How to spend a day in London: The perfect stop over guide for 24 hours in London

Maybe you have stop over, maybe you’re waiting for your final flight home, sometimes we are lucky enough to have a day in London. But is it worth it??

If you love London like I do, any time you have is worth it! On my most recent trip to Europe we spent 24 hours in London…..twice! The first time we had flown back from Dublin and a night before catching the Eurostar to Paris and the second time, we had flown in from Helsinki for one night before our final flight home to Australia. Both times, we managed to find some fun things to do and had an absolute ball.

If you’re unsure about your trip to London, you might need these quotes about London to help inspire some wanderlust for your trip to London.

Pinterest Graphic for 24 hours in London

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Here is what you need to do with a day in London

1. Have breakfast at one of London’s best cafes (1 hour)

Stop by Ole and Steen and be sure to grab a danish inspired Cinnamon Scroll for your stroll to Buckingham Palace. If sugar is not your thing for breakfast don’t worry they do also have oats, topped toasts and eggs. (Maybe while you’re at it, drop into M&M world as well!)

24 hours in London - Ole and Steen

Buckingham Palace is a 20 minute walk from Leicester square but it is a lovely walk passed Trafalgar Square and St James’ Palace. If you would rather not walk the mile, you can take the tube.

If you decide on the tube you need to get on the Piccadilly line from Leicester Square to Green Park station and then walk to Buckingham Palace.

2. Changing of the Guard (1 hour)

If you are in London, you have to go to Buckingham Palace and see the historic event, Changing of the Guard. I suggest getting to the gates of Buckingham Palace by 10:30 am to get a good spot – it is always crazy busy with tourists.

Make sure you check the website for dates and times. In the summer it usually runs every day and in the winter it takes place on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday (don’t miss it three times like we did on this trip!)

3. St James’ Park (1 hour)

St James’ Park is the stunning park right near Buckingham Palace (you might have walked through the park to get to Buckingham Palace).

Take your time to enjoy the calmness of the park and the beauty of the lake. Within St James’ Park you will find beautiful views of Buckingham Palace from Blue Bridge as you look across the lake.

Buckingham Palace from St James Park

There is a cafe in the park too if you’re ready for your mid morning snack.

READ MORE: The Best Things to do in London

4. Harrods (45 minutes – 1 hour)

Yes, Harrods is just a department store and a very expensive one at that! But, I don’t know too many department stores that have a building as nice as Harrods or a Food Hall that is as cool as Harrods. Every time I am in London, I visit Harrods. Mainly for the Food Hall and their gift shop. If you have been looking for a real Paddington Bear this is where you will find him.

The exterior of the harrods shop at Christmas in London

Top Tip: If one of the staff members give you a map or a small book – take it!! It will help you find your way and discover what is on each of the six floors!!

Take some time to explore the food choices in the Food Hall and grab yourself a bite to eat. Their food is amazing!!

If you get your food take away you can take it to the next spot, Hyde Park, to sit and enjoy it!

5. Hyde Park (1 hour)

One of the most famous parks in London is Hyde Park. There is a lot to see and do in the park.

Be sure to stop by the Rose Garden, Speakers Corner or even take a boat out on the Serpentine Lake. Paddle boats are about £12 for adults and £5 for children for one hour.

Hyde park rose garden

Of course there is also a bar and cafe in the park for you to enjoy a drink by the lake.

6. Explore Covent Garden (2 hours)

Take the tube (picadilly line) to Covent Garden, the tube should take you around 9 minutes. Now, I suggest you take the lift up from the platform, otherwise you will be climbing almost 200 stairs with lots of Londoners rushing to get about their busy day.

Many people think Covent garden is just the market but it is there area surrounding the market too. Explore the winding cobblestoned alleys that are filled with shops, galleries and some gorgeous little boutiques.

Once you have explored the streets, duck into the market and check out the market stalls as well as the famous shops inside. Head down stairs and grab a bit to eat while listening to a live musical performance.

7. Dinner (2 hours)

Heading back to London’s West End, stop into a pub or a restaurant for some dinner. A lot of places in the West End have Theater specials so take a wander and see what takes your fancy – be sure to read the chalk boards.

8. Go to a show

Again, I think this one of the things you cannot miss when you are in London – seeing a show on the West End. You can purchase tickets on the day from any of the booths in Leicester Square. They all have signs out the front telling which shows are on and the times.

Each both can have differently shows or slightly different prices so make sure you check them all out before purchasing your tickets.

Les Miserables

You can see a classic such as Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables or you can say a more modern show such as Matilda or School of Rock

If musicals aren’t your thing there are plenty of plays to see – check out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it is really worth it!

Cahoots

If, like us, you saw an epic musical such as Mamma Mia, you might feel like finding a place for a drink afterwards, what better way to end your 24 hours in London than a visit to Cahoots.

Cahoots is a 1940s inspired cocktail bar that is housed in an old underground train station. Cahoots is the same bar but they have three spaces on two streets that run parallel to each other on Kingly street and Kingly court. I would head to the underground or the control room!!

Make sure to be prepared for your next adventure by making use of the best travel resources. Sign up below to download the FREE Travel Resources list. These are tried and tested resources, that I use to book ALL of my travels.

Have you visited London? What do you think is the best way to spend 24 hours in London? Let me know in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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My BEST Travel Resources

Here are my favourite travel resources for planning travel like a pro

Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.

If you are new to Airbnb you can get an awesome discount using this link

Travel Insurance: After a few hairy moments on my travels, I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. It may seem like a big cost now, but if the worst happens, it will save you a lot of money and heartache. I personally use World Nomads (and love them!), but I recommend that you do some research to find the insurance company that suits your needs.

Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

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Comments

  1. What a beautiful website! I came across your info when looking into niches on the April 10K challenge! Love love love your Pinterest page too! I absolutely love London – I have family 2 hrs south of there and we visit yearly but don’t get enough time to explore London! Our last stop was only a couple of hours and it was raining (go figure)! Great tips, definitely referring back to this when we can travel again!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, I really appreciate it 🙂 How lucky to have family close to London! My sister lives in Cambridge, so she is very close to London too! I love it!!

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