The Ultimate Guide to the Best Day Trip In London

Home > Destinations > Europe > The Ultimate Guide to the Best Day Trip In London

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Day Trip In London

So you have one day in London – perhaps you have a stopover on a longer Europe tour or one free day after a business trip. Is it worth it to even try to explore the many riches of this cosmopolitan capital? In a word, yes. But you’ll have some prioritizing and planning to do. Understand that you won’t see it all, but don’t skip this chance to at least scratch the surface. You can always come back for more! Here are our tips for getting the most out of a London day trip.
shutterstock 1934119196navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
1. Grab the Essentials
OK, you’re going to be walking – a lot! – as you try to check off some of London’s top highlights in one day. So, wear comfortable shoes. Bring along an umbrella – you don’t have time for rain to hinder your ability to walk around the city. There are public toilets aplenty, so bring along some small change. Perhaps most importantly, get a pass for the Tube (you can order online ahead of time). You’ll mainly be sticking to Zone 1 if you have just one day in London. If you’re including the London Eye, also purchase those tickets in advance. (For ease, you might consider a London sightseeing pass that includes admission to various attractions.) Finally, snacks and a reusable water bottle to keep you energized. Now, where to go with your one (very full) day? Read on …
shutterstock 362072633navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
2. Start with the Tower of London
The Tower of London opens an hour earlier than most London attractions, so get a jump on your day by starting here. You’ll spend 1.5 to 2 hours here, visiting the tower, the executive block and the crown jewels. At once a fortress, a royal palace and an infamous prison, London’s iconic castle and World Heritage Site is as impressive as you’d expect. Meet the Yeomen Warders, who will share captivating history tales, and the resident ravens. View the Bloody Tower, the battlements and the magnificent armor displays in the White Tower. (Again, this might be a place to pre-purchase a tour – we suggest the entrance ticket that includes the crown jewels and Beefeaters). From here, take a quick walk across the Thames on the Tower Bridge, with its 200-foot-tall towers, on your way to your next destination …
shutterstock 366175394navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
3. The South Bank and London Eye
Having crossed the Thames, you’ll be on the South Bank. Walk west along the river to pass the HMS Belfast military museum and London’s City Hall. Wander past the recreated Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Shard and the Tate Modern Art Gallery (all of which you should definitely return and visit someday). You’ll come to the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye – use your previously purchased pass for a spin on the Ferris wheel and you’ll get the best view of the city possible. Next up …
shutterstock 61449145navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
4. Houses of Parliament & Westminster Abbey
Visit the seat of Britain’s government and the home of Big Ben – and just behind it, Westminster Abbey. Take a tour of the law-making offices (again, pre-purchase tickets) to see active debates, then head to the Abbey to see where countless royal weddings, coronations and memorial services have been held over the centuries. Take the time to see the memorials in the Nave, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, Poet’s Corner in the Transepts and the Westminster Abbey Museum. Back outside, snap a few photos of the 1858 Gothic-style clock tower, one of London’s most famous symbols – despite its age, the four-faced timepiece remains one of the world’s most reliable clocks. Moving on …
shutterstock 312864032navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
5. Buckingham Palace
While your quick visit may not coincide with the Changing of the Guard, you’ll still have the chance to peer through the gates and imagine the royal lifestyle within. The Queen has several lovely homes, of course, but this is the most famous. If you see the royal standard flying atop the building, the Queen is in residence. Now, head back to Westminster Abbey and down up Whitehall to …
shutterstock 594117938navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Shutterstock
6. Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and the West End
Follow Whitehall past 10 Downing Street and the Cenotaph, one of the country’s most famous war memorials. Pass the Horse Guards, snap a photo of them atop their horses, and arrive at Trafalgar Square. Here, you’ll find the 183-foot, granite Nelson’s Column, commemorating Lord Haratio Nelson’s victory over the French and Spanish in 1805. Take the chance for a selfie with one of the monument’s iconic lions (beside, not on, please, as the statues are cracking). Look around and you’ll see Admiralty Arch, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the National Gallery.
 
From here, continue walking to West End, the city’s cultural hub with shopping, dining and world-famous theater. Covent Garden is nearby, a popular shopping and tourist destination.
shutterstock 53838664navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Booking.com
7. Cap the Day with a Pint and a West End Show
Most West End theater performances start at 7:30 PM, giving you time afterwards to grab a pint at a quintessential London pub. (At intermission, grab an ice cream – it’s a local custom.)

Bonus Ideas

If you have time, or if any of the above aren’t particularly appealing, consider these ideas for your one-day trip to London:

shutterstock 1077800951navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Booking.com
Stroll Through St. James Park
Start your morning extra early or take time for launch in St. James Park, across from Buckingham Palace the city’s oldest Royal Park. You’ll find a grassy open lawn and a lake that’s home to swans, ducks and pelicans. It’s a great place to slow down and feel the vibe of the city.
shutterstock 617406509navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Booking.com
Take a Thames River Cruise
For a relaxing way to capture a lot of sights at once, consider a river cruise along the Thames River. You’ll float under the Tower Bridge, go past the British Parliament building, see the London Eye and St. Paul’s Cathedral and more. You can even add on lunch or dinner.
shutterstock 731663710navsumo.com
Photo Credit : Booking.com
Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral
If you can’t pass up a grand cathedral, definitely carve out time to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, the second-largest in the world. This 17th-century Baroque cathedral features an impressive dome, topped with a 850-ton lantern. Inside, you can climb 560 steps to reach the top of the dome, passing the Whispering Gallery, the Stone Gallery and the Golden Gallery on your way.

Get Our Best Stuff First.

Sign up for our newsletters.

Don’t Forget
Your U.S. Passport

and Travel Visas