A Day in London: How to Have a Marvelous time

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London is a huge city with a lot of things happening, so preparing a day in London can make your itinerary hard to choose, but if you plan ahead and pack what you need for a day in London, then you are sure to have a good time!

With so much to do and explore in London that it will be difficult to choose your activities!

  • This post is divided into morning, afternoon, and evening activities. There are several suggestions for what you can do over a day in London, so pick and choose the activities that best fit your vision of spending the day in this beautiful city.
  • Included are opening times so you can plan accordingly. You can also take a look at the map to see where each recommendation is located so you’re not traveling back and forth across London.
  • There will also be mentions of how to get around London, what to pack, and suggestions for a few places to eat while you’re in London!

London was one of my favorite places to visit — I hope you’ll have an amazing day in London too!

A Day in London: Morning Activity Options

See the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace

Changing the guards at Buckingham Palace is a free must-see event when visiting London. This is a formal ceremony where a new set of guards – a different regiment or battalion – marches onto the forecourt of Buckingham Palace and takes over as sentries.  

The ceremony is a spectacle to behold; with a marching band playing lively tunes and a troop displaying their skills in a rifle display! It’s amazing to see all the guards in their red tunics and black bearskin hats.

Pro-Tip: The best place to view the Changing the Guards is from atop the stairs across from the entrance doors of Buckingham Palace.

Check the calendar to see which days the event occurs to make the best plan for your day as it’s not every day and the hand-off usually happens around 11 AM.

However, arrive at Buckingham Palace earlier, around 10:15-10:30 AM so you can get the best view!

  • Buckingham Palace | Address: Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA, UK
One activity to do for a day in London is to visit the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Visit Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is currently the world’s largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts, and design!

Exhibits include everything from ceramics and glass to furniture and architecture. If you only have time for one museum when in London, this is the one to visit!

Visits to V&A are free and tickets are available at the door unless there’s a wait. You can book your tickets ahead of time at their website if you’d like to beat the wait.

The Victoria and Alexander museum is open on Wednesdays to Sundays from 10 AM to 5:45 PM.

  • Victoria & Albert Museum | Address: Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL, UK
Another activity to do for a day in London is to visit Westminster Abbey.

Tour Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is a historic church located within walking distance of Buckingham Palace. It was built originally by Edward the Confessor around 1050 and then rebuilt by King Henry III 2 centuries later in the gothic style.

Over the years, there have been even more great events that happened at Westminster Abbey including a memorial for Princess Diana, a funeral for Sir Winston Churchill, and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Visit the website to book your tickets and check the schedule as Westminster Abbey is a working church so they may have restricted times for ceremonies and other events.

Typical open hours for Westminster Abbey are weekdays 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM, Saturdays from 9 AM to 1 PM, and Sundays are open for services.

  • Westminster Abbey | Address: 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, UK

Free Harry Potter Walking Tour

For Harry Potter Fans, sign up for a free Harry Potter walking tour where you’ll see neighborhoods and buildings that inspired J.K. Rowling and much more! You’ll also be able to Diagon Alley where you’ll find special Harry Potter merchandise. It’s quite the experience!

My favorite walking tour group to book with is Strawberry Tours — they have a recognizable red strawberry umbrella. The tour guides are so knowledgeable and entertaining, and best of all, it’s free! (They do ask for a tip afterward if you enjoyed the tour, just an FYI.)

Strawberry Tours currently offers two different times for the Harry Potter walking tour: 11 AM and 3:30 PM and it lasts about 2 hours.

After the tour, you can even head on over to King’s Cross Station to see Platform 9 3/4 and even purchase your own wand at the Harry Potter Shop there!

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Another place to visit for a day in London is Borough Market.

Eat at Borough Market

Borough Market is an amazing outdoor area with over 100 stalls, restaurants, and shops with flavors from England and all over the world. Borough Market has an amazing atmosphere, bustling with knowledgeable traders who source their food from the best!

A few of my favorite places to eat are Hash (try the pulled pork mac and cheese and Sangria), Khanom Krok (try the pad Thai), and Gourmet Goat ( try the kid goat kofta).

Opening hours for Borough Market vary, however, the best times to visit are 10 AM to midday or after 4 PM.

You can view the website for all the information you’ll need to visit Borough Market. Just beware that this popular market will usually be pretty full!

  • Borough Market | Address: 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL, UK

A Day in London: Afternoon Activity Options

Tour the Sherlock Holmes at Baker Street

For those of you who are big fans of the fictional character Sherlock Holmes, a trip to 221B Baker Street and a walk around the Sherlock Holmes museum is glorious!

The staff is dressed in their Victorian-era garb to welcome you into the museum. You’ll be able to see Sherlock’s study, Dr. Watson’s room, and on the ground floor, visit the shop where you can buy exclusive Sherlock products.

Visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum website to purchase your ticket! Tickets are 15 euros for adults and opening hours are Wednesdays – Sundays, 10 AM to 5 PM.

  • Sherlock Holmes Museum | Address: 221b Baker St, London NW1 6XE, UK
Another place to visit for a day in London is Camden Market.

