One of the most popular cities in the world, London is a thriving tourist destination in Europe and it’s easy to see why. A historical, economic and cultural hub, the city has a buzzing atmosphere and a number of attractions that are worth seeing. There are many ways to explore London – be it through hop on hop off bus tours, via public transportation (like the. bus and tube), or even by going on a river cruise.
Another option would be to explore London by foot; walking is part of the city’s culture and you can find many hidden gems around that you probably won’t find through other means. Additionally, you can beat the traffic, especially during the rush hour, and take your time in each attraction that you visit. While there are many walking tours offered around the city, you can easily go on a DIY walking tour of London.
DIY London Walking Tour Itinerary
London has incredible walking routes that you can take to see the city’s top attractions (you may check out some free travel apps for guides). Before you start, leave your luggage and other large items at a London luggage storage facility for a hassle-free experience. Here’s an itinerary to follow to see the best that London has to offer.
The Covent Garden is a great place to start your walking tour as it is centrally-located. There are also plenty of food stalls here if you want to get a big meal before you start your trip.
2. Leicester Square
Just about a five- to ten-minute walk from the Covent Garden is Leicester Square, a buzzing center with plenty of whimsical attractions and establishments, including M&Ms World. You can skip this spot altogether and head over to your next destination.
3. Piccadilly Circus
About another five-minute stroll from Leicester Square, right in the heart of the West End, is the Piccadilly Circus. A site that can be seen in a lot of London travel guides, this extremely popular tourist attraction is a necessary stopover on this walking tour. Just within the area are the streets of Oxford and Regent, which are both known as shopping districts. (If you want to spend more time here, you can check out this West End guide by Time Out.)
4. Trafalgar Square
Not too far from the West End, this public square is a spot that you will spend some time in; Trafalgar Square is home to key attractions that you shouldn’t miss. One of these attractions is the National Gallery, highly considered one of London’s best museums and home to legendary works such as Leonardo da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks and Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. Other noteworthy spots within the square include Nelson’s Column and the Trafalgar Square Lions.
From Trafalgar Square, head to the Admiralty Arch, which is the entrance of the road known as The Mall. Just beside the road is a 23-hectare green space known as St. James Park. You can briefly stop by here to admire the wildlife and beautiful nature before continuing through to Buckingham Palace.
6. Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey
An iconic landmark in London, Buckingham Palace is the British monarchy’s administrative headquarters as well as its London residence. A must-see, you may choose to simply admire the building from the outside or to go on a guided tour (you can pre-book tickets for a tour here.) A short walk from the Queen’s residence is the equally-famous Westminster Abbey, which has hosted some of the most important events in the United Kingdom, including coronations and royal weddings.
7. Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Just to the east of the Abbey is the Palace of Westminster, also popularly known as the Houses of Parliament. The center of the British political power, the complex is home to the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The buildings are open to the public for tours or for watching debates. You may also settle for just hanging outside and taking photos of the building’s Gothic-style architecture. The highlight here, however, is the Big Ben, a clock tower that’s gone on to become an iconic symbol of London.
8. South Bank and the London Eye
When you’re done admiring the home of the UK Parliament, make your way across the Westminster Bridge, which will take you to the South Bank, an entertainment zone right by the River Thames. Its most famous feature is the massive Ferris wheel known as the London Eye, which offers a panoramic view of the city and is a highly recommended activity when in the city (book a ticket to the London Eye here).
9. St. Paul’s Cathedral:
After checking out South Bank, walk a couple of minutes until you reach the Millennium Bridge. Walk the bridge to get to the other side, which will take you to St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of London’s most recognizable landmarks. Apart from being a place of worship, the cathedral is also a tourist attraction and offers sightseeing tours to the public. If you don’t have enough time, skip the tour and simply enjoy the cathedral’s spectacular appearance from the outside.
10. Tower of London and Tower Bridge
From St. Paul’s Cathedral, head over to Lower Thames Street until you reach the Tower of London, a castle that looks like it came straight out of Game of Thrones. This London landmark, which has been around for over a thousand years, serves as the Queen’s fortress and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A short distance away from the Tower of London is the Tower Bridge, another iconic city landmark and arguably London’s most famous bridge.
The Tower Bridge serves as the final stop self-guided walking tour of London. You can choose to add or remove some attractions on this list, depending on several factors, such as time, preference, and budget. You can also do the tour in reverse order if you wish, starting with Tower Bridge and ending your trip at Covent Garden.