shot above – you know food is good when you only remember to take a picture once you’re stuffed).

How to do it:

The problem with Dishoom is that you can’t book unless you’re a large group. There is a bar where you can wait but arrive on a Saturday night at 8pm and not only will you have to queue to get into the bar, the queue may be so long that you may never get to the front before the restaurant closes. Best bet – go early (before 6:30pm), visit mid-week and expect a wait. You can find details and menus here. 

18. Learn some wicked dance moves

Things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras in London Dance Classes

Drink, Shop & Do is so full of fun activities, it gets a second mention on this list. And, I think you’ll agree that any place that will teach you how to shake your booty, deserves it. Britney and Beyoncé moves were on the list when I visited.

How to do it:

There’s an ever changing list of dance classes on at Drink, Shop & Do. You can find up to date details here. 

19. Sleep in a prison cell at Clink 78

Things to do near King's Cross St Pancras in London Clink 78 cells

I’ve ‘treated’ two people in my life to this unique experience. One is a lawyer, who has an irrational (I hope) fear of being unfairly imprisoned for something she didn’t do. The other was my dad – payback for all the times I felt imprisoned when I wasn’t allowed to stay out late or go to parties until 3 a.m. when I was 15 years old. Both times I visited, I spent a night on a prison bunk, with the original prison toilet in the corner (fortunately covered) and a slight nervousness that the only way out – the release button – wouldn’t work when I tried to open the cell door in the morning. Thankfully it did open. Every time. And I tested it a lot.

Fun fact: Clink 78 was once a courthouse and the courtroom has been refurbished into a common room – why not grab a coffee and relax in the judge’s chair?

How to do it:

Clink offers a range of rooms including dorms and private rooms. However, I recommend one of the prison cells. The rooms are English Heritage listed with the original prison/police custody features. Rooms start from £65 per cell per night. Booking ahead because the cells are popular (words I never thought I’d say). You can book here. 

You can also read a more detailed review of my night in a Clink prison cell here. 

20. Take the Eurostar

Things to do near King's Cross St Pancras in London Eurostar

There are plenty of things to do near Kings Cross St Pancras but it’s also an airport-free way to get off the British Isles and onto the continent of Europe. The Eurostar is one of my favourite ways to travel and I find it’s often quicker and cheaper than taking a flight. Plus: packing a Eurostar Champagne picnic makes you feel like you’re travelling first class no matter which seat you’re in. You won’t get that on Ryanair.

How to do it:

You can book direct with Eurostar. However, if you’re looking to take a more extensive journey within Europe, GoEuro is great for planning more detailed routes.

Did you know you can take the train from London to Bordeaux in about 4 hours. Find out more in my related post about Things to do in Bordeaux (besides tasting wine).

Map of Things to Do Near Kings Cross St Pancras

Click here to open this in Google Maps. 

Looking for other walks in London? Check out my self-guided walking tour of London’s historic South Bank.

So, that’s my guide to 20 things to near Kings Cross St Pancras in London. Did I miss anything? Or have you got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.

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Want to read more about things to do near Kings Cross? Check out:

RexyEdventures – Unexpected Delights of Kings Cross in London

Sophie’s Scran – How to Do a Cheap Weekend in London

Photo credits: St Pancras Renaissance Hotel – courtesy of Marriott Hotels | Platform 9 3/4 | Searcy’s | Newton | IFO | Camley Street

In partnership with Clink 78.

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