The one day trip is the biggest fear of travel lovers. A lovely destination with so many sights to visit and so little time. But don’t worry, if you’re just passing, you can still make the most of your time in London for only one day.
The best way to make use of your day is to have a good plan for what you want to see. London is a big city, and walking can be exhausting, so you should choose your priority sights in advance. Since you won’t be visiting museums, as museum trips are quite time-consuming, you can spend your day outside circling the most popular landmarks and attractions.
You can choose between having a long walk around London’s central part, or hire a bike to save some time. You take the tube as well in case you feel tired, but you risk to miss a lot of impressive architecture. Hop on hop off couches for those who like to observe the city from above is also a good option.
See the best historical tourist spots in London for your one day travel to the city. We selected for you the shortest route, which includes London’s most famous parks, monuments, and buildings. Then you can hop on one of London minicabs to catch your flight home.
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Address: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB
You can choose Tower of London for your starting point. If you’re using the tube your nearest station is London Bridge, so you’ll have to go back a little. To save precious time you can take a cab or book a minicab. London Tower is a spectacular historical site on the north bank of the river filled with centuries of royal history. You can enter the fortress to see the display of the Crown Jewels and coins exhibition.
On your way to Tower of London, you will pass through Tower Bridge – an extraordinary manifestation of gothic architecture and master engineering. It is one the must-see spots in London with its picturesque view of the river. Tower Bridge also offers a display, but if you decide to miss you will still see one of the notorious landmarks of London.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Address: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
On your way to the amazing cathedral, you can choose to walk down on Lower Thames Street to enjoy the river view a little longer, then turn to Cannon Street. It is 30 minutes walking route, which will give you the chance to see the column of the Monument of the Great Fire of London.
Reaching St. Paul’s Cathedral you will be impressed by the 111 m. high religious building. It is one of the highest historical points in London and with its delicate baroque exterior design will stop your breath. Don’t hesitate to enter the cathedral and see the fine decorated interior. You can also climb to the top to observe the cityscape from above. On your way to the cathedral’s dome, you will pass through the Whispering and the Stone Gallery. The highest – Gold Gallery will reveal magnificent panoramic view.
Address: The Market Building, London WC2E 8RF
It’s similar to crime to miss Covent Garden, while you’re in London. Walking west from St. Paul’s Cathedral you have another 30 minutes walking. On your way can see the Royal Courts of Justice- amazing historical site, which will charm you with its remarkable Victorian exterior. The Royal Opera House and the Temple Church are close on the way.
Covent Garden is a large area, but you can concentrate on Covent Garden Square and the market. You can stop for a brunch or coffee in one of the cosy restaurants and cafes’ inside the market. This is also one of best places for shopping in London, crowded and full of energy.
If you prefer more cultural experience, you can jump to the London Transport Museum or London Film Museum, which are in 5 minutes walk from the market place.
Tip: If you intend to visit exhibitions and museums remember to book your ticket online in advance. The summer is a busy season with a lot of tourists. Skip the long queues and save money on the ticket by reserving your visit prior your arrival.
Address: Leicester Square, London WC2H
Leicester Square is the famous square in the heart of London named after its designer Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester. Today it is busy spot full of tourist and bursting with life at the evening. It is surrounded by theatres, bars and restaurants. Once there be sure to check out the Shakespeare Monument- a beautiful statue of Shakespeare. If you feel thirsty and looking a drink, visit the famous pub The Moon Under Water.
National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery
Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
In another 5 minutes, you will reach the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery beside it. You can choose between walking inside to explore the fine art collections and temporary exhibitions or just walk around the classical building. The National Gallery’s architectural design and the structure were the subjects of arguments even before it was finished. However, today it is one of the greatest examples of classical design, inspired by the Greek and Roman antiquity.
Very close to the National Gallery is the St. Martin-in-the-Fields Gregorian church, which you can visit as well walking by.
Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, UK
The best view towards the gallery building is, of course, Trafalgar Square – the most famous square in London. It is a crowded place, perfect for taking pictures, resting or just relaxing under the sound of music. Trafalgar Square often hosts open-air concerts and music events. The square itself is surrounded by other landmarks and statues of important royal figures, kings, and admirals. Once you’re there, you can see Admiral Nelson’s Column, rising from the centre of the square.
