Whistle-Stop Walking Tour of London (And where to pee for free!)

England london

Although I’ve dedicated a large part of my blog to those beautiful places in the UK outside London that are often unfairly neglected and overlooked by tourists and the media, like the Yorkshire Dales, Newcastle, Northumberland and North Wales, there is a reason why the Big City is so popular. Along with New York and Paris, London is one of the most iconic cities in the world. The English capital is concentrated with gorgeous architecture and shrouded in fascinating history. After living there my whole life it’s still a place that feels undiscovered; my London bucket-list grows year by year.

This summer I’ve hosted a few friends at my home in the Big City and and spent many long days taking them round to see the main spots and must-sees. Through this time I’ve really managed to hone my tour guiding skills and I think its finally time to share how I go about being a tourist in my own town. This is a pretty straight forward walking route you can take in a day and takes you along some of the best and most well-known spots in London. If you want to take a more leisurely walking pace it might take you a bit longer than a day, in which case you can take a break, go back to your dwelling of choice and pick it up again the next day continue walking where you left off.

I usually start from Victoria Coach or Railway Station, where I pick up my friends. There’s not much to see directly outside the station other than Grosvenor Gardens where I sometimes sit and eat a lunch bought from the nearby Pret à Manger. Sidenote: there’s a Pret à Manger on every street in London, sometimes even two per street- it’s incredible. Within the 50 yard vicinity of Trafalgar Square there is actually three Prets, three! There’s some really cool art in Grosvenor Gardens, which is usually full of office workers lounging about on their breaks. Opposite the Gardens is The Shakespeare pub where I recommend having a sneaky wee before setting off on your grand tour because finding places to urinate for free in the capital can be a hard task, but one I am determined to always achieve- I do not pay to pee, no Siree.

london, UK, europe, walking, tour

london, UK, europe, walking, tour

Turn right upon exiting Victoria Railway Station and walk down Buckingham Palace road to eventually reach the grand Buckingham Palace and its millions of swarming tourists You’ll know Queen Liz is in if the red-coated, funny hatted Queen’s Guard are standing outside. Every time I’ve been to the palace recently we’ve not been so lucky to catch her in so we’ve missed the fancy pants, famously grumpy guards. The cow must be avoiding me…

london, UK, europe, walking, tour

Whilst you’re there you can take a relaxing stroll in St. James Park and have a gander at the swans (which are legally all owned by the queen) or Green Park, if that takes more of your fancy. In both you can rent a cute stripy green deck chair if the price of £8 a day doesn’t make you run in the opposite direction screaming.

Walking through Green Park and taking a left when you reach the main road you’ll eventually find the beautiful Wellington Arch, and its beautiful surrounding memorial statues, just opposite the entrance of Hyde Park. If you want you can take a few hours out to explore one of London’s biggest parks, take a look at the lake or Kensington Gardens, the other side of the lake. If not, walk the straight path through the park which brings you eventually to Marble Arch and Oxford Street, one of the world’s most famous roads. Whatever the time of year Oxford Street is decorated beautifully; large Union Jacks adorn the streets this summer and last Christmas, silver illuminated bubbles hovered above the busy London shoppers- such a pretty sight.

Read More: To read about visiting London during the holidays (one of the best times to visit!) read Kelly and Sean’s post!

Oxford Street is the place to be if you’re into shopping, you could spend days there snagging the best offers and there’s also a massive Primark, so you can experience the UK’s finest bargain clothes shop in all its terrible glory. I’d also recommend finding a café to pee in along Oxford Street, it’ll likely be too busy for anyone to notice you and make you pay (though some do request you have the passkey that comes on the purchase receipt, sneaky buggers).

london, UK, europe, walking, tour

Off of Oxford Street is Regent’s Street. I love Regent’s Street for its exquisite architecture and this is also where you can find Hamley’s, the world’s oldest toy store. Seven floors of every kind of toy under the sun, old and new- whatever your age its an amazing place to explore and rekindle your inner kid. However, if you stick to Oxford Street, make your way down the road until you reach Charing Cross Road on your right, just after Tottenham Court Road Station (you can also get the tube a couple of stops on the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road if you want to rest your feet, Oxford Street is a rather long road).

Charing Cross Road is chockablock full of West End  Theatres. If you have the funds you can always splash out a small fortune to see a show (best to book in advance) but they’re pretty to look at from the outside anyway if you’re on a budget trip. On this road I recommend Phoenix Artists Club if you want to stop for a few drinks. Its a cute underground bar connected to the Phoenix Theatre decorated with signed posters from over the years and other awesome artwork. They also regularly host spoken word events for free so keep your eyes peeled for anything interesting going on.

On your right heading down Charing Cross Road you can find London’s Chinatown and if you also head right at Leicester Square Station you’ll reach… yep, Leicester Square, which is entertainment central for cinemas, restaurants, fast food and places to get West End show tickets.

