The world is your oyster: 24 hours in London

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The world is your oyster: 24 hours in London

With the number of Australians travelling overseas at a record high of 8.4 million in 2012-13i, it's time to pack your suitcase and jump on board! Figures show that more than 500,000 Australian residents headed to the UK for a short tripi, undoubtedly touching down at one of London's many airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstedii. Whether you're in transit or on a tight schedule - we've got your stay in London covered with our 24-hour guide to the city that never sleeps.

A savvy traveller will get acquainted with London's tube map before beginning their journey.

Once you land there's no time to waste. Your first destination should be to head underground to the nearest tube station to purchase an Oyster Card, which will give you access to most of London's transport networkiii- all you have to do is top it up and tap on and off every time you use public transportiii.

London offers an exceptionally large collection of historical and cultural artefacts, artworks and scientific exhibits from around the world at all of its museums and galleries. Popular sites for museum enthusiasts and amateur art critics alike include the Victoria & Albert Museum, Natural History Museum, British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern and the Tate Britain - to name only a few! The best thing about London's museums and galleries is that most of them are freeiv and the worst thing is that you'll probably not have enough time to discover all of them during your time in London.

To get a great view of the world-famous changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, it's recommended you arrive early at around 11.00am. The ceremony, which occurs daily from May to July and is held every second day for the rest of the yearv, usually kicks off at 11.30am and finishes at 12pmvi. Before lunch, head towards the River Thames to get a glimpse of Westminster Abbey and Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and the iconic Big Ben.

Give your feet a rest by indulging in a picnic at St. James's Park. While sitting on the grass or park bench, try to spot some of the park's grey squirrels, ducks and pelicansvii. After, walk on up to Trafalgar Square - take some great photos from the steps of the National Gallery and fight the urge to feed the birds because it's illegal and punishable with on-the-spot finesviii! Pass Piccadilly Circus on your way to a true London shopping adventure on Oxford Street - there, you can find all your British and European chain-storesix.

If you find yourself getting a little peckish, then treat yourself to a quintessentially British experience and enjoy an afternoon tea fit for a royal. Famous spots for tea include the Wolseley, The Palm Court at the Ritz, and Fortnum & Masonx.

When you're full on tea and scones, it's time to view the city from up above as the sun sets. There are a few landmarks where you can get wide viewing angles of London, so hop on the nearest tube to get to the other side of the river. Within walking distance of Waterloo stationxi is Europe's tallest Ferris wheelxii, the London Eye - it's 135m tallxiii. Alternatively, if you catch the tube to London Bridge, you can view all of London from The Shard, which has the highest viewing platform in London - it's 244m above the cityxiv.

Hop on a double-decker tourist bus or join a guided walking tour to easily explore London.

After you've experienced London from the sky, take a walk along the river on Banksidexv. On your walk you'll pass the Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern, a glimpse of St Paul's Cathedral on the other side of the river, plus a host of street buskers from all over the world. Keep walking until you arrive at the iconic Tower Bridge and cross it to reach the historic castle, the Tower of London.

For a well-deserved rest and an authentic English meal, grab some dinner at any of London's pubs. Bangers and mash with a pint will never seem as tasty as on a cold London night! End the day by catching a show at the London Palladium in the West End, sipping on a cocktail in Covent Garden or dancing the night away in Soho.

If the thought of conquering the sights of London by yourself in one day is too much to bear, consider a guided walking tour or a hop-on-hop-off double-decker bus tour.

iAustralian Bureau of Statistics 2013, 3401.0 Overseas Arrivals and Departures: Australians make a record 8.4 million trips overseas in 2012-13, viewed 18 November 2013,

iiCAPA Centre for Aviation 2011, Beijing to overtake London as world's largest aviation hub. Massive new airport planned, viewed 18 November 2013,

iiiTransport for London, What is Oyster? , viewed 18 November 2013,

ivLondon, Free London Attractions, viewed 18 November 2013,

vThe Royal Household, Changing the Guard, viewed 18 November 2013,

viChanging the Guard, Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace Provisional Schedule, viewed 26 November 2013,

viiThe Royal Parks, Flora and Fauna, viewed 18 November 2013,

viiiBBC 2003, Feeding Trafalgar's pigeons illegal, viewed 18 November 2013,

ixOxford Street, Shops, viewed 18 November 2013,

xAlkayat, Z 2012, 'Top ten places to go for afternoon tea in London', Metro, 27 July, viewed 18 November 2013,

xiLondon Eye, Getting Here, viewed 18 November 2013,

xiiLondon Eye, Royal Mail celebrates 10 years of the London Eye, viewed 26 November 2013,

xiiiLondon Eye, Interesting things you never knew about the London Eye, viewed 18 November 2013,

xivThe View from The Shard, About The View, viewed 26 November 2013,

xvVisit Bankside, Itineraries, viewed 18 November 2013,