We’re glad you chose us and we hope to make your day(s) in London memorable.
This one-day itinerary hits 15 different points of interest in Central London. There is a whole lot here, and it would be hard to do it all *well* in on day, but we expect some stops will appeal to you more than to others and vice versa. We show all stops in the map below, which you can download to your phone, and we provide images and descriptions of each stop here on this page. There are several “main” stops: Westminster Abbey (skip the line and book ahead here), the National Gallery (free, no booking needed), the British Museum (book tickets ahead of time here), Buckingham Palace (skip the line and book ahead here) , the Churchill War Rooms (booking link), and the London Eye (booking ahead recommended) . 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. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Stop 1: Westminster Abbey
You’ll both start and end your day looking at Westminster Abbey, which is impressive to see even if you don’t take the tour. If you enjoy architecture or English history, the tour is worth doing. If not, explore around the building a bit and then move on. It’s generally open from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm but check ahead.
(image via Amy-Leigh Barnard)
Stop 2: Trafalgar Square
For visitors to London, Trafalgar Square is in essence, the center of London. On your way here from the Abbey, you’ll have walked past 10 Downing Street. Featuring the Nelson’s Column monument and two very large lions, it’s a popular gathering spot and great for pictures. If you get the angle right you can get yourself, a lion, and Big Ben all in one photo.
(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. It is free to get in, but you can book ahead using this link to avoid waiting in line. It’s open from 10 am to 6 pm.
(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. It’s a great place to grab a bite of food if you are feeling hungry. One general tip is to use the restroom when you eat as public restrooms are not always easy to come by in cramped London.
(image via St Martins Lane London)
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, but it really is something you can’t see anywhere else. You can book tickets for the Transport Museum here. You have almost certainly seen the area around the museum as it’s been featured in a LOT of popular movies, including several Bond films, My Fair Lady, and the latest Dr. Strange film.
(image via 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. It feels close, intimate, and cool, and it’s a fun place to come back to at night.
(image via Seven Dials London)
Stop 8: The British Museum
Reserve at least an hour and a half to explore the British Museum, which is a short walk North of Neal’s Yard. Tickets are free through this link, though they do request a donation for adults, and booking ahead, even if only 30-45 minutes ahead, will save you some time waiting in line. If you want to spend more time, go for this guided tour. This venerable museum has one of the largest collections in the world featuring things like the Parthenon marbles and the Rosetta Stone. Tip: if you don’t go with the guided tour, 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.
(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. Soho has excellent nightlife as well, so keep your eye out for late night spots you want to visit.
(image via Gloria Alexandra Georgescu)
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 – we won’t judge if you do – but you should see it when it’s this close.
(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. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s this close to the chaos from which you have just emerged. There will be plenty of people here, but because the space is so open, it’s easy to find some space to yourself. Take as much time as you like to enjoy nature.
(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.
(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 the most-excellently-named Duck Island.
(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, which you might have seen earlier in the day. 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.
(image via Churchill War Rooms)
Stop 15: The Best Red Phone Booth(s)
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 these particular ones special is the various backgrounds you can get. From the right angle, you can get Westminster Abbey or Big Ben, and if you are lucky, it won’t be too crowded.
(image via Stefan K)
Stop 16: The London Eye
The last stop on this Central London excursion is the London Eye. Your best bet is to wait until the light begins to change to board, so try to time your entrance fairly close to dusk. 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. If you need to burn some time before your tour starts, there are several good restaurants nearby, but there are also several bad restaurants nearby. Do some research ahead of time so you don’t end up spending money on a meal you remember for all the wrong reasons.
(image via Matheus Frade)