Are you short on time and looking for the best things to see in London in 1 day? You have taken on a mighty big challenge my friend for there are so many things to do in London. Yet, nothing is impossible and I’m going to help you make the best of your 24 hours. Follow this guide to maximize your time…and wallet!
To see it all doesn’t require throwing tons of money down for convenience. This guide will take you around London on foot with minimal tube use. Trust me when I tell you, just by walking around you will have already experienced more of this marvelous city than someone who chose to take the Tube the entire time.
With that said, if it’s your first time in London and you have a short amount of time to see as much as possible, throw on your comfy shoes and hit the pavement. We are walking this city today; catching all the must-see sights in the most efficient order.
Is One Day Enough in London?
One day in any city is never enough, but that’s not to say you can’t cover some ground.
Is Buying An Oyster Card Necessary?
As I mentioned, walking the city is my preferred method, however, I don’t disagree that London is a huge city and there will be times you will need to take the underground. The cheapest (and preferred) way would be to preload 10 GBP to your oyster card – using it to buy rides only when needed.
That will be plenty for 1 day in London.
Should you feel so inclined to learn more about the Oyster Card read this. Again, if you don’t mind walking, I think the best way to discover a city is to get lost on foot with a dash of public transportation. You never know what treasures may catch your attention along the way. A missed opportunity if you opt to take the metro everywhere. This post will guide you around London separating by things to do in popular boroughs like Westminster and Southwark.
So let’s get to it!
Prior to beginning your trip, you need to book your one night stay at a conveniently located hotel, hostel, Airbnb, whatever the kids are calling it these days.
Best Hotels in London City Center
If you’re looking for a budget hostel or hotel in London then read this post first. If you’re looking for an Airbnb click here for $40 off your first visit. As much as I would like to recommend Airbnb’s for you, I have never stayed in one while in London. Leave a comment at the end of this post if you have any recommendations!
If it’s the life of luxury you want, check out these fabulous hotels:
Best Things to See in London in 1 Day
Start your adventure in the Camden borough for breakfast at none other than Camden Market.
Camden Market and Stables Market are inner-connected though both offer completely different atmospheres. Grab some breakfast and a few souvenirs before heading off.
Next, head to Kings Cross Station for a magical encounter.
Wait your turn in the line to get your picture in front of Platform 9 ¾. Then buy the photo for 8 euros because they will be so cute. Peruse around the Harry Potter shop and try to resist buying everything like I had to.
Next make your way towards the biggest borough on this list, Westminster. As you make your way towards Westminster you will pass through the Marble Arch, which marks the beginning of famous shopping streets: Oxford & Regent Street.
Shopping up and down Oxford Street will take a day by itself for you’re a serious shopper. At the very least, you must sweep through. After all, it is the most popular shopping district in London. The same can be said about the nearby Regent Street.
As you walk towards Buckingham Palace you will pass through a part of Hyde Park. Counts as a visit in my book! If you time it right you can catch the Changing of the Guards. Even if you don’t, Buckingham Palace is a beautiful place to see on its own, or at the very least, to capture your necessary proof that you were in London.
Changing of the Guards officially starts at 11:00 am according to changing-guard.com. Depending on your travel dates, check to confirm official times.
Also in Westminster, you have the House of Parliament, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey where William and Kate got married. Lucky for you, all three are in one square. If you want to see a gorgeous minster, I highly recommend you also spend a day or two in York, England.
Not far from here is a special bridge that you have probably seen a thousand times.
It’s where you will undoubtedly capture your IG moment with Big Ben in the background.
You’ll see what I mean when you get there.
In the not so far distance, you will be greeted by the London Eye. Though still part of the Westminster Borough, it’s more properly known as Southbank. I have ridden many observation wheels and still believe the London Eye is the best. For one, they give you a map so while you’re up there gazing at all the buildings you know what you’re actually looking at. Tickets run around 23 GBP for a standard pass. Click here to purchase tickets.
Conveniently located next to the London Eye is one of the best parks in all of London, Jubilee Gardens. Perfect opportunity for a quick relax!
City of London:
As soon as you cross Millennium Bridge walk straight up to St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is by far the sweetest smelling walk. Along this path are street vendors selling those candied almonds. Yumm!
Tower of London: Make sure to get there with at least 2 hours to spare. The Tower of Jewels is a must see. For everything you need to know, read this Tower of London Guide. After the Tower of London, you will see the Tower Bridge. The most famous one in all of London. Not to be confused with London Bridge. That’s in Arizona. Stop to take some photos then walk across the bridge (also taking more photos) to the other side all the way to Tower Bridge Station.
Make a right after the bridge and take the underground (Tower Bridge Station) to St. John’s Wood Station. Abbey Road crossing is just a short walk away. Depending on the time of you, I’m sure you will be able to see crowds heading that way. Just follow them. Don’t be surprised when you find this rather disappointing.
Rumor has it that it is not actually the real Abbey Road as seen on the Beatles album. Others argue they just say that to deter people from crowing in a quiet residential area. I will leave it up to you to decide the truth
Next, feast yourself at the oh so delicious Borough Market then walk it off towards the Globe Theater. I love the waterfront location of the theater. If you have time, I seriously encourage you to grab tickets to a show. Following the Globe Theater, I got nothing except an applause because you will have seen so many things just from one day in London.