London On A Layover: Top Guide For What To Do On A Short Trip

Looking for all the things you can do in London on a layover? Look no further, you came to the right spot.

London is a wonderful place filled with history, fashion, and stunning architecture worth exploring in detail. I assembled this much-needed post for those who just have a few hours between flights and want to make every minute count.

Here you can find the ultimate list of things to do in London while on a layover, divided into different sections based on how much time you have: 6, 10, 12, or 24 hours in the city. Be sure to use these London captions when you post your London adventures on Instagram.

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London On A Layover

Let’s dive in and begin with all the things you can do in London on a layover. 

6-Hour Layover In London

Big Ben on a sunny day. A must see when visiting London on a layover
Big Ben

You might think that more than six hours in London will be needed to explore some of the city, but I assure you you can get quite a few things done with only a few hours to spare. Here’s my ultimate guide for touring London in 6 hours or less.

Buckingham Palace

No matter how much or little time you have in your London itinerary, you must visit Buckingham Palace. Pay attention to the details in the facade and be prepared to take pictures of the iconic Palace Guards. If you’re lucky, you might even watch the Changing of the Guard, but you can also be ready and check their schedule online.

Westminster Abbey

The famous Westminster Abbey is another spot you should visit during your London Layover. Stroll down and admire the beautiful architecture that is filled with years and years of history, including the weddings, coronations, and the wake of many kings and queens.

Big Ben & The Houses of Parliament

Any London day trip (or hourly visit) should include a visit to the Big Ben, and while you’re taking some great selfies, admire the Houses of Parliament too. Bonus points if Big Ben decides to chime on cue!

While visiting Big Ben you will see the London Eye is steps away. So be sure to take the short walk and visit this beautiful Ferris wheel. 

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10-Hour Layover In London

View of skyscrapers in London.
Skyscrapers in London

Four additional hours can make your brief London itinerary even more fun. Here are some things you can do and places to explore apart from the ones mentioned before.

The British Museum

The British Museum is truly one of the top places on my London bouquet list. From Egyptian mummies to the Rosetta stone, every exhibition will take you back centuries.

Thames River Cruise

If you’re looking for a nice yet multi-tasking activity, jumping on a Thames River cruise is the perfect choice. You’ll get a quick tour of London’s iconic landmarks from the water, including the Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and the London Eye.

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is the main theater and entertainment area, filled with amazing shops, and handcrafted souvenirs, and home to the Royal Opera House. This place is perfect for exploring the local culture as well as doing some well-deserved shopping.

The Shard

The Shard, also known as the Shard of Glass, is a breathtaking 73-floor skyscraper that holds some of the most important offices, restaurants, and hotel rooms in all of London. Here you can enjoy some panoramic views of the city skyline, and I highly recommend you stay for the sunset; these views are extra magical!

Camden Market

If you love shopping for unique handcrafted pieces then Camden Market is a must on your one-day in London itinerary. In this market, you can find plenty of vintage clothes to browse for, antiques, and traditional English street food.

West End Show

To wrap up your brief London tour, head over to West End to enjoy one of the fantastic theatrical masterpieces that are currently presented. You can check out their website to book tickets in advance and to see their current schedule.

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12-Hour Layover In London

With twelve hours you have a ton of time to tour the city, relax, and make your way back to the airport. Here are some places you can continue to add to your current London timetable.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Located in the highest part of the city, St. Paul’s Cathedral stands as a stunning architectural and religious masterpiece. At the top, you can find breathtaking views of the city.

The Tower Of London

The Tower of London should be a mandatory stop in your London layover. This place holds hundreds of years of history, and played many roles throughout them, such as an armory, treasury, menagerie, Royal Mint, public records, and home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

Sky Garden

Sky Garden, known as the Walkie Talkie Building, is a fantastic skyscraper with a unique restaurant at the top, where you can have a nice meal with stunning views of London. It is an urban oasis thanks to the huge amount of plants located everywhere.

Afternoon Tea

I don’t know about you but if I’m visiting London at least for a few hours, I’ll make sure to make some room for afternoon tea. You can have an incredible afternoon tea in a fancy hotel, cozy cafe, or in your hotel room; whatever you choose you’ll have a fantastic time savoring delicate sandwiches and scones.

24-Hour Layover In London

The London eye a must visit when in London on a layover.
London Eye

A whole day in London? Now we’re talking. I want you to enjoy your day as much as possible, which is why I added a few more spots to your itinerary that will make your stay one for the books.


Start your day with a visit to Greenwich, where you’ll explore the Royal Observatory, and stand on the Prime Meridian. If you just want to tour at your own pace, stroll through Greenwich Park for postcard-worthy views. 

British Library

The British Library is the National Library of the United Kingdom, home of many literature treasures such as the Magna Carta, ancient manuscripts, and hand-written lyrics of The Beatles. The architecture of the library is truly a masterpiece!

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Final Words For A London Day Trip

That’s a wrap on your London layover itinerary. I hope you find this post useful and that you can easily structure your tour based on your time availability. If you ask me, the right amount of time you need to properly explore the city will be 12-16 hours, but if you have less you can still make your brief stay memorable. 

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