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Take a Stress-Free London Theatre Break with a Coach Trip
London is one of the most exciting cities in the world, and it’s no surprise that it’s a popular destination for theatre breaks. Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend away or a fun family trip, London offers something for everyone. But with all the hustle and bustle of the city, it can be hard to relax and enjoy your time away. That’s why taking a coach trip to London is the perfect way to take a stress-free theatre break. Here’s why:
Taking a coach trip to London is incredibly convenient. You don’t have to worry about navigating busy roads or finding parking in the city centre. All you have to do is sit back and relax as your coach takes you directly to your destination. Plus, many coaches offer onboard entertainment such as movies and music, so you can make the most of your journey.
Coach trips are also much more affordable than other forms of transport. You can often find great deals on coach tickets, making them an ideal option for budget-conscious travellers. And with all the money you save on transport, you can splurge on tickets to some of London’s top shows.
Finally, taking a coach trip to London can save you time. With direct routes from many cities around the UK, you won’t have to worry about making multiple connections or waiting in long lines at airports or train stations. This means that you can spend less time travelling and more time enjoying all that London has to offer.
So if you’re looking for an easy and stress-free way to take a theatre break in London, consider taking a coach trip. With its convenience, affordability and time savings, it’s the perfect way to make the most of your time away from home.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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What to Do on a Quick Trip to London
By Christine Ajudua and Elizabeth Winding
With a quick trip to London , a city we visit time and again, comes a dilemma: How do we hit those emerging neighborhoods and have a long, boozy lunch at a restaurant like Gymkhana , whose duck dosa has been all over Instagram, while not forgetting about the museums and hotel bars that made us fall for the city in the first place? We definitely want to check out the gallery scene of South London, and to spend a Saturday or Sunday shopping out east while hitting the new Design Museum just west of Hyde Park. But we’re not over Central London’s storybook charms—a scotch at the newly renovated Blue Bar at The Berkeley, London in The Berkeley hotel, a stroll down Savile Row , an afternoon in Marylebone. In short, we want a way to do it all, or at least do as much as we can in the time we’re in town. To that end, we canvassed a network of our most-in-the-know natives and frequent visitors—chefs, editors, mixologists, and gallerists—to help us come up with a game plan that balances the classic and the emerging, the afternoon tea and the of-the-moment cocktail. And all without spending the whole day on the Tube or in a black cab.
A QUICKFIRE GUIDE TO CENTRAL LONDON
First, get a room.
We say stay in Central London—the hotels here are the most convenient if heading both west and east, and the most iconic, like The Savoy , The Connaught , and Claridge's , the 1856 stalwart with several suites by Diane von Furstenberg (think marble fireplaces and bold patterns) and elaborate afternoon teas, where you can sip a slightly sweet Malawi Antler brew (one of just two places on earth that serve it). This year, the center of gravity may shift east with the opening of The Ned and the Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square near Tower Bridge, but for now we love the traditional-style suites at André Balazs’s Chiltern Firehouse , with its velvet-covered armchairs and beveled mirrors. (Same goes for chef Nuno Mendes’s chipotle corn bread at the hotel restaurant.) Just off Hyde Park, the Art Deco–style The Beaumont has 73 rooms that channel the early twentieth century. Over in Soho, Firmdale’s Ham Yard Hotel feels like a village with its 13 specialty shops and 190-seat fuchsia-curtained cinema.
Where to Eat Near Your Hotel
From the brilliant team behind Portland (awarded a rare five stars by the late, great A.A. Gill in 2015), the more casual Clipstone opened last summer in still-no-signs-of-stopping Fitzrovia, with house-made charcuterie and nose-to-tail classics like calf’s brain meunière. Meanwhile, the appetite for counter dining continues: Kiln , on Soho’s Brewer Street, has smoky Thai dishes cooked on an open flame or over charcoal in ceramic tao pots, paired with standout French and German natural wines. In Covent Garden, The Barbary is a rowdy counter-only spot inspired by the bold, bracing flavors of North Africa’s Barbary Coast.
The Central Essentials
The Pub Soho’s Coach & Horses pub for a London Glory ale.
The Neighborhood Marylebone, for lunch at Carousel , shopping on Chiltern Street, and drinks at the The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone .
The Drink The aptly named Spritz Termini at Bar Termini , Soho.
Central London Shopping List
Aram , Covent Garden For Eames lounge chairs and U.K.-made furnishings.
Browns , Mayfair For the top selection of ready-to-wear labels like Simone Rocha and Stella McCartney.
Kilgour , Mayfair For bespoke two-piece wool suits right on Savile Row.
Mouki Mou , Marylebone For raw Japanese denim, Dosa dresses, and gifts like Welsh paperweights.
Trunk Clothiers , Marylebone For Felisi briefcases and Mackintosh trenches right across from Chiltern Firehouse .
The courtyard at Chiltern Firehouse.
MUSEUMS ARE BIGGER AND BETTER
There’s a strip in Kensington south of Hyde Park, along Exhibition Road, that almost trumps N.Y.C.’s Museum Mile for its concentration of major museums. Try to arrive by 10 a.m. so you have some alone time (for at least an hour or so) at the always-impressive Victoria and Albert Museum .
If going this summer, you’re in luck: The new subterranean gallery—with exhibitions on everything from design to opera—and an entrance off Exhibition Road opened in July. The Design Museum , which had its first show at its new location in November, is a 30-minute walk west on Cromwell Road (stop at the Natural History Museum en route; it’s free, and you can see the colossal T. rex). The exhibits are great—the 2012 Olympic Torch, Louboutin heels, and a futuristic Tube train—but John Pawson’s reworking of the interior of this post-war building that had been empty for a decade can’t be missed.
Have Lunch in Hyde Park
The Magazine restaurant inside the Serpentine Sackler Gallery was designed by Zaha Hadid (you’d probably guess as much once you saw those undulating glass walls), and it’s where well-dressed Chelsea socialites gossip between bites of roasted halibut.
No Place Does a Hotel Bar Quite Like This
When it’s cocktail hour and you’re not sure where to go, head for the grandest hotel bar. Some of the best are near Hyde Park, like the Connaught Bar . Grab a seat at a table instead of standing at the bar, so a white-gloved mixologist can roll his martini trolley on over and stir up a perfect pre-dinner drink using rare Gancia dry vermouth. Three blocks north, opt for a glass of Ruinart Champagne at the Art Deco Claridge’s Bar . Or go to Knightsbridge, where The Berkeley’s Blue Bar has been expanded, restoring its “Lutyens Blue” wood-paneled walls. Order a Smoke & Mirrors—a blend including rye, Benedictine, and Sacred Rosehip Cup that also makes for a perfect nightcap.
The New Classics
“Chef Karam Sethi’s clever use of Brit ingredients (venison naan, wild boar vindaloo) makes this my choice for London’s best Indian restaurant in a city full of great ones.” –Peter Jon Lindberg, contributing editor Shikumen
“Slightly farther west, in Shepherd’s Bush, this dim sum spot has been hot among London foodies since opening a few years back.” –Fiona Golfar, editor at large, British Vogue
“I love this European restaurant like an old friend. Order the native oysters, steak tartare, and veal Holstein.” –Tom Parker Bowles, food editor, British Esquire
WHERE TO “WEEKEND”
Here’s the deal with Londoners. If they haven’t escaped to, say, the Cotswolds after work on Friday, they’ll often spend Sunday decompressing in the East End. It’s where the seriously cool all-British boutiques are, and the food and flea markets have everything from gastropubs to Asian-street-style joints (the Ethiopian wraps and Thai curries on Brick Lane alone are worth the trek here). To get things started out east, head to the 148-year-old Columbia Road Flower Market , which is ten minutes on the Central line and a bus hop from the city center (the market officially opens at 8 a.m., but aim for a 9 a.m. arrival, as stalls tend to set up late, especially in the cooler months).
Even if you’re not in the market for blooms, come to witness the Notting Hill vibe: deep rows of yellow, purple, and orange fresh-cut hydrangeas, peonies, and banana plants, all foghorned by vendors with chirpy eastern Essex lilts (“Two for a fiv-ER!”). We recommend starting south and working your way up the street so that you arrive at the Marksman pub around 10 a.m. This will guarantee that you’re the first in line for the Sunday-only special: a pillowy Tamworth bacon–stuffed steamed bun, served with a dollop of tangy homemade ketchup.
Shop the Design Boutiques on Redchurch Street
Aimé This French fashion concept store is credited with introducing Isabel Marant to London.
Klaus Haapaniemi & Co. Head here for bold, whimsical patterns on rugs, textiles, and tableware by the Helsinki-born Haapaniemi.
Labour and Wait For souvenirs, we’ll load up on tea cozies from west Wales and blue-enamel Japanese kettles at this home- ware shop (they’ll even ship your purchases back to the States for you).
Modern Society This café cum street-fashion shop has a rotating roster of brands from all over the world, including Desmond & Dempsey and L.A.-based Anine Bing.
Monologue Alistair P floor lamps and Origami marble desks are two of the standouts at this modern furniture concept spot.
New Yorkers Do Brunch, Brits Do Sunday Lunch
Out east, it’s still all about Fergus Henderson’s 20-year-old snout-to-tail institution,
St. John Bread & Wine
in Spitalfields. The unequivocally tender ox cheek is the dish to get.
Chef James Lowe, Off the Clock
The chef and co-owner of Shoreditch’s popular modern British spot, Lyle’s , on his day in East London.
Morito , Hackney Road “I love to get huevos rotos for breakfast here and sit at the bar, which gives you a good view of the open kitchen.”
Regent’s Canal “I’ll stroll the canal path toward Mile End, and walk through Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, which is covered in wildflowers. It’s like escaping the city.”
P. Franco “This wine shop also has a small menu. On my last visit, I had a bottle of Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d’Abruzzo with a sea urchin toast that was absolutely brilliant.”
A Moment of Zen
Londoners love their gardens (47 percent of the city is green space), but for a real oasis out east, skip London Fields and head to the Barbican Conservatory , open to the public only on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. It’s an enormous greenhouse with over 2,000 species of tropical plants. It takes just half an hour to see it all, but stay for afternoon tea for smoked salmon with dill grown on-site (reservations are essential).
SOUTH IS A MUST FOR ART LOVERS
If Kensington is the epicenter of institutional culture, South London is becoming the equivalent for indie fine-art and multi-disciplinary galleries, which are cropping up in hip neighborhoods like Peckham and Clapham (the large-scale exception: South Bank, where the Tate Modern has just added its new Herzog & de Meuron–designed Switch House ). It’s worth coming to Vauxhall for an afternoon—the grounds of the seventeenth-century Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens just became home to the contemporary five-story Cabinet gallery with exteriors by artists like L.A.-based John Knight. Later on, hit Damien Hirst’s RIBA Stirling Prize–winning Newport Street Gallery , displaying his personal collection, which includes works by Gavin Turk and Jeff Koons. Stay for dinner at Pharmacy 2 , where superchef Mark Hix’s spiced pheasant curry and phenomenal soft-shell-crab burger are served in a space with bizarro clinical lighting and site-specific “Medicine Cabinets,” a nod to Hirst’s famed “Pharmacy” exhibition from the ’90s.
Where to Eat Before You Do Your Gallery Crawl
South London has two outstanding food markets: tourist-packedm Borough Market (it’s worth braving the crowds) and local favorite Maltby , in hip Bermondsey. Both are five minutes from the London Bridge Tube station.
Borough Market Where: It’s been in London Bridge for over 1,000 years and has more than 100 vendors (it’s closed Sundays). We Love: Bread Ahead’s sourdough loaves; chicken pies from Pieminister; plump beef empanadas at Porteña . And a Tipple: Go for an ale at the Globe Tavern , better known as the home of Bridget Jones. But if You Want a Sit-Down Meal: Padella has pappardelle with slow-cooked beef-shin ragù, counter seating, and lines out the door.
Maltby Street Market Where: In an alley between railway arches, it’s one of the few London street markets open Saturdays and Sundays. We Love: Stacked-high Reubens from Monty’s Deli ; toasted sandwiches at the Cheese Truck . And a Tipple: Grab a pink-grapefruity Little Bird Gin cocktail at the snug Little Bird Gin Arch. But if You Want a Sit-Down Meal: At 40 Maltby Street , look for oft-changing dishes like smoked Yorkshire ham with English mustard.
“To see artists before they make it big, pop by Studio Voltaire in Clapham. I saw Phyllida Barlow’s work there—before she went on to show at Tate Britain and the Venice Biennale .” –Victoria Siddall, director, Frieze Fairs
The After-Dinner Drink
If you find yourself in South London at night, treat yourself to a cocktail at Dandelyan , in the Sea Containers London on South Bank. We always get the Heirloom, with Auchentoshan Three Wood Scotch and raspberry cordial.
The Landmark London
London Travel Guide
London 2-Day Itinerary: 25+ Epic Things To Do In London In 2 Days
Posted on Last updated: July 1, 2023
Having lived in London for 9 years I never thought I’d write about it in my blog from a travellers point of view.
But despite considering myself a Londoner I’m not actually a local, and I enjoy a touristy sightseeing day in London as much as anyone.
I get a lot of questions from people that want to visit London in a weekend, so this London 2-day itinerary focuses on all the best things you can do in London in 2 days.
It’s a packed itinerary with lots of walking, but for anyone wishing to maximise their time in the British capital, this guide has all the information you need to make the most of your 2 days in London.
So without further ado, let’s dive in and plan the perfect two days in London!
Before you go, have you booked your hotel in London already? If not, check out my guide on where to stay in London
- 1 Do you need travel insurance for 2 days in London?
- 2 How to get into London
- 3 How to get around London
- 4.1 Oxford Street
- 4.2 Piccadilly Circus
- 4.3 Leicester Square
- 4.4 Covent Garden
- 4.5 Trafalgar Square
- 4.6 Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament & Big Ben
- 4.7 London Eye
- 4.8 Borough Market
- 4.9 The Shard
- 4.10 Tower Bridge
- 4.11 Tower of London
- 4.12 Sky Garden
- 5.1 Portobello Market
- 5.2 Notting Hill
- 5.3 Hyde Park
- 5.4 South Kensington & the museums
- 5.5 Harrods
- 5.6 Buckingham Palace
- 6.1 Shoreditch
- 6.2 Camden Town & Market
- 6.3 Chinatown
- 6.5 Afternoon tea bus tour
- 6.6 British Museum
- 6.7 Go for a showboat dinner cruise
- 6.8 See a musical!
- 6.9 Regents Park
- 6.10 St Pauls Cathedral
- 6.11 Do a Harry Potter walking tour
- 6.12 Visit the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios
- 7 What to pack for two days in London
- 8.1 Budget accommodation
- 8.2 Mid-range accommodation
- 8.3 Luxury accommodation
- 9.1 Street food
- 9.2 Eat on the go
- 9.3 Chain restaurants
- 9.4 Fancy or Michelin-starred restaurants
Reflections of St Paul’s Cathedral at One New Change in London, UK
Do you need travel insurance for 2 days in London?
After my personal experience spending two nights in a private hospital in Tenerife, and having to pay for it out of pocket (it wasn’t cheap), I always recommend getting travel insurance.
You might not end up needing it, but for a small fee you can travel without worries. Personally, I suggest getting your travel insurance with Heymondo .
Heymondo offers tailor made travel insurance, providing the best value for money for your specific trip. You can also buy it once you’re already abroad and have forgotten about it before flying (which, if you’re anything like me, is quite likely).
Besides the usual cancellation, medical expenses, luggage coverage and general travel insurance services, Heymondo also has a 24/7 doctor chat and instant assistance through their app.
As a Greta’s Travels reader, you get 5% off your Heymondo travel insurance !
Click here to get your 5% off Heymondo travel insurance!
Exploring Westminster in London
How to get into London
First things first, how do you get into London?
London has six major airports, and depending on where in the city you’re staying, it can be quite the journey getting to your accommodation from the airport.
If you’re flying internationally from a long-haul destination you would usually arrive at Heathrow, whilst if you’re flying from a European destination with a low-cost airline you would usually arrive at Luton, Gatwick or Stansted.
From all of these major London airports you can catch a train that will take you directly into Central London, usually at either Victoria Station, St Pancras Station or Liverpool Street depending on the airport.
However if you’re not a train person, you can also check out these coach transfers:
Bus Transfer from Gatwick Airport
Bus Transfer from Stansted Airport
Bus Transfer from Luton Airport
PRIVATE Transfer from Heathrow Airport – this is preferable if you’re a family travelling with children and don’t want to wait for trains or buses!
If you’re a family or group, getting a private transfer won’t be much more expensive than the train, and it will save you time. If you only have two days in London, you don’t want to waste time getting into the city!
Golden hour over the London Eye and Westminster in London, UK
If you want to save money I recommend getting the normal train service as opposed to the express airport ones.
For example Gatwick Airport has the Gatwick Express that takes you into Victoria station in half an hour for around 20 GBP.
Instead if you get the normal Southern trains service this usually stops at London Bridge, City Thameslink, Farringdon and then St Pancras International and only costs around 10 GBP.
I prefer this option because it saves me money and time, since even if the train is a bit slower it does more stops in central London where you can get off and be ready to see the city without having to take public transport from Victoria.
Similarly the Heathrow Express costs around 20 GBP and takes you to Paddington, which is pretty far from all the main attractions.
If you get the Piccadilly line you will pay around 6 GBP and it takes you straight into central London. To find the most convenient train I always check online on the Trainline .
| READ MORE: THE ULTIMATE LONDON BUCKET LIST |
Enjoying the sunset over the rooftops of London and St Paul’s Cathedral from Madisons Rooftop Bar
How to get around London
Ok so you’ve arrived in London, how do you actually move around this huge city? You might think me crazy but the best way to get around London is actually walking!
All the main attractions in central London are fairly close to each other, and walking from one to the other actually allows you to see the beautiful architecture around and take in the London atmosphere.
Transport for London actually put together a map with the walking times between tube stations in London (tube – that’s what Londoners call the underground system here).
Admittedly some are pretty far but look at the centre of zone 1, some stops are only 3 minutes away from each other!
| READ MORE: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL & PHOTOGENIC PLACES IN LONDON |
London tube map that shows the walking times between stations, image by TfL
If you don’t want to walk London has a very efficient public transport system. Both the tube and buses run super regularly and cover pretty much every corner of central London.
You can get an Oyster travel card or if you have a contactless credit or debit card you can tap that to get on buses and in the tube.
Per journey you pay 1.50 GBP for the bus or from 2.40 GBP upwards for the tube depending what zone you travel to.
TfL put a daily cap in place at 7 GBP, which means after three tube journeys you’re not paying anymore for additional trips.
You can also find black cabs and ubers everywhere in London but I personally only take them in evenings if I’m going home late.
Getting in a car in central London during the day basically means wasting your whole day given the traffic situation. Ubers are also generally cheaper than black cabs.
Sunset with a view over Tower Bridge and the Shard in London, UK
London 2 day itineary: Day 1
Now that we’ve got some of the fussy logistics out of the way, time to jump into the first day of our 2-day London itinerary !
We’re starting our first day in London at the famous Oxford Street. You want to start your day here fairly early because as time goes on it will get considerably busier.
By considerably busier I mean basically hell on earth for anyone that hates crowds like me.
So get there nice and sharp in the morning and you’ll be able to do some high street shopping without having to queue hours for a changing room.
Red buses in Oxford Street, London
From Oxford Street you can walk to Oxford Circus, down Regent Street and to the popular Piccadilly Circus. This is London’s equivalent of Times Square in New York.
With the big bright advertising billboards, multiple road crossings, street buskers and crowds it’s quite the sight.
An alternative road you can take is the colourful Carnaby Street, it’s just parallel to Regent Street and while it’s always busy, it’s completely pedestrian so it’s a bit more pleasant to walk along.
Exploring Regent Street in London, UK
From Piccadilly Circus it’s a very short walk over to Leicester Square. Leicester Square is that place you always see on TV when they do movie premieres in London.
There are a number of very cool cinemas here but if you’re only in London for 2 days, you probably don’t want to spend a couple hours of your time locked up in a dark room.
There are loads of quick takeaway food places in Leicester Square but they will most likely be over priced and not that great.
Covent Garden is a short 5-minute walk away from Leicester Square and one of the most famous spots in London.
The central covered area of Covent Garden, known as the Apple Market, is full of cool shops, bars and restaurants, and also a few touristy but quirky market stalls.
The Apple Market in Covent Garden at Christmas
After Covent Garden you can walk down to Trafalgar Square where you can visit the National Gallery. Entry to museums in London is generally always free, you only pay for the exhibitions that are on at that specific time.
If like me you’re not a museum person (I’ll admit I’ve only been inside the National Gallery once) Trafalgar Square is still a nice and famous spot of London that you can admire, and from there walk on to your next stop.
Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament & Big Ben
From Trafalgar Square it’s a short walk down to the river, where you will see two of the most iconic London sights.
Big Ben is under restructuring works at the moment, but you can still visit Westminster Abby and the Houses of Parliament.
Click here to purchase your entrance to Westminster Abbey!
The iconic red phone box, red bus and Big Ben in the background (even if he’s under construction)
The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben under reconstruction works
Just across the river you will see the London Eye, it’s hard to miss. In 9 years of living in London I have only been up the London Eye once, but I can say it’s really something.
Yes it’s super touristy, but the view is incredible. You get amazing 360 views over the Thames River, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben on one side, and St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Shard on the other.
It’s one of the most famous attractions in London, so the queue can get huge. I 100% recommend purchasing tickets online beforehand , so that you can skip the queue.
After all, if you only have two days in London, you don’t want to waste them queuing around!
Click here to purchase your London Eye Fast Track ticket!
View over Westminster from the London Eye
After seeing the London Eye I suggest walking all along the river to Borough Market.
You could also take the tube from Waterloo to London Bridge, which would save you some time, but the walk along South Bank is one of the most beautiful spots in London in my opinion.
Especially if you’re visiting London in summer or on a sunny day, walking along the Thames and seeing the skyline of London is pretty epic.
You will see some main landmarks along this walk including the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe and Millennium Bridge.
Millennium Bridge in London, with St Paul’s Cathedral in the background
Borough Market is a great place to try some of London’s famous street food. There are tons of different stalls that sell food from all over the world.
It’s the perfect place to stop for a quick lunch on the go without wasting hours sitting down at a restaurant and waiting to be served.
One of the fresh fruit and vegetables stalls at Borough Market, London
Just next to Borough Market is the Shard, a skyscraper with 95 floors and one of the best views over London.
There is a viewing platform on the 70 th floor, the tickets cost between 24 GBP and 32 GBP depending on how far in advance you book them.
However, there are a couple bars in the Shard just a couple floors below that you can access for free.
Cocktails are around 15 – 20 GBP which is expensive, but considering you’re at the highest bar in London, it could be much worst.
I’d recommend going to the bar instead of the viewing platform since you end up paying a similar price, but at least you get a drink while you enjoy the view.
If a cocktail doesn’t fit your travel plans, book your ticket to The Shard viewing deck here!
The view over London from the Shard
From the Shard it’s a short walk across More London Place to reach Tower Bridge.
If you’re visiting in summer they usually have a Mexican food truck down next to the river with sun bed chairs, and they often have shows on in The Scoop (the round theatre-like area along the river).
From along the river you can walk right up to Tower Bridge and then you’ll see a set of stairs that you have to walk up to cross the river.
Prime sunset spot over Tower Bridge and the Thames
Tower of London
This is where I admit that I haven’t actually visited the Tower of London yet.
I’ve walked past the Tower of London numerous times, been on river cruises that set off from Tower Pier (a lot of university student clubs do that), even been ice skating at the Tower of London, but I’ve never been inside.
If you want to see the Crown Jewels and learn more about the Tower of London you will have to go inside, however if you’re happy with just seeing it walking around it is enough.
Click here to book a visit to the Tower of London & Crown Jewels Exhibition!
Tower Bridge and the Tower of London at golden hour
You’re probably thinking these are quite a lot of things to do in one day so don’t worry, we have arrived at the last stop of this London itinerary.
From Tower of London it’s less than a 10-minute walk to Sky Garden. Similarly to the Shard Sky Garden also has epic views over London, just from the opposite side of the river.
Access is always free but if you visit during the day you have to book a ticket beforehand with specific time slot, after 6PM you can visit on a free walk-in basis but there is a fairly strict smart casual dress code.
Drinks are fairly pricey at the bars in Sky Garden but once again, considering the venue it could be much worst.
I recommend trying to get here for sunset since watching the sun go down over London, turning everything golden, and then the skyline slowly lighting up is pretty magical.
View over the roofs of London from Sky Garden
I’ve embedded below a map of this walking itinerary, or you can click here to open it in Google Maps. As you can see this big long list of things to do only adds up to about two hours of walking time.
Obviously it depends on how long you decide to spend in every location.
Whether you want to go on a crazy shopping spree on Oxford Street or spend hours inside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, but roughly speaking the above itinerary can be done in one day and would make for a perfect start to your 2 days in London.
London 2 day itinerary: Day 2
I hope you’re not knackered by yesterday’s activities, because you have another full day of excitement awaits!
For your second day in London we’re moving away a bit from the hustle and bustle of central London and starting our day in Portobello.
Portobello is a lovely area of London with cute colourful houses and a popular market. The market and shops in Portobello sell all sorts of cool vintage things but also the standard street food and touristy souvenirs.
The coloured houses of Portobello Road, London
Portobello is just around the corner from the beautiful white houses of Notting Hill.
There isn’t one specific spot that you must see; it’s just a beautiful area of London that you can walk around for a bit and admire the Victorian architecture of these beautiful London streets .
If you want, you can also join a guided walking tour of Notting Hill . It’s a great way to make sure you see all the prettiest spots, with a local guide teaching you about the history of the area.
Click here to book your Notting Hill walking tour!
The beautiful white houses of Notting Hill, London
After Notting Hill you will arrive at Hyde Park, London’s most famous and biggest park (in central London anyway). If you’re visiting in summer or on a sunny day you will find crowds of Londoners basking in the sun.
Even in winter it’s a very peaceful area and you can enjoy the beauty of it walking around Kensington Palace and the Serpentine.
Click here to book your visit to Kensington Palace in Hyde Park
South Kensington & the museums
Just make sure that you’re crossing the park in the right direction so that when you pop out on the other side you’re right next to South Kensington and all the museums.
Walk past the Royal Albert Hall (a pretty stunning building in itself) and you’ll reach the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum.
They’re all very different in style and seeing all the exhibitions inside all of the museums would take days.
The Royal Albert Hall, London
Unfortunately you only have 2 days in London but its still worth popping inside one or two of the museums depending on your interests. I’m a personal fan of the Natural History Museum and their dinosaur display.
Entry to the permanent exhibitions is free anyway you can just go in and wander around for a bit without feeling like you have to see everything in one go since you paid a ticket for it (or is that just me?)
If you’re visiting London at Christmas they always put up a beautiful ice rink at the Natural History Museum where you can try ice-skating.
The Natural History Museum in London from outside
Once you’re done exploring the museums it’s time to walk on to the famous Harrods.
Harrods is a huge department store founded in 1824 where they sell all sorts of things. One thing to note is that Harrods is very expensive.
While I wouldn’t recommend buying anything there I still think it’s a pretty cool place to see and wander around for a bit, especially if it’s your first time in London and you only have two days.
From Harrods you can walk through Green Park and arrive at Buckingham Palace in less than 20 minutes. Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the royal family.
If you time your visit right you might also be able to see the change of the guard outside the Buckingham Palace gates.
You can also visit the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace . If you’re interested in history and the Royal Family, it’s a very fun and interesting visit!
Book your visit to Buckingham Palace here!
My first and last trip to Buckingham Palace in 7 years of living in London
That’s all the walking I’ve got in store for you today, wasn’t that bad was it? I’ve included the map with walking itinerary below or click here to see it on Google Maps.
It’s around 1.5 hours of walking but depending on how long you want to spend inside the museums or shopping inside Harrods, it can take up the whole day.
Cool things to do in London not included in this London 2 day itinerary
As I previously mentioned the British capital is pretty huge and seeing all of London in two days isn’t very realistic.
There are some areas of London that I personally love but haven’t included in my London 2-day itinerary since they’re not considered the main tourist attractions and landmarks.
However, if for example you want to see some markets and aren’t interested in museums you can skip South Kensington and visit the quirky Shoreditch or Camden instead.
Most of these areas are very popular in evenings so you can always visit them after the itineraries I wrote above.
Shoreditch is the hipster and artsy area of London. There are tons of cool bars, restaurants, pubs, clubs and shops all over the neighbourhood.
It’s a cool area to wander around during the day to explore the vintage and design shops and colourful graffiti, but it’s especially popular in evenings. The nightlife in Shoreditch never disappoints.
A very Shoreditch donut shop with colourful graffiti facade
Camden Town & Market
Camden was the hipster and edgy area of London before Shoreditch become popular.
There’s a big market with lots of street food, clothes, jewellery, vintage things, home decor, souvenirs and pretty much anything you can think of being sold there.
It used to be the rebel punk area (to give you a better idea, Amy Winehouse used to live in Camden) and even today there are still tons of tattoo and piercing parlours.
It’s become a bit more touristy and less edgy in recent years but is still a cool area to walk around.
The market is closed in evenings but there are loads of bars, pubs and clubs and there is a lively nightlife so you can always visit Camden in evenings.
Camden Market in London, UK
Chinatown in London is actually just next to Leicester Square, but I chose not to include it in my London 2-day itinerary as it takes time to explore it properly and it wouldn’t have fit in the day 1 schedule.
Also the best part of Chinatown is the food so I recommend going around dinnertime to try one of the many Chinese restaurants.
Exploring Chinatown in London
Soho is another neighbourhood very close to Chinatown and Leicester Square that I chose not to cover in your day 1 itinerary.
It’s a vibrant and very cool area to explore but you can do so in the evening, discovering all the cool dining and nightlife options.
Afternoon tea bus tour
Afternoon tea is a very British tradition consisting of savoury sandwiches, cakes, scones and obviously, lots of tea.
There are loads of places that do very good afternoon teas in London but inevitably will take up a large chunk of your day (if you’re a fast eater like me, you might not love afternoon tea, it’s one of those things you’re supposed to take slow and enjoy the experience…)
If you only have two days in London a good solution is doing an afternoon tea bus tour . This allows you to enjoy the experience while also touring around London and seeing all the main tourist highlights.
Click here to book your spot on a B Bakery afternoon tea bus tour!
Getting ready for our afternoon tea bus tour in London
Our afternoon tea selection on the B Bakery bus tour
The British Museum didn’t feature on my essential London 2-day itinerary since it’s not quite along the walking routes I’d planned out.
However it’s not too far don’t worry, it’s in central London less than a 10-minute walk away from Oxford Street. Entry is free and there are loads of cool things you can see like Rosetta’s stone and more.
Go for a showboat dinner cruise
If you want to spend a bit of a different evening enjoying good food and touring around London, you should definitely do a dinner showboat cruise .
As you might have guessed from the name, this is a cruise along the Thames where you will be served dinner as live music and singing takes place.
We enjoyed a lovely 4-course dinner while admiring the view over main sights of London, such as the London Eye, St Paul’s, Tower Bridge and Greenwich.
It combines good food with sightseeing and live music, the perfect evening out in London!
Click here to book your showboat dinner cruise!
Enjoying my 4-course meal during the showboat dinner cruise
See a musical!
The West End of London is famous for its theatres and musicals. If you have the time I would highly recommend trying to squeeze in watching a show in your London 2-day itinerary.
Over the past 7 years I’ve been to see The Lion King, Aladdin, Wicked, Billy Elliot and The Phantom of the Opera and they were all pretty amazing. There are tons of shows I still haven’t seen myself!
Regents Park is smaller than Hyde Park and a bit more of a local hangout spot. On one of the park you will find Primrose Hill, where all the Londoners go hang out and have picnics on sunny summer days.
View over Regents Park and the London skyline from Primrose Hill
St Pauls Cathedral
St Pauls Cathedral should have probably featured much higher on my list of things to see in London in two days, however I chose not to include it before since you will be seeing plenty of it even without actually visiting it.
As you walk along the river and from all the viewpoints you will be able to see the dome of St Pauls towering over the roofs of London.
If you have time you can go see the inside of the cathedral but if not, no harm done (in 7 years I don’t think I’ve ever been inside myself)
Click here to book a fast track ticket to St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral in London, UK
Do a Harry Potter walking tour
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you have to do this. I didn’t list it in my main 2-day London itinerary because I realise not everyone is as Harry Potter obsessed as I am, but it’s definitely worth doing.
It will allow you to not only see all the Harry Potter filming locations in London , but you’ll also learn some fun facts about the movies. It will go past some of the main London landmarks, so you will still see a lot of London.
If you follow my guide, you can easily visit all the filming spots alone, but I personally think it’s more fun to do a guided tour . Sharing the experience with other Potter-heads will make it all the more fun!
Click here to book your Harry Potter walking tour!
Platform 9 and 3/4 in London King’s Cross station
Visit the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios
This is another activity that is definitely worth mentioning, but given not everyone is a Harry Potter fan, I didn’t want to include it in my main London 2-day itinerary.
Whether you’re a family with children, or a group of millennials who grew up reading the books and watching the Harry Potter movies, the Harry Potter studio tour is great fun.
Even though it spoils the magic a little bit, seeing how the movies are made is really interesting. Plus you can stock up on butter beer, chocolate frogs and fun Harry Potter gadgets!
It’s outside London and planning your transfer there can be a bit complicated, which is why I recommend booking this tour , since it includes both entrance to the studios and transfer there.
Click here to purchase your Harry Potter Warner Bros Tour with Transfer from London!
