So why explore London by foot?
Obvious benefits to your health aside, exploring a city on foot allows you to see, hear, taste and feel it more. If that wasn’t enough, it’s free, which makes a hell of a difference in places like London, Copenhagen and Stockholm – the three cities with the most expensive public transit.
London has fascinated me since I was a child, so I spent a lot of time there after moving to Europe. Armed with walking shoes, a bottle of water and a fully-charged mobile, you can get to know the Big Smoke fairly well in 24 hours. No Oyster card required.
Start by paying an early visit to the Windsors, at Buckingham Palace. The Changing of the Guards doesn’t start until 11:00 or so on most days, but the palace and its surroundings are very much worth your precious time.
When you’re done soaking up all that royalty, head northeast by St. James’ Park. Your next stop is Trafalgar Square, home of Nelson’s Column and the spectacular (and free) National Gallery. Make the most of your visit by following one of their suggestions.
Buckingham Palace > Trafalgar Square > Whitehall > Parliament Square
After this shot of art, head south. There’s plenty to see on Whitehall, a road lined with imposing government buildings. You can even stop by 10 Downing Street, the headquarters of the British government. The road ends at the Parliament Square Garden, which puts you within spitting distance of three of the most famous buildings on the planet: Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and Elizabeth Tower. Does the latter fail to ring a bell? I bet its bell does: it’s called Big Ben.
If you can’t even remember what you had for breakfast at this stage, there’s a pie (and maybe a cheeky pint) waiting for you at the Red Lion. Churchill visited this place back in the day and plenty of Members of Parliament do so on a regular basis.
Okay, down your pint and carry on. Cross the mighty Thames and head north, walking by the London Eye, Jubilee Gardens, and Oxo Tower, before arriving at the Millennium Bridge. Yes, this is the bridge from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so now you have one more reason to cross it – the other one being St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Cross back to the south bank and choose your own adventure. If you’d like to see more quality art, go straight to the Tate Modern. If you’re a fan of the Bard, the Shakespeare’s Globe will certainly be your cup of tea (perhaps literally). Finally, there’s Renzo Piano’s Shard, which offers the best view of London you could possibly get.
Millennium Bridge > St. Paul’s > Tate Modern > Shakespeare’s Globe > The Shard > Tower Bridge
Spit, spot! We’re nearly there. Keep walking along the river, towards the most beautiful water-crossing in London: Tower Bridge. On your way there, you’ll see the HMS Belfast, a Royal Navy ship (lately turned into a museum), and Norman Foster’s City Hall, which you can visit for free.
If somehow you manage to reach the Tower of London before 15:30 (or 14:30 during the winter), you should definitely join the Yeoman Warder tour. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a fan of history, this is one of the greatest experiences one can enjoy in this city.
How long has it been since you sat down and enjoyed a drink? Too long. Go ahead and take a much-deserved break at the Draft House Seething, a trendy pub with a serious beer selection.
You might want to grab a coffee before taking the Circle or District tube line and heading to Embankment Station. From there, take the Bakerloo line to Piccadilly Circus, one of the many places in London that never fails to please the kid in me. Find a comfortable spot and enjoy some quality people watching.
Embankment Station > Picadilly Circus > Leicester Square > Soho
Finally, whether you’re up for a proper night out or a deep encounter with your bed, it’s totally up to you. From Piccadilly Circus, it’s just a 10-minute walk to Leicester Square or Soho – two areas packed with bars and nightclubs. Chances are you’ll wake up in the morning with some aching muscles anyway, so you might as well have no regrets.
Trust us, there’s a lot you can do and see in London in 24 hours!
If you want to make the most of your stay in everyone’s favorite British city, check out what’s on offer on Tiqets.com!
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