Visiting London is always a highlight.
But when your time is short, deciding what to see on a London short stay will have you spoilt for choice.
If you are planning to visit the must-see London landmarks, walking and using the underground is a sensible choice. Grab yourself an Oyster Card.
And there are ways to enjoy your London vacation within your budget even if London is expensive.
With plenty of FREE things to do in London City, check out some of the must-see London landmarks below.
And one of the best ways to start your London vacation is a visit to the Museum of London.
1. The Museum of London
The Museum of London will take you on a journey of London through the centuries.
There are nine galleries of London’s history from pre-historic times to Romans times, the Medieval period, an assortment of wars, industrialization, through to the present day.
Your visit to the Museum of London will help you identify the original London city in the sprawling city it is today. And even catch a glimpse of the old city wall of London.
It’s FREE to the public, opening from 10 am to 6 pm.
You will find the museum will keep you interested for a couple of hours. And you’ll know which historical landmarks to visit.
It was only a short walk to our first place of interest.
2. St Paul’s Cathedral
The cathedral is one of London City’s iconic buildings dating back to the 17th century.
Its magnificent structure is easily viewed from the outside, with gardens providing a peaceful place to take a break.
But to see the interior of St Paul’s Cathedral will set you back from £17 to enter. The other option is to attend a service for FREE.
And if you return for Choral Evensong, the night time effect of lighting on St Paul’s Cathedral is spectacular.
3. Millennium Bridge
Another alternative from St Paul’s Cathedral is to walk to the centre of Millennium Bridge for great views of Tower Bridge and views back to St Paul’s Cathedral.
Or if you are a little peckish, then walk to The Black Friar Pub for a bite to eat. The area was name after the Dominican Friars who originally had a priory here.
4. Famous Landmarks of London
Walking in the direction of Westminster Abbey you can take in the highlights of London.
You have two options:
- Walk along the famous Fleet Street and The Strand to Trafalgar Square
- Stroll alongside the River Thames to Whitehall Gardens
Fleet Street and The Strand
Victoria Embankment to Whitehall Gardens
5. Trafalgar Square
A visit to London always needs to include the must-see Trafalgar Square and have your photo taken with one of the four lions.
You can also visit close by The National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and St Martin-in-the-Fields Church.
6. Covent Garden
For some retail therapy or cheap souvenirs, Covent garden caters for both.
Inside the old covered market, are restaurants, boutique shops and international brands. Outside in the central square, a variety of buskers perform for the large crowds.
Central Square at Covent Garden
Nearby is the Royal Opera House and Theatre Royal and the London Transport Museum.
7. Leicester Square
Thinking of dinner and it’s only late afternoon.
The best thing to do is to take a walk to Leicester Square. Here you will find the ticket office selling the latest show tickets, some even at ridiculously low prices.
If you decide to take in a show, then an early meal is needed.
For Chinese restaurants, visit Chinatown. For a beer and a burger, try The Porterhouse Pub near Convent Garden.
And if have a couple of hours free to soak up some more of London City, here are some more places to visit.
8. St James’s Park
Walking through Admiralty Arch from Trafalgar Square brings you to the treelined road called The Mall.
If you want a closer look, Buckingham Palace is at the end of the road. Or you can wander through St James’s Park to Horse Guard Parade and take a peek at 10 Downing Street.
Nearby is the Imperial War Museums, Churchill War Rooms taking you underground to the bunker of the British Government command centre in WWII.
9. Westminster Abbey
Always a popular place to visit is Westminster Abbey, the coronation church of Kings and Queens since 1066 and 16 royal weddings.
Nearby is Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Palace of Westminster, House of Commons and House of Lords.
With the cost to enter Westminster Abbey from £21 maybe try knocking on the Dean’s door. Or you could just attend a service for FREE.
If you are still feeling energetic, there is more to see.
10. Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
If you make it to Buckingham Palace, then it is only a short walk to Hyde Park, the largest royal park in London.
Hyde Park merges with Kensington Gardens where you can visit Kensington Palace, once the home for Diana, Princess of Wales.
Places to Visit in the Park and Gardens
The Albert Memorial
Princess Diana Memorial Fountain
The Serpentine – tranquil spot to stop and enjoy the various wildlife
The Italian Water Gardens (Vintage Water Garden with Fountains)
And if You Loved the movie Notting Hill
Take the Tube to Notting Hill Gate underground station and it’s an easy walk along Portobello Road into Notting Hill.
Lots of vintage shops of memorabilia and vintage clothing there is a vibe of a different place and time. And there are plenty of antique shops to browse.
London when time is short
Is still possible to see a number of iconic landmarks.
Walking and using the Underground will help you navigate London City highlights when on a tight schedule.
Let planning your London itinerary be fun and remember to enjoy your vacation.