Me in 2015 visiting the Harry Potter Warner Bros Studios
What to pack for two days in London
Not that there is a shortage of shops in London where you can buy things if you were to forget anything, however there are a couple essentials things that you might want to bring with you for your two days in London.
Umbrella : Yes, laugh as much as you want, but the stereotypes of the British capital are unfortunately largely true. It rains a lot here.
You don’t want to be caught out in the rain so it’s just easier to always carry one of those tiny foldable umbrellas with you.
Power bank : After all if you’re going to be walking around all day, you won’t have time to sit down and charge your phone!
Also you will need your phone to check Google Maps and that you’re headed in the right direction, or what time things close.
Comfortable walking shoes : My London 2-day itinerary has a lot of walking involved, so you wan to make sure you to do so in comfortable trainers to avoid having painful feet at the end of the day.
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London, UK
Where to stay in London
Despite living in London over the years I’ve stayed in a number of hotels throughout London, whether with family when they came to visit (and couldn’t fit in my tiny student halls room) or more recently with blog collaborations and I can recommend some hotels in London for every budget.
However more than a specific hotel I can suggest areas of London where you can stay.
If you only have two days in London you will want to stay very central or you will waste time travelling around, if you go a bit further out make sure to be within 5 minutes walking distance to a tube station.
Personally I would recommend staying either in Camden, Angel or even more central around Holborn and Bank.
Click here to see the latest prices and availability for accommodation in London!
Leadenhall Market in London, UK
There are tons of hostels in London. I’ve never personally stayed in one but have heard great things of Wombats .
There are also loads of hotel chains with numerous properties around London like Holiday Inn or the Travelodge that are more affordable than independent hotels.
The more central ones are a bit more expensive but usually still offer good value for money.
Just like there are budget chain hostels and hotels, there are also a number of mid-range chains you can go for like Hilton or Marriott spread all over London.
My parents stayed at the Hilton in Angel back when I used to live in the area and loved it, Angel is also a great area to stay as its a bit outside the tourist chaos of London but still within easy reach of all the main attractions.
These options are a bit fancier than the previous budget suggestions but at more reasonable prices than the luxury properties in London.
I spent one night at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel for a blog collaboration and that was the fanciest place I have slept at in London.
The property is beautiful, the service excellent and the location perfect as base to explore London, especially if you only have 2 days in London.
I also spent an afternoon at Cheval Three Quays where a friend of mine was staying and can highly recommend it, the apartments are new, have a great view of the Thames and are in a great location to explore London.
The Grand Staircase of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London, UK
Where to eat in London
When I first moved to London from Italy everybody told me how the food in London was shit. Having lived here for 7 years now I can strongly disagree with that.
For Italian standards sure there is a lot of junk food out there (I’m looking at you Pizza Hut and your pizzas with burgers in the crust) but there are also a lot of amazing dining options for every budget.
London is a very international city and that’s reflected in the variety of cuisines you can find.
Since you’re only in London for two days I wouldn’t waste too much time sitting in restaurants, but there are cool and cheap dining options on the go.
The street food in London is awesome.
There are famous street food markets like Borough Market and Camden Market but you will also find street food trucks here and there all over London, especially in the busy touristy spots.
The prices vary massively depending on the cuisine, how big a portion you get, where in London it is and lots of other factors, but I’ve had meals from street food trucks in London for anywhere between 3 GBP and 10 GBP.
The halloumi fries at Camden Market, London
Eat on the go
If you don’t want to eat street food but you also don’t want to sit down at a restaurant there are tons of places you can eat on the go in London.
All the Pret A Manger, Eat, Wasabi, Itsu, LEON, Pod, Starbucks and other chains you see around serve food fresh and ready to go.
The scotch egg and sweet potato fries of Borough Market, London
If you want to sit down for a proper meal without spending a fortune, worry not, there are thousands of restaurants all over London, both independent and chains.
As a tourist it can be a bit hit and miss going to an independent boutique hotel, as you can’t know if they’re good or not.
While they’re less authentic, with chain restaurants you’re always sure that a certain standard will be met. The ones of ethnic cuisines are also easier to eat at as the flavours are adapted for Western tastes.
Some of my personal favourites are Wagamama, GBK, Wahaca, Franco Manca, Rosa’s Thai, Nando’s and Pho.
Starters at Lima Floral, a Peruvian chain restaurant in London
Fancy or Michelin-starred restaurants
If you want to go fancy, London can do fancy very well. London has 70 Michelin starred restaurants (and there many more fancy and delicious restaurants that don’t have Michelin stars) that you can try.
I was a student in London so I can’t say I have much experience with these, so you might want to check out this guide by Secret London instead.
Enjoying the sunset at the London Eye
Final thoughts on my London in 2 days itinerary
Have you been to London before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below!
Conscious this London 2-day itinerary turned into a pretty huge guide so if you have any questions, just let me know, happy to help if I can.
Having lived in London for 9 years I consider myself a Londoner, I hope this post will help you plan your two days in London and that you’ll love this city as much as I do.
Looking for more UK travel tips? Check out these guides:
- Weekend getaway to Bath
- The ultimate Brighton weekend itinerary
- Best things to do in Stratford Upon Avon according to a local
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Savvy Travel Advice
3 Days in London: A Perfect 72 Hour London Itinerary
Last updated: August 7, 2023 - Written by Jessica Norah 154 Comments
London is one of the world’s largest and most exciting cities, offering visitors thousands of things to do, including museums, royal palaces, beautiful parks, historical sites, and world-class theatre.
With all these options, planning a trip to London can be a bit overwhelming, especially for first time visitors. We’ve put together a recommended 3 day London itinerary that will help you see the city’s highlights if you have at least 3 days in London.
Our suggested 3 day itinerary has you visiting all the city’s most famous attractions (e.g., Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, Tower of London) as well as some of the city’s lesser-known attractions.
In addition to the 3 day itinerary, we also provide tips on how to get around London, a map that plots out each day’s suggested itinerary, and tips on how to save money during your 3 days in London.
Table of Contents:
Planning Tips for 3 Days in London
Before we share the 3 day London itinerary, we wanted to make sure you have all the planning information to make the most of your 3 days in London. So we first share information on how to get around London, how to save money on sightseeing, day trip recommendations, advice on where to stay, and further trip planning resources.
How to Get to London
London is well-connected to the rest of the world and easy to reach by plane or train. Most international visitors arrive by air.
London has six main airports, and you can get to London from almost any part of the world. If you are arriving from an international location outside Europe, Heathrow is likely to be your arrival airport. For helping in getting into London from an airport, see our London airport guide which covers transport options from all 6 airports.
If you are arriving by train, London is well-connected to train routes throughout the UK and Europe with a number of train stations in and around central London. Those planning to travel by train throughout the UK might want to see if a BritRail Pass might save you money, or another rail pass if traveling throughout Europe by train.
Those arriving from Scotland can check out our Edinburgh to London guide , and might want to consider taking an overnight sleeper train .
If you are arriving from continental Europe by train or car, you’ll need to travel across the English Channel on the EuroStar train or take a ferry.
How to Get around London
London is best explored either on foot or by public transportation. Cabs and bike hires are also options.
London has a great public transportation network and most visitors spend at least some time traveling on it. This includes public bus, tram, and rail services (including “the Tube”) within the city. You can buy individual tickets for each ride, but many visitors get an Oyster Card which allows you to travel on almost all the city’s public transit options and can save you time and money.
If you are considering an Oyster Card, you can read our full Oyster Card review . For more information and tips on getting around London, check out our detailed public transport guide to London .
We do not recommend driving in London unless you are planning to stay on the outskirts of the city as driving and finding parking in central busy locations can be a nightmare. Parking is also expensive in many areas and there are congestion fees for driving in the city center.
If you are driving to London, I’d park your car when you arrive in the city and then use public transport to get around the city.
If you need to book a taxi in London, we recommend using minicabit to compare prices and make a booking.
How to Save Money on Sightseeing in London
London can be an expensive destination for visitors and the costs of a trip here can quickly add up. There are a number of London discount passes you can purchase before your trip to help you save money (and time) at London’s most popular attractions and museums.
Our favorite London discount pass is the London Pass which allows free entry into over 80 of London’s top attractions, including the Tower of London , Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and many more.
The Pass also comes with a free hop-on, hop-off bus ticket, hop-on hop-off river boat, and additional discounts on food, shopping, theatre tickets, and tours. You can see a full list of attractions and benefits here .
We’ve used the London Pass on a number of visits and have written an in-depth London Pass review which you can read to help determine if the London Pass would help you save money or time on your trip.
Although London can be expensive, it also has a number of fantastic free attractions including beautiful green parks, historic sites, and world-class museums like the British Museum, National Gallery, and Victoria & Albert Museum. Also be sure to check for special events and festivals that may be happening during your visit.
Possible Day Trips from London
If you only have 3 days in London you certainly won’t need to leave the city for want of things to do. If this is your first visit, we actually would recommend spending the full 3 days in London as there is so much to see, do, eat, and take in! But we know that for many visitors, there is a must-see attraction outside of London that they want to see such as Stonehenge, Oxford, or the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio tour .
If there is something you really want to see in southern England and you only have the three days, then you can visit it as a day trip from London. For most places, you’ll have the option to see it as part of a guided tour, take public transit, arrange a private transfer, or rent a car and drive yourself.
We recommend taking public transit, joining a tour, or booking a private transfer to do a day tour from London. Unless you arrived by car or are planning to drive in the UK after your visit to London, we don’t really recommend having a car in central London as it can be a headache with the traffic, lack of parking, high overnight parking rates, and congestion charges.
Below are some popular London day trip options to consider:
- Stonehenge – This ancient and mysterious stone circle is one of the most popular stops on a day trip from London. Most commonly done as a bus day trip, but you can also do it via public transit (train plus shuttle), rent a car, or book a private transfer. Read about our Stonehenge day trip experience here , which was a version of this tour of Stonehenge, Bath, and the Cotswolds. A couple other suggestions for guided tours are this express half-day trip to Stonehenge or this full day trip which includes inner stone access at Stonehenge and a stop in Bath.
- WB Harry Potter Studio – Harry Potter fans will likely want to make time to visit the Warner Brothers Studio located outside the city in Leavesden where all of the Harry Potter films were filmed. The Harry Potter Studio Tour (fee) includes loads of original sets, clothing, props, interactive exhibits, and a giant gift shop. You can get here from London via public transit (train plus shuttle) or by booking a tour or transfer. Tickets must be booked in advance. You can also book a tour from central London that will take you directly to and from the studio so you don’t have to take the train and shuttle. If you want to take a walking tour of the Harry Potter London filming sites consider this guided tour .
- Oxford – Oxford is a compact and scenic historical city that is home to England’s oldest university. You can read our post about things to do in Oxford and how to plan your own Oxford day trip from London . It is easy to reach by train. If you are interested in a guided tour, you might consider this tour which visits Oxford plus the Cotswolds.
- Highclere Castle – Highclere Castle is the country house home of the Earl of Carnarvon, but it is better known as Downton Abbey from the hit British period TV series. The best way to get here is by car or by joining a tour. Here is a suggested guided tour option that includes a visit to Highclere Castle, Bampton (used as Downton village), and other Downton Abbey filming locations. Open seasonally so check opening dates before planning a visit.
- Stratford-upon-Avon – Stratford-upon-Avon is a picturesque Midlands market town that is best known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare and for its well-preserved Tudor buildings. Best ways to get here is by car, train, or guided tour. Here is a guided tour option that includes a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon and the Cotswolds. See our guide to things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon here .
Where to Stay in London for 3 Days
If you are planning to do a visit that is similar to our suggested 3 day London itinerary, we’d recommend staying in central London to avoid added travel time. We’d suggest staying somewhere in the region between Kensington in the west and Canary Wharf in the east.
London has every type of accommodation option that you can imagine, from inexpensive hostels to self-catering apartments to 5-star luxury hotels .
London is home to some really classic luxury hotels like The Ritz , The Dorchester , Brown’s , and The Savoy , but it also has a number of mid-range and budget friendly chains like Holiday Inn Express , Travelodge , Best Western , Premier Inn , and Ibis.
London is an expensive city so expect to pay a bit more than you might normally in less expensive destinations. But if you book in advance and compare prices, you should be able to find something that will fit most budgets.
To find the best rates on hotels in London, we recommend searching on Booking com or Hotels.com as in our experience these two sites tend to have the best prices and widest choice on both hotels and a range of apartments.
If you are looking for self-catering apartments or rooms, we recommend checking out Plum Guide . In our experience they offer some of the best options. See their listings for London here . There are also loads of other apartment booking sites you can check.
Here are a few suggestions across budgets (lowest to highest):
- The Walrus Bar and Hostel – A well reviewed centrally located hostel, only a 15 minute walk from the Palace of Westminster (Big Ben) and Parliament Square.
- SoHostel – Another well-reviewed hostel located just at the edge of Westminster, only a 15 minute walk from Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.
- Point A Hotel – This is a hotel within the well-priced Point A hotel range, and this one is well-reviewed and located in Westminster. A 17 minute walk to Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey. We’ve stayed here; rooms are tiny but clean and a great budget option.
- Premier Inn – This well-rated mid-range 3-star option is located hotel is located near the Borough Market and London Bridge.
- Hilton Tower Bridge – This well-rated hotel offers a good value for what it offers and is located within a short walk of Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and Borough Market.
- The Resident Victoria Hotel – A centrally located 4-star hotel offering excellent value for money located near Buckingham Palace. We’ve stayed here; the lower priced rooms are small but the hotel is very well-located.
- Lime Tree Hotel – A well reviewed boutique hotel, around nine minutes walk from London Victoria
- Brown’s – If you are looking for a classic 5-star London luxury hotel, you can’t go wrong with Brown’s which provides intimate boutique luxury. It is the oldest hotel in London and is located in Mayfair within a 12 minute walk from Buckingham Palace.
- The Savoy – Another classic 5-star luxury hotel, this one much larger, located in central London. Less than 10 minute walk to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.
For many more options, see our complete guide to where to stay in London , which also has tips on what to look for and the different neighbourhoods in the city.
Have More or Less than 3 Days in London?
If you have less than 3 days in London, we have also written a suggested guide to spending 1 day in London as well as a 2 day London itinerary . We also have a guide to seeing the best of the city and its royal sites in a one day London walking tour .
If you have more than 3 days, we also have a 6 day London itinerary that should give you plenty of ideas of how to spend up to 1 week in London.
If you’re in London for longer than 1 week and want some advice, feel free to leave us a comment and we’re always happy to provide some suggestions based on what you enjoy doing and seeing.
Further Information & London Resources
We have written a lot about London on both of our travel blogs, so you can check out our London articles on Finding the Universe and our London articles on this blog for more info and to see where we’ve been.
For additional planning resources, the city tourism website and Visit Great Britain websites also offer tons of helpful information for visitors. If your travels are taking you beyond London, you can check out Laurence’s suggested 2-week UK itinerary to get you started.
If you are looking for a London guidebook, we recommend either the latest Rick Steves guidebook or Lonely Planet guidebooks .
Most of our suggested itinerary has you walking and using the Tube, so we recommend picking up a decent walking map for London. We really like the London laminated Streetwise map (it also includes a central Underground Tube map), but you can also probably find a free paper map at your hotel or at a visitor center.
If you are looking for packing tips for your trip, check out our suggested London packing list .
3 Day London Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days in London
Now, we’ll share our suggested 3-day London itinerary. Our itinerary is geared to the first-time visitor to London who has 3 days in London (or more), and is interested in visiting a number of historic and cultural attractions as well as some green spaces and scenic viewpoints.
As with all of our suggested itineraries, we recommend that you use this as a guide for your trip and tailor it to suit your individual interests, needs, and speed of travel. If you have any questions as you are planning your trip to London, please feel free to leave us a comment in the Comments section at the end of this post.
Be sure to check on the opening dates and hours for any must-see attractions before you set out as many attractions close for one day per week, or may be closed due to renovation or a special event.
For all attractions with an entrance fee, we’ve noted there is an entry fee by writing “(fee)” next to them. Since many visitors use the London Pass , the attractions that are included on the London Pass are starred (*) denoting that passholders receive free entry so these attractions have “(fee*)” next to them. We do our best to keep this information updated, but things change so you may want to double-check fees and London Pass inclusions before your trip.
The map below shows the suggested walking routes for each of the three days in London with all major London itinerary locations noted. Click here or double click on the map below for a closer look and to see exact locations in Google maps:
London Itinerary Day 1 – Explore Westminster
We recommend starting your trip to London in Westminster as it is the geographical, cultural, and political center of the city. The City of Westminster is actually its own city within London! Here you’ll find some of London’s most iconic buildings, including Buckingham Palace, Palace of Westminster, and Westminster Abbey.
Many people enjoy taking a sightseeing bus or walking tour to get a good overview of a city before heading off to explore on their own. If this is you, I’d recommend doing it on your first day in London to get a good orientation.
- If you like hop on hop off buses, the City Sightseeing bus covers many of London’s highlights. A free sightseeing bus is included for those with a London Pass.
- If you enjoy walking tours we can recommend Take Walks which offers several tours in London as well as many other locations in Europe. We have used them several times and all their tours are well-rated.
- If you are looking for a full day walking tour that will cover most of the highlights of Westminster, we recommend this one or this one . Both cover many of the highlights including a visit to Tower of London , a Thames river cruise, and seeing the Changing of the Guard. You can read a full description of the full day London walking tour I did on my very first visit to London to get an idea of what these are like.
- If you are looking for a half day tour, you might consider this 4 hour tour .
- If you are a Harry Potter fan, consider a Harry Potter guided walking tour like this one
- If you are looking for a private walking tour of London or a customized tour, we recommend checking out the London tours offered by Context Travel.
Our suggested Day 1 London itinerary starts and stops near Parliament Square, but you can begin it at any point along the route. Today’s route is walkable but you can also get around via public transit, taxi, or a sightseeing bus as well.
Parliament Square & Houses of Parliament
We’re going to start off our itinerary at Parliament Square which is a well known public square in Westminster that is easy to get to via public transport and is a stop on all the main sightseeing buses as well. Around the square you’ll also find the statues of a number of famous people, including Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Peel, and Gandhi.
This popular square is surrounded by famous buildings, including Westminster Abbey, St. Margaret’s Church, the UK Supreme Court, and the Palace of Westminster. The Palace of Westminster, better known as the Houses of Parliament, is probably best known for its famous Big Ben bell which sits within the iconic golden Elizabeth Tower.
The large government building is named after the former medieval palace of the same name. A few sections of the medieval palace of Westminster still remain, including the 14th century Jewel Tower (fee*) which you can visit.
Although perhaps not a priority stop with only 3 days in London, the public can tour the Houses of Parliament (fee) on certain dates. Tours include visits to the Westminster Hall, St. Stephens Hall, Commons Chamber, and the Lords Chamber. UK residents can contact their local MP or a Member of the House of Lords to arrange a free tour. Otherwise, you can book a tour ticket online for a self-guided audio tour or guided tour. Tours must be booked in advance.
Westminster Abbey (fee*) is one of the most famous and impressive churches in England. It dates back to 1245 and was mostly built in the Gothic style. Inside the church are tombs and memorials to a number of the most famous British people from the past 1,000 years, including royalty, scientists, aristocrats, and artists. It has also been used for all English and British coronations since William the Conqueror in 1066 as well as being the site of numerous royal weddings, including the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
If you plan to visit Westminster Abbey be sure to leave extra time to get in and see everything as it is a popular place and it takes a while to explore. An audioguide is included and will help you make the most of your self-guided visit. You can skip the line and get fast track entry by booking your ticket online in advance here .
In summer 2018, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries (fee) via the new Weston Tower of Westminster Abbey Tower was opened. The galleries house exhibits about the history of the abbey as well as a number of priceless artifacts. Admission to the Galleries is currently an extra £5.00 and you will receive a timed ticket since space is limited.
Guided tours of the main sections of the Abbey are also possible for a small extra fee (currently £5/person), check at arrival or on the Abbey website for tour times.
Churchill War Rooms
The Churchill War Rooms (fee) is made up of two connected museums: the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum. The Cabinet War Rooms allows visitors to explore the huge underground secret bunker where the majority of the World War 2 effort was directed from 1939 to 1945. An audioguide and interpretive exhibits help visitors understand the maze of underground rooms and what happened here.
The Churchill Museum is a large room dedicated to the life of Winston Churchill. It provides information on his life from his early years to his death in 1965, with a focus on his long political career. This is the most comprehensive museum I’ve ever visited on Churchill and our favorite site of the many Winston Churchill sites in London . Book your tickets online in advance here .
For those with an interest in the London Blitz, we can also recommend the London Churchill War Room tour (save 10% off any Context tour using this link) by Context Travel which includes a guided visit to the Churchill War Rooms as well as a guided tour of parts of London related to the Blitz.
Those interested in military and war related history, should check out this list of London war museums and memorials .
St. James’s Park
We now recommend walking through St. James’ Park in the direction of Buckingham Palace for a bit of greenery. The 50-acre park is one of the city’s 8 Royal Parks and is known for its famous pelican residents. There is a café located within the park if you need a tea or coffee break or a light lunch.
Near the park is the The Guards Museum (fee*) which tells the history of the British Army Guards regiments as well as St. James’s Palace , a 16th century palace that was once the main residence of the British monarch. Today the palace is still used as a residence for members of the British royal family (although not the monarch) and as a meeting place. The palace is not open to visitors.
Buckingham Palace is the most famous palace in the UK and serves as the primary London residence for the reigning sovereign of the United Kingdom. The royal palace dates back to 1703 and was originally built as a townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham, but was later acquired by King George III. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to officially reside in the palace.
If you want to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony, you’ll need to skip either the morning visit to Westminster Abbey or the Churchill War Rooms (you can visit one later in the afternoon instead) to get to Buckingham Palace before 11am. The Changing of the Queen’s Guard ceremony takes place on most days at the forecourt of Buckingham Palace around 11am, and lasts about 45 minutes. If you want to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony, check the schedule online in advance (may be cancelled last minute due to weather or security issues) and show up early to get a good viewing spot.
If you want a spot to watch part of the Changing of the Guard with fewer people, you might consider watching from in front of Friary Court in front of St. James Palace (the Old Guard normally lines up and starts here). Another alternative is to watch the Changing of the The Queen’s Lifeguard (horse guards) at the Horse Guards Parade .
Most visitors are happy to just get a look at the palace and perhaps see the Changing of the Guard, but you can also tour the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace (fee) in the summer (generally August and September only). You need to book tickets in advance if you want to tour the palace, you can get tickets here for a tour and self-guided tours include audioguides.
Even if you can’t visit the State Rooms of Buckingham Place, there are places on the palace grounds that are open to the public year round. At the Royal Mews (fee) you can see a large number of royal carriages and coaches, including the Diamond Jubilee State Coach. At the Queen’s Gallery (fee*) you’ll find excellent art exhibitions from the royal collection which change regularly throughout the year.
We now recommend heading to Piccadilly Circus en route to Trafalgar Square. Piccadilly Circus doesn’t have any clowns, but it is a famous circular road junction well-known for its neon signs and advertising. You’ll find the well-known Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain here.
From here, it is a short walk to many of London’s West End theaters (head up Shaftesbury Avenue) or to London’s West End shopping area (follow Regent Street).
Trafalgar Square & the National Gallery
Trafalgar Square is one of the most popular public squares in London and is home to Nelson’s Column (a monument to Admiral Horatio Nelson) and London’s famous stone lion statues. The square also features performing street artists and contemporary art (a changing featured piece of art occupies the square’s Fourth Plinth ).
Here you’ll also find two of London top art museums, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery . We’ve spent a lot of time in both over the years and they include world-class art from artists such as Picasso, Turner, Titian, and Monet. If you love art, I’d plan to spend some time at one or both of these museums. Entry is free (special exhibitions may cost extra) at both museums although donations are greatly appreciated.
If you are traveling with kids, they may enjoy creating a brass rubbing they can take home with them at the nearby London Brass Rubbing Centre (fee) located underground within St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Note that this isn’t always available, check the website for when you can do it.
Now we recommend walking down Whitehall, which is the street running south from Trafalgar Square towards Parliament Square. Whitehall is so named for the Palace of Whitehall, a large medieval royal palace complex that stood here until it was destroyed by fire in 1698. It was the largest palace in the world at one time with over 1,500 rooms!
A small well-preserved section of the Whitehall palace complex, the Banqueting Hall (fee), can still be visited today. The Banqueting House was designed by Inigo Jones and features a beautiful ceiling painted by Peter Paul Reubens.
Today Whitehall is still the center of the UK Government and you’ll pass a number of government buildings along your walk. You’ll also pass the The Household Calvary Museum (fee*), a small museum dedicated to the history of the Household Cavalry which is located in the 18th century stables of the Horse Guards. In the middle of the street, you’ll also see The Cenotaph , the UK’s national war memorial.
You’ll also pass by the entrance to Downing Street which is where the Prime Minister (at 10 Downing Street) and other UK government ministers reside. The street is gated and guarded, but you can peek through and should be able to get a glimpse 10 Downing Street, which is the headquarters of the UK government and official residence of the UK Prime Minister.
As you continue your walk, you’ll end back in Parliament Square where we started our day.
Now we recommend walking across Parliament Square and onto Westminster Bridge. This bridge dates back to 1862 but there has been a bridge here since 1750. From the bridge, you’ll have a fantastic view back of the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames. You can then take a walk along the Thames or head off to dinner.
If you still have time and stamina you might want to continue on across Westminster Bridge to where you’ll find several attractions located along the Thames, including the London Dungeon and the London Eye .
The London Dungeon (fee) is a popular interactive walkthrough attraction that uses costumed actors, special effects, and rides to share some of London’s darker and more gory history and provide some laughs and screams along the way.
The educational and historical part of the experience here is a bit questionable, but if you enjoy amusement parks and haunted houses, you’ll probably enjoy this. Not recommended for young children or those with a nervous disposition.
Next door to the London Dungeon are two family-oriented attractions, the Sea Life London Aquarium (fee) and DreamWorks Tours: Shrek’s Adventure (fee).
If you are wanting to visit these attractions, none of them are currently covered by the recommended London Pass.
The London Eye (fee) is Europe’s tallest observation wheel and a great place to get some nice views over London and the Thames. Visitors stand in large enclosed glass pods on this giant ferris wheel like attraction and it spins very slowly to give visitors expansive views. You can also add champagne to the experience or even get a private pod.
The London Eye is open late (depending on the time of year) making it a great last stop or even after dinner visit. Around sunset is a nice time to do this ride. Great in good weather, I’d skip if the weather is too bad as it will spoil the views.
You can save money (and time) by purchasing your tickets in advance. Online prices are usually much lower than if you buy at the ticket desk.
You can buy tickets for the London Eye from the official site here . We also have a complete guide to visiting the London Eye here .
London Itinerary Day 2 – City of London & Southwark
Today we recommend exploring the City of London. The City of London is another “city within a city” like Westminster. It is home to much of the city’s financial and banking services, and is also the oldest part of the city. This area was named “Londinium” by the Romans and you’ll find an interesting mix of the city’s oldest landmarks and most modern buildings here.
Across the River Thames from the City of London is the London Borough of Southwark. A number of top London attractions and landmarks can be found here including HMS Belfast, the Tate Modern, The Shard, Southwark Cathedral, the Imperial War Museum, and Borough Market.
You can get around and do this itinerary on foot, but you may want to take public transit to get from the Sky Garden to St. Paul’s Cathedral to save time. If you are planning to do a Thames river cruise, you may want to do it today after your visit to the Tower of London.
Tower of London
The Tower of London (fee*) was first built by William the Conqueror in 1078 as a royal castle and defense tower. It was then expanded over the centuries and served many purposes, including a fortress, prison, armory, and Royal Mint. Today is it a UNESCO world heritage site and it is famous for serving as a prison and execution site of famous people like Queen Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey, and for housing the Crown Jewels.
The Tower of London is definitely one of the most popular (and one of our favorite) attractions in London, so we recommend being there near opening time if you can. Once inside, we recommend visiting the Crown Jewels first as this part can get very crowded.
There is a lot of to see here but some of the highlights are the Crown Jewels, the White Tower, the Tower Green, and the tours given by the Beefeaters ( Yeoman Warders ). For more information, see our complete guide to visiting the Tower of London .
The Tower of London is included on the London Pass, or you can book tickets in advance here .
If you enjoy nice views, we recommend a stop at Sky Garden, London’s highest public garden. The terraced garden area is laid out over three storeys (level 35 to 37) and there is an observation deck, bar, and open air terrace.
Although the Sky Garden is technically a public garden and can be visited for free, we recommend booking a space in advance as they are often fully booked and can’t always accommodate walk-ins. Tickets are generally released each week and can be booked up to 2 weeks in advance. If the free slots are already booked out and you still want to visit and enjoy the views, you can generally still get in by making a restaurant reservation and eating at one of the several restaurants located here.
Nearby, we recommend stopping by to see The Monument , a 202 foot Doric column monument designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke to commemorate the Great Fire of 1666 . The column stands approximately at the spot the fire started. Visitors can actually go inside (fee*) and climb the over 300 stairs to the viewing platform on top.
You can then walk to St. Paul’s (about 15 minutes) or take the Underground from The Monument stop to the St. Paul’s Cathedral stop.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral (fee*) dates back to 1697 after the previous one was badly destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was rebuilt by Christopher Wren in the English Baroque style, but a church dedicated to St. Paul has been on this site since the 7th century!
The dome of the cathedral is a recognizable feature of the London skyline and the church has long been seen as a symbol of the spirit of the British people, especially during World War II. The church is an active place of worship with regular Anglican services, and has been the site of a number of notable events including the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, the state funeral of Winston Churchill, and Jubilee services for Queen Elizabeth II.
The church can be visited and tour and admission prices include an audioguide for a self-guided visited. Guided tours are often given throughout the day by church staff.
Visitors have the option to visit the main parts of the cathedral, the dome, and the crypt. There is often a line to visit the dome as only a certain number of visitors can climb the steps at a time, so allow extra time if you want to climb the dome to visit the Whispering Gallery and/or the Stone and Golden Galleries.
If you don’t have the London Pass (free entry included), we recommend booking your ticket online in advance to save money and to skip the ticket line.
Alternative: An alternative (or additional) attraction in the area that you may want to visit is the Museum of London . A great free museum that we’d highly recommend to anyone interested in the history of the city (note, closed until 2026).
Now we recommend heading across the Millennium Bridge, a steel pedestrian suspension bridge, to the other side of the Thames to see Shakespeare’s Globe (fee*).
This is of course not the original Globe Theatre (built in 1599) used by William Shakespeare, but it is as faithful of a modern construction as could be produced of the open-air theatre where Shakespeare staged many of his famous plays. The Globe is located near where the original would have stood. The original Globe Theatre stood about 200 meters away and you can go see the site and it is marked by a plaque.
The reconstruction of The Globe was the dream project of American actor/director Sam Wanamaker. If you want to see the inside of the theatre, you can visit the museum exhibition, learn how it was constructed, and do a guided tour of the open-air Globe where you get to see the stage and seating areas.
You can also enjoy open-air performances here in the summer or at the indoor candle-lit Jacobean style Sam Wanamaker Playhouse year-round. A great venue to see a Shakespeare play in London. Just be sure to book your performance ticket in advance.
Alternatives: Other nearby attractions include the Tate Modern (free, charges for exhibitions*), HMS Belfast (fee*), Southwark Cathedral (free, donations welcome), and The Old Operating Theatre Museum (fee*).
Borough Market is the best known and one of the oldest markets in the UK. It is believed that a market has been in this area since around 1014!
Today the market is filled with fresh produce, fresh meats and fish, baked goods, cheeses, flowers, wines, spices, and other food stuff. There are also cafes, demonstration kitchens, and restaurants that are part of the market as well as many food stalls selling ready-to-eat foods, including sandwiches and all kinds of street foods from Ethiopian wraps to Galloway beef stew to vegetarian pastries. This is a great place for a snack or meal!
If you are really interested in food, we’d recommend considering cutting out some of the other stops in the itinerary today and doing a food tour here, such as this one . A food tour will allow you to understand the history of Borough Market and allow you to sample and taste a wide selection of local products and dishes.
The market is normally open from 10am to 5pm and is closed on most Sundays during the year. Check the hours ahead of time when planning your day.
London Bridge & Tower Bridge
From this area you can admire London’s two most famous bridges, London Bridge and Tower Bridge. Both are active road bridges over the River Thames that can be crossed by vehicles and pedestrians.
Given time, you probably only have time to admire them today, but both do have associated attractions if you want to visit them. You’ll also have a good view of HMS Belfast (fee) moored in the Thames, a WW2 era Royal Navy light cruiser that is now a popular tourist attraction.
London Bridge has existed in some form since Roman times, although the current one was built in the 1970’s. Next to London Bridge is the The London Bridge Experience (fee*) which tells the darker history of the London Bridge over time through the use of interactive exhibits and theater and is geared towards families and young adults that don’t mind a bit of a scare.
Tower Bridge is the more iconic bridge, although often mistakenly referred to as London Bridge. It is a Victorian bascule and suspension bridge built between 1886 and 1894, and is very photogenic with its iconic bridge towers.
If you want to learn more about the Tower Bridge (and have extra time) you can visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition (fee*) which covers the history of the bridge and allows access to the towers and walkways, including a glass walkway you can walk across that extends 138 feet above the Thames!
The Shard is a modern pyramidal shaped skyscraper that is home to several restaurants, a hotel, offices, shops, and a viewing gallery. It was completed in 2012 and is currently the tallest building in Western Europe at 1,017 feet (309 meters) with 87 floors.
The viewing gallery, called The View from the Shard (fee), is the highest public viewing gallery in London located on floors 68, 69, and 72. The building offers spectacular 360 degree views over central London and you can see just about all of the city’s major landmarks. On a clear day they say you can see up to 40 miles away, and it definitely offers the most expansive views over London we’ve every seen! Good views both during the day and the evening.
