Local Guides

How to spend one day in London

If you’re anything like me, you want to get as much as humanly possible out of your trips abroad. You visit a lot of different cities and see all the sights, but often don’t get as much time in each location as you’d like.

For smaller cities like Bath and Cambridge, this usually works out fine. You get a satisfying sojourn around the key attractions before heading back to the hotel to rest up. For a big city like London, though, there’s so much to see and so little time to see it in. You really need to make the most of every minute of your day if you don’t want to leave the city feeling like you missed out. Fortunately, it is possible to see all the most important London sights in one day.

The best way to do this is on foot, so let’s take a look at the best way to spend one day in London. We’ve prepared a Google Map to guide you through the whole walk. View it on your phone or desktop here.

Breakfast at the Rubens

Before you start, you’re going to need to fortify yourself for a long day ahead. The Rubens Hotel is placed right next to Buckingham Palace and has a fantastic breakfast buffet in a traditional English setting.

Swing past Constitution Hill

Turn right out of the Rubens and in two minutes you’ll be standing just outside Buckingham Palace on Constitution Hill. You don’t get much more English than this. If you time it right and you’ll even get to see the changing of the guards at 11:00 to 11:45.

A walk in the park

Snap as many photos as you can of Buckingham Palace before you turn around and head down The Mall from the Victoria Memorial. To your right is the beautiful St James’ Park which you’ll want to spend a little time exploring. As you cross the park, look out for the famous pelicans that live in the park lake.

A flying visit to Westminster

Cross from Duck Island Cottage in the park and exit King Charles Street onto Parliament Street. To your left is 10 Downing Street, whilst to your right is the world-renowned Parliament Square. You’ll have the perfect view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament from here. Walk on through the square and cross Westminster Bridge to the Southbank.

Rolling down the Southbank

Along the river here are some of the best views in the capital, as well as some it’s most significant attractions. Take a left from Westminster Bridge and keep walking; you’ll pass The London Dungeons, The London Eye, The Southbank Centre, The National Theatre, the Tate Modern, the Golden Hinde Museum, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Phew. Watch out for the magical view of St Paul’s Cathedral as you pass.

Lunch at Borough Market

By this time I expect you’re feeling a little peckish. Stop in at Borough Market for a culinary extravaganza that will delight the senses. You’ll find everything here from crocodile steak burgers to oysters and champagne. If you need a pint and a sit-down, try the Market Porter for some real cask ales.

Heading for the Tower

Leave the market along Tooley Street and catch a look at The Shard and London’s City Hall as you pass through. Turn the corner onto Potter’s Field Park and take in one of the best views of Tower Bridge available in the city (without getting wet that is!). Stroll across the river and you’ll suddenly find yourself face-to-face with the magnificent Tower of London. If you have the time, stop in for a tour.

Finish up at St Paul’s

The final leg of the journey will take us away from the river into the City of London – the capital’s financial district. The Monument to the Great Fire is worth climbing, but if you can’t face the 200+ stairs you can continue straight towards Cannon Street. If you need to rest your feet again, there’s a fantastic pub just off this street called The Black Friar which holds onto it’s rustic Victorian charm to this day. After a short walk, you’ll find yourself at St Paul’s Cathedral, London’s last essential landmark.

And that’s every site you simply must visit in London. The whole walk should only take about two hours, but spend as much time as you can taking in the sights and sounds of the city. It’s not a race, after all. If you’d prefer a guided tour, check out our range of fantastic walking tours.