How to plan the perfect one day in London
In this one day in London itinerary, you can still make the most of the famous landmarks. How can something so small be such a big part of everyone’s lives? How can something so small have more than millions of visitors every year? It’s true what they say, “good things come in small packages”. London has everything wrapped in a tiny box for people to open.
In only 1 day, there are plenty to see if you just focus on the major attractions. If you’re on a budget, there are many free attractions you could visit too. Visit my free attractions in London for more information.
Whether it’s your first time or fifth time in London, be sure to visit my London Guide. London’s social and economic climate change every day so if there are new updates on the news or online, be sure the guide will be updated.
Can you see London in 1 day?
1 day is enough to visit all the famous landmarks if you just visit it for a brief moment. It may not be enough to visit the hidden gems, considering most attractions take 1 – 2 hours to enter, so it really depends whether the London Pass is worth it for you. Click for more details on the London Pass with an Oyster Card. The website normally tells you how much each individual attractions cost. 1 day is not a long time to visit, but It depends on how many attractions you want to pay and visit. All the major attractions get busy during the day so every website will advise to get to all the attractions early as possible. Just prioritise what you want to see and do first.
Please note that some attractions aren’t available with the London Pass (two different tickets). They are available with The London Explorer Pass which you can find out. Compare and contrast which one suits you best.
Here are some suggestions. Spend some time visiting free museums and galleries such as the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and many others included in this itinerary. Visit my Museums and Galleries guide for information on free museums and galleries.
If you visit 2 attractions, that’s roughly 2 – 3 hours of your day gone. For example, I spent 3 hours walking in the grounds of Tower of London. By the time I finished, it was already lunchtime, which you’d have to spare 1 hour for. I suggest experiencing traditional British food in any British pubs, which you can find in every corner of London. If you’re on a budget, get the £3 meal deals (a packet of potato chips, a sandwich, a 330ml of drinks, or a chocolate bar) from Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s supermarkets, which you can also find in every corner.
London is a city where people walk, and something not a lot of people are used to. After 2 hours of walking, from experience, I do get tired. There are parks around London everywhere, make sure to stop over to relax. Click for information on the 8 Royal Parks.
The attractions mentioned below are recommended time to visit and it’s for you to use as a guide.
Tips on public transport and Oyster Card
The cheapest means of public transport are buses. It costs £1.55 per tap journey on the Oyster Card, however, traffic in Central London can get busy. It may take forever to get to your destination and the buses can pack you like sardines. You may feel claustrophobic, and if you have elderly members, people will give up their seats for them, but it’s not ideal if the buses are cramped together. If you only have one day to spare, take the bus or tube. It’s so much quicker getting around. Note that traffic can slow down your journey, so taking the tube is easier and quicker. It can also be packed, especially during rush hour. Depending on what tube line you take, some can be busier than others, for example, the Central Line, the Piccadilly Line and the Victoria Line.
Tube prices are at the mid-range level between buses and trains. If you tap in your Oyster card, you’ll be spending around £2 – £5 one way or more depending on where you are. You won’t be charged for interchanging between lines, but you must touch in and out, otherwise, the Oyster Card will charge you double. Contactless Credit and Debit Cards have the same value as Oyster Cards, so you can use that as an alternative.
I get asked a lot about whether to get an Oyster Card or a Travel Card. My answer is that Oyster Cards are more cheaper and convenient. Most people don’t use Travel Cards anymore, it’s a little old fashioned now for locals, but if you get the The London Pass with an Oyster, it’s so much more convenient. Travel Cards are more convenient if you’re travelling outside London.
People don’t usually get Ubers around Central London because of traffic. When I took an Uber from Leicester Square to Victoria Station, it costed me £8.65. The journey takes 3 minutes but because of traffic it took me 10 minute to get there. Just imagine going long distance.
Avoid taxis because that can cost you double which can rise up to £15 or more, especially if you’re staying outside of Central London. Don’t forget the traffic.
If you’re travelling from other parts of the UK, coaches, buses and trains will definitely drop you off closer to the centre and you can take public transport from where they drop you off. The usual drop off point for coaches is in Victoria Coach Station, not far from the main Victoria Station itself. As for trains, London Bridge, Victoria, St. Pancras International are the main stations for travel out of London.
Transportation for Disabled and Pregnant Visitors
It’s useful to note down that there are limited access on tubes for wheelchair users. Check for a wheelchair logo on the tube map to see where there are ramps and lifts. On the buses, there is only one space for wheelchair users. A lot of people fight for that space if there are people with baby pushchairs, however, they should give up that space for wheelchair users, however, most parents with pushchairs are very understanding when it comes to wheelchair users. Disabled people are priority here. Some buses offer space for both, but that’s just been introduced, so it’s quite rare to see one catering for both. The staff at Transport for London will be happy to assist the disabled to get in and out of train and tube stations. Members of the public are also more than happy to help out should you need assistance too. There are also seats available for pregnant women on buses, trains and tubes. People would be happy to give up those seats for them too.
January to April can still be cold, so bring a thick coat, preferably a rain coat and something to keep you warm. By May, expect to feel cold for 10 minutes and warm and hot for another 10 minutes in between rain. June – August, it will get hotter with light wind from June time. You should expect a heatwave by August and September. October – November time is when the leaves will fall. You will feel a cool sunny breeze, a great fresh air moving away from Summer. December onwards will be Winter, so expect to bring thick coats, scarves and gloves.