Now, The View at the Shard is fairly pricey (currently £32/person) for what it offers. So I’d carefully consider your visit here especially if you have already visited the London Eye and/or Sky Garden which both also offer good city views. If you do want to visit book your tickets online in advance for the best prices.
Another way to enjoy the view is to head to the GONG Bar on Floor 21, and while not as high as the viewing platform, still offers sweeping views of the city for the price of a cocktail. This is a great spot to enjoy a before or after dinner drink. You can book ahead but they also take walk-ins at the bar. The Shard also has several other restaurants and bars, reservations recommended or required for meals.
West End Show
The West End is one of the most world-renown places in the world, along with New York City’s Broadway, for professional theatre. Over 30 theaters can be found in the West End offering a wide variety of musicals and plays. Here is a good list of the theaters which also denotes the current main production being shown at each.
If you are wanting to go to a West End theater performance, you can book tickets in advance online before your trip (recommended if there is a specific performance you want to see) or try to find a deal once you are in London if you are flexible in what you see. Here are some tips for buying theatre tickets, and London Pass holders have access to theater ticket discounts on several West End shows.
But if theater and musicals are not your thing, there are a number of nighttime performances in London every day, from rock concerts to opera to films to comedy shows. For operas, symphonies, and classical music, you can find a list of upcoming performances here .
London also has a great nightlife scene with hundreds of bars, pubs, discos, and clubs. No matter what your taste, you are sure to find something of interest!
London Itinerary Day 3 – Kensington & Windsor Castle
So now you’ve seen some of the BIG highlights in London like Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the National Gallery. For your last day we’d suggest exploring a neighborhood like Kensington in the morning and then head to Windsor Castle in the afternoon.
Alternative London Neighborhood Options. We are going to recommend Kensington as the neighborhood to explore today, as we feel it offers something for every type of traveler and also has a large number of attractions, including several free museums. But if you are wondering about other neighborhood options we can also recommend Greenwich or Camden.
Each of these 3 neighborhoods are interesting and have a number of attractions and are worth a day of exploring. If you’d prefer to explore Greenwich or Camden, you can find a day itinerary for both of these neighborhoods as part of our suggested 6 day itinerary .
Or you can instead use this day to visit sites of interest to you that didn’t make it into our 3 day itinerary, such as the British Museum (free), Kew Gardens (fee*), the London Zoo (fee*) or a tour of the FC Chelsea stadium (fee*). Indulge in a particular passion or just enjoy a leisurely day of shopping or pub hopping.
Or head out of London for a day trip (see “Possible Day Trips from London” section at the beginning of the post for ideas) to visit popular sites in southern England such as Stonehenge or Oxford. It’s you last day, so spend it however you like!
You can get around Kensington today by foot, but you will need to take a train to reach Windsor Castle.
Kensington Palace (fee*) is a grand 17th century home that was first used as a royal residence by King William II and Queen Mary II. It continued to be used as a royal residence by a British monarch through the reign of King George II. Since then it been used as the residence and workplace of “minor royalty”, and is still an active working royal palace.
One of the people most associated with the palace is Queen Victoria although she never lived here as queen. Victoria was born at Kensington Palace and it was here that she learned that she was queen. Fittingly, outside of Kensington Palace is a large marble statue of Queen Victoria, designed by her daughter Princess Louise, that depicts her at the age of 18 in her coronation robes.
In more recent times, it has been the home and workplace of Princess Margaret, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince William, and Prince Henry. It is still the official London residence of Prince William and Prince Henry and their wives, Princess Eugenie, and several other members of the Royal Family.
Despite it being a working royal palace, visitors are able to visit many of the rooms in the palace year round. There is a lot to see here and you can easily spent a few hours wandering around the warren of rooms. I would recommend taking a look at the different self-guided routes that the palace staff recommend and these are color coded and mapped out. The routes are based on different themes (e.g., Queen Victoria, King’s Apartments, Queen Victoria, royal fashion) so you can be sure to see the parts of most interest.
Note, the palace currently has a very popular Princess Diana fashion exhibition (entry is included with the palace ticket but expect additional lines for this exhibition). This has led to increased visitor numbers.
If you don’t have a London Pass I would recommend purchasing your ticket in advance here and if you do have a London Pass, I’d recommend arriving near opening time. I’d also recommend visiting on a weekday rather than a weekend if you can.
There is a café here serving meals and refreshments, and also a garden worth exploring if you have time and the weather is good.
After visiting the palace, we recommend spending some time exploring the surrounding Kensington Gardens. The gardens are another one of London’s royal parks and covers 265 acres. It’s a beautiful green space and we recommend a little wander if the weather is nice.
Some of the highlights of the park are the two Serpentine Galleries (free contemporary art galleries), an ornamental water garden, the Albert Memorial, the Elphin Oak (carved hollow oak tree), and the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. Food and drinks are also available at cafés in the park year round.
Probably the most striking memorial in the park is the Albert Memorial, a giant ornate memorial to Prince Albert who died of typhoid in 1861, leaving his wife Queen Victoria grief stricken. From the memorial, you’ll have a good view of the Royal Albert Hall.
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall (fee*) is the top performance venue in London and the hall hosts everything from classical concerts to rock bands to sporting events. The world-class concert hall was the idea of Prince Albert and was first opened in 1871. Everyone from the Beatles to Winston Churchill to Nine Inch Nails have made appearances or performed here, and each year it hosts the BBC Proms .
If you are heading off to Windsor Castle this afternoon, you may not have time go inside and can just admire it from the outside. But if you do have time, visitors can join a guided tour of the hall. Guided tours of the Royal Albert Hall help you understand the history of the concert hall and take you to see the auditorium, gallery, and the private suites of the Royal Family.
If you want to do a guided tour, we recommend booking these online in advance, as they are very popular and do sell out.
If you are looking for an evening entertainment option during your time in London, there is almost always something happening at the Royal Albert Hall. You can book a ticket online or stop by the Ticket Office.
Now we recommend deciding between a visit to Windsor Castle or spending the rest of the afternoon exploring more of Kensington.
Afternoon Option #1: Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle (fee*) is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and still an active royal residence. It was originally built in the 11th century as a defensive motte-and-bailey castle by William the Conquerer and has been a royal residence since the reign of King Henry I. Today the castle is a favorite weekend home to Queen Elizabeth II, a place where state visits are often hosted, and a popular tourist attraction.
During most of the year, parts of Windsor Castle are open to the public. This includes the castle’s magnificent State Rooms which were mostly designed and built in the 19th century. Other highlights include the Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the 15th-century St. George’s Chapel, and the Changing of the Guards ceremony (a much smaller version of the ceremony that takes place in front of Buckingham Palace).
Most visits are self-guided and there is a good audioguide included with admission. You can also join offered guided tours at the castle, I’d check the website in advance for tour times. Note that the castle can get very busy, especially in the summer months.
If you want to visit Windsor Castle, the afternoon is currently the recommended time as the castle gets very crowded in the morning. We’d recommend getting on a train to Windsor at least 3 hours before closing time (it varies by season so check the website) to ensure you have enough time to visit. We’d recommend allowing 1 hour to travel to the castle and at least 2 hours for the visit.
To get here you need to take a train out of London (about 1 hour ride each way). You cannot use your Oyster Card to travel to Windsor as it is outside London, so you will need to buy a rail ticket at the station. Paddington Station is a 25 minutes walk (or slightly shorter Tube ride) from either Kensington Palace or Royal Albert Hall.
Afternoon Option #2: Afternoon Tea, V&A Museum, Shopping, & Hyde Park
If you decide to continue to explore Kensington, we recommend considering an afternoon tea break, visiting the V&A Museum (or one of the other free museums in Kensington), doing some shopping, and taking a stroll through Hyde Park. Check our guide for more things to do in Kensington .
Afternoon Tea in Kensington
The tradition of afternoon tea originated in the aristocratic homes of England in the 19th century, and there is no better place to have afternoon tea than in London. You’ll be spoiled for choice in London as there are thousands of places that serve tea from casual cafés where you can get a cuppa and a scone to luxury hotels offering a 3-tiered silver tray fancy afternoon tea experience.
If you are just looking for a casual tea, you’ll be able to find that at many cafés in this area. One suggestion is to break for tea within one of the cafés at the Victoria & Albert Museum , which include both opulent Victorian era rooms as well as casual outdoor courtyard spaces. Once a week, The Victoria & Albert Museum also serves a formal Victorian afternoon tea that recreates the afternoon tea experience of Queen Victoria, and for this one you do need to book in advance.
But if you want a more luxurious experience, you’ll want to make a reservation in advance. Luxury spots to enjoy afternoon tea in the Kensington area include The Berkeley and The Lanesborough . Also a few to consider in nearby Mayfair (west of Hyde Park) are The Ritz , The Dorchester , and Claridge’s .
We have oddly had a lot more afternoon teas in Paris (see our Paris afternoon tea guide ) than London so far. But we can suggest in this area that if you are looking for something a bit different, you might want to check out the fashion-inspired Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea at The Berkeley. This fun and colorful tea is designed for those who love fashion and the tea menu changes each season along with the fashions on the catwalk.
Victoria & Albert Museum
The Victoria & Albert Museum , often referred to as the V&A, is one of the world’s leading museums of art and design. The museum collection is extensive and items range from Chinese embroidery to John Constable paintings to Baroque furniture to Alexander McQueen gowns. It’s a must visit for anyone interested in art or design.
The museum is also known for hosting a lot of really interesting exhibitions which often attract a large number of visitors. The museum is also known for its current café and restaurant located within the beautiful Morris, Gamble and Poynter Rooms, which is the oldest museum café in the world.
Entry to see the permanent collection at the V&A is free. Some temporary exhibitions are also free but there is generally a fee to enter the major ones. If you have a London Pass, you get free entry into one of the paid exhibitions.
Alternatives: Kensington is home to several other well-known museums, including the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum . Both are free (donations appreciated) and both are good alternatives if you aren’t excited by the V&A. The Science Museum in particular is a great family-friendly option.
Now if you are in the mood for some shopping or just some window shopping, Kensington has some excellent shopping areas. The most concentrated areas are along King’s Road, Kensington High Street, and Sloane Street. You can find everything from more budget friendly international brands like Zara and H&M to high-end luxury department stores like Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
Harrod’s is one of the most famous luxury department stores in the world. It was founded by Charles Harrod in 1835 and grew to be the best known British department store in the world, being patronized by celebrities, politicians, royalty, and the British elite. Although in recent years it has been bought by the state of Qatar and has suffered from some bad press, it is still a luxury store worth checking out for those who enjoy shopping. Other department stores in this area are Harvey Nichols and the more traditional Peter Jones.
If you are more into antiques, you’ll want to head to Church Street where you’ll find a number of antique stores like Andrew Nebbett Antiques and Designs, Alfie’s Antique Market, The FM Gallery, and Church Street Antiques.
Hyde Park is yet another of London’s great Royal Parks, covering 350 acres. It used to also encompass Kensington Gardens, but the two are now divided by the Serpentine Lake and Carriage Drive. The park offers lots of tress, ornamental flower gardens, a large lake, walking and cycling paths, sport facilities, and a playground.
Attractions with the park include The Serpentine Bridge, Holocaust Memorial, the Diana Memorial Fountain, Speaker’s Corner, and several war memorials. Located at the northwestern and southwestern corners of the park are the Wellington Arch and Marble Arch.
Each Sunday at Speakers’ Corner , located on the northeast edge of Hyde Park (near intersection of Marble Arch and Oxford Street), you can hear people give speeches and hold debates about a variety of topics in the name of free speech. The tradition dates back to the mid-1800’s and anyone can participate.
The park is a great place to get active as you can boat, cycle, play tennis, skate, ride horses, or even swim within the park. In the summer boating is popular and you can rent a rowing or pedal boat to enjoy the Serpentine Lake or you can take a ride on the solar-powered Solarshuttle. There are also a few places to grab coffee or have a meal, including lakeside dining.
Enjoy your final evening!
It is your last night in London so plan something you’ll enjoy and remember. This could be a nice dinner out, a pub crawl, attending a late night museum opening, a sunset River Thames cruise, a creepy Jack the Ripper tour , seeing an event at the Royal Albert Hall, a sporting event, a classical music performance , or just relaxing after 3 busy days of sightseeing!
Save Money on your 3 Days in London with the London Pass
We wanted to give you an example of the cost savings over 3 days in London if you were using a London Pass. The following calculations are based on the above itinerary although it doesn’t include every single attraction we suggested but includes what we believe is a realistic number for someone planning to actively sightsee based on the above itinerary.
Here is the cost savings for 3 days in London for 2 people using the London Pass.
So in the above example, visitors would have a cost savings of £68.30 per person for a total cost savings of £136.60 for 2 people. This is definitely a considerable savings on entry fees for three days of sightseeing!
Even if you change some of the attractions or take away a couple of them, you would still save money with a London Pass if doing a similar amount of sightseeing. In general, you need to visit an average of 2 to 3 higher priced attractions per day to save money with a 3 day London Pass.
We highly recommend that all visitors check out the London Pass, especially if it is your first visit to London. The pass covers free entry to over 90 attractions and museums, plus a number of discounts on tours, restaurants, souvenirs, and theater tickets. Not only will it save many visitors money, it can also save time as it provides fast track entry into certain busy sites.
You can check the latest prices and purchase the London Pass at the official website for the pass here . We also recommend checking prices on and GetYourGuide here as sometimes one will be better value than the other.
However the London Pass is not a good fit for all travelers, and if you are not sure if it is a good fit or not, read our full review of the London Pass to help you decide if it is worth it. Our review breaks down the features, ways to purchase, the transport option, how to calculate your cost savings, and more.
There you have our suggested London itinerary on how to spend 3 days in London!
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How many of these attractions would be on your London itinerary? If you’ve visited London, what were you favorite spots in London? If you have any questions about the itinerary or visiting London, just ask them in the comments below and as always we are happy to help!
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Alan Post author
August 22, 2023 at 3:22 am
just wanted to say a big thank you for all the work you put into this itinerary, we used it to plan our own 3 days in London, got the pass, had a wonderful time! your advice made our time much easier and less stressful!
Jessica & Laurence Norah Post author
August 23, 2023 at 12:47 pm
Thanks for taking the time to comment and glad you found our 3 day London itinerary helpful. Very happy to hear that you had such a wonderful trip to London!
Hapy travels, Jessica & Laurence
Mary Jo Lauscher Post author
July 31, 2023 at 1:15 pm
Hi there, I found your three day itinerary very helpful.
We are going to London at the end of September. My question is about getting advance tickets for any of the sites. If we plan on using the London Pass, how do I order advance tickets, make a reservation, or skip the line ticket, etc? I have not been able to find any information on that. Also with the London Pass can we use the Hop on hop off both days of the 2 day pass? Thanks for all your information, it was very helpful!
August 2, 2023 at 8:04 am
Hi Mary Jo,
Glad you are finding our 3 day London itinerary helpful in planning your upcoming trip. So if you decide to go with the London Pass, you do not need to make advanced reservations for most attractions. But you do need to book for most walking tours, bus tours, and other types of guided activities. You can find all the details for the attractions and tours that need to be reserved and how to do that on this page .
The hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus ticket included with the London Pass is only valid for 1 day (no matter the length of your pass). This is the same with the Thames boat cruise ticket.
For skip the line access, you can skip the ticket line for most attractions with the pass but you can’t skip the security lines. Your London Pass essentially acts as your ticket for most attractions. I don’t think since COVID that there have been many attractions that have a specific line for pass holders, but generally you get in the same line as those who have prebooked tickets.
For popular attractions not included on the London Pass, such as the London Eye , Churchill War Rooms, UK Parliament tours, Madame Tussauds , etc. then it is best to buy tickets in advance for these. I would check on any must-see attraction if reservations are recommended or required. But if you only have 2 days, I suspect that the London Pass will cover your admission fees for most attractions that you plan to visit.
For any attractions or tours that you want to do in London that recommend or require reservations (with or without the London Pass), I would start booking those soon if you have your dates set for next month.
Hope that helps and let me know if you have any questions as you plan your trip!
Katie Post author
July 6, 2023 at 11:32 pm
Hello! Your itinerary is awesome!! I was wondering if you could help me with mine for four days in London in November. Is it doable or too packed? What should I take out or add? Should I buy an Oyster card? What should we actually go in and see? We are most likely staying at the Hoxton Holborn, AMANO hotel, or Wilde Aparthotel. Any dinner recommendations or cocktail/ house music places? 🙂
Day 1: Friday On and off bus tour Buckingham Palace Churchill War room Big Ben Westminster Abbey Dinner dishoom Shoreditch neighborhood for dinner/drinks
Day 2: Saturday St Paul’s Cathedral Borough Market Tower bridge South bank river walk Tower of London Leadenhall Market Soccer game
Day 3 Sunday Walking Notting Hill Kensington Palace Hyde Park Bond Street Regent street/Park Camden Market Abbey Road Hampstead Heath
Bermondsey neighborhood to eat?
Day 4 National Gallery Seven dials market Tennis museum?
July 9, 2023 at 7:05 am
So Day 1, I think all that is doable. Doing HOHO bus, visiting the Churchill War Rooms and Westminster Abbey. Seeing Buckingham Palace and the Parliament/Big Ben from outside. Also lots of other things you can easily see in that area such as St. James Park, Parliament Square, Westminster Bridge, London Eye and National COVID memorial. Dishoom is a great restaurant to try for atypical Indian food, we love it and just be sure to make a reservation as they are often fully booked. Although I’d also recommend trying a typical British curry place at some point too if you want the typical British Indian experience. The closest Dishoom to you (if stay in Holborn area) is the location in Covent Garden as its within walking distance. But if you are wanting to go to Shoreditch that night, then there is a location there as well, just note you’ll be looking at a 30 minute Tube/bus ride each way. Shoreditch might make more sense on the day you plan to visit Tower of London and be in the City of London.
Day 2 – I’d probably start with the Tower of London in the morning as it is normally worse with crowds than St. Pauls Cathedral. So I’d reverse the order and go from the Tower of London then to Tower Bridge and Borough Market before heading over to St. Paul’s. You can have lunch at or near Borough Market. Leadenhall Market is nice but limited options there compared to Borough Market. I think it would be hard to fit in a soccer game today if you want to visit all those places unless there is an evening football game on that day, might be better to try to do on Day 4?
Day 3 – If Kensington Palace is the only place you really want to visit the inside of, I think this is doable. Just note if walking it is about a 1 hour or so walk from Kensington Gardens to Hampstead Heath (so may want to take public transit as well). So if wandering on a more relaxed day today except for the palace, I’d just priortize your day for what you really want to see most and if you don’t make it to everything, you won’t be disappointed. The other thing to note is that Bermondsey is very far from any of the places you are planning to visit this day.
Day 4 – This might be a good day to also include the British Museum, especially if staying nearby. Its free, donation only and you can book time online in advance. Also easy to visit in the same day as the National gallery and Seven Dials Market. For a tennis museum in London, I am guessing you mean Wimbeldon – this is doable but it is well oustide central London and will take you about an hour each way to visit so I would just be sure this is something you really want to see. You could try to do the soccer game this day instead perhaps? Or consider a West End play or musical?
In terms of timing, I would go back through your itinerary and just make sure the timings will work out when you check the opening times/days and how long you expect to spend at each one. So say you expect to spend 2 hours at Tower of London, 1.5 hours at Westminster Abbey, 1 hour Borough Market, etc. plus the amount of time you think it will realistically take you to get from one place to the other. I’d then build in a bit of extra time so you don’t feel rushed. That should help you decide if there is too much on any one day. You want to try to balance seeing all the must-see things on your list without feeling rushed and having a little down time to relax and make unexpected stops.
London has so many restaurants, cafes, cocktail bars – I would just think about where you are going to be/want to be and look for well-rated options nearby. It sounds like you are going to be staying in the Covent Garden area and there are lots of options there that would likely be within walking distance of where you are staying. For a cocktail bar with live house music (and also food), you might check out STEREO. If looking for a historic pub for a typical pub lunch or dinner, you could try Lamb & Flag in Covent Garden or Museum Tavern across from the British Museum. Just note that for meals, especially for dinner you’ll want to be sure to book a table in advance.
In terms of Oyster Card, you can read our Oyster Card review post here . Based on your itinerary, I would say you will be taking public transport quite a few times so you can either get Oyster Cards or use your credit cards if they are PIN & Chip ones. You would also probably save money with the London Pass , and you can order your Visitor Oyster Card with the pass if you want. For a London Pass, I’d probably do a 3-day pass and just be sure to fit anything in that you want to see included on the pass on the first 3 days, and stick to free or not included attractions on Day 4. But that would cover all the big attractions you have listed (Westminster Abbey, London Bridge, St. Paul’s, sightseeing bus, Kensington Palace, etc.) except for Churchill War Rooms which sadly is not currently on the pass.
Hope that helps and just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip to London.
Wishing you a wonderful trip! Jessica
katie Post author
July 12, 2023 at 6:34 pm
Thank you so much for the info!! What restaurant would you suggest for a traditional curry? Also out of my day 1 and day 2? Which do you think I should visit vs just see? Anything overrated? Are the markets worth it? Anything more local that I should include?
July 13, 2023 at 4:11 am
You’re very welcome, happy to help.
You can find good Indian curry places all over London, Brick Lane is famous for them but I’d just go some place that is convenient. I’d just check reviews or ask a local person of best curry place nearby. Chicken tikka masala is probably one of the most classic British Indian dishes and one of the most popular dishes eaten in the UK (of all foods!), but there are lots of popular curries. Indian curry is one of the most popular takeaway foods in the UK.
For Days 1 and 2, I would recommend visiting all the places you want to see (see my prior comments on each day). The places you listed are some of the most popular places to visit and all are worth visiting. But of course it depends on your specific interests, time, and budget.
Leadenhall Market is OK – it’s a beautiful setting (I think most tourists come here for the Harry Potter connection as it was used a filming location) and there are several places to eat here. But if you are looking for more of an actual fresh food market, then Borough Market has both fresh food/produce stalls as well as prepared food stalls and restaurants. So I would recommend Borough Market over Leadenhall but they are both different. You can walk through either fairly quickly (although Borough Markets gets really busy around lunch time) so if on your way, they are easy enough to visit but if you want to try food or buy food, I’d recommend Borough Market over Leadenhall.
I would just build your itinerary based on what you are most interested in seeing and doing. Just make sure to allow yourself enough time and build in some flexibility.
Hope that helps! Jessica
TF Post author
June 27, 2023 at 4:41 am
Hello there! Just finished reading your article on the “3 Days in London” itinerary, your detailed itinerary and insightful recommendations have truly sparked my wanderlust.
Thank you for putting together such a comprehensive and well-thought-out itinerary. Your passion for travel and your love for London shine through in your writing, making it an enjoyable and informative read. I can’t wait to plan my own trip to London using your recommendations. Keep up the great work, and I’ll be eagerly following your future travel adventures!
June 28, 2023 at 7:58 am
You’re very welcome, glad you enjoyed reading our London itinerary, and just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip to London!
Happy travels, Jessica
Lyn Fields Post author
May 26, 2023 at 6:08 am
LOVE all this info about London. We will be following the three day walking tour. We would like to have high tea/afternoon tea on Day 2. Do you have a recommendation for a location that would be in the vicinity of our Day 2 itinerary?
June 2, 2023 at 4:28 am
So glad that you are finding our London itinerary and info helpful!
So in terms of afternoon tea options in that area, you have a lot of them. Fortnum and Mason at the Royal Exchange would be a good bet in the City of London. Others in that area you might check out are The Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square, The Ned, and the Rosewood Hotel. Another option could be the Helix Restaurant at The Gherkin for a more contemporary setting with a city view. But pretty much any nice hotel in that area serves afternoon tea (although some only on weekends) and you can also find more informal and less pricey afternoon tea options at cafes and such in the area (one is Cafe Rouge near St. Paul’s Cathedral). Just be sure to check dates and times, and make sure location makes sense with your schedule. And be sure to book your time in advance.
Henry Cris Post author
February 5, 2023 at 7:05 pm
Amazing tips on London travelling. Hoping to visit here soon. And really liked your article about London. It will help me a lot on visiting here. Thanks for sharing.
February 13, 2023 at 7:24 am
Thanks for taking the time to comment, and so glad to hear our article was helpful to you! Wishing you a great trip to London and just let us know if you have any questions as youplan your visit to London.
Amy Bull Post author
January 7, 2023 at 9:22 pm
Hi J & L, I have read your advice for many cities we visit and it is WONDERFUL! I am actually going this week and we are celebrating a 60th birthday. I wanted to know if you recommended a few restaurants that are note worthy of a memorable birthday dinner for two. Maybe with a view or great environment? I want to make the entire day memorable and his biggest request is to see Stonehenge. Any thoughts would be very helpful! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! Amy
January 11, 2023 at 1:03 am
So happy to hear that you have found our travel blogs helpful in planning your travels to various cities!
So for London, I don’t have any specific recommendations as it would depend a lot on budget, type of food, part of London, etc. There are just so many restaurants you could choose. Some thoughts might be to go to one of the old historic pubs for a pub lunch or dinner one day. For something fancy, the 5-star hotels (Savoy, Dorchester, Grosvenor Hotel, Claridge’s, Browns’, Ritz, etc.) all have very nice restaurants & bars and some of the top rated ones in the city. In terms of views, that is much harder but you could consider a restaurant near the top of The Shard as there are a few restaurants and bars there with great views over central London, and the nicer ones would make a good potential b-day dinner spot. Another option is the Sky Garden which has a restaurant. Or you might consider a restaurant along Thames with nice view of river. Anyway, hope that gives you some options and ideas to research.
For Stonehenge, it really depends if you are planning to drive yourself, take public transit, or join a guided tour from London? We’ve done all three at one point or another. Laurence has written a guide to visiting Stonehenge that might be helpful. Last visit, once we arrived, we took the free Stonehenge shuttle to the end to walk to the site, and then walked back through the field using the little map there to see some of the other prehistoric remains on walk back through fields. There is also a good visitor centre/museum that is worth spending some time to learn more.
If your husband is specifically interested in stone circles and prehistoric stone sights, Avebury might be a good secondary stop which is nearby and much less crowded (you can walk up and touch stones). There are also lots of other prehistoric sites in the region. Other places that people might combine on a day trip to Stonehenge are Oxford, Salisbury, or Bath. But I would just be careful to not pack in too much, especially if traveling on your own as it can make for a long day. But if doing a day tour, then at least you are not doing the driving. The only drawback to a guided tour is to make sure you will have a enough time in the places you visit for what you want to see/do.
Hope that helps, and just let me know if you have more questions as you plan your specific bday trip! Jessica
Florence Post author
November 1, 2022 at 8:15 pm
Hi Jessica & Laurence, This is Florence and i am making my 1st trip to the UK soon. May i know what’s the best site that i can look at for booking of train tickets in advance for travelling within UK? Apprecaite any advise. Thank yo.
November 2, 2022 at 7:04 am
So I am assuming you are meaning for travel outside of London? As within London itself, you don’t need to book in advance for the public transit Underground trains, buses, etc.
There is National Rail website which is the official UK train website which has info on the trains in England, Wales, and Scotland. But since there is not actual national rail service operator (but several independent operators), there are a number of website operators where you can book trains online in the UK so you can also go directly to the train service website (LNER, ScotRail, Avanti, Lumo, NI Railways etc.). The local operator will depend on where you are going in the country.
One convenient website to compare times and prices you can book on a website like Trainline . This is what we normally use for convenience to book online and they also have a mobile app.
You can also of course buy and book tickets in person at the actual train stations but we recommend booking in advance if you can for any longer journeys. You are often not guaranteed seats if you don’t book in advance on many trains. It depends on the company but tickets are often available to purchase 90 days in advance.
Another good website for figuring out how to get from one place to another and general travel info and connections (also works for buses and such) is the Traveline Info website . It is a very helpful website.
Anyway, hope that helps get you started. If you have any specific questions about booking train tickets in the UK, just let us know.
November 3, 2022 at 2:58 am
Great! Thanks Jessica. I will look into it and will inquire again if I have any other questions with my travel plans. Have a great day!
Bart Post author
October 3, 2022 at 12:53 am
Top tip if you’re visiting Borough Market… don’t venture there on a Saturday. It’s crazy busy, rammed full of people from very Early on! Visiting during the week is a far more pleasant & leisurely affair – you won’t feel like you’re being rushed off of your feet.
October 3, 2022 at 7:09 am
Thanks for sharing your tip for visiting Bourough Market in London – it is definitely busier on the weekends. But it is also the most lively so it can still be interesting to visit on the weekends if that is when you plan to visit, but you do have to expect the crowds and be more patient than on weekdays.
Also on Saturdays is usually opens earlier (8am) so going near opening time is a great way to enjoy the market on Saturday.
Shelley Post author
September 20, 2022 at 11:29 am
Hello! I love your 3-day itinerary and plan to use most all of it. Is there link where I can download it? Maybe I missed it but I am trying to work smarter, not harder and am copying and pasting a ton. Thanks in advance!
September 21, 2022 at 4:16 am
Glad you are finding our London itinerary helpful for your trip. Is there a reason you need to copy it? We’d recommend just using it directly from the website for best functionality.
But you can also print or download it as a PDF file for offline personal use as long as you are a newsletter subscriber (it is free and easy to sign up). Once signed up you can then click on the Printer icon on the sidebar or at the end of the article.
Hope that helps and just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip to Lonon!
Bright A Post author
September 15, 2022 at 12:04 pm
Great tips to hear from you for 3 days itinerary. You blog is awesome to read also to explore London within the days. Thanks!
September 16, 2022 at 4:01 am
Thanks for letting us know our London itinerary is helpful.
Obviously if planning to visit London in the next few days, things are a bit crazy because of the Queen’s passing and upcoming funeral. So be sure to check opening dates/times and closures. Many businesses and attractions will be closed on Monday for the funeral.
Wishing you a great trip to London! Jessica
Suzie Post author
July 15, 2022 at 1:52 pm
Wow so glad I stumbled across your blog . So informative. I will be visiting London this July and am taking a lot of tips from your blog . For shopping , what would you recommend? Any outlets where I can get a good deal on bags ? Thanks so much
July 18, 2022 at 5:51 am
Glad you are finding our London articles on our travel blogs helpful in planing your upcoming trip.
In terms of shopping in London, Oxford Street is probably the best known shopping street. Also Regents Street, Bond Street, Mayfair area, Knightbridge area (Harrods). So lots of shopping opportunities, but not sure about great outlet stores in the city or where to get a good deal. London is generally an expensive city so we find shopping is often less expensive elsewhere. But you can often get good deals if you shop the sales and pay attention to discounts. It just depends on your budget and the types of stores you are prefer.
Bicester Village is a shopping outlet located near Oxford (about 1.5 hours from London) which has a lot of outlet stores all together and is a popular place for shopping for tourists. So that might be a place for your to consider.
Hope that helps, and just let me know if you have any other questions as you plan your trip to London!
tuhina roy Post author
June 27, 2022 at 11:56 pm
wow…great info….wud be visiting in Oct’22….might add perfect fit for me at one glance/place…have been asking so many people around for last one month abt London n places to visit n here its given in such a nice n informative way….wonderful:-)….thanx much for collating these kind of info for people like us who r visiting from other countries….thanx again
June 28, 2022 at 10:41 am
You are very welcome, and so glad to hear that you are finding our London itinerary helpful! If you have 3 days in London, this should definitely give you some good ideas of where you might want to visit on your trip.
But if you have any questions as you plan your trip about things to do in London or elsewhere in the UK, just ask us and we are happy to try to give advice.
Rebecca Post author
June 12, 2022 at 5:34 am
Jessica & Laurence, We just returned from an awesome visit to London and we used your recommended 3 day itinerary. Thank you SO MUCH for your work in preparing the itinerary. All of the information you provide from the London Pass, Oyster Card, the description of places to visit and how to get there helped our visit to go smoothly. We didn’t waste too much time looking for things or figuring out how to get there and we were able to fit in everything we wanted to do! Having the London Pass helped us avoid lines, plus everything was already paid. The Oyster Card was also a huge benefit because we didn’t have to keep buying tickets. THANK YOU! Rebecca
June 12, 2022 at 6:11 am
So happy that you had such a great trip to London! And we are happy that our tips and advice were helpful in planning your trip.
Yes, I think that if you have limited time on a trip, you want to plan ahead and do what you can so that you can spend as much time as possible doing things and visiting places rather than having to plan and figure things out on the go.
Thanks for taking the time to comment and let us know about your trip. We always love hearing that our advice was helpful!
shelly v Post author
April 27, 2022 at 8:12 pm
Hello Jessica, Wow! Thank you for all the valuable info in your planning tips and itineraries. We are traveling to London and Paris this June. It is our first visit and traveling with teenage daughters so are focused on the most iconic sites. Based upon your 3-Day Itinerary for London, we have selected our “Must-See” London List ( most likely the minimum time to tour the area for each site since I’ll be traveling with teenagers). – Explore Westminster: Buckingham Palace w changing of guard; Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Bridge, Westminster Abbey – City of London: Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Borough Market, London Bridge & Tower Bridge, – Windsor Castle & Kensington: Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, Royal Albert Hall, Shopping at Harrod’s
1) Based upon our Must-see list, will the 3-day London Pass cover the attractions we plan to visit? 2) We are staying close to Earl’s Court Station – do you recommend we also purchase the Travelcard? 3) Since we arrive 6/9 midday into London (after overnight flight), what might you recommend for day 1 itinerary?
April 28, 2022 at 9:27 am
Thanks very much!
