For all you travelers with a layover in London or some time to kill- this is for you. There are so many amazing things to see, we didn't know if it would be possible to do in a day. I'm here to tell you it's possible.
I'M NO EXPERT! This was just our experience :)
We live in Birmingham, so for us it was easy. London is only a few hours away by coach or train. We decided to take the coach, since it's cheaper and we do everything on a budget. We booked the tickets with National Express the week before and went to and from London for under £30 total.
While we were in the city we decided we would use the tube (underground train) to get around the city. We bought an all day pass for £8. You can buy these at any station. You can also use the bus system if preferred. The tube system is just so easy to navigate, as newbies we went with that. Also, even with a pass you will be doing quite a bit of walking. Wear comfortable shoes and bring an umbrella :)
(Disclaimer- to see all of what we did in a day we didn't spend a significant amount of time at any one place. This was more of a surface trip rather than a deep dive. If you want more of a deep dive experience pick 2-3 attractions.)
Buckingham Palace (1)
You can pay to go inside and tour but we opted to take cheesy pictures outside and film the guards as they marched.
Westminster Abbey (2)
Absolutely beautiful! Again, you can pay to go inside but we just looked from the outside. We were not disappointed.
Big Ben (3)
It is a beautiful as it looks in the pictures. The detail is incredible.
London Eye (4)
We didn't ride it but boy it is a sight to see. Right on the river.
Trafalgar Square/ National Gallery (5)
The square is beautiful! Amazing statues and fountains. We did go inside the National Gallery and it was a treat! (Also, FREE!) I wish I had listened a bit better in art history, because I know I didn't appreciate all it had to offer. Rooms and rooms of paintings from centuries passed. A few notables that I actually recognized- paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, and Da Vinci.
Tower of London/Tower Bridge (6)It was Remembrance Day this past week, so they put 888, 246 ceramic poppy flowers in the moat at the tower to commemorate the fallen of the British military during WW1. If we had more time we wished would have gone inside the tower to view the Crowned Jewels. There we so many people there to see the poppies we didn't get great pictures, or even a good look at the bridge. Next time.
This department store is INSANE. I kind of felt like Jenny Humphrey on the Upper East Side. Gossip Girl reference... anyone? Couldn't afford anything in there, but it was worth the visit.
Apollo Victoria Theatre- Wicked (8)
The cherry on top of the cake. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. If you ever have time to go to a show, DO IT. This was my birthday present. Big purchase for the year.
Platform 9 3/4
(Not shown. North of the map at Kings Cross Station)
Calling all Harry Potter fans! This was a little outside the route, but we just had too. Yep. We were super touristy and did this. Come on though, you can't go to London and NOT do this.
This was my first time to London so I wanted to see everything! Again, if you want a more in depth experience, pick just a few things to see.
London in 1 day is possible people!!