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What to Do in London for One Day

  • Tuesday September 5th 2023
  • London Eye
  • For the Family, Trip ideas, London itinerary

A picture of a must see place in London, the Southbank

The Must See Destinations if You’re Only in London for One Day

Want to see the sights but only have a day to spare?

  • Take in London’s rich history
  • The Southbank: Everything you need in one place
  • Immerse yourself in London’s culture
  • See it all at once from the London Eye

Introduction: Want to see the sights but only have a day to spare?

Whether you are just passing through or you finally have a spare day to spend in the nation’s capital, the city of London has plenty to offer. As the country’s premier location for culture, art and history, it is possible to spend just one day doing a variety of activities that will give you a real taste and feel for the great city. Here is our guide to all of London’s ‘must sees and must dos’:

Take in London’s rich history

As you have just a day to get to know London, we recommend doing some essential sightseeing. And with so many places of historical importance to see, we’ve chosen the three best spots to take in London’s rich culture:

Big Ben

As probably the world’s most famous clock, London’s very own Big Ben (the name technically given to the 13-tonne bell inside) is the perfect way to get an authentic flavour of London in just one day. Big Ben first rang across Westminster on the 31st of May in 1859 and has barely stopped ringing since. Despite the neighbouring Commons chamber being destroyed by a bomb during the Second World War, Big Ben continued to strike the hours as intended. Standing at 96 metres tall (with 334 steps to climb up to the belfry and 399 steps to the Ayrton Light at the very top of the tower), Big Ben is even more of a wonder to see at night when the clock face lights up for everyone to see.

Westminster Abbey

As a royal church offering daily services and a World Heritage Site with over a thousand years of history, Westminster Abbey is one of London’s most beautiful and famous tourist attractions. Situated in the heart of the city, the abbey was founded by Benedictine monks in 960AD. Most recently, it was home to the Coronation of the his Royal Highness and has been the nation’s coronation church since 1066. Throughout the year, there are a variety of exhibitions and events to choose from (which are suited for people of all ages), so make sure to get your ticket in advance.

Buckingham Palace

As the official Royal residence, Buckingham Palace is one of the finest and most patriotic ways to spend a day in London. Known across the country as the focus of many national (and royal) celebrations, the palace is first thought of by many across the globe as the backdrop to the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Throughout the year, there are a number of guided tours to explore the inside of the palace, so you can see how a Prince and Princess really live. From the throne room to the ballroom, you’ll have an unforgettable day at Buckingham Palace.

The Southbank: Everything you need in one place

London’s often visited Southbank is home to many of the city’s favourite attractions. It’s also just across the river from Big Ben and Houses of Parliament. With an array of things to do for adults and children alike, we’ve gathered together a list of our favourite things that you can do in just one day.

The London Eye and the River Cruise in London

The London Eye

A wonder of modern engineering, the London Eye is a must see in London and a great way to get to know the city in just one day. Perfect if you’re travelling alone or with your family, the London Eye has 32 pods (numbered 1 to 33, with 13 left out for good luck) that are completely enclosed, offer a 360 view and are climate controlled. The London Eye is the perfect place to see many of London’s famous landmarks from the sky like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard and more! The circumference of the London Eye is 424 metres (1,392 feet) and is technically considered to be an engineered cantilevered observation wheel, as opposed to a Ferris wheel, due to the way it’s constructed with an A-frame on one side.

SEA LIFE London Aquarium

With just one day in the city, many Londoners would agree that there’s no better way to pass the time than at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium. Home to around 500 different species of marine life (including an array of sharks and a sea turtle or two) and 14 themed zones, there’s a variety of things to see (and touch) at this famed aquarium. Throughout your day, you’ll get to traverse the ocean floor in the spectacular glass Ocean Tunnel and Coral Kingdom Zone, meet the penguins of the Gentoo penguin colony and shake hands with a starfish (and a sea anemone, if you dare) in the Rockpool Zone.

The London Dungeon

If you fancy getting a little history lesson mixed in with a thrill and a scare or two, then the London Dungeon is the perfect way to spend your single day in London. Hiding just under County Hall, you’ll be treated to a macabre interactive history of the city’s nightmarish and grizzly past. Take a seat on the Dead Drop: Drop Ride, hold on tight during the underground boat trip, pull up a barstool and hear a tale or two at the Tavern, or get to know the infamous Jack the Ripper (London’s most prolific serial killer). If you have the time, you can even try to escape from the dungeon’s brand-new attraction, the Guy Fawkes Escape Room.