London is a city that is absolutely heaving with culture. Visitors and Londoners alike are privileged to be able to check out all sorts of museum exhibitions, live concerts, immersive experiences, and absolutely world-class theatre. Culture and the arts are so important to London, in fact, that they have seeped into the streets, with countless public art installations and fixtures found throughout the city.
Without the constraints of museum walls or entrance fees, you’re free to delight in them as long and as often as you’d like – completely for free. So here’s a handy list of the 23 most dazzling pieces of public art in London for your next wander around the city.
1. Camden Lock Railway Bridge, Camden
What’s the most famous piece of public street art in London? We reckon it just might be the Camden Lock railway bridge. Marking the entrance to Camden Market, the rusty section of railway bridging was given a now-iconic makeover by artist John Bulley in the 1980s. Depicting two men perpetually touching up the vibrant signage that reads “Camden Lock”, it’s become an unmistakeable, and unmissable, Camden sight.
📍 Above the intersection of Chalk Farm Road, Camden High Street, and Castlehaven Road, NW1 8AL
🚇 Nearest stations are Camden Town and Camden Road.
2. The Meeting Place Statue, King’s Cross
Also known as The Lover’s Statue, The Meeting Place Statue is a truly iconic London statue. Housed within St. Pancras station, the 9 metre tall statue by Paul Day depicts two people clutching each other close. They have either just reunited, or are preparing to go their separate ways. The piece is ringed at the base by a variety of miniature scenes depicting life in and around the station.
📍 Euston Road, N1C 4QP.
🚇 Nearest station is King’s Cross St. Pancras.
3. The Sir John Betjeman Statue, King’s Cross
Also found at St. Pancras station, The Sir John Betjeman Statue was erected to commemorate the poet, Sir John Betjeman. In the 1960’s, amidst plans to demolish the station, Betjeman led a campaign to save St. Pancras Station and the Chambers. The demolition would have resulted in a new station, intertwining St Pancras and King’s Cross, but with very little remaining of the original buildings. It’s with large thanks to Sir John Betjeman that the station achieved Grade I listing in 1967. He is no commemorated in a work from Martin Jennings, amidst lines of his own poetry that circle the piece’s base.
📍 Euston Road, N1C 4QP.
🚇 Nearest station is King’s Cross St. Pancras.
4. Paddington Bear, Paddington
Everyone’s favourite Peruvian, marmalade-sandwich-obsessed bear, Paddington, has a delightful piece of public art depicting them in their namesake station. The bronze-cast Paddington Bear statue first landed in Paddington station in 2000 and can be found at Platform 1, where his new English family first encountered him. You can almost definitely expect a queue to get a photo with this cute fella!
📍 Paddington Station, Praed Street, W2 1HU.
🚇 Nearest station is, erm, Paddington…
5. Paddington Bear, Leicester Square
You didn’t think there was just one Paddington Bear statue in London did you? No way – our city loves that affable bear far too much for that. Fans can join the bear for a marmalade sandwich on a bench in Leicester Square. It’s a perfect perch – but I doubt you’ll be able to sit there long without being asked to move for a photo opportunity.
📍22 Leicester Square, WC2H 7LE.
🚇 Nearest station is Leicester Square.
6. Leake Street Tunnel, Lambeth
Leake Street Tunnel is a must-visit for street art fans. It’s a 300 metre long road where graffiti is not only legal, but encouraged. Anyone can add their own mark to the walls, as long as they follow the rules set down by the Leake Street Arches. But, basically, don’t do anything offensive (ie. “no sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia or transphobia, or any other form of discrimination”) and you can’t use the graffiti to advertise something. Pretty reasonable, right? Even if you’re not a graffiti artist yourself, though, it’s a public art sight well worth seeing, with incredible pieces adorning the walls. You’re likely to even see some new artwork in the making!
📍 Leake Street Arches, Leake Street, SE1 8SW.
🚇 Nearest stations are Waterloo or Lambeth North.
7. National Windrush Monument, Waterloo
A relative newcomer to the London public art scene, the National Windrush Monument was unveiled in Waterloo station just last year. The 12 foot tall monument greets visitors as they enter and exit the station, and is found just behind the station’s main entrance. Basil Watson created the piece, which depicts a family atop suitcases stuffed to bursting with all their worldly belongings.
📍 Waterloo station, Waterloo Road, SE1 8SW.
🚇 Nearest station is… well… Waterloo…
8. The Tide, Greenwich Peninsula
More than just a singular piece of public art, The Tide is a full on public art trail. With the arrival of a monumental Damien Hirst piece (the site’s sixth from Hirst), it can now also boast “the largest free and publicly accessible collection of Damien Hirst’s works in the world.” With 17 permanent artworks along its route, and plenty more temporary and rotating pieces, The Tide is a can’t-miss public art spectacle.
