How to spend 1 Perfect Day in London: Ultimate itinerary (+ map)

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London. This metropolis absolutely captivated us. A elegant city full of contrasts, where you can spend a week and still only see a fraction of it. What if you only have one day? Is it even possible to do London in one day? It certainly does, and today we’re going to show you what itinerary you can create to make sure you can visit the best places in London.

London is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city where you can spend a month and still have plenty to discover. It follows that one day is really not enough to get to know the city.

I’ve created this itinerary so that in one day in London, you can visit the very heart of the city, where the sights like Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and the Palace of Westminster converge.

One day in London: map

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed route map for London in one day. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places mentioned in the itinerary. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.

How to spend One perfect day in London

1day London itinerary: Westminster Abbey – Big Ben

Buckingham Palace

Our one-day visit to London starts symbolically at Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace has been home to the British Royal Family since 1837 and is surrounded by lush green parks. The Palace is located in central London, halfway between Oxford Street and the Palace of Westminster.

From Trafalgar Square, The Mall, a ceremonial pathway surrounded by mature trees and colourful flags, connects the square to Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace London

The palace is closed to the public for most of the year. It is only open for a few weeks in the summer, so you need to book tickets well in advance if you plan to visit inside.

In front of Buckingham Palace is St James’s Park, a place where squirrels wait for peanuts and pelicans are almost on your doorstep.

☞ Are you planning to visit multiple paid attractions (Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, The Shard, Kew Gardens or Windsor Castle, for example)? See if you can’t save London Pass tourist card which can save you a significant amount of money.

Westminster Abbey

A pleasant walk takes a few minutes to reach Westminster Abbey, a magnificent neo-Gothic building listed by UNESCO.

westminster abbey london / 5 days in london itinerary

Weddings, coronations and funerals of royalty and other famous Britons are held here. Westminster Abbey is also the final resting place of Britain’s kings and queens, Charles Dickens and others.

westminster abbey london / 5 days in london itinerary

Palace of Westminster and London Eye

Westminster Abbey is within sight of the Palace of Westminster, with its famous Big Ben bell, an imposing neo-Gothic building where the future of the United Kingdom is debated, approved and decided.

Continue across the Thames to Westminster Bridge for an iconic photo of the Palace of Westminster.

westminster palace london / 5 days in london itinerary

On the other side of the bank you can already see another London icon – the London Eye, the largest Ferris wheel in Europe. Due to its height, the London Eye has some of the best views of London. But for the same reason, there are long queues and tickets are really expensive on the spot.

How to save and skip the queues at the London Eye: London Eye is one of the most popular sights in London and there are long queues. In addition, tickets are significantly more expensive on site. Save money by booking tickets in advance.

1 day in London: Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden

Trafalgar Square

From the London Eye we return to the north bank. Our next stop is one of the most important squares in London – Trafalgar Square.

The beautiful historic square is famous for the Nelson’s Column, a tribute to Admiral Horatio Nelson, at the foot of which stand four majestic lion statues commemorating his victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The dominant feature of the square is the National Gallery (free entrance).

trafalgar square london / 5 days in london itinerary

Chinatown and Covent Garden

Is it time for something good? From Trafalgar Square, you have several options for a good meal.

Chinatown is London’s Chinatown, which you can recognise at a glance by its Chinese gate and lanterns. If you like Asian cuisine, head here.

On the other hand, be prepared for the place to be incredibly popular. This can make some restaurants look like overpriced tourist traps, while others are great.

chinatown london / 5 days in london itinerary

Another option is Covent Garden, an indoor market that’s worth seeing not just for the food. Covent Garden is a lively district with street performers, restaurants, shops and a large market. It’s a nice place with a relaxed atmosphere.

covent garden london / 5 days in london itinerary

1 Day in London: St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard

St. Paul’s Cathedral

We board a red Double Decker and in 20 minutes get off right at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world and is an active church and the seat of the Bishop of London.

It was originally built as a citywide project by architect Christopher Wren to revive London after the Great Fire of 1666, when the original cathedral burned down. In the original design, the cathedral looked like a gigantic pineapple because, according to Wren, it symbolizes peace, hospitality and prosperity.

