Note: This is one of six articles on my time in England, United Kingdom from December 2016 to January 2017. Not every one of them follows what I did during that particular day, but also follows the culture, lifestyles, and interest in the area. Articles will be published twice a week until complete.
London is a massive city with boatloads of history, sights, and experiences. To get a full grasp of it would require days, but it is easy to experience the main attractions in a single day. If you’ve got 24 hours to visit, here is how I would spend it:
(To preface this, I would suggest staying in Muswell Hill. We stayed there and I truly loved it. It is quiet, beautiful, and offers fantastic views of Central London. It isn’t too far away from the city and can be reached by the metro. Also, it offers a fantastic array of pubs and restaurants for eating out, but also grocery stores for nights inside.)
07:00: Eat at breakfast at a local restaurant. London offers a vast assortment of food and there’s much to try in every area of the city. If you are staying in Muswell Hill, please consider Bill’s, which has a very healthy and happy vibe. Its decoration and service is superb, with options for light and heavy breakfast foods as well. I had a more American meal of eggs, toast, and bacon, but it was super good. I tried some of the other foods off of my friends’ plates and it was fantastic as well. It isn’t radically expensive either, which is nice.
08:00: At this point, take the metro to Westminster station, where you will be right underneath Big Ben and Parliament. The massive clock tower and ornate building are gorgeous and full of immense detail. If you continue walking around, you will find a park full of statues of world leaders, including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. While this isn’t a super common attraction, it is still interesting and inspirational to see. Next to the park is Westminster Abbey, a gorgeous Gothic church. Westminster is honestly one of my favorite sights in London and is definitely a must see. Even if you are on a budget and can’t get tickets in, looking from the outside only is more than enough to amaze you.
09:30: Scoot over to Green Park Station from Waterloo. Here, you will essentially be in the backyard of the Queen! Green Park is an open lawn with Buckingham Palace propped up right next to it. Take some time to admire some of the flower beds and massive trees. If you continue walking towards the Palace, you will cross over into St. James Park, which is full of birds. Ducks, geese, swans, pigeons, herons, and more all inhabit this little area. There is also a small lake and a cottage in the middle of it on Duck Island. I loved this little place. If you keep going, you will also find some of the horse guards and World War memorials, which are interesting as well. Make sure to loop back to the palace to watch the changing of the guards at 10:45, which is incredibly intriguing. You will get a chance to see the royal guards and the procession used to switch them out!
11:30: Take the metro to Waterloo to greet the London Eye, a massive ferris wheel built in 2000. Although I never got a chance to take it myself, I would highly recommend getting tickets and waiting in line to see the most exceptional view of London. Instead of seats the Ferris wheel is big enough to hold whole rooms of people and it takes 30 minutes to rotate one time. One of the friends I stayed with in London got to go on it before I arrived to the city and she absolutely loved it and her pictures were phenomenal!
13:00: If you haven’t gotten anything to eat, I would take time to do so now! There are so many food options in Central London and many of them are fantastic! If you don’t want a full meal, consider eating some pub food, like French fries (chips) or fried calamari. The calamari is definitely one of my favorite things!
13:45: From your nearest metro station go to Tower Hill station, where you will arrive next to London Tower and Tower Bridge. Walk through the medieval castle on the edge of the Thames river. I also didn’t get an opportunity to explore inside but I wish I did. Even if you don’t make it in, there is a gift shop filled with awesome gifts. Next to the tower is Tower Bridge, the iconic Victorian era building spanning across the water. This bridge has two other super cool features: it lifts to accommodate the massive river barges (even though it stops road traffic) and there is a glass walkway at the top to give you a new perspective on the sights below. In addition to Westminster, this is one of my favorite places. There is also a Starbucks nearby if you are craving a yummy treat.
15:00: Unless you are spending some extra time at one of the previous attractions, you will have some free time. You could go back to something, walk around, or try something new out, like visiting Piccadilly Circus or Madame Tussaud’s. Explore pubs or cafes for a quick snack.
16:30: Go out for dinner at a London restaurant. If you are staying in Muswell Hill, I would highly recommend The Mossy Well, a pub with exceptionally good food. It seems like a rather plain building on the outside, but the inside is exceptionally impressive. The set up makes it easy to order food, drinks, and then more drinks while you are waiting for your burgers or ribs. There is seating inside and outside, with an additional balcony area. The quality, cleanliness, and service were all excellent and I would highly recommend it.
18:00: Stop at a pub for a few drinks. If you want a true British pub experience in Muswell Hill, stop at The Royal Oak. This place is essentially a living room with a bar and is the pinnacle of man-caves. There is a pool table to play on and walls full of the most interesting decorations. The bartenders are friendly and the atmosphere is authentic and fantastic.
19:00: This time could be potentially different depending on the schedule, but I would definitely recommend seeing a Premier League soccer game. They are absolutely fantastic and show a large aspect of British culture. I was lucky enough to go to two and I think that will be one of my favorite memories ever. For more information, read my Guide to the Premier League.
After the game, return to wherever you are staying for a night’s rest before moving on to whatever else you are doing, since you will definitely need it after a long day of moving around the city. I love London because of its flexible and easy access to some of the most beautiful attractions and would suggest visiting it, even if you only have a short amount of time. This schedule can easily be adjusted to accommodate other interests as well!
Best of luck in your travels!