12 Hours to Explore London
So you have 12 hours in London, what do you do?
I might be biased but London has to be one of my all time favourite cities and even though there is loads to see, here are my fave places if you only have a day in London.
On my last visit to the capital. I was there for around 12 hours, getting the train in at 9:20am and leaving around 9:30pm. Granted I didn’t do much in the way of sightseeing this day, but I’ve been to London many times so it wasn’t my top priority.
Anyway, here is my list of things to do (in no particular order)
1. Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
This has to be one of my favourite places in London! I’ve never actually been in the Tower of London so I can’t recommend it but it’s definitely picturesque and historic from the outside, especially surrounded by skyscrapers of the City of London. On my last trip to London I got off the tube at London Bridge Station (underneath The Shard) and walked alongside the Thames on Queen’s Walk down to Tower Bridge, across Tower Bridge and around the Tower of London! It’s a great walk and there is so many amazing photo opportunities along the way.
2. M&M World! (and Leicester Square).
Every time I go to London I end up in M&M world even though I hardly ever end up buying anything. It’s worth the visit to see the M&M characters posing with classic British landmarks and to see all of the M&M’s sorted by colour on the wall. After a recent visit to the New York M&M world, I have to say that the London store is 100% better, but then again, maybe I’m biased because I’m British. M&M world is also located in Leicester Square. If you’re really lucky, you might see a film premiere going on in Leicester Square. You can always go film star spotting!
If you want to wander a little further away from Leicester Square. You can check out Piccadilly Circus, Regent St and Carnaby Street for shops, bars and restaurants and pose for a very tourist photo in front of the illuminated signs.
3. London Eye and South Bank.
Are you even in London if you don’t visit the London Eye? It’s worth going there even if you don’t go on the London Eye. The views are pretty good from the top but at £27 a person, maybe not worth it. If you can bag yourself some 2 for 1 tickets or even better, free tickets, I would recommend it 100%. If not, it’s still worth looking at from the ground and it’s a brilliant area to take photographs.
There is always something going on around the South Bank. You can wander up and down the river, walk across Westminster Bridge and see the Houses Of Parliament. It’s a great area!
4. Buckingham Palace (and surrounding areas)
If you’re in London, you have to go and visit the Queen! If the Royal Standard flag is flying above Buckingham Palace then you’re in luck because it means the Queen is in residence. Buckingham Palace, and the surrounding areas are very beautiful (and full of tourists.) It is also a great place to people watch! When I was down in London last summer to pick up my US Visa (check out that post here). The Queen was hosting one of her summer garden parties and it was amazing watching everyone come in and out of the palace gardens all dressed up. If parks are your thing, nearby Buckingham Palace there is St. James’ Park, Green Park and a little bit further up, is Hyde Park. Plus, the parks are truly amazing!
5. Covent Garden.
I love Covent Garden. The area is always so full of life. There is plenty of restaurants and shops surrounding the area and again, it is a great spot to people watch! The area is always full of street performers which provide some entertainment to people passing by. Also, if you have enough time, you are right in the heart of London’s Theatre District, the West End! I’ve seen Mamma Mia! in the Novello Theatre and would highly recommend it! If you are a big theatre or musicals fan, you will love the West End shows.
It took me many trips to London to realise it was cheaper to get an Oyster card for travelling around the city than keep buying day travelcards. If you’re in London for more than a week, this may not be the case so it’s worth looking into! You can get an Oyster Card from most ticket machines in the Underground stations. All you have to do is pay a refundable £5 deposit and top it up by however much you want. You pay as you go by scanning your card through the gates in the station. The best part about them is once you’ve reached £6.80 for travel that day, you don’t have to pay for any more trips that you take, meaning that you have unlimited travel for less than £7 a day!
Once you’re done with the card, simply return it by using the machines again and you can claim back your £5 deposit and up to £10 credit on the card.
Hope you have enjoyed reading and enjoy your time in the capital. ~ Let me know what your fave places in London are!
Laura – CountryGirlExplores x
2 thoughts on “12 Hours to Explore London”
Nice information. I agree, it’s such a great city. Can’t wait to go back.
Great ideas for spending time in London!
A quick travel update: you can pay for tubes, buses and trains with any contactless card now and the system will calculate the cheapest rate for the day. Still worth looking at a travel card if you’re here for multiple days though.