Hotels in London 😴

ubytování londýn
Hotel DC – great value for money

Smaller, cosy hotel with excellent accessibility

ubytování londýn
ibis London City Shoreditch

Modern 3* hotel just off Liverpool Street

St Paul's Cathedral London

Today the cathedral is the final resting place of famous British figures such as the Duke of Wellington, Christopher Wren and Admiral Nelson.

There is a fee to get in, but it’s worth it. You can climb to the top and enjoy the view of London from the observation deck.

Even if you don’t plan to visit the cathedral, stop here. The perfectly framed views of the cathedral from the Millennium Bridge are iconic. We were here during the day and evening and both times it was worth it.

Millennium Bridge and St Paul's Cathedral London

Does the bridge look familiar? Millennium Bridge appeared in the 6th episode of Harry Potter and the 1st episode of Black Mirror.

Cross the Millennium Bridge to reach the Tate Modern art gallery on the other side. If you want to take a peek, admission is free (donations are welcome).

Borought Market and Shard

Take a left from the bridge and in just a few minutes you will reach Borough Market, one of the most famous markets in London. If you’d like to sample cuisine from around the world, this place is ideal.

We continue along the waterfront, which is perfectly landscaped and lined with modern buildings and interesting sculptures. Standing out dramatically from behind all the buildings is The Shard, the tallest skyscraper in the UK, made up of 11,000 glass panels.

the shard london /5 days in london itinerary
View of The Shard on the right from the Millennium Bridge

If you want to enjoy a bird’s eye view of London, The Shard is one of the best places. The high-speed elevator takes you up to the 68th floor. There’s a bar with a view, and an open-air viewing platform a few metres up for a panoramic view of the whole of London.

☞ Reservation for the viewpoint in The Shard is required. The specific time you book online. The most popular time is at sunset, when tickets tend to sell out early.

shard London
The view from The Shard is the best in London.

London in 1 day: the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is an iconic bridge in London. The 1894 drawbridge, which was a marvel of Victorian engineering in its day. Thanks to a steam-powered winch mechanism, the bridge is raised in 3 minutes to allow large ships to pass several times a day.

tower bridge london

If you’re interested, you can visit Tower Bridge from the inside to learn more about its history. The tour will take about an hour and you will also walk between the towers on the partially glazed floor.

tower bridge london

Tower of London

The Tower of London is a fortress that is a symbol of London’s long and varied history. For several centuries it served as a prison and today it houses the crown jewels.

tower of london

If you plan to visit the Tower of London, allow at least 1.5 hours, preferably 2-4 hours, as it consists of several buildings and there is a lot to see. With a one-day itinerary in London, it’s almost impossible to fit in a full visit to the Tower.

☞ How to skip the lines: Tower of London is one of the most visited landmarks in London. Tickets are bought separately opposite the castle, so by booking tickets in advance skip the ticket line.

tower of london

1 day in London: City of London and Shoreditch

City of London

The panorama of the historic Tower of London is made up of modern skyscrapers in the City of London. Although it may not seem like it at first glance, it is the oldest neighbourhood in London. But once you wander into its streets and see the old churches contrasting with the modern buildings, you’ll understand that this is the innermost core of the city.

gherkin city of london / 5 days in london itinerary

Interestingly, 8,000 people live here, but over a quarter of a million people commute here during the day to work.

Depending on how much time you have, you can visit several attractions in City of London. Walk past the Gherkin skyscraper, which translates to “Cucumber”, located at 30 St Mary Axe. There is seating and benches.

Or visit the hidden garden with the semi-dilapidated St Dunstan in the East Church Garden, whose tower was designed by Christopher Wren. He is best known as the architect of St Paul’s Cathedral, another major landmark in the City of London.

For a great view of London, book in advance for the Sky Garden or The Garden at 120. Both venues are free to attend, but advance booking well in advance is required.

