Are you in London for business and have one day to spare before you return to your country? You can explore and see all you can fit within 24 hours. It can be overwhelming to decide which places to visit and what activities to partake in as London is busy and big.
Then, this guide is perfect for you. Spending a single day in London can be an exciting yet daunting experience. But with this ultimate itinerary, you can ensure that your trip will be filled with sightseeing fun, tasty treats, and unforgettable memories.
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1. Visit Buckingham Palace
The first stop on your tour is Buckingham Palace. Located in the City of Westminster, it is the official residence of The Queen and has been around since 1703 when King George I moved his court here from Kensington Palace. Walking through its gates means taking a step back into history and experiencing breathtaking architecture from Neo-classical styles to Baroque designs.
This Palace is massive as it boasts more than 775 rooms, with the staff bedrooms amounting to 188, as they are needed to maintain the Palace and serve the Royal Family. And if you visit during the Summer, when the state rooms are open, you’ll get to feast your eyes on the throne. Remember to take some photos while there.
2. Take a Stroll at St James Park
After visiting Buckingham Palace, head to St James’s Park, which was once part of Henry VIII’s hunting grounds. This picturesque park offers activities like bird watching or picnicking among lush greens and romantic lake views. You can also go for strolls around its pathways if time permits; either way, it’ll give you a chance to relax after all that sightseeing.
3. Take Pictures at Trafalgar Square
Once done with the park, move on towards Trafalgar Square, where Nelson Monument stands beside four large lion sculptures; perfect backdrops for your photos. As the British National Gallery sits just across the street, you can visit after your photography session and acquaint yourself with some of the world’s most famous works of art.
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4. Visit the Somerset House
The Somerset House is a converted cultural and arts hub. At Somerset House, you can indulge in art exhibitions, listen to music or watch movies at the outdoor cinema.
If you are a skating fan, you can rent some skates and get your blood pumped on the ice rink. And since London is famous for their afternoon teas, you can look for popular places for afternoon tea in London.
5. National Gallery
The National Gallery is one of London’s esteemed attractions as it houses over 2,300 paintings, from works by Titian and Da Vinci to Botticelli. The gallery is divided into different sections according to artists and period, perfect for those who like their educational visits.
6. National Portrait Gallery
Afterward, why not head on over to the National Portrait Gallery? This place displays collections from various eras; you will see portraits from Tudor times or artwork dedicated to Beatlemania, among others. Visiting here means getting a glimpse of British history through painting, sculpture, and other mediums. It’s something that should be included in any London itinerary.
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8. Westminster Abbey
When done at the galleries, take a walk towards Westminster Abbey, an iconic landmark since 1045 when Edward the Confessor ordered its construction on Thorney Island (now known as Victoria Street). Nowadays, it functions primarily as a working church yet remains open for public visits during certain hours. Make sure to take advantage of this gorgeous architectural beauty.
Most of the Royal weddings are held in this church. The same goes for all coronations and the majority of state funerals. The grounds at Westminster Abbey also double as the burial site of the UK’s key and historical figures, such as Charles Dickens, William Wilberforce, and Stephen Hawking. You’ll also find a select corner dedicated to famous poets, as you’ll find a few renowned novelists buried there.
9. Tower of London
Would it be a trip to London without visiting the Tower of London? Therefore, when you are done with the House of Parliament, make your way toward the Tower of London. Another iconic landmark is said to have been built by William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England. This castle has functioned as a prison and royal residence throughout its history. Many famous figures like Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth I lived here at one time.
Nowadays, it is open to visitors who want a glimpse into Britain’s past while also seeing magnificent architectural pieces such as Executioner’s Block. For a more guided tour while here, buy a self-guided headset that allows you to roam freely at your own pace.
10. Take a Walk Along the Tower Bridge
After visiting the Tower of London, move on toward one city’s most recognizable landmarks, Tower Bridge. Built over the River Thames in the late 1800s, this bridge presents a unique opportunity to take a picturesque stroll across two massive Gothic towers and enjoy views on both sides of the river, including St Paul’s Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral.
The bridge is made of glass floor, allowing you to marvel at the world’s wonders as you watch riverboats and cruise ships pass beneath your feet.
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11. Take a Ride at the London Eye
Once you finish your walk along Tower Bridge, head southeast and stop off at the London Eye. It is one of the largest Ferris wheels in the world, located along the banks of the Thames River near Big Ben Houses of Parliament.
The height of the London Eye gives a clear view of the city; on a clear day, you can see Windsor Castle, which is 25 miles away. And since the whole rotates slowly, taking approximately 25 minutes, you’ll get your fill of the city’s panoramic views. You’ll have to be patient as there is usually a long line.
12. Visit the Convent Garden
It’s probably afternoon by now, and you must be hungry and thirsty. So head southeast words to the Convent Garden, which was founded around 1670.
Covent Garden was once frequented by London’s elite and even played host to diarists like Samuel Pepys. However, these days it is a vibrant shopping and dining district with over 140 restaurants, bars, and cafes.
An afternoon spent here can yield great finds and enjoyable experiences. After your meal, you can roam some more.
13. Watch a Show at the National Theatre
After all the day’s activities, it’s time to go for relaxed activities. You can end the day by watching a show at the National Theatre. Established in 1963, this theater has showcased various performances from classics like Shakespeare’s Hamlet to contemporary plays like War Horse or His Dark Materials. They also showcase musicals, so whichever tickles your fancy.
And if you’re lucky enough, you may be able to catch one of their discounted previews which means less waiting for tickets too.
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14. Shop at the Harrods
Since shopping during the day as you explore would be tiresome, You can do some last-minute shopping at Harrods. It’s the most famous department store worldwide and the largest in Europe, with more than 330 stores and 23 restaurants.
This makes it the perfect place to shop for souvenirs to take home with you after your trip. This luxury department store is known for its high-end products and designer labels – the perfect present for someone special or just a treat to yourself!
15. Dine and Drink at Soho
After your shopping spree, go back to the hotel, refresh, and head back out. You must end your trip with a bang, which calls for dinner and drinks in London’s Soho district. After all that sightseeing during the day, your feet deserve some rest so take advantage of the many choices available such as Indian or Italian cuisine, whatever tickles your fancy.
Once done with your meals, head next door to any one of its pubs and sample ales while chatting away with locals who love nothing more than talking about life and football.
16. Parking Tips For a One-Day Trip in London
If you are just traveling to London for one day, you don’t need a huge suitcase; if you are driving in, You’ll need a place to park your vehicle. So, do your research on the options available, that way, you have an idea of where to best park your car safely without worrying about extra fees or surprises.
Generally speaking, public garages are the safest bet but also the most expensive option. Alternatively, streetside curbs can come in handy depending on road conditions and parking spot availability. Confirm the rules and regulations before leaving your car to avoid receiving hefty fines later.
Also, wear comfortable shoes, pack some snacks, sunglasses during Summer, and a water bottle.
Note: Most of these places need an entrance fee, and to save time, it’s best to purchase the tickets online on their respective websites.
London is a bustling city filled with history and culture, making it the perfect destination for those looking to escape their everyday life and explore a new place. From iconic landmarks, must-see attractions, delicious treats, and never-ending nightlife, there is something for everyone. Use the tips above to make your one day in London memorable.