Part of a series highlighting one area of London.
The West End of London contains many of the city’s major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings and entertainment venues. While the City of London – “the Square Mile” – is the main business and financial district in London, the West End is the main commercial and entertainment centre of the city. It is the largest central business district in the United Kingdom, comparable to Midtown Manhattan in New York City. If you only had a few hours in London, I would probably suggest this walk.
Distance: allow about an hour for the walk of 2.3mi (3.7km)
Stops: Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Big Ben, St James’s Park, Buckingham Palace, Green Park, The Wolesley, Fortnum & Mason, New Bond Street, Mayfair.
- Start bright and early at Westminster Station (15 minute tube journey from Liverpool Street). The Tube exit leads straight up to the foot of Big Ben, so make sure your cameras are ready to go selfie crazy! Admire the stunning architecture of the Houses of Parliament (officially the Palace of Westminster).
- Walk through Parliament Square, pausing to check out the statute to Abraham Lincoln. This leads directly to Westminster Abbey (not to be confused with Westminster Cathedral!) If you fancy a tour of this impressive Gothic church where Wills and Kate were married, tickets are £20 per person.
- After Westminster Abbey, stroll along (or through!) St James’s Park to Buckingham Palace. The interiors of Buckingham Palace are open to the public only from late July through September each year – otherwise, it is in use as the Queen’s residence.
- Don’t forget to turn around from Buckingham Palace to look down The Mall. In my opinion, this is one of the most impressive promenades in the world. It looks all the more special when the Union Jacks are out!
- From Buckingham Palace, walk through Green Park for an easy stroll towards Green Park Station. Once you reach Green Park Station, walk a bit further to Fortnum & Mason, which is an incredibly luxurious department store that dates back to 1707. I could spend hours here, especially during the festive season. But be careful because this place gets really, really busy!
- After working up an appetite at Fortnum & Mason, go to the Wolseley for a lovely afternoon tea with friends (£30 per person, reservations required).
- Once you’re happily full with cakes and bubbly, head due north along Bond Street (Old Bond Street leads to New Bond Street but nobody really pays attention to the distinction). Westminster City Council notes that Bond Street has the highest density of haute couture stores anywhere in the world, attracting “the rich, the famous, and the simply curious.” Here you’ll find Dior, Tiffany & Co., Chanel, and so much more. Bond Street is also a square on the British Monopoly board, and is the most expensive of the green-coloured set.
- Once you reach Bond Street Station, you’ll find yourself across the street from Selfridge’s Department Store. My next guide “Vibrant Central” starts from this point.