Oh, thy London!! A city that has evolved into one of the most famous and modern megacities of the world and has yet maintained an old world charm. A charm that manages to mesmerize every visitor to return, every wanderlust to visit once and every resident to fall in love with their city, over and over again. London in its expanse and an unending variety of experiences, demands ample your time. However, if one has only one day to spare, they can refer to our special one day in London guide, to explore and experience the pulse of the capital city.
One Day In London - 10 Second Summary
We agree a day in London can be a frenzied affair, but it is completely doable if you chalk your day out well. To make things easy for you, we have planned the best way to see London in a day. This one day London itinerary has been crafted keeping in mind the opening hours, ticket lines and distance between each attractions, so you're welcome to use it just the way it is!
One Day In London - Detailed Itinerary
London is quite famous for its lush parks and St. James Park is amongst the prettiest and famous of all. Just across the Buckingham palace lies the oldest Royal Park in the city. Spread across thirty-six-hectare the park boasts beautifully manicured flower beds, paved paths, grassy open space and a lake. Home to a variety of flora and fauna, it houses over fifteen different species of waterfowl, including the swans, ducks, and pelicans. The star attraction, Pelicans were gifted to Charles II by a Russian ambassador in mid-1600’s. You’ll also spot squirrels frolicking around the park, bring some nuts to feed them. Completing the picturesque setting, the lake is adorned with a bridge, that lends you beautiful view of the surrounding stately buildings. The mesmerizingly calm beauty of St. James Park invites more than five million visitors per year and has featured as a backdrop in many movies.
Take the Mall road from the Trafalgar Square towards Buckingham Palace and experience the Admiralty Arch royalness before you reach the Royal Palace. Currently, a residence to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a flag is hoisted each time the Queen is in the Palace. Gazing at the monumental building with its magnificent facade of balconies and glass gilded windows is an indescribable experience in itself. In addition, you can also observe the infamous change of the guard ceremony, wherein the New Guard, a colorfully dressed detachment, parades towards the palace and replaces the existing, Old Guard. Accompanied by music played by a military band the ceremony takes place at 11.00 am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday and daily in the summer. Amongst the 600 rooms of the palace visitors can visit a few but only during summer from late July to September.
Note: Buckingham Palace is currently closed to the public.
After a relaxing stroll in the park, it's time to dip your toes into some historic tales. London’s most famous and oldest religious building, Westminster Abbey has seen some of UK’s most important historical events over the last thousand years. The Gothic structure has hosted over 16 royal weddings including the wedding of Kate and William’s, around 50 coronations and a host of memorial services including that of Princess Diana. Moreover, it is also the burial ground for over 3000 royals and Britain's most notable personalities like Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. Every nook and corner of this place could tell you a different chapter of Britain’s history, whether it’s the lady chapel with its magnificent ceiling or King Edward’s Throne with stories of coronation or the 900-year-old College Garden. Although the entry ticket to the abbey is on the pricier side, it is worth every penny.
Just next to Westminster Abbey stands the Westminster Palace, which also houses Great-Britain’s largest Clock. Built in 1858, the gothic-style clock tower stands 315 feet (96 m) high and is one of the most famous and most iconic symbols of London. The tower is officially named Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben is actually the name for the clock’s Hour Bell. Set beside the Thames, the Westminster Palace, which currently serves as the parliament of England, is an ornate Neo-Gothic architectural wonder. Definitely, worth a visit and more than a few pictures, the four-faced clock is another wonder in itself which has literally stood the test of time and remains one of the world’s most reliable clocks. It has managed to withstand rain, wind, snow and even during the bombing attacks of World War II, Big Ben kept chiming.
The River Thames is as iconic a part of London as the Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. It is considered to be the longest river in England! Its serene waters gently float under the Tower Bridge and in front of the glorious British Parliament building. If you're looking to observe London from a unique vantage point, opt for a Thames River Cruise. Soak in the resplendent sights along the way, including the London Eye, St. Paul's Cathedral and more. You can choose to enhance your cruise experiences by opting for a lunch or dinner as well!
Before you end your one day in London, do not skip a chance to visit the second largest cathedral in the world. The magnificent Baroque structure is designed by Sir Christopher Wren and dates from the late 17th Century. The most notable feature of St. Paul’s Cathedral is its dome, which is 111 meters high and weighs about 66,000 tons. Supported by eight arches the dome is topped with an 850-ton lantern. As awe-strikingly beautiful as it's outside the interior of the cathedral will surely take your breath away. You can also climb 560 steps to reach the top of the dome. To keep you entertained on your climb, three galleries, the Whispering Gallery, the Stone Gallery, and the Golden Gallery are placed in your path. The last one is a narrow gallery that encircles the lantern's base and lends a magnificent view of London.
The Tower of London is one of the most iconic sights in the city. It's tall, whitewashed stone walls hold many a fascinating tale about the history and civilization of Britain. It derives its name from the its focal point, an intimidating white tower located at the center; it also hosts 22 other towers as well. Dating back to almost 1078, the Tower of London was initially designed as a fortress, due to the structure of its walls and adjoining moat. While on a tour of the Tower of London, visitors can see the exquisite Crown Jewels up-close, which also includes the beautiful Koh-i-noor diamond on the Queen's Crown, and watch the Beefeater's tour.
