What to do in London when you only have a day

The poor Rand has really been trodden on and things don’t seem to be getting any better. A trip overseas might be the last thing on your mind but if you’ve already got plans to visit London Town but now want to be a bit more budget conscious, or you don’t have the time that you want to spend then this little guide might be just the thing for you.

I got to spend two days in London with my brother last year and then only one day with Mr H so I had to pack a lot into that day with a very limited budget but we had an amazing time. We were fortunately over in term time and just outside peak season which does keep costs down and allows you the freedom of not being bombarded by children and masses of tourists.

The Hutton Guide

You will need:

A comfy pair of sneakers
A rucksack for water, outer layers and any trinkets you find
Something to take pictures with
A few snack bars

Mr H and I started at Marylebone Station and we walked EVERYWHERE. If we had more time then we might have used the tube but I wanted Mr H to see as much as possible.

Here’s our pick of stops:

Walk Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus (maybe even pop into a few shops, Liberty for example) and walk down Piccadilly street
Price: Free

Keep walking to Knightsbridge or grab an expensive cab to the National History Museum and try not to stay all day.
Price: Free unless you get transport

Picnic among the roses in Hyde Park
Price: Whatever lunch you buy

Walk Constitution Hill, down The Mall, past Buckingham Palace and onto Birdcage walkConstitution HillBuckingham PalacePrice: Free

See Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
If time and money aren’t an issue, do Westminster Abbey.parliamentBig Ben and the houses of ParliamentPrice: Free

Cross Westminster bridge and walk under the London Eye.
It’s a good experience seeing the city from such dizzy heights but a ticket for the Eye will cost you back around R470 per person.london eyePrice: Free or pretty expensive

Cross the Golden Jubilee bridge and eye-up Nelson at Trafalgar square.
If you have the time and you love art, then do pop into the National Art Gallery.Trafalgar SquarePrice: Free

Watch a few clowns/acrobatics/comedians and have a bottle of wine in Covent Garden.
Price: R280

Grab a bite at Home Slice in Seven Dials which is a junction that has seven roads leading off from it. It’s got one of the best vibes in London. OR, save money by popping into the nearest Express Supermarket, grab drinks, crisps and a sarnie and head to one of London’s many parks because food prices are ridiculous.
Price: A slice of pizza at Home Slice (one of the more cheaper establishments) is R95

Take in a few pints at Euston Tap and catch a train at Euston Station if you’re not staying in the city.
Price: Depending on the number of beers you have, from R110+

When Mr H and I did London, we managed to clock 34,000 steps – we did do Harrods, a walk along the Embankment, M&M world (because we’re freaks) and we went to Brew Dog in Camden. Our feet were very sore but our hearts were happy.

Things to do if you have more time, money and/or if you like…

You could spend an entire day at the British Museum which I tried to do with my 16 year old brother. Didn’t work out as planned but I think he enjoyed some of it…maybe exiting the building was his highlight.

Head to the Tower of London to see some brilliant jewels and 900 years of history. Maybe catch a ghost or two.

Do both Tate galleries in a day and get your fix of modern and classic art.

The Bard’s words live on and whilst The Globe stands a few feet away from its original location, it still has the look and feel of what it might have been like back in the Elizabethan Era. Experiencing a show there would be pretty spectacular.

Mr H really wanted to go to the Abbey Road studios but we just couldn’t fit it in. It seems obligatory for every Beatles fan to get a snap of himself crossing that road.

If you go to London in August, I really do recommend touring Buckingham Palace. The outside might be a little bland – there are so many palaces in England that beat it by miles in the looks department – but the inside is riveting.

The Gin Club in Soho sells nearly 200 types of Gin. It’s always busy and a simple G&T will set you back a whopping R190 but if you need a fix and you managed to steal the Queen’s jewels then go for it.

Things you can miss:

Madam Tussauds really is a puzzling and bemusing phenomena; pay R560 for a ticket, after having queued for 45minutes +, to then pose next to the rather false looking images of real life people, most of whom are still alive. I am in awe of Madam T’s work during the French Revolution – to make death masks takes a very strong gut and I appreciate being able to see the features of past historical figures but seeing a rather tarnished Brad Pitt staring emptily into a sea of fawning fans is just weird. So I wouldn’t waste your time.

Harrods is wonderful if you love to see decadence and items that you could never afford in your entire life but it is a department store. A glorified department store with so many treasures.


Think I missed anything? Do you now have a hankering to get touring? Leave me a comment.

All photos, except for top image, taken by myself. Please don’t steal them

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  • Reply Amy Brown January 11, 2016 at 11:28 am

    R560 TO STARE AT WAX FIGURES???? Holy wow! I was keen to do that one day when I go to the UK, but now, not so much. Thanks, but no thanks. Pffft!

    • Reply Shante Hutton January 11, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      It’s ridiculous right. And it’s always heaving inside too.

  • Reply Jenny January 11, 2016 at 11:37 am

    I am dreaming about a UK trip! And will obviously take ALL your advice when I do (one day). Because you’re my favourite British person.

    • Reply Shante Hutton January 11, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      Now to wait for the Rand to get stronger…. 🙁

  • Reply Jessica Whitman January 11, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    I love the idea of walking everywhere! Great post

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