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The Perfect London 1 Day Itinerary

So you've got 24 hours in London, and we've got the itinerary to help you make the most of it.

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London street lit up at night with red phone box

Stopping off for a single whirlwind day in England’s capital? We at Plum Guide know the pain of trying to take in a city in a single day, so we’ve devised the perfect 24 hour guide to make sure you see some highlights, soak up some history, and still have time for a spot of tea and scones in the afternoon. Here is the ultimate one day London itinerary.

Early Morning: Explore a classic London museum

  • Order a traditional English breakfast in Westminster
  • Visit the Museum of London

Late Morning: Spend time by the River Thames

  • Enjoy a stroll along the famous London river
  • Pop into the SEA LIFE Centre

Early Afternoon: Grab a bite and visit the London Eye

  • Indulge in a spot of afternoon tea at The Ritz
  • Hop aboard the London Eye

Late Afternoon: Head to Soho to splash the cash

  • Visit London’s most iconic shopping spots
  • Have a break in Soho Square

Early Evening: Admire the sunset over London’s famous monuments

  • Watch the sun fall behind London Bridge
  • Sample the best of London’s cuisine for dinner

Late Evening: Catch a West End show

  • Head to England’s most famous theatre district
  • End the day with a drink in Covent Garden

Early Morning: Explore a classic London museum

Order a traditional English breakfast in Westminster

There is only one way to start your day in London - with a hearty breakfast. Regency Cafe in Westminster is largely considered the best breakfast spot in the entire city, with its doors first opening in 1946. The design is just as traditional as the menus, which has attracted TV and film directors to feature the cafe in various shows over the years - so that’s why it looks familiar. Order the classic full English breakfast, and enjoy a plate full of sausage, bacon, egg, beans, tomato, hash browns, black pudding, and toast, with a nice warm cuppa on the side. Alternatively, head to Heap’s sausages in Greenwich to experience the chef’s gourmet bangers, or try The Ivy in Kensington. Wherever you’re based on your early London travels, you won’t be far from a brilliant breakfast (no, Mcdonald’s breakfast doesn't count), so fuel your trip the right way. You wouldn’t want to be feeling peckish throughout the day, after all.

Streets Beneath The Towers, Plum Guide home in London

Visit the Museum of London

If you only have a day in London, we cannot in all good conscience recommend you go to the British Museum – it would take about a month to get round the whole thing, and that’s if you skip the cafe. Luckily, there’s no shortage of museums in the capital that are just as interesting, as well as much more manageable on a tight schedule. If you can imagine it, there’s probably a museum dedicated to it in London (the Museum of Fans, anyone?) but if you’re looking for the best museum to fit into a London 1 day itinerary, we suggest checking out somewhere that focuses on the city itself.

The Museum of London is frequently overlooked, but takes visitors on a trip from the founding of the city right up to its modern history. There's all sorts here: brightly coloured Mary Quant dresses rub shoulders with Roman artefacts dredged from the Thames. It’s a fantastic glimpse into the lives of ordinary (and extraordinary) Londoners over the centuries. If, however, you’re more interested in the criminal class of the city, a trip to the Tower of London is calling your name. Befriend the beefeaters, learn of the dark and dastardly deeds of kings and commoners, and pay a visit to the Crown Jewels. Whichever you choose, head there for when it opens in the morning, to avoid both the crowds and losing the whole day ooh-ing and ahh-ing over royal bling.

Late Morning: Spend time by the River Thames

Enjoy a stroll along the famous London river

A bridge and Big Ben behind the River Thames at sunset in London, UK

Walk off what’s left of the breakfast with a memorable wander along the River Thames, the longest river in England. You don’t need to cover the entirety of the river - that would take slightly too long - but admiring the famous stretch of water is a must. And the reason it’s a must isn’t just because of its peaceful, historic aura (although that alone does make it special). It's a must because of the attractions that come with it. The Tower of London, London Bridge, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye… we could go on (and on). A stroll along the Thames is the ultimate way to get a glimpse of many of the city’s most famous monuments, and you’re only visiting for one day, a passing visit seems just about perfect. Snap pictures of the renowned landmarks until your camera asks you to stop, and look down on the gentle waves as you cross over on Westminster Bridge. Warning: it’s easy to stop and stare at the view for a very long time - so just remember, you only have 24 hours.

