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How to Spend One Day in London, England

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Want to know how to spend one day in London? You’re in the right place!

London is a city that needs no introduction. The bustling metropolis has been captivating the hearts of tourists and locals alike for decades. You could easily spend years in London and still not have discovered everything it has to offer, and with so much to see and do, it can be overwhelming to try to fit everything into a single day.

But fear not! With a little bit of planning, it’s possible to experience much of what London has to offer – even if you only have 24 hours to spend in the big smoke. 

You might be asking… is one day in London enough? The answer is yes, it can be – and in this guide, we’ll show you the best way to spend one day in London. It’s entirely possible to visit the city’s most iconic landmarks, eat at some of its best culinary offerings, and enjoy some of its most unmissable experiences in just one day.

So, without further ado, here’s an itinerary for the perfect day in London. 

How to Get to London

Plane flying over the London city skyline.

If you’re coming from the United States, there are many direct flights from major airports. Flights from New York City’s JFK airport to London’s Heathrow airport, for example, are about seven hours long. If you’re flying from Los Angeles, your flight will be about 10 hours.

You can also take a train from Paris to London. The Eurostar train leaves from Paris’ Gare du Nord station and arrives at London’s St. Pancras International Station. The journey takes about 2 1/2 hours.

How to Get Around London

If you’re looking to spend one day exploring London, England, there are a few ways to get around the city. You can take the Tube, London’s underground rail system, or hop on a bus. If you’re feeling up for a walk, many of the city’s attractions are within walking distance of each other.

Where to Stay in London

Girl smiling and standing next to a red telephone box.

Obviously, you’re going to want a place to stay as well! We recommend staying as central as possible. Here are a few great places to stay in London.

$ – Doubletree by Hilton: Tower of London

Stay super central by booking a night at this accommodation. It’s a short walk from top destinations like the Globe Theater and St Paul’s Cathedral. Did we mention there’s also a rooftop bar?

Click here to book!

FREE TRAVEL QUIZ

Where should you travel next?

$$ – Sunborn Yacht Hotel

Who wouldn’t want to stay onboard a yacht? This permanent hotel is one of the more unique places to stay in London. There’s even a restaurant onboard that has afternoon tea. Plus, it’s near North Greenwich on the Jubilee line so you can easily get around.

Click here to book!

$$$ – The Chesterfield Mayfair

Book a night’s stay at the Chesterfield Mayfair if you want a more luxurious stay. It’s a more traditional English hotel, perfect for those wanting a more old-school accommodation. Plus, it’s near Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace.

Click here to book!

How to Spend One Day in London Itinerary

Start your day the quintessentially British way with breakfast at The Regency Cafe 

Breakfast on a plate with beans, eggs, ham, tomato, sausage, and mushrooms.

Picture this: a plate piled high with sizzling bacon, juicy sausages, perfectly cooked eggs, and all the classic accompaniments like baked beans, grilled tomato, mushrooms, and buttered toast. Is your mouth watering yet?

That’s the magic of a Full English Breakfast – a beloved dish that has been delighting diners in the UK for generations.

Ask any Brit, and they’ll tell you that there’s nothing quite like starting your day with a Full English Breakfast. The Regency Cafe, tucked away in the bustling neighborhood of Westminster, is the perfect place to indulge in this beloved British meal.

This no-frills eatery has been serving up hearty breakfasts to locals and tourists alike since 1946, and the interior has hardly changed since then – think garish red carpet and quaint checkered curtains.

The portions are generous, the ingredients are fresh, and the prices are reasonable – it’s no wonder The Regency Cafe is one of London’s most beloved institutions. 

📷 There are also tons of Instagrammable cafes throughout London if you’d rather eat somewhere else!

Explore the iconic sights of Westminster

Exterior of a church with two towers.

It’s a short stroll from breakfast to your first activity of the day – exploring the sights of Westminster. This is one of London’s most iconic areas, and for good reason – this historic district is home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks.

Westminster is a must-visit if you’re only spending one day in London. Conveniently, the major sights are condensed into a small area, so it’s a great destination to visit if you’re tight on time. 

Start with a stroll along the River Thames and head to Westminster Abbey, the site of coronations, weddings, and funerals of British monarchs for centuries. Marvel at the intricate stonework, stained glass windows, and grand gothic architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Abbey is open to visitors most days, and inside you’ll discover tombs and memorials honoring some of the most significant figures in British history.  

