One of the most common questions people ask me is how to spend 1 day in London. The city is huge and there’s a lot to do and see here, so it can be difficult to narrow down the choices. To help you plan how to spend your time in the UK capital, today I bring you the official A Lady in London itinerary for a day in London.

1 Day in London Itinerary

1 Day in London

The thing I enjoy most about travel blogging is helping people plan trips. Whether it’s through my blog posts or via my travel planning services, I love ensuring my readers have a richer experience in London or abroad.

Spending 1 day in London is a good way to get an overview and make a to-do list for a longer visit in the future. London is huge, so focusing on the city center makes a short visit manageable.

While there’s no right or wrong way to spend 24 hours (or less) here, this is my ideal itinerary for a day if it’s your first time in London. You can use it as a template and add other things you’re interested in to make it your perfect trip.

Figaro in London

Where to Stay in London

If you’re staying overnight, there are lots of options for accommodation in London. Whether you want to stay in a hotel or apartment, the city has plenty of places to choose from.

Given the UK capital is big, basing yourself in or near the city center is a good thing to do. You can see my blog posts about the best area to stay in London, the best hotels for your style, and quirky hotels for more ideas.

You can also find deals and book accommodation in London here. With so many options, you’re sure to find a place that fits your style.

London Hotel Lobby

1 Day in London: Morning

My Instagram followers know I love starting a morning in London with good coffee and food. Whether you head to one of my favorite coffee shops in London or one of my preferred places for breakfast, you can’t go wrong.

Rose Latte

Caffeinated and fueled, you’ll be ready to start exploring. And there’s no better place to do it than Westminster.

I recommend going to Buckingham Palace first. This famous royal palace draws visitors from all over the world, and it’s a must on any first-time London itinerary.

You can time your trip to watch the Changing the Guard ceremony (it happens several days a week), or just admire the monarch’s London residence from outside the big gates.

Big Ben, London

If you happen to be in town during the seasonal opening, you can also go on a tour of Buckingham Palace. It will allow you to see the state rooms and gardens while you’re visiting. You can book tickets here.

From the palace you can make your way through St James’s Park to Horse Guards Parade and Westminster. This area is home to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

Westminster Abbey is great to see up close, Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower) is iconic, and the Houses of Parliament are stunning. If you have time, you can tour the abbey and parliament. You can book tickets here.

Westminster Abbey and Big Ben

You can also go on my free self-guided walk in Westminster if you want to see the area beyond the big attractions. The route will take you to the side streets and hidden spaces locals spend time in.

From Westminster, you can cross the Thames to the South Bank. It’s the perfect place to soak up the views from the London Eye or just wander through the book market or along the river.

You can book London Eye tickets here (you’ll need to book well in advance, as it sells out).

South Bank, London

From the South Bank, it’s a great walk to Tate Modern and Borough Market, two more of the city’s most beloved landmarks.

The museum is an amazing place to visit, and the fact that it’s free means it’s easy to pop in for as long or little as you want. There are stunning views from the top, too.

View from Tate Modern, London

Borough Market is the ideal place to find foodie inspiration and grab something delicious for lunch. It’s worth wandering around and soaking up the colors and scents of the stalls.

Borough Market, London

1 Day in London: Afternoon

For a bit of history after lunch, you can continue your itinerary for 1 day in London by crossing London Bridge and walking into the City. Make sure to check out the views of Tower Bridge on the way.

From the graceful dome of St Paul’s Cathedral to the imposing form of the Tower of London, this neighborhood awes visitors with its abundance of architectural history.

Where else can you find sleek skyscrapers next to an actual Roman wall?

Paternoster Square, London

From the City it’s into the Underground for a ride on the Central line to Notting Hill. The neighborhood is brimming with color, and everywhere from Portobello Road Market to the mews is delightful.

My self-guided Notting Hill walk is a good way to see the best of the neighborhood, from the big highlights to the secret streets.

Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill, London

1 Day in London: Evening

As night approaches, you can hop back on the tube to explore Soho and Covent Garden. There are plenty of places to eat and drink around here, and Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus are always exciting in the evening.

Which is to say nothing of all the plays and musicals you can see in the West End on any given night in London. There are great comedy acts, too.

Piccadilly Circus, London

If you want to end your evening in style, it’s off to South Kensington for the nightlife around Walton Street and the King’s Road in Chelsea.

Alternatively, you can take an open-top bus tour to get more of an overview of the city. It’s an easy way to discover what London has to offer in a short amount of time. You can book tickets here.

1 Day in London

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to how to spend a day in London. If you want additional inspiration, there’s a lot more about things to do in the city in Lonely Planet London. You can get it here.

I’ve published plenty of other London itineraries, too. You can take a look at my 36-hour, 2-day, 48-hour, 3-day, 4-day, 5-day, 6-day, 7-day, 1 week, 8-day, and 10-day itineraries for more inspiration. Happy travels!

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1 Day in London Itinerary

31 Comments on Lady’s 1 Day in London Itinerary

  1. I’ve never seen a 1 day in London itinerary before. Most people would say it is impossible. However, I love the way you made a doable, enjoyable, taste of London day. Central London is actually quite condensed, so if you focus on walking around the attractions near the Westminster Abbey and Parliament area, you can see a lot of what is typically associated with London in just a few short hours!

  2. I always find myself back at Camden Market when I’m in London. I love all the colour and variety. London is so overwhelming for just one day. That’s a great snapshot of the city in 24 hrs.

  3. It has never even occurred to me trying to sum up the best highlights for a first visit with just one day but I think this list is absolutely perfect Julie! It definitely covers all the “must see” things for people on a limited time and I was far too curious about the gorgeous rose coffee to not have a snoop of the coffee shop round up post – I’ll be heading over to the Notting Hill area to try that rose latte soon that’s for sure 🙂

  4. Great post! I live in London and my best friend is coming to visit me soon with her boyfriend who has never visited the city before! I’ve been trying to think what would be the best things to show him to make sure he a) falls in love with London and b) due to that wants to move here and I get my friend back in my life full time 😛 I’ll definitely take the tips in this post into consideration. 🙂

    Laura

  5. I would add to this that the person should hop on a bus to either go somewhere or just to ride! It’s a fun way to see some things and little easier on your feet. 🙂

  6. My Husband and I are visiting London for four days. We have never been before and have nothing planned. Would you recommend doing all of this in one day or breaking it up?

  7. I LOVE your site. Congratulations on being so awesome! Not only did I spend my Junior Year at UCL (in Bloomsbery) and fell in LOVE with London and travel but I now write a expat blog about Belize. And your site has given me some great ideas. Starting with this awesome post that makes me want to visit London again so badly! Thanks so much.

  8. Love it! Going to London soon for 3 days so I’ve looked at all of your itineraries and will make one that suits us 🙂

  9. Going to UK next week. We want to stay one night in London before heading out to Ipswich for a work trip. Where do you recommend staying if we want to try this one day itinerary, spend the night and then take the train to Ipswich?

  10. I always end up gazing at Waterloo Place up towards lower regents street. The buildings are stunning and grand. I love Kensington also…

  11. Enjoyed reading the article, having a layover in London for around 24 hours so the read is very helpful for my case 🙂

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