The Best One Day London Itinerary

Do you only have one day to visit London and don’t know where to start? Perhaps this is your first visit to London. Well, the choices can be overwhelming with a legendary list of “must-see” locations. London is one of the most visited cities in the world for a reason. Consider the best one day London itinerary and be sure that you get the most out of your one-day visit to London!

Westminster Bridge/South Bank walk

What better way to start your day in London than with one of the most iconic sites of this historic city. Start on the south bank (across the Thames from Big Ben) and take a short stroll up and down the Queens Walk that borders the river.

For the best views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, you can focus on the section of the walk that is directly across the river from the buildings. You can also go further north up to the Eye of London as well. The walkway goes quite some distance so you can follow it as far as you want. But then you’ll have to make your way back to the bridge.

The Queens Walk is great for a view of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, but the bridge is excellent as well. To the south, you get the views of the Houses of Parliament including Big Ben, and to the north, you get a great view of the Thames River and the Eye of London. Ideally, you’ll get to experience both sides of the bridge. Either way, it’s a scenic walk across the bridge that you’ll enjoy.

Big Ben/Houses of Parliament

Once across the bridge you can easily make your way to the Houses of Parliament and get a close up look at the most famous clock in the world. The sheer size is impressive, but so is the elaborate Gothic architecture that was used to create the famous buildings.

Most people are content with viewing the outside of the structure, but tours of the Houses of Parliament are available. If you’re only in London for a day you may not want to spend 90 minutes on a tour, but that depends on your interest level. Even if you just want to see the outside, there is plenty to see as once you cross the bridge you can follow the buildings down a bit and get very close at some points.

Westminster Abbey

This cathedral is a massive work of art and has to be seen to be believed. Like the Houses of Parliament, tours are available, but with this being such a popular tourist spot you may have to settle for observing the structure from the outside. The lines can be long to get inside. It’s nice to walk the grounds and you can get an idea of the artistry that went into constructing this cathedral just from walking around it. Be sure to make it all of the way around see front of the building.

Buckingham Palace

If you time it right, you can get here to see the famous changing of the guard. This usually takes place between 10:45 am and 11:00 am. But you’ll want to check their official website for the schedule for the Changing of the Guard to be certain.

The Changing of the Guard is quite the spectacle and very popular, so if you want a good spot, you’ll probably have to arrive quite a bit earlier than the official start time of the ceremony.

Even if you don’t get to see the Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace is worth the visit all its own. There are tours for the Palace but it is a limited schedule. Usually from July to September, but the dates vary by year so it’s always best to check the current schedule for Buckingham Palace and then make your plans.

Without a tour, Buckingham Palace is still a fantastic stop. The palace is grand and the surrounding area is elegant. The centerpiece of the area in front of the palace is the spectacular Queen Victoria Memorial statue. Made of marble and gilt bronze the statue is quite the addition to the royal space.

This is also a great spot to take a quick walk down the Mall. If you go a bit down the Mall you’ll get a great photo of the Memorial in the foreground with the Palace looming in the background. Of course, there’s an amazing view down the Mall from the foot of the statue as well.

The entire space is great to take some time and enjoy, wander around and take some photos.

Tower of London

This ancient fortress is one of the most fun things to explore in all of London. There is no shortage of history and things to discover within its old walls. Perhaps the highlight of visiting the Tower of London is being able to see the Crown Jewels. They’re located in the Jewel House. All you have to do is stand in the line for the Jewel House to take your turn to get a look at them.

The only downside is that there are no photos allowed inside the Jewel House. The jewels are encased in the middle of moving walkways on either side, but once you’re inside you can go back and view them as many times as you want. And you’ll want to view them up close at least a couple of times. They’re just that majestic.

The White Tower is another spot that you’ll want to spend some time in. This area houses the armory along with displays of armor and weapons that have been used by England through the centuries. The building is pretty amazing to walk through on its own.

The Tower of London is a complex that is a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces and has a variety of things to see and experience. This is another spot with great views of the city. There is something so shocking about taking photos within the walls of this old structure with the gleaming walls of London’s modern skyscrapers peering in the background.

Tower Bridge

As you exit the Tower of London, Tower Bridge is very close by. You can simply follow the walkway along the river to steps just alongside the bridge and make your way up the most famous bridge in London. You can walk the bridge across the river with views on either side of its banks. This is another spot to take your time and enjoy the area.

For a more in-depth experience, you can purchase tickets to go to the top of the Tower Bridge. There is a glass walkway and an even better view of London from the top of the bridge.

Chinatown

Once you cross the bridge you’ll have to walk a bit of a distance to get to the London Bridge Underground Station and head to the Piccadilly Circus Station. You can take either the Bakerloo or the Piccadilly line (check with Google Maps) for the easiest way to get there. Coming from the Piccadilly Circus Station you get the chance to enter Chinatown through the Wardour Street gate. This area is an excellent place to stop for something to eat. One of the great things about London is the diversity. One of the results is that the food is varied and amazing, including the selection of Asian foods.

Even if you aren’t getting something to eat here, it’s a lively little corner of London that’s fun to walk through.

Just outside of Chinatown and closer to Covent Garden is a spectacular noodle bar that is quite popular. And it has earned its reputation. Lanzhou Lamian Noodle Bar is a place to stop for some great food.

Piccadilly Circus

Frequently billed as London’s Times Square, Piccadilly Circus is a great spot to visit for the scene. While not quite Times Square in scope and spectacle, this famous roundabout is a great place to people watch and take in the sights and sounds of London. The best time to visit is of course at night, so after you’ve had your fill at dinner, take a nice walk through Leicester Square and down Coventry Street. If you time it right, you’ll get there after dark to watch the square come alive in lights.

Piccadilly Circus is the perfect spot to end your day in London.

Your One Day Visit To London

This is just enough to give you an idea of what this wonderful city has to offer. Hopefully you’ll get the chance to return for an extended visit and see more of the city.

Author

  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog, smilesonarrival.com, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

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The Best One Day London Itinerary
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