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This one-day itinerary hits 15 different points of interest mainly focused to the east of the historic City of London. There are three main stops: Westminster Abbey (skip the line and book ahead here), Buckingham Palace (skip the line and book ahead here), and the British Museum. Along the way, you’ll experience the bustling squares, shop-lined streets, and relaxing parks of the Covent Garden, Soho, and Westminster neighborhoods of London.

Stop 1: Westminster Abbey

You’ll both start and end your day around Westminster Abbey, which is impressive to see even if you don’t take the tour. The tour is worth doing, however, as the building’s architecture and history are both magnificent and humbling at the same time.

an exterior view of one of the entrances to westminster abbey in london

(image via Amy-Leigh Barnard)

Stop 2: Trafalgar Square

You’ll have walked past 10 Downing Street on your way to this veritable center of central London. This is a great picture spot with two large fountains and the large Nelson’s Column monument.

a view of trafalgar square particularly the water fountain in the middle of the space

(image via Diane Picchiottino)

Stop 3: The National Gallery

While you’re in Trafalgar Square you can take a quick (or lingering) trip to the National Gallery, which features works from Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Seurat, Gainsborough, and many many more.

a view of one of the rooms of the national gallery with multiple paintings on a red wall

(image via National Gallery)

Stop 4: St. Martin’s Lane

A few minutes north of Trafalgar Square you’ll find Saint Martin’s Lane, a narrow street filled with inviting cafes, pubs, and shops.

a view down the bustling st martins lane with many pedestrians along the street

Stop 5: London Transport Museum and Covent Garden

You should definitely make your way to the heart of Covent Garden. The Transport Museum is interactive, fun, and totally unique. It’s also fairly small so you don’t need to spend a lot of time there if you don’t want to. You can book tickets for the Transport Museum here.

visitors tour the buses at the london transport museum

Stop 6: Seven Dials

A few minutes’ walk north of Covent Garden you’ll find Seven Dials, a circular intersection of seven London streets. The neighboring community features many shops, restaurants, and theatres.

a bird's eye view of the intersection that makes up seven dials

(image via Seven Dials London)

Stop 7: Neal’s Yard

Spend a bit of time exploring the Seven Dials area, but make sure you stop by Neal’s Yard, a charming alleyway that features cafes and brightly colored architecture that is a popular spot for social media photography.

colorful architectural buildings in neal's yard in london

Stop 8: The British Museum

Reserve a couple of hours to explore the British Museum, which is a short walk north of Neal’s Yard. This venerable museum has one of the largest collections in the world featuring things like the Parthenon marbles and the Rosetta Stone. Tip: you won’t be able to see everything so pick a few highlights and explore one or two rooms, then plan to come back on another trip.

a gallery at the british museum filled with ancient greek statues

(image via Elizabeth George)

Stop 9: Soho Square Garden / Soho

Soho is a wonderful area of London, so be sure to meander your way around it. The center of Soho features this park, which is a great place to rest your feet and have a picnic, enjoying food from one of many nearby restaurants.

the green lawns of the soho square garden surrounded by city buildings

Stop 10: Piccadilly Circus

Walk down to Piccadilly from Soho and work your way west to see the famous road juncture lined with video displays and neon signs that is the UK’s version of Times Square. You probably don’t want to spend much time here, but you should see it when it’s this close.

a nighttime aerial view of piccadilly circus among street intersections that glows bright with neon lights

(image via Piccadilly Circus)

Stop 11: Green Park

From Piccadilly Circus, keep walking down Piccadilly for 5-10 minutes until you see Green Park, a gorgeous rolling lawn with tree-lined walking paths. Make your way south and west towards your next stop, and take as much time as you like to enjoy nature.

tree-lined walkways in green park near buckingham palace in london

(image via Suan Tawng)

Stop 12: Buckingham Palace

The whole area around Buckingham Palace is gorgeous and well worth your time. You can book a tour ahead of time here. If you want to see the changing of the guard, it starts around 10:45 am, but is only on some days, so you’ll need to make sure you carve out time to get here early to get a good spot. You could do that by running this itinerary in reverse if you like, as you end up right near where you started. If you want to avoid the crowds you can book a changing of the guard-specific guided tour where you will get better views as well as historical background and context.

crowds stand in front of the front gates to buckingham palace in london

(image via Sung Shin)

Stop 13: St. James’s Park

Just south and east of Buckingham Palace is St. James’s Park. Though originally built by Henry VIII in the 1530s, it was added upon by subsequent monarchs, including Charles I, whose brutal treatment of Puritans resulted in the Mayflower and other pilgrim ships seeking refuge in what would become America. He ultimately lost his head for it, but his son Charles II improved the park further and enjoyed feeding the ducks here. Walk around the pond and be sure to see the cottage on Duck Island.

the london eye observation wheel peeks above trees in st. james park

(image via Gonzalo Facello)

Stop 14: Churchill War Rooms

East of St. James’s Park are a number of important administrative buildings, including 10 Downing Street. During WWII, Winston Churchill spent much time in this underground war room. If you are a history buff, it’s a tour you won’t forget. You can book tickets here.

a war room used by winston churchill during WWII set up for visitors to view

(image via Churchill War Rooms)

Stop 15: The Best Red Phone Booth

At one point, there were nearly 70,000 red phone boxes scattered across London. But even as payphones have become obsolete, there are still thousands of them around. What makes this particular one special is the setting. From the right angle, you can get Westminster Abbey in the background, and it’s not too crowded. Is it actually the best? You can tell people it is.

a traditional red phone box in front of big ben in london

(image via Stefan K)

Stop 16: The London Eye

The last stop on this Central London excursion is the London Eye. As the sun sets, the city will begin to light up, and the views from the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe will be some of the best you’ve seen. Each observation pod holds 25 people and takes about 30 minutes to go around a complete rotation. This attraction is very popular, so book your tickets ahead of time to make sure they don’t sell out on the day you’re wanting to go.

a view of london from the top of the london eye

(image via Matheus Frade)




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Jeremy Chrysler

Jeremy Chrysler

Jeremy loves to build great itineraries for groups of guys and for young families.