London Layover Guide: Best Things to Do in 24 Hours

  • Layovers in London are a great opportunity to explore the city and see some of its most iconic landmarks.
  • If you only have 24 hours, our guide will help you make the most of your time and visit Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and other top attractions.
  • Don’t forget to leave time for some leisurely activities like strolling through Hyde Park or taking a ride on the London Eye.

Layovers in London can be a great opportunity to see some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. As a flight attendant having a layover, and if you only have a few hours, check out our guide to the best attractions to visit in London in 24 hours. You’ll be able to see Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben, as well as some of London’s more unique attractions, like the Tower of London and the Shard. And don’t forget to leave time for some leisurely activities, like strolling through Hyde Park or taking a ride on the London Eye.

Also Read: 22 Best Jobs for Ex-Cabin Crew | Career Options for Ex Flight Attendants

As a flight attendant, I often have long layovers in London. And while it can be tempting to just stay in the hotel and sleep, I always try to take advantage of the opportunity to explore one of my favorite cities in the world. If you’re stuck in London for a few hours, there’s no reason to just sit around and wait for your next flight. With a little planning, you can make the most of your time and see some of London’s most iconic landmarks.

london tower bridge layover21 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in London

If you only have 24 hours in London, here are some tourist attractions you can choose to visit and explore:

1. Visit Buckingham Palace and Watch the Changing of the Guards

The Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British monarch. The palace is open to the public for much of the year, and there is no better time to see it than during the Changing of the Guards. This ceremony takes place every morning at 11:30, and it is a spectacular sight to behold. The guards march into the palace courtyard in their traditional red uniforms, accompanied by a brass band. They then exchange a series of precise hand gestures before taking up their positions. The whole event lasts for about 45 minutes, and it is a great way to get a taste of British pageantry. Whether you’re a first-time visitor to London or a seasoned traveler, a trip to Buckingham Palace is a must.

london changing of guards layover

2. British Museum

The British Museum is one of the largest and most famous museums in the world. Located in the heart of London, it houses an impressive collection of artifacts from all over the world. The museum’s most famous exhibits include the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, and the Egyptian mummies. In addition to its vast collections, the British Museum also offers a variety of educational programs and events. Whether you’re interested in ancient history or contemporary art, there’s something for everyone at the British Museum.

3. See the Royal Jewels at The Tower of London and Walk Across Tower Bridge

A visit to London would not be complete without seeing some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The Tower of London, for example, is home to the world-famous Crown Jewels. Visitors can explore the grounds of the Tower and learn about its fascinating history before taking in the spectacular views from the top of Tower Bridge. Another must-see London attraction is Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the British monarch. Here, visitors can tour the palace grounds and gardens, and even catch a glimpse of the changing of the guard. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that London is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

4. Big Ben

Big Ben is one of London’s most iconic landmarks. The tower, which is currently undergoing a multi-year renovation, houses a massive bell that has been chiming the hours since 1859. Visitors to the tower can enjoy panoramic views of the city from the top of the clock tower, and the bell can also be seen up close on guided tours. In addition to its role as a working clock tower, Big Ben has also become a symbol of both London and the United Kingdom. The tower is often illuminated at night, and its distinctive chimes are broadcast around the world on radio and television. Whether you’re seeing it for the first time or the hundredth, Big Ben is sure to take your breath away.

big ben london layover

5. The Shard

The Shard is a 76-story skyscraper in London, England. It is the tallest building in the European Union and the fifth-tallest building in Europe. The building was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and was completed in 2012. The Shard is an iconic London landmark and has become a symbol of the city’s skyline. The building is home to offices, apartments, hotels, restaurants, and a public observation deck. The Shard has been praised for its unique and modern design. However, some critics have claimed that the building is an eyesore and out of place in London’s historic skyline. Regardless of opinion, there can be no denying that the Shard is a remarkable structure and one of London’s most recognizable landmarks.

the shard london

6. St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral is an iconic London landmark. Situated in the heart of the city, the cathedral has been a site of worship for over 1,400 years. With its soaring spire and striking design, St. Paul’s is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. The current cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, was completed in 1708. It has since been host to a number of significant events, including the funerals of Lord Nelson and Sir Winston Churchill. Today, St. Paul’s remains an active cathedral, serving as a place of worship and a popular tourist destination. Visitors can enjoy climb the 528 steps to the top of the dome for panoramic views of London, or simply admire the cathedral’s stunning architecture from the ground.

st. pauls cathedral london layover

7. Wander around Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square

Piccadilly Circus is known for its electric atmosphere and its variety of shops and restaurants. Trafalgar Square is home to Nelson’s Column, which commemorates Lord Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, as well as a number of other important monuments. Both Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square are great places to wander around, people watch, and soak up the atmosphere of London.

8. Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is one of the world’s largest museums of decorative arts and design, housing a collection of over 4.5 million objects. The museum was founded in 1852 and named after Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert. The museum’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, furniture, fashion, textiles, ceramics, glass, jewelry, metalwork, and more. The museum is also home to the world’s largest collection of post-classical sculpture, as well as a significant number of Italian Renaissance objects.Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London, with over 2 million visitors each year.

9. London Eye

The London Eye is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and for good reason. The giant Ferris wheel offers breathtaking views of some of London’s most iconic landmarks, including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey. Visitors can choose to ride in one of the 32 capsules, each of which can accommodate up to 25 people. The journey takes about 30 minutes, and at the top, riders are treated to a stunning panorama of the city below. On a clear day, it is even possible to see as far as Windsor Castle. The London Eye is a must-see for any visitor to the city, and an unforgettable way to experience all that London has to offer.

10. Picnic at Hyde Park

If you’re looking for a relaxing way to spend a sunny day in London, then why not have a picnic in Hyde Park? Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in London, and it’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors. There are plenty of grassy areas to spread out a blanket, and there are also plenty of trees for shade. The park also has a number of ponds, which are perfect for cooling off on a hot day. And if you get hungry, there are plenty of food vendors selling everything from ice cream to sandwiches. So whether you’re looking for a quiet place to read or a spot to people-watch, Hyde Park is sure to have something for you.

11. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is one of the most iconic landmarks in London. Founded in the 11th century, the Abbey has been a place of worship for centuries, and it has also been the site of many royal coronations and funerals. Today, Westminster Abbey is a popular tourist destination, and visitors can explore the beautiful Gothic architecture, learn about the Abbey’s rich history, or simply take in the tranquility of this sacred space. While Westminster Abbey may be best known for its association with royalty, it is also a place of great beauty and significance for all who visit.

12. Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in London is a fascinating place to explore the history of our planet. The museum is home to an incredible collection of specimens and exhibits, ranging from fossils and dinosaurs to animals and plants. The museum also offers a variety of interactive experiences, such as the chance to handle real fossils and to meet some of the creatures that call the museum home. Whether you’re a budding paleontologist or simply curious about our natural world, the Natural History Museum is sure to leave you with a new appreciation for the wonders of our planet.

13. London Markets

London is home to a variety of markets, each offering a unique experience. From the bustling energy of Camden Market to the charming stalls of Columbia Road Flower Market, there’s something for everyone. For those looking for a bargain, Spitalfields Market is the perfect place to find vintage clothing and antique furniture. And for food lovers, Borough Market offers a plethora of deliciousness, from fresh produce to gourmet cheeses. No matter what you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it at one of London’s many markets.

14. Taste Traditional English Food

For a truly traditional English breakfast, stop by one of the city’s many pubs and order a plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, baked beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and toast. If you’re looking for something a bit heartier, try the fry-up at The Breakfast Club, which includes all of the above plus avocado, chicken apple sausage, ham hock hash Browns, chips, and unlimited coffee. If you’re in the mood for lunch, why not try some British fish and chips? Many pubs serve this classic dish, but for a truly memorable meal head to Fish! Kitchen in Covent Garden. The restaurant sources its fish from sustainable fisheries around the UK and serves it up with thick cut chips and homemade tartar sauce. No trip to England would be complete without trying a classic afternoon tea. This English tradition dates back to the 1800s and typically includes a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and pastries. For an authentic experience, book a table at one of

15. Windsor Castle

Visit the official residence of The Queen in the countryside just outside of London. This medieval castle is one of the few royal residences that has been continuously inhabited since it was built. Take a tour of the State Apartments, furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection. See Queen Mary’s dollhouse, one of the largest and most detailed ever made. Admire paintings by Canaletto, Rembrandt, and Rubens. Then explore the grounds, where you can stroll through a rose garden, visit a working farm, or explore a maze. And don’t forget to say hello to the resident Welsh Corgis! Windsor Castle is a must-see for any fan of British royalty.

16. Kew Gardens

The Kew Gardens are spread over 300 acres and feature a wide variety of plants and flowers from all over the world. Visitors can stroll through the manicured gardens, or take a boat ride on the river Thames. There is also a giant Ferris wheel, which offers breathtaking views of the city. Kew Gardens is a great place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature.

17. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s playing company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. It was located in Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames. The theatre was round, with a three-story facade and a thatched roof. It could accommodate up to 3,000 people. The Globe was destroyed by fire in 1613, but was rebuilt the following year. Today, an exact replica of the Globe stands on its original site. The new theatre is constructed entirely of oak, with a thatched roof and an earthen floor. It is used for both performances of Shakespeare’s plays and for educational purposes. Visitors to the Globe can take part in workshops, tours, and other activities that help to bring Shakespeare’s work to life.

london night layover

18. The Churchill War Rooms

Nestled beneath the busy streets of London is a hidden warren of rooms that served as the headquarters of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II. Now known as the Churchill War Rooms, this underground complex was where Churchill and his team planned some of the most important military campaigns of the war. Visitors to the Churchill War Rooms can explore the various facilities, including the Map Room, where maps were constantly updated to reflect the latest information on troop movements; the Transatlantic Telephone Room, where Churchill communicated with world leaders; and the Cabinet Room, where key decisions were made. The Churchill War Rooms offer a fascinating glimpse into one of the most critical periods in British history.

