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24 Hours in London For First Timers: Top Rated Activities

london streets are beautiful for first timers

Welcome To 24 Hours in London For First Timers – Top Rated Activities

The city of London in the United Kingdom is a bustling city full of history and culture around every corner. Let me start out by saying I KNOW London is a huge and beautiful city, not at all able to be fully appreciated in only 24 hours! But, some of us travelers are on a time crunch and have to make-do with the small amount of time we have (or our lay-over allows for!) If 24 hours in London as a first time visitor is all you can spare but you don’t want to miss the opportunity to get the most out of your limited time there, you’re in the right place!

When Mr. Penny and I had the option to spend a 6 hour layover during a long international flight in the Copenhagen airport (AGAIN), or take advantage of a long layover in London; we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add a stop in the UK’s beautiful city at no additional flight cost to us. We made the most of our 24 hours in London as first timers and had an absolute blast. Don’t miss out on the top rated activities for first timers in London, the best foods to try, or the essential ways to prepare with our latest travel guide: 24 Hours in London for First Timers!

Plan Transportation Ahead of Time

If you’re working with a limited amount of time to spend in London as a first timer, don’t waste moments trying to figure out transportation. Dive right in to the top-rated activities by planning ahead for transport!

 Whether you’re taking the train in or arriving at the airport, don’t get caught waiting around for your ride! We personally flew in so we used a taxi and terribly overpaid for a ride from the airport. Book a private transfer ahead of time with a private company, prices start at just £55. Reserve Here!

24 hours in london first timer on a train

Book a hotel/room that is easy to access

With only 24 hours in London for first timers, you will need a lot of time to travel back and forth to the place you’re staying between activities. So be sure to book a hotel or room that’s easily assessable or walkable to the destinations you want to visit! Don’t waste time traveling any more than you have too!

You can find a relatively cheap room (as cheap as London can go, lets be honest this city is EXPENSIVE), even in Westminster if you plan and book ahead! We booked a full year in advance to get the best rate.

Prepare for Inclement Weather

If there’s one thing all London natives know, it’s how dreary the weather can be. Don’t be the tourist that gets caught in the rain without preparation and ends up paying £30 for an umbrella. Yes we did this, not our finest expenditure but it was 100% necessary on the day we were there! Bring rain coats, closed toed shoes, and an UMBRELLA!

prepare for weather as a first time visitor
Huddling under our £30 umbrella in the rain!

24 Hours in London for First Timers? Visit The Big Ben Clock Tower

When it comes to top rated activities for first time visitors in London, you can’t miss touring Big Ben! Located right in the center of Westminster, Big Ben (truly named Elizabeth Tower) is hard to miss; but still a must see when visiting even for a short period. Take the narrow stairwell through the great clock to see where the bell, Big Ben, hangs. It was unfortunately under construction while we toured, but miraculous none-the-less!

top rated activities for first time visitors in london big ben tower
Our 24 hours in London as a first timer and Big Ben was under construction!

Tour Westminster Abbey

You are in Westminster, after all! One of our top rated activities as a first timer in London was the Westminster Abbey. The gothic architecture is absolutely stunning, and the full tour is only about 2 hours; leaving plenty of time to soak in the history AND have time to do other things during your trip! Definitely don’t miss out on this one!

Westminster Abbey London top rated activities for first timers
Our 24 Hours in London for First Timers was COMPLETE once we visited the Westminster Abbey. A definite must-see!

Tour the Tower of London & the Tower Bridge

At just a little over £30 to enter, the Tower of London (which is conveniently located just in front of the tower bridge, think two birds one stone), is a top rated activity in London for first timers: even during a quick 24 hour stay. One of the oldest intact buildings in the city, there’s so much history here. You don’t need to book the guided tour, but there’s a lot to soak in so it’s definitely helpful!

Tower Bridge of London top rated activities for first time visitors

24 Hours in London for First Timers – Be Sure to Take in the Views on the London Eye

If you’re only working with 24 hours in London as a first time visitor, the London eye (or the cities largest enclosed Ferris wheel) is a fantastic way to get the best views of the city in a time crunch! The panoramic views of the entire city is a vacationers dream come true. We took advantage of the opportunity to get out of the rain and get some of the best views you can get in London! With only a 30 minute ride time, it was a quick activity but definitely one of our top rated activities in London as a first time visitor!

24 hours in london for first timers must see london eye

Book a Walking Tour

With only a 1.5 hour allotted time, this Walking Tour is a great way to venture into the forgotten, overlooked and sometimes mysterious and macabre past of London on this Hidden London Walking Tour. This journey takes in a medieval crypt, the punishment cell of the Knights Templar, a church that shows scars from World War II, and the location of a long-lost Underground station. More tour options below:

Great Tour Options for 24 Hours in London for First Timers:

Book the best top rated activities in London for first timers through the above links for a GREAT rate!

Have a Guiness in a Local Pub

In true UK fashion, have a Guinness at a local pub and enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life. Like any large city, London is alive with culture. There’s no better way to soak it in than at the local pub!

Drinking Guiness is a top rated activity for first time visitors in London

Visit the Borough Market

The borough market is the oldest food market in London, over 1000 years old, and is such a unique experience. Filled with street food vendors and various small shops and places to dine/drink, there is absolutely no better way to get your fill of London and its culture! It’s easy to spend hours within the market, so prepare by allotting the right amount of time to be there! Learn more about how to get there, their hours, and more on their website.

borough market top rated activities for first timers in London
24 hours in london for first timers borough market

Take a Walk in the South Bank

If you have any extra time, you HAVE to walk through the south bank as you’re leaving the Borough market. Think street performers and English culture GALORE! Right along the river Thames, the south bank offers beautiful views of the major landmarks (Big Ben, Westminster Abby, etc.) as well as great food and beverage options! Be sure to bring an umbrella if the weather is less than ideal, but the food vendors will be open anyway!

There are so many tours we didn’t get a chance to do! Take your pick of other top rated activities in London for first time visitors below:

There are SO many regions of London, it’s a shame to narrow it down to just one like Westminster. But with only 24 hours in London to spare, there’s no better place to get a true feel for the city culture and soak it in as much as you can! Bonus points if you can hit it on an extended layover and save a TON in flight costs. 

24 Hours in London For First Timers: Top Rated Activities Highlights & FAQS

  • Plan ahead and book transportation to save time
  • Book a hotel or Vrbo that is centrally located
  • Book guided tours ahead to save money and plan for inclement weather
  • Enjoy the rich history through tours of the major landmarks
  • Soak up the culture at the local street markets!
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(10) Comments

  1. A jam packed day of stuff to do in London in 24 hours – love it!

  2. Certainly packs a lot in but a perfect day when you only have 24 hours. Lived in London for years, only done half of these activities, lol.

    1. Melanie says:

      So much to see and do! I have alot remaining to do my next trip!

  3. This covers all the big items in one day! Efficient and fun! Love it and will be using it as a guide for when I go to London!

  4. I’ve never been to London and always wondered if I could do its greatest hits in just a day, so thank you for putting this together it seems like a perfect intro to the city!

  5. A day in London will definitely leave you wanting to come back! Love your choices to maximize the layover!

  6. I have visited London a number of times, and there is always something new to see.

  7. I haven´t been to London in years, but you´ve made a great list of all the highlights! Would love to go again someday.

  8. Karen says:

    This is certainly a jampacked schedule for a day in London. I would definitely like to go see the whole city from the London eye. Lots of good ideas here.

  9. Interesting post. I’m glad I found this page. I’m going to save it so I can read any more upcoming posts.

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