Once you’ve finished admiring Westminster Abbey, head across the road to the Houses of Parliament. This historic building (which was constructed in the 11th century) is the home of the British government, and has been an iconic symbol of British democracy for centuries. Stand outside and admire the building’s remarkably ornate gothic facade, which is adorned with intricate stone carvings. 

Your final stop in Westminster is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world – Big Ben. Standing at the foot of this impressive structure is an awe-inspiring experience – as you gaze up at the intricate details of the tower, you can’t help but feel a sense of wonder and admiration for the skill of those who created this masterpiece.

Try and time your visit to coincide with the clock striking the hour, when you’ll hear the famous chimes of the clock ringing out across the city – it’s a sound that truly encapsulates the essence of London.

Visit Buckingham Palace and St James’ Park 

People standing outside of a palace with black and gold fence.

The perfect day in London wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the majestic home of the British monarchy, Buckingham Palace. The magnificent architecture of the palace and its beautiful gardens are a remarkable testament to the country’s rich history, and standing at the gates admiring the grandeur of the palace is an incredible experience.

Depending on what time you arrive, you might be able to catch the changing of the guard, which usually happens at 11 am. This is a choreographed performance that involves a handover of responsibilities between the Old Guard and the New Guard, and it takes place outside Buckingham Palace.

Visitors can witness the precision marching of the Queen’s Guard, dressed in their iconic red tunics and bearskin hats, as they perform their routines to the accompaniment of military music. It’s a perfect display of the pomp and circumstance the British monarchy is famed for.

After visiting the palace, head to the nearby St James’ Park, one of the most beautiful and tranquil parks in London. Despite its location right in the heart of the city, it offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets.

The park features a stunning lake, with views of the London Eye and Buckingham Palace in the distance. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the park’s tree-lined paths, taking in the colorful flower beds and watching the resident wildlife, which includes ducks, swans, and pelicans.

One of the best ways to explore the park is by bike. Keep an eye out for the red Santander bikes which are available to hire. Simply choose your bike, pay via the app and cycle off! The flat terrain of the park makes cycling around on a city bike a highly enjoyable experience. 

Eat lunch at Borough Market

Green building where people are shopping that says "Borough Market."
Editorial credit: AC Manley / Shutterstock.com

Choosing the perfect lunch spot in London is no easy feat – the city is a foodie’s heaven, and it would take a lifetime to try every eatery. If you’re spending just one day in London, you should head to Borough Market for lunch. This market has been in operation for over 1,000 years and is a food lover’s paradise. 

It’s home to dozens of stalls selling a wide variety of fresh produce, artisanal bread, and street food from around the world. Visitors can indulge in everything from freshly shucked oysters to hot, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and everything in between.

Whether you’re in the mood for Indian street food, Spanish tapas, or traditional British pies, you’ll find it all at Borough Market – there’s something to satisfy every taste bud. 

The market is full of life no matter what day you visit, and you can expect to find a vibrant atmosphere with bustling crowds, street performers, and the lively chatter of passionate vendors selling their produce.

Eating lunch at Borough Market is not just about satisfying your hunger; it’s a chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant food culture of London and discover new flavors and culinary traditions from around the world.

See the city from above on the London Eye and explore the bustling South Bank 

Large ferris wheel under a blue sky.

You could choose to walk off your lunch by traveling on foot to your next destination ( it’s a 30-minute walk through some of London’s best streets), or you could hop aboard an underground train instead. After lunch, it’s time to head up into the clouds and experience the world-class London Eye

The London Eye is one of the city’s most iconic attractions and is a must-do on your one day in London itinerary. Standing at 135 meters tall, it’s the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe and offers the exhilarating experience of admiring the city from above.

As the capsule ascends, the city unfolds below, revealing a mesmerizing maze of buildings, parks, and waterways. It’s the perfect way to gain a new perspective on this magnificent city. 

The ride lasts for 30 minutes, and once your feet are planted firmly back on solid ground, you can walk along the riverside promenade and explore the bustling South Bank district. This is a vibrant and eclectic part of the city which boasts everything from world-class museums to street performers.

Walk along the South Bank promenade to see iconic landmarks such as the Tower Bridge and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, set alongside stunning views of the River Thames. 

Enjoy Afternoon Tea at Harrods

People sitting at tables and dining on afternoon tea.
Editorial credit: Gimas / Shutterstock.com

If you’re hoping to get an authentic British experience during your one day in London, afternoon tea at Harrods is not to be missed. The luxurious department store has been serving up its famous afternoon tea since 1980, and it’s a truly indulgent treat.