Have a Break
Don’t push yourself too much, no matter how enthusiastic you are about seeing everything. Remember, that the best trip comes with good memories. Stop for a delicious snack or tasty pastry at the Portrait Restaurant. Or if you prefer more unconventional atmosphere walk into the crypt of the St. Martin-in-the-Fields café.
St. James’s Palace and Green Park
Address: Marlborough Rd, St. James’s, London SW1A 1BS, UK
St. James’s Palace was once an important Royal building in the times of the Tudors and kept its importance until the beginning of the 19th century. Today the palace is closed to the public, but it is still one of the greatest Royal landmarks in London, worth to be seen.
Going south on your route you can enter the beautiful Green Park, which is very close the palace. Green Park is the smallest of all Royal parks, but there is still a lot to see. You can have a walk around the Canada Gate and Memorial or enjoy the flower gardens during the spring and summer months.
Learn more interesting facts and stories about Free London sights.
Address: Westminster, London SW1A 1AA, UK
Once you leave Green Park, your route leads you straight to the most notable Royal residence in London – the Buckingham Palace. The Buckingham Palace is always crowded and is one of the most visited points of interest in London. Again, if you want, you can enter and visit the exhibition rooms to see some spectacular Royal interiors.
The Buckingham Palace can be visited only in the summer and autumn months from July to October. The State Rooms are open to the public along with the Gardens and the Queen’s Gallery.
If you want to evidence Changing the Guards, you should be in front of the Palace at 11:00 o’clock regardless of the day.
St. James’s Park
Address: London SW1A 2BJ, UK
Hosted between the green fields of the two parks, the Buckingham Palace is next to St. James’s Park on its right side. St. James’s Park is one the most beautiful nature spots in the very heart of London. It will surprise you with calming views from the notorious Blue Bridge. Within the borders of the park, you can walk around many monuments and statues, such as the Queen Victoria Memorial and the tall statue of the Duke of York.
The park offers many luring routes, and since you won’t have the time to walk it from border to border, you can pass the lake from its right side, see the Duck Island and head to the Westminster Abbey in the south.
Address: 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK
The Westminster Abbey, once a monastery, later a formal burial space in Gothic style is today world’s famous church. The Abbey itself is a magical place with a delicate Gothic interior and excellent decoration. It is open daily until 15:30 o’clock, where you can visit the Cloister, Lady Chapel, and the Poets’ Corner.
For the last-minute arrivals, the Abbey offers late guided tour every Wednesday, ending with a dinner at the stylish Cellarium Café & Terrace. You can join the tour from 16:30 until the last entry at 18:00.
Address: Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, UK
In only 5 minutes walking and just around the corner you will find the enormous building of the Westminster Palace, more widely known as the Parliament House. If you reach the Palace in the early evening, you might not be able to visit it inside, but you will witness of one the most romantic views – The Parliament House at sunset. Burning in vivid colours the Parliament House will transfer you in another time, like in the famous picture on Claude Monet.
The Parliament is open for visits in the weekdays from July to September until 17:30 with a booked tour and in the Saturdays until the end of November. You can walk around the popular points of interest in the Parliament and see Westminster Hall, the Royal Gallery and the Prince and Lords rooms.
The Big Ben
Address: Westminster, London SW1A 0AA, UK
Big Ben – the famous clock is just at the other end of the Westminster Palace, and it is part of the guided tour. Its modern name is Elizabeth Tower, honouring Queen Elizabeth, and it’s 96 meters high. At the current time, the Bell tower is closed to visitors, due to refurbishments taking place until 2020. But don’t lose your good mood, you don’t need to book a ticket if only want to see it and enjoy its immense presence.
Big Ben will remain the most visited and crowded place in London, so if you’re looking for the best photographic shot, you should walk a little bit more to the Westminster Bridge.
Address: Lambeth, London SE1 7PB
Finally to finish one long and an undoubtedly emotional day you should, and we mean really should, get a ride on the London Eye. Soothe your mind with the easing view of London at dusk from 135 height. From the highest point, you can enjoy a panoramic view reaching 40 kilometres in 360 degrees.
The London Eye can gather up to 800 people for one ride, but we highly advise you to book a ticket earlier.
Make sure you don’t miss anything important to you and your trip. Read our article about the 7 Places to visit in London.