One of my readers (hi Robin!) recently sent me an email asking how she could cram in as much of London as possible in just 24 hours – obviously, there is no such thing as doing London in a day. I was there for a whole year and couldn’t manage to see everything!
Now, London isn’t the most walk-friendly; most people will tell you that I am crazy for having walked all of these itineraries. But when you’re a tourist in a new place, walking is often the best way to *really* see a city. Actually, I can think of many reasons why you would want to take walks in London.
- Public transportation, for one, is prohibitively expensive – not to mention rarely effective. Planned engineering works, anyone?
- Spontaneous photo opps. Because the inside of tube carriages just isn’t as picturesque as London’s tucked away mews and pub façades.
- Burn off the calories induced from massive quantities of English delicacies that you will inevitably ingest on your adventure, like cake, beer and/ or chips.
But with a little bit of planning and despite the fact that London is very large (15 times bigger than Paris, in fact), it is still possible to walk to plenty of major attraction. With such little time in town, you want every single of your precious minutes to be spent wisely!
With that in mind, I’ve prepared three walking itineraries covering three different areas of the city. I have tested and tried all of them, noting down my favourite streets along the way to make sure each turn you take takes you to a beautiful part of London. They could, technically, be done in a single day (challenge accepted!?) if you plan on wearing the world’s most comfortable shoes and rely solely on RedBull to keep you going, but I do recommend taking as much time as possible to explore and enjoy the wonder that is London.
* Tip: Click on “details” under the list of attractions in the map to get the exact walking directions.
Walking in London – Notting Hill to Green Park
This is my favourite walk out of the three. Yes, this is my blog and I can pick favourites if I want to :-)
Kensington is often where I head to first whenever I’m in London. And not just because of the movie; but because it’s incredibly picturesque and feels like a Disney-fied version of London. You can see tonnes of – extremely wealthy and fashionable – Londoners going to and from work, chill mums having coffee al fresco with their newborn, and avid Instagrammers snapping all of the area’s colourful townhouses.
Update June 2016: I just created a bespoke 5-kilometres-long walking route for Notting Hill, which encompasses the most colourful and photogenic streets and shops in the area.
- Marvel at the colourful streets and lavish mansions in Notting Hill
- Throw in a coffee or cake stop while you’re at it. My favourites include:
- Biscuiteers 194 Kensington Park Rd
- Coffee Plant 180 Portobello Road
- GAIL’s artisan bakery 138 Portobello Road
- Talkhouse Coffee 275 Portobello Road
- Kitchen & Pantry 14 Elgin Crescent
- Recipease Jamie Oliver 94 Notting Hill Gate (#fangirl, I know)
- Discover the well-hidden Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park
- Make your way to Kensington Palace in Hyde Park
- Admire the legacy Queen Victoria left for her late husband Albert at the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall
- Take a quick peek inside the splendid Natural History Museum
- Take the tube from South Kensington to Piccadilly Circus
Walking in London – Buckingham Palace to Houses of Parliament
This itinerary features some of the most visited sites in London, with reason – what’s a visit to the UK without a healthy dose of royalty? The walking route above is in no way efficient, but it is definitely stately and photo-worthy.
- Walk to Trafalgar Square from Piccadilly Circus station (visit the National Portrait Gallery if you have time, a personal favourite of mine)
- Cross Admiralty Gate and walk the length of Pall Mall
- Admire Buckingham Palace
- Stroll in the lovely St. James Park – make sure to walk along the lake to catch the wonderful view of the Palace in the back
- Walk past the concealed Churchill War Rooms (or visit if you have the time, I highly recommend it)
- Admire the ornate façade of Westminster Abbey
- Take the mandatory London tourist photo in front of Big Ben
- Board the Thames Clipper boat number RB1 (part of the London transit system) at London Eye Pier and alight at Tower Millenium Pier
Walking in London – St. Paul’s to Tower Bridge
After a relaxing and awe-inspiring boat ride on the Thames River, it’s time to explore one of London’s oldest parts: the City of London. Technically not a London borough but rather a city in its own right, it spans over 10 centuries of history, going from the construction of the Tower of London in 1078 to the glowing skyscrapers of the financial district. The other side of the Thames is not any less interesting – at least, not when the Shakespeare Globe and Borough Market are concerned.
- Walk around the Tower of London and imagine the dark, tragic stories that took place there over the years
- Cross Tower Bridge
- Look up to the tip of The Shard (treat yourself to a visit to the observatory if your budget allows, it is worth it), the highest building in Western Europe
- Eat your weight in gourmet sandwiches and fresh cheese at Borough Market if it’s open (10AM-5PM Wednesdays through Saturdays)
- Walk past Shakespeare’s Globe
- Cross Millenium Bridge and admire the splendid view of both banks of the Thames River, including the Tate Modern behind you
- Finish your epic route at St Paul’s Cathedral
Things To Do In London: Get The Book
Like what you just read? Some of it are excerpts from my London city guide eBook, which I just published. You’ll find 200 more suggestions of things to see, do, eat, and drink in London in there, as well as photography pointers and loads of helpful tips.