1 DAY IN LONDON: Best itinerary, what to see & route map

Londýn za 1 den

London. This metropolis has completely captivated me. 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.

1 day in London – how to plan an itinerary

On our first visit to London we stayed in Shoreditch. A short walk from Liverpool Street where we got off the bus from Stansted Airport.

We only had one day for London. And even though we made all the “obligatory” stops, we didn’t actually miss anything.

On the contrary.

We just got cocky and realised that we had to see London again. And definitely for a long time. That’s how we came up with our itinerary for London for 3 days.

During your one-day visit to London, you’ll only have time to soak up the atmosphere of the city centre and take in 1-2 sights. And if you fall in love with London, you’ll probably already be planning a longer journey on your flight back home.

1 Day in London

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.

You’ll also need to factor in the time you’ll spend travelling from the airport to London. Except for Heathrow, all the airports are outside London and it takes an hour and a half to get to the city centre (depending on the airport, but Stansted can take even longer).

For more information on transport from the airport, see our article on transport in London.

What to see in London in 1 day: Best itinerary and route

We arrived at Stansted airport from Rome in the early evening. We had nothing planned for the rest of the day. We got off at Liverpool Street with our backpacks on our backs and crumpled after a long journey. We came to represent our country :).

Liverpool Street and the Gherkin skyscraper on the left at the back

I still remember that the workers were just leaving the City of London offices and heading for Liverpool Street station. I’ve never seen such a flurry of ties and suits.

We stayed in the Shoreditch area, which is famous for its street art, pubs and lively atmosphere. The rest of the day was spent wandering around Shoreditch and the iconic 30 St Mary Axe or Gherkin skyscraper.

London in one day: route 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.

London for 1 day: Shoreditch – Tower of London – Tower Bridge

In the morning we started early. We only met locals in the streets. That’s exactly why we always try to leave early in the morning. Soak up the atmosphere before the streets fill up with tourists.

And if you want to catch London in one day, you need to get out as soon as possible.

We explored several of the street art streets that Shoreditch is famous for. You’ll see everything from abstract paintings to Donald Trump.

Shoreditch / 1 day in London

Tower of London

From Shoreditch, it’s just a short walk to the Tower of London. A fortress that is a symbol of London’s long and varied history. The crown jewels are stored here.

The Tower of London served as a prison for several centuries. One of the most famous prisoners was Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy.

Tower of London

You will need at least 1.5 hours to get to the Tower of London. If it’s on your list, now is the perfect time to visit in the morning. Book your tickets in advance so you don’t have to wait in line. Just show the ticket on your mobile phone on the spot.

They open at 10:00, so if you’re here early, head to Tower Bridge, which is right next door.

Tower Bridge

Iconic colourful bridge over the Thames. Tower Bridge is my favourite place in London.

This is a falling bridge from 1894, 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.

1 Day in 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.

Before you enter Tower Bridge, you can turn left for a great view of the bridge.


We crossed the bridge and continued to the right along the Thames promenade. It is beautifully landscaped and offers views of the Tower of London opposite with the City of London at its back.

Perfect contrast. History meets modernity.

Tower of London and Gherkin skyscraper / London in a day itinerary
Tower of London and behind it the Gherkin skyscraper

The City of London (even if it doesn’t look like it) is the oldest part of London. This is where it all began.

Today, you can recognise the City of London from afar by the skyscrapers that tower high above the original buildings. It’s a relatively small borough (what it lacks in width it makes up for in height), which is also home to the Bank of England and the London Stock Exchange.

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

London in 1 day: The Shark – Borough Market

If you look to the left from the promenade, you will see the modern town hall building. It is rounded and relatively low – its shape makes it more environmentally sustainable. The glass interior symbolizes transparency.

City of Hall London in 1 day itinerary
Tower Bridge and City of Hall on the right

The Shard – currently under reconstruction (August 2023)

Behind it is The Shard. A skyscraper in the shape of a shard (hence the name), which is the tallest in the whole of London. It consists of 11 000 glass panels.

London what to visit
The Shard and Southwark Cathedral

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 viewing platform a few metres up, where you can get a panoramic view of the whole of London.

Tickets must be booked in advance for a specific time (but you can stay as long as you want).

The Shard London view
View from The Shard

Borough Market and Tate Modern

It depends on what you’ve visited so far, but isn’t it time for something good? Just behind The Shard skyscraper is Borough Market, one of the best markets in London. Here you can try cuisine from all over the world.

Next door is Southwark Cathedral. The second most famous cathedral in London. And we’re about to get to the first one.

We strolled through the streets of Southwark, stopping along the promenade at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern art gallery. The Tate Modern Gallery should not be missed by any lover of modern art. Admission is free and the collection is huge.

London in 1 day: St Paul´s Cathedral and City of London

Millennium Bridge

From the Tate Modern, cross over to the north side of the Thames. There are several bridges that you can cross to the other side. But we won’t miss a walk on the Millennium Bridge, which appeared in the 6th episode of Harry Potter or in the 1st episode of Black Mirror on Netflix (and not only there).

It is for pedestrians only. The best thing about it is the perfectly framed view of St. Paul’s gonna peel through it.

Millennium Bridge and St Paul in the City of London / London in a Day
Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London

St Paul´s Cathedral

Cathedral of St. Paul’s Cathedral is after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is the second highest. You can see the dome from a distance, so it is a perfect clue.

