What you will see: Sightseeing bus around London, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms, No.10 Downing Street and a photo with the soldiers outside Horse Guards
We’re going to start our London in one week with a sightseeing bus tour – a great way to get an overview of the city. We suggest catching the ‘Red Route’ at Trafalgar Square. Check out Craig’s review of the Original Bus Tour to see what it’s like.
The journey will take you up the Strand and Fleet Street, past St. Paul’s Cathedral. After rounding Tower Bridge and the Tower of London it will cut across the river. Then it will head down Victoria Embankment to Westminster (allow for 60-80 mins).
Westminster Abbey is London’s most prestigious religious building – the setting for coronations, state funerals, and the burial place of many celebrated kings and queens. It is well worth a visit (allow for 90 mins).
If you’re a Second World War buff then you will love the Churchill War Rooms (10 mins away on foot). This huge underground bunker was home to Winston Churchill’s wartime government in World War II (allow for 90-120 mins).
A little further up Whitehall you will find one of London’s most popular photo spots – the sentry boxes outside Horse Guards.
At the end of Whitehall is Trafalgar Square – but we’ll explore that tomorrow. All we’re doing now is looking for somewhere to eat. There are plenty of great restaurants around Leicester Square (5 min walk), or how about an authentic Chinese meal in Chinatown? (10 min walk)
What you will see: Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column, National Gallery, the London Dungeon, London Aquarium, the London Eye
On the north-side of the square is the National Gallery, containing the country’s finest collection of art works. You will see pieces by Vermeer, Cézanne, Monet, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Turner and Van Gogh (allow for 90 mins).
Now walk down Northumberland Avenue and cross over Hungerford Bridge. There are two attractions in County Hall.
The first one is the London Dungeon, which has a good mix of costumed actors and scary rides (allow for 90 mins).
The second one is the London Aquarium, with 3,000 different kinds of marine life. Highlights include the two-story shark tank and underwater sea tunnel (allow for 90-120 mins).
Now you can enjoy a ride on the London Eye Remember to buy your tickets beforehand, as the queues can get quite heavy (allow for 30-45 minutes queuing, and 30 minutes on the wheel). It stays open quite late into the evening, so you should have plenty of time for a meal beforehand.
What you will see: British Museum or the Museum of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern or the Globe Theatre, and the view from The Shard
There’s a choice of two different museums to start your London in 1 week, depending on which one you prefer (just pick one).
The British Museum has exhibits from ancient Egypt, Greece, Italy, Africa and the Orient, including colossal works by the Romans, Greeks and Persians. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Marbles, and the world-famous Reading Room (allow for 2 hours).
The Museum of London tells the story of the city all the way back to prehistoric times, through its Roman period, the Great Fire of London, the Blitz, and right up to the modern-day (allow 2 hours). There are also some remains of the Roman Wall around the Barbican, if you’re a history buff.
If you went to the Museum of London then you can walk to St. Paul’s Cathedral, otherwise you’ll have to get the 521 bus (15 mins ride). No trip to London would be complete without climbing up to the dome for a fantastic view of the city (allow for 2 hours).
Now you’ve got a choice of three different things to do, but you’ll only have time to do one – so take your pick! All of them will involve a 10 min walk across the Millennium Bridge.
On the other side of the river is Tate Modern – home to our best collection of modern art. It also has a great restaurant with views up and down the Thames. (Note: late meals are available Fri and Sat only, otherwise you’ll have to use the bar.)
Or how about a guided tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre? (allow for 90 mins). If you come during the summer then you might be able to catch a play (allow for 3 hours, but you might have to jiggle the day around to get fit in).
The third choice is a walk along the river to London Bridge, where you’ll see The Shard. This is the tallest observation deck in the city, and is well worth spending 60-90 mins (if you don’t mind the height!). It’s a fantastic place to enjoy an evening meal – but remember to book up well in advance.
What you will see: Tower of London, Tower Bridge, ride on the cable car, concert at The O2
Your one week in London continues with an entire morning spent at the Tower of London. This world heritage site was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th-century, and is now home to the Crown Jewels. Why not do a Yeoman Warder tour with one of the famous Beefeaters? (allow for 3 hours in total)
Next to the Tower of London is Tower Bridge. They have an exhibition inside which takes you up to the top walkways. We suggest that you give it a miss, but if you’d like to give it a try then allow yourself 60-90 mins.
Now we’ll catch a train from Tower Gateway to Royal Victoria. But not a normal train… I mean one of the driverless DLR trains. There is no cabin at the front so you can sit right next to the windscreen for a great view (journey time 15-20 mins).
Come out of the station and head towards the water, where you’ll see a cable car across the Thames. It’s extremely high up, and shakes a bit as it goes along, but what a ride! The views from the top are fantastic.