After your Leicester Square detour, come back out onto Charing Cross Road and follow it down until you finally get to Trafalgar Square. Here there’s usually loads of street performers so you can relax and have a watch, take some snaps on Nelson’s Column with one of London’s lions or give the National Gallery a visit. Both the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery have free admission but you may need to pay to get into special exhibitions that take place different times during the year. Facing away from the National Gallery, walk through the Square and straight down Whitehall, with the Horse Guards Parade on your right. If you’re lucky you might spot the Changing of the Guard outside which happens at 11:00 every day, except Sundays when its at 10:00.

london, europe, uk, walking, tourWalking down Whitehall, you’ll soon reach the glorious Westminster Abbey and Westminster Palace, where England’s House of Commons and House of Lords are located. The Westminster Abbey is where Prince William married the Duchess of Cambridge, Katherine in 2011 and both this and the palace are spectacular buildings. The Palace especially is stunning when the sun is shining (yes, this can be rare in London) and all the gold features twinkle against the blue sky. If you come at the right time you’ll get to hear Big Ben chime on the strike of the hour.

Cross Westminster Bridge with the London Eye on your left and approach Southbank through the grassy Jubilee Gardens. Southbank is also full of cool street performers and sometimes with food stalls too. By this time you’ll probably need to pee again so go inside the London Eye ticket office for the free loos there.

 

Now chill out on Jubilee Gardens because you’re likely exhausted!

Much love <3

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    hampshirehog
    September 12, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    I’m surprised that you didn’t mention that the National Gallery and the NPG both have free toilet facilities. It’s the main reason that the Galleries are the first stop for me after getting off the train at Waterloo. 😉

  • Reply
    tengel265
    September 13, 2016 at 5:44 am

    I was lucky to have a couple of months in London in 2014, I walked this stretch plenty of times. You do well as a guide. Miss the big city.

  • Reply
    J
    September 17, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    Haha, “experience [Primark] in all its terrible glory”, great line 🙂

  • Reply
    J
    September 17, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Also, brilliant photos! What camera do you use, if you don’t mind me asking?

  • Reply
    Shantell
    September 18, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Lovely post and photos. I adore everything about your blog!

  • Reply
    tayonthemove
    October 1, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    I enjoyed your photos and reading through the detailed tour! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Tanja
    October 2, 2016 at 9:45 am

    nice photos!

  • Reply
    - Ilkley Moor: Perfect UK Daytrip to Escape into Nature
    October 19, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    […] is a great city and I love it to pieces, you should definitely visit it at some point in your life. Read my ultimate guide to London here. However, I find it a shame that it is prioritised by tourists over the rest of the country. […]

  • Reply
    JasChen
    October 28, 2016 at 2:08 am

    Hahhaaa the title was what made me click into this post. Absolutely loved London when I visited a couple years ago. Beautiful photos as always and great itinerary suggestion!
    – Jasmine from My Suitcase Journeys

  • Reply
    Ivy
    November 2, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    The one thing I hate about Europe is finding a free place to pee. I LOVE this post! We spent a day walking around London last summer but we hit up different spots. Next time we go I’ll have this handy for when our bladders are about to burst 😉

  • Reply
    Your Next Big Trip
    November 3, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Great route! I go to London about once a year and sometimes go with friends who have never been so I’ll be saving this for my next visit! No matter how many times i go, I can’t resist spending a day on the tourist trail. There’s just so much to do!

  • Reply
    Suz
    November 3, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    When I studied abroad in Edinburgh in college I cake home with a brand new wardrobe from Primark. I went back this past summer and was quite as… Enchanted haha!

    I love this tour! I’ve been to London a few times but every time I’ve just felt so overwhelmed with the massive amounts of things I want to do. I almost always end up leaving feeling like I just didn’t do enough. The next time I get there I’m going to have take myself on your walking tour! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Tyler Ward
    November 3, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Your title made me laugh! It is the worst to have to pee and not know where to go without being forced to buy something! Great information for me and at the perfect time! I have a 16 hour layover in London and will be doing this!

    • Reply
      worldinsidemypocket
      November 3, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      Thanks so much! Enjoy your short stay in London, if you need any other free pee-ing spot recommendations I’m always here ahahaha :’)

  • Reply
    lydia@lifeuntraveledl
    November 3, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    First and foremost I also refuse to pay to pee! 😉

    I was in London on a layover this past April and was a little dumbfounded as to which direction to go once we got off the tube at Piccadilly Circus. We did end up seeing most of the things you mentioned here and we enjoyed a picnic in one of the parks (can’t remember the name) which was lovely. Hope to get to London again to explore much more than the tourist areas.

  • Reply
    colemanconcierge
    November 4, 2016 at 5:03 am

    I have done variants of this tour many times over the years and each time I see something a little different. Each time, I was traveling to Europe on business so I was allowed a layover day along the trip. It is so easy to reach via the Underground from Heathrow. FWIW, I really wouldn’t recommend the hotels at Heathrow, you walk through three terminals and take a bus. It’s actually easier to catch the train into town than get to the airport hotel. I love your photography. It looks like you took extra care to make sure each picture was finished to perfection.

  • Reply
    Sasha
    November 4, 2016 at 9:39 am

    I’m currently living in London and this would be almost the exact route I take my friends too. I also really like to wander through the Covent Garden area, it is just really beautiful. I also love walking all the way down to Tower Bridge. Great post!

  • Reply
    natalietanner
    November 4, 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Pee for free! Love it! LOL! We love to walk the city upon arrival to get a feel for things. Great route. The kids have not been yet and are begging to see London!

  • Reply
    Love From Scotland
    November 6, 2016 at 11:34 am

    What a great tour. You should pop all this on a google map, i’d download it for my next trip to London to follow. Lovely photos too.

    • Reply
      worldinsidemypocket
      November 6, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      Thanks for the idea! Have just uploaded a map now! Hope its helpful for you 🙂

  • Reply
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