London's Tower Bridge, one of the most famous symbols of the capital city and amongst the most recognizable bridges in the world. The Victorian Gothic style drawbridge was designed to resemble the harmony of the nearby Tower of London. While just taking a photo with the iconic bridge is a must, you can also go inside the bridge. Yes, you heard it right, inside a walkway connects the two bridge towers overlooking the city and Thames. The walkway also hosts the Tower bridge Exhibition which will take you through the history of the bridge via photos, films, and other media. You can also observe the Victorian engine room. However, the most charming of them all is the 11 meters (36 ft) long glass floors that will let you observe the traffic over the Tower Bridge and you could also witness the bridge opening and closing below your feet.
Just some distance away from the Borough Market stands the tallest building in the EU. Standing nearly twice as high as the London Eye, The Shard is a 1026 ft high structure. You can spot the tips of Shard from anywhere in the capital city and thus since its completion in 2012, the Shard has become a prominent part of the London’s skyline and tourist spots. Often referred to as the Shard of Glass, the pyramid-shaped structure of the building is embroidered with glass and makes for a breathtaking view. The Shard also boasts an observation deck on the 72nd floor, situated at a height of 245 meters it is aptly named The View. Standing by the south bank of the river Thames, The View offers an unhindered, unparallel 360-degree view of London and its most notable landmarks. On clear days you could observe up to around 40 miles.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter
Your dose of travel fix - from hacks and deals to travel tips and everything in between, delivered monthly to your inbox
One of the most famous theatres in the world, Shakespeare’s Globe is a recreation of the original Shakespeare Theatre. Rebuilt at the end of the twentieth century, just less than 200 m from the original, it more or less carries the same essence. While the Plays are only staged in the summer months, May to October, the theatre is open year round for educational purposes. The special tours include access to stands, which are divided into different areas as was the case in the original theatre. Earlier they were divided according to the social class of the spectators now it is divided as per the price of the tickets. You also get to see secret trap doors that allowed Shakespeare’s characters to appear from the top or bottom of the stage.
Though the term “circus” was derived from the Latin word meaning “circle”, one of London's most hustling-bustling spot, stays true to its uncanny name. Home to peppy mayhem created by tourists and locals alike, the Piccadilly Circus is an intersection of five main roads - Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, Piccadilly Street, Covent Street, and Haymarket. Lined with a variety of cinemas, theatres, shops, and restaurants, the Circus has become synonymous with leisure and entertainment. One of the top attractions is the corner building on the northern side, adorned by video displays and neon signs. Surrounded by some notable historic architectures such as London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre, it also hosts the Eros fountain in the center. Visiting the Piccadilly Circus first thing in the morning is a perfect way to start off your one day in London, for grabbing the city's pulse while the crowd is comparatively thinner.
Designed in 1830, Trafalgar Square has evolved as the most important and bustling squares in London. The infamous Nelson’s Column stands in the center of the square, a 145 feet marble column topped by a statue of Lord Nelson. Four Lions, built with melted bronze from the French Navy canons, guard the statue. Always bustling with activity, the Trafalgar Square hosts an array of talented street performers who are willing to showcase their talent to every visitor. At the top of Trafalgar Square is the National Gallery, a completely free to enter gallery housing works of many notable artists such as Van Gogh. For quick viewing of Gogh’s masterpieces, enter the gallery from the left and visit room 43. The Trafalgar Square is dotted with multiple cuisine based restaurants and fast food joints, feel free to enjoy a quick break here before you move ahead.
London in a Day Map
Now that you have an idea of all that you can do in London in just 24 hours, here's a map that will come handy. Our London in a Day Map has been tailored to comfort with a route that is completely doable and makes the best of your time in the city . Download the map and keep it on your phone to get around the city with zero hassles.
How To Spend One Day In London under 200 Pounds
Looking to budget your one day in London? Here's how you can do it under £200. If you're a first timer on Headout, use promocode: GOLDN to get an additional £7 off your tickets!
Book the below tickets on Headout, and spend just £200 for a terrific day of sightseeing the best in London! Hit up all the prime attractions, from the Shard to the Tower of London, all under £200. There's no better way to go about one day in London on a budget!
Tips & Hacks For Making The Best of one day in london
- Make time for a good British pub meal : However short your trip to London is, make sure you grab a good British pub meal with the fish & chips and a chilled mug of beer.
- Tube tip : Distances between stations on the London Underground tube can be misleading, especially in Central London. For example: You're better off walking from Covent Garden to Leicester Square instead of getting the tube (it takes 5 minutes max). Also, you'll miss a lot of the city's architecture if you spend too much time travelling underground.
- Free Museums: If you're a museum buff, know that top art galleries and museums including Tate Modern, National Gallery and British Museum, the Southbank Centre art complex have free entry.
- London Theatre District : While it's hard to squeeze in a Westend show with just one day in London, make sure you catch a show if you're staying in London for more than a day.
- For the shopaholics : London is a shoppers' paradise and for those watching the pennies, there's plenty of bargain options - Primark, London's vintage emporiums and so many more