It was Samuel Johnson who famously commented that when you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life—and many would agree. The English capital is a vibrant hub of history, commerce and culture. It’s home to the historic and the contemporary, the quaint pub and the opulent palace, the Michelin-starred restaurant and the humble centuries-old café. Those with just 24 hours in London ought to spend it wisely, so allow our whistle-stop tour to introduce the capital’s unmissable sights.
Like any iconic capital city, London doesn’t put great store by sleep, and—what’s more—it looks especially beautiful just after sunrise. The view of the Houses of Parliament from the Thames is particularly arresting during the early hours. From there, it’s a picturesque 20-minute walk along Victoria Embankment to reach the centre. Pick up breakfast at one of the many cafés and restaurants along the way.
Covent Garden is a district that’s as popular with Londoners as it is with visitors. Among its charming, historic streets, you’ll find multitudinous fashion boutiques, big-name brands and independent cafés rubbing shoulders with the opulent Royal Opera House and well-heeled Covent Garden Market. Be sure to stop by Neal’s Yard, one of London’s more colourful and creative corners. For lunch, Frog by Adam Handling on Southampton Street offers a confident and original take on British cuisine, ingeniously blending classic favourites with wildly experimental international flavours.
From Covent Garden, wander south across Waterloo bridge and follow the riverside eastwards. You’ll pass the National Theatre before reaching the world-famous Tate Modern for the most cutting edge displays of international art. One of the largest museums of contemporary art in the world, it’s London’s principal cultural hub.
Once sated with contemporary art, pop next door into Shakespeare’s Globe, designed to be a faithful recreation of the original Medieval theatre. Even if you don’t have the time to watch a play, there’s a fascinating exhibition about The Bard that is a must-see. Continue along the riverside to Borough Market, London’s oldest and most charming food and drink market, for a bite to eat.
Only New York’s Broadway rivals London’s West End for theatre. After enjoying a sumptuous dinner at The Rib Room Bar & Restaurant, famed for its quintessentially British menu and excellent beef rib, catch one of the capital’s many plays and musicals. From long-running favourites such as Les Misérables to more contemporary offerings with star-studded casts, there’s something to suit all tastes.
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club is famous the world over for its jazz, but regardless of your taste in music it’s a fantastic place to round up 24 hours in London. Established in the 1950s in a basement on Gerrard Street, it’s evolved into a local institution. Today, photos, posters and memorabilia collected over more than half a century adorn the walls, creating a vibrant atmosphere for a very memorable night out. Book a table in advance and dress to impress.
Stay at Jumeirah Carton Tower, London in the heart of Knightsbridge to make the most of 24 hours in London.