24 Hours in London
London was the first city I ever visited in Europe, and it’s considered a great starting point to the rest of Europe not only because of language, but also its convenient underground subway system. If you’re short on time and only have a day in London, don’t fret: this city’s totally possible to tackle in a day. Here’s an itinerary to explore London in less than 24 hours, planned out with each location not too far from the next:
10:00 AM - Tower Bridge tour
Visit Tower Bridge early in the morning, when it’s the least crowded. If time permits, try to head up and walk along the top level where there’s a glass floor from which you can see all the traffic on the bottom level. You can even catch the bridge open up for ships as they pass through.
12:00 PM - Grab a quick bite at Leadenhall Market
Situated just a mile north of Tower Bridge is Leadenhall Market, a Victorian-style retail center full of shops, cafés, pubs, and casual restaurants. You can usually catch Londoners day-drinking here during their lunch breaks, watching the game together (I was there during world cup season). If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this market might seem vaguely familiar to you, since it was actually the filming site to Diagon Alley.
1:30 PM - Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill
For a taste of London’s local scene away from the bustling city, escape to the famous Portobello Road Market in the charming neighborhood of Notting Hill. You can find a huge array of discounted treasures there—antiques, books, vintage dresses, old jazz records, and street foods, just to name a few. Once you’re finished with the market, get some Julia Roberts + Hugh Grant vibes in the market’s enclosing neighborhood of Notting Hill, a quiet and residential area filled with colorful victorian-style houses. London is known for its fast-paced lifestyle, but Notting Hill is where it all slows down.
3:00 PM - Afternoon Tea
While in England, treat yourself to the luxurious experience of having Afternoon Tea (which is oh so much more than tea). We chose to have our tea at The Orangery, a restaurant inside the Kensington Palace that overlooks its gardens. We ordered the “Pavilion Afternoon Tea,” which came with two types of teas and a gorgeous 3-tiered selection of goodies to go along with the tea: finger sandwiches, small curry wraps, scones, and desserts comprised of teacakes, macarons, and tarts.
5:00 PM - Shop at Carnaby Street
Head to London’s West End and shop at Carnaby Street. It encloses an eclectic mix of global brands and independent stores, along with loads of restaurants, cafés, and bars. The West End is a huge hub for shopping, but I found Carnaby Street to be the most quirky with its super artistic storefronts and trendy streetwear brands.
6:30 PM - Catch a sunset on the London Eye
In the evening, catch a ride on the London eye to get a panoramic view of the Thames and Parliament from above. If you’re lucky and it’s not raining, you can even try to catch the sunset. The pod that you ride in is spacious and completely surrounded by glass, so you can get a comprehensive view of multiple parts of the city.
7:30 PM - Walk along Westminster Bridge
After heading up the London Eye, walk along Westminster bridge and watch the House of Parliament light up along with Big Ben. You’ll also get great views of the London Eye on this bridge. But it’s a place where a huge number of tourists flock to, try to plan your visit later in the evening or early in the morning when it’s less crowded.
8:30 PM - Try out some British staples for dinner
For dinner, we tried out some traditional British dishes such as Fish & Chips (served with mushy peas here… which I wasn’t exactly pumped about) and Bubble & Squeak, which is a potato and vegetable pancake served with eggs. If this doesn’t look too appetizing to you, you should know that the national dish of England is actually Chicken Tikka Masala. This means London is filled with incredible Indian restaurants. I previously had an amazing meal at “Punjab”, London’s oldest North-Indian restaurant, and also heard great things about the more modern “Dishoom.” These highly-rated Indian restaurants are both located in the Convent Garden area in the West End.
7:30 AM - Traditional full English breakfast
Don’t leave London without having one of its most iconic meals: the Full English Breakfast. It consists of common breakfast items like eggs, toast, grilled tomatoes, bacon, and sausage (or “bangers,” as the Brits would say), as well as more traditional English items like baked beans and black pudding. With all of its different components, the Full English can be quite a heavy meal, so consider just getting one plate to share. We had our Full English at the Regency Café, considered one of the best and cheapest spots for a Full English in London. It’s located in the quiet, residential side streets of Westminster, and accepts cash only. Try to head to the café early in the morning to avoid waiting in a long line.
9:00 AM - London -> Hogwarts
The best way to leave London is via the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9¾.
… Just kidding. But if you are leaving London via train from King’s Cross or St Pancras International, be sure to stop by Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross, which is really a brick wall with a trolley embedded in it. There are scarves readily available from every Hogwarts house, as well as employees there to help you wave your scarf and take your photo while you pretend to magically leap into the platform. Once you’re done with the photo, you can also purchase fan merchandise like wands and scarves at the Harry Potter Shop located right next door.
Hope you enjoyed this short itinerary and found it useful! I haven’t been back to London in a while, but after watching lots of the Great British Bakeoff and listening to a lot of Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei, I’m really itching to cure my Anglophilia by going back.