In recent years, the British rail industry has been subject to strikes and delays across the board. Whatever your opinion on this matter is, one thing is for sure, you’re sure to be spending more time knocking about train stations. With a lack of charging points for your laptop and electronic devices and often dodgy WIFI, it can be difficult to find things to do when left for an hour or so which doesn’t include drinking copious amounts of train station coffee or buying an overpriced and underwhelming paperback from your nearest station shop. The best advice is to find out what there is to do in the area around the station you find yourself in. Whether you’re travelling abroad or from another part of England, you’ll find that many of the major rail stations are very central; and therefore have a wealth of surrounding entertainment and cultural activities where you’ll find it easy to whittle away that hour or two before your train is due to depart.
Whether you’re travelling to Kings Lynn, Edinburgh or Paris, Kings Cross and Kings Cross St Pancras is one of the busiest stations in London, attracting over 30,000 customers a day. No doubt that this magnitude of travellers will cause delays in service and choc-o-block station. In Kings Cross, the home to the iconic platform 9 ¾ from the Harry Potter franchise you can find the Harry Potter shop, a great place to peruse for gifts for family members who are a fan of the franchise. On top of this there are also beautiful canal walks and boat rides you can take around the area outside Kings Cross. As well as this, there are fair few bars dotted around the area including Be at One and the Simmons Bar. If you have a few hours to kill before that late night train, why not check out Scala, one of London’s leading music venues where you can see the best of contemporary international music acts and night time DJ events.
Liverpool Street Station
With trains running all across England, Liverpool Street Station in the east of London has over 63,000 users every day. Liverpool Street is very close to Shoreditch, Old Street and one of the biggest financial districts of the city. With this urban build up, you can find a plethora of shopping experiences within a twenty minute radius, including Brick Lane and the Whitechapel Gallery.
Not just the stop off point for the titular Paddington Bear, Paddington station hosts a range of different activities in the area. Merchant Square promises a range of market food stalls and cafes as well as a water fountain maze for those warmer days. Check out the Structural Steel Award and Emerging Architecture Award winning Rolling Bridge. With its ingenious architecture and originally constructed at Littlehampton Welding in Sussex, the Rolling Bridge originally arrived at Paddington Station by canal back on its opening in 2004. The Paddington fan Bridge is also a noteworthy addition to the area around the station. Created by the specialist Knight Architect’s group, this structure is 20 metres in diameter and spanning 5 beams which rise at 80 degree angles. Whilst you can also take the Paddington trail, there are several great eateries around the area including the Summerhouse. The Summerhouse is located in the Union Canal and is a great spot for eating frtesh seafood, salads and fish and chips by the water. If you have a bit more time before your train then enjoy the relaxing lounge area where you can feast on popcorn shrimp and fresh Pimms cocktails.
Waterloo station is arguably the busiest train station in England with a staggering 99,000 people passing through every day. If you find yourself with a lot of time and milling around the Waterloo area then take a stroll down to the South Bank where you can find some of the best sites in London. From the grand view of the River Thames to the stunning architecture of the National Theatre and the British Film Institute. You can check out the exhibitions always on display for free in the South Bank Centre as well as the iconic London Eye where you can see some of the best views of London from up high. There is also a vast range of restaurants in the area to feast from. Walking away from the Soiuth Bank you can also find the BFI IMAX cinema, where films some fo the best blockbuster films are shown on a huge scale and sometimes in 3D. Walking the other way from Waterloo station you can find bars, shops, eateries and two of London’s best Theatres. The irony is you may get so distracted that you might miss your next train!