“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

Lewis Carroll

Are you going to be in London for just one day for whatever reason and you don’t know what to do or what to give priority to?
 
Are you even thinking to cancel since it doesn’t seem like being there for one day doesn’t make any sense to you? 
 
Hold the horse, then! 
 
It is my firm belief that being somewhere, even though for a very short time, is way better than never being there, as a general rule. This is especially true for cities like London, though. Moving forward with this post I’ll not only explain to you why, but I’ll as well share how my perfect one day in London looked like.

One day in London is more than enough to create an unforgettable memory

One day in London is nothing like one day in any other city, not even in any other European capital. One day in London can be enough to create an unforgettable memory. If you have ever been to London, you know what I am talking about. In a city like this is impossible to get bored, not to know what to do or to see. It’s just a matter of money and/or time. If you have the right amount of both, the only limit will be your personal preference. London has a plethora of theatres, cinemas, restaurants, monuments, shops and malls, museums, galleries, romantic Thames river cruises, and so on and so forth. You name it.

One day in London (Me and the Tower Bridge)
Me & the Tower Bridge

Is one day in London really enough?

That said, if you have never been to London before, then, no. One day is far away from being enough! 

My first time in London was for a short weekend. We arrived on Friday night and flighted back on Sunday evening, so it was a roughly 2-day visit. That Saturday we walked more than 30 km. I can still recall this devastation feeling once back to our B&B. We managed to see a lot, but it was too much for one day and we had to make many tough calls.

Hence, if it’s your first time in London, I recommend devoting more than one day, even if you are a tireless walker like we are. Besides, you can still follow or get inspired by the last part of this post, but you might want to consider more beaten touristic paths.

How many days are enough for London?

This is a question I get very often referring to especially great capitals.

My answer is always the same: it depends on what kind of tourist you are. If you are the kind of tourist who travels to chill out then you are going to need way more time/days then I usually do.

I’d rather wake up pretty early, get dressed and set out to explore the city. Being myself a wanderluster, every extra second spent in bed or on a chair is wasted. 

When in the British Isles (UK + Ireland) we usually have breakfast at the nearest Caffè Nero coffee house. We visited a few of them over the years and they have never let us down. All the coffee houses are central, extremely neat and clean, very-well-furnished and cosy, the staff is always super friendly, the coffee is Italian and they have vegan treats 🤩!!! 

One day in London (Me at Greenwich)
Me at the prime meridian in the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London.

What is the best way to see London?

That’s another question I often get in reference to any big city, in general, and my answer is the same as before. It depends on what kind of tourist you are and your preferences, but this time I’ll give you my special “formula”.

Over the years, my husband and I have found a specific combination that works for us. We usually spend a weekend or at most a couple of days in each big city, not more, and always get to see everything we set up. 

The first day, we do a hop-on-hop-off tour to get an idea of the city’s layout and the distances between the different places we set out to see. Check out Big Bus, The Original Tour, or Golden Tours to see which one of their tours suits you the most. The one we picked included a charming boat cruise along the River Thames all the way down to Greenwich.

After the tour, we head straight to the first thing we set out to visit on foot, by the same hop-on-hop-off bus/boat, or by cab if we are tight on time. We decide where to start by taking into consideration opening hours and distance. The same goes for all the other stops. On the second day, we visit what we couldn’t the day before (museums very often or places outside the city centre).

Most of the time, I search for the must-visit things day in advance so that, once there, we only need to decide the order.

I recommend this “method” if you have very little time, but a strong desire to make every second count. 

Two useful tips

First tip: you can usually save some money booking these kinds of tours online in advance. So check their websites out a few days before leaving.

Second tip: most big cities have tourist passes that usually include hop-on-hop-off tours and entrances to the city main tourist attractions (like The London Pass). If you stay around for a couple of days you may consider to buy one of these and save some money. This is especially true in London where entrances to monuments are quite expensive. To give you an idea, to visit the Tower of London you have to fork out £25.00 p.p. + £5.00 if you want to treat yourself an audio guide. The British Museum being completely free is a pleasant exception.

One day in London
Me, the Walkie Talkie and other buildings along the River Thames.

What can you do in London if you only have one day?

To top it off, if inspiration is what you’re looking for, you can get some from the tale I am about to tell you. The story of the stunning day we spent in London almost a year ago during Christmas time. 

We spent the night in a hotel in Pimlico close to Victoria Station. 

In the morning

After our usual breakfast at Caffe Nero, we headed for Harrods. It was my first time, we hadn’t had time the one before. If Harrods is allegedly amazing in normal times, you must know that at Christmas time it’s magical! They have an entire floor devoted to Christmas decoration and their own grotto. They also have an entire Harry Potter’s world ward.  

Then, we went for a stroll in Hyde Park. There, to our surprise, we found the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. It’s free for people to enter and wander around, browse the Christmas Markets and soak up the festive atmosphere.

In the afternoon

Soon, it was time for our afternoon tea at the Dukes Hotel.

My husband insisted to make this experience together. He had already done it once back in years during a family trip to London. That was the first time for me and, honestly, I wasn’t too much enthusiastic about the idea. I am not exactly the kind of person who enjoys being in this kind of posh places where everyone seems to be staring at you and judging your every move and word. Anyway, I was wrong. The place was classy and formal but in some way chilled and cozy. I had the most delicious vegan afternoon tea ever.  The cucumber, avocado, hummus on granary bread sandwich alone was worth every penny we paid for it. The experience as a whole was stunning and, for sure, it has become one of our dearest memory of (posh) London. 

In the evening

After that, we took the Tube headed to Camden Town and its popular street market.  No wonder why they considered it one of the most vibrant and eclectic neighbourhoods in all London. Its streets crawl with varied food stands. Some shops display colourful and unique accessories and pieces of clothing, other gothic ones. There are tattoo and body piercing studios all over. The loud music coming from alternative clubs and old-school pubs, at first, hits you and then fills you up. For a moment, you feel like you’re back in the 80s.

Experience to do and say. I highly recommend it.

One day in London (Me in Camden Town)
Me in one of the many ethnic shops in Camden Town.

At night

Then, we took the Tube back to Piccadilly Circus and run into the Leicester Square Christmas Market. We stopped at one of the many theatre ticket booths on Leicester Street more out of curiosity than everything else. And so it was that realizing they have tickets for the musical show “Mamma Mia!” and knowing how much I love it, my husband decided to buy us two tickets for that night at Novello Theater. So that evening my husband made me the merriest girl on earth. I had one of the best time of my life by far. I sang along all the time and my voice was completely gone on my way out. That was phenomenal!!!

One day in London (Me at Novello Theatre)
Me at Novello Theatre waiting for "Mamma Mia!" to begin.

At the end of the show, we were starving. We had something to eat in nearby Chinatown and from there went straight back to our hotel in a cab. We were exhausted and it was pouring like hell.

Conclusions

That was my unforgettable one day experience in London! As already said, though, London is teeming with stimulating things to do. So, whether you decide to draw inspiration from my one day in London or not, I bet it will win its special place in your heart and memories. 

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