Here’s a map of London incorporating some of my favourite sites and experiences, in an organised manner that avoids you hopping back and forth across the city on foot and using public transport. It can be done in any order and you can change the path to suit your needs. You can start at any point depending on what is closest to your accomodation. In fact, I often have done a variation of this itinerary in complete reverse. You might enjoy doing this itinerary to get your bearings then heading back to some of the sites such as the British History Museum for a longer visit another day, or use the map to inspire you to set up your itinerary efficiently.
Here is the link to the map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1Bw_Ornpx3rexGWLjaxc7ehql1u0hbU1G
This map includes some of my favourite places, food & drink, museums and galleries, shopping and two sets of “walking” itineraries which are split just due to the functionality of the mapping system.
Part 1: Oxford Circus to Westminister
Starting from Oxford Street, take a wander around the stores and surrounding little streets. You can visit a mix of chain stores, beautiful departments stores and boutiques.
Next wander towards Hyde Park, past the Serpentine Gallery and Princess Diana Memorial towards the British History Museum (and/or the Victoria and Albert Museum). Entry is free so you can see and much or as little as you like without feeling guilty.
Continue walking through the affluent area of Knightsbridge towards Harrod’s, if nothing else, check out the food hall. Continue walking towards Wellington Arch, along Constitution Hill to Buckingham Palace. Side note: it is worth doing a separate outing to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace as that occurs on specific times and days (check here). If you want to see inside Buckingham Palace you should also pre-book this on their website.
After checking out Buckingham Palace, walk through St James Park and stop on the Park Bridge before heading towards 10 Downing Street (you won’t see much but it is cool to see). Another side note: you may also be interested in the Imperial War Museums and Churchill War Rooms but this also should be booked ahead.
Continuing a short walk from 10 Downing Street is both Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster (which houses UK Parliament) and is the home of Big Ben. I recommend the self-guided audio-tour of Westminster Abbey which doesn’t take too long. You can also watch general debates at the Palace of Westminster, so if you’re interested (or even curious at all) in UK politics, this is an amazing experience. You can check the calendar in advance or ask on the door at the day. More information about watching parliamentary debates can be found here.
Part 2: Westminster Pier to Pall Mall
From Westminster (Palace or Abbey) you can take a free public ferry using your tube card towards Tower Pier (make sure you look out the windows in each direction!). You’ll see the famous Tower Bridge as you arrive towards Tower Pier. Right beside Tower Pier is the Tower of London. This is another experience which may be worth booking a ticket and spending a morning or afternoon exploring so you can take a tour with one of the famous Beefeater guards and see the display of the Crown Jewels. Right by the Tower of London is the Monument to the Great Fire of London which is both historically fascinating and features a viewing platform if you are so inclined.
If you’re interesting you can walk up to Spitalfields Market, or just take the tube from Monument to St Paul’s. Next the beautiful St Paul’s Cathedral, which is free to attend a church service or you pay to see the Cathedral in your own time. Then you can take the tube to Covent Garden before visiting the British Museum then the National Gallery (or my personal favourite, the National Portrait Gallery).
Finally you can either wander down from Trafalgar Square through Admiralty Arch for a great view of Buckingham Palace or/the walk past the fancy members clubs of Pall Mall.