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Travel Info & Tips From King's Cross and St Pancras stations to London's Top Tourist Destinations

From King's Cross and St Pancras stations to London's Top Tourist Destinations

How to reach more than twenty of London's most popular tourist destinations when arriving at King's Cross and St Pancras stations by train.

| Last Updated: about 1 month ago
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King's Cross and St Pancras stations are in the same location on the northern edge on the heart of the city.
The British Library is across the street from St Pancras, but you will be taking public transport on to all other popular tourist destinations, when arriving at King's Cross and St Pancras by train.

Hence using my insights from being a Londoner, who frequently has to plan trips around the city centre for someone who prefers to avoid using stairs, to come up with this guide to accessing London’s most popular tourist attractions from King's Cross and St Pancras stations.
The focus is on what’s easiest, so where relevant alternative step-free routes have been included; though comparatively few Underground stations in central London have step-free access by lift (elevator) between the trains and the streets.
The deep-level ‘tube’ lines, the Bakerloo, Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria, are only included when they are absolutely the most logical option.

to the British Museum

to the British Museum by train to the British Museum by train

The easiest public transport option for travelling to The British Museum from King's Cross and St Pancras is to take a westbound Piccadilly line train to Russell Square.
The station named Holborn is closer to the main entrance of the museum, but there is a conveniently less busy rear entrance on a street named Montague Place, which is a five minute walk across to the far corner of the square which gives the underground station its name.

to The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum and The V&A Museum

to the Exhibition Road museums by train to the Exhibition Road museums by train

The Natural History Museum and The Science Museum and The Victoria and Albert Museum are all located on the aptly named Exhibition Road in South Kensington.
These museums are a five minute walk north of South Kensington underground station, through a subway which leads off from the ticket hall.
Take any westbound Piccadilly line train direct to South Kensington from King's Cross St. Pancras.

Arriving at King's Cross

If your train has arrived at platforms/tracks 0-8 in King's Cross station the first access point to the Underground which you will see is over to the left, just outside the station.
At the foot of this access point, there are signs which say go right for the Piccadilly line
20210925_103603.jpg
but trust me on this go to the left and not to the right.
Just over to left is one of the ticket halls in the Underground station, and this ticket hall houses an escalator which leads directly down to the Piccadilly line.
The alternative route to these two lines, which the signs are suggesting you follow, is at least 5 mins longer, as it will lead you through a more distant ticket hall.

But if you arrive at platforms 9 – 11 the closest access to the Underground will take you down to that alternative ticket hall.
From there you can just follow the signs pointing you in the direction of each respective line, as there aren't any short cuts available.

Arriving at St Pancras

The Piccadilly line can be accessed from two different areas of the main station building:

  1. On the other side of the ticket hall above the Circle and Metropolitan lines, which is located in front of the station, is another less obvious ticket hall which houses escalators down to the tube lines.
  2. At the end of the station by the Thameslink station and below the area of the station that the Southeastern trains arrive at, is the access to a passage way to an alternative Underground ticket hall, but this ticket hall is under King's Cross station, which is across the street.
    So the passage way is fairly long, as is the passage ways which leads to the Piccadilly line from this ticket hall.
    Though if you would rather use lifts (elevators) instead of escalators to access these tube lines, then this is the route to take

to Trafalgar Square

to Trafalgar Square by train to Trafalgar Square by train

Trafalgar Square is the location of The National Gallery and the separate National Portrait Gallery, plus Horse Guard’s Parade and The Churchill War Rooms, which is just off The Mall, are within a few minutes walk.

Take any westbound Piccadilly line to Leicester Square station for the short walk down Charing Cross Road.

to The South Bank

to London's South Bank and the London Eye by train to London's South Bank and the London Eye by train

A clutch of tourist destinations are located on the south bank of the River Thames between Waterloo and Westminster Bridges.
They include The London Eye and The Sea Life London Aquarium and The London Dungeon and The South Bank Centre arts complex including The Hayward Gallery and The Festival Hall.

Waterloo underground station is within a 5 -10 minute walk of all these attractions, though the station has multiple exits, so take your time and use the maps and signs, so that you use the exit with the easiest access to where you will be heading.

There isn't a direct Underground Line to Waterloo from King's Cross, but of the many options, SMTJ's preference is to take the Piccadilly Line westbound to Leicester Square and connect there into the southbound Northern line, as the connection between the two lines at Leicester Square involves a comparatively short set of stairs.
Though at Piccadilly Circus station, the next stop on from Leicester Square, an escalator link is available to the southbound Bakerloo line.