When the season changes between May – June and September – October, it’s advisable to wear layers so that if it gets hot one minute, you can take off your sweaters. When it gets cold again in the next 10 minutes, you can put it back on again.
What to pack
London is known for walking and using public transport, so make sure you have sturdy shoes and umbrella. Yes, you may hear lots of people telling you that London is known for our rainy days. It’s true.
Bring a camera with you because if you’re using smartphones to take videos and photos, your battery can die after half a day touring the city.
Bring rucksacks/backpacks so you can take off your jacket and sweaters when the weather decides to change abruptly. You can store packed lunches in your rucksack as well, and a lot of tourists nowadays like to bring light. So a nice medium bag will do.
Don’t forget your Guide to London and your itinerary.
How to use this guide
I know it’s overwhelming to read this itinerary for a day in London, but I can’t really pick and choose attractions you want to see. You can tweak the itinerary a bit to personalise your holiday. It’s impossible to see all the attractions mentioned in 1 day, but these are the recommended attractions to see. Get a pen and paper, pick and choose which attractions you want to visit for a day. All the attractions are next to each other. If you just want to cover the West End, then I suggest skipping the Southbank, and vice versa. Alternatively, mix and match some West End attractions with the Southbank attractions as they are just a short bus and tube ride away. It’s just your time that you don’t have. I have included how long it takes to tour each attraction, and how much it is to enter.
I will make an itinerary for a self-guided tour, and an itinerary with a private tour and a London Pass in the future, and I will tell you how long each one takes. Click for 2 days in London, 3 days, 4 days, and 7 days in London. Contact me on Facebook for 5 days, and 6 days, and I can write up a rough itinerary for you.
I’m assuming you’ve just landed at the airport and have taken public transport to get to your destination? If you land in the morning, I advise on getting to your accommodation straight away, take off your shoes, relax and get acquainted with the services offered at your accommodation. Check out tour leaflets, tourist attractions for solo travellers, couples, and kids. Ask for information at the desk for recommendations on where to eat and what to do during the day near your area. I recommend finding accommodation near the 8 Royal Parks if you want to just relax after a long journey.
If you land at night, and not too tired, find an accommodation around the Southbank area for a quiet, breezy walk. If you prefer a lively atmosphere, find an accommodation near the West End area, and walk, take the tube or bus to Oxford Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus for late night shopping if you like. Shops close between 8 – 9 pm. The West End is included in the itinerary. Click on the attractions in the Table of Contents to find out more about that attraction.
TABLE OF CONTENT
St. James’ Park
Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guards
Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery
WHERE TO EAT
(near Trafalgar Square and Whitehall)
The Lord of the Moon Pub
The Silver Cross Pub
Leicester Square and Chinatown
Covent Garden and The Lion King
Shaftesbury Avenue – The Theatre District
Covering the West End
St. James’ Park
Take the tube or bus to St. James’ Park to arrive between 9 – 10 am. To get to St. James’ Park, you can take the tube to Victoria Station or Green Park Station . From Green Park Station, walk through Green Park (one of 8 royal parks of London) and head towards Canada Gate (the black and gold iron gate on the other side of the park). You will see Buckingham Palace in front of you and St. James’ Park (one of 8 royal parks of London) in front of Buckingham Palace.
Alternatively, arrive at Victoria Station, and it will just be a 10 minute walk to St. James’ Park and Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guards
At 10 – 11 am, make sure you hang around in Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guards. Buckingham Palace State Rooms take an hour or two to visit, and it only opens in summer, and you can see the times and dates for the Changing of the Guards. Horse Guard Parade is next to St. James’ Park, you can either watch The Changing of the Guards in Buckingham Palace or Horse Guard Parade. The one in Horse Guard Parade is the Horse Guard Cavalry and the one in Buckingham Palace are footguards, both protecting the Queen. Get there as early as you can since it will get busy 5 minutes before the Changing of the Guards start. If you don’t like crowds, I suggest watching the one in Horse Guard Parade. Click for my experience in The Changing of the Horse Guard Cavalry.
Watch the Changing of the Guards between 11 – 12 pm. If you don’t want to stand around and save time, feel free to leave.
Once the Changing of the Guards finishes, head over to Horse Guard Parade. Walk through the Horse Guard Parade archway and you will end in Whitehall.
Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery
To your left will be Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.
Spend no more than half an hour in Trafalgar Square. You won’t have time to visit The National Gallery since it will take a minimum of 1 hour to get the most out of it. Feel free to visit the museum for 30 minutes to an hour as an option for one of your visited attraction. Walking through the Gallery for half a day will hurt your feet so I recommend not doing that. 😊
Where to eat near Trafalgar Square
Spare 1 hour for lunch between 12 – 1 pm. There is a Tesco and Sainsbury’s supermarket here if you are on a budget.
If you want to experience traditional British food, check out two British pubs I recommend, The Lord Moon of the Mall and The Silver Cross pub. The price range for eating in pubs are usually between £6 for sharing platters to £15 for bigger meals such as fish and chips and pie. Pubs in Central London can be busy and difficult to find a table, so beware.
