A Day Trip to London - Day Trips from Paris - Travel Planner Independent

A Day Trip to London

by Youliana Veltcheva
February 16, 2020

London
London

Do you have only a day in London and are looking to pack as much as possible in a few hours?

London is a huge city, packed with attractions and a myriad of things to do, but it is possible to cover some of the main city highlights in a day if you have a good plan and organization.

There are several different possible itineraries for a day trip in London based on your personal preferences and we have put together optional itineraries and categorized the information so that it is easier for you to figure out what you would like to see and choose what best suits your interests and desires.

Main Sights to See

The 11th-century Tower of London, located on the north bank of the river Thames is a royal fortress. The castle is made up of many buildings, including the White Tower after which the building was named. It served as a royal palace, a prison, a place of execution, an arsenal, a royal mint, a menagerie, and a public records office.

London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the south bank of the river Thames. It’s touristy and a bit crowded but does provide a truly fantastic view of the city and exhilarating emotions. Book tickets in advance and take a ride on the Eye to capture some breath-taking and memorable views. Each ‘flight’ is an entire rotation, taking 30 minutes.

Big Ben is an iconic tower with a clock inside, the world's largest when it was installed in 19th century and still the largest in Great Britain. The name Big Ben refers to the largest of the clock's five bells - the hour bell. The clock keeps on chiming and is known for its reliability, rarely failing during its long life span.

Trafalgar Square is a great piazza at the heart of the city with its majestic Nelson’s column monument and beautiful fountains, surrounded by embassy buildings, the National Gallery, and St. Martin. Wander around and grab a snack at one of the many cafes.

Covenant Garden is an elegant piazza, filled with restaurants, bars, markets, and shops. Go on a shopping spree, enjoy the talented street performers, or simply wander along the quaint little streets and alleys around it.

Horse Guards Parade is one of the places in London where you can see the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony, which is usually held daily at 11 am.

Cathedrals and Palaces

London Bridge
London Bridge
Buckingham Palace is an iconic royal residence, the official home of the Queen of England and one of the top city attractions. A focal point for both celebrations and sad occasions of national grief, the palace has been a center of royal history for centuries.

Windsor Castle, located 25 miles west of London, built 900 years ago is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world with an impressive 1000 rooms and some incredible paintings from the Royal collections. Some legends surround this mystical place, as it is believed that the castle is haunted by the ghosts of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Kensington Palace is home to Kate and William, as well as Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. It has stunning Jacobean and Baroque architecture and gorgeous, immaculately maintained grounds.

St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the must-see sites in London. The impressive 111 meters-high building was built in the 17th century with a glittering gold Baroque-style interior and a beautiful dome. It was created by the renowned architect Christopher Wren, who was also buried there.

Westminster Abbey follows the Benedictine tradition and is packed with memorials, tombs, artifacts, and shrines. It is a patchwork of art, spirituality and rich history. Almost every English monarch since 1066 has been crowned here.

Thames River

London Bridge
London Bridge
The iconic Tower Bridge is a magnificent piece of Victorian architecture dating back to the late 1880s. It is raised once or twice a day and you might be lucky if you see it in action. With its gorgeous towers, resembling fairy tale castles, hovering over the Thames, it is a truly memorable site and magical when it is lit up at night.

If you want to enjoy the beautiful views of the city from the river, hop on a Thames Clipper at Tower Pier. Heading towards Westminster, you will pass several London landmarks, including Monument, St Pauls’ Cathedral, the Shard, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern, the South Bank arts complex, the London Eye and finally Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament.

London Cafes Monmouth on the edge of Borough Market is both cozy and inviting with some amazing coffee for the caffeine lovers. Origins Coffee offers a very good selection of quality coffee beans and an eye-catching artistic mural drawn behind the bar. With a great modern setting, it is a great coffee place to try.

Rosslyn Coffee, only open since 2018, offers exclusive specialty coffees and a far-reaching guest program.