Or if you'll want to use lifts (elevators) during the end-to-end journey, you can take this route:

  1. Head over to the adjacent St Pancras station and take one of the 12 trains an hour from platform A, which will be heading to London Bridge.
  2. At London Bridge station lifts (elevators) and escalators will enable easy access to platforms 8 and 9, from where all the trains will call at Waterloo (East); trains depart at least every 5 minutes.
  3. Waterloo (East) station is adjacent to the main station at Waterloo, to which it has step-free access by a footbridge, though a fairly step slope leads up to it from the platforms in Waterloo (East).
    20221006_135805_size.jpg
    At the other end of the footbridge a lift (elevator) and escalators are available down to the main concourse, from where the access to the South Bank is on the far side of the station, by the platforms with the high numbers.

to the Tower Of London

to the Tower Of London by train to the Tower Of London by train

Take an eastbound Circle line train to Tower Hill station, as it is a few minutes walk from the main entrance into the Tower Of London.
Though these Circle line trains aren't particularly frequent.
The alternative is to take a southbound Northern line train to Bank station, where an escalator is available up to an eastbound Circle or District line train to Tower Hill.

to The Shard and Borough Market

to Borough Market and The Shard by train to Borough Market and The Shard by train

A clutch of tourist destinations are located in the London Bridge area including Borough Market (best experienced on a weekend), The Shard and HMS Belfast the south side access to Tower Bridge, plus the attractions in the adjacent Bermondsey Street area such as the Fashion and Textile Museum and The White Cube Gallery, plus on weekends, The Ropewalk.

To access the London Bridge area from King's Cross and St Pancras taking a southbound Northern line train on the route via Bank is the quickest option.
At London Bridge underground statyion, ehen heading to Borough Market use the exits on to Borough High Street, when going to HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge use the exits on to Tooley Street.
For The Shard and Bermondsey Street ahead to the Tooley Street ticket hall, but exit from the station hall through the right into the passage way named Joiner Street - and then head to the right.

Arriving at King's Cross

If your train has arrived at platforms/tracks 0-8 in King's Cross station the first access point to the Underground which you will see is over to the left, just outside the station.
At the foot of this access point, there are signs which say go right for the Northern line, but just over to left is one of the ticket halls in the Underground station, and this ticket hall houses an escalator which leads directly down to the Northern line.
The alternative route to these two lines, which the signs are suggesting you follow, is at least 5 mins longer, as it will lead you through a more distant ticket hall.

Avoid taking the Underground.

The alternative route is to take a southbound Thameslink train, up to 12 trains per hour now depart from platform A in St Pancras Thameslink station and take just over fifteen minutes to make the journey to London Bridge station.
For Borough Market use the exit on to Tooley Street and turn left, for HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge use the same exit and turn right, for The Shard and Bermondsey Street use the exits on to St Thomas Street.

to The Zoo and Madame Tussauds

To Madame Tussauds by train To Madame Tussauds by train

Madame Tussauds is adjacent to Baker Street Underground station, it is on the next block, but taking the bus is the easiest means of reaching The Zoo.
The only bus route which stops right by London Zoo’s entrance is the 274
and at Baker Street it departs from bus stop C, take the bus heading to Angel, Islington.

To head to Baker Street from King's Cross and St Pancras take any eastbound Circle and Hammersmith & City line train, the access to the street exits at Baker Street is more straightforward than from the Metropolitan line trains.

Though an alternative option for accessing London Zoo from King's Cross, St Pancras is to take a northbound Northern line train to Camden Town as The Zoo is a 15 – 25 min walk from there.
Head off down the road named Parkway and then turn right on to Prince Albert Road.
Though Camden Town station can be exceptionally busy on Sundays.

to Westminster

When heading to Westminster Abbey and the area around the Houses of Parliament from King's Cross and St Pancras stations, making the transfer at Green Park between the southbound Victoria and Jubilee lines seems the way to go.
Though the Victoria lines near permanent crowds result in the typically easier option being:

  • Take any southbound train from platform A in St Pancras Thameslink station, boarding into the rear of the train.
    20221006_165619_size.jpg
  • At Blackfriars connect into any westbound Circle or District line train to Westminster.

to the Covent Garden area and The London Transport Museum

To Covent Garden from the London stations To Covent Garden from the London stations

The Covent Garden area, which is where the London Transport Museum is located, is most easily accessed from King's Cross and St Pancras stations by taking a westbound Piccadilly line train to Leicester Square station.
Take the exit from the station on to Cranbourn Street, turn right into Garrick Street and then left into King Street.

Arriving at King's Cross

If your train has arrived at platforms/tracks 0-8 in King's Cross station the first access point to the Underground which you will see is over to the left, just outside the station.
At the foot of this access point, there are signs which say go right for the Piccadilly line
20210925_103603.jpg
but trust me on this go to the left and not to the right.
Just over to left is one of the ticket halls in the Underground station, and this ticket hall houses an escalator which leads directly down to the Piccadilly line.
The alternative route to these two lines, which the signs are suggesting you follow, is at least 5 mins longer, as it will lead you through a more distant ticket hall.