So based on your itinerary we have the following feedback if you are trying to visit them all in 3 days:
– For Westminister: Make sure you check Westminster Abbey opening dates and hours. It is closed on Sundays to visitors and for certain occasions/holidays so you’d want to make sure to schedule around any closures if you want to visit here. – For City of London sites: I would probably choose to do either the London Bridge OR Tower Bridge experience. I think otherwise you’ll be rushed for time as the Tower of London, in particular, can take a while to visit. But you can of course see both from the outside without paying but as far as doing the full attractions on them, I’d probably do one or the other. – For Windsor & Kensington – Because you will need to travel out to Windsor, this could be a lot to fit into one day, but depends of course on how long you spend at each place. For the Royal Albert Hall, the tours are only given at certain hours so you may want to make sure that will fit in with your day. – Note that it looks like you are planning to visit a few days after the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (June 5th) so we expect things will be busier than usual during this general period. Although luckily you are arriving after the Jubilee weekend itself when things will be super busy and hard to visit I think. It may make sense to book timed tickets directly for some attractions that have limited capacity such as Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, and Royal Albert Hall so you are guaranteed entry within a certain time period.
1 – Yes, the 3-day London Pass will cover all the paid attractions you plan to visit, which are Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge Exhibition, London Bridge experience, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, Royal Albert Hall. If you were to pay adult (16+) entry to all those it would cost around £178, whereas a 3-day adult London pass is normally £123. However, as noted above, you may not have time to do everything on your list so keep that in mind. The price saving will also depend on the age of your daughters, if they are under 16, then they can use a child pass so I would do those cost-savings separately. If you plan to take the sightseeing bus at any time during your visit, that would also add to the cost savings.
2 – You are definitely going to use public transport during your time in London, so will need a travel card. Bundling the travel card will save you some time and is convenient, although it costs the same as buying a Visitor Oyster Card separately. It’s really just for convenience, there’s no saving or extra cost to buying it with the London Pass. You can see more about getting around London here.
3 – For your first day, it sounds like you will just have probably a half day once checking in at hotel. I am guessing this is not a day you plan to use the London Pass? If not, I’d recommend maybe the British Museum and/or London Eye, both of which are not included on the pass. You’ll likely be pretty tired so I wouldn’t plan too much that first day.
April 9, 2022 at 5:07 pm
Hi Jessica, The information you provide in the 3 days itinerary is amazing, so detailed and informative! We will be getting off a cruise in London on a Friday and will stay until Monday.
We have reservations at Point A Hotel in Paddington. What would you recommend for transportation from the port to our hotel? We’ve already purchased the 4 day London Pass and Visitor Oyster card. Is our hotel near public transportation? It looked like it when we checked, but would like to verify. What would you recommend for getting to the airport on Tuesday morning? We need to arrive at the airport at 6:00 A.M. Transportation begins at 5:00 A.M. Is it feasible to use the public transportation and arrive to the airport on time? Our Oyster Card will be expired so we’ll need to pay for the transportation to the airport.
On Day 2 you recommend the river cruise right after visiting the Tower of London in the morning. If we do that, will we have time to visit the other sites recommended for that day? Might it be better to take the cruise in the evening? I looked at the times and it looks like it runs later on weekends, but stops in the afternoon during the week. Am I reading that right? Is the Thames River Cruise the same as the Uber Boat by Thames River that’s included in the London Pass?
If I download the London Pass app on my phone prior to the trip, will I use data as I access it while in London?
April 10, 2022 at 6:35 am
First, glad you are finding our London itinerary helpful in planning your upcoming trip! Sounds like you have already got a lot of your trip planned.
Yes, the Point A Hotel (a good budget option) is near a lot of public transit options. You have Underground stations (e.g, Edgware and Paddington), bus stops, a train station (Paddington), and the Heathrow Express service (at Paddington) all under a 10 minute walk from your hotel. So you should not have any issues accessing public transit.
For getting to the airport, probably the best option, if flying out of Heathrow (I assume you are flying out of Heathrow? there are 6 airports around London) would be to do the TfL Rail train from Paddington Station to the airport. It takes about 30-40 minutes. I would just double check the timetable for your specific date to make sure it works for when you need to leave.
You should be able to still use your Oyster Card by just adding some credit to it if you have used up your prepaid credit (you can do it at the machines at the stations) as the Oyster Cards do not expire. Or you can buy tickets at the station or in advance online.
Other options would be to take the Heathrow Express (a bit faster but more expensive) or the Underground/Tube (but you would have to change stations).
Yes, we do mention taking the boat after visiting the Tower of London just because it is very convenient to do so there as there is a boat pier just next to where you exit the Tower of London. But you can of course do it later in the day from elsewhere along its route. It can be a good late afternoon or evening activity as it keeps running after many of the other attractions close. But just make sure that you will be near one of the piers where you can use the London Pass (you can only start a journey from 4 of the piers). And yes, there are a few options for taking Thames River Cruises but the one included with the London Pass is now called the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers. So you want to make sure to get on that one.
I think you may be reading the timetables wrong on the boat schedule as that doesn’t sound correct as I think the boats run until 10pm/11pm all week. Some of the boats don’t run as much on weekends, especially the routes focused on commuters, but the more tourist-oriented routes generally run regularly all week. I would double check the schedule and specifically look at the times for the 4 stations where you could start your journey with the London Pass. The boats are normally about every 20 to 30 minutes. You can choose how long you want to stay on the boat as there are regular stops and you can do hop-on, hop-off if you wish.
In terms of how much you can do, it will just depend on which places you intend to visit and for how long, and which you just plan to stop and see during your day. The Tower of London for instance will likely take up all or most of your morning. I would not plan for more than 3 big visits per day. So you may need to pick and choose and prioritize certain attractions over others. I would write down which places you want to visit, how long you think you’ll spend at each, and the time it takes to get between them to get a good idea of what is feasible. Everyone goes at their own pace. You also want to work in some flexibility and free time so you aren’t too rushed and also leave a little time for getting lost/waiting in lines, etc.
If you download the London Pass app and install it prior to your trip, you should then not need to use any data to access the app on your phone. You just need data to download it and set it up. The only reason it would need data would be if the app needed an update. We also recommend downloading your QR code to a separate local place on your phone so you will have access even if you can’t open the app for any reason. We also recommend printing the QR code and London Pass # so you also have a paper copy you can use to access sites in case your phone battery dies or something.
Anyway, hope all that helps and makes sense! Happy to answer further questions as you plan your trip to London.
April 15, 2022 at 10:53 am
Thank you so much for taking the time to provide thorough answers to all of my questions! You are an amazing wealth of information! Rebecca
April 15, 2022 at 11:20 am
You’re very welcome and just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip to London!
April 29, 2022 at 12:13 pm
Hi Jessica, I’m trying to finalize our plans for our trip to London. We’ll be getting off a NCL cruise. What do you suggest is the best transportation option for getting from the port to our hotel, Point A Hotel in Paddington? We’ve purchased the Oyster Card. Thank you, Rebecca
April 30, 2022 at 4:29 am
It depends on where specifically your cruise ends, where is the cruise terminal? You say the cruise goes to London but does it actually end in London itself?
Most cruises end in either Dover or Southhampton, and if that is the case, you would need to catch a train from either to London. For a journey to London from either of these cities, you would need to pay for your train tickets separately (can’t use Oyster Card) since that journey would be well outside of greater London. Then once in London, if you are not arriving into Paddington station, you would probably want to get the Tube to your hotel and you can use your Oyster Card for that. Or you can of course take a taxi if you have a lot of luggage.
May 1, 2022 at 3:30 pm
Trish Post author
April 8, 2022 at 9:40 am
Thank you for your article on visiting London! I’m doing research for a trip I’m planning in early 2023. My question is, are there any of the locations you mention that could be unsafe for an older lady traveling alone? Or any special tips for me related to this?
April 8, 2022 at 10:37 am
London is considered a pretty safe city in general for travelers. I’ve generally felt safe when in London, even in the “less nice” neighborhoods. So I would not worry too much about it when visiting London.
However, as with any large city, there are pickpockets and thieves, and you should always use normal caution (e.g., not carrying large amounts of cash, securing your valuables so difficult to pickpocket, being aware of your surroundings, trust your gut). Most crimes against tourists are opportunity ones where a theif will steal someone’s wallet, smartphone, or purse. Thefts and muggings tend to take place in London’s busiest tourists areas, including Westminister, Camden, and Kensington.
And of course, more serious things do happen (we were in London during the 2017 London Bridge incident for instance) but these are unusual. Violent crimes against tourists are pretty rare in London (and the UK in general).
The only thing I would say other than regular safety advice would be to be more cautious if walking around the city at night after dark, such as after dinner or after leaving an evening West End play or something. But it is generally pretty easy to stay in well-lit main streets and around other people. If you need to go a longer distance, you can always take a taxi/minicab/Uber or get a bus instead of walking. Also a good idea to have your route and transport planned out in advance before leaving the attraction/restaurant/hotel.
If it’s late at night (after 10pm), particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings, I tend to avoid the Tube. It’s not necessarily unsafe but a lot of drunk people tend to be riding on these evenings and it can be more unpleasant.
In terms of planning your time, our suggested London itinerary is pretty geared to someone trying to do a lot each day. But if you like to go at a slower pace, I’d just recommend planning a bit less each day so you have plenty of time to enjoy each attraction and get from one place to the other.
Hope that helps, and feel free to reach out if you have further questions as you plan your London trip!
tatiana Post author
March 2, 2022 at 12:21 pm
HI. I saw the London Pass includes a walking tour, any reviews on this tour?
March 3, 2022 at 2:49 am
Yes, the two general London walking tours: 3 hour Palaces and Parliament Tour and then the 5-hour 30+ London Sights Tour are newer additions to the London Pass. We haven’t done either of those tours or taken any tours yet with the company that runs those two tours but the company has a 5-star rating on Google. The tours are pretty similar to ones we have taken in London with other companies and seem like they would both be good intro tours to London.
Just note that the tours don’t include entry into any attractions. If choosing one of them, I would choose the 3-hour tour as 5 hours is pretty long without visiting any attractions. But both of them have very good reviews online.
If you decide to take any of the walking/bus/bike tours with the London Pass, just be sure to make your reservation in advance once you have your Pass. I believe that all the guided tours required advanced bookings.
Marina Teramond Post author
February 11, 2022 at 3:09 am
I can subscribe to everything mentioned about London because it is truly an incredible place with its unique atmosphere and I think that if you have an opportunity, this city should be in your list of places which you plan to visit. It is so cool that you devoted your article to a detailed plan for implementing a trip to London. I really like this idea to cover London for three days because if you plan it in a smart and thoughtful way, you will be able to spend this time eventfully and it will be enough for you to observe wonderful landscapes there. Your plan seems so elaborate and convenient in all respects because it provides you with a great deal of opportunities. I think that it is important to put exploring Westminster first because it is a real calling card of this city and it has its own individuality at the same time, being truly unique. I also want to visit Trafalgar Square because I think that it perfectly conveys the vibe of London.
February 11, 2022 at 9:35 pm
Glad you are finding our 3 day London itinerary helpful in planning your trip. You will want to tailor it to your interests, pace, mobility, time, etc. but this should be a good starting point for what you might want to see on a first time visit with 3 days to visit London. Just let us know if you have any specific questions as you plan your trip!
Kitkat Post author
February 5, 2022 at 1:42 pm
So glad I found this article! I live in UK and my family is visiting soon but was having a hard time planning on what to see in London. This is perfect! Although I would like to ask, roughly how long or how many hours does the daily itinerary last? As I have to factor in touring with a child and a 60 year old. 🙂
February 6, 2022 at 5:28 am
Glad you are finding our 3 day London itinerary helpful in planning things to do with visiting family. For each day, we list a lot of potential places you could see and things to do; however, you would want to pick and choose what is of the most interest. We give some of the main sights as well as alternatives. The itineraries are definitely designed with those packing in a lot for a full day from after breakfast in morning to about dinner time, but you can adjust to suit your own pace and interests.
I would say visiting 3 major sights per day is going to be plenty with children but you could also see additional things along the way (without taking the time to go inside and visit). I’d try to estimate amount of time you’d want to spend at each and plan day accordingly with plenty of time for breaks and plenty of time to get in between each place, depending on how far away. Most of the places we list each day are within a reasonable walking distance from one another, but it will depend on everyone’s physical mobility.
Since you have a child visiting, I’d maybe pick at least one place that would be particularly fun for him or her. Depending on age and interests, this could be a place like the London Dungeon (not for young children), Sea Life, London Eye, Shrek’s Adventure, Tower of London, London Zoo, Science Museum, etc.
Some places you could easily spend a few hours (such as the Tower of London or National Gallery) whereas another place you may only be interested in a brief visit. If you have London Passes , this can save you a lot of money if visiting several places. We used them when we had family visiting over the summer and they were great. Note that a few places in London (including free museums) require reservations due to COVID-19 precautions so be sure to check in advance if reservations or time slots are needed to visit.
Our 6 day London itinerary may also be helpful as it includes a couple more areas of London you may want to explore in addition or instead, depending on how long your family is staying.
Hope that helps, and just let me know if you have further questions. Wishing your family a fun visit to London!
elena gilbert Post author
December 28, 2021 at 9:22 pm
Amazing blog on visiting London, really interesting I loved reading it.
December 29, 2021 at 8:12 am
Glad you enjoyed our London itinerary and hope you found it helpful. Do let us know if you have any questions if you are planning a trip to London!
Vicki Copeland Post author
October 2, 2021 at 5:08 pm
Hi Cats- This is a fantastic travel site! Thank you so much. There are 2 of us headed to London for 3 days and your itinerary is perfect! I think we should definitely get the London Pass. Being that we are going in October, do you think there will be fewer people already booked for the places that are currently selling tickets for specific times? I’m guessing that even if we have a pass, if the time we arrive is booked we will have to wait? We are so looking forward to some pints and Shepard’s pie!
Laurence Post author
October 3, 2021 at 1:55 am
London is a busy city year round but there should be fewer visitors in October. A lot of tourist attractions have not been very busy this year due to Covid and travel restrictions. We last used the London Pass in late August and never had any long waits when we visited (including Tower of London & Westminister Abbey) but it does just depend as some have security checks. So just be sure to book those places that require it and you should be OK. But I would leave a little extra time in your itinerary just in case.
Note that most of London’s free museums currently also require pre-booking a time slot due to COVID to ensure entry so be sure to check in advance.
Wishing you safe & happy travels to London! Laurence
Elena Post author
September 24, 2021 at 4:18 am
Amazing blog about London, really interesting and very informative!
September 26, 2021 at 6:03 am
Glad you enjoyed our suggested 3 day London itinerary! Just let us know if you have any questions if you are planning a trip to London.
vertoe Post author
August 26, 2021 at 4:21 am
Thank you for this amazing itinerary on 3 days to spend in London. London is a beautiful place to visit .
August 29, 2021 at 3:58 am
Thanks Vertoe, glad you enjoyed our London itinerary and had a good visit to the city! We were just back in London ourselves just yesterday and spent 3 days there – so much do there!
Johani Ponce Post author
August 19, 2021 at 6:49 am
I am planning to go to London next year. Very good guide
August 20, 2021 at 4:55 am
Thanks for taking the time to let us know that you enjoyed our London itinerary. Just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip to London for next year!
Vertoe Post author
March 25, 2021 at 5:52 am
Wow what an amazing London itinerary and list of things to do! Thanks for sharing this valuebale information.
March 25, 2021 at 8:44 am
Thanks very much, and just let us know if you have any questions if you are planning a trip to London!
GG Post author
January 19, 2021 at 4:00 am
This was so useful in planning my first trip to London! Thank you so much.
January 23, 2021 at 8:31 am
You’re welcome GG, just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip to London!
Raleigh Truitt Post author
September 17, 2020 at 9:12 am
Will you publish a fold-up plasticized (rain-proof) version of your 3-day London guide? I could use one.
September 20, 2020 at 5:34 am
Glad you like our 3 day London itinerary. We do not have any published guides (waterproof or otherwise) of our itineraries but you are welcome to print (and laminate!) it. Just let me know if you have any questions as you plan your trip to London.
Vernon Post author
April 15, 2020 at 10:22 pm
Great blog, very helpful! If you’re visiting Europe and would like to stop over in London, but only have a 3 days to spare this blog get you covered it contains all the information.
April 16, 2020 at 5:24 am
Glad you found our 3 day London itinerary helpful and wishing you safe and happy travels!
Lia Post author
February 26, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Hello, Me and my mom are going to travel to London next week, we arrive on the 4th at about 3pm and we leave on the 7th at about the same time, so that means we have 2 full days and 2 half days…we have a lot things we want to do but we are kinda short on time and we need to stay with a budget…This time, I’m really lost and it has been really difficult to plan this trip….Do you have any tips or suggestions for our trip? Thank you ^-^
February 27, 2020 at 5:13 am
It really depends on what you want to do, your budget, and where you are staying in London. But I would recommend considering getting a London Pass or London Explorer Pass if many of the places you want to visit are included on those passes. They can help save you money and also help you organize your time – the London Pass also includes a sightseeing bus and boat tour you can do.
I’d make a list of the places you really want to see and can realistically see in the time you have and then group them together by where they are in London. The half-days are going to make it harder to plan around, especially if you are arriving into London via the airport as most places will be closing by the time you get in so I’d focus on the evening only activities that night (London Eye, theatre shoes, late night museum openings) so you don’t feel rushed.
I would also focus on some of the many free and low-cost attractions in London – many of London’s best museums have free entry (donation only) and there are of course the parks, gardens, and you can do your own walking tours of neighborhoods of interest.
If dining out is not a must-do, you can definitely save money in London on food and drink by picking up sandwiches, salads, snacks, etc. on the go rather than dining in. Grocery stores, Marks & Spencer, Greggs, Pret a Manger, fast food, etc. Museum cafeterias can also be great places to stop and eat that are normally good value without taking up too much time (if you are there already). It can also save you time, especially in the day, if you are trying to see a lot in one day.
Hope that helps and wishing you a great trip! Jessica
Karen Gilbert Post author
February 8, 2020 at 8:23 pm
Good Morning My friend and i will be in London (first time) on 14th April departing 18th April from Gatwick to South Australia. I have looked at so many things and have got myself very confused. We woud like to see Buckingham Palace, Changing of the Guard, the Mews, Kensington Palce, Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, Parliment Houses, Harrods and Portobella Markets and a cruise on the Thames. Is this realistic??We have a hop on hop off bus ticket for the 15th only. Is it worth getting the London Pass or would it be better to pay as we go in case our wants exceed our endurance. We are both in our 60’s. We dont want to do too much walking (ie a complete walking tour)but we can manage some walking. Should we get an oyster Card? we are staying at Hyde Park Executive Apartments which is close to a train station and bus line i understand. Any help you can give 2 older ladies would be appreciated very much.
February 9, 2020 at 5:38 am
I would look at how much time you have from arrival to when you need to depart London for Gatwick airport. Do you have 4 full days for instance? 3.5 days?
Then I’d break down the places you want to see by day and think about how much time you wan to spend at each. For instance do you plan to tour Westminster Abbey or do you just want to see the outside of it? Most things are not time specific except for things like the Changing of the Guard so you will want to take that into account when planning our your days.
For the busiest places, like Tower of London you’ll want to try to get there first thing in the morning to make the most of your visit.
Given the number of places you want to see, I would suggest that you’d probably save money with a 3 day London Pass. The London Pass allows you to be flexible as it sounds like you don’t want to pre-purchase your tickets for attractions in advance? So then the pass would be ideal if you plan to visit several places on it.
The Oyster Card can also make transport easier for you if you plan to use the public transit and you can also use it to get to and from the airport.
The apartments it looks like you are staying are near some metro and bus stops. The Paddington train station is about a 15 minute walk away. However, if you are flying into Gatwick Airport, you might be better off staying near Victoria Station in London as the bus and train connections to and from Gatwick are better to Victoria train station. But you can of course just transfer and change trains to get there as well.
Veronica Webster Post author
January 28, 2020 at 11:17 am
Hi Jessica, I love your blog!! My husband and I are travelling in March to London-Paris-Amsterdam and your blog has been very useful. Very well organized, the information is fantastic. Here gomy questions. Based on your 3 days itinerary we have planned the London part. My “problem” seems to be fitting Saint Paul’s Cathedral in a more efficient way, on day 2, as we also plan to take the river cruise that day. I’m breaking down the draft so maybe you have some suggestions
Day 1, we arrive 10:50 am in London, we are giving ourselves like 2-2:30 hours to arrive to hour hotel (customs, picking up Oyster card, London pass, etc), our hotel is very close to Saint Pancras station (5 minutes walk, on Argyle square). As it will be the afternoon, we’re trying things not included in the London Pass. If we make it to he museum well, if not we will just take time to walk around and enjoy the evening by Picadelly Circus.
Day 1 Arrival Hotel British Museum Picadelly Circus
Day 2 (we start the London Pass) HopOnOff (we actually use it as transportation to Westminster) Parliament Square Westminster Abbey Big Ben ( I know it’s under renovation, just watch) Churchill War Rooms Trafalgar Square Buckingham palace
Day 3 Tower of London Tower Bridge/London Bridge (we walk to St Paul’s and views of bridges) St Paul’s Cathedral (here we would use the tube to go back to almost where we started to take the cruise) Cruise Tower of London-Westminster Westminster Bridge to London Eye London Eye
Day 4 Kensington Palace Hyde Park Harrods
Thank you very much!! Veronica
January 29, 2020 at 6:34 am
Yes, I would probably leave yourself 3 hours for everything just to be on the safe side for everything as it is hard to predict time it takes for security etc. and you don’t want to feel rushed on your first day.
Day 1 – The British Museum is a great place to visit and entry is by donation only and there is so much to see that you could spend most of the day here if you wanted. From there you could also wander around the Covent Garden area and go to Picadilly Circus. If you don’t get to Picadilly Circus your first night, it is very close to Trafalgar Square on your second day so easy to fit in there between Trafalgar and Buckingham Palace. Day 2 – Looks good, yes, I think they’ve uncovered Big Ben finally (it was under wraps for a while) but it is still under construction. But you will see it from as soon as you step off the bus into Parliament Square. You’ll also see it from Westminster Bridge which you cross to get to London Eye on Day 3 which is our favorite view of the Houses of Parliament. I am guessing you are going by Buckingham Palace just for the view, correct? The palace is not open to the public in March but you can visit the next door Queen’s Gallery (royal art gallery) and the Royal Mews (royal carriages). Both are included with your London Pass if you have extra time that day. Day 3 – I think St. Paul’s is fine as you have it and it is only about a 30 minute walk between the two sites if you go along the river and it is a nice walk along the Thames (provided weather isn’t too bad!). Just note that the London Eye is not included as part of the London Pass so you’ll want to buy tickets for that separately. Day 4 – Looks good. If you are staying near St. Pancreas train station, you are a fairly short walk away from the Eurostar station if you are taking the train from London to Paris.
If you are still planning your Paris part, this suggested 3 day itinerary may be helpful.
Hope that helps and wishing you a great trip to London, Paris, & Amsterdam!
Leslie Post author
December 1, 2019 at 5:25 am
Thank you so much for your 3 day itinerary! I visited London for the first time in October and only had 3 days; I followed your itinerary almost exactly (with just a few slight variations). London seemed a little overwhelming as I was planning my trip and your itinerary made it so easy to figure out how to organize and spend my time. I was able to see all of the highlights I wanted to without feeling rushed. It turned out to be one of the best trips I’ve ever taken!
December 1, 2019 at 6:28 am
Hi Leslie, So happy to hear that you had a great trip to London and that our 3 day London itinerary was helpful in planning your trip. Thanks for letting us know! Feel free to share any highlights from your own trip or tips for future readers visiting London as I know a lot of other visitors only have a few days to explore. Best, Jessica
December 2, 2019 at 2:30 pm
I think the highlight of my trip was the morning spent in Kensington; walking through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, touring Kensington Palace, then walking by Royal Albert Hall and on to the History Museum. One thing I did that was not on your itinerary was take the Thames Clipper (you can use your Oyster card) from the Tower of London to Greenwich. I enjoyed walking around Greenwich, visiting the market and a pub there, and of course see the Royal Observatory and standing on the Prime Meridian!
December 3, 2019 at 9:38 am
So glad you enjoyed Kensington so much. Yes, it is nice a nice area of London to wander around and there is a lot to do and see while still being fairly relaxing with lots of green spaces and free museums.
We enjoy Greenwich too, especially the historical sites and market! We have it as part of our 6 day London itinerary but not on our 3 day one. But yes for those wanting to take a Thames river cruise, to any destination, the Tower of London is a great place to do it as the boat stops just a short walk from the Tower.
So glad you had a great trip and thanks so much for sharing some of your favorite places and tips!!
Trevor Hall Post author
September 25, 2019 at 7:10 am
I’m glad London has great transportation that I can take all around the city. My wife and I are taking our kids to the UK soon to make some fun memories. I’ll try to incorporate public transportation into our plans.
September 26, 2019 at 12:55 pm
Yes, it is very easy to get around London using public transportation and you can check out this guide to London public transit for some more information and tips. You can explore just about all of London using a combination of public transportation and walking. Best, Jessica
Sanjay Kadam Post author
September 7, 2019 at 8:17 pm
Dear Team, Excellent information provided for visiting London. I am sure with such descriptive and in-depth study of spending 3 days in London anyone as per his/her budget can explore London . it will be much more easier and convenient to a first time traveler. Thanks and keep up the good work.
September 8, 2019 at 2:24 am
Hi Sanjay, Thanks for taking the time to comment, and glad it was useful to you. Wishing you a wonderful trip to London! Jessica
Taryn Hristova Post author
August 27, 2019 at 5:55 am
Thanks for this awesome article! My daughter and I just spent three days in London earlier this month and your itinerary was a lifesaver! We used it as ours. We did a ton of walking and feel like we packed so much in. Thank you so much for all of your research and advice 🙂
August 27, 2019 at 6:10 am
So glad you had a great visit to London and thanks for letting us know that our itinerary was helpful in planning your visit!
John William Post author
August 26, 2019 at 9:49 am
nice article, thanks for sharing.
August 26, 2019 at 11:33 am
Hi John, Thanks for letting us know you enjoyed it! Wishing you a great trip to London, Jessica
Tiffany Bui Post author
August 12, 2019 at 10:46 am
My friend and I are going to London Sept 14-18. We’ll arrive at Heathrow airport noon the 14th and travel to Paris morning the 18th from St Pancras station. We already got 3 days London Pass (mobile). Which London transportation pass do you recommend for our stay?
August 12, 2019 at 11:34 am
For your time in London, I’d recommend the Oyster Card if you are looking for a transport card. You can read our Oyster Card guide for more info – you can purchase it in advance (the Visitor Oyster Card which can be purchased here ) or get one once in London.
For tips on using the public transit in London, you can read this London public transport guide .
For your trip to Paris, you’ll want to book your EuroStar tickets in advance for the train if you haven’t done so already.
Hope that helps, and wishing you a great trip to London & Paris!
Tiffy B Post author
August 12, 2019 at 1:04 pm
Thank you so much for the prompt response and all the helpful tips. I really appreciate your work. May you and Laurence be blessed in everything that you do!
Have a wonderful week!
August 9, 2019 at 3:58 pm
Great itinerary, thank you so much for your recommendation. I’m going to buy 3 days pass and how should I best fit Hop on hop off bus and the river cruise to this itinerary?
August 10, 2019 at 2:47 am
Glad you are planning to use our London itinerary. You can modify the itinerary as you wish but we would suggust maybe doing the sightseeing bus on the first day you arrive to get an overview of the city (rather than so much to get from place to place) by taking one of the routes. This can be a nice way to get an overview of a part of the city. But you can take a look at the routes and see what will make the most sense for you as it could work on other days as well.
We recommend doing the Thames River cruise on Day 2, perhaps after a morning visit to the Tower of London. There is a stop located near the Tower. You can also check out Day 2 suggestions as part of our 6 day itinerary as we have the Thames cruise included as part of it.
Simone Post author
August 6, 2019 at 5:38 am
Hey Laurence and Jessica, Thanks for the content, it has helped me a lot to craft the best route for my short-visiting.
August 7, 2019 at 5:44 am
Hi Simone, You’re very welcome and wishing you a great trip to London. Best, Jessica & Laurence
Claudel P Post author
June 11, 2019 at 8:57 am
Great post! We will be heading to London for 5 full days during Thanksgiving this year.. so I am loving reading on your 3 and 6 day posts! Will there be christmas decorations or christmas markets during this time (november 27-december 2). if so, do you know where and what we should hit? We love Christmas! Have you seen either plays: Harry potter & cursed child, wicked, or matilda? which would you recommend?
Thank you so so much! I’m sure I’ll have more questions once I continue reading 🙂
June 11, 2019 at 10:14 am
Glad you are finding our London posts helpful in planning your trip.
Some Christmas decorations should be up by the beginning of December, especially in the stores. Some of the larger Christmas markets also start around this time. One of the biggest is the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and it is expected to begin in late November so you should be able to catch that which has Christmas market, decorations, ice skating, rides, circus shows, etc, but it is a bit early for exact dates for most of these so I’d check a bit closer to your trip. You can see the official website for the Winter Wonderland here .
I have personally seen Wicked and enjoyed it but not the other two, but all have really good reviews. I doubt you’d be disappointed with any of them and I would go for the one that is of most interest to you. Or if you are on a bit of a budget, you can see if you can get discount tickets for any of the shows once in London. If you are getting a London Pass, then Wicked is currently one of the shows that pass users are eligible for discounted tickets, you can see more about this here .
Note that the Harry Potter & Cursed Child is a long two-part show (either both shows on same day or 2 over 2 days) and tickets often sell out well in advance, and you are very unlikely to get a discount for that show. So if that one is your fave, I’d book it in advance to guarantee a seat.
If you enjoy Harry Potter, Laurence has a Harry Potter filming location in London guide that you might enjoy, as well as a guide to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour .
Olga castillo Post author
May 29, 2019 at 12:49 pm
Great tips and great 3 day pass information.
On the London pass does that include theater tickets? Any recommendations for a nice pub for lunch and for a good place for fish n chips. Also if you can help me out or give me some suggestions. I purchased London eye tickets for the wrong date, now it seems that I can’t change therefore will lose my money what can I do please help. Also can we wear shorts and go into the churches and the museums? Please advice if all possible. O. Castillo Miami Fl
May 29, 2019 at 2:23 pm
Glad you finding our London itinerary helpful in planning your upcoming trip. Sure happy to try to answer your question.
– The London Pass does not include free theater tickets, but it gives you up to 50% off on certain shows so you can purchase theater tickets at a discounted rates through their concierge service with your Pass. For example, there is usually 4-5 shows discounted (e.g., Aladdin, Thriller Live) and the discounts are usually between 20 to 50% off the normal ticket price. You can see more about this here . -BTW, I assumed above you were referring to West End performance theater, not movie theaters / cinemas as the London Pass does allow free entry to see films in a few area Curzon movie theaters right now. You can see those listed under the included attractions.
-There are LOTS of good pubs in London and many also serve fish and chips so you can get both at the same place in many cases. I’m not an expert on good fish n chips, but I would just do a search online depending on where you are and you’ll find lots of recommendations. The Clarence in Whitehill (Westminster) is a long-standing central pub where many Prime Minsters have had a pint including Winston Churchill. One popular spot for fish n chips is Ben’s Traditional Fish & Chips. But as I said, there are lots and lots of pubs, you’ll run into them everywhere as you walk around.
-For London Eye tickets, I can’t really help with that. You will need to call or email the London Eye or ticket seller where you purchased the tickets to see if they can change the date for you. Where did you purchase them?
-Appropriate shorts (e.g., not too short) should be OK in London. Most of the churches in London are active places of worship and so you should dress respectfully and act as you would in churches in your own country. You are asked to dress respectfully and modestly (e.g., avoid wearing things like skimpy tank tops, midriff baring tops, really short shorts/skirts) and for men to remove hat upon entry, etc.
-Note that if you are from Miami you might find London a bit chilly depending on the weather when you visit, as it can be cool and rainy even in the summer at times (or it can be pretty hot). So be sure to check the weather before your trip and make sure you bring some clothes for layering.
Stanley Post author
May 18, 2019 at 8:58 pm
We, a party of 4 adults and 6 teenagers, will be in London this December. First arrival on the 18th, then off to Europe the next day, and back to London for a few days from the 31st to the 2nd
My questions are:
1. Would moving around London (mainly using tube, HIHO, and walking) during New Year’s eve and New Year’s day itself be congested, meaning we may have to scale down on the number of places that we plan to visit?
2. Will the attractions be open on New Year’s day?
3. For the above reasons, and to avoid the crowd, we are actually considering the option of taking a day trip to Bicester Village on New Year’s eve for some shopping. But, can you advise if we would have problems returning to London due to overcrowding on the trains and tube?
May 19, 2019 at 3:42 am
Sounds like a fun family trip to Europe.
1. Yes, things will likely be congested on New Year’s Eve, especially towards evening as many people will be heading off to eat, celebrate, and party. So expect it to be busy and the Tube may not be the best place to be later in the evening (e.g., plenty of loud drunk people). But New Year’s Day shouldn’t be too bad as most people in the UK are off work and sleeping in as it’s a public holiday.
2. Some attractions will be closed on New Year’s Eve and/or New Year’s Day so I would be sure to double check the ones you plan to visit to be sure they are open. Some may just have reduced hours. But you should still find plenty to do in London on these days as many attractions stay open.
