24 Sights in 24 Hours in London
If you haven’t been to London, you must!
Over the years I have spent a couple of years all up, but is has been in 1-2 day short stays, or staying out of town and traveling in. There is always something to do, day or not.
This trip I was on the way to stay with my sister who now lives down in Cornwall. London seemed a logical stop over so she came up to play. Without much effort at all our day filled up with incredible sights, walks, foods and interactions.
Your 24 hours in London might look very different to mine. But can be equally as fun and packed.
Arriving from in International flight to Heathrow, getting into London is easy.
You just jump on the train which is right inside the airport.
The train takes you into town and then you simply train hop onto another line until finding your hotel.
This visit we stayed down near the Tower Bridge. Great hotel, good location and close to the river Thames which is always good for walking along. It is a long way from Buckingham Palace and that side of town, but it suited us and we caught buses up to Trafalgar or the tube is never far a away.
Checking into the hotel at 330pm it was time to race off and explore.
The weather in London can be treacherous. The wind chill can be freezing and things can change quickly but if you are not prepared for the unpredictable wind changes of London. Fortunately most venues are warm once inside and there are plenty of shops if you are out and about, and need to buy a jacket. I think I am trying to say, don’t over think the preparation of a day in London. Just get out amongst it and don’t take your whole wardrobe.
We head straight for the tower bridge and London Tower.
It used to be akin to a goal letting people in and out of the old London. Conveniently located on the outside moat wall is a draw bridge so that boats (in years gone by) could bring criminals directly for hanging. It is affectionately called the execution door. Still with grills and water lapping at the sides of the castle, it is very easy to cast your mind back to a land and culture that sculpted our current politics and history.
From there we go for a “short” walk to St Paul’s Cathedral. On the way passing some new and old landmark buildings. The gherkin, the walkie talkie building and the older oblisk landmark called “ The Monument” which was erected following the great London Fires in 1666.
Along side St Paul’s Cathedral is a modern looking build called One New Change.
Find your way into it’s arcade and catch the lift to the top. If you are “appropriately dressed” (not looking like a tourist in sneakers) then you may enjoy a wine on their roof top bar. Otherwise they allow you to wander the roof’s side to check out the great views of St Paul’s Cathedral and London.
From there you are very central to many brilliant clothes shops. We bought a few things then headed back to the hotel for a cloth-change. Time to enjoy London night time.
Being a Friday night, beers at all the local bars, are the thing to do. People cascade onto the pavements, ale in hand and lots of chit chat. I would have loved to part-took but there was plenty more exploring to be done.
Wanting to chill and watch the sun set on a wonderful day , we headed to the Thames river and found on of the many venues where you can sit on a boat and enjoy a drink. Our vessel was called Hispanic beside Waterloo Bridge.
On the otherside of London – also known as the Southbank – is always a buzz of activity and things to do. The time we are there is a festival celebrating the river.
One great shows we saw was a film projection, with a back ground small orchestra, showing how Waterloo Bridget was built in 1944. IT was built my women as most of the men were at war.
Brick by brick, pylon by pylon.
It was an impressive slip show with much beautfiul imagery or women working together creating a massive sculpture.
You really can simply waltz along the river’s edge and participate in much. Even people watching is cool.
Time for dinner and we go to one of my sister’s old favorites, Trioia – a Turkish restaurant a block away from the Southbank but with it’s on great energy and vibe. The food is good, the pricing good and service quick. We order a Mezza (banquet) for 2 which more than fills us up.
Quite shattered at this point we call it a day and head back to our apartment to be gret with clean sheets and puffy pillows.
Up early on the Saturday we set off to explore the Tower of London again.
With barely anyone around it was quite a different place. You could imagine how it would have been hundred’s of years. ago. The well kept draw bridge is still in use today and walking across it is easy.
The other side has a few gems to explore. WE find the converted convent from 606AD , now an active catherdral stunning. It is the oldest standing gothic building from it’s time. Shakespeare, Dickens and Harvard were all associated with the church which is conveniently tucked away beside the Borough Markets.
We were there easy and didn’t see the markets in full swing but the foods were incredible. Everything from partridges, delicious pastries to wheels of mature cheese. A simply stunning array of food.
Back to the hotel to check out and my sister was off to get her hair attended to by her long term hair dresser (which sounded like she had followed all around the UK) in Notting Hill.
Notting Hill is a delightful suburb north west of the city.
The hair dressing salon is great and I am served a peppermint tea then treated to a shampoo and blow dry. My self esteem lifts as having my hair done well (and stylish) is not unfortunately something I have mastered yet.
I do a little bit of local exploring around Kensinnton Garden Square, where many of the consults live. Maple leaves drift from the skies reminding me that autumn is on it’s way and whilst today is warm, soon the days will be short and cold.
Back on the double decker red bus to Hyde Park. Which isn’t that far, but we are preserving our legs a little bit.
The War Memorial between Hyde Park and the start of Buckingham Palace is a sombre reminder of New Zealand’ and Australia’s involvement in all of the British Empire’s wars. The arch in the middle of the park is quite stunning.
A short wander brings one to Buckingham Palace. Today is it buzzing with people and the sun is shining and everyone is happy.
The park that guides you back to town is called St James Park and simply beautiful. Royal geese and swans make the lake a beautiful sight. Deck chairs for hire are a great option but we find ourselves to the kiosk for lunch, which serves a lovely chilled wine and good food.
I decide to do a quick water colour inspired by my favorite Claude Monet.
Once the sun has dried it off we venture towards town. Today they have the streets sealed off , with lambaginis and porches chasing each other in a movie being made. Lots of street fun for a short interlude.
We follow our noses to Horse’s Bridge which is beside 10 Downing St.
Here the royal guards sit on their magnificent horses, keeping watch. Tourists love the guards and I have a little horse whisper with both of them who both said they would rather be running around a paddock, then strung up on a warm Saturday in London. Surprise.
From here we are close to everything – Big Ben, Westminister and the Thames, but we head left for Trafalgar Square. I love going to the National Art Gallery. It’s pure size is hard to comprehend and art works one of the best (if not the best) collection of post impressionsm anywhere. I love it. And it’s free!
The Great Hall is a magestic set of rooms housing Vincent Van Goughs (such as the Sunflowers, Starry Night and his famous chair). Monets, Degas, Cezanne dominate the opposite wall. And then to remind you of what an absolutely incredible era it was a few guagins, Manet and Pissaros.
Just in one room!
Outside of the art gallery is a festival. There is always so much to absorb around Trafalgar Square, including the shrine landmark to Lord Nelson set up high.
Today we are privvie to an incredible musican playing with just his guitar. The sounds coming from his beaten up guitar are like those I have never heard before. Wonderful. We stay for a few tracks and I purchase his CD.
It’s time to find another wine so back to the Southbank to watch radio BBC hosting a rock n roll contest. The sun has bought our many smiles on the locals and tourists and everyone is happy!
Another little food festival is taking place behind the southbank but sadly we only have time to sample some curries and wild hog. It’s time to head our of London (via Gatewich) to Cornwall.