Leicester Square and China Town
Behind Trafalgar Square is Leicester Square (the home of film premiers). Don’t spend too much time here. Take a few photos with statues of Bugs Bunny, the characters from Singing in the Rain, Mr. Bean, Paddington Bear and the Shakespeare Memorial. People usually walk through Leicester Square and Chinatown, nothing more. There are plenty of restaurants, pubs and bars around here if you want to grab something to eat. A lot of people will recommend you to go up the 9th floor of Indigo Restaurant, but it’s not worth it. It’s better to go up the Shard or Sky Garden for an hour, however, you’d have to book a minimum of 3 days in advanced for an hour’s slot on their website.
You can spend 30 minutes to 1 hour in the M&Ms and Lego Stores. Both stores can be very busy and can get claustrophobic, but spend no more than 30 minutes in Leicester Square.
If you want to see a theatre show, there are many booths offering 50% for same day theatre tickets, so shop around between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Theatre shows last up to 2 hours.
Where to eat near Leicester Square
There are many places to eat near Leicester Square. There are many fast food establishments like McDonald’s Burger King and KFC, then there’s Chiquito’s Mexican Restaurant with a balcony, Bella Italia and Angus Steakhouse. Soho and Chinatown are just a doorstep away for more eateries.
As for Chinatown, admire the Chinese Gates next to the M&M’s Store. If you feel like having Oriental dishes, spend some time here.
Piccadilly Circus is nothing but a square to hang out in. You usually hear buskers and people eating and sitting by Shaftesbury Memorial. This is a great chance to take photos in front of the billboards. Take no more than 15 minutes in Piccadilly Circus. Piccadilly Circus lights up at night and the billboard lights reflect the vehicles below. I wouldn’t recommend going shopping in Central London if you only have 1 day to spare, but if you’re just here for shopping, below are places to visit as suggestions, or you could just go window shopping for an hour.
Regent Street is connected to Piccadilly Circus if you feel like shopping at big high street and high-end stores. Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road are connected to Regent Street. It can get dark at around 5pm – 6pm, this is when London lights up. Shops around these areas open between 8 am – 9 am and close between 8pm and 9pm everyday. Most stores open at 11 am and close at 6 pm on Sundays.
Check out the small cobbled Carnaby Street alleyway for small independent and chained stores. Liberty’s for luxurious fashion, beauty, and homeware shopping experience. You will admire the dark, intimate 15th – 17th Century Tudor architecture here.
For the kids, check out Hamley’s Toy Store. You will often see sales assistants entertaining passersby and encouraging you to enter the store. It also get busy here. They do have nice toys for souvenirs, and I usually just browse one floor for 15 to 30 minutes.
If you love electronics, check out the flagship Apple Store, which also gets busy day and night.
You won’t have time to visit all the stores mentioned above if you want to save time, but I recommend spending no more than 2 hours shopping in these areas.
From Piccadilly Circus, you can walk towards Covent Garden, (an 11-minute walk or 8 minutes by tube on the Piccadilly Line (dark blue line) and window shop at the Apple Market for hand made jewellery, fashion and art as well as the Jubilee Market for souvenirs. There are many luxurious and high street fashion stores, and quirky shops.
Check out another Apple store here for Apple gadgets. The crowd here isn’t any different to the one in Regent Street but it’s worth the visit of you decided to skip Regent Street. Check out the London Transport Museum where you’ll be immersed in the history and development of British transportation dating back to the 18th Century. London Transport Museum takes 1 hour to visit.
Restaurants, cafes and pubs in Covent Garden
There are many fast-food restaurants, British pubs, and high-end restaurants to choose from here. Fast food restaurant Shake Shack is around £12 for burger, chips and drinks. Pubs selling fish and chips and traditional British pies are around £12 – £15 such as The White Lion Pub, Nag’s Head, and The Lamb and Flag. Of course, there’s Tesco and Sainsbury’s Supermarket for your £3 meal deals.
For steaks, try Steak and Co. and Flat Iron and general European dishes. Flat Iron can get very busy so make a reservation before entering. The service is 5* and the food came out on time. We only waited 20 – 30 minutes for our food. The price range was between £10 – £15+ per person, which is standard price in restaurants around Central London. Ask for a small silver flag where you can get free ice cream.
If you’re only here to check out the Afternoon teas, there are many in Covent Garden. There are 3 places I recommend. Check out Afternoon Tea at The Savoy if you want to splash out fine dining. The Savoy Hotel is a few minute walk from Charing Cross Station and Trafalgar Square. Whittard of Chelsea, is another one in Covent Garden. The atmosphere and decor in Whittard of Chelsea is smaller, and looks more like a cafe. It feels more British than The Savoy. The presentation was okay, but the Savoy is more high class. Whittard of Chelsea is situated in the middle of Covent Garden Piazza, a 1 minute walk from Covent Garden. If you love Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, they do afternoon tea there too.
