1 Day in London Itinerary: What to See & Do

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There is something about the energy in London that I fall in love with every time! With some of the richest history and largest cultural offerings, there is no shortage of sites to explore. 

From the bright and exciting Piccadilly Circus to the Queen’s Crown Jewels, it may seem impossible to decide what to do for just one day in London.

But no worries – I’m here to help. After many trips and plenty of layovers in this famous city, I’ve compiled the perfect itinerary for one day. 

Morning

Breakfast at Borough Market 

Start your day off with some breakfast at Borough Market. Borough Market is a foodie lover’s paradise. It’s a giant market with stalls ranging from produce to baked goods and everything in between. 

In addition to normal goods found in grocery markets, vendors prepare fresh foods across every type of international cuisine. Whether you’re in the mood for a croissant, pad thai, or tacos, you’re bound to find it at Borough Market. 

London Bridge

Next up, head to London Bridge, just a 2-minute walk from Borough Market. While London Bridge is not nearly as aesthetic as the Tower Bridge that you will head to later, it has centuries’ worth of rich, and often gruesome history. 

London Bridge has existed for nearly 2000 years with the first construction beginning by the Romans in 43 AD. 

Visiting with a history buff? The London Bridge Experience offers an interactive reenactment of 2000 years of history set in the vaults of the bridge. 

Tower of London

The famous Tower of London is a short 10-minute walk away from the London Bridge. Founded in 1066, the Tower of London holds centuries’ worth of history and conquest. Grab an audio guide, explore the castle and grounds, and finish with a trip to the famous crown jewels. 

The Tower can be explored as quickly or as slowly as desired. The medieval aesthetic also provides some fantastic photo ops. This is also a great spot to take a picture with the Tower Bridge in the background, where you’ll be heading next!

Tower Bridge

You’ll find the Tower Bridge 5 minutes from the Tower of London. It’s a must-see attraction on any trip to London. 

For an even more iconic panoramic view, you can climb 138 feet up to the top of the tower. 

The Tower Bridge offers plenty of tours to choose from. Opting for the tour gives you the chance to visit glass floors, Victorian engine rooms, and exhibits highlighting the history. 

Afternoon

Uber Boat to Greenwich

After a morning filled with exploring the history of London, it’s time to pick up the Uber Boat at the Tower Pier and take a 25-minute boat journey to Greenwich.

Uber Boat gives you a chance to view London in a whole new way atop of the Thames River. Greenwich is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in London and is worth some quick exploration. 

The town also has plenty to do! Visit sites like Royal Observatory Greenwich or the Cutty Sark, the world’s oldest tea clipper. 

The IFS Cloud Cable Cars can be picked up in Greenwich for a unique bird’s eye view of London. Greenwich is also home to The National Maritime Museum, The Queen’s House, Old Royal Naval College, and Greenwich Park. 

Fish & Chips at a Pub in Greenwich

After all that exploration, you’re probably ready for another bite to eat. 

London is home to a record number of pubs, over 3000! It’s much different from the tapas bars in my hometown of Barcelona. Stop by one in Greenwich for a pint and the local staple, fish and chips. I recommend the Gipsy Moth and the Coach and Horses. 

Buckingham Palace 

Now it’s time to hop on the tube and head back towards central London for a visit to Buckingham Palace. Perhaps one of the most famous points of interest, Buckingham Palace is a residence of the royal family and administrative headquarters for the monarch. Tours are offered and last around 1.5 hours. However, many people opt to just stop by and admire the castle from the outside. 

Hyde Park 

Hyde Park is a 350-acre park, one of the most well-known in London. Conveniently, it’s a short walk from Buckingham Palace. Your stroll through the park is sure to be beautiful and quite relaxing – a reprieve from the hustle and bustle nearby. 

Hyde Park is also home to Speakers Corner, The Princess Diana of Wales Memorial Fountain, and Serpentine Lake. 

Evening

Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square 

Piccadilly Circus is to London as Times Square is to New York. Located in the heart of London, this is the perfect place to begin the evening of your whirlwind 24 hours. 

Piccadilly is a busy area in Westminster filled with bright signs and neon lights. Leicester Square is a popular spot here, housing the famous William Shakespeare Statue. 

From there, head to Trafalgar Square, one of the most important public squares in London. Trafalgar Square commemorates a naval battle between the British with Spain and France.

Lastly, the square is home to the National Gallery, one of the most renowned in the world. If your visit is in December, check out the giant Christmas Tree that Norway gives the UK each year. 