It is an active church and the seat of the Bishop of London. It was originally built as a city-wide project by architect Christopher Wren to revive London after the Great Fire of 1666 (the original cathedral was burnt down in the fire).

St Paul's Cathedral London / London in 3 days

In the original design, the cathedral looked like a gigantic pineapple (yes, you heard right), because according to Wren, it symbolizes peace, hospitality and prosperity.

Today the cathedral is the final resting place of famous British figures (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. Book your tickets by clicking here .

At St. Paul’s Cathedral we get on the tube and go to Trafalgar Square.

London in 1 day: Trafalgar Square – Buckingham Palace

Trafalgar Square

When visiting London (even if we only have one day to spend in London), we can’t miss the most famous square in London – Trafalgar Square.

In the centre of the square stands the Nelson Column with bronze statues of lions surrounded by fountains. The National Gallery is the dominant feature (free admission).

Trafalgar Square / London in 3 days
Trafalgar Square

Piccadilly Circus

From Trafalgar Square, it’s just a short walk to Piccadilly Circus. The famous transport hub with its iconic billboards and the statue of Eros in the middle. New York has Times Square and London has Piccadilly Circus.

Buckingham Palace

If you have limited time, skip Piccadilly Circus and go straight to Buckingham Palace. You will walk along the main avenue of The Mall, which is flanked by the Royal Park of St James. A pleasant walk full of greenery and animals (tame squirrels, flamingos).

St Jame’s Park at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace / London in 1 day
Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace has been home to the British Royal Family since 1837 and has the largest private garden in London. The palace is only open for a few weeks in the summer.

1 day in London: Westminster Abbey – Big Ben

From Buckingham Palace, take the right-hand side of St Jame’s Park until you reach Westminster Abbey. One of the most beautiful and important buildings in London.

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

Westminster Abbey London in 1 day

If you have enough time (depending on what all you have visited that day), you can go inside. Allow at least an hour and a half for the tour. To skip the ticket queue, it is better to order tickets in advance (just show your ticket on your mobile phone at the venue).

Palace of Westminster and Big Ben

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 UK is debated, approved and decided.

London in 3 days / Palace of Westminster
Palace of Westminster and Big Ben / what to see in London in one day

Continue across the Thames to Westminster Bridge for an iconic photo of the Palace of Westminster. Like hundreds of other people. The view from here is simply the best.

On the other side of the river you can see our last stop – London Eye.

London in 1 day: London Eye and Covent Garden

London Eye

At 135 metres, the London Eye is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe (the tallest Ferris wheel in the world is in Dubai).

London Eye / London in 3 days
View of the London Eye from Westminster Bridge

This way you’ll have a great view of London at sunset in the evening. Tickets for the London Eye are more expensive on the day and there are long queues (depending on the season and time).

TIP: The Tower of London is one of the most visited places in London. Skip the line by booking tickets in advance.

London in one day / London Eye

Covent Garden

Are you hungry too? Where better to end your London itinerary for 1 day than Covent Garden. To get here, cross Hungerford Bridge (the first bridge after the London Eye). It’s less than 20 minutes walk.

Covent Garden is a lively district with street performers, restaurants, shops and a large market (the market closes at 6pm in the low season, slightly later in the high season).

Neal’s Yard is a hidden alleyway in Covent Garden full of colour, with a narrow turn-off

Or take the tube to Oxford Street. London’s most famous shopping avenue. And maybe even the world. There are plenty of places to eat or shop.

If you come here in the run-up to Christmas like we did, it’s beautifully decorated.

Where to stay in London

Here are some of our tips for accommodation with good accessibility, quality of service and price:

ibis London Blackfriars – hotel is on the south side of the Thames near Waterloo station; central London is within easy walking distance (near Westminster or London Eye); bus stop just opposite, restaurants and shops nearby

ibis London City Shoreditch – modern rooms near Liverpool Street Station, where buses from Stansted Airport stop; next to Tesco Express hotel and restaurants and markets nearby; walking distance to Tower of London and Tower Bridge

Best Western Chiswick Palace – beautiful and quiet location near Heathrow Airport; bus stop just opposite; 25 minutes by tube to the centre; restaurants and shops nearby

Practical 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.

You’ll also need to factor in the time you’ll spend travelling from the airport to London. Except for Heathrow, all the airports are outside London and it takes an hour and a half to get to the city centre (depending on the airport, but Stansted can take even longer).

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.

And the main thing at the end: enjoy!

More information about London

LONDON ITINERARY: Check out our article with tips on best things to do in London (entrance fees, opening times, map). To help you plan, we’ve created a 3 day itinerary for London.

LONDON GUIDE: In a separate 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. Our recommendations for the best hotels in London will help you make your accommodation choices easier.

HOW TO SAVE IN LONDON: Read our 7 tips on how to save in London. London Pass is a popular way to save money in London – find out more about London Pass.

LONDON WITH CHILDREN: London is a great place for the whole family. There are so many original and fun activities to keep the kids entertained. Read our recommendations for things to do in London with kids (+ more practical tips).

ENGLAND: The list of the most beautiful places in England includes tips on things to do in England.

London in 1 day – Frequently Asked Questions

Can you do London in one day?

You can see the most famous places in London in one day. But you have to take into account that you won’t see most of the sights. But London is an attractive place in itself, so just wandering its streets is an unforgettable experience.

What sights to see in London?

London is literally packed with sights and places of interest. Many of them are within walking distance of each other. Take inspiration from our itinerary and map of places you shouldn’t miss during your visit.

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