📍 Pier Walk, London SE10 0ES
🚇 Nearest station is North Greenwich.
9. The reflection of St. Paul’s, St Paul’s
There’s a tiny little green oasis hidden not far from St Paul’s that gives a stunning alternative viewpoint on the famed site. The Reflection Gardens underwent an overhaul in 2022, and as part of it the new, reflective surfaced, water feature was installed. It’s since enamoured every passer-by who has stumbled upon the hidden vantage point.
📍 Next to 25 Cannon Street, EC4M 5TA.
🚇 Nearest station is Mansion House.
10. Traffic Light Tree, Blackwall
Just outside Billingsgate Market you’ll find a number of drivers completely ignoring the traffic lights. Probably because there’s so many of them, and they’re all contradicting each other! Oh, and because they’re situated in the middle of a round-about and aren’t actually designed to control the traffic. The Traffic Light Tree was created by Pierre Vivant and was originally situated on a roundabout in Canary Wharf before moving to its current location.
📍 5TG, Trafalgar Way, Blackwall, London.
🚇 Nearest stations are Blackwall and Canary Wharf.
11. A Thousand Streams, London Bridge
Fancy seeing some public art in the making? A new mosaic mural is being painstakingly applied, piece by piece, outside London Bridge station. The work is expected to take as much as a year to complete, and when finished will stretch to a whopping 57-metre long. A Thousand Stream’s creator, artist Adam Nathaniel Furman, drew inspiration for the piece from London’s storied history of mosaics and the city’s vibrant community and diversity.
📍 Outside London Bridge station, EC4R 9HA.
🚇 Nearest station is London Bridge.
12. Animals in War Memorial, Hyde Park
Art’s ability to stir and affect the viewer’s emotion isn’t just for pieces in galleries, as this piece of public art demonstrates. It’s hard not to come across the Animals in War Memorial and not be moved by the piece. It commemorates and honours the animals that have been mistreated and killed in wars and conflicts between humans. David Backhouse designed the piece, which can be found outside Hyde Park near Brook Gate.
The memorial’s inscription is particularly affecting, split into two parts. The main portion reads “This monument is dedicated to all the animals that served and died alongside British and Allied forces in wars and campaigns throughout time.” Alongside it, a stark, devastating, inscription reads: “They had no choice.”
📍 Brook Gate, W1K 7QF.
🚇 Nearest station is Marble Arch
13. Minerva, Southwark
This statue, by Alan Collins, depicts the Roman goddess of wisdom and strategic warfare. While it is found quite close to Southwark Cathedral, it was actually commissioned by the National and Grindlays Bank – which ceased trading under the name shortly thereafter. Often referred to as ‘the Greek or Roman warrior’, Minerva is a striking example of London’s public art.
📍Montague Close, Southwark, SE1 9BU
🚇 Nearest station is London Bridge.
14. Kindertransport – The Arrival , Liverpool Street
Right outside Liverpool Street Station lies this sobering memorial to the Jewish children who arrived into the UK between 1938-1939, fleeing the Nazis. These children were sent by their parents who had to make the hard decision to send them to safety. Many of the children never saw their parents again. Kindertransport – The Arrival is the work of Frank Meisler, and was commissioned by World Jewish Relief and the Association of Jewish Refugees.
📍 50 Liverpool Street, EC2M 7PD.
🚇 Nearest station is Liverpool Street.
15. A Street Cat Named Bob, Islington
Arguably London’s most famous feline, A Street Cat Named Bob inspired multiple books and movies. Found, and nursed back to health by James Bowen whilst he was battling addiction and experiencing homelessness, the two helped save each other. The famed cat sadly died in an accident in 2020, but his memory lives on. A sculpture was created by Tanya Russell, and can be found in Islington Green near the Watersones where Bowen wrote his first book.
📍 8-11 Islington Green, N1 2XR.
🚇 Nearest stations are Angel and Essex Road.
16. Peter Pan, Hyde Park
Over in Hyde Park, there are a whole host of statues and pieces of public art. We could write a whole individual article just on Hyde Park’s artworks. Heck, there’s even art galleries in the park in the form of the Serpentine Gallery. But a favourite of visitors to Hyde Park is this statue, by Sir George Frampton, of the boy that never grew up, Peter Pan. The statue was commissioned by the creator of Peter Pan, JM Barrie, and is found “west of the Long Water, in the same spot as Peter lands his bird-nest boat in the story, ‘The Little White Bird’.”
📍 In Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park Street, W2 2UH.
🚇 Nearest station is Lancaster Gate.
