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Spitalfield’s Fashion Show | ©S Pakhrin/Flickr
Spitalfield’s Fashion Show | ©S Pakhrin/Flickr
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What To Do In London In Only 12 Hours

Picture of Sarah Marian Whitmore
Updated: 9 February 2017
When your time is limited, it is easy to be overwhelmed by all that London has to offer. With this in mind, we have put together a memorable day out: with shopping, eating and plenty of sightseeing, this jam-packed whistle-stop tour will leave wishing you could do it all again.
The Marwari Horse Head | © Copyright ceridwen
The Marwari Horse Head | © Copyright ceridwen
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9AM – 10AM — A Walk In The Park

Start on the corner of Hyde Park at Marble Arch, in view of the Marwari Horse Head — at 27 feet tall and weighing six tonnes you can’t possibly miss it. This time of day is still very much in the rush-hour and the city streets are best avoided. Instead, why not stroll through Hyde Park by the path of your choosing and head towards the Peter Pan statue by the Edinburgh Gate where you can exit the park. Take time en route to visit some of the many memorials the park has to offer or if preferred, wander around the Serpentine and feed the ducks.

Marble Arch, London

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10AM – 10.30AM — A Shopping Experience

No visit to London would be complete without a high-end shopping experience, so where better to go than Harrods. Start with some refreshments in the tearoom as you plan your in-store visit. However, with limited time to spare you may only get a chance to explore one or two departments in this seven storey building and it will save time if you have an idea of what you would like to do or see before you face the hordes of fellow shoppers. If you have no fixed agenda then we would recommend starting with the Food Halls; with their ornate ceilings, beautiful packaging and delicacies from around the globe, they provide a magical environment and the perfect place to find small, affordable gifts.

Harrods, 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7XL, 020 7730 1234

11.30AM – 12PM — Embrace Public Transport Like A True Londoner

Exit Harrods at the main entrance and cross over the Brompton Road to the bus-stop — you can ask the doorman to direct you if necessary. From there, take the number 9 bus in the direction of Aldwych. The bus travels along one of London’s Heritage Routes and will offer you the opportunity to take in several famous London landmarks, such as St James’ Palace and Trafalgar Square. When you alight at Aldwych, you can cross Waterloo Bridge to the Southbank and head to the Royal Festival Hall.

Royal Festival Hall Food Market | ©Stu Smith/Flickr
Royal Festival Hall Food Market | ©Stu Smith/Flickr
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12PM – 1PM — Lunch On The South Divide

If you’re fortunate enough to be visiting London between Friday and Sunday, the Southbank Centre Market is the perfect stop off for lunch- a popular but not over-crowded market, serving every cuisine imaginable. (For weekday travellers Le Pain Quotidian directly opposite Royal Festival Hall would be a good alternative). With a piled plate of paella, a falafel wrap or maybe even a pierogi or two, find a place to sit and take the weight off your feet. From this part of the river you’ll have magnificent views of London’s most iconic sites — from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament to St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye.

The Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX

1PM – 3PM — Experience The Wonders Of Tate Modern

After lunch, you can continue along Southbank until you reach The Tate Modern. Spend time taking in the vastness of the Turbine Hall, which runs the length of the building and plays host to regularly changing exhibitions and instalments. The museum is free to enter and with artwork ranging from painting to sculpture, movies to interactive works and an excellent gift shop, this is an experience anyone will be able to enjoy. After you leave the Tate Modern, you can cross the river to explore a much more ancient heritage: Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and Shakespeare’s Globe are all clearly visible as you cross and it’s worth stopping mid-way to make sure you get some photos and breathe in the river air. When you reach the north side of the Thames, St Pauls Cathedral is directly in front of you.

Tate Modern, 53 Bankside, London, SE1 9TG, 020 7887 8888

St Paul’s Cathedral, London, EC4M 8AD, 020 7246 8350

3PM – 4PM — Suits In The City

Spend an hour or so walking the city streets — with plenty of time factored in to stop for a cup of tea — in the direction of Old Spitalfields Market. With some of the oldest streets and buildings in London, it is up to you decide your route based on what you wish to see.

Spitalfield’s Fashion Show | ©S Pakhrin/Flickr
Spitalfield’s Fashion Show | ©S Pakhrin/Flickr
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4pM – 6.30-PM — Old Spitalfields Market

Old Spitalfields Market could arguably be the best market in London. Combining market stalls, shops, eateries, shows, vintage and modern, it serves an extensive client base whilst at the same time somehow remaining niche and intimate. Whether you choose to rest and soak up the atmosphere or shop to your heart’s content, it’s well worth spending a couple of hours to fully enjoy and experience all that this market has to offer.

Spitalfields Market E1, Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6AA

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6.30PM – 7.30PM — Time For A Drink

At the end of a long day, there’s no better finale than a drink and what better place than a good British pub. The Magpie at Bishopsgate is a lively watering hole with a great selection of craft beers, a very decent wine list and a penchant for gin. A glass or two here should revive you and give you the energy to head for the final destination, where a slap-up dinner awaits.

The Magpie, 12 New Street, London, Greater London, EC2M 4TP, +44 (0)20 7929 3889

7.30PM – 9PM — The Grand Finale

At Covent Garden there is a choice of restaurant, depending on preference and budget, but these two options both serve traditional English fare. The oldest restaurant in London, Rules was established in 1978 and specialises in game cookery, pies and oysters. The restaurant is comfortable and warm and the service and presentation of their dishes is excellent — the perfect end to your day. Alternatively, Battersea Pie Station is another delicious option, serving up pies accompanied with mash and gravy. This is a modern establishment that offers customers wholesome and filling plates of food and well worth a visit, too.

Rules, 35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7LB, +44 (0)20 7836 5314

Ground Floor, 28 The Market, The Piazza, London WC2E 8RA, +44 (0) 20 7240 9566