Updated: Jan. 26, 2020
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London, England is notoriously expensive. It’s so expensive, in fact, that many people just don’t bother visiting; or even worse, they spend all their money in London and then don’t have anything left over to go anywhere else. Another misconception is that you need an entire week or at least an entire weekend at the bare minimum to see all of London’s main sights. We’ve traveled all over the world and while London is one of those “must-see” destinations, we are of the strong opinion that it’s not worth staying more than 2 days here. There are two main reasons for this:
- As mentioned, London is super expensive; probably the most expensive city in the entire UK. Unless you have deep pockets, a trip to London will likely leave you checking your pockets for holes because your spending money disappears in the blink of an eye.
- Everything worth seeing in London is actually in one small area (with the exception of King’s Cross Station and the Camden Markets). Most people think they need an oyster card, so that they can catch the underground from one destination to the next. However, we saw all London sights in one day without spending any money on transportation: no underground, no bus, no bike, nothing. We just walked.
With these things in mind, we put together a 1-day London trip that turned out to be extremely easy and didn’t leave us wanting anything more. We’re now going to tell you how we saw all of the top 10 London sights in a single day for free. Here is the list of the places we visited in one day and in our recommended order:
- The Tower of London
- The Tower Bridge
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- The London Eye
- Big Ben (hidden by scaffolding, like always)
- Westminster Abbey
- Buckingham Palace
- Trafalgar Square
- Camden Markets
- Platform Nine and Three Quarters and King’s Cross Station
How to Do this 1-Day London Tour
So how did we do it? We started at the Liverpool Street Station from where we walked about 10-15 minutes to the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. The following list describes the route we took from there in order to see all these places and how long it took us to walk from one to the next.
- From the Tower of London to the Tower Bridge: max of 5 minutes (0.1 miles)
- From the Tower Bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral: 15 minutes (1.1 miles)
- From St. Paul’s Cathedral to the London Eye (on the other side of the Thames river, so you can actually see it and take a picture of it): 20 minutes (1.2 miles)
- From the London Eye to Big Ben, the parliament houses and Westminster Abbey (they’re all in one place called the parliament square garden): max of 5 minutes (0.1 miles)
- From Big Ben to Buckingham Palace: 10 minutes (0.5 miles)
- From Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square: 10-15 minutes (0.7 miles)
- From Trafalgar Square to the Camden Markets: 50 minutes (2.5 miles)
- From Camden Markets to King’s Cross: 20-25 minutes (1.2 miles)
We ended our day at our hotel in Covent Garden and went to King’s Cross on the next morning, but otherwise you can do this roughly 7.5 miles walking tour in around 2 ½ hours excluding the time you spend at each location. We’ve provided an even shorter version below.
Keep in mind that we calculated the times not only on the basis of the miles, but also in consideration of traffic lights and ease of walking, which is why it’s actually faster to walk along the river than through the city during the first stretch.
This is not bad at all considering that you will save on all transportation costs, which are quite expensive in London. Moreover, you get to experience more of London beyond just the main sights, including the riverwalk along the Thames (from the Tower Bridge all the way to Big Ben), some nice little alleys, several parks and much more.
Below, we’ve provided a map of the route we took in order to give you a better overview of where and how long this walking tour takes.
Do not forget to put on good walking shoes because your feet will get tired after a while, especially if you’re not used to walking for 2 hours a day.
The Short Version
If you’re not interested in the Camden markets or King’s Cross and only want to see the main sights, then it will actually only take you 1 hour and 10 minutes (70 minutes). This short version is ideal for those who can’t fit a full day in their schedule for London, but who does that?
So, save your money, experience London by foot and discover streets and areas where other tourists have never been!