Explore Camden Market

Camden Market has 1000+ markets that sell a variety of items such as clothing, arts, furniture, books, and so much more!

There is also an abundance of artists selling paintings and other crafts. If you’re in search of a souvenir, this is the place to find it.

You can also stop here for lunch as there’s a huge selection of food stalls from street food to desserts! I enjoyed Churros London where you can dip churros into melted chocolate and caramel.

For food options, there is so much to choose from, you will not be disappointed at all!

Camden Market is open every day from 10 AM to 6 PM. Take a look at the website to view everything that Camden Market has to offer!

  • Camden Market | Address: 54-56 Camden Lock Pl, London NW1 8AF, UK

Ride the London Eye

The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the southern bank of the River Thames with fantastic views of Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and many more iconic buildings of London.

The carriers are called capsules and can fit up to 25 people inside and you are free to walk around the capsule to get the best view or take a seat and just enjoy the 30-minute ride. The Ferris wheel doesn’t actually stop, but the rotation is slow enough that people can hop in and out of the capsules.

The London Eye is open from 11 AM – 6 PM. Purchase your tickets to the London Eye and take a ride to see some of the best views of London!

  • London Eye | Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, London SE1 7PB, UK
Another place to visit for a day in London is Shakespeare's Globe Theater

Attend Shakespeare’s Globe Theater

This world-renowned theater is a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre where Shakespeare wrote his plays. There are two theaters here: the outdoor Globe Theater and the indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

The Globe theater has a 360-degree view of the stage with an open ceiling; performances will continue in rain or shine so it is recommended to dress for the weather. The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is a more intimate setting with only 340 capacity and lit by candlelight.

You can book a tour guide to visit Shakespeare’s Globe or purchase tickets to see a show, which is offered in the evenings.

With so many hours, check Shakespeare’s Globe website for opening hours and pre-book your tickets!

You can also have lunch at the Swan Bar & Restaurant or visit the shop for Shakespeare merchandise.

  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theater | Address: 21 New Globe Walk, London SE1 9DT, UK
A walking activity to do for a day in London is tour Regent Street

Walk Along Regent Street

Regent Street is located in the West End and is known as one of London’s most famous shopping destinations including flagship stores such as Coach, Kate Spade, and J. Crew (to name a few).

The street itself is a little less than a mile and leads right into Picadilly Circus where multiple famous London streets meet up. Check out the Regent Street website to see all the shops it has to offer!

A Day in London: Evening Activity Options

Visit the Picadilly circus when you spend a day in London

Hang out at Picadilly Circus

Picadilly Circus is a circle where famous London Streets reconnect: Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, Covent Street, Glasshouse Street, and Haymarket.

This area is comparable to New York City’s Times Square as it has a large digital display of advertisements on the sides of buildings.

Picadilly can be seen during the day as it is a public walking space, but visit it at night when the Picadilly lights come to life. Make sure to take your tourist picture underneath the Picadilly Lights!

Check out the website to see if there are any special events happening during your visit!

Another activity to do for a day in London is do a dinner cruise on the Thames river.

Dinner Cruise on a Thames Riverboat

The Thames River is one of the world’s most famous rivers for a reason – it offers beautiful views of landmarks like St Paul’s Cathedral and The Tate Modern all along its path!

While cruising on the Thames, you can also enjoy a nice dinner while you take in the London views!

Depending on your timeline and which cruise you decide to go with, it can last anywhere between 1.5 hours to 3 hours.

You can also book a ticket for a West End  show for experiencing a day in London

See a West End Show

The West End is home to 38 theaters and is considered to have some of the best commercial theaters. Getting dressed up and going to a theater can make you feel like you’re spending a proper night out on the town.

Seeing a show is a must-do activity when in London!

I love finding great deals at lastminute.com where they have amazing prices from authorized retailers for great shows such as Wicked, Dream Girls, The Lion King, and many more!

Evening shows in the West End usually start around 7:30 PM or 7:45 PM.

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Free Ghost Walking Tour

If you’re feeling brave, take a tour around London and hear about the ghosts that haunt its streets. You’ll hear the stories of a beheaded king, poltergeists, hauntings in St. James Park, and so much more!

The walking tour is another great way to see the city if you want a first-hand account of its history!

Like the Harry Potter Walking Tour, my favorite guides are Strawberry Tours as they are great storytellers and give you a great time walking through the darkened streets of London!

You can view Strawberry Tours website and book your free tour with them! This tour starts at 7 PM and lasts about 1.5 hours.

Book a free walking tour to hear about Jack the Ripper when you spend a day in London.

Free Jack the Ripper Walking Tour

The Jack the Ripper tour will walk you through a series of London’s most gruesome murder sites from the Ripper and hear a plethora of stories that revolve around his criminal offenses.

In this eerie tour, you’ll learn more about the five victims of Jack the Ripper, see the places he left his victims, and even hear about suspects!

The tour starts at 7 PM and lasts about 2 hours during which time you will learn plenty about Jack the Ripper and see London in a whole new light!