But if you arrive at platforms 9 – 11 the closest access to the Underground will take you down to that alternative ticket hall.
From there you can just follow the signs pointing you in the direction of each respective line, as there aren't any short cuts available.

Arriving at St Pancras

The Piccadilly line can be accessed from two different areas of the main station building:

  1. On the other side of the ticket hall above the Circle and Metropolitan lines, which is located in front of the station, is another less obvious ticket hall which houses escalators down to the tube lines.
  2. At the end of the station by the Thameslink station and below the area of the station that the Southeastern trains arrive at, is the access to a passage way to an alternative Underground ticket hall, but this ticket hall is under King's Cross station, which is across the street.
    So the passage way is fairly long, as is the passage ways which leads to the Piccadilly line from this ticket hall.
    Though if you would rather use lifts (elevators) instead of escalators to access these tube lines, then this is the route to take.

to Buckingham Palace

To Buckingham Palace by train To Buckingham Palace by train

The entrance for the viewing of The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace is approximately an equal distance from Green Park and Victoria stations, so from King's Cross and St Pancras take the southbound Victoria line to Green Park.

Unusually for a central London underground station, step-free access by a series of lifts (elevators) between the trains and the street is available at Green Park.

to Greenwich

To Greenwich from King's Cross station To Greenwich from King's Cross station

Greenwich station is a 5 – 10 minute walk to the historic center of maritime Greenwich

There are typically two trains per hour, which are direct to Greenwich from platform A in St Pancras Thameslink station, these trains will typically be heading to Rainham.
Or if the waiting time for one of these trains is more than 15 minutes, you may as well take the first train heading to London Bridge station, then where you arrive there, head over to platform 1 for a train to Greenwich.

to The O2 Arena

Take the southbound Northern line to London Bridge and transfer there to an eastbound Jubilee line train to North Greenwich.

to Wembley Stadium

Take any northbound Metropolitan train to Wembley Park station
The train will be heading to Amersham, Watford or Uxbridge.

to the Sky Garden

The easiest route from King's Cross and St Pancras stations to the Sky Garden is to take the eastbound Metropolitan or Circle line to Aldgate station; don't board a Hammersmith & City line train, which will be heading to Barking.
The Sky Garden will then be an 8 - 12 min walk along Fenchurch Street, which is slightly longer than from Bank station, but you can avoid the more complicated transfers to and from the Northern line.

to Somerset House

to Somerset House by train to Somerset House by train

The easiest option for the journey from King's Cross and St Pancras stations to Somerset House is to take any southbound train from platform A in St Panrcas Thameslink station, boarding into the rear of the train, then at Blackfriars connect into any westbound Circle or District line train to Temple.

to Tate Britain

to Tate Britain by train to Tate Britain by train

Pimlico station is an 8 to 15 walk from Tate Britain, so take the southbound Victoria line
Then on arrival at Pimlico, head to the gallery's side entrance by crossing over Vauxhall Bridge Road on to John Islip Street and turning right into Atterbury Street.

to Tate Modern

to Tate Modern by train to Tate Modern by train

Head down to platform A in St Pancras Thameslink station and then board into the front of any train, leaving it at Blackfriars station, using its southside exit.
20221006_165751_size.jpg
The main entrance to Tate Modern is then within a 3 minute walk.

From King's Cross

  • Head over the street to St Pancras station, using the exit at King's Cross on to Pancras Road, which leads off from the main concourse on the opposite side to the departure boards.
    The main entrance to St Pancras International as seen from the Panrcas Road exit at King's Cross
  • Once you have entered St Pancras International go straight ahead and you will then see the entrance to the part of the station, used by Thameslink trains, over to the right, on the other side of a ticket desk.

to St Paul's

St Paul's cathedral by train St Paul's cathedral by train

Monday to Saturday

Head down to platform A in St Pancras Thameslink station and then board into the front of any train for easy access to the exit on Ludgate Hill at City Thameslink station.
The advantage of the route is that the walk from Ludgate Hill leads up to the front of the cathedral, where its main entrance is located.
20221006_143133_size.jpg
Also lifts (elevators) are available to from the trains at both Thameslink stations.

Sunday
City Thameslink station is only open from Monday to Saturday, so on a Sunday take a westbound Piccadilly line train to Holborn and transfer there to an eastbound Central line train to St Paul's station.

