Aside from Paris and New York, London is the city where I feel most at home! My family lived in London during the 90s and as such I have a lot of childhood memories in this historic city. It means that each trip back to London feels like revisiting a special part of my childhood.
I’ve been lucky enough to make countless trips back to London over the years, and every time I fall a bit more in love.
This city is truly steeped in history and is easily one of the most charming places I’ve visited. Plus it’s loaded with amazing restaurants and coffee shops, museums, darling neighborhoods, and tons of local treasures. I think it is a city that is wonderful for first timers to Europe, families, couples and especially for solo travelers as you don’t have to navigate any language barrier.
There’s much to love about London but I really love how much they cherish tradition and pomp and circumstance. There’s something very regal and yet casual and approachable about the city at the same time.
With such a large city, it’s impossible to “see it all” of course but today I’m sharing a roundup of things you can do and see to enjoy a perfect day in London.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into London, En Route to Rêverie (formerly London, Perfected) offers bespoke London recommendations as well as personalized itineraries so you can discover the very best of London. Our travel Atelier loves curating bespoke recommendations and itineraries based on what’s most important to you when you travel.
We curate your Plan with a variety of factors in place such as if you’ve ever been to London before, whether you’re interested in day trips, what your budget is, who you are traveling with, where you’re staying and much more.
If you’ve never considered working with a travel advisor, you may be keen to read my guide to Why Use a Travel Agent.
What to Do in London for A Day
Navigate the Underground
If you plan on visiting the city’s top attractions, you’ll need to become an expert at navigating public transportation to ensure you can cover as much ground as possible. The history of London’s underground transportation network dates back to the mid 1800s when it opened as the world’s first underground railway in an effort to reduce street congestion.
Today, the London Underground (affectionately called the Tube) includes 11 lines, 272 stations, and spans nearly 250 miles. I find the Underground and the vast bus system to be one of the best (and easiest) ways to navigate the city. I highly recommend trying to snag the upstairs, front row seat on the bus if you can.It’s the perfect vantage point to enjoy a drive through London!
Navigating public transportation in a foreign city can be daunting, that’s why I include specific and detailed information on how to get around London for my En Route to Rêverie clients!
Be advised you can use tap to pay on your mobile device now in the London Tube which makes for more seamless travel than worrying about paper tickets.
Stroll the River Thames
No trip to London is complete without a stroll along the famous River Thames, which splits the city into North and South London. A walk along this iconic waterway is one of the best ways to see the major sites in London! The Thames is home to famous landmarks like the Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, and London Bridge.
One of my favorite vantage points in all of London is located along the south bank of the Thames, just across Westminster Bridge. From here you can get an amazing view of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, it also makes for a great picture as seen below!
If the weather is nice, you can also rent bicycles and give biking along the Thames a go.
Get a Bird’s Eye View of the City
If it’s your first time visiting London, I highly recommend taking a trip on the London Eye. Be sure to book tickets ahead of time, and try to go at golden hour if you can for a truly magical experience.
From the London Eye you get an unparalleled view of London – you’ll be able to see Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and the Shard.
Watch the Changing of the Guard
There’s nothing more iconic than the Royal Guard and their tall bearskin caps! Pay a visit to the King’s Guard outside Buckingham Palace and observe the historic (and free) Changing of the Guard ceremony. The Old Guard (who is currently on duty) will be relieved by the New Guard with all the pomp and circumstance you would expect from the Brits.
En Route to Rêverie clients have the opportunity to experience the Changing of the Guard up close and personal with exclusive experiences and opportunities unlike anything you can book online!
Get Lost in Covent Garden
If you’ve been a wit & whimsy reader for a while, you’re aware that no day of exploring is complete without a coffee and a little treat! I always head to Covent Garden or nearby Seven Dials to rest my feet, caffeinate, and refuel for the rest of the day. Covent Garden is a major shopping and dining destination in Central London.
Here you’ll find Apple Market (home to craft stalls and pop up shops), lots of street performers, and the Royal Opera House.
There are also tons of restaurants and cute cafés to pop into, I share a curated list of all my favorite spots with En Route to Rêverie clients!
Delight in the Crown Jewels
While the Tower of London is admittedly a major tourist attraction, it’s one I highly recommend. Tickets book up quickly so try to secure them online in advance. What was once the center of William the Conquerer’s London fortress, this 1,000 year old historic site has a rich history.
But perhaps one of the biggest draws is the opportunity to see the famous Crown Jewels! Seeing the Imperial State Crown, which Queen Elizabeth wore at her coronation, is an experience not to be missed.
See the Famous Lions
Another one of my favorite views in all of London is right outside the National Portrait Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square is a public square and where you’ll find the giant Trafalgar Square bronze lions and the Trafalgar Square Fountains.
If you’re spending Christmas in London, this site plays host to one of the city’s famous Christmas markets which is always an utter delight. I make it a point to come here almost every trip to London, I just love soaking in the feeling of being in the middle of it all!
Eat Your Way Through Borough Market
South of the River Thames and close to the London Bridge is the historic Borough Market, a sprawling collection of small shops and covered food stalls. Records indicate there has been a market in this location since the late 1200s, and today it’s foodie heaven. I could spend hours wandering through Borough Market!
From fresh fruit and veg, to sweet treats, to street food – there’s something to satisfy any craving. I think this is a great place to come for lunch or an afternoon graze, but there are also tons of restaurants nearby to choose from for dinner as well. One of my London must-try sweet treats is located here – Bread Ahead has some of the most amazing jam and custard filled donuts I’ve ever tried. I dream about them! Do not miss the Raspberry one in particular.
Wander through Kensington Gardens
One of my favorite nooks in London is Kensington Gardens, just next to Kensington Palace. I love to start my mornings in London with a coffee and a stroll through this picturesque public park. There are endless walking paths, benches to have a rest on, and you’ll see a ton of off-leash dogs.
Kensington Palace is also home to several members of the Royal Family and often has interesting exhibits which you can purchase tickets for ahead of time.
Immerse Yourself in History
London is home to some of the finest museums in the world. From the British Museum (where you can explore over 2 million years of human history) to the Natural History Museum (which is always a hit with kids), to the National Portrait Gallery (which just reopened after extensive renovations) – you really can’t go wrong.
One of my personal favorite museums in London is the Victoria & Albert Museum where I recently saw an exhibit all about Gabrielle Chanel and her iconic fashion house.
I keep a running list of all the interesting exhibits that are on in London so En Route to Rêverie clients can snag tickets well in advance! Our travel atelier is also able to snag special tickets to sporting and cultural events that may be sold out so do be in touch.
See a Show at London’s Iconic West End
One of my favorite evening activities in London is seeing a show in London’s theater district, the West End. London’s West End is home to some iconic theaters and productions including several incredibly long running musicals. Les Misérables has been running since 1985 and The Phantom of the Opera since 1986!
From plays to musicals, there are a huge variety of shows to choose from and it’s always a good time. I also find that often prices are cheaper here than on Broadway so I always try to make it a point to see the hot new shows I can’t snag tickets for in New York!
London 1 Day Itinerary
If you’re looking to maximize your time in London, En Route to Rêverie offers personalized day-by-day itineraries for London, customized to your budget, preferences, and length of stay. Our team would love to help you have the best trip to London possible!
Have you been to London? What was your favorite part of your visit? I’d love to hear in the Comments!