How to See the Best of London when time is short

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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.

Take a Walk along Regent’s Canal

Stroll the River Thames Walk

Spend time in South West London Parks

And one of the best ways to start your London vacation is a visit to the Museum of London.

1. The Museum of London

City of London coat of arms
Coat of Arms of London City

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.

Woman with ox horns
Maura being creative with old bones – London Museum
Old car
A true classic – London Museum

It was only a short walk to our first place of interest.

2. St Paul’s Cathedral

Church with two clock towers with a dome
London’s iconic St Paul’s Cathedral
Dome circular building
View of St Paul’s Cathedral, London from the Millennium Bridge

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

Corner building with a black statue on the second level
Dominican Friar adorning the pub

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

Round church
Temple Church on Fleet St
three storey stone building with turret towers
Royal Courts of Justice, London on The Strand
Three storey, four sided building with an open square
Somerset House (can be accessed from Fleet Street or Victoria Embankment)

Victoria Embankment to Whitehall Gardens

Tall stone monument with hieroglyphics
Cleopatra’s Needle presented to the UK in 1819.
Tulips in front of a bronze statue
Whitehall Garden, London

5. Trafalgar Square

Tall column with statue of man at top
Trafalgar Square, London

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.

If you are still feeling energetic, then there is still more to see.

6. Covent Garden

Two level with long open space and glass roof
Covent Garden – was a fruit and vegetable market back in 1654

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

people forming a square for an entertainer
Central Square busy with entertainers for the large crowds

Nearby is the Royal Opera House and Theatre Royal and the London Transport Museum.

7. Leicester Square

Statue of a short man with hat and walking stick
Charlie Chaplin, 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.

Chinatown Gate

Chinese gate
Gateway of Chinatown for Chinese restaurants

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

{ond, Pelicans and small cottage
St James’s Park, London

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.

Three arches with a building above
Admiralty Arch, London

 

Three storey rectangle building
Buckingham Palace

 

Woman standing near front of horse with soldier
Horse Guards Parade

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

Gothic church
Westminster Abbey, London

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.

Statue of 4 people in front of a large square Gothic tower
Victoria Tower Gardens behind Westminister Palace

 

Women in fron of door of old stone house
Maura knocking at the Dean’s door – Westminster Abbey

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

Two storey brick building with long lattice windows
Kensington Palace in 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

Monument with statue under a canopy
The Albert Memorial across from the Royal Albert Hall

Princess Diana Memorial Fountain

Sculpture of a bird
Sculpture near Princess Diana Memorial, Hyde Park

The Serpentine – tranquil spot to stop and enjoy the various wildlife

Grey Squirrel
Who me? I’m just inquisitive as to what you have in your lunchbox

The Italian Water Gardens (Vintage Water Garden with Fountains)

White Rolls Royce car selling ice-cream
Quirky old Rolls Royce ice cream truck

 

Tip: Walk along the boulevard of Kensington Palace Gardens to see the beautiful old mansions of the various Embassies and Consulates.

And if You Loved the movie Notting Hill

Coloured 3 storey houses
Colourful and beautiful homes of 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.

The Portobello Road Market has a variety of stalls selling the usual tourist items, clothing, fresh food and antiques. Check out opening times here.

Street market and pub
The Distillery and Market of Portobello Road

 

old coloured orange car
Quirky shops in Notting Hill

 

cafe with a man and woman sitting at tables
Coffee and biscuit at Biscuiteers on Kensington Park Road

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.

 

2 comments

    • Terry&Maura says:

      Thanks Shannon, and thank you for all the help with the website. We are much happier with the look and feel.
      Cheers
      Terry & Maura

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