Big Ben in Westminster

Big Ben in WestminsterGetty Images

11.45 – walk to Big Ben (free) 

The ceremony at Buckingham Palace lasts about 45 minutes – once it’s over, continue east along Birdcage Walk to Big Ben (the walk takes about 15 minutes). After years of restoration, the scaffolding on the clock tower was removed in April 2022, revealing what might just be London’s best-loved landmark in all its finery. The clock tower is still closed for renovations, but there are a few vantage points to get a picturesque view – we recommend following Queen’s Walk to find an arch underneath Westminster Bridge, which frames Big Ben perfectly, or wandering along George Street, where you’ll encounter a smattering of red telephone boxes for a patriotic shot. 

12.15pm: hop on an Uber Boat (£12.70 return)

Sure, you could get the tube. But a boat is the snazziest way to make the journey from Westminster to Bankside. TfL’s River Boat service connects lots of London’s loveliest corners, and is now operated by UberBoat – why head underground when you can take to the waters and see the city from a new, river-faring vantage point? Return journeys cost £12.70 for adults and £6.40 for children – and fares are cheaper if you book on the app rather than paying once you arrive at the pier. Head for Westminster Pier and board a boat heading east, finding firm ground again at Bankside Pier. 

Borough Market

Borough MarketAlamy Stock Photo

1.15pm: Borough Market for lunch (£7)

There has been a market hall on the site of Borough Market since the 12th century. These days, it’s a bustling, boujie space where independent stalls sell speciality snacks to hungry explorers. Stretch your stomach with a walkabout, sampling meats, cheeses and bread from the vendors before picking your poison. We recommend the grilled cheese sandwich from Kappacasein – an oozy blend of English cheeses between sourdough bread that will fuel your afternoon perfectly.

2pm: Head to the Tate Modern (free)

Lots of London’s best museums have free admission to the general areas – including The British Museum, The National Gallery, and both The Tate Britain, in Pimlico, and The Tate Modern, just around the corner from Borough Market. Take in works by Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse before nipping in the lift to the sixth-floor bar and restaurant for a well-earned sit down overlooking the river.

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