3. Bicester Village is definitely an option and I think it only closes on Christmas. You can get there by train or you can book one of the dedicated shuttle buses that goes back and forth from central London to Bicester Village if worried about the trains/Tube. It is a very popular destination with the Chinese and other international tourists so it will likely still be busy but not more busy than usual. Other non-shopping options is to book a day tour to some place like Stonehenge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Kent, Cambridge, the Cotswolds, etc. Since you have such a large group, a private tour is likely to be less expensive than joining a group tour and most private tours will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel so you don’t need to worry about transportation.
May 19, 2019 at 9:15 pm
Many thanks for the speedy response and useful tips, much appreciated.
Vicki Baker Post author
May 17, 2019 at 6:51 am
So informative. Thanks so much. I have planned our UK trip from your suggestions. What SIM card for my cell phone do you recommend for the UK. We are coming from Canada.
May 17, 2019 at 7:33 am
Hi Vicki, Glad you are finding our London itinerary and other UK content helpful. For a SIM card, perhaps the easiest is going to be the Three SIM card , which you can pick up at the airports in booths or once in London. Then you can just add data to it as required, and they come with unlimited texts and minutes. Three is our provider here in the UK.
Another to consider is the SIMS and SiM stickers by KnowRoaming which is a Canadian company and you could get one before your trip. We’ve used them as well before.
But you can read more about these and other options for getting online and staying in touch internationally in this article .
May 17, 2019 at 7:56 am
Thank you Jessica for the quick response. Will look up the article you suggested. Great help. Keep up the good work!
May 17, 2019 at 9:03 am
Hi Vicki, Glad it was helpful and just leave Laurence (my husband who wrote the article about SIM cards, hotspots, etc.) a comment if you have further questions as he is more of an expert on UK SIMs 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful time in the UK. Jessica
Tim Riley Post author
April 5, 2019 at 10:10 am
Wonderful web site. We are going to be in London 2 days prior to a Princess Cruise around the British isles. There are 8 of us, ranging in age form 62-82. We arrive Heathrow, June 4 @ 6:45am and will be staying 2 nights 6/4 & 6/5) at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel. Boarding the ship on Thursday, June 6. Would like your suggestion of how best to make the most of 2 these days.
Thanks for your time.
April 5, 2019 at 1:04 pm
Your hotel is well suited for exploring the central highlights of London. I would recommend doing Day 1 and Day 2 of this itinerary. And then I’d recommend taking a few things out and slowing it down since you’ll be traveling in a bigger group. Getting a 2 day London Pass can help as it will allow you to bypass ticket lines at many attractions.
I’d also recommend asking everyone for 1 or 2 must-see things to do or see in London and see if you can incorporate at least one thing everyone really wants to do. Hopefully most will fall within the main highlights (Tower of London, Buckingham Place, etc.) of the itinerary, but may also include changing the itinerary a bit to visit the British Museum, going to a particular shop, or making sure to stop for a fish and chips pub lunch or going to a West End performance.
It may also make sense for a group of this size to split into 2 if there are differences in interests (e.g., one wants to spend the day in museums and one wants to go shopping).
If you have any specific questions about how to modify the itinerary, let me know!
Ken Post author
March 25, 2019 at 10:09 pm
Hi Jessica, we are planning 4 and half days in London and then 3 days and nights starting in Bath and Cotswold. Any suggestions on a mid range hotel/ bed and breakfasts . We are taking a train to Bath and I’m asking for help on the transportation to the Cotswolds area, places to stay for 3 nights,tours and rentals car to get around. Thanks in advance, Ken
March 26, 2019 at 11:29 am
I’d book your train ticket in advance to Bath to save money and also ensure a seat reservation. You can see schedule here .
For exploring the Cotswolds, you can either explore on your own by car or you can take a half day or full day tour from Bath. So if you stay within walking distance of central historic Bath (e.g. Roman baths) you could probably do it without a car if you wanted and rely on public buses and day tours. Or you can rent a car in Bath but you don’t really need a car to explore Bath itself as the highlights are located within walking distance of each other.
If you rent a car, there are a few agencies in Bath including Europcar and Enterprise, we normally use Enterprise, you can check prices here . Just note you need to take a short bus or taxi ride from central Bath to many of the car rental agencies, including Enterprise, as most are a little outside the city center.
For activities and day trips from Bath, I’d check out this list . Some good day trips might be Stonehenge, Cotswolds, Oxford, Bristol, Cheddar Gorge, but I’d recommend spending one day just exploring Bath itself.
We haven’t personally stayed in Bath overnight so I don’t have any personal recs, but there are a number of mid-range hotel and B&B options, I’d just pick something near the city center. Some to check out might be Annabelle’s Guest House , Henrietta House , or The Rising Sun Inn .
Menaka Post author
March 18, 2019 at 5:06 pm
hi Jessica This is super awesome…all your blogs have helped me tremendously in planning my itinerary. Would greatly appreciate your inputs on a few of my questions below: 1- as part of the London pass, I believe we get one day of HOHO bus and River Thames cruise option. Assuming the 24 hour clock for HOHO starts the moment we take the bus but do we also have to take the River Thames cruise within that 24 hours or can we do it any time within the 3 days of London Pass validity? 2- how did use the HOHO option with the 3 day pass itinerary? 3- we want to do the stonehenge, bath and windsor day trip as a part of a tour so I’m assuming the admission fee to Windsor would be a waste for us? 4- we are a party of 6, 2 kids (5 and 9) and 4 adults (2 over 60)- how family friendly would you consider the 3 day itinerary, also considering, we will be jet lagging first couple of days. We are staying a total of 6 days in London and 3 in Edinburgh- London 4 days, Edinburgh 3 days and London 2 days.
Your thoughts are much appreciated.
March 18, 2019 at 6:05 pm
1. The HOHO bus ticket is good for 1 full day, so not for 24 hours. Just for one full operating day of the sightseeing bus to whenever the bus service begins to when it ends. The HOHO River Thames cruise is good for 24 hours, and I would probably do this a different day than you are using the bus ticket. 2. You can use the HOHO bus anytime/day you want, but I’d probably do it the first day so you can listen to the commentary and learn more about the city and sightsee from the bus before you start visiting a lot of places. If you are feeling tired the first day from jet lag, this can also be a nice break from walking. Since our itinerary is designed for walking, you don’t really need the bus or public transit too much to get around so you can also use it more to just sightsee than to get from place to place, but it is up to you. 3. For the day trip, yes, the price of the entry fee for Windsor is probably included in your tour cost. I’d try to do the day tour on a day when you don’t have the London Pass if you have days when the pass is not going to be valid. 4. With 2 younger kids and a group of 6 people, it is going to take you longer and you’ll need more breaks. So I’d cut out a little bit from each day or just take it at a relaxed pace and do what you can each day, without trying to rush too much. Maybe just set priorities to make sure that everyone in the group gets to visit their top attraction. I’d get some info from everyone what their must-see thing to do in London is so you know it ahead of time and can make sure you can fit it in.
Elaine Post author
February 24, 2019 at 8:54 am
Hi Jessica and Laurence, My friend and I are traveling to London and Paris from 4/19 (land at 9am) – 4/26 (leave at 6:40 pm) . My son is studying abroad in Bologna and will be meeting us in London for the weekend. We are in London from 4/19-4/23 but are going on a day trip to Highclere Castle on 4/22. What days’ itinerary would you suggest for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sunday is Easter so hope that doesn’t impact our stay too much. We were planning on attending Mass(Covent Garden) around 9ish that morning then continuing on from there. We are staying at the Doubletree Hilton – Victoria. Thank you, Elaine
February 24, 2019 at 10:15 am
I think our suggested 3 Day itinerary will work for you since you essentially have 3 full days with one day going to Highclere Castle. I’d just check on the opening dates for each attractions you want to visit. Some may be closed (or have reduced hours) for Easter Sunday. Many attractions are closed certain days (Westminster Abbey closes on Sunday) so I would just plan as you would any other trip. If you plan to follow our itinerary (at least loosely), I’d recommend considering the London Pass.
Covent Garden is a good area as you are within walking distance (or short ride) from several good attractions including St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Transport Museum, The National Gallery, and the West End theatres.
At Highclere Castle be sure to take time to stroll the gardens and visit the museum – the focus of the visit here has become on Downton Abbey but I think the true life story of the family is more interesting.
I would expect that London will be busier than usual that weekend as many people, locals and tourists, will be enjoying a long weekend in the city. But it should not be as busy as summertime.
For Paris, it looks like you may have at least 2 full days there. Here is a suggested 2 day Paris itinerary that may be helpful.
Hope that helps, and let us know if you have any specific questions as you continue planning your trip to London!
Cindy Post author
January 13, 2019 at 1:05 pm
I am researching my first trip to London. I think that our flight will come in around 11:00 am. Is this too late to start with the day 1 itinerary? Is there something else that you would recommend for this day?
January 13, 2019 at 3:22 pm
Hi Cindy, If your flights lands around 11am and then you go through security, baggage claim, travel into London, and check into your hotel to leave your luggage, you’ll probably have about half the day left. So you could probably fit in part of the day’s itinerary, but you won’t be able to do it all.
I would suggest just picking one big attraction that you want to visit and head there after you get into London and drop off your luggage, perhaps in Westminster. Then after your visit you can see how much time you have left. I’d do some walking around and visit one or two of the attractions that are open later hours, such as the London Eye and the the Shard or you can do a tour such as the Jack the Ripper tour or get tickets for a West End show. Some of the museums also are open late one night of the week (Fridays is a popular day) so you can check that as well.
Hope that helps, Jessica
Cindy Dunlap Post author
May 6, 2019 at 3:01 pm
Hi Jessica, I think this was my post to you from January. Now that I have solidified my itinerary a little more, it raises more questions. You were so good with your last reply I am reaching out to you again. We land at Heathrow at 10:10am on May 12th, with transportation to our hotel in Bloomsberry already covered. Should we purchase our Oyster Pass at the airport? We will be in London May 12th, 13th, 14th, then Paris on the 15th for a one day visit. (Already have tickets for EuroStar) Back in London 16th with a 1:15 Harry Potter Tour and 17th with an afternoon tour of Stonehenge. We fly back home at noon on Saturday the 18th. We are planning to get a two day London Pass since my understanding is they have to be used on consecutive days. Should we pick up the pass at their Center? We love your 3 day itinerary but how can we tweak it to fit our schedule, any suggestions? Also, we want to do the London Eye, any idea as to when would be best time to squeeze it into our time in London? So much to see so little time???? Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance, Cindy
May 7, 2019 at 1:11 pm
Hi Cindy, Yes, I think getting the Oyster Card at the airport make sense and then you can start using it right away. Otherwise you can purchase the Oyster Card at just about any Underground station (the standard one, not the Visitor one).
Yes, the London Pass has to be used during consecutive days so it does sound like you would want the 2 day London Pass. I would then to try to visit all the main attractions you want to visit covered by the London Pass on those 2 days. You can often save money by purchasing the London Pass online and then you could pick it up in central London. Otherwise, you can purchase it at the Heathrow airport Information Center, but the lines here can sometimes be a bit long.
If you like the itinerary and you only have 2 days, I would just do Day 1 and Day 2 of the itinerary as that covers most of the central highlights of London. The London Eye is already included as a suggestion for something to do in the evening of Day 1. Since the London Eye is not included on the London Pass, it is good to do in evening when other attractions are closed. It is also nice for sunset views and is open late.
Grace lee Post author
October 17, 2018 at 5:46 pm
Wow! I can’t believe how helpful this site is! You’re amazing. We will be in london in June for about 5 full days and will follow your 3 day itinerary. We want to explore Cotswolds area. Is there a way to do it without a tour guide? Sounds like it’s not an easy area to visit on your own? We will rely on public transportation. Any suggestions please? Thank you! Sincerely, Grace from Chicago
October 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm
Public transport is generally very good in the UK, particularly England, but it is not the best in the Cotswolds area. You can take a train to get there but a train will not get you around efficiently. There are several bus companies that operate within the area but you can spend a lot of time waiting and changing buses to see the main towns with tourist appeal unless you only want to stop in one or two of them. It is doable though to see the area by bus, and best if you have 2 days from London to explore just so you have adequate time to really explore. If you decide to do public transit, I’d recommend taking a train to Oxford and then taking buses from there.
But probably the two best ways to explore the area, especially as a day trip or overnight trip from London, are by renting a car or taking a guided bus tour (or private tour). If you are only doing a day trip, it is probably not worth renting a car unless you have a bit more time. Taking an escorted tour of the Cotswolds is very time efficient as you don’t have to worry about driving or parking, can visit several villages in one day, and they will take you to some of the most scenic and popular spots.
Check out our article on visiting Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds , as it goes over the various options in how to get to Oxford and the Cotswolds from London (car, train, bus, guided tour, self drive). It can also help you decide what villages and attractions you may want to visit on a day trip.
Hopefully that helps, and just let us know if you have any further questions as you plan your trip to London!
Julie Post author
October 17, 2018 at 12:00 am
Hello I will be arriving at Gatwick airport next month. It is my first trip to London and I am very excited! Can I know where can I buy the London oyster card and London pass in Gatwick airport? Will the shop be opened? Also how much to rent a wifi router there? My arrival time is 5am. I will need the card to go to St Pancras station. Thanks in advance!
October 17, 2018 at 1:23 pm
Sounds like an exciting trip to London!
You can buy the London Pass at Gatwick Airport at the travel concierge and reservations desks. I don’t know for certain their hours, but it says here that there are 2 and both open at 4:00am. I would call in advance just to double check their times and what they have available if you need to purchase something there and you can find all the phone details here: https://www.gatwickairport.com/at-the-airport/shopping-eating/shops/airport-concierge/
But I would actually recommend buying the London Pass online in advance if you can. It is currently on sale so it will save you a little money – you can then have it delivered to your home (for a shipping fee) or pick it up once in London (for free).
If you are planning to get a Visitor Oyster Card , you need to purchase it in advance. You can purchase it alone or in combination with the London Pass.
The regular Oyster Card can be purchased at the concierge desks in Gatwick North Terminal or Gatwick South Terminal or at the Gatwick Airport train station (or most Underground stations once in London).
I am not sure about mobile WiFi hotspots, but you can certainly rent them if you need to. If you can’t rent one in the airport (or they seem too pricey), you can certainly rent them once you get into London. Here is a guide to getting online while traveling that might be helpful. But you might also look into options before your trip. Prices generally range from about $7 to $12 per day depending on the company.
Hope this helps and do let us know if you have more questions as you plan your trip to London!
October 19, 2018 at 10:35 pm
Hi Jessica, thank you for your quick reply. 🙂 Could you let me know if our itinerary (first week of Nov) is feasible? We do not want to wear ourselves out, yet do not wish to miss out on any interesting sights.
DAY 1 (5pm onwards) – Watch a musical. Which do you recommend? And any tips on getting a cheaper tic? I have watched The Wicked, Lion King, Phantom of the Opera and the Les Miserables at my hometown. Would love to watch one that I have not seen before in London itself!!
DAY 2 – 1) Free & easy day trip to Stonehenge. Love to see the magnificent wonders of nature! Is it the most convenient way to go by the tube? Can I just use the Oyster card?
2) Leicester Square to see the Christmas lights (heard it will be up already?)
DAY 3 – 1) Sky Garden, 2) Imperial War Museum, 3) Westminister Abbey, 4) Churchill War Rooms, 5) Thames River Boat Cruise @Westminister Pier, 6) London Eye.
DAY 4 – 1) St. Paul’s Cathedral, 2) Tower of London, 3) Tower Bridge, 4) Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 5) Borough Market, 6) View From The Shard.
DAY 5 – 1) Kensington Palace, 2) Windsor Castle.
DAY 6 (Need to leave for Gatwick around 6 – 7pm) – 1) British Museum, 2) London Zoo.
I am thinking to get a 3 days London Pass to use from Days 2 ~ 4. Is the free transport to Windsor Castle still valid on Day 5, after the 3 days?
We are also keen in the following: Is it possible to squeeze into the above?
1. Mudchute City Farm (If we go for this, should we skip London Zoo?) 2. Chinatown 3. Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising 4. Brick Lane visit 5. Big Ben (Is it under renovation?) 6. B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
We are also on a tight budget as have spent most on the airfare and accommodation. It would be great if you can recommend any affordable and nice places to eat, shop (for souvenirs, snacks, etc) or apps that can use to get discounts? Is UK Groupon good for tourists? Our budget is around 20 pounds/pax for lunch and dinner.
Thank you in advance!
October 21, 2018 at 9:33 am
There are a lot of musicals (and plays) always playing in London – you’ve seen some good ones, some other popular ones include Kinky Boots, Book of Mormon, Aladdin, Matilda, Mamma Mia, Thriller, Hamilton, and School of Rock.
If you are flexible about the performance you see, a good way to save money is to check in at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square which offers half-price and discounted theatre tickets or you can go directly to a theatre’s box office on the day for cheap standby tickets and returns. But you can also save money often by booking online (just be sure to book with a reputable ticket seller). You can also get discounted theater tickets with the London Pass (performances change but currently includes Thriller, Kinky Boots, and Aladdin) as well and you can see more about that here .
If you want to go to Stonehenge, you will need to book train tickets (and then take a shuttle) or book a bus trip. Stonehenge is far from London so you cannot use your Oyster Card or take the Tube. You can read all about that in our Stonehenge day trip post. I’d recommend booking a day tour for the most convenient option.
Day 3 – This will be a busy day and a bit spread out. I’d start early and perhaps consider starting at either Westminster Abbey or Churchill War Rooms as those are the busiest 2 attractions. Or start really early at Sky Garden (breakfast or coffee) so you can get to one of the others by opening time.
Day 4 – Tower of London gets very busy, so you may want to go there first. St. Paul’s is also busy but absorbs crowds a bit better. Just a thought.
The London Pass will definitely save you money on your time in London if you do all the above. I’d consider the 6 Day London Pass (especially since it is currently on sale) as I think it will be worth it as you’ll save money on entrances to Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, and the travel to Windsor and back. Otherwise you will need to pay for these entrances and the travel.
I would probably not try to squeeze much more into your itinerary as it is already pretty full. If you find yourself with extra time, it is always good to know what else is around you but I would maybe not try to do too much more. Having some time to relax and enjoy just wandering around and enjoying a pub lunch is always nice 😉 Big Ben is under renovation and is not expected to reopen to the public for tours until 2021.
Some budget tips: London Pass will save you money on attractions and theatre tickets. Grab sandwiches and snacks from places like Boots or Marks & Spencers during the day – most UK grocery stores and convenience stores offer grab-and-go meals deals around £10 which include sandwich or pasta, side or snack, and drink. Compare menus for sit-down meals before you sit down – traditional pub meals usually offer a good value in London as well as ethnic food spots like Indian, Thai, and Pakistani. London has great Indian food! I have not used Groupon in the UK but it is here.
October 24, 2018 at 12:21 am
Noted on your tips.
If I buy a 3 days London Pass, do I have to activate the HOHO bus and transport to/from Windsor Castle during the same 3 days? Or can they be used outside of the 3 days?
Also what is the current theatre 1 for 1 promotion on the Visitor Oyster card? I read up online and it seems that the train play (can’t remember the name) has finished? Does it offer discount for Aladdin and the other plays that you mentioned?
If not, would it better if I just buy a standard Oyster Card at Gatwick airport’s concierge counter upon arrival? Is it for sale there? I emailed them but no response.
Where are the places that I can get affordable souvenirs and snacks?
October 25, 2018 at 12:51 pm
Yes, you do need to get and use the HOHO ticket while your London Pass is valid, you use your London Pass to get a same-day ticket to get on the bus. It is the same for Windsor Castle as if the person checks your London Pass date and it is expired they won’t let you though the gates (they are manned by a staff member). So for your itinerary, I’d recommend the 6 day pass as it will probably be a better value than the 4 for what you want to do.
For the discounts with the Visitor Oyster Card, you can see them here . They change regularly so not sure which theater tickets are currently on offer. For the London Pass, you can see the discounted tickets on offer here (currently includes Aladdin).
The Oyster Cards are essentially the same but the Visitor Oyster Card provides discounts so it is normally the pick for most visitors. But if you don’t plan to use any of the discounts, then either will work exactly the same. Just remember the Visitor Oyster Card would need to be purchased before your arrival to London.
As noted before, there are several locations you can purchase the regular Oyster Card at Gatwick. If you need to get a hold of the airport concierge counter, I’d recommend calling them rather than email them. The phone number to both desks is on the page I sent earlier.
For discounts on passes and cards, you won’t find them in person, only online. So if the London Pass is on sale, I’d definitely recommend buying it online. The London Pass has fairly regular sales online. As far as I know there are not sales on the Oyster Card as it is a transport pass.
A good area for budget souvenirs is actually where you pick up the London Pass (if you buy it online, and don’t have it mailed) around Leicester Square as there are several shops there. But it depends on what you are looking for as you’ll see souvenir places all around as you travel in London. Snacks can be found all over – grocery stores like Boots, Sainsburys, Aldi, Tesco, etc. all have affordable snacks.
Wishing you a great trip to London!
Sulastri Gunawan Post author
October 14, 2018 at 7:33 am
We’re interested to follow your 3 days itinerary and buy a London Pass for 4 people. Please advise which 3 stars hotel should I stay which is close to the HOHO bus so we can save transport cost.
Many thanks and best regards, Lastri
October 14, 2018 at 2:37 pm
Glad you found our 3 days in London post helpful in planning your trip itinerary 😉 In terms of hotels in the 3 star range a few to check out are Premier Inn (located near the Borough Market and London Bridge), Hilton Tower Bridge (within walking distance of Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and Borough Market) and Nadler Victoria Hotel (a 4-star near Buckingham Palace). All are centrally located and within a 10 minute walk of a HOHO bus stop – all work well with the itinerary and will minimize the amount of public transport (or taxis) you’ll need to take.
Those should give you some good places to start, but you have loads of lodging options in London near bus stops as the buses stop near almost all of the major centrally located tourist attractions.
sergio Post author
October 10, 2018 at 10:58 pm
This itinerary is amazing. The best one I’ve seen while researching my London trip next week. Is there a way to get this in a PDF or hard copy so I can keep it with me while on the road? Or should I just print it from my web browser. I feel like it may get too cluttered that way. Thanks!
October 12, 2018 at 7:28 pm
Hi Sergio, So happy you found our 3 day London itinerary so helpful in planning your trip! We don’t have a great way to get a PDF of our content at this time, but since a lot of people have asked over the past year, we are trying to come up with a solution soon.
But can definitely print it if you wish and the best way to do that might be to scroll to the bottom of the post and then find the “Share this Post” social icons. If you then click on the “More” button, you’ll find a print option.
Wishing you a wonderful trip to London! Jessica
Karen Post author
October 10, 2018 at 9:50 am
Hi, We will be visiting London October 25-28. I am having a hard time deciding on how to plan out our days. We arrive October 25th at 10:00 am from Los Angeles. I would like to do some sightseeing that afternoon. What would you recommend doing that day? Th next day we will try to see a lot!! Then on the 27th I would like to go to Windsor and if you have other recommendations I would greatly appreciate it. Do you think we should book any tours? Sorry for all the questions. It’s difficult to cram so much in a short time. I appreciate your help. I love your site!! Its been very helpful.
October 10, 2018 at 10:53 am
I would recommend following the Day 1 suggested itinerary on your first afternoon in London. Since you will have a later start, you won’t be able to go inside too many places, so prioritize any of the sites you want to visit the interiors, but there is lots to see by just following the walking tour. Then on Day 2, I’d start at Tower of London if you want to visit there. On Day 2, you can also go back and visit anything on Day 1 that you missed and prioritize the places you really want to see/visit. Then Day 3 you can follow the Day 3 itinerary as it includes Windsor.
Since it sounds like you have about 3 full days, I’d just modify the 3 day London itinerary into how it fits your time in London and interests. The more you plan ahead, the more you’ll be able to see. Just make sure to leave in some flexibility so you are not too rushed and have some time to explore and enjoy!
Let me know if you have questions as you put together your itinerary.
Anais Hernandez Post author
October 1, 2018 at 5:42 pm
My brother and I will be spending 3 full days in London in November. After sooooo many reading of London itinerary, this one is the most complex. I feel it covers everything and most importantly at my pace. Love it! Well done!
October 3, 2018 at 8:31 pm
Hi Anais, Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us a comment and thanks so much for the kind words. We are so happy that you found our 3 day London itinerary helpful for planning your trip to London. We wish you and your brother a wonderful 3 days in London. Please let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip – we will be back in London in November ourselves for a week 😉 Best, Jessica
Hugh Post author
August 25, 2018 at 4:49 am
Hi Jessica & Laurence,
Simply wow….!!! Your efforts are really appreciable, this is an amazing itinerary for spending 3 days in London. I love all the images that you have shared. Thanks for sharing this!
August 25, 2018 at 5:45 am
Thanks Hugh, thanks for taking the time to comment and wishing you a great trip to London! ~ Jessica
Rio Post author
August 25, 2018 at 4:00 am
This is a great itinerary. As a native Brit I only visited the Tower of London last year and still have yet to visit The Churchill War Rooms (it was closed the last time I was there). I used to visit London several times a year as I had family living there at the time and we would rarely do any tourist attractions. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve actually managed to properly explore our Capital.
August 25, 2018 at 5:43 am
Hi Rio, Glad you enjoyed our London itinerary and hopefully you get a chance to visit some more attractions on your next trip. It is so true that we often don’t properly explore our own home. My husband lived in central London for a few years, and only went to a few of the major tourist attractions while he was there. Now, with me, he’s been to just about all the highlights over the past few years 😉 Best, Jessica
Rob+Ann Post author
August 21, 2018 at 8:55 pm
We’ll definitely be using both this itinerary and the London Pass on our next visit. Sadly, we have yet to actually dedicate a trip to explore the city properly! Fixing that is high on our list. Thanks for all of the ideas and details – pinning this one for later! Only thing is, so much to see we’ll have to repeat several times. At least, that’s our plan! 🙂
August 23, 2018 at 5:40 am
Hi Rob & Ann, Hope you get a chance to visit soon and the London Pass is definitely a great way to explore the city. Yes, there is so much to do in London that it can take a few visits to do all the things you might want to do. We visit at least once a year and always leave with things we want to see next time 😉 Best, Jessica
Seana Turner Post author
August 20, 2018 at 6:10 am
The last time we were in London I was surprised at how crowded it was. It had been awhile since I’d been there, and I found it pretty packed. If I were to go back, I’d love the side trips. I’ve never done any of them. I would love seeing Highclere Castle and the Harry Potter world. I wonder what I would think of Stonehenge, but hey, why not? I love the detail of all of your posts.
August 20, 2018 at 6:29 am
Hi Seana, Yes, London is just one of those cities that is busy and popular year round – it can particularly be busy in the summer months. We tend to visit in the autumn, winter, or Spring although you can get some amazing weather in summer. Day trips are pretty easy to take from London and we’ve done all three of those ones and really enjoyed them – I am not even a huge Harry Potter fan but the Harry Potter Studio is still really interesting and well done. Best, Jessica
Anna Post author
August 19, 2018 at 7:43 am
London is such an awesome city and what a great itineary! I´ve spent a month there for my masters thesis 6 years ago and really wanted to go back to do more of the sightseeing ever since! Especially the day trips like Stonehenge or Oxford!
August 19, 2018 at 11:11 am
Hi Anna, Thanks, and hope you get a chance to return to London to do some of the day trips and explore more of the country. Stonehenge and Oxford are both great places to visit in England – we particularly really love Oxford. Best, Jessica
Michael Post author
August 19, 2018 at 3:26 am
Wow what an extensive list of things to do! WE live in London and are meant to be planning 3 days here for our friends later this year. I think I might just send them the link to this and then spend my afternoon in the pub!? Thanks for sharing!
August 19, 2018 at 4:59 am
Hi Michael, So you can just print the 3 day London itinerary, have them buy a London Pass, and meet up with them after their sightseeing in the evening for drinks and dinners – all sorted 😉 It can be hard to show people around a popular destination, I used to live near San Francisco and we now are in Edinburgh (Laurence used to live in London as well) and most people want to go do/see many of the same things but how many times do you really want to ride the cable cars or visit Edinburgh Castle. Enjoy your friends’ visit to London and hope this helps you a bit in your planning! Best, Jessica
Wendy Maes Post author
August 18, 2018 at 7:00 am
It’s been 16 yers since I was in London, but next month I am finally going back with my BFF. This itinerary is perfect! I am going to pin it to use it next month.
August 18, 2018 at 7:59 am
Hi Wendy, Thanks for pinning and so happy to hear you are getting a chance to visit London again next month. I hope you have a wonderful time and glad our London itinerary came at such a great time – enjoy your vacation in London! Best, Jessica
California Globetrotter Post author
August 17, 2018 at 7:20 pm
We thoroughly enjoyed using the London Pass and would highly recommend it again! And probably get it again on a future return to do more! So convenient, and it’s so nice to be able to visit as many locations as you wish without any limits, unlike Nashville.
August 18, 2018 at 7:47 am
Hi Lolo, Yes, the London Pass is one of our favorite city discount passes and we’ve used it a few times now. It would definitely save you money (and time) if spending three days in London and visiting many of the places on this itinerary. It along with the Paris Museum Pass are our two favorite city passes we’ve used.
There is a limit with the London Pass (there is a maximum purse value) but it is pretty high so very few travelers would be able to visit enough places to max is out, and we’ve never heard from anyone about this being an issue. Best, Jessica
Cynthia Post author
August 17, 2018 at 6:41 pm
This is a great itinerary! I was in London for 5 days a few years ago. My favorites were the National Gallery, the British Museum, and the Tate Modern. Also went to a couple other museums can’t remember names of! One had pre-Raphaelite art. Wonderful collections. The Tower of London and other iconic sights were faves as well. I liked seeing the sparkly jewels. 😉
August 18, 2018 at 7:41 am
Thanks, yes, London has some amazing museums and art galleries and you could easily spend 3 full days just visiting them! Sounds like you visited a number of great ones. Umm, for the pre-Raphaelite art, it may have been The Tate (not the Tate Modern) but it could have been one of several museums. Yes, the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels is always a popular favorite 😉 Best, Jessica
Anda Post author
August 17, 2018 at 6:15 pm
London is one of my favorite travel destinations. We’ve spent a week there a few years ago, but my sweet memories started to fade. I think it’s time for another trip. Your 3-day itinerary gave me the idea to add London to our trip to Italy this fall.
August 18, 2018 at 7:36 am
Hi Anda, Ours too! Although I didn’t have a very good impression of London on my first day there, it was raining, windy, and there was tons of some sort of debris in the air that kept blowing into our faces. One of our first stops was also visa related which didn’t add to the appeal. But I’ve come to really love the city and there is just so much to do there, which is a good thing since is it one of the places we visit the most 😉 Hope you get a chance to stop in London in the fall. Best, Jessica
Katherine Post author
August 17, 2018 at 2:35 pm
I lived in London for a few years, and the best thing about it is that you’re never done seeing everything there. There’s always something new and different to check out, and your London itinerary is an awesome first taste! I miss it so much 🙂
August 18, 2018 at 7:34 am
Hi Katherine, I hope you get a chance to get back to London soon 😉 Laurence also used to live in London but saw very few tourist attractions while in London so he enjoys returning with me and seeing all the museums, historical attractions, etc. We’re excited to head back for a week in November! Jessica
Anisa Post author
August 17, 2018 at 1:46 pm
I have spent a fair amount of time in London but I still have so many things I want to see! I need to go to the Churchill War Rooms and do the tour of the Houses of Parliament. I still need to go to the Sky Garden too, but I never plan enough in advance.
August 18, 2018 at 7:31 am
Hi Anisa, Both the Houses of Parliament and Churchill War Rooms are great sites in London and both are easy to visit on the same day as they are a short walk from one another, but you do need to plan ahead for the Parliament. There are also some similar threads between them that make them good stops for the same day. We’ve visited the War Rooms twice, once with a guide and once without and found it interesting both times. Best, Jessica
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Home » Europe » England » Quick Trip to London, England
Quick Trip to London, England
By Author Laura Longwell
Posted on Last updated: August 30, 2020
Over a decade ago, I had the opportunity to spend a month at Oxford University exploring things to do in Oxford . As part of my program, we spent a few hours in London, seeing a play at The Globe Theater, taking a cruise on the Thames, and generally getting quite lost. With so little time in the big city under my belt, I jumped at the chance to take a quick trip to London for work.
I arrived in London on a Sunday morning and had an easy time at the airport. Though I looked for a bus service for an economical way to get downtown from the airport, I think I was a bit early. I ended up taking a metered cab for the roughly 50 minute ride into the city, which cost me a whopping £85 ($140). (Thank goodness I could expense it, but I would definitely look for a more cost-effective option next time.)
I arrived at the Hotel Rathbone and was able to get to my room immediately, which was great after an overnight flight. The hotel might be a bit older than some of the fancier options, but I found it to be convenient, comfortable and spacious. There was also a bar and nice lobby area which was well-utilized by guests in the evening.
Since I only had a few hours of free time scattered over a couple of afternoons, I was looking for a way to cover the most ground in a short period of time. It prompted me to do something highly out of character — I took a hop-on, hop-off bus tour! There are a couple of companies that offer similar tours, but I signed on for The Big Bus tour, which had a deal through my hotel.
For £27 ($43) I got a ticket that was good for 48 hours and, although it missed fun spots like Notting Hill , it made stops at all the big landmarks. Considering that some of the big sites are spread out, it was an economical way to get to a lot of places.
I got on the bus near Hamley’s toy store, the London equivalent of FAO Schwartz, and we headed down to Trafalgar Square , which proudly featured a large clock counting down to the start of the 2012 Olympic Games. From there, we drove along the Thames River and crossed over the London Bridge.
Though it was only about 4:00pm, it was rapidly getting dark by the time we came upon Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The sheer size and color of Big Ben were things that stood out to me the most from my original trip to London, and it was nice to see them more close-up.