Shaftesbury Avenue – The Theatre District
At around 6 – 8pm, go back to Piccadilly Circus and head over to Soho for lively entertainment and dinner. If you plan to watch a theatre show at the end of your day, have dinner in Chinatown or Soho. There are plenty of places to eat, from cafes, budget to high end restaurants, pubs, and clubs as well as a great spot for the LGBT community. Shaftesbury Avenue, the theatre district is next to Soho if you bought tickets to see a theatre show here. Two major theatre shows Thriller, the Michael Jackson show and Les Misérables are on the same street. Harry Potter the Cursed Child is at the end of Shaftesbury Avenue, at Charing Cross Road. The British Museum is around 9 minutes walk from Harry Potter The Cursed Child.
Check Tripadvisor and Bookings.com for accommodations near your preferred attractions.
If you’re looking for cheap accommodation for £35 or under between January – May (maybe June), check Travelodge, Premier Inn, Holiday Inn, EasyHotel as well as independent inns, pubs and hostels around the area.
Premier Inn, Holiday Inn and Travelodge prices can rise during peak times between July, August, and September. I advise on staying in lodges, inns, hostels, pubs and bed and breakfast during peak times. You can find these types of accommodation for £35 or below all year round.
I would avoid accommodations in Central London if you’re on a budget. Try to find them outside Central London such as North, East, West, and South London. Most areas in North, East, and West London can be quite impoverished from the North, East and West London, but they are more accessible to nearby attractions and restaurant by tubes and buses. Click for information on safety during your visit. The North, East and West London are the most multicultural areas of London.
TABLE OF CONTENT
The Southbank area
Big Ben and Parliament
The Southbank Centre
WHERE TO EAT
(near the Southbank)
The Old Thames Inn Pub
Founder’s Arms Pub
The Anchor Pub
Coppa Club Igloo Restaurant (Instagrammable Restaurant)
The London Eye
Sea Life London Aquarium
Shrek The Experience
Shakespeare’s Globe and Theatre
Tower of London and Tower Bridge Tour
Covering the Southbank
The Southbank area
If you only have 1 day to spare, and want to spend all your time in the Southbank visiting the attractions there, then it’s recommended to use the London Pass. You’ll be spending a lot of time and money here; at least 6 – 8 hours, and around £60 – £80 for more than 6 attractions. I spent £60 for 4 tickets for 5 attractions back in 2019, but it may be cheaper now or with The London Pass. Shop around.
At night, it gets really dark, whatever the season. Other than Christmas time, walk along the Southbank area for a peaceful stroll by the River Thames. It’s recommended that you find accommodation in this area. All you could hear are the rustling of the trees and distant beeping of vehicles. You can see Tower Bridge, The Shard and Tower of London illuminate at night. The twinkling of lights from office building on top of the River Thames can be seen in the dark like fire flies and the cool breeze gives you fresh air.
The Southbank area is the place to relax and enjoy social time with your family and friends. You can spend a whole day in Southbank if you visit all the attractions around here. During the summer, there will be children splashing about in the fountains by the Southbank Centre, people eating ice cream and enjoying the cool summer breeze.
During the winter months, usually between January – March, expect to see rain and lots of it 🙂 however, when it’s not raining, enjoy the cool fresh air sweeping across your face. Enjoy the christmas markets in December and the gulp of hot mulled wine seeping down your throat into your stomach. Why not enjoy the smell of hot burger and chips while shopping for winter warmers and Christmas decorations?
If you want to go straight to the Southbank area, there are many routes you can take. You can start your walk from London Bridge and visit Borough Market for 30 minutes for breakfast or lunch if you like. Remember your Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s meal deals around London Bridge.
You can also get off at Waterloo Station and walk towards the Southbank Centre for theatre shows.
When you get off at Westminster Station (Circle and District Line), the first 2 attractions you’ll see are Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Parliament. You will often see demonstrators outside Parliament demonstrating about current affairs. There are usually police patrolling the area, but nothing to worry about.
In Westminster Abbey, opening times are between 10am – 3pm Monday to Saturday, 12:30pm – 2pm on Sundays. If you just want to visit Westminster Abbey for free, you can join their services, that way, you’ll be able to see the interior of the Abbey, otherwise, you’ll have to pay for the tour. During the tour, you will expect to see and hear 1000 years’ worth of history about the British monarchy, poets, scientists and prime ministers. Memorials and burials including William Shakespeare, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, Edward the Confessor and many more are all found here. You will be given auditory headphones and can be listened to in more than 5 languages. Spend 1 hour here and take photos of Big Ben and Parliament or the Southbank area.
Big Ben and Parliament
Big Ben’s Clock Tower is under refurbishment until late 2021. There are usually many tours you can take, from 45 minutes to 2 hours inside the Parliament. Right now, tours in The House of Parliament has been postponed due to COVID-19, but you can go on a free virtual tour to get a feel of what you’ll see and experience when you do decide to visit us. Click for the virtual tour, facts, and figures about our government.
If you love contemporary art and theatre, visit the Southbank Centre where you’ll see independent theatre productions and art. Right now, the Southbank Centre isn’t showing any theatre shows but there are virtual shows on their website. You get a feel of what Southbank Centre offers so you can plan your future trip. The Southbank Centre is always busy day and night, offering different theatre shows for different age groups, including Christmas shows every year. All I can say is that it’s a great social hangout for everyone. I haven’t had a chance to visit the Southbank Centre because of COVID, but once it’s safe to do so, I’ll write a review of the shows I watched.