Dinner in Covent Garden

Next, make your way to Covent Garden, an entertainment hub filled with shopping and fine dining. Covent Garden is the perfect spot to spend the evening. 

You’ll find an abundance of boutique shops, street performers, and top-rated restaurants. Plan to have dinner nearby – the options are endless! 

Catch a West-End Show

After dinner and exploration in Covent Garden, plan to take advantage of London’s vibrant theater and performing arts scene. With one of the most renowned theater scenes in the world, plan to catch a play, musical, or live performance. 

Nightcap in a Pub

Finish your epic and busy day with a nightcap at a nearby pub. Pub culture is incredibly popular in the UK and pubs are always a great spot to meet friendly locals and other travelers. Share stories over a pint and relish in all the exploration you’ve done in London today!

Best Time to Visit

There are always plenty of reasons to visit London in any season. Even though the weather can be hit or miss at any point of the year, the city is filled to the brim with activities – indoor or outdoor. Summer in London is my personal favorite. 

Summer is filled with sun, festivals, and fun events throughout the city. It’s the perfect time to visit and take advantage of rooftop bars, picnics in the park, and exploration through centuries of history. 

Wimbledon Tennis draws in thousands each July, transforming London into a sports haven with plenty of event activities to boot. Notting Hill Carnival, one of the largest street festivals in Europe, takes over the streets in August. 

Summer weather in London is by far the best. Not only is it the warmest time of year, but also tends to bring the least amount of rain. What could be better? If you’re planning a trip in the colder and rainier months, I’d suggest veering off to Barcelona or the Canary Islands instead!

Where to Stay in London

London is massive, like truly massive. While that can make planning feel a bit overwhelming, there are plenty of fantastic options across the city. 

Covent Garden is located near the west end and is a vibrant area with a lively atmosphere, busy markets, live performers, and cultural points of interest. You’ll have easy access to theaters like The Royal Opera House and Covent Garden Market. There are also plenty of trendy restaurants and shopping nearby.

Kensington is the perfect blend of luxury and London charm. You’ll be near world-class museums like the Natural History Museum. This is a great entry point for Hyde Park, perhaps the most famous and lively park in London. Oh, and did I mention, Kensington Palace?! You’ll certainly be in good company in Kensington. 

Stay in Shoreditch if you’re hipster, creative, or just like staying in trendy parts of cities. Shoreditch is the ideal place to see street art, shop vintage shops, and enjoy quirky cafes. There is plenty of vibrant nightlife nearby and picturesque streets to get lost in. 

Notting Hill is filled with pastel-colored houses, beautiful streets, and some serious bohemian vibes. Filled with eclectic shops, boutiques, and antique markets, this is the perfect neighborhood for exploration. Oh, and it’s downright beautiful! 

Getting Around

The underground, or the tube, will be your best friend. London is massive, but the city is incredibly well-connected. Head to the nearest underground and get an oyster card, a reloadable card for journeys on the tube, buses, trams, and rail. 

There are plenty of taxis available, but I often find public transportation to be quicker than dealing with London traffic. It’s always incredibly easy and affordable. 

FAQs

How many days in London? 

You could enjoy 24 hours in London or 24 months, it all depends on the amount of time and flexibility you have. I’d say no less than 3 days, given how big the city is and how much there is to see and do. 

How much money do I need for # days in London?

London can be pricey. If you’re traveling on a budget, you should plan for $80-$150 per day, assuming inexpensive food options and budget hostel accommodations. If you’re more of a mid-range traveler, plan for closer to $200-$300/day, depending on your hotel choice. 

Conclusion/Final Thoughts: 1 Day in London Itinerary

There you have it, a comprehensive list on how to spend 24 hours in London. London is one of the most magical cities in the world, and no matter how many times I’ve been, I’m always looking forward to my next return. 

This itinerary gives you the highlights on how to get the most out of your 24 hours in London. It includes some of the most famous historical sites in the world like the Tower of London and London Bridge. It gives some modern fun, like enjoying an Uber boat ride to see much of the city from the water. 

There is no right or wrong way to spend 24 hours in London, but I’m confident this itinerary will give you an epic whirlwind of a trip. Happy traveling!

Rachel is a Barcelona expat and digital nomad. After a decade of traveling around Europe, America, and beyond, she decided to set down some roots. Now, she’s helping people experience the best of the cities she loves most through her blogs, Barcelona Uncovered and Oahu Travel Secrets.