One of our guest editors is attending the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year, which is not far out from London city – so, the perfect opportunity to put together a little sightseeing list for those who only get to spend one day in London.
If you’re only in town for a short while and want to sample the best the city has to offer, this is the itinerary for you.
1. Westminster Abbey
Begin your tour with one of the country’s most potent icons, where most of England’s kings and queens have been crowned. Aim to get here when it opens at 9:30am, before the crowds descend.
2. The Houses of Parliament & “Big Ben”
Gaining admission to the debating chambers requires a long wait, which 1-day visitors will have to forgo, but you can admire the massive Gothic Revival pile from the outside.
3. No. 10 Downing Street
Bear left and look down Downing Street to No. 10. Security concerns mean that it’s no longer possible to walk to the prime minister’s front door.
4. Trafalgar Square
The hub of London, this is Britain’s most famous square and the scene of many a public demonstration.
5. Buckingham Palace
If you’re not on a 1-day schedule, you can take a look around during the brief summer opening.
6. Changing of the Guard
Time it right to catch the Changing of the Guard ceremony — it’s at 11:30am. However, you’ll have to leave after a few minutes if you’re sticking to the 1-day schedule.
7. St. James’s Park
Make your way back to Trafalgar Square via a stroll through one of London’s most elegant green spaces.
8. National Gallery
The galleries cover some 8 centuries of the finest art ever created. Even on the most rushed of schedules, try to set aside at least 1 hour.
9. Leicester Square
Make for the “tkts” booth in the center, where you can book reduced-priced tickets for one of this evening’s West End shows.
10. Take a Break — Café in the Crypt
Stop off for lunch at the atmospheric subterranean self-service dining room in St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, 6 St. Martin’s Place, on the eastern edge of the square.
11. Somerset House
Those spreading things over several days can visit the Courtauld Gallery and Embankment Galleries. If you’re watching the clock, content yourself with a quick glimpse of the magnificent courtyard.
12. Covent Garden
If you have the time, enjoy the street performers on the Piazza, a rummage at the market, a mooch about St. Paul’s Church, and a tour of the London Transport Museum. Or, if you’re on a tighter schedule, choose just one of the above.
13. St. Paul’s Cathedral
Get climbing, up 500 or so steps to enjoy the panoramic sweep from the top of the dome.
14. Millennium Bridge & River Thames
This is a bit of a detour, and so is only realistic for those spreading the tour over more than 1 day. Head south from the cathedral courtyard to the pedestrian bridge crossing the River Thames.
15. Tate Modern
A tour of London’s premier museum of modern art should be undertaken only by those with time to spare.
16. Routemaster Bus
Just outside the cathedral, you can board one of the great moving icons of London, the 15H, a shiny red, open-backed Routemaster bus, which runs every 15 minutes as part of a heritage service.
17. Tower of London
Time it to arrive at this 900-year-old symbol of royalty, blood, and gore late in the afternoon, when some of the hordes have departed. Allow yourself a few hours to get your money’s worth — it is pretty expensive.
18. Tower Bridge
Once the Tower shuts, head east for a stroll south across London’s iconic bridge.
19. Take a Break — Dickens Inn
At the bridge’s northern end, on the eastern side, end your sightseeing day with a pint at the Dickens Inn, Marble Quay, St. Katharine’s Way, housed in a restored warehouse in St. Katharine’s Dock. There’s a pizza restaurant on the second floor for a quick bite.
20. A Night at a London Theatre
Bring things to a close with a night out in the West End, making use of those tickets you picked up earlier.