One of my favorite travel memories is a day I spent in London en route to Kenya. I was living in San Francisco at the time, and had an 8-hour layover in London between flights. I met up with a friend and we had a great time exploring the city before I continued my journey to Nairobi. If you find yourself in the same situation, today I bring you A Lady in London’s guide to spending a long layover in London.

Long Layover in London

Long Layover in London

Most long-haul flights arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick, meaning west London is a good place to focus a long layover in London. If I land at Heathrow, I leave my bags at left luggage and take the tube to Sloane Square station. If Gatwick, I drop my bags and take the train to Victoria, then the tube one stop to Sloane Square. Both trips take around an hour, and afterwards my adventure begins.

Sloane Square

If I’m hungry, I grab a bite at one of the many restaurants and cafes in Duke of York Square. There’s no shortage of them, and the pedestrianized area has a lively atmosphere. If it’s a Saturday, I explore the food market, and if not, I head to the Saatchi Gallery to see what’s on. There’s free entry, so I can stay as little or long as I want.

Duke of York Square Market

From Duke of York Square, I walk down King’s Road into the heart of Chelsea.

Colorful Houses in Chelsea, London

King’s Road is one of London’s best shopping streets, and there’s always something to catch my eye. While here, I make sure to head to the side streets to pop into places like John Sandoe Books. I’m sure to find a new read for the next leg of my journey in its warren of rooms.

John Sandoe Books

Speaking of side streets, I love exploring colorful ones like Godfrey Street that are lined with houses in rainbow hues.

Colorful Houses in Chelsea, London

And I adore soaking up the pastels on Bywater Street.

Colorful Houses in Chelsea, London

When I’m done shopping and wandering, I head up to South Kensington Station.

Colorful Houses in Chelsea, London

The area around the station is full of cafes, so if I need a break I head to one of them to rest my feet.

View of London

Then I’m off to the museums. South Kensington is home to the V&A, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum, all of which have world-class collections.

Natural History Museum, London

If I have time and energy afterwards, I head up to Hyde Park and take a lap around the Serpentine lake. It’s a good way to fight jet lag and take in the scenery at the same time. The birds and paddle boats are always entertaining to watch when the weather is nice.

Hyde Park, London

From the park it’s back to South Kensington tube station to travel to the airport. Even though my long layover in London hasn’t been an official part of my trip, I already know it will be one of the highlights.

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Long Layover in London

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