19. London Zoo

Opened in 1828, London Zoo was the world’s first scientific zoo. Located in Regent’s Park, it was originally intended as a repository for exotic animals that were brought back from British colonies. Today, London Zoo is home to over 20,000 animals, making it one of the largest zoos in the world. In addition to its impressive collection of mammals, reptiles and birds, the zoo is also known for its innovative conservation programs. For example, the captive breeding program has been successful in saving several endangered species from extinction. With its wide variety of animals and commitment to conservation, London Zoo is a must-see for any animal lover.

20. Get Creative at the National Gallery

The National Gallery in London is not only home to some of the world’s most famous paintings, but it’s also a place where you can get creative yourself. The gallery offers a range of workshops and tours that are designed to inspire creativity and encourage visitors to interact with the artwork on display. Whether you’re a budding artist or simply looking for a new way to appreciate art, the National Gallery is definitely worth a visit. And best of all, admission is free. So why not take advantage of all that the gallery has to offer?

If you only have 24 hours in London, make sure to add these top-rated tourist attractions and things to do to your itinerary! From watching the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace to exploring the world-famous British Museum, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy during your layover in London. And don’t forget fish and chips!

Skip-the-Line Tickets to London Attractions

One of the best ways to enjoy your time in London is to purchase skip-the-line tickets to some of the city’s most popular attractions. By avoiding the long lines at these popular destinations, you’ll be able to make the most of your time in the city. Some of the must-see attractions in London that offer skip-the-line tickets include the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Purchasing tickets in advance will not only save you time, but it will also allow you to avoid the crowds and enjoy these world-famous landmarks at your own pace.

Check out some more activities and tourist attractions you can easily book online in London below:

Important Reminders when having a layover in London

  • Keep in mind that London is a very large city and it can take some time to get from one place to another. If you’re short on time, it’s best to focus your efforts on seeing the highlights of the city rather than trying to do too much.
  • When planning your itinerary, be sure to factor in some time for meals and rest breaks. London is a busy city and you’ll want to make sure you have enough energy to enjoy all that it has to offer.
  • Keep in mind that many of London’s attractions are free, so there’s no need to spend a lot of money on sightseeing. However, if you want to skip the lines at popular attractions such as the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, it’s worth purchasing skip-the-line tickets in advance.
  • London is a safe city, but it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings close to you. When traveling on public transportation, be sure to keep your valuables out of sight and hold onto your bag at all times.

Now that you know what to do during your layover in London, all that’s left to do is start planning your trip! With so many things to see and do, you’re sure to have a memorable time in this world-class city.

Video: Emirates Cabin Crew London Layover

Check out this YouTube vlog uploaded by an Emirates cabin crew, Viv Govan, as she shares her experience having a layover in London, UK. She talks about having a 24-hour layover during a flight to London Gatwick and visiting Notting Hill.

Video: Emirates Flight Attendant Shares London Hotel

Here’s another video with, Saheem Lateef, a male cabin crew vlogger from Emirates where he shares his experience in London. In this vlog, he talks about how he spent his time in this particular destination:

Video: American Airline Layover in London

In this video, Francesco, a Miami-based flight attendant talks about how he had another layover in London in the same month.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please check out these FAQs about London places to visit as a flight attendant during hotel layovers:

1. What are some attractions that are close to the airport?

Some attractions that are close to the airport include the London Eye, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace.

2. Are there any museums or other tourist attractions that are worth visiting?

There are many museums and other tourist attractions that are worth visiting in London, such as the British Museum, National Gallery, and Victoria and Albert Museum.

3. What is the best way to get around London?

The best way to get around London is by using the underground (tube) system or by taking a bus.

4. Are there any good restaurants or cafes near the tourist attractions?

There are many good restaurants and cafes near the tourist attractions in London, such as Covent Garden and Leicester Square.

5. What are some tips for spending a layover in London?

Some tips for spending a layover in London include staying at a hotel near the airport, taking advantage of public transportation, and planning ahead by booking tickets to attractions in advance.

view of london from the shard

Summary

If you’re lucky enough to have a layover in London, make the most of your time with this 24-hour itinerary! Start by visiting some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben.

Then, explore some of London’s more unique attractions, like the Tower of London and the Shard. And don’t forget to leave time for some leisurely activities, like strolling through Hyde Park or taking a ride on the London Eye.

By following this itinerary, you’ll be able to make the most of your time in London – even if it’s just for a day!

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