London Itinerary Day 1 – All The Must-See Attractions of Westminster

A view of Westminster London

Any tour of London has to include must-see attractions such as Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. London is a huge city, bustling with activity. So how to see all of the best sites in one day? If this is your first trip abroad, here are some tips that will get you some fantastic views of famous landmarks in the area of Westminster!

Start Your Westminster Tour With Views From The London Eye

An enjoyable day in and around central London starts with Westminster.

Begin your day at the London Eye on the east side of the river. Catch a bubble and enjoy the spectacular sites of the historic city of London. A ticket on The Eye goes around one time but you will get a breathtaking vantage point from one of the bubbles.

After you have seen the city from the Eye, head south along the river and enjoy the view of the popular Westminster Bridge!

Once you have crossed to the northwest side of the river, you can enjoy sites of Big Ben / Elizabeth Tower, Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. A tour of the Abbey is well worth the time.

Of course Westminster Abbey has been the location of almost every coronation, (all but two!), and many royal weddings.

The Abbey is also the final resting place of over 3,000 notable people! Check out the tombs of Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, Sir Isaac Newton, and if you enjoy the monarchy, Henry Tudor and Elizabeth I. Not bad company!

A Scenic Stroll Through Whitehall

After checking out the Abbey, head north on Parliament Street into Whitehall. This is the area where the Prime Minister and other lawmakers work and reside.

Here you will also find the Cenotaph, the site for Remembrance Day events. You can also peek through the buildings on your right to get an amazing photo of the London Eye.

A photo from Ellen Phillips travel archive

If you would like another great museum experience, just one street to the west is Horse Guards Road where you can find the amazing Churchill War Rooms museum. If you love WWII history, this is well worth the time.

Continue up Parliament Street, (which will turn into Whitehall), and you will find yourself at Trafalgar Square, the location many consider to be the city center of London.

All The Fun Attractions Of Trafalgar Square

A photo from Ellen Phillips travel archive

Trafalgar Square is a wonderful place for sightseers and tourists but watch your bags! Pickpockets are all around just knowing that the majority of sightseers are easily distracted by all of the action.

Here you will find the National Gallery, Nelson’s Column, and of course, The Fourth Plinth.

The Fourth Plinth

The Fourth Plinth is an underrated tourist site.

This was started as the base of a future equestrian statue for William IV, but the funding never materialized and neither did the statue.   

A base now used for continual displays of everchanging art, it is always fun to see the latest creation. I recall seeing a large glass ship in a bottle residing there previously and wondering what it was. I did some research and now whenever I’m in Trafalgar, I’m intrigued to see what creative artwork is on display. 

You can read more about the art projects here

The last time I was in London, the plinth was decorated with a huge dollop of whipped cream complete with a drone & cherry on top. Around the back side is an enormous, great fly. I love the Brits! They seem at first quite stiff, but they have a wicked sense of humor. They also have their pulse sharply on the public mood, which is often subtly reflected in the art!

A photo from Ellen Phillips travel archive

A Pub Lunch With Sherlock Holmes

If all of this site seeing has brought on a hearty appetite, head down Northumberland Avenue off of Trafalgar Square. Take that just one city block and you will find the Sherlock Holmes Pub. I’ve had a few great meals here while taking in the ambiance of this beloved detective!

Come on – you are in London! You have to take in some “authentic” Sherlock Holmes, right?

A photo of the Sherlock Holmes pub in Trafalgar London

A photo from Ellen Phillips travel archive

After lunch, head back to Trafalgar and take a left toward Admiralty Arch and head down the Mall. This is an excellent walk after a pub lunch. St. James’s Park is on your left and Buckingham Palace is straight ahead!

Buckingham Palace - You Gotta See It, Right?!

Planning a tour of Buckingham Palace does require reserved tickets, so definitely book that in advance. However, the Queen’s Gallery is a small art gallery on the south side of the grounds often has tickets for the exhibits that are available for walk-up attendance. 

I was able to grab a ticket for the Russia – Royalty and the Romanovs exhibit in 2019 and saw the Vladimir Tiara. Such a stunning piece of jewelry!  If you can’t get in to see the palace, definitely check out the Queen’s Gallery.

A photo from Ellen Phillips travel archive

That’s a busy day, but a great chance to see a lot of touristy sites in one afternoon! Heading back to your hotel, you can walk north through The Green Park, (or just Green Park as the locals say), to catch the Jubilee, Piccadilly, or Victoria lines at the Green Park Station. If you need the Circle, District, or Victoria lines, head south from Buckingham Palace to Victoria Station.

Look for more informative itineraries on my Travel Page. If you found these to be helpful, please comment and let me know! 

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Ellen Phillips

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