The ride will end on the other bank, where you’ll see the O2 Arena ahead. There are plenty of restaurants outside the dome, and loads more inside too (under the outer edge of the tent). We suggest you stop for a meal here, before spending the evening watching a concert.
What you will see (option 1):Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, and some shopping at Harrods
Day five of your 1 week in London starts with a train to South Kensington and then pick two of the following three museums. Our recommendation would be the Natural History Museum followed by the Science Museum. All three are within five minutes walking distance of each other.
The Natural History Museum is called the “dead zoo” because it is full of stuffed animals from all around the world – elephants, birds and even a Blue Whale! The most popular exhibits though, are the ages-old dinosaur bones (allow for 2-3 hours).
The Science Museum covers everything from the earliest computers and cars to the Apollo moon landings. They’ve also got an IMAX cinema and a roof-space full of airplanes (allow for 2-3 hours).
The Victoria & Albert Museum explores the history of art and design. You will see fabulous furniture, jewellery and clothes, and the world-famous Cast Room – containing replicas of the world’s greatest monuments and statues (allow for 2 hours.
All three of those museums are free, so you should have plenty of money left to splash out at Harrods – the world’s most famous department store. You’ll find it a short walk down the Brompton Road (allow for 1 hour shopping time, or more if you use the restaurant).
What you will see (option 2):The waxworks at Madame Tussaud’s, a pleasant lunch in Regent’s Park, and the afternoon at London Zoo
You should definitely buy your tickets in advance to avoid the queues, which can grow pretty huge (allow for 60 mins queue time, and 90-120 mins for the visit). They’ve got everything from David Beckham to President Obama and the Queen.
If you feel like a bit of exercise then take a long stroll through Regent’s Park to London Zoo. It’s got a huge lake and some nice rose gardens and cafés where you can stop for lunch.
If you don’t fancy the walk then catch the No.274 bus from Dorset Square to Primrose Hill (allow for 25 min ride, and 5-mins walking at either end)
London Zoo is fairly large and will take up your whole afternoon, so allow for 3 to 4 hours. Highlights include the lions and tigers, Gorilla World, the BUGS! exhibit, a rainforest enclosure and Penguin beach.
What you will see: Changing the Guard, afternoon tea at The Ritz or Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly Circus, shopping in Regent Street and Oxford Street, theatre show in the West End
Now for one of the must-see sights of London – the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace. The ceremony starts at 11.15 AM but we recommend getting there by half-10 for a decent spot (you will need to get there by 10 AM if you want a spot right up against the gates).
The ceremony usually takes place every day in the summer, but alternate days thereafter. You can check out the schedule here.
You will have to book up months in advance (3 months at least), but if you don’t make it, don’t fret – try the tea at Fortnum & Mason instead (book 1-2 weeks in advance). Fortnum & Mason is second only to Harrods as the most prestigious store in London.
Keep walking down Piccadilly and you will come to the neon lights of Piccadilly Circus. No trip to London would be complete without a photo of yourself standing underneath the Eros fountain.
You are right in the heart of the West End now, and we will be returning here tonight. But we’ll spend the afternoon buying gifts in three of London’s most famous shopping streets – Regent Street, Oxford Street and Carnaby Street.
Your sixth night will end with a big West End show. Check out our theatre guide to see what’s on. Most of the theatres can be found close-by in Covent Garden, Shaftesbury Avenue or Piccadilly Circus. Or you might like to watch a movie in Leicester Square instead (allow for 3 hours).
What you will see: Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Park, Royal Observatory, and a boat ride back to Westminster
There are a few different things to do in Greenwich, so we are going to give you a choice. Bear in mind that you won’t have time to do them all – so choose 2 out of the next 4. The first one is the famous old Cutty Sark clipper ship (allow for 90 mins).
If you’re into naval history then you might like to visit the National Maritime Museum. One of the highlights is the actual jacket that Nelson wore during the Battle of Trafalgar (allow for 2 hours).
You could also have a look around the Old Royal Naval College. Don’t miss the famous Painted Hall and Chapel (allow for 60 mins).
If you haven’t already had a spot of lunch, then we recommend walking into the historic town centre. Greenwich is a World Heritage Site that dates back hundreds of years, and there are plenty of old pubs in Greenwich.
When you’ve got some energy back, take a stroll up the hill in Greenwich Park, for some fantastic views of the London skyline. Then check out the Royal Observatory. The museum covers everything from time-keeping to astronomy, and there is a large planetarium on site with several shows a day (allow for 3 hours in total).
After you’ve finished exploring Greenwich head back to the river for a boat trip back to Westminster. The 60-minute ride to Westminster Pier (by Big Ben) will give you great views of Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and The City. Note: the last boat is between 4 PM and 4.30 PM.
London: A Visitor’s Guide
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