One Day in London | Travel Guide
Only have a few hours to explore London? So much to see but not enough time? Don’t fear! I came up with a route to see some of the most iconic attractions in London. London is one of those iconic locations almost everyone knows about and wants to visit. As one of the most visited cities in the world, London offers something everyone. From it’s beautiful history and well-known attractions, to its modern fast-paced lifestyles and foods from a fusion of cultures – London has it all!
One of the things I love about being recently graduated and unemployed is that I get to travel. I have traveled around the world, but I don’t remember ever being to London and don’t feel like a true Brit until I did! After twenty-or-so years, I finally found myself with the opportunity to visit the tourist sights. In six hours.
This is the route I chose to take in order to see as many of the most famous (and mostly free) attractions as I could in the little time that I had.
Start: Westminster Underground Station
I started my exploration of London in the underground, making my way to Westminster Station. The tube is one of the best ways to get around because it is quick, easy to navigate and relatively cheap. I bought a Day Rider Travelcard for £12.10, which allowed me to go on as many trains, buses and trams within Zone 1-4, which was prefect! I had only ever gone by tube a couple of other times in my life, but it was all very simple (especially if you download the tube-map-apps onto your phone).
Big Ben, London Eye and Westminster Abbey
Coming out of the station, I was first greeted by the notorious Big Ben. This famous tower houses a giant bell (it’s namesake) and holds the second largest four-faced chiming clock in the world. Also surrounding the tower is the House of Parliament, which was once used as a royal palace but now by the British government.
Fun Fact: Even after a bomb during the Second World War, the clock has not stopped ticking.
To the side, is Westminster Bridge crossing over the River Thames winding its way through London. From here, I had a lovely view of the Big Ben and of the London Eye, a giant Ferris Wheel which can provide amazing views of the city from it’s glass capsules. While in the area, take a quick stroll around the gothic 700-year old Westminster Abbey, while saying a quick hello the statues of some of the most notable individuals in the Parliament Square, such as Winston Churchill. It is also possible to go on a sightseeing cruise from Westminster Pier!
Downing Street and Horse Guards
I walked along Whitehall trying to get a glimpse of No. 10 Downing Street, home to the British Prime Minister, then on to the Horse Guards and Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. I was lucky enough to get there on the hour to see the changing of the immaculate guards who have stood guard since 1660. Watching the precise movements of the guards and their horses was very striking, and I was glad to get it on camera!
St Jame’s Park and Buckingham Palace
Needing a bit of a break from the city, I ambled into St Jame’s Park - a beautiful piece of calm amidst the hubbub of London. I took a short walk around the pond towards Buckingham Palace trying to avoid pecking geese while stopping to admire the wonderful assortment of exotic birds, including pelicans!
I managed to navigate my way to Buckingham Palace just in time to see the Changing of the Guard at 11:30am. Make sure you check up on this because timings may change depending on the time of year, and I recommend you get there a little earlier to get a good spot. Buckingham Palace is not one to miss! It is still a working building, being the venue for great Royal ceremonies, State Visits and Investitures.
Now, if there is still time, there are a number of things to do. I walked down to London’s famous meeting space, Trafalgar Square with the monument of Napoleon overlooking St Martin-in-the-Fields, Admiralty Arch, and the National Gallery. There are also many street performers to see, such as a floating Yoda, clowns and a man spewing fire while on top of a mishmash of objects. From here, it is possible to continue on to the bustling Piccadilly Circus and London’s exciting theatre and entertainment district, or to hop onto the tube and head to one of London’s famous museums.
If you are a Harry Potter fan like I am, you would follow me on the tube to Kings Cross Station with half an hour to spare to take a picture at Platform 9 ¾ and pop into the adjoining shop for some much-needed souvenirs, before getting on a train back home (or just back to the hotel)!
If you aren’t comfortable going solo or want some more information, go on a sightseeing tour! There are many different companies dotted around and many guides standing outside Westminster Station (look for the guy with the blue umbrella).
Not convinced? See what I saw during my 6 hour exploration of London in my travel vlog!
If you are in London for longer there are 101 more things that you can squeeze in! Are you going to be going to London soon? Have you been before and know of better places to go? I would love to know!