How To See London in 12 Hours

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City guide: London

If you're traveling across the Atlantic there's a chance you'll get lucky enough to have a layover in London. In fact, it's one of our best tips: squeeze a long layover into any flight for a free visit to a new city. We've had staff plan strategic layovers in Dubai on the way to Singapore, a stop in Reykjavik en route to Paris, and even a day in Helsinki on the way to Berlin.

Since London is located along several cross-Atlantic routes, it's a typical layover spot for many. But instead of dreading a three-hour layover filled with magazine reading and Skittles consumption, why not tweak your flight times so you have a little more time to explore the city? If you're able to do so, you're all set for a nice layover of sightseeing in England. "But what to dooo?" you ask. Not to worry, poppet:

1) Start at Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace is the stunning building that's both the office and residence of the Queen. Take a tour of the grounds and marvel at the famous art as well as fine furniture and decorations. After that, take a stroll through the Saint James Park and enjoy the scenery, fountains, and perfectly-manicured lawns. Fun fact: if the Union flag is being flown over Buckingham Palace, it means the Queen is out!

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2) Less than a mile east you'll encounter the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben. The Palace of Westminster is well-known as the meeting place of the two houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom. Gaze at the 323-foot Victoria Tower, and at the north end, the Elizabeth Tower -but you might know it as Big Ben, whose time-keeping is notoriously accurate. Be sure to hang around long enough to hear the bell ring - the chimes sound every hour on the hour!

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3) Cross the Westminster Bridge and walk east along the Thames for less than a half mile until you reach the London Eye. This world-famous ferris wheel has a diameter of 394 feet, making the London Eye the tallest ferris wheel in Europe! On the 30-minute ride, you'll get stunning aerial views of London, including The Thames, Westminster and Big Ben! If you're visiting on a nice day, be sure to leave some extra time as there's often a line.

Photo via Wikimedia/Diliff

4) Continue walking east for about a mile under you reach Tate Modern. Are you an art lover? Of course you are. In that case, put Tate Modern on your to-do list. The most visited modern art gallery in the world, this exciting museum's exhibits range in themes from structure and clarity to poetry and dream. Also, if you're working up an appetite by this point in your trip, head to the cafeteria for a bite to eat while enjoying stunning views of the Thames.

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5) Keep headed east for another 1.2 miles for the Tower Bridge. Built in the late 1800s, this iconic monument suspended across the Thames and is not to be confused with the London Bridge, which you'll pass on your way from Tate Modern. Cross the glass-enclosed walkway for panoramic views of the city while admiring the victorian-gothic style of the structure.

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12 hours in the city not enough for you? Spend the night and stay in one of these awesome London holiday rentals

Six of London's major sights in one day? We'd call that a win. And if you want to see your entire trek in map form, here it is:

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