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Maximizing a London Layover: Quick & Easy Ideas to Transit

City Guide July 5, 2023

Are you in London on a short layover between flights? Perhaps you’ve flown in and are going elsewhere in Britain and have a few hours to kill in the capital? Maybe you’re staying somewhere nearby and have decided to pop in for the day. Whatever the situation, the size of this enormous city can make it hard to spend a few hours sightseeing in London.

This guide can help you organize a quick visit to London! We’ve compiled a list of all the best things to see, with some information about each place.

We compiled a list of great places to visit and grouped them into sections. All within walking distance of each other. So, while on your layover trip, choose one of these areas of London and see all the amazing sights. You'll be able to fit plenty of activities into a short period of time!

Remember that bulky luggage might ruin your day if you’re visiting London on a layover. But presumably, you won’t be able to store it in housing. There are different luggage storage methods, but we think that the best option for you in London is to use Nannybag.

This luggage storage service puts you in contact with shops, hotels, etc., all around the city. You can then book luggage storage services through their app or website.

It’s super easy, quick, and secure and only costs £6 per item per day. Get your Oyster card ready and read our list of places to go to make the most of transit in London.

 

Westminster Area

 

Granted, a short layover probably means that you won't have time to see all London attractions. Especially if you have less than 24 hours in central London.

You might have to pass on Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Parliament, and Big Ben. Still, you'll see that you'll fit in several points of interest with a good organization. And the great thing about London Heathrow is that it's only 30 minutes away from downtown by taxi

Right beside the River Thames, the area around Westminster contains much of the most iconic and popular attractions have to offer. You easily tick off some of London’s best bucket list places to see in a few hours around here. As it’s perhaps the most central part of the city, there are many ways to get to Westminster. The easiest option is to get to Westminster tube station on the Circle, District, and Jubilee lines.

 

Big Ben & Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament, also called the Palace of Westminster, are a striking and imposing symbol of London. It is the official residence of the UK government, housing the House of Commons as well as the House of Lords. The most renowned feature is the clock tower, known as Big Ben, although it technically refers to the bell within.

 

London Eye

One of the city's most iconic monuments, the London Eye is a monumental Ferris Wheel built to commemorate the new millennium. With its 32 spacious glass capsules, visitors can enjoy awe-inspiring, panoramic views of London during a 30-minute ride. This attraction operates daily, from morning until late evening. Ticket prices vary depending on a few factors, but adult tickets purchased online generally cost around £30.

Initially intended as a temporary structure celebrating the millennium, the London Eye officially opened in March 2000. Its overwhelming popularity led to its permanent installation, and now it’s a true symbol of the city. The London Eye is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. On a clear day, you can see up to 25 miles away from its 135 meters (443 feet) height!

 

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it's also one of the most significant religious buildings in the country. This Gothic abbey (and cathedral) is free and easily accessible by the Underground. The abbey's rich history spans over a thousand years, with construction starting in 1245 and taking almost a century to complete. It has witnessed royal weddings, coronations (including King Charles'), and burials.

When visiting London, don't miss the chance to explore this awe-inspiring landmark! Marvel at its architecture, and immerse yourself in centuries of history. You can even sit at a church service every morning and evening!

 

Buckingham Palace

One of London’s most-visited sites is Buckingham Palace, the home of the King and a true symbol of Britain. During summer, the palace opens its doors to the public, offering various ticket options. Prices and opening hours are available on its website.

This majestic residence boasts an impressive 775 rooms, including 19 staterooms. It also includes 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, and 78 bathrooms. Additionally, the palace features expansive gardens and the Royal Mews, which houses the stables. Another thing not to miss is the daily changing of the guard ceremony, which happens at 11 am.

 

Kensington/ Notting Hill

Both glamorous areas of West London, Kensington, and Notting Hill are beautiful places to wander and enjoy. With pretty streets, lively bars, and trendy cafés. To explore the city's cultural side during your layover in London, three of London's best museums are in South Kensington. All within walking distance from the tube stop (on the District, Circle, and Piccadilly lines).

So why not check out here and see what’s on offer during your few hours in London?

 

Science Museum

The Science Museum is an absolute treasure trove for those fascinated by everything science. It offers a ton of interactive exhibits. Taking visitors on a journey through the wonders of things like space exploration and showcasing the latest advancements in technology.

Whether you're a curious youngster eager to learn or a budding scientist searching for inspiration. This museum will awaken your curiosity and ignite fresh ideas. It’s also completely free to enter!

 

Natural History Museum

Right beside the Science Museum is the Natural History Museum, and it’s also completely free to enter. The museum hosts an extensive collection that spans millions of years, showcasing our planet's incredible diversity of life. From the fossilized remains of dinosaurs to exquisite gemstones, this museum offers a captivating display of Earth's history.

Be sure not to miss the iconic Blue Whale skeleton proudly showcased in the main hall. Budding scientists and curious minds alike will love the Natural History Museum. It will deepen your appreciation for our planet's past and present and is a really child-friendly spot!