One of our next stops was Westminster Abbey where I took advantage of the hop-off feature of the tour and later wandered over to Buckingham Palace.
Since it was Remembrance Day, the UK equivalent to the US Veteran’s Day, there were several parades throughout the city. I was lucky to reach the Palace just as some of the guards were leaving to take their place at one of the celebrations. So while it wasn’t the changing of the guard, it was cool to see them in formation… and you gotta love the big fur hats!
I boarded the bus again bound for the Marble Arch. If I had timed things better, I could have continued on a trip farther West to Harrod’s department store and a few other stops. But unfortunately, the bus trips end at 6pm, and it was time for me to make my way back toward my hotel.
On the way, I decided to hit up the famous Selfridge’s department store on Oxford Street, one of the main shopping streets. Selfridge’s has a seemingly endless amount of merchandise (think Macy’s in Herald Square, but higher-end). After spending some time wandering among the racks, I settled on a fabulous pair of blue suede ballet shoes and decided it was time to make my way back to the hotel before doing any more damage to my credit card.
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Monday 2nd of January 2012
Train options are here (http://www.heathrowairport.com/transport-and-directions/trains)
The quickest option from Heathrow is the Heathrow Express nonstop train, which goes to Paddington railway station and costs about £20 one-way (a return is a little cheaper and there are small discounts for online etc).
There are issues with Terminals, but the Heathrow Express offers a free transit between them (on the same platform) which you can use if you are using the other train service as well.
Finally there's the London Underground (Tube)http://www.heathrowairport.com/transport-and-directions/underground
which is probably about £5 and takes about 50 mins, which is slow, but obviously it might be more convenient as there are many central London stops, and especially if your destination is you are on the same line (piccadillyline)
2 days in London - Insider's guide to the ultimate short trip
Day 1: arrive, off-the-beaten-path sightseeing, & an evening at boxpark, arrive in london.
Home to six international airports and a range of international and national rail links and bus services, it's super easy to get to London for a city break regardless of where you're coming from.
Aim to arrive early in the morning of day one to kick off your sightseeing - you'll need as much time as possible to make the most of this diverse city.
Go for a coffee and explore Covent Garden
Once you've checked into your hotel and freshened up after your journey, make your way to Covent Garden, the first stop on your 2-day London tour.
Admittedly, Covent Garden isn't exactly off-the-beaten-track, but this picturesque area with its classy piazza, beautiful shops, lively market, and bustling eateries is actually a really relaxing place for your first London stroll, and the ideal location for a coffee to give you a boost for the day ahead.
Before you head to a cafe, take in the area by walking to the main pedestrianised square and having a leisurely wander, dipping into the shops if you fancy it.
Covent Garden is also a popular spot for street performers (be warned, they often try and rope in passers by), and the location of the famous Royal Opera House, so make sure you take in the entertainment side of the square, too.
When those coffee (or cake) cravings begin to kick in, head north back past the Covent Garden tube station to colourful Neal's Yard, which is home to the cosy Jacob the Angel Cafe .
This independent coffeehouse makes everything onsite, sourcing all the best local ingredients for their food and amazing coffee from Square Mile Coffee Roasters. All their packaging is completely recyclable or compostable too, so you can grab a guilt free coffee to go if you'd prefer (it's really tiny so the chances of getting a seat are sadly pretty slim).
We also recommend choosing a cake to have with your coffee - their coconut cream pies are legendary!
Catch the Thames Clipper to Greenwich and visit the Cutty Sark
Walk down to the River Thames to Embankment Pier and catch the Thames Clipper boat (service RB1) east along the water to Greenwich.
Although this isn't the fastest route, the 50-minute boat ride will take you through the heart of London, giving you a tour of the sights. Look out for Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, The Shard, HMS Belfast, the Tower of London, and Tower Bridge as you cruise along.
A ticket will set you back just £6.80, with discounts available if you have an Oyster Card (a top-up travel card which can be used on any of London's modes of transport).
Get off the boat at Greenwich Pier and head towards the unmistakable Cutty Sark. This magnificent ship was one of the last tea clippers that was built to transport tea from China to London in the 19th century, and today is one of Greenwich's most iconic features.
The boat suffered a major fire in 2007, and the restoration included the building of a new glass extension which stretches beneath the original hull, making the boat look as if it's still gliding on the ocean.
Visitors can climb aboard the ship, take the wheel, learn about life at sea, and get to grips with the ship's history, making it a great museum that's pretty unique from your standard London fare. Admission to the Cutty Sark costs £16.00 for adults.
Grab some food at Greenwich Market
You'll probably be pretty hungry by this point, so head south into Greenwich Town Centre and go to Greenwich Market for lunch.
As one of London's only historic markets housed in a World Heritage Site, this charming market is tucked away in a courtyard-like space between shops and houses, and is one of the best things about this area of London.
As well as having loads of unique craft, antique, and clothing stalls, it has a whole area dedicated to world foods, selling everything from ramen burgers to full roast dinners, so grab whatever you fancy, take a seat at one of the communal tables, and enjoy the market's joyous atmosphere.
Walk through Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory
Once you've finished your lunch, make your way to Greenwich Park and head uphill towards the Royal Observatory.
The route you take is up to you, however for an easier climb we'd recommend following The Avenue, the park's only road, as it's slightly easier to scale than the alternative paths; either way expect a pleasant walk through one of London's nicest royal parks.
Due to time constraints, we'd suggest not going inside the Observatory but instead enjoying the views across the river and finding the Meridian Line - a line that signifies the border between the eastern and western hemispheres; stand astride the line so you can say you've been in both hemispheres at once!
Once you've snapped some Meridian pics, spend as much or as little time as you fancy enjoying the park, before heading back to the bottom of the hill, through the archways of the Queen's House (a 16th-century mansion between the park and the road) to the National Maritime Museum bus stop F to catch a bus to North Greenwich Station. Both the 188 and 129 buses will take you straight there.
Make your way to Shoreditch for dinner
From North Greenwich, make your way north to Shoreditch. This area of London's trendy East End is vibrant, arty, and multicultural, offering a completely different experience to the central areas of the city.
You'll probably arrive a little early for dinner so go for a walk around, spotting the impressive street art, browsing the cool one-of-a-kind clothes shops, and breathing in the smells of a huge variety of foods from around the globe.
Once you've had your fill of wandering, head to Boxpark near the station for dinner.
Built from repurposed shipping containers and made up of independent shops and boutiques downstairs and vibrant eateries upstairs, it's a fun, relaxed place to grab a meal. Opt for something different from your market food lunch and relax after your long day.
Note: There is often loud music playing as you eat and it can get very busy, so if you're in the market for something a little more laid-back we'd recommend choosing another of the area's many restaurants for your meal.
Stay at Boxpark for a few drinks to celebrate your first day, or head back to your hotel for an early night to be ready to go on day two.
Day 2: Self-guided tour of iconic London sights & dinner
Day two is all about the iconic sights, so get up early, put on your comfy shoes and head out.
We've picked a handful of London's most famous sights for this itinerary (as it's impossible to squeeze everything in), but feel free to swap in or add any extra sights you're itching to visit.
Hop on the tube, train, or bus to Waterloo and start at the London Eye
For your first stop, make your way to Waterloo station to visit the London Eye. This 135-metre-high Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames slowly rotates whilst visitors enjoy panoramic views of the city - a great way to get more of a feel for the areas you didn't cover on day one and map out the other sights you'll be visiting next.
We'd recommend booking your tickets online in advance to get the best deal (regular tickets cost £30.50), and if you're willing to spend a little more, booking a fast track ticket (£53.00) to skip the queues will save you quite a bit of time.
It may sound pricey, but it truly is an iconic experience - and the views are just incredible.
Walk across Westminster Bridge to explore Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey
Back on solid ground, head south slightly along the river and cross Westminster Bridge; you'll have Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster ahead of you and the London Eye behind you, so take it all in!
Once you reach the other side, explore the best bits of Westminster up close, starting with a walk past Big Ben.
Technically it's the bell that holds this iconic name, however the Elizabeth Tower, the clock, and the famous chimes have all become known as Big Ben and are a true symbol of London's heritage.
From here, turn left and head towards Westminster Abbey. This large Gothic church is one of the UK's most famous religious buildings, and is traditionally the place of all royal coronations and some pretty famous royal weddings.
The Abbey is open to visitors most days, so if you fancy walking in the footsteps of the Royals and taking in this breathtaking church then head inside for a wander round.
Online tickets cost £27, and all tickets include a multimedia guide.
Look down Downing Street and visit the King at Buckingham Palace
Double back on yourself from the Abbey and head along Parliament Street towards Trafalgar Square, making sure you walk on the left hand side of the road so that you don't miss the gated entrance to Downing Street.
Located at number ten is the home and office of the serving British Prime Minister, and is one of the most important political buildings in the modern world (alongside the White House).
You can't actually walk up to the house or go inside (you can do a virtual tour online if you want to), so just sneak a peek through the gates on your way past.
When you get to the top of Parliament Street, take a quick look around Trafalgar Square to tick it off your bucket list, then head west down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace.
This long tree-lined promenade is the ceremonial route to the Palace during royal events, as well as being the finishing line of the London Marathon, so definitely opt for this route to the royal residence.
Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of the UK royal family since 1837. It has a mind-blowing 775 rooms (including over 200 bedrooms and 78 bathrooms!) and is used for official events, ceremonies, and celebrations held by the King.
It is possible to visit the State Rooms and garden during the summer months, but just seeing it from the outside and snapping a few pictures is enough to take this magnificent building in.
Make sure you catch a glimpse of the famous balcony where the royals make appearances on special occasions, and take note of which flag is flying on the roof - contrary to popular belief, the Royal Standard means the King is in residence, and the Union Jack means he's not.
Travel tip: a few times a week a changing of the guards ceremony takes place outside the Palace, which involves the soldiers in their famous bearskin hats and red jackets swapping places to guard the residence.
The ceremony always starts at 11am sharp on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday and daily during the summer, so catch it if you can.
Head to Hyde Park to explore and have a late lunch
Once you're done at the Palace, head west to Hyde Park for your second taste of London's amazing green spaces.
Your energy levels will probably be running low after your busy morning, so before you start exploring the park head to the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen for a quick bite to eat overlooking The Serpentine lake.
A walk around the park is a really nice addition to your day, so leave some time for a post-lunch amble.
At 615 acres, it's a pretty big park, especially because it's attached to neighbouring Kensington Gardens, so don't try and cover it all; just pick a few of these main landmarks to find:
- The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain - A memorial built to represent Princess Diana's life.
- The Serpentine Gallery (in Kensington Gardens) - A free art gallery offering world-renowned art, architecture, and design exhibitions.
- The Holocaust Memorial Gardens - A garden of boulders and birch trees created in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust. It was one of Britain's first Holocaust memorials.
- The Reformer's Tree - A floor mosaic representing the original Reformer's Tree that became the symbol of campaigns for all men's right to vote in 1866.
- Kensington Palace (in Kensington Gardens) - Another stunning royal residence.
Make a final stop at the Tower of London
If you've got the time and energy to squeeze in one last sight, hop on the tube to London Bridge (take the Jubilee Line from Green Park) to visit the Tower of London.
This unmissable landmark has a past as a royal residence, treasury, mint, armoury, and famous prison, and today it's best known as the location of the dazzling Crown Jewels - a collection consisting of 23,578 gemstones which are a powerful symbol of the monarchy.
If you want to go inside, admission grants you access to most of the site, allowing you to explore the three sides to the Tower's history as a fortress, a palace, and a prison.
Standard adult tickets cost £29.90 online.
Treat yourself to a fancier dinner
Head back to your hotel to freshen up if you want to, or go straight from the tower to dinner; our three suggestions are in the London Bridge area, so sticking around would be a good idea.
As it's the last day of your weekend in London and you've only really had casual market-style food so far, we think it's about time you treat yourself to a slightly fancier sit-down meal.
Here are our top three recommendations of where to go:
If you're looking to treat yourself, you can't get much more elegant than a meal in The Shard overlooking the London skyline.
Dining at any of The Shard's four restaurants would be special any day of the week, but we recommend going for the British cuisine served up in Aqua Shard on the 31st floor.
Many of the ingredients are sourced from nearby Borough Market, making for super fresh, seasonal, and delicious dishes.
Definitely book ahead if you want to eat here, and anyone wearing shorts, flip flops, and sportswear will be turned away, so dress nice!
Casa do Frango
Casa do Frango is a light and airy Portuguese restaurant that brings Algarvian cuisine to London, offering an authentic take on everyone's favourite - piri piri chicken.
The space is reminiscent of a trendy artist's loft, with huge windows and exposed brickwork all draped with leafy green plants, and is a lovely place for a special yet unfussy dinner.
Opt for a range of dishes to share - we'd recommend the octopus rice, spicy chargrilled cauliflower with coriander yogurt, and beer battered whitebait, as well as the chicken, of course. You can't reserve a table for groups of less than six, so go early or have a drink at the bar whilst you wait.
Sometimes all that will do after a long day is a big, comforting bowl of pasta, and Padella is the ideal spot for just that.
Located just off Borough Market, this modern bistro has a short-but-sweet list of delicious homemade pasta dishes inspired by owners Tim and Jordan's trips to Italy, and it's the ultimate dinner spot if you're after a relaxed, affordable meal.
The restaurant is tiny and operates on a first-come-first-serve basis, however if there's no space you can leave your details and they'll text you when your table is ready (it's definitely worth the wait), leaving you free to go to a nearby bar for an aperitif.
You could choose to travel home (or onto your next destination) late on day two after you've finished your meal, but booking an extra night at your hotel and leaving London in the morning is a far better option we'd say (mainly because you'll get an extra breakfast at another of London's amazing cafes if you do).
Whatever you decide, we hope you've had a great time and enjoyed exploring England's capital!
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Finding the Universe
Travel tales, photography and a dash of humor
One Day in London – What to Do in London in A Day
Last updated: August 7, 2023 . Written by Laurence Norah - 72 Comments
Planning on spending just one day in London? Sure, it’s not very long, but you’ll be able to see a lot of London’s highlights even in such a short space of time.
In this post, we’re going to help you plan your perfect day in London. We’re going to take a look at some of our favourite sights in London, capital of the UK and a spot I was thrilled to call home for a couple of years before I set off on my travels.
This guide to what to do in London in a day makes for the perfect day exploring London. It would make for a great way to start a longer trip around the UK , or to see some of London’s top sights if you have a few hours stopover in one of London’s airports .
This itinerary would also help someone planning a general European adventure – take a look at our 2 week Europe itinerary for a suggestion of how to plan something like that.
This post is set up to help you see all of these key London sights in one day and I’ve ordered them in the way that I’d recommend you go about doing that.
1 Day London Itinerary Overview
Here’s a quick overview of what this plan has you doing, for quick reference
- The Tower of London & Tower Bridge
- The South Bank and London Eye, Shard or St. Paul’s Cathedral
- The Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey
- Buckingham Palace
- Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and the West End
- Traditional London Pub
Now, let’s see how that looks in our detailed guide to what to do in London for a day.
One Day In London: What to Do in London for A Day
Below is a detailed guide to what to do in London if you only have a day, in the order that makes the most sense in terms of getting around and minimizing transport.
Ideally, you’ll start the day at opening time of the first attraction (between 9am and 10am, depending on the day of the week), and keep going until you’ve seen everything!
1. The Tower of London
History! If you like the TV show Game of Thrones (and who doesn’t?), then you’ll love the Tower of London . This place was home to so much plotting, scheming, death and betrayals that it almost makes George’s epic tale of Westeros seem pale in comparison.
Queens, princes and archbishops died here, and history was literally made on the grass underfoot.
Admittedly, there are less dragons in London.
Expect to spend a least two hours here, exploring all there is to see, from the tower, to the execution block, to the crown jewels themselves. You can see full ticket pricing information here . It’s free for holders of the London Pass .
Alternatively, you can buy a ticket online in advance here . Using our link normally saves you between 5 and 10% on the adult admission price for the Tower of London, meaning these discounted Tower of London tickets are some of the best value we’re aware of.
We also recommend checking prices via GetYourGuide here , and on the official website here , where you can also see opening times. Note that tickets bought via GetYourGuide normally include free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance of your visit (although do check the ticket description prior to purchase to be sure).
While you’re at the Tower of London, you might as well take the opportunity to pop across the Thames on Tower Bridge, easily the most famous of London’s bridges, and for good reason!
You can also actually go inside this bridge and learn all about how it works by visiting the Tower Bridge Exhibition, which is often a place we love to take friends and family when we show them around the city as it’s quite a unique experience.
2. The South Bank and London Eye
Once you’ve crossed over Tower Bridge, you’ll find yourself on the South Bank, cunningly named because it’s on the south bank of the river Thames.
As you walk west along this lovely bit of pedestrianized riverway you’ll find yourself passing such sights as HMS Belfast (one of our favourite military museums in London ) and London’s City Hall.
You’ll also be walking past the recreation of Shakespeare’s famous Globe theatre, the Shard (Western Europe’s tallest building), the Millennium Bridge which leads to St. Paul’s cathedral and the quite magnificent Tate Modern Art Gallery, all of which are likely to tempt you in. Go on, I won’t tell anyone.
Once you’ve made it past all these attractions, and maybe grabbed a bite to eat at Borough Market just behind London Bridge, you’ll find yourself coming around the corner, with the Houses of Parliament swinging into view and the giant Ferris wheel known as the London Eye looming large.
If you want a spectacular view of London, take a spin in the wheel, and marvel as the city unfurls beneath you.
For tickets, it’s cheaper to book in advance than in person. You can book tickets and check prices on the official site here .
We also have a complete guide to the London Eye here with lots more information to help you plan a visit.
Another option is to visit the Shard, which also offers spectacular views from a higher vantage point. The Shard has better views of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, whilst the London Eye gets you close to the Houses of Parliament. You can book tickets for the Shard in advance on GetYourGuide here (book online in advance for the best prices).
If you’d prefer not to walk from Tower Bridge to the Houses of Parliament, you can also take a river “bus” from either Tower Pier or London Bridge City Pier all the way down the river to Westminster Pier.
It’s a nice way to see London from the water, and prices for the river bus are pretty good value. See our guide to getting around London for tips on the different public transport options in the city.
3. The Houses of Parliament
After your London Eye ride, walk or boat ride (whichever you opt for!), you’ll want to pop across the river to take in the Houses of Parliament, home to the English lawmakers and the bell known as Big Ben.
This is one attraction that is easy to see from the outside, but not many people know that you can also drop inside if you want to, and go on a guided tour.
Tours aren’t quite “turn up and go in”, as they only run-on certain days, but with a bit of research and forward planning (and by visiting this site ), you should be able to visit the English home of power and authority without too much trouble. You can also book a guided tour of both Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament here .
If it is too much trouble though, fear not. The building is very impressive from the outside, and you can sate your thirst for history quite easily by popping to Westminster Abbey, which happens to be just behind the Houses of Parliament.
Westminster Abbey has played host to some of the most important historical events of the last thousand years in the UK, hosting 16 royal weddings, around 50 coronations and a host of memorial services, including that of Diana, Princess of Wales.
It is also home to some of Britain’s most famous dead, including Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, notable royals, and many more. Very much worth a visit and free for holders of the London Pass. Full details on pricing and opening hours here . You can also book your tickets online in advance here .
4. Buckingham Palace
Ah, the Queen. Depending on you who you talk to in the UK, she’s either a lovely old dear who the country needs, or a tragic waste of taxpayers’ money.
Whichever, she does happen to have a number of rather lovely houses to live in, the most famous of which is of course Buckingham Palace. Here you can peer through the railings to watch the changing of the guard and wonder as to how the other half live, and wave frantically at the windows on the off-chance that someone waves back.
On our itinerary, you’ll likely miss the Changing of the Guard (see when that happens here ), so you would need to move things around if that happens to be a priority for your visit. Missing it isn’t the end of the world though, as it gets really crowded at that time of day.
You can also visit and actually go inside Buckingham Palace in very narrow windows of opening during the summer, with full details of pricing and opening hours available on this website.
Of course, whilst you’re at Buckingham Palace, you should probably take a moment to explore some of the other local attractions.
A quick stroll down the Mall will take you past the pretty St James’s Park, home to a number of pelicans. Then you can head out onto Trafalgar Square, where you can enjoy seeing the lions, Nelson’s famous column and sate your art appetite at the excellent, and free, National Gallery .
Note if art and museums is more your thing, you might want to schedule a visit to the British Museum in this itinerary. From Trafalgar Square it’s a 20 minute walk or a 12 minute tube ride to one of London’s most famous (and free) museums.
5. Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and the West End
From Buckingham Palace you could either stroll up the Mall, or head back towards Westminster Abbey, and go up Whitehall. I’d advise the latter, and not least because one of the Harry Potter London locations is nearby .
Going up Whitehall takes you through the heart of government in Britain, and you’ll pass right by 10 Downing Street. Don’t be upset if you miss it though, you can’t actually see the famous door from the street.
As you walk along Whitehall you’ll find yourself passing the Cenotaph, one of Britain’s most well-known war memorials . You’ll also pass the Horse Guards, where you can get photos of the, well, Horse Guards atop their horses, before finally arriving at Trafalgar Square.
This is home to Nelson’s Monument and the National Gallery, and a photo with one of the lions is pretty much mandatory. From here, you’re an easy walk to the West End, home to the famous covered market of Covent Garden and a number of London’s most well-known theatres.
If you have time, you might now consider visiting the excellent Transport Museum in Covent Garden, where you can learn all about the history of London’s transport system. Alternatively, you can just take in a free show from one of the street entertainers here.
This is also where you’ll find Leicester Square, which is famous as where major films are first shown in the UK.
Here you might want to take in a show to round off your day in London – we can recommend the Mousetrap , the world’s longest running stage show in the world!
6. Visit a Decent London Pub
It’s not all hard work and sightseeing, you know. When you’re in London, you really should take the time to experience a truly British experience – a pub.
Enjoy a pint of something exotically named hand-pulled from a wooden handle, and marvel as to how the decor is likely not to have changed for a good couple of hundred years.
If you’re hungry, try out an English classic like fish and chips or steak and ale pie, and rejoice at how much of London you were able to see in one day.
If you’ve gotten to this point and think the idea of focusing on the pubs of London is more your scene, check out this walking tour which does just that.
Map of 1 Day London Itinerary
To help you visualise the above we’ve put it into a map, which you can also see on Google Maps here .
Getting Around and Saving Money in London
For the day in London as described above, getting around by foot is entirely feasible – contrary to public opinion, central London is perfectly walkable. If you’re not so into walking though, then London is very well served by public transport.
The cheapest way to use that is with an Oyster card, a pre-pay system which works out much cheaper than paying for tickets, and available at nearly every transport hub. You can also use a contactless credit card or a device which supports contactless payments.
We have a detailed guide to using the London transport network here which covers all your options.
In terms of visiting attractions, a number of London sights are free, including some of the top museums like the Tate Modern.
However, places like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and St. Pauls Cathedral aren’t free, and if you think you’re going to be visiting a few sights, then you have a couple of options for saving money.
First is the London Pass , a sight-seeing pass that gives you access to over 60 top attractions across the city.
From those listed on this page, the London Pass includes the Tower of London, Tower Bridge Exhibition, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Transport Museum. If you plan on visiting all those attractions, the entry fees as of August 2023 would be around £116.
A 1 day London Pass currently costs £79, so that would save you around £40 per person. It also saves you the hassle of having to book separate tickets for each attraction or joining long ticket lines on site.
Check our full review and guide to the London Pass to see if it’s for you.
The second option we recommend is the GoCity London Explorer Pass . This lets you pick and choose from a set of attractions. You can choose to go to 2, 3, 5 or 7 attractions from the selection of over 60 attractions.
We think that both of these passes can save you money in London, the difference is largely down to which attractions you want to see, and how many attractions you want to see.
Get your London Pass online from the official site here .
What about a walking tour of London?
If you’d prefer to have a guide for all or part of your day in London, who can share with you some of the history of this city as well as more local knowledge and insights, then we can recommend this London in a Day tour .
This tour covers nearly everything we have in our one-day London itinerary, including the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Changing of the Guard, and Westminster Abbey.
It’s a full day tour, but we think is one of the better options if you would prefer an escorted experience and the input of a guide.
We’ve used the tour company “ Take Walks ” for walking tours around the world, and have always had a positive experience, and are happy to recommend this tour . They also have a number of other tours in London that are worth checking out.
Another option we suggest are these tours by City Wonders , they offer a wide range of tours in London, from introductory tours through to more detailed and specific tours.
They also offer attraction entry to most of the attractions in this list if you want to book items individually. Definitely a good one-stop shop for your London trip planning.
Harry Potter fans will want to check out this guided tour of Harry Potter filming locations in London .
We have a full guide to some of the best walking tours in London , which is also worth reviewing if you are interested in a walking tour while you are in the city.
Where to Go After Your Day in London – Day Trips & More
We’re often asked where to head to from London after this itinerary is over, or just for suggestions on good day trips from London.
We’ve done quite a few day trips from London, including a day trip to Oxford and a day trip to Stonehenge from London , and we wanted to share some ideas, for both day trips from the city and longer trips to see more of the country.
- Stonehenge, Bath and the Cotswolds are really popular destinations, and you can easily do these together as part of a day trip from London. This tour features all of those destinations, as well as Windsor Castle. It even includes lunch!
- Lovers of Downton Abbey will want to visit Highclere Castle where the show was filmed. See our guide to visiting Highclere Castle , which includes tips for visiting as a day trip from London, then check out this tour .
- A tour of Oxford, the Cotswolds and Stratford . Three popular destinations from London that you can visit as part of a day trip. Also see my guide to visiting Oxford from London for more ideas.
- A private tour down to Portsmouth . This is a good tour for those of you with an interest in naval history and/or visiting a lovely English seaside city. Also see our guide to things to do in Portsmouth for more ideas.
- For a longer trip, check out my 10 day UK itinerary by public transport , which starts with a couple of days in London, but then has you touring some highlights of the rest of the country. We also have 1 week and 2 week self drive itineraries .
- Visiting Paris as a day trip from London is a popular option as well, and with the Eurostar train direct from central London to Paris in around 2 hours, this can even be done as a day trip. You can either do this yourself, booking train tickets here , or you can take a day tour like this one . See our guide to spending a day in Paris for sightseeing tips.
- If you want to take a longer guided tour from London and see more of the UK, we recommend this small group tour , which takes eight days to take you from London to Edinburgh.
Hopefully these give you a starting point for the next stage in your trip!
Where to Stay in London
If you’re planning on spending the night in London, you have no shortage of accommodation options, from hostels to luxury five star properties.
For this itinerary, we’d suggest placing yourself fairly centrally if you can, to minimise travel time. For a short stay like this, we’d definitely recommend using booking.com to book your property – whilst we love apartment rentals, we think they are less sensible for a whistle stop visit.
For examples of properties at different price points that are centrally located, here are some options:
- The Walrus Bar and Hostel – A well reviewed centrally located hostel
- The Z hotel in Shoreditch – excellent value in a lively and popular part of London with great dining options
- Lime Tree Hotel – A well reviewed boutique hotel, around nine minutes walk from London Victoria
- The Resident Victoria Hotel – a well reviewed and centrally located hotel offering excellent value for money
- The Savoy – true luxury as close to the city centre as you can get!
Generally when searching for somewhere to stay our first choice is booking.com. They’re easy to use, usually have the best prices, and have everything from hotels to hostels , guest-houses and even apartments . Try them for London and see!
If you prefer an apartment, then we recommend either Plum Guide or Vrbo .
Plum Guide doesn’t have quite so many choices, but they carefully curate their listings so their options tend to be of a very high quality whilst still being available at a range of price points. We’ve stayed at a number of their properties around the world, and you can see our review of the Plum Guide here . See their listings for London here .
If you can’t find what you want from the above choices, or you want some new options to try out, we wrote a whole post on the best alternatives to AirBnB which you should check out!
Between these options, you should find the best prices and places to stay for your trip, as well as a good selection of reviews and feedback to help you make an informed decision.
We also have a complete guide to where to stay in London . That has over 60 recommendations for where to stay across a number of areas in London for all budgets. It also has tips on which neighbourhoods to stay in and things to know before booking a property. Well worth a read.
Practicalities for Visiting London
Electricity in London is of the 220v standard, with a three pin plug that isn’t found in too many other countries. Travellers from most of the rest of the world, including mainland Europe and the US will need an adapter like this .
In addition, US travellers will need to check their equipment supports the 220v standard – it will be written clearly on the power adapter.
As a general rule, we have found that laptops, phone and camera chargers and other small electronics are universal, whilst larger devices like hair dryers and hair straighteners are not.
See more on travel adapters and how to choose one for your trip in our guide to the best travel adapters .
London uses the British pound, which is accepted across the British Isles. You can get Pounds from ATM’s, banks and currency exchanges, although credit cards are widely accepted, and there is no need to carry large quantities of currency.
If you do use a credit or debit card, just make sure it doesn’t charge foreign exchange fees or have a poor currency conversion rate. There are a number of excellent credit cards for travellers, and it’s always worth checking to be sure you have a good deal before travelling and racking up unexpected fees.
Internet access is widely available in the form of WiFi all around the city, including in hotels and coffee shops, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting online. You can also pick up local SIM cards if you have an unlocked phone. These are usually excellent value as data rates in the UK are very competitive.
For more options on getting online when travelling, check out our guide to getting online when travelling to help you figure out the best options. We also have a guide to picking the best travel router , which can help you extend a weak WiFi network and share it across multiple devices.
The water in the taps in London is safe to drink unless otherwise indicated. If you don’t like the taste, bottled water is widely available. We usually recommend you travel with a re-usable water bottle like this to save on having to buy water bottles.
London is a safe city in our experience, although as with any major city, of course you need to keep your wits about you – keep your possessions in view all the time, keep your wallet or phone in a front pocket (with a zip if possible), and don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do at home. If you’re going to use a taxi, make sure you use a licensed operator such as a black cab.
Further Reading On Visiting London
We have plenty of further reading to help you plan your trip to London, both content we’ve created based on our experiences, and third party content we think you’ll find useful in planning what to do in London, as well as the wider UK.
- The official TfL website , which will give you information on tickets, routes and any updates to services in the forms of delays or cancellations
- Jess’s detailed guide to the London pass , which will help you decide if this is a good way for you to save money on your London sight-seeing. The London Pass has a package option to include a Oyster Card and currently also includes Hop-on, Hop-off bus passes, which can be a great transport option.
- Spending more time in London? Check out our itinerary for spending two days in London , as well as our detailed itineraries for 3 days in London and 6 days in London .
- We have a complete guide to where to stay in London , with over 60 recommendations across all the main areas in London we recommend.
- We have detailed guides to visiting the Tower of London and the London Eye which includes information on planning your visit and how to save money on these popular attractions
- A guide to public transport options in London , as well as the best ways to pay for public transport in London
- Harry Potter fans will want to check out our guide to the key Harry Potter filming locations in London
- Jess’s guide to a 1-day walking tour of the highlights of London .
- A detailed London packing list to help you pack
- A guide to getting into central London from all London’s airports
- How about heading to Paris from London? We have a detailed guide to the best way to get from London to Paris to help you plan
- The Eyewitness Travel Guide to London , which has all sorts of information within, including more itineraries and ideas for your trip
- Rick Steve’s London guide, the #1 bestseller on Amazon for UK travel guides, and always an excellent source of relevant information
And that sums up our idea of the perfect one day in London! Have you visited London? What would your perfect day look like. Let us know in the comments below!
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Leeroy Jenkins says
22nd August 2023 at 8:11 am
This is the best guide I’ve found in looking for how to hoof it around London in a day. Exactly the itinerary I was looking for and practical guidance and helpful tips. Thank you, we are there tomorrow!
Laurence Norah says
22nd August 2023 at 8:52 am
Thanks very much Leeroy! Have a great time and remember, stick with your team and watch out for dragons 😉
Ajitabh Gupta says
1st January 2023 at 10:26 pm
Hi there , this is a fantastic itinerary. Thanks for putting this together . We have a 12 hour layover at Heathrow and we are planning to book a private car for the entire duration. We land at 9 am on Sunday with return flight at 8:55 pm same Day. Will you suggest any changes to the itinerary since we will have a private taxi for the entire duration, if so , what ? Thanks in advance
3rd January 2023 at 4:39 pm
It’s my pleasure! So I think you should have plenty of time with a vehicle. Traffic into and around London can be a bit slow, I’d estimate you’re looking at around an hour each way from Heathrow conservatively. But this should give you time to see the highlights as described. The only recommendation I might have it to do the itinerary in reverse. Depending on the day and how long it takes you to clear customs, you might make it to Buckingham Palace in time to see the Changing of the Guard in the morning. Then you can work your way through the sights in reverse and finish at the Tower of London. I believe it is still recommended to book timed entry for the Tower of London, so if you do that for the afternoon you don’t need to worry about getting there by a certain time in the morning, which could be stressful. I’d also recommend booking a timeslot for the London Eye / Shard if you plan on visiting one of those.
Other than that though, have a great trip!
Kelly Powell-Smith says
15th August 2022 at 6:27 pm
These are great tips! Thank you for posting them. My daughter and I will have a full day in London (plus the afternoon we arrive) and are looking at this one day itinerary and it seems perfect. High on our list of things to do are Tower of London, London Eye, and Westminster Abbey. I think we will start at the Tower of London when it opens at 9 am. Estimating about 2 hours there as you suggest. If we take the walking route shown, about how long might it be before we arrive at the London Eye? Trying to buy tickets in advance so trying to guess arrival time. Same for the Abbey. Thinking we’d do the latest afternoon tour and then stay for Evensong since there will be one of those services on that day. Thank you for any tips you can share.