Where to eat
If you want to experience traditional British food, check out three British pubs I recommend, The Old Thames Inn Pub, Founder’s Arms and The Anchor Bankside Pub. All the pubs are right next to the Thames and every one of them offer great services. Although The Anchor Bankside looks visually appealing, it’s always busy with people, it’s quite cramped inside, and the tables are always full. The food there is okay, there are better pubs that offer better quality, however, the best thing about it is the beer garden by the River Thames. When you order drinks from the bar, take it out with you to the beer garden, and socialise with your friends. It’s a better experience than eating in the pub. Remember your £3 meal deal from Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s. Remember your £3 meal deal from Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s.
Coppa Club Tower Bridge – Opening times are between 7:30am – 11pm Monday – Thursday, Friday between 7:30am – Midnight, Saturday between 9 am – Midnight, Sunday 9 am – 10:30 pm. Coppa Club Tower Bridge is also situated further down from the Southbank. Take the tube to Tower Hill (Circle and District Line – Green and Yellow Line). You will see the Tower of London, and it will be next to it. It’s also overlooking the River Thames and The Shard. Coppa Club Tower Bridge is a popular restaurant attraction, not to mention an Instagram worthy place to take photos of the igloo seating areas. Click for my dining experience at the Coppa Club Tower Bridge. You will find information about reservations and the igloo.
There is no need for introduction for The Shard. The tallest building in Europe overlooking the River Thames. I must say that the view is stunning at night. I recommend going to The Shard in the evening. Take the train or bus to London Bridge Station and it will be just in front of you. The service is also 5* and if your budget can afford it, then have lunch and dinner here. You can just have a few drinks to enjoy the view of London.
The London Eye
The London Eye is one of London’s Top 10 attractions and you may be able to get a discount when you buy 2 tickets for 3, 3 tickets for 4, or 4 tickets for 5 attraction tickets in one of the attractions’ reception around Southbank. It takes 30 minutes for the London Eye to go round, now opening times may vary during COVID, but during the summertime, The London Eye opens from 10am – 8:30pm. During the winter times, The London Eye opens from 11am – 6pm.
The London Eye opened on 31 December 1999 to mark the start of the 2000 millennium by former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Originally called the Millennium Wheel, it was only supposed to be open temporarily, but the council granted them permission to keep it permanently.
Previously called the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye is 135 metres tall so you can see a bird’s eye view of London. The London Eye has been a popular icon in films, music videos, television shows, best-selling novels, and soap operas.
Although London can be very industrial with construction and road works, it’s hard to see some of the major attractions, however, you can view some of the major ones in half an hour. The first three attractions are Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the River Thames. Not all major attractions, but you’re able to see them in Lego size view. With more than 3 million visitors going on the London Eye, it’s still the top 10 attractions to visit when coming to London. Click for my experience in the London Eye.
Sealife London Aquarium
Sealife London Aquarium takes 45 minutes and opens 7 days a week from 10am – 3:45pm. Discover marine mammals. Meet the sharks and stingrays. Join behind the scenes tour on how they care for 600 species. Explore the Amazon jungle and meet beetles, spiders, and bugs. Visit The Polar Experience and meet various penguins swimming inside the “frozen ocean”. Watch them shoot up towards the “ice sheets” at the top. Touch a live starfish with an experienced guide and get up close and personal with the sea creatures.
It’s very educational for children and adults alike. The place is also great for marine, bugs and insect lovers. The guide covers information on different types of species in different areas of the ocean, general information about nearby attractions, promotional discounts, how long to spend time in Sealife, tips, and useful information.
Shrek The Experience
Shrek The Experience is an interactive story about Shrek. It’s great for children of all ages. When I went with a friend and her children, there were children from 10 years or younger. From experience, the characters from Shrek made funny jokes to the children and it seems that they didn’t understand what it was about. There were confused faces but that didn’t stop them from having a good time. If you love a live interactive story about Shrek, the dark environment, and colourful props, then Shrek The Experience is a great attraction to see. Make sure you take pictures with Donkey at the entrance.
Tate Modern is FREE. Opening times are between 10 am – 6 pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Friday and Saturday are open between 10 am – 10 pm.
Here, you can see pieces of art and photography in all shapes and sizes, and the Millennium Bridge is right in front of Tate Modern which leads to Central London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. St. Paul’s Cathedral is just a short walk away from Southbank, and takes an hour to visit the paid attraction. Outside of Tate Modern, there’s huge parks, benches, and tall trees in the middle where people socialise and relax.
The exterior to the gallery had red bricked walls and the 99 metre chimney still in tact. The gallery had been built inside a former power station which closed down in 1981. Since then, the building had several proposals to host exhibitions and events, museums and many more but was unsuccessful until 1995. The Tate Gallery then opened to host art in all its glory. If you are interested in contemporary art, photography, 2D and 3D designs and many more, check out Tate Modern. There are events and exhibitions here too so check out their website.
Shakespeare’s The Globe and Theatre Museum
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is a chance to tour the theatre and get the chance to find out the history behind the the theatre itself. It only takes 40 minutes with a a guide along with around 10 – 20 people. Opening times are between Monday – Friday. 11.30am – 10.00pm. Saturday & Sunday. 10.30am – 10.00pm. The entrance fee for the theatre tour is £17.50 adult price, but I feel for 40 minutes, £17.50 is quite expensive. A lot of people got bored with the guide, but can be educational at the same time.
