Thanks to author Michael Bond, quite a few of the tourists who pass through Paddington each year are drawn to the area because of their connection to one small bear who made his way here from Peru once upon a time. We are, of course, referring to Paddington Bear who took his name from the station in which the Brown Family discovered him.
Although there are several accolades to Paddington Bear around the area, there are also many other attractions which are well worth exploring if you happen to be visiting.
Paddington is located in West London, nestled between Notting Hill and the West End and has a lot to offer from great restaurants to shopping malls, good transport links to the rest of the UK and around London and lots to keep everyone in your travelling party happy and occupied. If you needed any more convincing, then here are our top 8 reasons to explore Paddington: -
We may as well start with the most famous resident of the area; Paddington Bear. This loveable character is one which many of us are familiar with and if you are in Paddington then make time to visit the Station and see the bronze Paddington statue which has been placed under the clock on Platform One; the exact place where Paddington first met the Brown family. Inside the station there is also a Paddington Bear shop and four additional Paddington figures which were installed following the successful Pawprint trail, which saw a number of Paddington statues being placed all around the city. There are many great restaurants near Paddington Station so you could head out for something to eat once you have wandered around and taken in these Bear related sights.
Paddington Basin and Merchant Square
Merchant Square is a fairly new addition to Paddington but is a wonderful option if you want to take in a little bit of everything whilst you are in the area. During the summer months, there is a water maze which has fountains operating on a timer; perfect for families looking to entertain their children. There are also a number of shops, restaurants and cafes dotted around as well as giant outdoor games including jenga and connect 4, paddle boarding which takes place in the canal and the Rolling Bridge which is a real must-see. The RollingBridge is so called because 6 days of the week it is rolled up and looks like nothing more than another art installation but at midday each Friday, it opens up becoming a bridge across the water.
Just a short walk from Paddington is the very picturesque and tranquil waterside area of Little Venice, one of the hidden gems of the city formed where the GrandUnionCanal meets Regent’s Canal. This area is full of quaint waterside pubs, restaurants, and bars which all make the ideal place to spend a couple of hours soaking up the atmosphere. It is also possible to hire a barge to cruise up the canal if this takes your fancy or just enjoy a canal side walk; you can follow routes up to Regent’s Park and the ZSL London Zoo or Camden Town with its diverse market scene.
The Unknown Soldier
Slightly further down from the Paddington Bear statue on Platform one of Paddington Station is The Unknown Soldier. The Unknown Soldier is a memorial to the staff of the Great Western Railway who lost their lives during the First World War. This World War One soldier can be seen reading a letter and on the hundredth anniversary of the war, in 2014, members of the public were invited to pause for a moment and write ‘that’ letter during a nationwide project known as ‘Letter to an unknown soldier’. It is possible to visit the project’s website and read all the letters, over 21,000, which were sent to the Unknown Soldier.
Alexander Fleming’s Laboratory
Just 15 minutes’ walk from the Park Grand Paddington Court London Hotel, located within St Mary’s Hospital, is Alexander Fleming’s Laboratory, the exact place where he discovered penicillin in 1928. The laboratory has recently been reconstructed to look like it did at the time of Fleming, complete with bacteriological equipment and an exhibition showcasing the story of who Alexander Fleming was and the impact his discovery had on modern medicine and healthcare. Visitors to the hospital may also be interested to know that this is also the place where many royal births have occurred, including most recently, the births of Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
Puppet Theatre Barge
If you have an interest in alternative theatre, then the Puppet Theatre Barge may interest you. This converted barge is used to raise the profile of marionette style performances and creates productions for both children and adult throughout the year. The Barge has been in operation for over 30 years and each summer it becomes a floating theatre, making a tour of the River Thames. It is quite an intimate venue, seating only 55 but if you are interested in progressive and innovative theatre then we would highly recommend seeing what is showing whilst you are in London.
Norfolk Square Gardens
If Regent’s Park seems a little too far to walk and you just want a quiet space to enjoy a bite to eat, or some respite from your explorations then head to NorfolkSquareGardens instead. The Gardens are a traditional rectangular London square which consist of central lawns, flowers beds and tree lined pathways. It was created as a space where office workers, residents and visitors could all take the opportunity to sit and relax, just a short distance from the bustling Paddington Station.
Following the canal towpath from Paddington will also lead you to Sheldon Square, a grassy amphitheatre which is also home to an outdoor ping pong area and a large screen which is used over the summer for open air shows.