The Quintessentially British Guide to London

This past December I spent two weeks enjoying life as a local in London, one of my favorite cities in the world. And even though I loved my slow non-travel days, one of the highlights of my visit was the crazed rushed action-packed day in which I was given a London Pass (retail price 49 British Pounds) to enter each and every single cultural attraction of the city of London.

“So Raphael, what do you do when you’re given 24 hours to explore London’s top attractions?” You try to gotta go and catch them all of course! Here’s the The Quintessentially British Guide to London, enjoy it my friends!

How to see the Best of London in 24 Hours

I’m a firm believer of waking up early to make the most of natural daylight (especially in the winter when it gets really dark at 16:00) so after eating a healthy British full-breakfast at my hostel, I embarked on the first attraction of the day: The Monument to the Great Fire of London (entrance fee 4 British Pounds), one of the finest viewpoints of the city.

That special feeling of jogging and climbing 311 steps at 09:30 am is definitely a good way to start a very healthy and busy day, player! At the end you will get a certificate for bragging rights so you can tell your friends that you climbed up and down 622 steps in total just to take that perfect London photo!

The view from London's Monument
The view from London’s Monument
The Quintessentially British Guide to London
The Quintessentially British Guide to London

Afterwards (and after drinking a lot of water) I rushed along the Thames river to reach the Tower of London (entrance fee 22 British Pounds), place of royal executions and political intrigue. You need at least six hours to explore all of it but if you’re short on time, you definitely need to see the two most essential attractions of the Tower complex:

The White Tower with the Line of Kings (collection of armors of past British monarchs) plus the Crown Jewels of the Monarchy.

Yes, be prepared to be shocked when staring at the armors of Henry the VIII…let’s just say that his own crown jewels made his six wives very happy and leave it at that.

Henry the VIII armor at the Tower of London
Henry the VIII armor at the Tower of London
The cannons of the Tower of London
The cannons of the Tower of London

The next stop after the Tower of London was the nearby Tower Bridge (which most people confuse with the London Bridge thanks to that popular Fergie song). You can actually go to the top of the Tower Bridge (entrance fee 9 British Pounds) and do the walk of awesomeness on the new glass walkway. No vertigo allowed!

You can also visit the ancient engine rooms but I would suggest you to rush to the next attractions by taking the Thames River Cruise (retail price 18 British Pounds) from Tower Pier to Westminster Pier (an unlimited 24 hour cruise ticket is free to holders of the London Pass).

Enjoy the 30 minute journey as a British guide in a thick accent educates you on the many landmarks of the Thames river and remember to tip him for some beer money after leaving the cruise. Ready for exploring the attractions near Westminster?

Inside Tower Bridge, London
Inside Tower Bridge, London
The boat from Tower Bridge to Westminster
The boat from Tower Bridge to Westminster

Sadly, it was way too late to pay a visit Westminster Abbey (no relation with Downton Abbey) since it closed down very early on the day I visited so instead I opted for going straight to the last three attractions of the day.

However, I definitely recommend you to visit Westminster Abbey (entrance fee 18 British Pounds) when/if you have the time since inside you will find the tombs of most British Monarchs plus some of the most talented playwrights and scientists that have been born in the British Isles.

So anyways, our next stop of the day is the Churchill War Rooms, an underground bunker where the man himself led the war efforts and yes, that is indeed a Paddington bear waiting outside trying to find home. Cute little fellow, uh?

Westminster, London
Westminster, London
Paddington Trail at London
Paddington Trail at London

I gotta be hones with you, I was kind of disappointed with the Churchill War Rooms (entrance fee 18 British Pounds) but that’s maybe because I’m not exactly a big fan of WW2 History. Inside you will find many conference rooms and bedrooms with tidbits about life in the bunker during the war…and that’s pretty much it.

Luckily, our next attraction was a very nice unknown gem: The Household Calvary Museum (entrance fee 7 British Pounds). Inside you shall find the history of the Royal Calvary plus some nice displays and exhibitions of uniforms and banners of the House Guards.

And yes, there is a special stable where you can dress up as one (fancy helmet included!) to take that awesome selfie!

Inside Churchill's War Rooms at London
Inside Churchill’s War Rooms at London
The House Guards Museum
The Household Calvary Museum

The last attraction of the day was a very special place that I’ve been wanting to visit for some time now: The Banqueting Hall of the former Whitehall Palace. The Whitehall Palace was the masterpiece of Henry the VIII during the era of the Tudors and the Banqueting Hall, developed by James I.

The history of the Banqueting Hall (entrance fee 6.60 British Pounds) is a very complex one. In one hand, we have the magnificent ceiling painting by Rubens. This immense set of paintings was commissioned by Charles I to represent the Divine Power of Kings.

It was ironically this same ideology the one that caused Charles I to dissolve the Parliament, thus starting the English Civil War that ended with the execution of Charles I in 1649 outside of the Banqueting Hall that he loved so much. Decades later, the Whitehall Palace was consumed by an accidental fire…but the Banqueting Hall remained.

Ruben's Banqueting Hall, London
Ruben’s Banqueting Hall, London
Banqueting Hall, place of royal luxury and execution
Banqueting Hall, place of royal luxury and execution

What a crazy action packed day filled with British History, uh? Believe or not, I still had the energy to go to a nearby food stall to get some takeaway food in order to enjoy a late lunch at Hyde Park, one of my favorite spots of the city to enjoy watching the sunset.

Isn’t that a perfect ending to a perfect day? But wait, there’s more! If you have more than 24 hours in London, I definitely recommend you to visit some of the city’s free of charge attractions such as relaxing parks and the best rooftops bars in London.

Are you ready for exploring the best of London?