You’re able to go inside the theatre and see actors rehearse their lines and you can watch a Shakespeare show for £5.
As for the museum, it’s free of charge. You will see a mini model of the theatre and many tools and work Shakespeare produced. The museum is quite small and intimate and there weren’t many people, so don’t worry about crowds.
Tower of London and Tower Bridge
Tower of London tour lasts 2 – 3 hours including the Wardour Tour. Make sure you free your time for this if you decide to learn about 1000 years of British history.
Discover the Crown Jewels, meet the Ravens, join the Guided Yeoman Warden Tour, explore 1000 years of British history, and visit The White Tower and the areas where they beheaded the kings, queens and prisoners for hundreds of years. Located in the banks of the River Thames and founded in 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England, the Tower of London is what shapes London today. Bloody stories lie behind the walls.
The Tower had also been treated unfairly by wealthy, powerful people while inflicting harm upon the rest of London.
Founded in 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England, the Tower of London is also near major attractions. Tower Bridge, The Shard, River Thames, a few minutes’ walk to the Southbank, a few miles to London Bridge Station and Borough Market. It was also used as a prison from 1100 for the Norman Bishop Ranulf Flambard but its purpose was to serve as a Royal residence. The nearest tube station is Tower Hill. It’s the oldest Anglican church in London and still holds services to this day. After your tour at the Tower of London, why not give All Hallows by the Tower Church a visit. This isn’t a major attraction, but give it a visit for at least half an hour here.
All Hallows by the Tower Church have survived many disasters including The Great Fire of London and the German bombers during the Blitz. It can also be missed since everyone will be attracted to the Tower of London. If you’re into Roman floors, the history of Anglo Saxons and Ernest Shackleton, then this place is for you. Compared to Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London, there’s not a lot of people here, so it’s an intimate experience if you don’t like crowds. Check out the crypt museum and the many multi coloured glass crests on the stained-glass windows. It’s historical, spooky, creepy and interesting at the same time.
As for Tower Bridge, it takes 45 minutes for the tour. Opening times and hours vary. Check the website here for more details on opening times, entry price and pre booking tickets in advanced. The experience for me wasn’t what I expected though, since the queue to go up the Bridge was quite tight because the entrance is placed in the middle of the bridge. Be prepared to be squashed with 20 or more people to get into the lift. Alternatively, you can take the stairs if you’re fit enough and you’ll be able to see time lines of when the bridge was built. There aren’t many people that take the stairs, and you’ll see that the staircase is very medieval. It seems people don’t take notice of it.
Once you get to the bridge, you will see the view of London and the River Thames. It was raining when I went and the view from Tower Bridge wasn’t that spectacular. You will be able to walk on a glass floor above the River Thames if you’re brave enough to walk on top. You’ll also get a sticker to say “I did it”. To be honest, the information was more about the construction of the bridge more than the history and story of what happened in Tower Bridge, and it can get very busy, you’d have to squeeze your way through other parts of the bridge.
You are then taken to The Engine Room. Unfortunately, this is just a museum, not the actual engine room itself. The website made it sound like you’ll be visiting the actual engine room itself, but you can book to see the actual engine room through their website though it’s not a part of the tour. It’s better to walk through the Bridge rather than taking the tour. Plus, the entrance fee is super expensive for 45 minutes.
Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour
Another alternative is the Hop on Hop Off tour. For 1 day in London, you can see all the famous attractions by an open air bus, plus you get to have an audio tour guide showing you around. You can get off and on anywhere you like. I recommend the Golden Tours bus for the Hop-on Hop-Off Tour.
Between 8 – 8:30pm, see if you can spend an hour in one of London’s free attractions or hidden gems before going on the Hop On, Hop Off Tour. Some hidden gems can be found between the Hop on Hop Off stops too.
Check out my post on the 8 Royal Parks of London for suggestions (link at the top of the post).
Check out my guest post on Hidden Gems in London for suggestions.
Click for the timetables, prices, and other attractions with Golden Tours. There are 2 buses, the morning bus runs between 10am – 12pm and the evening bus running between 4pm – 5:55pm. So, depending on where you are, make sure you arrive on time at that bus stop.
Museums and Galleries
You can either visit the free museums first or last. I recommend taking no more than an hour in each museum and on your third day, spend some time in free museums. Read my free museums and galleries post and the British Museum post.
They are all proximity to each other and free of charge. These museums have many activities for children, so check out their websites for details.
For the museums, take the tube to South Kensington or Gloucester Road, both Circle and District Line, (green and yellow) and walk towards:
The Natural History Museum
Opening times are between 10am – 5:50pm being last entry at 5:30pm. Whether you’re an insect lover or a dinosaur lover, there’s bound the be areas where you can see their fossils, their history and several hours of fun and education in the Natural History Museum. Scientists, paentologists and archaeologists are still working tirelessly to dig more into the world of historical species. We look forward to find more species and animals to add to the collection. I haven’t had the chance to write a review on the Natural History Museum yet because of COVID, but once everything is safe to to do, I’ll surely write one. In the meantime, click for the Natural History Museum website.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Opening times are between 10am – 5:45pm, Fridays are between 10am – 10pm. What comes to mind when you hear the word Victoria and Albert? Yes, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the most significant members of the royal family. London has dedicated a museum under their name and it’s for you to enjoy getting lost in it. Like the British Museum, the museum hosts 5000 years of art and design created by people throughout history. I haven’t had the chance to write my experience in the V&A’s yet because of COVID but in the meantime, click for the V&A Museum website so you can plan ahead.