☞ Are you planning to visit multiple paid attractions (Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, The Shard, Kew Gardens or Windsor Castle, for example)? See if you can’t save London Pass tourist card which can save you a significant amount of money.

sky garden london


We end our day in Shoreditch, London’s most colourful and vibrant district, which is immediately adjacent to the City of London.

Shoreditch is synonymous with fine dining. You rarely come across a really bad restaurant or bar here. If you’re into street food, head to BOXPARK from the shipping containers, Old Spitalfields Market or Brick Lane, an open street with small shops and a vintage market.

You can also find all the places marked on the map at the beginning of the article.

brick lane shoreditch london
Brick Lane, Shoreditch

Our itinerary for a day in London ends in Shoreditch. If you’ve decided to extend your stay in the city, here’s an itinerary for 3 days in London or London in 5 days.

london shoreditch

Hotels in London

  • ibis London Blackfriars – Hotel is on the south side of the Thames near Waterloo station near Westminster and the London Eye; bus stop just opposite, restaurants and shops nearby
  • Hotel Holiday Inn Express – One of the best hotels in London, clean and practical rooms, excellent connections to the city centre and airport (especially Stansted and Heathrow), quiet location
  • ibis London City Shoreditch – Modern rooms near Liverpool Street Station (ideal for Stansted and Heathrow airports), next to Tesco Express hotel and nearby restaurants and markets, close to attractions
  • White House hotel – Simply furnished but clean and very cheap accommodation in the centre of town, a short walk from Hyde Park and Paddington Station
  • Hotel DC – A smaller, cosy hotel at an unbeatable price in the quiet Stratford area, with easy access to the city centre and airport by tube, train and bus
ubytování londýn
Hotel DC – great value for money

Smaller, cosy hotel with excellent accessibility

ubytování londýn
ibis London City Shoreditch

Modern 3* hotel near Liverpool Street Station

levné ubytování londýn
White House Hotel

Cheap hotel in central London

ubytování londýn
ibis London Blackfriars

Cozy hotel in the city center at a good price

Useful information

  • If you only have one day in London, stay near the central station where you will be getting the bus/train from the airport. So you won’t lose precious minutes travelling around London. Here, in the London Transport article, you will find a detailed description of where the trains/buses stop on the way from the airport.
  • Where possible, book tickets in advance (London Eye, The Shard, Tower of London). Then you just need to show them on your mobile.
  • Use your contactless card on the tube and buses around London. Just put the card at the turnstile (on the metro and train, also when you get off, to deduct the amount you actually travelled). Only 1 person can travel on one card.

Plan your trip quickly and easily. If you buy something through our links, we get a small commission. You pay nothing extra. Thank you!

This was our itinerary for visiting London in 1 day. Do you have a question? We’ll be happy to answer it in the comments below. Have a safe journey!

More information about London

THINGS TO DO IN LONDON: Here’s a list of the best places to visit in London (including handy information on admission fees and opening times).

We’ve created an itinerary for 3 days in London and if you’re even more pressed for time, take a look at the 1 day London itinerary.

London is a great place for the whole family. Read our tips on things do in London with kids (+ more practical information).

LONDON TRAVEL GUIDE: In the article you can find out all about transport in London (airport, public transport, underground, bicycle). Read about accommodation, prices, food and safety in our London travel guide. Tips on the best hotels in London will help you make your accommodation choices easier.

Here are 7 tips on how to save in London. The London Pass is a popular way to save money in London – find out more about London Pass.

GREAT BRITAIN: Find tips on what to see and do in England in our list of the most beautiful places in England. Or head north to Edinburgh or visit beautiful Scotland.

London in 1 day – Frequently Asked Questions

Can you do London in one day?

London is such a beautiful, diverse and clean city that just walking through its streets and along the Thames Embankment is an experience in itself. In one day, you’ll be able to see the most famous sights from the outside and sample the local cuisine in Shoreditch, which is a variety of international cuisine.

What sights to see in London?

From the iconic Tower Bridge, the medieval Tower of London and the elegant Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the Royal Family, London is bursting with sights and attractions. Take inspiration from our itinerary and map of places you shouldn’t miss when visiting London.

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