Recommended Eateries

Rock & Sole Plaice is the place to go for the traditional fish and chips. Kricket Soho, inspired by Indian street food is a great eatery, where you can share a big platter with your travel buddies.

P. Franco is a wine bar, a shop, and a restaurant. With a reputation of one of the better gourmet places in town, the excellent chefs prepare mouth-watering specialties like spiced short ribs, a plate of comte, or gochuhang ragu.

Smoke and Salt offers a sample of small plates with some food that will wow you and will not stretch the wallet. The restaurant is operated in a modernized shipping container, which is creatively turned into a cool modern eatery with a character of its own. Try the buttery octopus nuggets and the crunchy new potatoes edges topped with beef hearts.

Best Pubs

London Pub The Harp
London Pub: The Harp
Princess Louise, decorated in Victorian style is one of the best pubs to relax after a long busy day and have a drink.

The Harp in Covenant Garden is known for its butcher's sausages in baps and a great selection of locally brewed beer.

The French House in Soho has preserved its unique look since the 1960s, with black and white portraits of starry patrons on its walls. The place is always packed and atmospheric with lively chatter and a selection of beer served in halves and great French bubblies.

Parks

London will surprise you with its lush stretches of greenery, where you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist attractions.

Hyde Park is centrally located in the heart of London, connecting to both Green Park and Buckingham Palace to the east and Kensington Palace to the west. It is considered part of the Royal Parks and features a long and narrow lake, the Serpentine, in the middle part of the park, Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, marvelous Italian gardens and the Holocaust Memorial Gardens. It offers lots of events and concerts throughout the year.

Kensington Park, in western central London is a beautiful and serene park, offering a lot to see - Kensington Palace, the Serpentine Galleries, Albert memorial, and a huge wooden pirate ship and a playscape for the kids to enjoy. Springtime is a great time to see the gorgeous blooming daffodils.

Victoria Park is the city’s oldest public park, hosting music festivals and events. It is charming with its Japanese garden, English garden, Regent’s canal and a fun splash pool for kids.

Galleries and Museums

The National Gallery is centrally located in Trafalgar Square and showcases artwork before the 1900s. You will see works from Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, and a collection of Post-impressionist art. Works of Monet, Cezanne, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Seurat’s Bathers at Asnieres are among the most famous collections in the museum.

The British Museum
The British Museum
The British Museum, located in the Bloomsbury area, not far from Covenant Graden, is free to the public and offers a staggering 8 million objects to curate, among which the 196BC Rosetta Stone, and the impressive Egyptian and Chinese collections.

Entertainment and Shows

West End also known as Theatreland is bursting with a huge number of world-class shows. From musicals, operas and ballet to comedy and drama, you have it all. Book in advance so that you don’t risk missing out on a good show. You can find something from every genre and style, that is equally fun for adults and families with kids.

Possible Itineraries

Itinerary #1
  • Coca-Cola London Eye
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus London Tour
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Photo Opp at Big Ben
  • Whitehall & Downing Street.
  • Cocktail at a Soho bar

Itinerary #2

  • Tower of London
  • Tower Bridge
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Coca-Cola London Eye
  • Big Ben
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Hyde Park
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Oxford Circus

Itinerary # 3

  • The Tower of London
  • The South Bank and London Eye
  • The Houses of Parliament
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and the West End
  • Traditional London Pub

Itinerary # 4

  • Sip a coffee at MonMouth Cafe
  • Boat ride on Thames at Tower Pier
  • London Eye
  • Trafalgar Square
  • National Gallery
  • Covenant Garden
  • The British Museum
  • Traditional London Pub
  • Hyde Park

Itinerary # 5

  • Tower of London
  • Westminster Abbey
  • The National Gallery
  • London Eye
  • West End Show

Pretty much all the main attractions in the central area of London are close to each other, which allows you to walk from one to the other. That gives you the opportunity to see the beautiful sites around and take in the atmosphere and charm of London.

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