King's Cross Square London
Ian Packham

Things to do in King’s Cross London

Don’t let fans of the wizarding world of Harry Potter hear you say it, but there are many more things to do in King’s Cross London than attempt entry to Platform 9 3⁄4 for the Hogwart’s Express...

No longer an area to be avoided, a huge amount of effort has gone into making King’s Cross a London neighborhood where people want to live, work and relax. Long before Google and Microsoft, one of the earliest institutions to recognize the potential was the newly formed British Library. But beyond its exhibition space you’ll also find a refreshed canal side and plenty of places to enjoy a cup of tea or pint of ale with new friends.

Let’s take a look at London’s King’s Cross in a little more detail.

Delight in being bookish

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Much to the amusement of passing commuters, there’s always a steady stream of people having their photograph taken as they push a trolley through the wall to Platform 9 3⁄4 – which sadly doesn’t lie between platforms 9 and ten but beside a small supermarket.

Book fans of all kinds can also delight in the miles of shelving which makes up the British Library – permitted by law to collect one of every book published in the English language. It is also responsible for looking after some of the most important documents in British history.

Displayed in its ground floor exhibition hall is a Shakespeare first folio and an original copy of Magna Carta. Agreed by King John in 1215, it prevents unlawful arrest and was the start of trial by a jury of peers. Other important artefacts include the hand painted pages of the Lindisfarne Gospels and Beatles’ lyrics in the writing of Paul McCartney.

Check out the King’s Cross museums

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The temporary exhibitions at the multi-million-dollar biomedical research establishment the Crick Institute are no less insightful, helping to bring to life advances in the understanding of the way our bodies function that are resulting in new and better treatments for the world’s biggest health risks.

The nearby Foundling Museum was created to help tell the story of the Foundling Hospital. Set up by a wealthy philanthropist in the 1730s, it became the first home for at risk children in Britain. But its collection has a far broader remit, containing paintings by some of the country’s most important artists of that time, including William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds.

The upper floor then describes the hospital’s connection with composer George Frideric Handel, who lived in London for many years. In an interesting twist, the house next door would also be occupied by Jimi Hendrix.

Another King’s Cross museum worth consideration is the London Canal Museum, whose collection of stories and artefacts help detail the emergence of the capital’s canal network as well as its relatively rapid decline at the hands of the railways.

Enjoy nature in the heart of London

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Stepping out from beyond the red brick edifice of the British Museum or shining glass and steel of the Crick Institute you’ll be mere paces from Regent’s Canal. Reborn as a place to spend your leisure time after a generation of being ignored, its towpath provides an alternative behind the scenes view of the neighborhood, as well as little gems including the Word on the Water floating bookshop.

It may not have the physical grandeur of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew but Camley Street Natural Park is one of several pockets of green space you wouldn’t even know existed without being told. The park’s visitor center is worth stopping by, although nothing can beat a pleasant few minutes beside the pond as wildlife envelops you from all around. It’s an all the more impressive feat given the tracks running to London Saint Pancras International – the capital’s Eurostar terminus – run across the back of it.

On the opposite side of these tracks you’ll be able to find a similarly idyllic spot, the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church. In its churchyard is the Grade I registered mausoleum to Sir John Soane, founder of the British Museum, which became the unlikely starting point for another recognizable London sight – its red telephone boxes. Meanwhile, on the other side of the canal is Gasholder Park, a small but ingenious reinvention for old engineering.

Take in a show

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Should you get hungry, Granary Square has become a solid choice when it comes to food, with plenty on offer whatever your tastes. A new public square featuring a thousand bubbling water jets that move and light up in different colors, its food options include national restaurant chains like the monolithic Dishoom and authentic British pubs alongside the canal.

In the summer months, there’s often a big screen by the waterside showing tennis from Wimbledon amongst other big sporting events like World Cup soccer matches and the Olympic Games.

The live entertainment gets even better than that though, with both the Shaw Theatre and the Bloomsbury Theatre only a short distance away. Between them, they host high-quality drama from the UK regions, which often see their way to Broadway and off-Broadway, alongside providing residencies for orchestras and regular live comedy and music nights.

The Gagosian Gallery may not have the same heritage, but it does display some of the best 20th and 21st Century artworks outside of a national collection and has shown the works of everyone from Pablo Picasso to Damien Hirst. And if shopping is your raison d’etre, there’s Coal Drops Yard, whose stores are sure to inspire you to get your wallet out.

Visit King’s Cross with Go City

King’s Cross has moved on a lot since the statue of George IV at a road crossing was removed to build its station in 1845. Having existed in various guises since then, today it’s a neighborhood that has rediscovered its mojo and has become a choice place to spend time in the capital once more.

Make the most of your trip to London by traveling with Go City and you can make incredible savings on top attractions such as the Tower of London and the Cutty Sark, the only remaining tea clipper ship of its kind in the world. Be sure to share the resulting snaps with @GoCity on Instagram and Facebook to show us just what a good time you’re having exploring all the things to do in King’s Cross London!

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