 

Victoria & Albert Museum

Named after Queen Victoria and her husband, Albert, the V&A Museum is a treasure trove of art, design, and history. It is next to the Natural History Museum and has a collection of over 2 million objects spanning centuries and continents. From exquisite fashion, costumes, and jewelry to sculptures, ceramics, and even furniture, there's something for everyone.

The building itself is a masterpiece, blending Victorian grandeur with modern additions. Best of all, admission is free, though some special exhibitions may have a fee.

 

South Bank and Tower of London

The Tower of London is on the North side of the river. Still, after checking it out and crossing the iconic Tower Bridge, you’re in the South Bank area of the city. This vibrant place has many street performances, food trucks, art, and things going on.

Hanging around here would be great during your layover. So we recommend heading to the Tower first - hop on the Circle or District line and get off at Tower Hill.

 

Tower of London

The Tower of London is, along with Westminster Abbey, arguably the most important historical site in the whole city. It dates back to the 13th century and was the site of many of British history's most important (and gruesome) episodes. It played an important role as a fortress, a prison, and an execution spot.

Entrance to the Tower costs around £33 for an adult ticket. It is open from 9 am until 5.30 every day. Walk around the vast complex, and check out the Crown Jewels in the Jewel House. You might even spot the resident ravens, which legend has will stay in the Tower until the day England falls.

 

Tower Bridge

beside the Tower of London is the Iconic Tower Bridge, yet another famous symbol of the city. This impressive bridge has been up since 1894, often mixed up with London Bridge. It consists of two 65-meter towers and a bridge to connect them.

Underneath is the Bridge, which 40,000 cars pass over every day. It also opens 2-3 times a day to let boats pass through. So if you’re lucky enough to catch this in action, it’s pretty cool!

You can visit the museum of the old engine rooms and see the inner workings of the bridge mechanics. You can also walk along the glass floor of the upper walkway. You can purchase tickets online, and they’re pretty cheap, with an adult ticket costing £11.40.

 

Borough Market

Borough Market, located in Southwark, is a renowned food market that has been serving the community for over 1,000 years. Its rich history and vibrant atmosphere make it a must-visit destination for food enthusiasts and tourists alike.

The market showcases an incredible array of fresh produce, specialty foods, and artisanal products sourced from local and international suppliers. From seasonal fruits and vegetables to gourmet cheeses, charcuterie, and baked goods, Borough Market offers something for all tastes.

It also hosts a variety of events, including cooking demonstrations and workshops. Its eco-friendly commitment and support of small-scale producers further add to its charm and appeal. It’s open every day except Mondays, from 9-5

 

Tate Modern

Set within a converted power station, the Tate Modern stands as an iconic symbol of contemporary art. This museum showcases a remarkable assortment of modern and contemporary artworks. From the revolutionary works of Picasso to the creations of Warhol, the Tate Modern pushes artistic boundaries and challenges conventional notions.

Entry to the museum is free, but some of the best art is in temporary exhibitions. This usually costs a bit to enter. Still, if you’re just in town for a layover, you can pop in for a brief look around.

 

North London

We presume that you want to avoid venturing too far during your layover. There are some great places to visit and see on the north side of the city, while staying fairly central,

 

British Museum

Entrance is free into the British Museum, located in. This is one of the world's most amazing and breathtaking museums. It’s the world’s first public museum.

Conveniently accessible via the Underground, travelers can get off at Tottenham Court Road or Holborn Station. Admission to the museum is free, although you might have special exhibitions.

It houses an exceptional collection, including renowned items from around the world, such as the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. The building is captivating Georgian with a glass-lined interior hall, definitely worth a visit. Due to the extensive nature of its collection, only a fraction of the treasures are typically on display.

 

Regent’s Park

Regent's Park, located around 25 minutes walk away from the British Museum, offers an incredible destination for a delightful day outing. This expansive green oasis is ideal for picnics, leisurely walks, or simply basking in the sun's warmth. Don't miss the opportunity to explore the renowned Queen Mary's Gardens, where vibrant roses bloom in abundance during summer.

Why not rent a boat on the lake or enjoy a game of tennis on the well-maintained courts? The park also houses the London Zoo, open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. It offers a delightful experience for animal lovers year-round and is a great activity if you’re with family. Finally, head to Primrose Hill on the park's Northern side for amazing views of London.

 

Camden Town

If you have the time, head out of the park from Primrose Hill or the Zoo. You’ll officially be in Camden Town.

This is one of the liveliest, most vibrant neighborhoods in London. It’s full of fun bars, great music venues, street art, and street performers. But it is perhaps most famous for its bustling market.

The Camden Market is a mix of a few different smaller markets. It boasts stalls selling a wide array of foods and items, from clothes and jewelry to records and antiques. There’s also a huge amount of food stalls that serve almost every type of cuisine under the sun! So, why not check out the market, grab a pint in a bar, or beside Regent’s Canal?

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