When it comes to international travels, it can be so hard to allocate your time to ensure that you have just enough time in each destination on your itinerary. Sometimes it doesn’t feel possible to spend just one day in a city – especially a major city like London. But if one day is all you have, don’t worry – even though London is jam-packed with exciting sights and events, it’s not difficult to plan the perfect day trip to this timeless city.
Start your day off by tossing your heavy bags at a luggage storage in KGX (King’s Cross Station) – then, get out into this exciting city and let these ideas be your guide:
Tour London’s Most Iconic Landmarks
Like most other cities in the UK, London is full of tremendous amounts of history and architecture that you could easily get lost wandering in and out of for hours. While it’s probably not possible to hit every single London landmark in one day, you can easily break out a map and plan to see a handful of them during your day trip.
Two of the biggest must-see buildings are, of course, the Tower of London (Game of Thrones fans, you especially won’t want to pass this up) and Buckingham Palace. If you’re lucky enough, you may be able to perfectly time your trip to witness the acclaimed “Changing of the Guard” that tourists from all around the world hope to catch a glimpse of.
Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament are also incredibly iconic and popular tourist destinations – and of course, Harry Potter fans shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to tour some of the London sites that were filmed in the movies.
Experts highly recommend investing in a London Pass, which will allow you access to 80+ London attractions. This is a great idea if you want to avoid spending any of your precious time waiting in long lines.
Eat, Drink and Eat Some More
Trying new foods and local restaurants is truly one of the most exciting parts about traveling, no matter where in the world you find yourself. If you’re in London, a visit to a local pub is an absolute must – there’s simply nothing like them, even if you’ve gone to English pubs in the U.S. or other countries. Plus, a hot plate of fish and chips and an icy cold pint of beer is the perfect way to top off a day of walking around iconic landmarks.
If food is your number one priority during your day trip to London, pay a visit to Borough Market, which is jam packed with great restaurants and food stalls.
Don’t forget, London is an amazing place for both international and Michelin-star cuisine as well. If you and your travel companions are willing to splurge, end the day with a gourmet dinner and a few cocktails at places like Manteca, the Clove Club, or Core by Clare Smyth.
East, West Or Both?
Some people prefer to plan their day trip based on which side of the city calls to them most, though many out-of-towners may not realize there’s anything to consider when it comes to East vs. West London. While there’s something for everyone on both ends of this amazing city, there are a few nuances you may want to take into account if you’re hoping to spend the whole day on foot and not have to take too many buses or car rides.
The East side is home to Shoreditch, which is a great option if you’re looking to explore a less touristy part of town. Foodies will love the East side because one of the biggest collections of restaurants (outside of Soho) can be found just north of Shoreditch Street.
Because the west end is closer to the airport, it tends to be much more full of tourists. However, you may still be able to find a few hot spots that aren’t as cluttered or overwhelming, which can be a breath of fresh air after a few hours of tours and traveling. Kensington, one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city, is on the west side and houses many of the city’s top museums. Food lovers can find everything on the west side, from a hole-in-the-wall pub to a Michelin star restaurant.
At the end of the day, the most helpful thing you can do when planning a day trip to London is thinking about what matters most to you when traveling. If you can’t get enough shopping, plan your day around the areas where high-fashion and boutique shops can be found. If history is your primary reason for traveling, create an itinerary that allows you to hit a bunch of spots in a row – just be sure to wear comfy shoes and check into reserving tickets beforehand!