A one-day itinerary for London
How to get the most out of just 24 hours in London
Get up early and be at the Tower of London before it opens 9am (it helps to buy skip-the-line tickets ahead of time) so you can get on the first Yeoman Warder tour of this bastion of London's Middle Ages.
Time: 110 min. (The tour lasts an hour. Budget another 30 minutes to tour the White Tower, and 20 minutes for the Crown Jewels.)
Transit: District or Circle to Tower Hill.
Head to the famed Westminster Abbey to pay homage to the British monarchs, English poets, and other notables buried inside.
Just before or after your visit (depending on how hungry you are), grab some lunch on the go. I recommend a quick sandwich at the kiosk by the Abbey's West Towers, though if you need a sit-down break, take 30 minutes to dine in the Abbey's Cellarium.
Time: 90 min. (70 min. for the Abbey, 20 min. for lunch. Not really enough time in Westminster, but we have a lot to do today.)
Transit: District or Circle to Westminster.
Make sure you hop the Tube at Westminster station so you have a chance to see the iconic Elizabeth Tower of the Parliament building—which most people call "Big Ben" (technically, that's just the name of one of the bells inside the tower). Once the bells are chiming again (scheduled for summer 2021), stick around long enough to hear it to ring the hour with its famous Cambridge Chimes tune.
Time: 10 min.
London's iconic exclamation point, the clock tower housing Big Ben, sprouts from the honey-hued complex of be-spired 1840 buildings where British Parliament meets (and you can attend sessions)
Make your way to the British Museum. You'll only have time for the highlights—Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies, Elgin Marbles, etc.
Time: 105 min. (Budget 75 minutes for the collections, and another 15 minutes at the awesome museum shop.)
Transit: District or Circle to Embankment, then Northern to Tottenham Court Road.
One of the greatest museums on the planet, a repository of astounding artifacts from throughout human history all around the globe, from the Rosetta Stone to the Parthenon Marbles to an Easter Island moai and much, much, much more
Walk though the Covent Garden neighborhood to the north side of Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, filled with Old Master paintings.
Time: 90 min.
Transit: Walk. (You could take the Tube—Northern to Charing Cross—bit it's not far, and you really should see some of London's streets.)
Have an early-ish dinner, then spend the evening doing whatever floats your boat (some ideas are below)
Time: 90 min.
For your evening plans, choose one of the following:
Sorry. Nothing fits that criteria.
Option 1: Attend a play or a show.
Option 2: Indulge in a pub crawl (an early play may leave you time to pub-crawl a bit afterward).
Option 3: Just drink in the street acts and nighttime crowds milling around Leicester Square, Piccadilly, and Covent Garden.
Since this itinerary takes into account travel time (walking, taking the Tube, driving, whatever):
- The times in grey circles are the times by which you need to start moving in order to go to the next stop.
- The times in blue circles are the times by which you should arrive at that stop to begin the fun.