If you are working temporarily in the UK, for instance as an Au Pair, language student or intern, we highly recommend to spend one day in London – one of the most amazing cities in the world! One Intern, who is in London for 6 month, was so kind to write this post about what you can do if you have just one day in London. Thank you for your tips!
How to spend one day in London?
London is huge, so it’s hard to decide where you want to go if you only have 24 hours, or even less. There’s no right or wrong way in how to spend your time here, but maybe this blog entry can help you with your planning.
Here is my ideal itinerary for everyone who might has never been to London before and wants to spend their day with a full-packed sightseeing tour.
Power Sightseeing in less than 24 hours
An easy and an affordable way to travel within the UK is by National Express Coaches. The connections and timetables are flexible and super easy to book. In London, there are several coach stops but the best connected and probably the most central station is Victoria.
This itinerary can be done just by walking and believe me you will be surprised how close London’s top attractions are located to each other. I have created this sightseeing tour by myself for my family and friends who came to London for their first time and wanted to see as much as possible in a short amount of time.
Does it mean I need to start Sightseeing at 5 am in the morning?
Don’t worry: Just because you want to see a lot of London’s attraction doesn’t mean you have to give up your beloved hours of sleep. You can start your day at 10.00 AM at Green Park station and enjoy your morning coffee during a walk-through Green Park.
Once you have arrived at Buckingham Palace you can observe the daily ceremony of Changing of the Queen’s Guard. Normally the ceremony starts every day at 11:00 hours and lasts for about 45 minutes.
Before you plan your visit, you can recheck the times on their official website to make sure you arrive at the right time and plan your visit at a day where the ceremony is also accompanied by music.
Once you have been part of the royal ceremony you can continue your day with a stroll through St. James’s Park which leads you right in front of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
You can take yourself some time to check out Westminster Abbey, which is right next to the Houses of Parliament and get your own typical London picture taken in an original red phone booth with Big Ben in the background.
Off to the more busy places around Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus
Next, you walk down street to Embankment station and walk past the London Eye on the other side of the river Thames.
On your way to Trafalgar Square you can walk through Victoria Embankment Gardens which is right next to Embankment station and London’s for theatre known borough West End.
You just have to walk straight ahead and follow the signs and you will reach Trafalgar square within 10-15 minutes walking distance. At Trafalgar Square, you can take a lovely little break at one of London’s best hidden gems Café in the Crypt.
After you had some time to recover you can continue your walking tour to Piccadilly Circus. You can either take a minute to enjoy some of the street artists or you can directly continue to walk down the street to Leicester Square.
On your way, you will pass famous stores like Bubba Gump, M&M’s World, the Lego store, etc. You will also have the chance to take a quick look at Chinatown which is just one side street away.
When you walk along the same street if will lead you to your next stop which is Covent Garden, where you can do some shopping or just look around at one of London’s many little street markets the Jubilee market.
Afterwards you can stroll through the tiny shopping avenues of Seven Dials and make a decision.
Continue Sightseeing or shall I start Shopping now?
Do you want to continue the Sightseeing or do you want to take a break and head to Oxford circus where you can start a shopping tour along Oxford and Regent’s street?
The closest tube station from Seven Dials would be Leicester Square where you can take the Central Line Westbound to Oxford Circus (only one stop!). If you don’t want to spend all your hard-earned money on shopping, you can make your way to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
You can either walk the whole way (one long but beautiful street) and pass attractions like the Somerset House and the Royals Courts of Justice or you can just take the bus or the tube (closest tube stations are Tottenham Court, Leicester Square, Holborn and Covent Garden).
Take a look at St. Paul’s Cathedral – even if you normally don’t visit churches
If you have some time and spare change I can recommend you to also take a look at the insight of St. Paul’s.
Even if you are not into cathedrals and churches you will be impressed by its architecture and when you walk up the stairs to the viewing platform I can promise you, you will have the most beautiful view of London you can get.
Before it’s almost time to head home again you can walk down to the river Thames. Cross the Millennium Bridge and be impressed by the amazing view of Tower Bridge. While you are crossing the Millennium bridge, don’t forget to also look down at the floor every once in a while, to not miss out on some amazing gum art.
On your way to the Tower Bridge you will pass Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, the beautiful Vinepolis Piazza and Borough market. You can enjoy the sunset over London while walking along the Tower Bridge.
Starting to get hungry?
When you pass the Tower of London and you are slowly starting to hear your empty stomach grumble you can take a stop at St. Katherine’s Dock, which is located right next to the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
It’s a beautiful little place where you have a lot of delicious dinner choices for a small budget.
My favourite restaurants there are Zizzi’s, Strada and the Slug & Lettuce, where you will definitely be able to find something that satisfies even your taste cells.
Once you were able to gain some energy again you can either enjoy your evening at a pub in one of London’s busiest boroughs Shoreditch or make your way back to a train station that takes you back home.
If you have booked a coach from Victoria station you can walk to Tower Hill station and take the Circle line eastbound to Victoria station.
If you want to not only spend a day but also a night in London I can recommend you to check out the following venues in Shoreditch:
- Queens of Hoxton
- The Hoxton
- The Crown and the Shuttle
- The old Shoreditch station
- The Red Lion
How to get around if my feet don’t want to walk no longer?
If it’s your first stay in London it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the size of the city and to get lost.
In case you don’t know where you are anymore, your feet are hurting or you just need a break from walking, you can always find the nearest transport options on a very helpful app that is called Citymappers.
For your public transport ticket, you can either get a normal Travelcard for Zones 1-6 which costs GBP 12.30 per day and is valid for tube, bus and train for the whole day or you can either use your bank card if it is a contactless one or get yourself an Oyster, top up some credit and pay as you go. Depending on the Zones you are crossing your daily spend on Oyster will be capped to the amount of a Travelcard.
I hope you enjoy your day in London – one of the most amazing cities in the world!