Minsters Deluxe III, Plum Guide home in London

Pop into the SEA LIFE Centre

To end an action-packed morning in the English capital, head over to Seaworld to see a range of fish and aquatic life. This visit can be as slow or as quick as you like, so it makes for the perfect pre-lunch stop. It also couldn’t be closer to Westminster Bridge, so there won’t be any travel time between your late morning stops - see, we really do know what we’re doing. Walk through the tunnel as sharks glide overhead, and say hello to turtles Boris and Phoenix as they drift around - are these guys real life dinosaurs? Enter the Rockpool section and touch a starfish, before meeting Ray and his buddies Ray, Ray, and Ray in the Stingray enclosure (those probably aren’t their real names, but they should be). You do need to book in advance if you want to guarantee your entry, so don’t get caught out.

Early Afternoon: Grab a bite and visit the London Eye

Indulge in a spot of afternoon tea at The Ritz

It’s a quintessentially British activity, so when in the capital… No matter how tight your London 1 day itinerary may be, it’s worth setting aside some time to really relax with a rich and indulgent afternoon tea. Almost every hotel or restaurant will offer their own take on this tradition, but there’s only a few places that are truly worth going. The Ritz is undoubtedly the most famous example, and definitely an experience not to be missed if you’re feeling, well, ritzy. For a more modern update, make a booking at the stylish Sketch; you’ll no doubt recognise the pink interiors and tongue-in-cheek David Shrigley artworks from design magazines, but this establishment is far from style over substance. Afternoon tea in this restaurant may be a departure from the classic, but it’s no less indulgent for it. Pass the finger sandwiches, please.

And Breathe, Plum Guide home in London

Hop aboard the London Eye

The London Eye in front of white buildings and the River Thames on a sunny day, London UK

You didn’t think we would get through the itinerary without including London’s most famous tourist attraction, did you? The London Eye is not your everyday landmark, attracting over 3 million visitors every year - and it is very easy to see why. Step into your private pod for 30 minutes of breathtaking views of the city from a height of 135 metres (or 443 feet) above the ground. It’s definitely worth getting a fast track ticket to cut your queue time in half, especially when you only have 24 hours, so you don’t waste precious time in a tedious and never-ending chain of excitable tourists. The pictures you’ll get from the top of the London Eye will be up there with the best you’ve ever taken, with views as far as the eye can see (no pun intended) of famous landmarks and bustling city life. It’s also the perfect vantage point to spot and subsequently decide your next destination (don’t worry though, we’ve already done that for you).

Late Afternoon: Head to Soho to splash the cash

Visit London’s most iconic shopping spots

London is a shopaholic's dream; it seems that around every corner, there’s a new boutique to be explored. If you really want to be in the centre of the action, though, we can’t recommend the bright lights of Mayfair and Soho highly enough. An award-winning Plum Home would be the perfect base to explore the hallowed halls of iconic department store Liberty, search for your next holiday read in the cavernous independent bookshop Foyles, or simply stroll through the streets and pop into every shop with an eye-catching window display. The only worry you might have is carrying all those bags home.

Arts Animated, Plum Guide home in London

Have a break in Soho Square

All that shopping and spending is tiring work, so go for a sit down on the green grass of Soho Square. In the summer, a relaxing pit-stop in the picturesque gardens is the perfect way to regain your energy ahead of an eventful evening (we’ll get to that, don’t worry). For now, don’t concern yourself with timings, or reservations, or transport. Just relax. Listen to the wind in the trees, and enjoy people-watching as locals and tourists alike pass through the gardens past the Soho square Hut. Built in 1925, this small hut is now just a shed for garden equipment, but it was once the entrance to the underbelly of the gardens, leading to an electricity substation underneath the Square. It just goes to show that everywhere you look in London, you’ll be met with a bit of history. Once you’ve got your energy back, make your way back to your plum Guide home to get ready for a brilliant evening (sorry, we’ve teased it again). Just trust us, it will be one to remember.

