High-Speed Tourist Guide to London
tl;dr: Go to St. James Park and walk the perimeter.
I'm writing this mostly for @webology, who's in London at the moment. This is based on my spending ~8 hours in London on a layover from Houston to Hong Kong in 2007.
The key to this is St. James Park. A LOT of the most famous tourist attractions in London surround this park.
- The northwest corner is dominated by the rear of Buckingham Palace. Due to time constraints, I only saw the rear.
- The eastern edge of the park has, from south to north:
- Westminster Abbey
- Palace of Westminster: the home of the UK Parliament
- Big Ben
- In this area, the London Eye should also be visible, across the river.
- After passing Big Ben, continue north on Whitehall. 10 Downing Street (residence of the Prime Minister) is on your left
- Great Scotland Yard: While not as exciting as it once was, it's still a well-known name.
- Whitehall terminates at the northern end at Charing Cross Tube Station & Trafalgar Square. Both the name and the visual of Trafalgar Square should be familiar to Harry Potter fans, if nothing else. Charing Cross will also let you get to London Bridge.
That's all for THIS quick guide to tourist London. I was able to see all of this in under 8 hours, plus do some other stuff, plus get to and from Heathrow. So, this should be an easy day of site-seeing for all but the MOST time-sensitive.