London Calling: 9 Steps to a Perfect Day in the City

City Travel, England, Extras — By on July 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm

By Maggie Parker
Special to the Lost Girls

After many visits to London (one of which lasted four months) Maggie has become somewhat of an expert on sightseeing , especially for the budget-friendly and time-crunched. While helping many friends plan short trips to London, she devised a one-day walking (and tube-ing) tour of what she thinks are some of London’s most important attractions. This itinerary also includes a few more unique sights that other people may not consider essential but will really round out your experience there. The last friend she helped told herthis itinerary was so good that she didn’t even need a map while she was there. Since it has proven to be so helpful, Maggie wanted to share it with you all!

[Note from Maggie: I eliminate museums and going into many sights because of the time-crunch…You can always adjust and add to cater your needs and desires. Also, this is by no means an all-in-one travel guide, if you want explanations and details about these sights you won’t find that here. This is simply an itinerary!]

Westminster Tube Stop for Big Ben1. Start with the big sights

Get on the tube and take it to the Westminster stop. When you exit the tube, you will most likely be directly in front of Big Ben (depending on which exit you use).  Have a look around Big Ben and Parliament, and then walk to Westminster Bridge (which is right next to Parliament). There you will have wonderful views of London’s other bridges and the London Eye.

2. Walk to Westminster Abbey

There you may be able to enter, depending on the day and time. If not, it is definitely a beautiful sight just from the outside.

3. Head over to St. James Park

Through the park you can walk to Buckingham Palace. The park is not a far walk from Westminster and you will see signs all over pointing you towards the park (look closely, they may be small).  You will enter St. James Park at one end; at the other end is Buckingham Palace. Walk through this majestic park and enjoy the scenery.

4. Emerge at the entrance to the Palace

Hopefully you will be in time to watch the Changing of the Guards.

5. Take a stroll through Green Park

Right across from the Palace is Green Park, which is where the press was stationed during the Royal Wedding. Walk through this simpler park towards the Green Park metro station and you will be in Mayfair, which has great shopping. You can walk around this neighborhood now and eat lunch here, but I recommend giving your feet a rest and getting on the tube at the Green Park station and making your way back to this area later.

6. Pop into Portobollo Market

My suggestion would be to take the tube to the Notting Hill Gate station to see this famously unique neighborhood of London. This neighborhood is known for its food, so I recommend having lunch here. Also, if the time is right, make your way to one of London’s famous open-air markets, Portobello Market. You can also see some beautiful homes here, as you get closer to Kensington.

7. Meander through the gardens

After lunch, walk back across Bayswater Road (where you exited the tube) and enter my personal favorite spot of London, Kensington Gardens. To me, this is the most tranquil and beautiful sight in this city. Visit the Peter Pan statue, watch the children playing with boats and feeding the swans at the Round Pond, and don’t miss the Princess Diana memorial. Of course there is a palace in this park, Kensington Palace. You may not be able to enter, but definitely have a look at the outside.

8. Hop over to Hyde Park

Continue walking through the gardens, which feed into the next park, Hyde Park. If you keep walking through you will reach Speaker’s Corner, which is at the other end of Hyde Park. This is a famous spot to find people standing on soapboxes and publicly debating, lecturing, preaching, or just sharing their thoughts (mainly on the weekends).

9. End up at Oxford Street

Exit the park at this corner and you will find yourself right at the beginning of the famous Oxford Street.  This is where it gets simple, all you need to do is walk straight down to Oxford Circus and take it in. Go into stores if you wish to shop (Primark is my suggestion for a real London shopping experience but if you don’t like Times Square, you won’t like Primark), and of course wander down side streets to find hidden gems.  As you keep walking, turn right at some point to make your way back to the shopping around Green Park, but specifically you should find your way to Piccadilly Circus which is close by, at which point you will find yourself in the heart of Soho/West End, a perfect area to find a place for dinner. In contrast to your lunch, this will be a bit more of a touristy meal, but you are sure to find good food in this neighborhood. Then, you will be just in time and in the right spot for a West End show if that is your style…Enjoy!

 Thumbnails courtesy of Anthony Kelly and the author

    3 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Great list! We just published a list of books to read while traveling to London. I think these two articles go hand in hand 🙂

  • Maggie P says:

    Thanks for reading! I will have to check out those books before my next trip to London!

  • Marilyn says:

    It’s been years since I’ve been to London, and this sounds like the perfect itinerary to get reoriented and start a great vacation. Thanks for the tips!