16th August 2022 at 9:13 am
Thanks very much! So if you take the route I suggest, which crosses Tower Bridge and follows the South Bank, it’s about a 55 minute walk. However, you are going to see quite a few things along the way, including Tower Bridge from various angles, Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tate Modern and the Golden Hind ship. These will probably all have you stopping and taking photos, so I’d suggest planning for a 1.5 hour trip just to be on the safe side.
Then from the Eye to Westminster Abbey is a 15 minute walk, but again, you’ll be going past the Houses of Parliament, so I’d recommend planning for 30 minutes.
I hope this helps! Have a great trip and let me know if you have any more questions, I’m happy to help 🙂
27th September 2021 at 4:50 pm
Wow, you’re quick! Thank you Laurence, I appreciate your help.
We (my mom and me) fly to London Stansted around midnight and from there have a transfer to Victoria. We’re not staying at any hotel, but have an evening flight back, so have to transfer back to the airport from Victoria around 4pm, so basically we have 15 hours or so to spare. Unfortunately most of it is at night 🙁 We have only our backpacks, no other baggage, so that’s good. I’m so afraid we’re not going to see much and walk in circles or be late for the transfer back to the airport.
I thought we could first go from Victoria to walk around Soho and China town, then maybe to St Paul’s Cathedral and through Tower Bridge toward Tate Modern – but it opens at 10, so we have several hours to get there… After that I was thinking London Eye & Big Ben and, since it would be after 10am – The National Gallery, Buckingham Palace and back to Victoria.
What do you think?
27th September 2021 at 6:39 pm
It’s my pleasure 🙂
Ok, so that sounds pretty full on! Unfortunately, yes, London is going to be mostly closed. Obviously late night bars and clubs will be open, but other than that the sights will be closed. SoHo will be pretty lively I expect as there are a lot of bars and things there. Overall your plan sounds pretty good, as long as you don’t mind spending a fair amount of time with not too much open. You will at least see a side of London that is less seen, especially in the early hours of the morning! Should be an experience 😀
Let me know if I can help any more! I think you’ll have more than enough time to do everything you want 🙂
27th September 2021 at 11:45 am
Hi! How are you?
What free attractions do you recommend? And what could I see at night? I’m arriving at Victoria Coach Station at midnight and go back home from the same station around 4PM, so I have some time to sightsee but I don’t really know how to schedule all that 🙁 I would really appreciate your help!
Thank you so so much in advance
27th September 2021 at 12:59 pm
Good to hear from you! So I’m not sure from your message if you are planning to sleep somewhere or just sightsee. At midnight pretty much all the attractions will be closed in London until the following morning, although you can of course see the outside of all the sights. So I’d probably suggest sleeping until the morning and then getting up quite early and sightseeing. I’d suggest staying near the coach station so you can get to and from your accommodation, and ensure to pick somewhere that lets you store any bags you have as well as one which has late check in.
From the Victoria Coach station area you could easily follow our route in reverse if you just wanted to see sights from the outside. So that could include Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Covent Garden, London Eye, South Bank, Shakespeare’s Globe, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and Tower of London.
In terms of free attractions, it depends on your interests. I like the science museum, V&A museum and Natural History Museum, which are all close to each other in Kensington. The Tate Modern is good if you like modern art, and the Museum of London is awesome to learn about the history of the city.
I hope this helps a bit, let me know if I can provide any more input! Have a great trip!
David Bunting says
22nd September 2021 at 11:12 pm
Hi me and my wife are coming down to London in October we are trying to plan a good tour to see the sights I’ve just seen your walking tour in one day and it’s just what we are looking for we are staying in kings cross and would get the tube to the start point and walk it to finish up in convent garden area we are not planning on spending much but may do London eye or shard we may do a river cruise but we like to walk and take in the sights how far from start to finish is your walk if we start between 10 and 11 taking it steady calling for a couple of drinks and maybe the attractions I’ve mentioned would we be round for mid afternoon maybe or would it take longer we may not use the attractions we may just take the sights on foot we enjoy just walking your walk plan I think is ideal for us I think we will see all we want in the walk I hope you can help me it will be much appreciated. Cheers. David
23rd September 2021 at 9:50 am
So the total walking time you are looking at on this route is about 2 hours. I’d also recommend when you get to the Tate Modern, to cross over the millenium bridge and take a look at St. Pauls Cathedral. It only adds five minutes walk to the trip but is well worth the detour.
Obviously, depending on how long you stop to look at attractions / have a drink or two, the journey will take longer, but I’d say if you started around 10am you’d definitely be able to do this by mid-afternoon.
Have a great time in London, let me know if you have any more questions!
Deana Rasberry says
7th January 2020 at 4:09 am
I have been reading all your lovely suggestions and that is great information to have. I am planning a first time trip to London in May and arriving at 0900 in Heathrow and staying at Accor hotel right near that airport. My question is I have the full day from arriving to 7:30 where I booked tickets to see WICKED at Apollo Victoria Theatre, but in terms of sites to see in which order would you recommend with that event in mind? The morning after I fly ( on 16th) back to States. Its just one full day in London after 3 weeks around Europe, I am departing out of Heathrow so decided to arrive one day before. Thanks for your time in advance and look forward to suggestions. I already down loaded the LONDON city mapper for trans options….. wanted to see much as possible including Piccadilly and maybe Abbey Road studios.
7th January 2020 at 3:16 pm
I would actually say that the order in the itinerary should work just fine for you. The only change I might make would be to switch the last two stops around, but only if you don’t want to go inside Westminster Abbey. This is because the abbey closes fairly early, so if you get here late you will only be able to enjoy the outside (which is also magnificent). Otherwise, the rest of the itinerary should work fine in the order it is in, as the theatre is near Westminster Abbey 🙂
Let me know if I can be of any more help, and have a lovely time in London,
7th January 2020 at 5:14 pm
Osum!! Thank you For all the advice. I appreciate them. Deana
8th January 2020 at 11:56 am
1st January 2020 at 7:15 pm
Such a helpful overview of 1-day in London! And one short ‘day’ is all we have. To make the most of our time I’m wondering if you can help fine tune our itinerary plan.
We arrive at Heathrow at 8pm on a Sat night in Sept, and fly out on Sun at 5pm. Given the relatively late arrival we’re wondering which neighbourhood we should stay in. We’re looking for something that would put us in good position to launch into the walking tour the next morning and at the end, be in a good position for picking up the luggage and whisking back to the airport. Accomodation-wise, we’re look for something moderate meaning charm and comfort but not luxury.
Also, are there any parts of the tour or off-tour suggestions that would be conducive to squeezing in 10pm-midnight on Saturday?
Look forward to any further advice you have for us!
Karen & Carla
1st January 2020 at 8:29 pm
Hi Karen & Carla,
Great to hear from you, and thanks very much.
So I would personally suggest staying at a hotel near Paddington train station. We stayed at this one a couple of weeks ago, which was just a five minute walk from the train station, and they held our luggage on our last day with no problem. It’s also a short walk to nearby tube, from where you can easily get to the start of your day. There are quite a few in the area. From Paddington, you can get the Tfl rail service direct to Heathrow for around £10 per person each way, and it takes around 30 minutes. There’s also the Heathrow Express, which is twice as fast and costs twice as much, so it’s up to you!
In terms of what you could squeeze in, obviously most indoor attractions will be closed at the time. However, Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square are pleasant to walk at night, and I always love walking across the Thames Bridges near the London Eye at night as it is so pretty and lit up.
I hope this helps – have a wonderful trip, and do let me know if I can be of any further assistance!
All the best, and Happy New Year,
2nd January 2020 at 1:06 am
Happy New Year to you as well, Laurence, and wishes for many more happy travels. Thanks for the advice. We’re booked and ready to go. 🙂
2nd January 2020 at 11:20 am
My pleasure – have a great time!
Vijay Patel says
3rd September 2019 at 6:10 am
It’s my dream to visit London for once in my life as I am very fond of places to visit in London. especially, the London Eye. The list of places and other things to do in London is just amazing. London is such an amazing place to reside and visit hence I will be definitely sharing this great blog with my friends and family. I am glad I came across this and thanks for investing time and sharing this informative post with us.
3rd September 2019 at 9:45 am
My pleasure Vijay, thanks for your comment 🙂
7th August 2019 at 11:41 am
These are some fantastic tips which I will definitely be going to follow on my next one day trip to London. And please suggest any of the budget hotels in North London which have all the necessary facilities and close to these attractions. Thanks
7th August 2019 at 8:52 pm
So the two properties in our list we’d suggest based on your criteria would be:
- The Walrus Bar and Hostel – A well reviewed centrally located hostel
- The Z hotel in Shoreditch – excellent value in a lively and popular part of London with great dining options
If those don’t work, the linked site should have plenty more options for you 🙂
21st March 2019 at 6:38 am
Hello Laurence, I stumbled upon your posts in Google, I found very helpful tips from your website. I’m thankful for such detailed, well-done posts. It will by our first time in London, I’m nervous because I’m bring my parents and will be there for only a day. Taking Euro Star train from Paris we will arrive Monday May 13, 2019 at St. Pancras @ 8AM and leaving same day at 8PM. Knowing that we won’t have a lot of time and afraid to get lost, your posts have eased somewhat my anxiety.
I’ve been watching other channels on YouTube but yours is the best by far and have met my needs. I saw your 1 day London itinerary & map. London has comes alive to me, I was so happy because I’ve been trying to study the map, city mapper, bus routes…and was so overwhelmed.
We’re on a budget so we’ll take public transportation and will do sightseeing only.
I was planning to take public bus but since you mentioned taking the Tube & River Boat/Bus will save some times from and back to St. Pancras is a great idea.
Is there any way you can give more details of how to take the Tube, bus numbers/routes efficiently for our trip?
I plan to go directly to Buckingham from St. Pancras to watch the changing of the guards then head to Sky Garden and Borough market for lunch. I’m excited to take River Boat and walk to some of your suggested sites as time allows before we head back to St. Pancreas.
Not to be greedy but do you think we can stop by and check out Little Niece on the way back to the train station and call off the day? Hopefully we can visit British Museum as well. .So sad already…
Lastly, will we have trouble of finding public toilets there?
Thanks so much again for your time & people like you to help out others via Internet of travel needs. Annie N.
21st March 2019 at 11:12 am
Thanks for your comment (and e-mail!).
So you have quite a lot of time – 12 hours should give you plenty of time to explore.
In terms of your route, the easiest way to plan a route in London, in my opinion, is just to use Google Maps. It has all the transportation options that you need and will pick the fastest route. Even if you don’t have data, there’s free WiFi available throughout London to help you.
It’s hard to give you an exact route plan as I’m not sure of your overall itinerary. However, from St. Pancras to Buckingham Palace, the best option is going to be the Victoria line ( https://goo.gl/maps/w9C3mATLCHu ).
From there to the Sky Garden you can take the Circle and District Line ( https://goo.gl/maps/nPLm5VNNi1q )
I would definitely advise downloading London as an offline Google Map to your phone, then you will be able to find your way around the streets.
I’m not familiar with Little Niece – where is that?
There are some public toilets in London, so you should be able to find them without too much trouble 🙂
Have a great trip, let me know if I can help any more!
22nd March 2019 at 5:44 am
Thank you Laurence for your quick reply! Sorry I meant Little Venice not Little Niece.
22nd March 2019 at 9:57 am
Ah, that makes sense. So you could try and squeeze that in, although you would be cutting it quite fine with everything else as well 🙂
22nd March 2019 at 6:50 pm
Thanks! One more question please, if we follow your suggested routes and start from St.Pancras to Towel of London…will we make it to watch the changing of the guard in time?
22nd March 2019 at 6:55 pm
The Changing of the Guard usually takes place from 10.45 – 11.30am. From St. Pancras to Buckingham Palace shouldn’t take you more than half an hour. So if you arrive into St. Pancras at 8am you will have more than enough time 🙂 I’d suggest seeing something else on the way. Unfortunately many attractions do not open until 10am, however you could explore Covent Garden and see Trafalgar Square in the meantime.
2nd March 2019 at 8:56 am
Hi, myself, husband and two teens (16 and 17) are visiting London in June for one day. Our first time visiting and feeling anxious. We would like to maybe visit some free places but also do a couple of paid sites. what would you recommend for us, and of interest to the teens. Is your itinerary doable by foot and how far between each site to walk? Thanks in advance
2nd March 2019 at 9:03 am
I understand the anxious feeling of wanting to see everything! I guess I would say that it is definitely possible to see many of the highlights in a day, but not to worry too much about trying to see everything London has to offer in just one day, as it’s a big city with hundreds of attractions! I’d try and focus on a few big items that you really want to see. My suggestions would be things like Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, which are some of the more iconic landmarks in the city.
The itinerary as I have laid it out is do-able on foot yes. You’re probably looking at a total of 2 hours of actual walking, but obviously you will take a lot more time as you’ll be taking pictures and looking at the sights. You’ll also need to get from wherever you are staying to the start and end point.
In terms of paid sites, I would definitely recommend the Tower of London. It’s home to the Crown Jewels and one of the oldest castles in the UK, and there is so much history to learn about here. After that, many of the attractions can be enjoyed from the outside, like the Tower of London and the south bank. You could also pop across the Millenium Bridge from the Tate Modern to visit St. Pauls. Even if you’re not into Modern Art, I can recommend a visit to the Tate Modern as there’s a great view from the balcony.
I hope this helps – do let me know if I can be of any more assistance 🙂
20th January 2019 at 12:52 am
Hello, I’m visiting in March for one day coming in on the Eurostar. What should be my first stop on your list ? And how can i get to it ? Thanks so much
20th January 2019 at 12:07 pm
So the Eurostar arrives at St. Pancras. My suggestion is to follow this itinerary in the order it’s laid out, so your first point of call will be the Tower of London. This is easy to get to from St. Pancras, you just take the Underground. Specifically, you’ll want to take the Circle line (Yellow colour) from St. Pancras in the direction of Liverpool Street, and get off at Tower Hill. It’ll take around 10 minutes.
I hope this helps! I have a using the London transport network here which might be useful too 🙂
Have a great trip!
Kathleen Trakas says
27th January 2019 at 4:10 pm
Hello! My Husband & I also are in Paris for our 3rd trip in December & want to take the Eurostar to London for the day. Reading your suggestions we feel confident we can do your itinerary in just one day- we’re early birds so with this itinerary what train times do you suggest would give us a relaxing but full day? We can catch the 6am train and how long would this all take to get back to the train station without worry?
27th January 2019 at 4:38 pm
So it’s around a two hour trip to London from Paris, meaning the 6am train will get you in at just after 8am. The only thing to bear in mind is that many of the attractions in London don’t open until after 9am.
To make the most of your time therefore, you might want to reorder the day. I’d suggest starting with some of the outdoor sights like Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and the Houses of Parliament first, and then Buckingham Palace. You can then make your way along the south bank past the London Eye, Tate Modern, Golden Hind and HMS Belfast before getting to Tower Bridge, and then seeing the Tower of London.
From the tower of London you can then hop on the tube for the ten minute ride back to St. Pancras, for the train. I’d advise giving yourselves plenty of time for all that, as you’ll likely want to eat at some point as well and not feel rushed, so a train at around 6 or 7pm would be my suggestion.
I hope this helps!
28th January 2019 at 4:55 pm
Thanks so much! Pretty excited to be Headed to London for a day! Cheers!
20th December 2018 at 4:28 pm
Heey, I’m going to London with a friend inJanuary. He are arriving sunday at 9am at Gatwick and sleeping somewhere in Enfield and going to Southampton the next day. I enjoyed looking your guide for one day and i would like to ask your opinion on what to do in one day, knowing that the tickets are kinda expensives and we love nature and high-views. Thank you! And good work!
20th December 2018 at 4:39 pm
So are you asking for advice in London? I will assume so 🙂
For views, I would recommend the Sky Garden. It’s free to visit, but you do need to book a timeslot in advance which you can do on their website here . Tickets are released on a Monday for the following week, and they alway go very quickly, so you’ll want to set a calendar reminder. Another good viewpoint can be had in the Tate Modern museum, which is also free 🙂
In terms of more sightseeing, many of the sights and attractions in London are free, such as watching Changing of the Guard, and looking at the outside of the major buildings like Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and so on. So I would advise you to basically follow this itinerary fairly closely, but just to skip any attractions you don’t want to pay to see if budget is a key concern.
For nature, you will likely enjoy a visit to some of the parks, like Hyde Park or Green Park, which are just near Buckingham Palace / Trafalgar Square.
I hope this helps! Have a great trip
13th December 2018 at 10:12 pm
Hello my family and I are traveling and have one day in London, we fly in to Gatwick at 12 pm and out of Gatwick the next morning at 7 am. We are staying at a hotel close to the airport…. would you recommend any changes or advice for us (kids ages are 11/13/15). I am not sure if we should take uber, train, the express train, or taxi. Also while in London should we do the hop on and off bus?
14th December 2018 at 2:47 pm
So from Gatwick one of the easiest ways to get into London is to take the train (see my full guide to getting to central London from all the airports here ). You can take the Gatwick Express, but these tickets are usually £20 per person each way, so if budget is a consideration i would instead suggest taking the normal train, which has tickets starting at £9.90. You can check ticket prices and times here – it’s always cheaper to buy in advance online, just make sure you get on the train that you buy the ticket for.
In terms of the itinerary, you will definitely have to reduce the sight seeing a bit as you only really have half a day. My suggestion would be to visit Tower Bridge and look at the Tower of London from the outside, then take the tube to Westminster where you can see Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
I hope this helps – have a great time in London!
3rd December 2018 at 1:07 am
family of 4 person , visiting london for one day what tips you suggest for us. thanks alot
3rd December 2018 at 11:05 am
My advice would be to follow the itinerary, but to perhaps slow it down depending on the age and stamina of your family. Certainly, everything is do-able, but in hearing feedback from family travellers, travelling as a family will require you to take things a bit slower (depending on age).
Have a great time!
4th November 2018 at 7:16 am
Your itinerary sounds perfect everything I would love to see! I’ve been so anxious just thinking of how to plan my ONE day in London. Could you provide some tips on where to start the day? I will be arriving in London in the morning about 9 at Heathrow. My departure will be about 11 that evening from Gatwick. I’ll be using your itinerary as my guide. But need tips on how to use my time as efficiently as possible. I also want to make sure I make my flight that evening. Please help!
4th November 2018 at 9:04 am
Hi Amanda! Sounds like you have lots of time to see all the things on my itinerary, but I would suggest in a different order to make it more efficient based on your airport arrival and departure. 🙂 So from Heathrow the cheapest option is to take the tube, you could take this to Leicester Square. From here you can get out and see Trafalgar Square, then walk to the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace – you should be in time to see the Changing of the Guard. From here you can then walk along the south bank of the river, from the London Eye all the way around, past Shakespeare’s Globe and HMS Belfast, the Tate Modern, the Golden Hind etc. You’ll finish near Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Then, when you are done you can take the train from London Bridge train station which goes direct to London Gatwick airport 🙂
Hope this helps – have a great day out!
11th August 2018 at 11:55 am
Hi Laurence and Jessica! Thanks so much for the post! Most certainly, It gives a pretty good idea to plan a one-day trip! I will go to London from Birmingham on 31st August and leave on 2nd September. That gives me 1 evening and 1 full day and 1 morning to explore London! Would you please give me any particular suggestion so that I can utilize my stay to the best extent?
13th August 2018 at 9:23 pm
Sounds like a fun trip 🙂 So, it’s a bit hard to give specific advice without knowing your interests, but our general advice would be to figure out what you really want to see, and try to plan your time so you can see them as efficiently as possible. So for example, if you have an evening in London, some attractions such as the London Eye or the Shard are open later, so you can go to them on your first day perhaps. Or you could catch a show. Essentially, try to make the best use of your time as possible whilst you are there 🙂 Hopefully this helps!
Talva Walker says
2nd August 2018 at 8:12 pm
Hi, I’ve been enjoying your post. Very insightful. I’m planning a trip to Paris Aug 31-Sept 5, arriving CDG at 7:20am on Sept 1, staying at the Mercure Paris Alesia. I am planning a day trip to London via EuroRail. Can you please suggest the best travel and sightseeing routes from Paris to London so I can get the most out of my day while in London. Thanks
2nd August 2018 at 8:21 pm
HI Talva, thanks for your comment. Could you just elaborate for me what you need – as you say you are taking the Eurail train, which will put you right in central London, are you looking for a tour guide or a suggested itinerary? There’s only one train option as far as I know, you just have to pick a time that works for you 🙂
8th August 2018 at 9:24 pm
Hi Laurence, thanks for your response. I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. I’m looking to find the best way to spend my day in London allowing time to/from the Eurorail. Is this doable.
9th August 2018 at 2:41 pm
Hey Talva! Well, that makes more sense. This itinerary is definitely do-able in a day but it does depend on what time your train gets in and leaves. If you are looking for the highlights, I’d suggest the Tower of London, walking across Tower Bridge, the London Eye or The Shard for great views, the exterior of the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. That should all be very achievable in a day 🙂
11th July 2018 at 4:52 am
Hi, We are planning a trip to England and visit to Scotland and/or Ireland in early August. This may be too optimistic coverage but we have 12 full days. Our flight lands in Gatwick and we come back via Shannon. What is your recommendation? I plan to rent a car after spending 3 days in London.
11th July 2018 at 9:46 am
My advice would be to check out our 2 week UK itinerary: https://www.findingtheuniverse.com/two-weeks-in-ukmy-perfect-itinerary/ and adjust it slightly to meet your time-frame and particular interests 🙂 We also have 1 week and 10 day UK itineraries, as well as loads of other content on travelling in the UK. So I am sure you will find the answers you need, but I’m always happy to provide further information as well.
1st July 2018 at 6:45 pm
I love the tips! We will be staying in a hotel near Covent Garden and will follow this! Any recommendations for places to eat around the area? I will be travelling with my in-lawsmy parents and my husband, we are not picky with food and we want to try where the locals eat.
3rd July 2018 at 10:30 am
Hey Camilla! Thanks very much 🙂 To be honest, we rarely recommend restaurants as recommendations can go out of date very quickly. Our advice would be to ask at the hotel reception when you get in, or look on Yelp / Google for nearby restaurants or pubs that have good ratings. A good pub meal is a must when visiting London. I would also add that there is a huge volume of visitors to London, as well as a very multi-cultural feel to the city, so most venues will cater to both locals and visitors 🙂
19th May 2018 at 10:38 am
Hello there, I will be heading into the Uk at the ending of this year and I have a list of places I would like to see in one day but not very sure how to see them all. I only have one day for sight seeing unfortunately. I plan on purchasing a one day london pass, the places are: British Museum, St Paul Cathedral, London motor museum, Charles Dickens museum, Globe Theater, Kensington Palace, London Zoo, London Bridge, West Minister Abbey, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, The view from the shard.
19th May 2018 at 7:09 pm
I will be honest with you, I think you will struggle to see all of those locations in one day. I think you should be able to see a lot of them, but not all. My suggestion would be to start at the Tower of London, then Tower Bridge, Globe Theater, St. Paul’s cathedral, London Motor Museum and Westminster Abbey. Then head to the shard as that is open later. I think that would be achievable, but still you will have to go quite quickly. Otherwise you will rush so much you won’t see anything so well. I hope this works!
Alma J Saad says
16th May 2018 at 5:05 am
Excellent photographs. particularly the one of the Routemaster transport. Notwithstanding the 9 appeared, one additionally keeps running on the 15 (Heritage) course, which takes guests past numerous traveler spots (Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and so forth.) an incredible method to see London and considerably less expensive than a visitor transport!
17th May 2018 at 9:12 am
Thanks very much Alma!
Mohamed Haikel says
30th March 2018 at 3:35 pm
Im planning a honeymoon trip to europe and london is one of my stops and this article/post has been very helpful in narrowing down my list of places to visit. ill have a full day for sightseeing. Im staying at the Novotel Wembley in London. Any advice or recomendation on where i should start my sightseeing?
30th March 2018 at 3:48 pm
Hi Mohamed! Congratulations on your wedding 🙂 The easiest way to get around London is to take public transport, so my suggestion would be to take the tube (also known as the underground) from near your hotel. There are two easy options. First would be to take the Metropolitan line from Wembley Park Station to Aldgate Station, and then walk to the Tower of London. Alternatively, and I think my preferred option, would be to take the Jubilee Line from Wembley Park Station to London Bridge Underground Station, and then walk from there. It’s a prettier walk from the latter.
If you need information on getting around London, I have two posts to help, one on how to use the public transport system in London: https://www.findingtheuniverse.com/guide-public-transport-london/
And one on paying for transport in London: https://www.findingtheuniverse.com/pay-public-transport-london-oyster-contactless-best/
Andrea Heys says
26th March 2018 at 6:34 pm
Wow, This is really helpful, thank you. We are 4 ladies (3 Canadians and 1 Brit) staying around the Gatwick area at the end of April 2018. We have one full day and evening to see everything. We would love to see as much as possible (1 lady can’t walk a long way at a time but can rest for a few minutes and then carry on). The Canadians are leaving it up to me, the Brit (but from the North) to show them around. They want to sight-see and then take in a west end show in the evening. Can you recommend a route that can accommodate not too much walking?
26th March 2018 at 6:44 pm
Hi Andrea – delighted that you found the post useful 🙂 I’ll do my best to help out!
From Gatwick (I’m assuming the airport), my advice would be to take the train into central London – specifically London Bridge. This will put you almost directly across the river from the Tower of London, as well as a number of other great London sights (HMS Belfast, St. Pauls Cathedral & Tower Bridge). So a good place to start.
I’d then suggest after seeing all that you want in that area, that you take the River Bus service from either Tower Pier or London Bridge City Pier, and go to Westminster Pier. It’s pretty cost effective, and is a good way to see London from the water 🙂 Then you’ll be in the heart of Westminster, right next to Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, the Churchill War Rooms, and whatever else you want to see in that area. You could also do the London Eye quite easily. Then, from Westminster it’s a short walk up Whitehall past 10 Downing St to Trafalgar Square, from where you have your pick of the shows.
Hopefully that all makes sense! I wouldn’t advise doing everything in the comment, obviously pick and choose what you’re interested in. IF you are interested in going in a few of the different attractions, definitely check out the London Pass (linked in the post) to see if the cost savings make it a benefit to you.
Have an amazing time – do pop back and let me know how it went!
29th March 2018 at 3:37 pm
Thank you so much for your reply. I’ll definitely let you know what we chose. This is great information and I heard about the London pass so we’ll check it out. This is a fantastic website that I’ll be recommending to all I know in Canada. Great information about London. Thank you again ?
29th March 2018 at 4:19 pm
My pleasure Andrea – and thanks very much!
Dale Fisher says
25th March 2018 at 2:50 pm
Your itinerary sounds perfect since we are staying for one day. We, husband and two daughters 21 & 23, leave in a few days and I will use your itinerary. We are staying at the London Arch so should I still start my day at the Tower of London? What if I begin at Westminster Pier and take the River Cruise to the Tower? I have pre booked tickets to the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. I plan to do it all walking. I value any opinions. Thank you!! Dale
25th March 2018 at 3:02 pm
Glad to be of help! It’s really up to you. From Marble Arch, it would probably make the most sense to go in the following order:
Buckingham Palace Westminster Abbey / Houses of Parliament River cruise or walk along south bank to Tower of London Tower of London Then you could either take public transport back or the river cruise again.
Alternatively you could take public transport to the Tower of London, and then the itinerary would finish near Buckingham Palace and be quite close to where you are staying 🙂
25th March 2018 at 3:23 pm
Thank you!! This was extremely helpful! We arrive the day before and have the evening free, any suggestions to make the most of our evening? All the best, Dale
25th March 2018 at 4:08 pm
My pleasure! There are a few options, you could try one of the following;
Take in a West End London Show (there are many to choose from, we know the Lion King is very popular!) Take a ride on the London Eye at sunset or head up the Shard for great views Pop out for a meal or a drink – there are so many dining and drinking options we don’t think you’ll struggle to find somewhere
simon harding says
26th November 2015 at 9:00 am
beautiful photos. especially the one of the routemaster bus. In addition to the 9 shown, one also runs on the 15 (Heritage) route, which takes visitors past many tourist spots (Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral etc.) a great way to see London and much cheaper than a tourist bus!
Claudia Luxembourg says
6th August 2015 at 11:43 am
You got it covered! I know London so well that whenever people visit me I take them on my very personal walking tour. I usually start in Covent Garden, walk to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus, then head to Trafalgar Square where we stop at the National Gallery. Keep on to Buckingham Palace and then continue to Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster. Then I go to the British Museum too. I taylor it depending on what people are interested in. But it usually works fine. It is an amazing city. I also love Chiswick. Perhaps my fav. part of London!!
7th September 2015 at 9:11 am
That’s one of my favourite routes 😀 I lived in Covent Garden for a couple of years, love that part of town!
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Take A Quick Trip To London, England
Posted by Emily Henkel on 11/20/23 2:47 PM
What isn’t there to love about London? We've planned out the top sites, have a few suggestions on saving a little money, and have recommendations on where to find the best sandwiches (and other tips).
You can spend a lifetime in London and not see everything, I’m convinced of it. No mat ter how many times I go, I visit my favorite spots and still run into a new favorite or two…which is good news for ILP volunteers living in Europe! You can be living in ILP Europe countries and have London just be a short flight away from where you call home . If I were you, I'd think about spending at least one of my weekends or some vacation days exploring all there is to see in this impressive city.
Europe is full of amazing countries to visit (and volunteer in)! Come spend a whole semester living in Europe on an ILP trip
Like I mentioned, there is a ton to see and do in London. Our ILP volunteers spending a semester in Europe are already living in a nearby country, which means it's a cinch to spend a weekend (or maybe 3-4 days) in London. That's plenty of time to see the highlights, but you'll want to plan your itinerary to make sure you don't miss anything. We've pulled together some tips and recommendations from ILP volunteers to help you know what to prioritize depending on how much time you have in the city. Get ready to fall in love with London and all it has to offer!
What You Need To Know About Visiting London
- Top Things To Do
A Couple Of Nearby Spots
A bunch of things to eat.
- How To Get Around London
- Where To Stay
Top Things To Do
We're focusing on the must-see types of activities and sites in this section, but don't be surprised if you wander across something incredible on your way to and fro to all of these places or find something missing on this list — there's so much to see and do in London, it couldn't quite fit on this blog post mean to just start your off with the highlights. Depending on how long you have in the city, you should be able to whizz through most of the the activities on this list, even if you're here for just a day or two. Just take note of the activities that are a bit longer (like museums you'd spend several hours in) if you're short on time.
Oh and as a tip, it's often less expensive to book your tickets online rather than at the ticket office the day of your visit. Planning ahead can help you save a bit of money (which we love). It's usually 2-3 pounds off to prebook, but if you do that 5 times, that totally covers another experience or meal that you would have had to pay for.
Okay, this spot you have to see. Buckingham Palace is the King's official royal residence but mostly operates as an office to the Crown. There are a few ways to experience this impressive palace. First, know that the palace is always available to appreciate from the outside, without a ticket.
Y ou can also experience the magnificent changing of the guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Generally, the start time is 11:00 AM in the Buckingham Palace Forecourt every Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday — just look up the exact day you'll be there to make sure you don't miss anything. Get there early to get a good standing place because the crowds that gather here can make it very hard to see what's going on.
Both of these activities are free (viewing the palace from the outside and viewing the changing of the guard ceremony).
You will be able to visit the inside of Buckingham Palace in the summer months when the Queen isn't there (usually between August and September). A tour inside guides you through stately rooms, the grand staircase, past famous works of art, and the Throne Room. In a word, it's impressive. There are also exclusive tours in the winter and spring if you have the pocket money for that. Get ticket info here .
- Address: Westminster, London SW1A 1AA, UK
Visit Westminster Abbey
Considered a royal church, Westminster Abbey is famous for a few reasons. One, it's the final resting place for several famous poets and other influential Brits. Though there are over 3,000 buried in the Abbey, you might recognize a few names, like Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Geoffrey Chaucer, Alfred Tennyson, and Henry Purcell.
The Abbey has also been the coronation site for 40 monarchs, stemming back to 1066. The coronations have been a lavish affair for centuries, with modern-day monarchs using the same coronation chair as their predecessors used (it's been in operation for over 700 years!). It's also a popular place to get married for the royal family, recently hosting the marriage of King Charle's oldest child (William to Kate Middleton).
- Tickets + Hours : You will need a ticket to enter. The Abbey is a working church and is sometimes closed for worship. ( Get ticket info and opening hours here ). Address: 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, UK
See Big Ben + Parliament + The London Eye
No trip to London would be complete without the classic photo in front of Big Ben and Parliament! Big Ben is also known as the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell found inside the clock tower, but most of the world knows the famous clock by this name, too). While spectacularly famous, don't give all the attention to the clock! The Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben are a part of the Houses of Parliament, which is the oldest palace in London. The country's most influential rulers once called this riverside palace home (it was the official residence for the Kings of England until the complex was destroyed by a fire in 1512). Today, it's the seat of the British government, where the House of Lords and the House of Commons meet.
There are tours you can take of Big Ben and of Parliament (they can book fast, so look around before your trip to see if they're sold out first before setting your heart on a tour), but most tourists visit from the outside. Oh, and pro tip? This landmark is beautiful at all times of the day and night, so you don’t have to worry about cramming it into your busy schedule before the sun sets.
- Find it here (you can get an amazing view of this part of London when crossing the Westminster Bridge).
F or an extra cool view, take a ride up in the massive London Eye which is a whimsically huge Ferris wheel that lets you see Big Ben from above. It's a fun addition to your itinerary if you have the time and the budget for it. Tickets must be booked in advance .
All of these sites are grouped together, so it's easy to see all three before you head off to your next stop.
