24 Hours in London

If you have only one full day in London, how should you spend your time? What are the ‘must see’ landmarks that you can find time for in a single day?

If you only have one full day to spend in London, but you want to see as much as possible in the time, you will be spoilt for choice. So how and where do you start?

 

Preparations for Heavy Sightseeing

First of all, make sure that you are staying overnight somewhere in or close to Central London. For example, there are many reasonably priced small hotels and B&Bs in Victoria and Paddington, areas well served by both buses and Underground.

The full English breakfast is a great boon to visitors who don’t want to waste too much time eating lunch. If you eat the tradional cereal, eggs, bacon, beans and toast, you will only need to eat a sandwich or something similar at lunchtime.

If you are leaving London in the late afternoon or evening and wonder what to do with your luggage, don’t forget that you can leave it in the left luggage offices at major railway stations like Victoria and Paddington.

 

Sightseeing

Perhaps the best place to start is in Trafalgar Square. There you can see Nelson’s Column and visit the National Gallery on the north side of the Square. Unless you plan to spend many hours there, it is best to choose a particular artist or period to see.

You might like to see the Changing of the Guards at Horse Guards in Whitehall, immediately south of Trafalgar Square. This ceremony takes place daily at 11am. Afterwards, continue down Whitehall to see the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. If you go into the Abbey and look at all the beautiful and historic things it contains, you will spend at least an hour there.

If you book ahead, you can cross Westminster Bridge and take a ride on the London Eye, one of the capital’s most popular attractions. Even if you have tickets, you will probably still have to queue.

Alternatively, you can take a bus from Parliament Square to the Tate Gallery. Have lunch in its restaurant and then look at its collection of Turners as well as many avant garde pieces.

When you leave there, turn right out of the Tate and walk for a few minutes to Vauxhall Bridge Road where you can get a bus to Victoria, just a few minutes walk from Buckingham Palace, the London home of the Queen. The Palace itself is only open during the summer but the Royal Mews, at the back of the Palace grounds accessed from Lower Grosvenor Street, are open all year. Here you can see the magnificent coaches and carriages used in State ceremonial as well as working horses used to pull them.

If you still have some time and energy left, you can see one of London’s lesser known houses – Spencer House, just off St James’s Place. It is only open on Sunday, though. The house was once the home of the Spencers, Princess Diana’s family, but is now owned by RIT Capital Partners plc who have undertaken extensive work to restore it to its former glory.

Spencer House is just a short distance from St James’s Palace, home of Prince Charles. You can only see it from the outside, though, as it is not open to the public.

Both of these buildings are a short walk from Piccadilly Circus, famous for its statue of Eros. Situated on the edge of Soho and with Regent Street and Piccadilly radiating north and west, you can sit and rest in one of the many fast food outlets or, better still, one of Soho’s small Italian or French coffee bars.