London is one of the biggest cosmopolitan cities in the world. There are loads of things to do in London and you can easily spend many days exploring the city and its outskirts. But what if you find yourself in London only for one day? Maybe you have an extra day on your work trip or you stopped over here while travelling? Well don’t you worry because my London in one day itinerary will help you explore the city’s gems, especially if you’re travelling here for the first time.
So let’s begin!
If you want to explore London in one day, you got to start the day early and leave your hotel by 9am after breakfast. London is very well connected by the tube and it is the best way to get around the city. Walking and riding the tube should cover the length and breadth of the city in addition to giving you the feel of being a Londoner.
1. First stop – Piccadilly Circus station
Take the tube to Piccadilly Circus station. You will reach the one of the most posh parts of the city, near the Buckingham Palace. If you’ve ever played Monopoly – maybe you will recognize some of the street names – Regent Street, Whitehall and Bond street to name a few.
Make your way to St. James’s Park with a short 10 min walk. This is a beautiful park right in the middle of the city with blossoming flowers and amazing greenery all around. It is a great way to start you day and enjoy the fresh air here.
2. The Buckingham Palace
Next up – make your way to Buckingham Palace which is another 10 min walk away. You can plan to reach the palace at around 10:45am to catch the famous change of guards ceremony. The ceremony lasts for around 45 minutes and you can see the members of the Queen’s guard marching in the traditional red uniforms and big black military caps (bearskins).
The Buckingham palace itself is quite a beautiful structure in itself and you can marvel at its beauty from the outside or even take a tour if you have the time. Unfortunately due to COVID, we were not able to take the tour but hopefully you visit during cheerer times.
3. Trafalgar Square
Next you can walk across St. James’s Park again to reach Trafalgar Square. This is another iconic destination and well known as a popular crow-feeding destination with hundred of crows flocking to this place. We have all seen this place in movie scenes and videos on the internet. But when I reached this place I saw a lot of signs to ‘not feed’ the birds which was something that I was not expecting.
This place was filled with tourists and street performers trying to make a living. We saw some very interesting performance pieces and took in the sights. Near Trafalgar Square – you will find a series of restaurants and pubs where you can have your lunch.
4. Westminster Abbey
Post lunch, make you way to Westminster Abbey through Parliament Street. You will also be passing by 10 Downing Street – the headquarters of the Prime Minister of the UK.
Westminster Abbey is a royal church in the city-centre that is fully functional and offers daily services. The Gothic architecture of the church really stands out and offers a great backdrop for some great pictures.
5. The Big Ben
The next stop – Big Ben. The iconic clock tower does not need any introduction and is one of the most iconic locations in London. It is a stone’s throw away from Westminster Abbey and is a must-visit for any tourist visiting London. Unfortunately there were some renovations going on the Big Ben when we visited but I am sure to visit again.
6. The London Eye
After the Big Ben, cross the Westminster bridge to go to the London Eye. Previously known as the Millenium Wheel, it was changed to London Eye in 2011. It is an observation wheel that offers panoramic views of the city going up to 40km on a clear day. One revolution takes approximately 30 minutes and costs 25-30 pounds (depending on when you book it). I would recommend pre-booking your tickets to avoid high costs and lines. Unfortunately, we went during the COVID scare and did not want to risk exposure by standing close to others within a capsule.
7. Tower Bridge
For your next stop, hop on to the tube from Embankment station and take the distict/circle line to Tower Hill station. From there you can visit the Tower Bridge and Tower of London. Walking across the Tower Bridge is such an amazing experience. The wind blowing through your hair, great views of the Thames and looking at the beautiful structure of the bridge are really enjoyable. You can choose to go to the top of the bridge as well for a small price to take in the views of the city.
After all that walking and running around to catch the tube, if you have the time or energy, you can also plan to visit the following iconic places in the city :
- Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
- Hyde Park
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Palace of Westminster
- The British Museum
8. Close the day at a local Pub
I really recommend visiting one of the traditional British Pubs for a pint and dinner. You can chat with the locals about the latest football game or about the city. It will really give you the feeling of being a Londoner for a day. I visited was the Wenlock Arms pub near my hotel. The pub had a great collection of IPAs and ales and the ambience of the places really gives the old London vibes. It was a great way to close out the day.
That’s it. That is my itinerary for exploring London in one day. There are surely many other things that you can do in London but these are absolutely the must-visits and would definitely recommend these when short on time.
Let me how about your London experiences in the comments below.
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50 thoughts on “Exploring London In One Day | Simple Itinerary For First Time Visitors”
I love that you’ve included iconic spots that are accessible via the Tube! It’s so convenient for getting around with only a day in the city.
This was so lovely to read! 🙂 I’m from the UK originally, and this made me miss home!
Great day itinerary! I’ve been twice so far (not for very long though) and there’s still a whole lot more I’d like to explore!
I have been to London a few times and it is such a walkable city that you really can see a lot in a single day! Thanks for the recommendations – these are good picks!
My feet are tired after this one day in London – but loved every minute of it.
I love this itinerary! Perfect advice to fill a day in London.
This brings back such great memories of when we visited London almost 2 years ago! We unfortunately ran out of time before we made it to Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben was under construction so we didn’t get to hear it. But we loved London so much and you’ve compiled some really great things to do in a day!
This is perfect! I think we will have only one day in London and this will be my reference guide, Thank you for putting this together! – Linzey @thefamilyfuntour
i haven’t been to london before but this makes me really motivated to know that so many big names can be covered in a day!