London is one of my favorite cities in the world — in fact, I actually lived there for a summer of studies back in 2007 which I sometimes forget because it seems like an eternity ago! While there are literally endless things to do and see in London, you can get a great taste of the city in just 24 hours — and I put that theory to the test during a recent stopover en route to Morocco. If your upcoming travel plans happen to have you swinging through this fantastic melting pot, make sure to read on for my tips on how to spend an ideal 24 hours in London.
What to Expect From This 24 Hour London Itinerary
- You’ll start in the Notting Hill area and work your way towards Westminster, then end the night in the area of Covent Garden
- This itinerary takes you through the most charming and photogenic parts of London as well as some of the tourist hot spots so you’ll really get a taste of the city
- Total walking time throughout the entire day is about 2 hours on foot, but this can always be shortened if need be by hopping cabs/Ubers or catching the metro
- Make sure to reference the Google Map at the bottom of this post for all location points
Breakfast at Lowry & Baker
Start the morning with a cozy breakfast at Lowry & Baker (they open at 8 AM Monday through Saturday), an independent coffee shop and bakery that serves up fresh eats in a homey setting. It’s the perfect spot to fuel up for a day of exploring London.
Explore Portobello Road
Portobello Road is one of the most famous markets in the world that dates back about 150 years. It’s a hub for antique lovers but also has plenty of fashion and food stalls to explore (check here for days/times).
Make your way down Portobello Road, but don’t miss a stroll through Lancaster Road along the way to see all of the charming, colorful houses. Other worthy stops include a peek into Biscuiteers, a famous biscuit shop that’s perfect for bringing customized gifts back home, and the famous Hummingbird Bakery for a memorable sweet treat.
Lunch at Farm Girl Cafe
This Aussie inspired cafe has delicious healthy plates and a creative selection of lattes like rose and lavender flavors and even a “liquid gold latte.”
This stunning residential area is well worth a walk through if only to ogle at the colorful townhouses. Don’t be surprised if you immediately want to switch your residence.
One of London’s most recognizable watering holes, it’s likely you’ve spotted pictures on Instagram of Churchill Arms, a memorable corner pub dripping in flowers. Stop in for a drink to experience British pub life, and order up a Magner’s Cider if you’re in the mood for something a bit different!
Stroll Through Hyde Park
As one of the biggest and most beautiful parks in Central London, Hyde Park is a stop you can’t miss during a quick visit to the city. From Churchill Arms, mosey over to Kensington Palace at the park’s entrance and stroll through the Kensington Gardens to eventually make your way to the east side of the park which will connect to the area surrounding Buckingham Palace.
Check a famous attraction off the bucket list by strolling by Buckingham Palace on your way to Westminster. Just witnessing the palace from outside the gates is a sight to behold, but if you’re lucky enough to visit during the two months out of the year when the palace is open to the public, you can purchase tickets online for tours of the majestic state rooms.
AFTERNOON / EVENING
See all the Sights of Westminster
Stroll the picturesque Birdcage Walk which borders St. James’ Park en route to Westminster, one of the most popular tourist spots in London as it’s full of iconic landmarks. Some spots not to miss: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and The London Eye. If you have time, take a sunset ride up in the London Eye for a bird’s eye view over the city and River Thames.
Dinner in Covent Garden
London is one of the best cities in the world to explore flavors from all over the globe, in my opinion, as it’s such an incredible melting pot of people from all different cultures and backgrounds. Dishoom located in Covent Garden has been rated “Best Restaurant in the UK” by Yelp! users and was also named one of the best places to eat by Time Out. The beloved Indian restaurant pays homage to flavors of Bombay and is a safe bet for a fantastic dinner in a popular area of London.
End the night at the Rosewood Hotel’s Scarfes Bar
For classy London at its core, make sure to cap off the evening with a cocktail at the Rosewood Hotel, one of the top 5-star hotels in London which is housed inside the old Chancery Court building. You’ll want to dress to impress, so make sure to pack a change of clothes to freshen up if you’ve been walking in the heat or elements all day.
Where to Stay
For the most efficient use of this itinerary, plan to stay in the Notting Hill area so that you’re already on location to start your tour through London. My pick for one night would The Laslett, a beautiful boutique hotel conveniently situated right off Portobello Road, or find another local option using the search box below.
Helpful Tips For Seeing London in 24 Hours
- If you’re only visiting London on a long layover (not a stopover) and have less than 24 hours, you won’t be able to accomplish everything on this list. Pick and choose your priorities accordingly based on your time limits.
- Don’t forget to factor in travel time from the airport into the city when planning out your itinerary. From Heathrow to Notting Hill will take about 45 minutes to an hour driving or taking the train and that doesn’t include customs and baggage claim. Gatwick is an even longer journey (about 1 hour and 20 minutes).
- If you don’t plan to stay overnight in the city, make sure to invest in luggage storage at the airport so you’re not stuck lugging your bags around during your adventures.
- To speed up your time getting around London, opt out of walking and take taxis or Ubers instead — or buy an Oyster Card to get around London via metro (I paid about 15 pounds for mine over the course of one day).
- Bring good walking shoes and a comfortable day bag to carry plus a nice change of clothes in your bag for the evening out.
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