24 hour layover in London: see more, spend less

On the way to San Sebastian, I opted to take a 24 hour layover in London. It helped me get some footing on jetlag, plus allowed me time to explore an iconic city! Obviously, I could not conquer all of London in one day, but I got to see a lot without spending much in only 24 hours.

My 24 hour layover in London

Flying to London from Montreal – There are two direct flights to LHR (London Heathrow Airport) from YUL (Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport), another option is to fly to LGW (London Gatwick Airport).

You can fly to LHR with Air Canada or British Airways from Montreal. It is a 6.5 hour red-eye flight that arrives at 9AM local time, so you will definitely be exhausted once you touchdown in Londontown. Take your vitamins!

For the details on the rest of my trip onwards, new post coming soon.

We got out of terminal 5 in Heathrow Airport at noon and grabbed a free bus to an Ibis hotel. Accomodation can be expensive, but there are more affordable options. Do your homework and book in advance to save money when possible.

I looked for a very basic hotel room close to Terminal 3, where my 8:30AM flight was departing the following day. I just needed a place to shower, sleep and leave my bags while I was out sight-seeing.

For transportation, I recommend purchasing a day pass at 12£ for the tube. We used it to get to Piccadilly Circus. I had google maps handy with the sights I wanted to see pinned. It was very helpful because it worked without wifi. Furthermore, at the Ibis hotel, they gave me a little map with a few landmarks pointed out.

My main objective was just to wonder around. If you like museums, there are a lot of free ones you can look up. I personally didn’t want to waste time in a queue. One thing I wish I had done is visit Sky Garden. Make a reservation there up to 3 weeks before your trip. It’s free and it is a great alternative to the overly expensive London Eye.

I didn’t pay entry anywhere, but here’s what I visited: Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, Westminster Bridge, Convent Garden, Buckingham Palace, Green Park.

Into beauty? Visit Boots. The drugstore brands I would recommend checking out are No.7, Barry M, Sleek, Seventeen, Soap & Glory and Collection (formerly Collection 2000). For high-end makeup, I saw a free-standing Krylon and Urban Decay store close to Convent Garden.

I wasn’t in it for the food, but I did grab a pint of beer at a tavern – as you must. I also stopped by Starbucks to re-charge my phone and self with caffein. There are a few affordable, healthy quick-eats such as Pret A Manger and itsu, but I had dinner at Nandos (YouTube made me do it).

Next time I travel via London, I’m definitely going to check out other sights. I think I’d like to explore Kensington or Camden, who knows.

What do you recommend doing on a 24 hour layover in London?


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