London is a city that attracts tens of millions of visitors every year. As the UK’s cultural, business, and political capital, it has a lot to offer those that pass through its airports, train stations, and ports each year.
While some people visit the city for a long holiday, others only have a day. There are many reasons why you might only have a few days or even just 24 hours in London.
Travelers often transit through the city on their way to other parts of the world, with some choosing to add a night in the city to their itinerary. Others visit the city for major sporting events like Euro 2020 or Lex Live and try to cram in some sightseeing while they're there.
Top 9 Things to See in London in 24 Hours
Thankfully, 24 hours is plenty of time to see many of the most famous sights, you just need to spend some time planning. Of course, you won’t get to go on any of the popular tours or inside any of the attractions on offer in the city, but you will still get to see many of the most famous sights.
1. Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is a great place to start as its central location is close to many popular hotels, several tube stations, and numerous bus stops.
This giant mansion is the official residence of The Queen and is where the Changing of the Guard takes place on most days.
After a few photos of the palace, the guards outside, and the fountains, you can head off on foot to the next destination.
2. Palace of Westminster (Big Ben)
The Palace of Westminster is the seat of the UK’s and England’s political power.
Known also as the Houses of Parliament, this perpendicular gothic revival-style building on the banks of the River Thames is over 1,000 years old (though it was rebuilt in 1840 after a fire).
The most famous part is the Queen Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) which stands next to Westminster Bridge.
Walk out onto Westminster Bridge and enjoy views over the river, snap some photos of parliament and Big Ben, and the famous London Eye on the other bank.
3. Downing Street
Walk back towards Parliament Square (the green square in front of the Palace of Westminster) and turn right onto Parliament Street.
Along here, you’ll find many of the “Whitehall” buildings where much of the UK government’s offices are based.
On the left-hand side, you’ll also find Downing Street, which is home to the Prime Minister and other key members of the government.
4. Trafalgar Square
Keep walking and you’ll come to Trafalgar Square, which houses the famous lion statues, the empty fourth plinth and Nelson’s Column.
At the back of the square is the National Gallery, a great spot for art lovers.
5. Leicester Square
Walk north (behind the National Gallery) and you’ll find yourself in Leicester Square, the home of many of London’s greatest theatres and other cultural venues.
The vast array of restaurants make it a great place to grab a bite to eat at lunchtime.
6. Piccadilly Circus
A short walk west will see you arrive at Piccadilly Circus; this busy part of the city is home to a set of light-up screens, similar to (but much smaller) than what you see in New York Times Square.
7. Tower Bridge & Tower of London
Head underground at Picadilly Circus and take a Bakerloo Line train to Embankment Station before changing to a District or Circle Line train to Tower Hill.
Leave the station and you’ll find yourself at the Tower of London, the famous castle that protects the Crown Jewels today but was used as a prison in the past.
Keep walking towards the river and you’ll soon find yourself looking at Tower Bridge, the beautiful drawbridge with its blue metalwork and Gothic style stonework.
8. Canary Wharf
Walk back past the tower towards Bank station. From here, catch the DLR east to Canary Wharf.
This is the business center of the city and provides a clean and clinical contrast to the hodgepodge of buildings in the rest of London.
It’s an interesting area to walk around for a few minutes, admiring the architecture and infrastructure.
There’s also a large shopping centre which is a great place to stop for refreshments if needed.
9. Cutty Sark
Jump back on the DLR at Canary Wharf and head towards Cutty Sark.
You’ll pass under the river and reemerge in Greenwich. Leave the station and turn left, walk past the shops and you’ll come to the Cutty Sark, an old clipper ship that once transported goods around the world.
This is also a great place to have dinner, with a mix of chain and local restaurants in the area.
You’ll definitely have worked up an appetite and you’ll be in need of a well-earned rest after crossing the entire city in such a short period of time.