Early Evening: Admire the sunset over London’s famous monuments

Watch the sun fall behind London Bridge

The silhouette of London Bridge in front of a colourful sky at sunset, London, UK

As the day draws to a close and the sun begins to drop, get your cameras at the ready. Once you’ve found the perfect spot for a snap, wait patiently for the sunset back in Westminster, and catch the ultimate lock screen photo - this one may even rival your shots from atop the London Eye. Marvel at the sky as oranges, pinks, reds and blues combine to blow you away, with the famous monuments of the English capital creating the perfect backdrop. In the heat of summer, this will have to become a late evening activity, but regardless of when you’re visiting the UK capital, this is something to savour. There’s something special about watching the sun reflect off the River Thames as it falls behind some of the most well-known buildings in Europe, and even the world. It’s not necessarily a once in a lifetime moment, but it is definitely one for the bucket list.

Sample the best of London’s cuisine for dinner

As befits the capital, there’s no shortage of fine dining and hidden gems on the streets of London. With just one evening to sample the culinary delights of the city, our ideal evening meal entirely depends on what you fancy. Craving a quality steak, cooked to perfection? Set your sights on the polished wood and even more polished service of Hawksmoor. Want to try something utterly new with an army of friends? Check out the eclectic modern European dishes of Ducksoup, designed to be shared. Belgravia’s Japanese establishment, Dinings, provides a high-end alternative to tired sushi joints, with sensational small plates which offer a mountain of flavour in just a few mouthfuls. But if we were forced to choose, we would go to Kitty Fisher’s - this modern British menu changes regularly, but the flavours and the atmosphere are always impeccable. Booking ahead is essential, but we promise you won’t want to dine anywhere else.

Late Evening: Catch a West End show

Head to England’s most famous theatre district

People holding umbrellas in front of theatre billboards in the West end, London, UK

If you only have a day in London, you’ll want to make the most of every moment - no early nights in this city, sorry. Which means that after dinner, you’re heading out to see some of London’s world-class entertainment. Finishing off our London 1 day itinerary is the West End, one of the best places to stay in London if you want to be in the heart of it all. The area's glittering pull is hard to resist, and why would you? There are some true stage classics to be found here; book ahead to avoid disappointment, as tickets to the most popular shows often sell out. If you’re going for a late finish, we recommend staying somewhere close to avoid battling with the night tube.

If your tastes skew towards the more contemporary, the National Theatre and the Almeida Theatre fill their stage nightly with dramas to set the heart racing, and comedies that’ll have you in stitches. Sadler’s Wells is a classic for the ballet lovers amongst you, and the Royal Opera House is worth a trip for the luxe interiors alone, setting aside the world-class talent on the stage. Whichever entertainment you choose, we’re certain that by the time the final curtain falls, you’ll agree that our London 1 day itinerary has shown you a new side to this beloved city.

End the day with a drink in Covent Garden

To end what has probably been the most eventful 24 hours of your life, leave the theatre and settle down with a drink or two in one of the nearby bars. Covent Garden is home to countless bars for a nice evening refreshment, with places such as Plume Wine Bar, The Alchemist, and Blame Gloria all providing an excellent evening spot. What better way to sit back and reflect on what has surely been the day of a lifetime, than by sipping on a charming cocktail as you watch the night tick away. Discuss the captivating show you just saw as you order another glass of champagne, and plan your inevitable future visit back to the incredible English capital. Just allow for more than 24 hours here next time - there are so many incredible things to do and places to see that you still have to experience.

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