The Science Museum
Opening times are between 10am – 6pm every day. Whether you’re a science buff, want to become a scientist in the future or you ARE a scientist, then head over to the Science Museum. There are so many things to see and do that you have little time and day to visit everything. From visiting interactive gallery, visiting a collection of medicines from the past to the present, learning about codebreaking, silent discos and discover the science city between the 14th to the 17th Century, you’re bound to walk out with science knowledge in your head. Click for the Science Museum website.
The British Museum
The British Museum takes 27 minutes with the Piccadilly Line from The Science Museum. (Opening times are between 10am – 17:30pm Monday to Thursday, 10am – 8:30pm, 10am – 5:30pm Saturday and Sunday).
It’s advisable to visit the British Museum if you’re in the West End, preferably near Tottenham Court Road or the theatre district. Stop at Russell Square Station and it’s a 6-minute walk from there. Alternatively, stop at Tottenham Court Road Station (Red line) and walk towards Tottenham Court Road, turn right to Great Russel Street, and just walk straight up for 5 minutes.
From the British Museum, Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue is just 9 minutes’ walk for the West End theatres. Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown, Trafalgar Square, and the Soho area are also here.
The first museum that comes to mind when people come to London is the British Museum. This is the first place I think of when I want to visit museums and art galleries. The British Museum doesn’t just cover British artefacts, it covers the history of the world. Explore collections from the Americas, Africa, Europe, animals that have had a massive influence on our society, Egypt and so much more, it would be impossible to cover the whole museum in just one day. You probably have to dedicate three days in order to cover everything. Click for the British Museum website.
Where to eat
If you visit all of the museums, that will be 5 hours of your time gone, not including lunchtime. 5 hours spending time walking in all of the museums can be tiring, so choose your time wisely, or visit 1 museum, have lunch and visit one more museum.
There are also places to eat around this area and pubs for traditional British food including The Stanhope Arms, Humphrey’s Bar, The Tavern and The Hereford Arms.
The Royal Albert Hall
Once, you’ve finished visiting the museums, walk 6 minutes towards the Royal Albert Hall for great photo snaps. Feel free to watch a concert if your time and budget can afford it. It’s best to book in advanced before you arrive. Take around 20 minutes taking photos here. There are many 18th and 19th Century buildings worth admiring here too. I haven’t watched anything from the Royal Albert Hall since it’s not really my thing, so I can’t review whether it’s good or not, but they do great classical shows and many more there. Check out the TripAdvisor review and their website for more details.
Kensington Gardens, the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial and Kensington Palace
Then after, relax in Kensington Gardens, the Diana Princess Memorial fountain (during the summer, adults and children splash about and get their feet wet) Hyde Park and Kensington Palace. Kensington Palace takes an hour to visit. Kensington Palace contains Queen Elizabeth II’s and Princess Diana’s costumes but I don’t think it’s as good as Buckingham Palace State Rooms. Spend at least an hour here.
In my opinion, it’s better to see Buckingham Palace State Rooms in the summer. If you’ve seen Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace is nothing different, and £21.50 entry is quite expensive. You’ll get your money’s worth in Buckingham Palace State Rooms.
Late night shopping
For a luxury late night shopping experience, from Hyde Park Corner, you can walk through Hyde Park or take the buses 14, 74 or 414 and it will be 6 minutes to Knightsbridge. By tube, it will only be 1 stop away from Hyde Park Corner with the Piccadilly Line.
Late night shopping in Central London can be stressful because there’s so many people gathered together, from locals to tourists. People who have never been to London get excited about shopping in Oxford Street and Regent Street, but in reality it’s not glamorous. Your feet can get tired if you’re not used to walking and even if you take the tubes or buses, you’ll be squashed together with other people. Some people usually avoid tubes for this reason. There will usually be traffic on buses while sqaushed together and will take time to get to your destination.
Harrods – opens between 10am – 8pm every day, and 10am to 6pm Sundays. A lot of Brits don’t really shop in Harrods. Harrods has been commercialised a lot in the media and people usually come here for window shopping or socialising. Only the wealthy would buy something here.
Harvey Nichols – opens between 10am – 8pm Monday to Friday, 12noon – 6pm Sundays (browsing only between 11:30am – 12noon).
Alternatively, you can visit Selfridges in Marble Arch (16 minutes taking the 137 bus and 3 minutes’ walk from Marble Arch) – Opens between 10am – 9pm Monday and Tuesday, 9am – 9pm Wednesday – Saturday, 11:30am – 6pm Sunday. You can literally walk along the edges of Hyde Park to get to Marble Arch and Oxford. It’s not far if your feet can manage it.
