How to do London in one (big) day
So many European tours kick off in London, so what do you do when you wind up with a spare 24 hours pre-tour in the land of red phone booths and Bobbies? There are hundreds of options, but this rough guide is a good basis for owning conversations that start with, “when you were in London, did you...?”
8am: A traditional English breakfast
English additions take bacon and eggs to a whole new level; bring on the black pudding, baked beans and mushrooms. We recommend The Breakfast Club, which offers a giant fry-up that won’t break the bank.
9am – 12pm: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace
Now is the time to capture that classic selfie in front of Big Ben, with extra points if you can get the London Eye in as well.
While in the area, check out Westminster Abbey, one of the world’s most famous churches. You’ll need at least an hour and about 20 quid if you want to tour the inside.
A 15 minute walk through St James’s Park will find you at Buckingham Palace, and if it’s the right time of day you can also tick off the Changing of the Guard.
Also in the area is the Australian War Memorial, The Ritz, and Harrods, the iconic department store that first brought Krispy Kremes to London.
12pm: Marks & Spencer picnic lunch
Another thing that England is winning at is ready-made food at supermarkets. Find your nearest Marks & Spencer and load up on scotch eggs, cocktail sausages, pork pies and chicken drumsticks for a picnic in Green Park; - don’t forget the Percy Pigs #foodgoals.
If the weather is not picnic-friendly, Pret-a-Manger offers pocket friendly lunch in a dine-in location, and it’s a great place to people watch/ judge while enjoying a sandwich.
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1pm – 5pm: Choose your own adventure
Art lovers will be all a-flutter when it comes to choosing a gallery from a range including the Tate Modern and the National Gallery. Theatre fans can catch a matinee at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, or take a tour for around 15 pounds.
Head up the river to re-enact Bridget Jones’ walk to work on the Tower Bridge and check out the Tower of London. History buffs won’t be able to pass up a tour of this 950-year-old icon, which is home to the Crown Jewels and oodles of juicy royal history.
If you’ve had enough history, walk between Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus and shop till you drop, although market junkies will prefer the gorgeous mess of stalls at Camden Markets.
5pm – Time for a pint or two
It’s time for a break. Choose one of the many quaint English pubs, order a pint and put your feet up. We like the Lamb & Flag at Covent Garden; it was Charles Dickens’ favourite and we trust his judgement.
7pm – Curry heaven
Fun fact: Tikka Masala was invented in the UK, and in London you will find the best Indian food outside of the mother country herself.
For an Indian feast you can check out the famous curry houses along Brick Lane, including Aladin, praised by Prince Charles himself, but good curry can be found on pretty much every street corner in London.
9pm – Pre drinks
London clubs don’t really get going until after midnight, but there are plenty of pre-club bars to help you get in the mood. Try The Roxy on Oxford Street for a buzzing crowd gearing up for a big night.
12am – Party hard
Jump into one of the most famous club scenes in the world at Ministry of Sound, XOYO, Heaven or Fabric. The cover charges can be steep but with just 24 hours in London it’s a once-in-a-lifetime cost. Book tickets ahead to avoid the queues and dance till you drop, but don’t miss your morning tour departure!
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