It took me way too long to write about London, but I am rectifying the situation right now. One of the (if not the) best cities in the world needs no introduction, so I won’t say anything more than the fact that a guide could be useful.
When walking in London one day, I came across a quote on a poster that read “A bad day in London is better than a good day anywhere else”. While the quote might be questionable, it does ring true about how special London is. So even if you only have one day, it is so worth it to spend it discovering this great city. I hope this guide proves itself useful in this.
1. Central London
The starting point for this guide is Green Park Station. It’s easy to get here with the tube from wherever you’re staying. I recommend getting there around 10 or 10:30 so that you can have your first little detour. Cross the road to the actual Green Park and make your way to the Buckingham Palace and watch the changing of the guards if you are there on the right day.
Then you’re going to go back to the station and walk straight until you come to Picadilly Circus. Take a few photos, take in all the hustle and bustle or sit on the stairs of the fountain and people watch.
Then just head on straight until you hit Leicester Square. It’s where all the movie premiers happen and you will find many places selling tickets to West End shows (highly recommend catching one if you have a chance!). There is a huge M&M store, Odeon Theatre (the home of the film premiers) and lots of buskers and street performers.
There is also a Chinatown a few streets over, so if you have a few minutes to spare I recommend that you take a walk in the colourful streets.
Then make your way over to one of the prettiest parts of London- Covent Garden. It’s a market hall but it’s also so much more. There are numerous street performers, musicians, opera singers, magicians and other artists both in front of the hall, in the atrium and at every corner. It’s lively, busy and definitely worth seeing.
Carnaby Street and Regent Street
Get lost in the streets of Soho – visit Carnaby Street and head on to Regent Street for a bit of window shopping.
After taking a break and having some lunch, it’s time for the next part of the central London tour- the bankside. Take the tube and get out at Embankment station. From there you can take in the views of the Big Ben, Westminster and the Houses of Parliament.
When you finish taking pictures and admiring the architecture, cross the bridge and head towards the London Eye. This is the starting point of your long walk on the bankside. Beware, it might look like it’s not that long, but once you start walking and stopping at each place, it gets a bit tiring. So make sure you wear comfortable shoes!
Take a stroll along the bankside and enjoy the views. You will have many things attracting your attention, so just take your time and enjoy them. The first point of interest in this map is Tate Modern– a gallery of modern art spanning over multiple floors. If you plan on visiting, make sure you plan at least 2 hours and take advantage of free guided tours. Like all other museums and galleries in London, the entrance is free. There is also a bar on the top floor with stunning views of the London skyline. However, it’s very popular so finding a place to sit might prove a challenge.
A short distance from Tate Modern is the Globe Theatre- the home of the Bard. Entrance is not free, but if you enjoy Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era, I highly recommend you book a ticket. The theatre is not the original since the original one burned down, but it is a faithful replica.
The Millenium Bridge, which you may have seen getting destroyed in the Half-Blood Prince by some Death Eaters, is a great way to pass over to the opposite bankside if you so wish. Not only that, but it is a great place to take a few photos and just take in the views and the energy of the area.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
If you wish to see it up close, cross the millennium bridge and head straight on until you reach it. If you’re short on energy or time, you can skip it and just head towards the Tower of London.
Tower of London
After a bit more walking, you will reach the magnificent Tower of London. Palace and former prison, as well as the place of famous beheadings, it still stands proudly tall today, taking you back to another time. For the purpose of staying on schedule, this time just marvel at its beauty from the outside. There are plenty of things to see without entering it, and there are tables with historical information every few metres so you will not be devoid of information.
And to finish off the day, enjoy the sunset over Tower Bridge. The famous part of the London Skyline is the perfect photo op and an interesting structure to see up close. You can visit the museum inside, look at the engine room and walk over the glass floor if you are not afraid of heights.
One place out of centre worth visiting (Honourable mentions)
If you have some time in the morning before your flight, or you wish to see something outside the centre as well and are willing to sacrifice some popular tourist spots with something a little more different, I highly recommend the following parts of London.
Camden is a hub of alternative culture, artists, eclectic markets, and numerous food stalls. It is lively, buzzing with people, and beautiful. It doesn’t take too long to go over the main points- Camden Market, walking along the canal, and taking photos of all the wacky storefronts on the main road.
It’s also a great place to get some souvenirs if you need them, you can find great deals on magnets with 5 magnets for 1 pound. Embrace your inner tourist and go nuts on choosing the different magnets and/or keychains to give away and remind you of your stay in London.
Notting Hill is one of my favourite places in London and a sight not to be missed. It is known for rows of colourful houses, many interesting buildings, and the famous Portobello Road market where you can find anything and everything, although the focus is on antiques.
You can find books, clothes, jewellery, souvenirs, old maps… A great way to spend a rainy morning is to just walk along the street and observe. And you can also find the “bookstore” from the Notting Hill movie. Unfortunately, not only will you not find Hugh Grant in it, you won’t find any books either. It sells souvenirs.
And for something completely different, if you wish to forget you are in London for a moment and want to transport yourself into the English countryside without actually hopping on a train, I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Hampstead Heath.
It is a big green area (a park just sounds so incorrect for all it offers) with lots of trees, greenery, walking paths and stunning views. It is huge and you can enter it from different points. I also like to walk around the Hampstead Heath neighbourhood and just marvel at all the beautiful houses (some could even be called mansions) and daydream about owning one. Another great way to spend an afternoon in London!
And that concludes this 24-hour guide! It’s very flexible and changeable and it all depends on your pace and interests. It covers all the main points of interests and some that I find everyone should visit. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I hope you enjoy this guide and I know you will have an amazing time in London.
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