How do you see London in ONE day!?! If you have an extended layover or short weekend in the city, this is the best way to see as much as you can (as a first timer) without feeling like you missed too much. I can personally say that we did it as a long layover between LA and Germany, and it was worth it. There is SO MUCH to do and see in London, but it being my first time I wanted to hit the main tourist attractions and be efficient about it.
Where to Stay:
We stayed in South Kensington, because it is rather central and you could easily take the tube or walk anywhere from there. But there are a lot of other nice areas in the city to check out too.
Starting the Day:
In order to see everything you should start rather early in the morning and wear comfortable walking shoes, as you will be doing a lot of walking!
To knock out a lot of tourist attractions at once, you should get on over to Westminster first!
In this area you will able to to see many famous attractions all in a very close range to each other.
Key sites to look for:
- Buckingham Palace
- London Eye
- Big Ben
- Westminster Bridge
- Palace of Westminster
- Westminster Abbey
Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown, & Oxford Street:
After spending the morning in Westminster checking out all the sites, you could then go north a little bit and spend your time shopping and eating lunch! Depending how quickly you get through the morning activities you can decide when you want to eat.
I would highly recommend lunch in Chinatown! The food is amazing, and although we had to wait a bit to get seated, it was definitely worth it in the end. We ate at a lovely Vietnamese restaurant and were in heeeeaven. You can’t go wrong – just pick whichever cuisine you are craving!
Piccadilly Circus has a great vibe, with lots of street performers, shops, and theaters. We enjoyed a bit of time here and stopped in to grab a Hard Rock pin to add to my collection!
If you love to shop til you drop, head to Oxford Street! It’s famous in London for the “unrivaled shopping experience”.
Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, & Hyde Park:
When you have a full and happy belly, and you’re looking to burn off all those carbs you just inhaled, make your way over to Hyde Park. It’s a massive park that is also adjacent to the Kensington Gardens. If you make it all the way through, you will end up at the Kensington Palace – which has been a home to members of the Royal Family since the 17th century. The park and gardens are green and quiet, perfect for strolling, which is a great way to spend the afternoon.
After having a walk in the park, find any local pub and have an afternoon beer! London has thousands of pubs and you will be sure to find one.
Notting Hill & Portobello Road:
One more activity you should add to your list (whether or not you have seen the movie Notting Hill) is hitting the Portobello Road Market. Be sure to check the hours for the best time to go that fits your schedule, but usually Saturday morning is a good bet. It is a really cute market and has some great antiques. However, I was just mainly excited to be exploring Notting Hill, the setting of one of my favorite movies ever!! You could definitely make this part of your one-day schedule by taking advantage of the tube, but it could also work by going the next morning if you are in London more than one day.
Well there you have it! How to do London in one day! It honestly is a big day and involves a lot of walking, but if you are keen to see as much as you can in a short amount of time it is definitely doable. I hope this small guide helps clarify the highlights in London and lessens any feelings of being overwhelmed while planning!
As always, thanks for reading friends!