London is one of the world’s most popular cities, filled with a wealth of attractions. Indeed, you could easily spend a year in the capital without running out of things to see and do. But what if you’re visiting just for a day? In this guide, we’ll advise on what to prioritise, helping you fit in as much sightseeing and culture as possible in 24 hours. Though you might not be able to do everything in a day, you can certainly catch the highlights and enjoy a great trip before heading home.
Most of London’s top attractions are within walking distance of each other and South Kensington is the perfect place to start your day. Starting here means you can spend your morning at some of the city’s most famous museums, including the Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum. Entry to these is free, so it’s worth popping in to one or two.
Afterwards, you can head to Knightsbridge and visit famous London store Harrods, which will be easier to navigate in the morning when less busy. From here, Westminster is just a short walk away.
Buckingham Palace and St James’s Park are worth dedicating some time to, both conveniently located in the heart of the city and close to other major sights. From here you can head on foot to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, capturing those all-important tourist shots along the way. Westminster Abbey is lovely to behold and just next door, so you must make sure you see that too.
Anyone’s first trip to London should include a trip to the city’s most famous bridge. If you’re happy to continue walking, the best place to head from Westminster is down to the South Bank, where you can take in views of the city and the London Eye as you walk down the Thames. There’s a buzzing atmosphere here with stalls, restaurants and a nice little book market to explore. As you head to Tower Bridge, you might want to head into the Tate Modern or get closer to The Globe Theatre.
It’s easy to get to Borough Market from Tower Bridge, where you can experience one of the largest and oldest food markets in London. While taking in the colourful cacophony of the food on offer here, you might want to grab some lunch. There’s a variety of tasty street food available in this bustling market, so there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy.
You’re probably tired of all that walking, so now is a good time to catch a bus or hop on the tube to your next destination, which is Trafalgar Square. If you opt to go via bus, you can see some more famous landmarks as you travel including St Paul’s Cathedral, Fleet Street and The Strand.
Once you arrive, take in the famous stone lions and the centrepiece of Nelson’s Column. From here, make sure you visit Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden for renowned sights and an exciting atmosphere that really sparks to life in the evening.
A West End theatre show should be high on your list, whether you choose to book in advance for a specific show or purchase tickets on the night. Shows usually start at 7:30pm, so you’ll want to visit a restaurant with a pre-theatre menu before you take your seats. For the best pre-theatre dinner in London, visit M Restaurants on Victoria Street. It’s a great choice for restaurants near the Apollo Victoria Theatre, so if you’re seeing Wicked this one’s for you. View our pre-theatre menu or book a table at https://mrestaurants.co.uk/victoria/reservations/
After the show, you might be tired enough from exploring to simply get on the tube and head to bed. If you’re feeling up to experiencing some of London’s nightlife, however, you can stay in Theatreland and head into some of Soho’s pubs and clubs. Enjoy a drink and dance the night away, ending your flying trip to London on a high.