Sunset at Hyde Park, London
Sunset at Hyde Park, London
The one and only Buckingham Palace
The one and only Buckingham Palace

The British Guide to London. Yes, there’s still more!

In a city like London, location is everything (have you read my Budget Guide to London?) and that is why you ideally should be staying in either in the area near Victoria or the area near Tower Bridge.

During my most recent visit to London I was invited to stay at St. Christopher’s Inn Village which is a few meters away from London Bridge and one of the best spots for partying and meeting up with like minded travelers.

You can make a booking for this and more properties via our Affiliate Link of Wonders!

Same price for you and a small pocket money commission for this website of yours.

Sweet deal, uh?

The next day after my crazed London Pass adventure, I had the pleasure of returning to the Tower of London, this time by the helping hand of the Historic Royal Palaces of London.

Did you know you can get a year-long membership for only 36 British Pounds to enter unlimited times to the 5 palaces they manage? That’s a real money saver if you’re a medieval history buff like me!

The highlight of the day? Meeting the only female Yeoman Warder (known as beefeaters because they got paid in beef while the rest of the guards got paid in bread), the charming Moira Cameron, a true example for gender equality and empowerment.

Beefeater female guard at the Tower of London
Beefeater female guard at the Tower of London
The treasures of the Tower of London
The treasures of the Tower of London

Last (but certainly not least) be sure to visit London’s free museums such as the Museum of the City of London, the Tate Modern, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum.

Of course, a donation is always welcome, you stingy fella! Plus, you can always enjoy the changing of the guard outside of Buckingham Palace, just remember to arrive early to secure the best viewing spots! Here’s even more things to in London in case you’re staying longer my friends!

Have you ever been to London? Would you like to? What are some of your favorite things to do while in the city? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!

Sunset at Trafalgar Square
Sunset at Trafalgar Square
The British Museum
The British Museum. You really cannot get more British than this.

Disclaimer: This article was brought to you in collaboration with the London Pass and the Historic Royal Palaces. Be sure to check them our next time you’re in London, until next time my friends!

Things to Do and See in London England United Kingdom
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23 Responses

  1. Carmen Perez (listen2mama)

    Wow, what beautiful pictures, looks like you had an awesome day. We also love to travel everywhere, especailly Europe though, however it’s been a really long time since I’ve been to London, I need to get back soon!

    • The Gallivantista

      Great effort! Especially the Full English Breakfast. Not an easy thing to stomach,
      I pretty much live in London, but you have now seen more of it than I have! I didn’t even realise I could climb The Monument and I walk past it all the time.
      I am also amazed at how expensive some of these attractions are. My country really is way too expensive.

  2. Michele

    If I ever make it to London I will definitely plan on at least a month from all you saw and did. I am not one for racing hither and yon-would rather take my time. As for those 622 steps–uh–think I’ll pass.

  3. Nina Say

    I’m not sure I could handle only being in London for 24 hours. If I had to, though, I would definitely visit all these places.

  4. tammileetips

    Oh my goodness you fit in so many stops!! I am exhausted from reading that :) You took some amazing photos love the all the museum stops!

  5. Tanya Coffman

    London looks amazing! I have a friend that said it’s mostly foggy and dreary in London – but your photos captured a lot of beautiful sunshine :) you must have gone on a great week!

  6. Elizabeth O.

    I’ll be visiting London later this year. I’ll definitely make time for all these sights!

  7. Myrabev

    I live an hour away from london and I havent even done half of this, great pictures thanks for sharing

  8. Marilyn

    I just want to tell you that I enjoy reading all your posts – you have many wonderful photos and insights. While you are off gallivanting around the world, we are savoring the sights, sounds, and flavors of Oaxaca!

  9. Terri Ramsey Beavers

    Thank you so much for your photos and suggestions. My dream is to visit London one day but your photos have made me feel like I’ve taken a little pre trip to this amazing place.

  10. Chrystal @ Nevermore Lane

    My cousins oldest daughter just landed in London last week. She is there for the semester abroad program going to the University. In May her mom and my aunts are going to visit her and then they are all going to Ireland to pay respects to our grandmother. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get to go.

  11. Tamika

    London is on my bucket list to visit. When I do, this will be my guide. Thank you so much.

  12. Bonnie @ wemake7

    I’ve never been to London before but would love to someday. Thanks for sharing your great post. I love the pics too.

  13. Chrysa

    Amazing guide to London. I can’t wait to get there. I don’t think I can do it i 24 hours though! lol Love the photos.

  14. Modern Pilgrim

    I went to London a couple of years ago. I wish you had been my tour guide! Ha! Seriously though, what a great post and very helpful advice for tourists! XO

  15. Ann BAcciaglia

    I went to London a couple times in the 1980’s and loved it. I would love to go back sometime soon. I remember great food and fantastic shopping.

  16. Trisha

    I can’t believe you could fit all this in 24 hours! I’d love to visit London in the future so thank you for sharing your guide!

  17. Marielle Altenor

    Amazing! I’ve only dreamed of visiting London one day. From your beautiful pictures I can see that I’m missing out! One day soon!

  18. Alysia from My Domestic Dish

    If you earn a Canadian wage, which translated directly into GBP then the pricing may not be so bad. The British average wage is far lower/cost of living much higher so not as many people that live there on a day to day basis get to enjoy these same sorts of things. It’s such a shame.
    (I lived in England for a year, married there etc) I think it could do so much for national pride.

  19. Sammi Wanderlustin'

    The Tower of London is my favourite– I am particularly biased as I know one of the Yeomen there, of course, but it is such a fabulous place to learn about history, “history is nearly always written by those who win”, as Bill taught me.