Check out the Strawberry Tours website to reserve your free spot!

Map of Things to do in London

How to Get Around in London for a Day

Use the underground tube to get around London

One of the best and quickest ways to get around London is to purchase an Oyster Card and use the Underground Metro System, also known as “the tube.” The tube runs from early in the morning until midnight every day of the week.

You can catch a ride on a tube for 3-4 euros a person one way or a single journey for 5-6 euros. You can purchase your tickets or card online or get them directly at a station.

Check your map for areas that are close together as another way to get around London is walking. You can easily walk from a museum to a park and then to a restaurant for a meal or a snack.

Places to Eat in London

Where to eat when you spend a day in London

Mentioned throughout the activities to do is a spattering of places you can eat at. My favorite place to go is Borough Market where you can choose from all sorts of food items. Camden Market is also a great choice with a variety of food choices!

If you’d like a more stand-alone place, head on out to a pub, which is known as bars in some areas.

You can try some of the delicious traditional English meals such as fish and chips, bangers and mash (sausages made with mashed potatoes), and steak and kidney pie just to name a few. You can also grab a pint while you’re there!

How to Pack for a Day in London

For a day in London, there is a wide variety of weather throughout the year! London is known for its rainy weather. For the best times to visit London, try to schedule a visit in the spring when it starts getting warmer or fall when it’s a bit cooler.

Be sure to bring a raincoat if it rains or a light sweater in the summer. It can be very chilly so I recommend wearing layers that are easy to take off or put on. Make sure to include comfortable shoes because you will do a lot of walking.

Where to Stay in London

If it so happens to where you need to stay the night in London (sometimes plans just don’t work out as we think), there are a variety of places to stay a day in London depending upon your budget and what you want out of a trip.

To get the most out of your stay for a day in London, choose a place near an entrance to the tube or bus stops so you can easily navigate to all of your destinations.

Wrapping Up How to Spend a Day in London

With so many sights to see in London, you can’t go wrong with any activity you choose to do for a day in London; however, you’ll most definitely need to visit London again to see the places you missed on a day-long trip!

Have you been to London? What is a top priority on your list to see? Would you add anything to this list? Continue the conversation by commenting below!


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My Favorite Travel Tips + Resources

Here is a quick glance at all my go-to travel tips and resources that I use to plan every trip! For more information, check out my travel resources page.

  • Booking flights: I use Google Flights to check all routes and find the best flights. Then I compare them with Expedia (for reward points) and Skyscanner (for the lowest prices) before I book.
  • Accommodations: I love budget-friendly rentals or booking at a hotel where I can earn points. For hotels, I go through Booking.com or book directly with Marriott (for points + rewards). When I travel internationally, I’ll book through Hostelworld for very budget-friendly stays. For vacation rentals, I usually look through Airbnb, but you could also use Vrbo. Expedia also has some great bundles for hotels, flights, and car rentals altogether.
  • Transportation: For travel in the United States, I love renting through Expedia with Enterprise or Thrifty. They have been consistent and provide the best customer service. For international travel, I’ll book through Rome2Rio or Eurail for trains or bus fares.
  • Travel Credit Card: I book all my travel (flights, hotels, car rentals) through my favorite travel credit card. I also use this card for everything on my trip including dining, excursions, and souvenirs. Apart from earning 5x more points towards free travel, there are amazing benefits: no foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement (so I can book worry-free), fraud protection, emergency assistance – it’s really a great deal! Check it out here!
  • Vaccines and Medications: Check the CDC website for updates on necessary vaccines to enter a country, including updates on Covid-19 and recommended places to visit. I recommend getting all the vaccines you need before you go!
  • Tours + Experiences: I absolutely love my tours! Everything from eerie walking ghost tours to food tours, I’ll usually book something every trip either through Viator or GetYourGuide. I also love LastMinute.com for very affordable tickets to theaters and other experiences in Europe.
  • What to Pack: I almost always travel by backpack. For products I like, check out my packing guide page for all the things I take with me on different trips.

8 Comments

  1. Oh yes! Our first day in London and we were drenched! 🙂

  2. Hi Krista! I know, it was hard to choose which places, but everything here I would do again!

  3. Hi Josy! That’s awesome! London is on my dream list of places to live. And yes, I learned so much history from all the walking tours. They were so much fun!

  4. Hi Hannah!Thanks for stopping by! I so enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes museum too! And yes, with so much to do, it’s hard to see everything in one go!

  5. I think you have covered it all. I have done a lot of the morning and daytime activities in London and enjoyed them all. Lots of walking for sure. Don’t forget the umbrella!

  6. There are so many things to see and do in London so it’s difficult to plan only one day in the city, but it looks like you’ve made a really great itinerary here!

  7. Great post! I love seeing London through other people’s eyes. We lived there for years and I didn’t even know about all those walking tours!

    My other favorite thing to do is just walk through all the parks. There are just so many!

  8. This is a great guide! There are so many things to see and do in London! Despite my many visits I’ve still not made it to the V&A! I love the Sherlock Holmes museum though, it’s such a fun museum! Thanks for the great guide!

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