17. Eleanor Cross, Charing Cross
In the late 1200’s, Queen Eleanor of Castile died, leaving the King (Edward I) heartbroken. He ordered the construction of twelve ornate stone crosses, to mark where her body rested in the procession to her funeral. Of those twelve, only three have survived the ensuring years. The Queen Eleanor Cross outside Charing Cross, for example, is a replica of what was at the time the grandest of the lot. The original was destroyed in 1647, during the Civil Wars. It stands tall outside Charing Cross as an everlasting tribute to love, keeping the memory of Eleanor of Castile alive.
📍 40 Strand, WC2N 5PH.
🚇 Nearest station is Charing Cross.
18. Knights Templar Column, Temple
Head to Temple Church, which was built to be the English headquarters of the Knights Templar, and you’ll come face to face with plenty of history. Over the years the church has been destroyed, bombed, restored, and rebuilt. And just outside, you’ll find a column topped by two Knights Templar riding a horse together. Created by Nicola Hicks, the Knights Templar Column is situated exactly on the spot at which the great fire of 1666 was extinguished.
📍 Outside Temple Church, Temple, EC4Y 7BB.
🚇 Nearest station is Temple.
19. Still Water, Hyde Park
No discussion of public art in London can be had without mentioning some of the more bizarre examples. Take, for instance, Nic Fiddian-Green’s Still Water, which depicts a massive disembodied horse head in the act of drinking water. Originally installed at Marble Arch, the piece was moved in 2021 to Achille’s Way, near Hyde Park Corner. It’s a truly iconic piece of London public art – but how many people know the sculpture’s real title?
📍 Achilles Way, W1K 1AB.
🚇 Nearest station is Hyde Park Corner.
20. The Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square
Rather than being one piece of public art, The Fourth Plinth is a sort of rotating art showcase. When it was first built, it was supposed to present an equestrian statue of William IV. However, insufficient funds meant that the plinth remained bare. Subsequently, recent years have seen sculptures temporarily taking up residence for a year or two at a time. These sculptures have ranged from architectural Perspex works (‘Model for a Hotel’, Thomas Schütte) to a massive ship in a bottle (‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’, Yinka Shonibare CBE), live performances (‘One & Other’, Antony Gormley), and more. Currently, it is showcasing Antelope by Samson Kambalu, an exaggerated restaging of a photograph of Baptist preacher and pan-Africanist John Chilembwe and European missionary John Chorley.
📍 Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5NJ.
🚇 Nearest station is Trafalgar Square.
21. The Women of World War II Monument, Whitehall
Found next to to the Cenotaph at the end of Downing Street, The Women of World War II monument honours the contributions and efforts of the “7 million women who contributed to the war effort”. They played hugely important roles away from the battlefield, as well as enlisting into the services in the droves. The large black memorial, by John W Mills, shows the uniforms and roles the women had donned, but were forced to hang up when the men returned from the war.
📍 Whitehall, SW1A.
🚇 Nearest stations are Charing Cross and Embankment
22. The Wild Table of Love, St. Paul’s
For a slightly more experiential piece of public art in London, head to St Paul’s where you’ll find a hectic dinner party under way. The Wild Table of Love, by duo Gillie and Marc, depicts a huge banquet table covered in plates of food, with six of the worlds most endangered animals sat around the table. Alongside them at the table are the art duo’s famed Rabbitwoman and Dogman characters. And Tto empty seats invite passers-by to join the banquet and tuck in with the rest of the animals.
📍 5 Paternoster Row, EC4M 7DX.
🚇 Nearest station is St. Paul’s.
23. Outernet, Soho
Another example of not one single piece of public art, but a public showcase of artwork, Outernet is the most immersive example on the list. Viewers are invited into a cavernous area absolutely covered in screens, across which vast artwork plays out. Previous works have included the likes of the psychedelia-drenched Heaven’s Gate. Currently, multiple shows are on offer, but the reactive Spaces In Between, which responds to the visitors, is a particular highlight.
📍 Charing Cross Rd, WC2H 8LH.
🚇 Nearest station is Tottenham Court Road.
24. ‘Click Your Heels Together Three Times’, Canary Wharf
A permanent new Pride installation has been unveiled in Canary Wharf, from LGBTQ+ artist Adam Nathaniel Furman. The kaleidoscopic piece wraps itself around the underside of Canary Wharf’s Adam’s Plaza bridge and greets visitors arriving in the area by way of the Elizabeth Line. It’s a gloriously colourful display, affirming the importance of London’s LGBTQIA+ population with a visible exhibit of love and acceptance.
📍 Adams Plaza Bridge, Canary Wharf, E14 5AR.
🚇 Nearest station is Canary Wharf.
So, there you have it, some of the best pieces of public art to check out in London. We can’t pretend this is an exhaustive list, as that would be a tremendous undertaking, but it’s a damn good place to start!