If that’s not enough, visit Liberty’s Store. From Selfridges, take the 94 and 159, stop at Oxford Circus if walking isn’t for you. From Oxford Circus Station, you’ll see the Apple Store, it will be on the same street as the Apple Store and will be a 4-minute walk. Liberty’s open between 10am – 9pm Monday to Saturday, Sunday 11:30am – 6pm and Public Holidays between 12pm – 6pm. Otherwise, you can walk to Regent Street for 20 minutes from Oxford Street.
Soho and Carnaby Street is also behind Regent Street.
At 8am – 8:30am, stroll through Greenwich Park for a morning walk. Spend no more than 2 hours (you may have to spend more time if you want to visit all the attractions in Greenwich). This is the place you can explore if you’re here to watch a concert at the O2.
Once you’ve spent time in Greenwich Park, take the DLR from Cutty Sark and Overground to Shoreditch High Street where you can visit Brick Lane and Brick Lane Market. It takes around 39 minutes to get there. You can get the tube to Liverpool Street or Aldgate East as an alternative if you’re not coming from Greenwich.
Shoreditch is optional, and if you came on a Sunday, you can visit Shoreditch and Brick Lane Market, otherwise, every other day is closed. You won’t experience the busy environment on Monday to Saturday though, unless you like a quiet day out.
Historically, Brick Lane was a place where the poorest of the poor lived and congregated. Even Jack Ripper murdered his victims in this area, however, now, it’s a place for trendy fashion and the home of many South Asian communities.
Situated in the East End of London, you can see the multi-culture of London. Brick Lane Market opens every Sundays selling street food and drinks from around the world, and it’s also a place for several curry houses. You can usually smell the hot spices mixed with different aromas of food as you walk past, and sometimes you can feel the heat from the hot pan as you choose your dishes.
As for retro fashion, make sure you wear your best vintage outfits to fit in, or you can wear casual clothes, there’s no right or wrong way to wear fashion in Brick Lane. You’ll see a different side to London here, a sight not normally seen in Central London.
The community consists of Asian Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian heritage. Although remarkably busy, you’ll enjoy the community and you will see several Asian shops selling saris, Asian/Muslim headscarves, Asian jewellery, street food stalls, restaurants and cafes, as well as several Asian dishes.
Along with the multicultural community and retro, and vintage fashion all around you, you will see many colourful art graffiti sprayed all over brick walls and store fronts. Brick Lane is also home to street art, and you will see a large artwork of a pelican, a photo most people use for social media, and a large art work painting of a lady in orange/purple street-style outfit with her large silver necklace around her neck with sunglasses. There are many more art grafitti to choose from. Take advantage of taking several photos when you pass them. Don’t forget to give the noisy buskers your attention. They sometimes play Caribbean R&B music. Brick Lane is young, vibrant, multicultural, colourful, and artistic all rolled into one. A place not to be missed.
Along with graffiti art, here are some attractions you can take advantage of:
Brick Lane Market – opens from 10am – 5pm every Sundays. (Closed every other day).
There are 5 different markets in the Truman Markets selling bric-a-brac, fruit and veg, vintage shops, bagel bars, and many more. This is you place if you love collecting quirky products. The Backyard Market sell arts and crafts including jewellery, fashion accessories and more. The Sunday Markets, Boiler House Food Hall, Ely’s Yard Street Food and Vintage Markets include food from all over the world. On top of that, there are 200 market stalls selling vintage clothes. I haven’t had the chance to visit Brick Lane Market because of COVID, but once it’s safe to do so, I’ll write a review on it.
Grab a salt beef bagel from Brick Lane Beigel Bake (a recommendation from me). This place is always packed, and the line is usually exceedingly long – popular with tourists and locals. I usually have mine with mustard. Spend no more than 2 hours here.
If you happen to visit Madame Tussauds as part of your trip, you can give Camden Town a visit, and spend your time in this area. Walk along the Grand Union Canal, Regent’s Canal and Little Venice. You’ll feel at peace in contrast to the environment in Camden Town. You’ll see houseboats, upper-class locals living in Georgian houses, as well as modern office buildings. London Zoo and Regent’s Park are along Regent’s Canal here. Spend 1-2 hours in London Zoo if you like.
It’s a long walk walking up and down the canal but it’s worth it. You can also reach Regent’s Canal at the end and go on a boat ride. From London Zoo to Madame Tussauds, it takes 20 minutes on bus number 274. Regents Park is 13 minutes’ walk away from Camden Town if you haven’t visited yet.
Click for my experience in Camden Town and Camden Market.
Please note that you cannot just visit Sky Garden on the day, you MUST book your 1 hour spot on their website a minimum of 3 days in advance. Click here for more information on opening times, bookings and further information.
If you want to visit Sky Garden, head back to Camden Town tube station and take the Northern Line (Black Line) to Bank Station. It takes 20 minutes to get to Sky Garden. Sky Garden is around 6 minutes’ walk away from the station.
Like the Shard and the London Eye, Sky Garden is another place to see a great 360-degree view of London. The difference is, Sky Garden is similar to a large greenhouse and have many great photo spots between plants and trees, not to mention the balcony overlooking the city of London. The great thing about it is that admission is free.
Contact me for more details on Facebook where I can make an itinerary for you. We’ll work together to make your holiday a great experience. Take care and be safe!!