In fact, afternoon tea is one of the many things London is famous for.

The opulent surroundings of the Tea Room, with its ornate chandeliers and plush velvet chairs, provide the perfect setting for an elegant afternoon tea. 

The menu includes a selection of delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, and a range of sweet treats, all beautifully presented on a tiered cake stand. The tea itself is a special blend, exclusive to Harrods and is served in beautiful, bespoke tea sets.

Afternoon tea is the perfect British tradition to indulge in during your action-packed day in London – rest your weary feet and relax over a steaming cup of tea, a ritual enjoyed by the British high class for centuries. 

Have Dinner at Dishoom

Close up of Indian food in bowls.

One of the reasons London has such a highly regarded food scene is the vast range of cuisines on offer. London has an incredibly diverse population, with huge numbers of immigrants from countries all over the world. This has had a fantastic effect on London’s culinary offerings – you can find authentic restaurants serving food from pretty much every country in the world.

Indian food is a beloved part of British food culture, and the perfect day in London should definitely include sampling some delicious British-Indian dishes. Head to Dishoom in Covent Garden, a Michelin Guide restaurant serving world-class dishes inspired by the vibrant and bustling cafes of Bombay. 

The menu at Dishoom is a delicious blend of Indian and British cuisine, with a range of flavorful dishes that are designed to be shared and savored. From the famous chicken tikka to the tangy black daal, each dish is a masterpiece of flavor and texture, expertly crafted by talented chefs.

Watch a West End show, or discover the bars of Soho 

Exterior of a tall building with a poster for the Les Miserables play.
Editorial credit: Sampajano_Anizza / Shutterstock.com

London is famed worldwide for its nightlife, and if you’re working with limited time, it can be tricky deciding which of the city’s kaleidoscope of venues to choose from. If you’re into all things showbiz – you can’t miss an opportunity to see a West End show.

The calendar of performances in the West End is pretty impressive, with performances Monday through to Saturday every week of the year. You’ll likely want to book your tickets in advance, though – it’s possible to buy tickets on the day, but as shows get booked up pretty far in advance, you’ll usually only be able to find overpriced tickets for the worst seats. 

If theater isn’t your thing, or you’ve left it too late to book tickets… Fear not! You won’t be short on options for places to spend your evening. London’s nightlife scene is spread out across multiple different locations, with each borough having its own vibe and unique offerings.

If you’ve only got one evening to enjoy in London – you should head to Soho. This eclectic district is home to a vibrant nightlife scene, and after dusk, its streets come alive. There is something for everyone in Soho, and you’re sure to find whatever form of nightlife you’re searching for there. 

People walking around outside in front of a pub.
Editorial credit: 4kclips / Shutterstock.com

Pub culture in London is a cherished tradition, where the warm embrace of cozy taverns, the clink of pint glasses, and the lively banter of locals create an unbeatable experience. For an authentic British pub experience in Soho (something every visitor should experience!), you could check out The Old Coffee House, The Dog and Duck, or The Lyric

Soho provides a stage for some of the city’s most talented mixologists, and there are plenty of venues serving concoctions that will take you on a flavorful journey through the city’s vibrant and ever-evolving cocktail culture. Try The Thin White Duke, The Blind Pig, or Bar Américain if you want to sip expertly crafted elixirs in a dazzling setting. 

If you find that the night isn’t ready to end, Soho is teeming with places to dance your way into the early hours. La Bodega Negra, 100 Wardour Street, and El Camion are some of the top spots for late-night antics. 

Bar sign that says G-A-Y with four pride flags above it.
Editorial credit: cktravels.com / Shutterstock.com

Soho is a historic hub of London’s LGBTQ+ scene, and is a place where inclusivity, acceptance, and celebration thrive.

From its early days as a sanctuary for queer communities to its present-day prominence as a nightlife hub, Soho has stood tall through time as an iconic hub of LGBTQ+ culture and is the place to go if you’re looking for inclusive bars and clubs. Check out Village, G-A-Y, The Admiral Duncan, or Circa

As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do in London in one day. Although one day in London may allow enough time to see absolutely everything this vibrant city has to offer – it’s certainly enough to get a taste of its unique culture and charm.

Just be warned, though… London is a city that will leave you yearning for more, and you’ll almost definitely want to return! 

Check out our vlog from our trip to London!

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