To Kensington Palace

There are two optimal routes for the journey from King's Cross, St Pancras station to Kensington Palace:

(1) the quickest route is to take the southbound Piccadilly line to Holborn and connect there for the westbound Central line to Queensway, or
(2) avoid ‘the tube’ by taking a westbound Circle or Hammersmith and City line train to Edgeware Road, connecting there into a Circle or District line train to Bayswater.

to Kew Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are some distance from King's Cross and St Pancras stations, hence the multiple options for making the journey by train:
(1) The quickest, but busiest option is to take a southbound Victoria line and then connect at Victoria for a westbound District line train to Kew Gardens station, though take care to board a train which will be heading to Richmond.
(2) Avoid ‘the tube’ by taking a westbound Circle or Hammersmith and City line train to Edgeware Road.
Transfer there to District line train to Wimbledon which will call at Earl's Court, where a simple as can be cross-platform transfer will be available into a train heading to Richmond; check the indicators.
20221006_154415.jpg
If you're in luck, a cross-platform transfer will also be available at Edgware Road station.
(3) This option seems bizarre, but it's typically very simple and can take less than 40 minutes:

  • take a train from platform B in St Pancras Thameslink station to West Hampstead Thameslink station
  • Leave that station and when you're on the road, turn right and walk for around a minute and then enter West Hampstead Overground station.
  • Take an Overground train to Kew Gardens; taking care to board a train heading to Richmond.
    Oyster Cards can be used on the Thameslink and Overground trains.

Summary of how the ticketing works

All of the ticket gates at central London stations have 'readers' which enable contactless payment.

Regardless of whether you are resident in the UK, or are visiting, there are three methods of using Contactless:

  1. A payment app on a mobile device, including your bank's contactless payment app, or the likes of Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay.
  2. A debit / credit card as long as it has the contactless symbol
  3. An Oyster card (you touch in and out as you do when using Contactless).

Good to know about using Contactless

  • The system works by touching in and out.
  • When using bank cards, take care to use the same card when touching out at the end of a journey, as you did when touching in at the start.
  • You have to pay with Contactless on the regular red buses, you cannot pay with cash.
  • When travelling by the Underground or Elizabeth line, you can save 10 - 20p per journey by paying with a banking app / card instead of an Oyster card.
  • Making a Contactless payment is cheaper than buying a ticket from a station counter or machine - the price difference is usually at least 50%!

More info is available on the general London by train guide.

Using rail tickets to obtain 2-for-1 entry to visitor attractions:

National Rail, which has overall responsibility for how the trains are managed in Britain, has teamed up with a swathe of tourist attractions for a promotion which allows two entry tickets for the price of one when travelling to and from them by train.
How it typically works is:

  1. You can look for which attractions and guided tours are members of the scheme on the National Rail website.
  2. Having chosen an attraction you can then see how to book the special promotional tickets or voucher; when needed you can find promo codes on the dedicated page for each attraction on the National Rail Website.
  3. On the online booking page of the attraction you should see an option which corresponds to 'National Rail - Two for One offer'.
  4. Book your attraction tickets or voucher.
  5. On arrival at the attraction you present your attraction tickets and rail tickets to gain entry.

The offers are available to visitors to the UK as well as residents, so they can be a great way to save money when on a holiday.

Though what's good to know is:

  • You need to present either the outward or return part of a national rail ticket to gain entry, along with your attraction tickets; So Oyster Cards and other Contactless payments, or Travelcards can't be used for the rail journey!
  • The ticket machines at stations will retain one-way tickets, hence return tickets are a must - and if possible avoid putting your outward tickets through the machine, by asking the staff to open the gates/barriers.
  • The two people entering the attraction on the 2-for-1 offer will both need separate rail tickets.
  • The type of rail ticket, how much you paid for it and the distance travelled all don't matter, any pair of return rail tickets will suffice.
  • If you have one, you can use Railcards to book the rail tickets.
  • Rail tickets are available as an alternative to Oyster cards when travelling between any two National Rail stations in the Greater London area; a National Rail station is any station not solely served by the Underground or DLR, so it includes stations solely served by the Overground or Elizabeth Line trains.
    Therefore you can buy return rail tickets to a central London station, or to a station located by an attraction, from another station in the London area.

However before booking the 2-for-1 offers on the attraction websites, carefully check how much you will be saving by only paying one entrance fee, compared to the costs of booking two rail tickets.
If you look up the journey on the National Rail website you'll get a good idea of the train ticket costs.
It's likely you won't be able to claim a refund on the attraction tickets, if you then decide not to go ahead, because the rail tickets + the 2-for-1 offer won't save you money.
Though it's highly likely you will make a substantial overall saving.

But if you have already booked two return rail tickets and then find an attraction(s) that you want to visit, go ahead and book the 2-for-1 offer, as you'll then be certain of saving money!

Where can you go and what can you see

The full list of tourist attractions participating in the scheme can be found on the National Rail website.

Popular attractions in central London include:

Attractions in the wider London area, with easy access from local rail stations, include:

Attractions which are an easy day trip from London include:

Author

Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.

ShowMeTheJourney

This is one of more than 100 train travel guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.

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