See A Masterpiece (Or Two)
London is a worldwide destination, boasting impressive and historic schools, churches, palaces, and museums (with artwork and pieces from all over the world). It's one of the best places in the world for theater and performance, meaning no visit to London is complete without seeing a museum or two or one of your favorite shows in the theater district.
A Couple of Museums
There are almost 200 museums in London, so not seeing some art would be a bit of a miss if you're trying to hit the highlights of what this city has to offer. While there are many to choose from, most visitors tend to gather around two of the city's most popular museums (maybe because they're free).
The National Gallery
It would be a shame not to visit, even for a little bit. The National Galleries are completely free to visit and are filled with paintings from famous artists like van Eyck, Dürer, Degas, Cézanne, Monet, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rubens, Vermeer, and Rembrandt.
Oh, and did I mention it's completely free to visit? So even if you're not up to seeing all 2,600+ pieces housed in the gallery, it's worth poking your head in to see a couple of pieces, right (check out the most famous works and their location, here ).
- Learn more here. Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, UK Hours: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, daily
Get a look at some of the most famous works of modern art at the Tate. Home to pieces by famous modern artists (like Picasso and Holzer), you can spend an afternoon admiring the paintings, sculptures, and other works housed in the well-known museum.
- Address : Bankside, London SE1 9TG Tickets : Some exhibits are free, tickets to other exhibits have a fee. Learn more here . Hours: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, daily
See A Show Or Two
You can also go see a show in London! The city has an expansive theater district, known as the West End area of London (but you'll find it spreads into Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Soho, Regents Street, Oxford Street, and more — it's huge!). 40 theaters are spread out in this huge area and are playing quite a variety of shows including popular options like Les Miserables, Wicked, The Lion King, and others (see what's showing in London here). Oh, and if you're wondering how to score cheap tickets, we have a few pointers:
- Don’t go on the weekend: It's more expensive than going on a weekday if you happen to be in London during the week.
- Buy tickets last minute: If a show isn’t sold out each night, theaters will drop the price so the theater is full for tonight’s performance. This strategy works well if there are a few shows you want to see; your number one pick might be sold out but your second or third pick might need to fill up a lot of empty seats, meaning you could get cheap tickets.
- Get half-off tickets: Go is the TKTS Half Price Theatre Ticket Booth — here’s their website . You can check out their “what’s on sale” option to get an idea about prices, or visit their official booth in person and explore your options. As a heads up, you’ll probably have better luck getting half-off tickets to lesser known shows or ones that have been around for a while, not the new show everyone wants to see.
- Sit (or stand) somewhere else: The most expensive tickets are going to be the best seats, but you can get very cheap tickets if you’re willing to sit (or stand) somewhere else. Lots of theaters have balcony sets that have a slightly obstructed view from a pillar or discount the front row because the stage overhangs, so the audience in that row won’t see the actor’s feet.
See Platform 9 3/4
King's Cross train station was pretty well known before the Harry Potter franchise, but now there's a whole new reason to visit — seeing the 9 3/4 platform from the popular book and movie series of course! If you need a refresher, this is the platform you have to pass through to take the Hogwarts Express to the well-known school of witchcraft and wizardry. To help you really get into character, there is a trolley embedded in the wall (open all hours) and you don't have to pay for your own photos — or you can pay a professional photographer hanging around to get pictures, which includes a scarf of your Hogwarts House: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, or Slytherin. Professional photographs are usually there between 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM daily. You may have to wait to get your photo: there's often a line. Here's a bit more info about the stop in Kings Cross.
- Address : Euston Rd., London N1 9AL, United Kingdom
Tour The Tower Of London
Take some time to explore this historic castle (and fortress) on the banks of the Thames River. The entire structure has a fascinating history, starting from when it was first established in 1066. It stood as an imposing building and symbol of power and oppression (the space was used as a prison from 1100 to 1952), while also serving as a royal residence. The Tower of London gets its name from the White Tower which was built by William the Conqueror in 1078 though the entire structure is made up of several buildings surrounded by a wall and a moat — all of which underwent a series of expansions under the rule of King Richard I, Henry III, and Edward I.
Today, it's a chance to glimpse a fascinating chapter of British history as well as the opportunity to see the glittering crown jewels of the royal family. On your tour, you'll see the crown used on the monarch's head during the coronation ceremony (St Edward's Crown) as well as hundreds of precious gemstones and pieces of jewelry filled with thousands of jewels.
I'd highly recommend taking the tour instead of just stopping off to see what you can see from outside. The history and the jewels alone make a tour worth it.
- Hours + Tickets: Get information here. Address : London EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom
Admire St. Paul's Cathedral
Built back in the 1700s, this cathedral is still one of the most stunning and impressive architectural points of the city. It now serves as the seat of the Bishop of London but is maybe more famous thanks to the impressive dome that crowns the Anglican church. At a towering 365 feet high, St Paul's was the tallest building in London until 1963 — it's still one of the highest domes in the world. Understandably so, this incredibly beautiful cathedral took a decade to design and 40 years to build.
St Paul's Cathedral is a working church open for services (check out service times and events here ). Feel free to enter to attend a worship service and admire the stunning views inside. Understand that the dome and crypt are closed during the service. If you'd like to visit as a tourist, ticket prices include the Cathedral Floor, Crypt, and the Dome Galleries (head up a rickety set of stairs to see the city spill out below you! It's an amazing view). Get prices here.
- Address: Find it here. Hours: (Check service hours and hours for visitors on the official site .)
Relax In Hyde Park
If you are tired from all that running around, take a break in Hyde Park. There are usually some cool events happening (some are free) that are worth checking out. A few years ago, Hyde Park had local artists paint huge elephant statues that they lined up to celebrate the Queen. There is always something happening at this park.
This park is enormous, so plan your visit wisely — the Peter Pan statue is a popular visit, same with the Princess Diana Memorial Fountains. Others block out time to explore the Kensington Palace and Gardens ( get more info here ) which borders the massive park.
- Find it here .
Visit Abbey Road
Where are my Beatles fans at? You likely need no introduction to this spot, but if you're new to the fan club, Abbey Road Studios is where the Beatles (and many other famous artists) recorded some majorly popular albums. It's a global icon. The Beatles recorded most of their albums here and took a classic picture crossing the road for their eleventh album, Abbey Road .
It's free to visit (and best if you're there with 5 people, so one can take the photo while the other 4 pose, and then switch). The cars driving the road are used to the photos, but please be careful and courteous with the traffic. You'll notice some fans leaving memorials like flowers, pictures, cards or quotes, CDs, and green apples (a nod to the Granny Smith apple found on the A-side of the standard Apple albums).
- Find it here.
Think About Taking A Tour Of London
Okay, now that you've read about the highlights of London, think about how you're going to see all of these places. We'll get to how to get around London in a quick minute, but this section is all about tours. Walking tours in Europe are a popular way to get around and see all the major spots on your list and can be a great way to fit in a lot in a little bit of time (for just a few pounds).
Most of the tours in London know you're here to hit the highlights, so they include Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s, Parliament, and lots of other places (like Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and Piccadilly) on their itinerary.
Here are a few we'd recommend looking into —
Take a free walking tour ( this company is awesome ). There are several categories to choose from, which we love. Focus on WWII history, focus on the food, or take a Harry Potter tour around London. Their website has tour options, where to meet your guide, and about how long each tour is. The tours are free, but a tip is encouraged.
Take a classic double-decker tour. Embrace the tourist thing and see the city on those famous red double-decker buses. The guides are hilarious and will let you check off all the locations on your London “to do” list in an afternoon.
There are a few companies you can go through for a double-decker bus tour (some have the classic red bus, others don't). There are also hop-on-hop-off buses which could be a good option if you want to do a little exploring on your own but still have an easy way to get around. Prices vary.
If you have any extra time, you can't miss this iconic monument! It's about a 2+ hour commute over to Stonehenge from London, so this is more like a full-day trip. Wake up early, and catch the first train to make sure you have enough time to do this in a day. Here are all our tips for getting to Stonehenge.
Circled in yellow, these villages are probably the cutest, most photogenic places you can find in the entire British Isles. In recent years, they've become more popular due to the many scenes from the popular TV drama, Downton Abbey, that have been filmed there. Castle Combe is especially known for its charming cottages.
It's pretty impossible to explore these different villages without a rented car or a tour group, so it'll have to be the tour group for our ILP volunteers. But don't let that discourage you from visiting the Cotswolds! Look for a tour that can get you out and back in a day and visit several locations in the quaint, adorable English countryside.
+ A Few More In England
We're hoping you're not just in England for a couple of days ... there's just so much more to see that spending a few days in London and having time to explore some of the nearby charming towns is how I'd prefer to schedule my trip. Take a peek at these easy day trips from London to squeeze into your itinerary.
Paris is just a train ride away thanks to the Chunnel! It'll take just two hours to get to the City of Lights from London if you're looking for a reason to hop over and experience France for the day (or longer ... there's a lot to see in Paris!). Get our guide to Paris here .
This city has ah-mazing food. I’d go back for it in a heartbeat! Don’t miss out on getting lunch or dinner at a pub, and snagging fish-n-chips off the street (the fried Mars bars are also top notch). Another perk of eating all the things in London is the range you can get. London's a huge melting pot and actually has Tikka Masala (an Indian dish) as their national dish — plus several acclaimed restaurants and yummy spots to taste all sorts of cuisines from around the world. If you ask me, certain dishes or foodie experiences are just as important to seeing Big Ben.
If you'd like a few recommendations for your trip, here are a few:
If you want a whole market of things to eat and purchase, you have to take a visit to Borough Market. You'll find everything here — groceries like fresh fish and flowers for sale, foraged mushrooms, teas from all over, loaves of bread, olives, fresh fruit, crackers, chocolates, fudge, and more. But we think you'll be here for the unbeatable food like melty chocolate poured over fresh strawberries.
The market also has a spread of casual eateries serving food from all over the world. Find plates of curry, handmade pasta served with pesto, warm meat pies fresh from the oven, and incredible sandwiches (you have to get a ciabatta sandwich at the Black Pig, it'll be the best of your life!). There is so much to see and eat in this market, I'd recommend coming back twice so you don't feel so overwhelmed on your first visit. Get a peek at what's waiting for you here .
- Find it here . Hours: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Tuesday - Friday (Open at 9:00 on Saturdays, but 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Sundays). Closed Mondays.
For a good meat pie, this is your place! With pies full of chicken, bacon, veggies, fish, and more you will definitely find one you love. If meat pie isn't your thing, you can't go wrong with their fish-n-chips or steak ... but a classic meat pie is the thing to eat when in England.
- Address: They have a couple of locations.
Remember how we said the curry is more than good in London? Go here to experience it for yourself. Try the popular Tikka Misala, or honestly any curry and you can't go wrong at Tayyabs. Their curries and mango lassi are top notch!
- Address: 83-89 Fieldgate St, Whitechapel, London E1 1JU, UK
If you're in the mood for something sweet, head to Ben's Cookies. I'm partial to their classic chocolate chip, but they have a bomb chocolate-chocolate flavor that I also can't get enough of. I may or may have purchased a whole tin of these cookies once ... or twice.
You'll find them all over London (and scattered abroad in places like Dubai and Singapore).
Have Afternoon Tea
This is a lunch date and a cultural experience, to have afternoon tea in London. Supposedly the tradition of having tea and a few snacks/treats before dinner is credited to the Duchess of Bedford who mentioned the ubiquitous trend in 1840. The duchess's secret is now a national tradition observed by almost everyone in England. The "level" of tea varies — casually, you might just enjoy tea with a scone or another biscuit, but more formal experiences have a whole spread of things to eat and etiquette rules.
There are dozens and dozens of places to book afternoon tea at, from luxury hotels to churches like the Cellarium at Westminster Abbey to more humble but still tasty locations. Prices range and be sure to book in advance. This article can give you an idea of what prices can be like as well as a few ideas of where to book for a more ritzy experience (though there are a few options on the list that aren't too pricey). Just know there are about a zillion options out there that can fit any budget.
It's hard to find "the best" fish-n-chips in London, but Poppies is a favorite for sure! The fish is battered to perfection and served with a side of thick cut french fries. It's something you gotta try (no trip to London is truly complete after you have a serving of fish and chips, with plenty of black vinegar).
- Address: There are a couple locations scattered throughout London, but here are more recommendations for fish-n-chips in the city if you're looking for other suggestions.
How To Get Around London
Use the underground.
You have to get around using the Underground: it's a huge metro system that helps you get around the city, affectionally known as "The Tube". There are nine zones, but central London is zone 1 (where you'll probably be spending most of your time). There are 11 individually colored lines that run pretty much from 5:00 AM to midnight (with some reduced hours on Sunday).
You'll want to get an Oyster card to help you get around. It's a multi-use pass that you can put pounds on depending on how long you're staying. There are all sorts of cards you can purchase, with different amounts of money on them. And, according to their official website :
- If you're visiting London for two days, start with £15 credit.
- If you're visiting London for four days, start with £30 credit.
Get these cards all over London: you can visit news kiosks but every underground tube station will have a ticket counter where you can get an oyster card.
Oh, and you can easily top off the cards with more if you run out during your visit. The money on your card doesn't expire so you can loan it out to friends and family, or plan on visiting London again. You can also get a refund on the amount on your card after your visit by talking with an employee at a ticket kiosk.
Double Decker Buses
Use your double-decker tour as your transportation! Just purchase a "hop on, hop off" ticket and get on and off wherever you want! You can find multiple companies that offer a hop-on and hop-off tour with a range of prices, but here's one that has several routes and good prices for the day.
Where To Stay In London
You have a whole long list of places to stay in this massive city. We've pulled some examples of where past ILP groups have stayed along with a few suggestions to help you get a gauge of where to stay and what prices are like.
Airbnb / Hotels
One ILP group stayed at this hotel which is quite close to a tube station, so you're not far from all the things you want to see in the city.
If you're looking for an Airbnb ILP groups have stayed at, check out this spot .
This one , this one , and this one are all popular choices. ILP groups have also stayed here and here .
Ready to spend time in Europe?
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Come see which countries you can volunteer in below!
We are ILP, a Utah-based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We love travel so we're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time living abroad + seeing the world, and how to do it all on the tiniest budget.
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The perfect 4 days in London
How much of London can you really cover on a long weekend? Quite a lot, actually. Explore art and artifacts at famous museums, marvel at UNESCO World Heritage Sites, sample food at the city’s oldest street market, and drink plenty of pints at historic pubs. Throw in a few lines of Shakespeare (at the Globe Theatre, no less), a red phone booth (they’re everywhere), and a rainy day (almost a given), and your London checklist will be complete.
Our itinerary packs in as much as possible without running you ragged, grouping activities together by location. Plus we’ve added lunch and dinner stops, so you can sightsee with your fork (think classic English food like fish and chips). And to make sure you don’t waste a single second, we’ve used Tripadvisor reviews and ratings to hit the London hotspots that real-life travelers love most.
MORNING: A taste of royalty
Prioritize an essential London experience by heading to Buckingham Palace first thing to watch the changing of the guard , which typically starts at 10:45 a.m. (It’s every other day in some seasons and can be earlier on the weekends, so be sure to double-check the schedule online.)
The best vantage point is from the Buckingham Palace Gates, but you’ll need to get here some 90 minutes early (especially in busy summer months) to score a good spot. If you’re running late or not feeling the wait, locate an easier-to-come-by spot along The Mall. After the guards march past, follow them over to Buckingham Palace to catch what you can of the ceremony through the crowds.
AFTERNOON: Iconic London in a Gothic mode
By 11:45 a.m. the changing of the guards is complete, so snap pics of the palace and then head out with the crowds to amble your way through St. James Park , the city’s oldest royal park, toward Two Chairman Public House , a charming 18th-century pub with classic English dishes. You’ll get there around noon, right when it opens. (Tripadvisor users rave about the steak and ale pie here.)
Once you’ve rested your legs and refueled, take the five-minute walk to Westminster Abbey , a stunning gothic cathedral and UNESCO World Heritage Site (together with Westminster Palace, which is right around the corner). The Abbey gets busy, so book a timed ticket ahead to ensure a spot inside. For a small extra fee, you can also visit The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries , a small gallery that gives you a bird’s eye view of the abbey. Expect to spend at least 45-minutes marveling, though some visitors spend as much as two hours scouting out the famous figures buried here (e.g. Charles Dickens, Stephen Hawkins, Henry VII) and taking in all the ornamental sculptures and stained glass.
Exit the Abbey, and walk around the corner to Westminster Bridge, which extends over the Thames River and offers an epic view of several top attractions. We’re talking the London Eye , an enormous Ferris wheel with city views, and Westminster Palace (the House of Parliament) with its attached clocktower, aka Big Ben (though technically , Big Ben is the bell inside). Get there at the top of the hour to hear it chime.
If you managed a quick trip to the Abbey, you might even squeeze in an extra attraction. We recommend either taking a spin on the London Eye for an epic—if pricey—view of London or a visit to the Churchill War Rooms , once the underground command center for World War II and kinda literally one of London’s hidden gems. (Arrive by four, and you can still get in a solid two hours before the museum closes at 6 p.m.) Both are a quick walk from Westminster Bridge. As with other London attractions, the safest bet is to book tickets ahead online.
Travelers say: "I was so excited to finally get to see the [Queen’s Diamond Jubilee] Galleries, and was NOT disappointed! It’s kind of amazing to see the structural ‘insides’ of the Abbey, and the view ‘down below’ is spectacular… you also get unique views of the gargoyles on the buttresses. It was well worth the extra fiver!” — Kris M
WESTMINSTER TOURS OPTIONS
- Don’t want to shell out extra money for a guided tour? The Westminster Abbey audio tour, included with your entrance, is well-produced and packed with info. Download the app ahead of time, and BYO headphones.
- If navigating via Google maps exhausts you, this three-hour Westminster walking tour is basically a survey course on London attractions and includes entry into Westminster Abbey.
- History buffs who would prefer ending their tour of Westminster with Churchill than in a church will enjoy this walking tour, which closes out with a trip to Churchill’s War Rooms .
- The London Landmarks & Secret Gems Bike Ride + Historic Pub + Graffiti Session bike tour is fantastic and fun, taking riders all over Westminster and beyond. It also features a key pub stop in Covent Garden and some (legal) graffiti-making in a tunnel beloved by street artists.
EVENING: The show goes on
Take the 15- to 20-minute trip by tube or bus to Scarlett Green , where of course you’ve already booked a reservation for a 90-minute seating. This beloved Aussie restaurant balances a chic atmosphere with famed “bottomless” meals, including a stuff-yourself-silly dinner of either Aussie BBQ or vegan favorites, plus a cocktail and dessert.
Now, it’s show time! The West End Theater District is London’s answer to Broadway, and it delivers with plays, dance performances, opera, and hit musicals (expect new shows along with long-running classics like Lion King and Phantom of the Opera). If theater isn’t really your thing, 100 Club is an iconic basement venue where bands like the Kinks and Metallica have rocked out, plus it’s just around the corner from Scarlett Green. Make sure to book tickets in advance.
Worthy detours along the way
MORNING: English breakfast and two million years of human history
Fill up before a day of sightseeing at Salt & Pepper , which serves up a classic English Breakfast (bacon, eggs, and, yes, baked beans). It also has a handy location just a five-minute walk from The British Museum , your first stop of the day. This museum of human history, art, and culture is arguably London’s best, which means getting there early is a good strategy for heading off the crowds. (The museum opens at 10 a.m. daily; tickets are free and can be booked ahead, though you may be asked to donate.) Even half a day here isn’t enough to see it all, so make a beeline to the Rosetta Stone, then pick and choose which exhibits to explore. If deciding which of 80,000 artifacts to look at is overwhelming, just take a tour—many are free, though booking ahead is recommended.
Travelers say: "The British Museum is an absolute treasure box! What do you want to see? Ancient maps, Egyptian mummies, sculpture from Greece, the first printed Bible, original handwritten words to Beatles song, Shakespeare, the Magna Carta? All this and MORE! There is never enough time to see it all." —@ Dream6793
AFTERNOON: Light lunch and 700 years of European art
Bottomless meals and heavy English food weighing you down? Hop across the street for lunch at Bloomsbury Street Kitchen (open Wednesday through Saturday) which serves up outstanding Mediterranean and Japanese small plates.
Once you’ve refueled, pop on the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road or take the 15-minute walk to Trafalgar Square , London’s most photographed square, thanks in part to the 145-foot-high Nelson’s Column.
Next up is The National Gallery , a free museum right on the square. It’s easy to spend two or three hours losing yourself in 2,000-plus Western European paintings from the 13th to the 20th century. Keep an eye out for Vermeer, Cezanne, van Gogh, Rembrandt, and other famous painters.
TRAFALGAR SQUARE TOUR OPTIONS
- Trade in an afternoon at The National Gallery for an afternoon exploring London’s under-the-radar attractions in the Secret Walking Tour of Central London , which starts and ends at Trafalgar Square and covers spots like a teeny, tiny police station.
- The Pub Tour of London’s West End: Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and Soho is a neighborhood tour with a side of beer. The tour leads you to several historic pubs, passing major attractions along the way. We love that they cap the tours at 15 people, so you can get chummy with your drinking buddies.
EVENING: Fish, chips, and British pubs
There are plenty of dinner options near The National Gallery, but to really recover from a day of culture we recommend The Marquis , which serves up quintessential cozy pub charm and equally quintessential British dishes, like fish and chips. If it’s good enough for Charles Dickens, who was once a regular there, it’s good enough for us.
From here, amble your way around Covent Garden , a charming neighborhood that’s home to shops, street performers, pubs, and cafes. (Note that most stores in the area close at 8 p.m., so if shopping is a priority you may want to amble first, then eat.) Make your way north to Soho , the city’s nightlife neighborhood, which is home to the Red Light District and is also LGBTQ+ central. We love The French House , an authentic no-frills bar that was once a gathering point for the French Resistance during World War II.
MORNING: Tour some British treasures
If you picked up the tab on a few pub rounds last night, you’ll be happy to hear the Victoria and Albert Museum is 100 percent free. Even better, it doesn’t require booking ahead, so just wander over when you’re ready. (It opens at 10 a.m. if you want to avoid the crowds.) The V&A is the world’s largest museum of the decorative arts, home to prints and paintings, costumes and ceramics. Highlights include one of the world’s oldest and largest carpets and Tipu’s Tiger, an almost life-size statue of a tiger with a mechanical organ that mimics the cries of the person it’s attacking (though you may want to read up on its controversial history ).
AFTERNOON: Afternoon tea and a walk in the park(s)
Take the 10-minute walk to Harrods , London’s world-famous department store, situated in one of the city’s fanciest shopping districts. Here you can cross off another square on your London Bingo card with tea time— Harrods’ version is exceptional —complete with the required tiny sandwiches and scones. If you forgot to make a reservation or can’t pull off “smart casual” on a day of sightseeing, Harrods has plenty of other bars and restaurants for a pit stop. While you’re here, you may want to check out the wonderfully bizarre Egyptian Escalator, pick up some souvenirs, or visit the toy department, where you can nab the official Harrods’ version of a Paddington Bear plushie.
After tea, it’s just a five-minute walk north to Hyde Park , once Henry VIII’s hunting reserve. With dirt paths and grassy fields, it’s the perfect place to stroll, picnic, or people-watch, especially on sunny days. You might want to pass through Speakers’ Corner , which has quite the dramatic history. This used to be an execution spot where the condemned could say their last words. Later, figures like Karl Marx, Marcus Garvey, and George Orwell demonstrated here. Now it’s a monument to free speech—especially on Sunday, when anyone can pull out their soapbox.
Stroll over to the Serpentine Bridge to cross into Kensington Gardens , a carefully landscaped park, formerly the private gardens of Kensington Palace. While here, you can stop by Albert Memorial , a show-stopping monument to Prince Albert complete with a gilded canopy. Or opt for something a little less grand and more whimsical and visit the Peter Pan Statue , a tribute to author J.M. Barrie, who lived nearby.
KENSINGTON AREA TOUR OPTIONS:
- The Victoria & Albert Museum has loads of free tours daily. Look out for specialty tours (like one geared toward LGBTQ+ art), as well as the excellent Highlights Tour, which covers the V&A’s most popular exhibits in just 45 minutes.
- If your feet are tired, let your quads pick up the slack with this London Royal Parks Bike Tour . It covers major London attractions along with Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.
- Trade out the usual tour bus for a 1960s double-decker bus with the London Vintage Bus Tour with Cream Tea at Harrods . Not only does this thorough half-day tour drive by a ton of major attractions, it includes a Thames River cruise and ends with tea and scones at Harrods.
EVENING: A meal with a side of history
Cut back across the park to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal , one of London’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Blumenthal’s big draw is a five-course set menu, which changes seasonally and highlights dishes from different eras in British history. If dining this fancy isn’t quite in the budget, scope out the la carte menu or opt for lunch instead. And if this spot is all booked up, try Marcus , another Michelin-star British restaurant, which is practically next door.
Extend the night at the Library Bar , a classy club-like cocktail bar famous for its cognacs. Bonus: It’s less than a 10-minute walk from dinner and sits right next to the Hyde Park Corner Underground station, making it convenient for end-of-night travel, especially if your hotel is on the Piccadilly Line.
Travelers say: “There are three meal 'experiences' you can select [at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal], which are essentially the following: Don't tell me anything about the food I want to be surprise;, tell me a little about what's in the dishes; or tell me everything—where the inspiration for the dish came from, where the ingredients came from, etc. We did the third because we were intrigued by the time periods that inspired the chef (recipes and meal pairings from thousands of years ago)…which made the night a magical evening.” — travelingss
MORNING: Ghosts from the past at the Tower of London
Word of warning: The Tower of London gets mobbed, so arrive right when it opens (9 or 10 a.m., depending on the day) to avoid the crowds, for a little while, anyway. This fascinating 11th-century fortress castle and UNESCO World Heritage Site is where, among other things, 16th-century queen Anne Boleyn was locked up and beheaded. (Supposedly, she is one of many ghosts that haunt the grounds.) While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the Crown Jewels.
TOWER OF LONDON/THAMES RIVER TOUR OPTIONS
- Beefeaters, aka the Tower of London guards (famously pictured on bottles of Beefeater Gin), give tours that are the stuff of legend —not to mention free with entry. Tours run every half hour; no need to book ahead.
- If you want to spend more time on water, the Thames Hop-On-Hop-Off River Cruise is an excellent option. Note that it stops at several sights already on this itinerary, so you’ll double up on some attractions.
- No way around it: The Tower of London gets packed. If it’s your priority, consider getting a skip-the-line, early access pass to the Tower, which also includes a tour and tickets for a river cruise.
- Lovers of true crime and the spooky stuff will enjoy this 60-75 minute Ghost Bus Tour of London . Bonus: You’ll be cruising around in a 1960s black double-decker bus as it passes by Tower of London, Fleet Street, and other iconic spots.
AFTERNOON: From a historic market to modern art
Head over to Tower Millennium Pier and take the RB1 “River Bus” to London Bridge City Pier, with the added benefit of a built-in (if brief) river cruise. From here, it’s a seven-minute walk to Borough Market , where food has been sold for over a thousand years. Today, along with fresh produce, there’s also street food in every direction. Check out the meat pies and paella, the bao buns and fish and chips, then choose whatever looks the most delicious.
Travelers say: “Borough Market is a prime destination for food lovers, and it has been in continuous operation since 1014 near London Bridge. […] From French cheeses, olives and bread to traditional English pies, Spanish paella, French confit duck, Asian curries… it perfectly reflects the melting pot identity of the city.… Don’t miss it.” — LonderGuide
Once you’ve filled up, take the five-minute walk to The Shard , which has the highest viewing deck in London. While entry is pricey and often sold out in advance, the views are epic, especially on sunny days when you can see out as many as 40 miles.
Next, take public transit or walk 15 minutes to the Tate Modern , known for its art from the early-1900s to the present. Entry to the regular gallery is free; no need to book ahead. But definitely take a sec to read up on the special exhibits. Yes, they cost extra and may require advanced booking, but their spectacular shows will earn you London bragging rights. Expect to spend at least an hour here hunting down Picassos and Dalis and discovering new artists, and add another hour if you’re touring a special exhibit.
EVENING: All’s well that ends well
Start your evening off with a dinner at Swan at the Globe , a chic modern restaurant offering seasonal British dishes and classy cocktails, just a few minutes’ walk from the Tate. An added bonus: It has a great view over the Thames and St. Paul’s Cathedral , which means you’ll cross yet another attraction off your London sightseeing safari.
Then head next door for a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre , a full-size reproduction of the famous playwright’s original open-air theater. (When you book tickets ahead, make sure they’re for The Globe; it’s easy to accidentally book tickets to The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse instead.) Standing room tickets on the floor are super cheap and super fun—it’s like you’re watching a production back in the 1600s. But after a full day of sightseeing, we understand if you want to rest your feet and sit on a bench. (If you do, spring the extra pound for a cushion.) Even in an open-air theater, the show must go on, as they say, so if the weather looks iffy bring a raincoat (umbrellas aren’t allowed) and enjoy a truly British experience: Shakespeare in the rain.
Know Before You Go
London is bright and bustling June through August, with weather in the mid-70s (though heat waves are getting a bit more common). While May and September are a bit cooler, their budding flowers or falling leaves are a bonus, plus there are fewer crowds. November through February are cool, dark, and even rainier than usual, but travel and hotel rates can be at their cheapest. Dark days are a bit cheerier from mid-November through December, when the city is dotted with Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, and epic holiday lights.
As a global capital, London tends to keep open hours the whole week long. Most museums are open regular hours seven days a week, though church-related sights are often closed on Sundays. Shops tend to open a little later Sundays, around noon, and some restaurants are closed Sundays and/or Mondays.
Museums and shops in London open around 10, with museums typically closing at 5 or 6 and shops at 7 or 8. Restaurants tend to be open from noon to 9 p.m., though some close between 3 and 5 to make the transition from lunch to dinner. Despite the fact that most Londoners aim for afternoon tea in the hours of 2 to 4 p.m., high-end venues will take reservations for tea time anywhere from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. to max out reservations. Pubs tend to open around noon. And don’t expect to do a pub crawl into the late hours—they actually close “early” compared to cocktail bars, usually around 11 p.m.
Covent Garden : Smack-dab in the middle of the action and featured at the end of our Day Two itinerary, Covent Garden is one of the most central locations in London. The Claremont, Charing Cross is an elegant 1865 hotel with chandeliers, marble columns, and a chic cocktail bar, just a few minutes’ walk from tube stops and Trafalgar Square and a 15- to 20-minute walk from both The British Museum and Westminster Abbey.
Westminster : You might not realize how close you are to London hotspots when you’re lounging in St. James’ Court, A Taj Hotel ’s classy courtyard with its own fountain, but it’s located right between Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. With both the District Line and Circle Line a few minutes’ walk away at St. James Park, even the sights not right outside the front door will feel pretty close.
East End : OK, it’s not as central or scenic, but hotels in the East End are cheaper and closer to attractions like The Tower of London. Travelodge London City Hotel isn’t fancy, but it gets high ratings for covering the basics for a cheap price. Plus, it’s just a four-minute walk to the Circle Line, which means most of London is easily within reach.
Public transportation : The tube, aka London’s underground transit system, is wide-reaching, relatively simple, and always running, with 24/7 service on major lines. That said, trips can add up. A Day Travelcard includes unlimited trips on the tube, trams, and buses within most of central London, and it’s worth it for travelers making three or more trips a day. If you like to linger over your hotel buffet breakfast, an Off-Peak Travel card, which can be used after 9:30 a.m., is an even better deal. The Oyster card is also an option but requires a deposit fee so may not be worth it for shorter visits.
By bike : London is not as bike friendly as other European cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, though there are designated bike lanes in some areas, like the three-mile cycle route running along the river from the Tower of London to Big Ben. If you’re looking to pedal your way around the city, guided bike tours are a good option, such as one that covers London’s Royal Parks or another to see major attractions with stops for art-making and beer .
By taxi : London’s iconic black cabs are super cute, but a word of warning: They tend to be pricey, with fluctuating rates that depend on traffic. And that traffic can also inch along. As of this writing, the ride-share app Uber was running in London, but Lyft was not. London taxis also have their own app: Gett.
Airport transfers : London has six international airports, including City, Luton, Stansted, Southend, and, the two largest, Heathrow and Gatwick.
From Heathrow, the Piccadilly Line on the tube runs directly to Piccadilly Circus in 50 minutes. The faster option is the Heathrow Express rail line , which runs to Paddington Station in just 20 minutes. It’s more expensive than the tube, but it still beats taking a taxi, the priciest option by far and—thanks to traffic—often the slowest. Some hotels also offer hotel bus service—the Heathrow Hotel Hoppa, for example, makes trips to 25 hotels around the city and is as cheap as public transit.
From Gatwick Airport, the 30-minute Gatwick Express is by far the fastest option, running direct to Victoria Station. The ThamesLink train costs half as much but takes twice as long, though it runs to more stations, including Blackfriars, St. Pancras International, and London Bridge. Both depart every fifteen minutes during the day. Buses are the most time-consuming choice, departing hourly and taking at least 90 minutes depending on the stop and time of day. Through easyBus , the National Express runs a bus from Gatwick to Victoria Station for as little as two pounds, but be sure to book ahead online or it could cost as much as the train.
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5 Days in London: The Ultimate London Itinerary
Julie Last updated: November 22, 2023 England 118 Comments
There’s just something about London. With its iconic skyline, trendy neighborhoods, world-class museums, and long list of popular attractions, London is a city that every traveler should visit. We put together this 5-day London itinerary to help you have the best experience here.
Table of Contents
About this London Itinerary
In general, I grouped sites together based on their location in order to save you time walking and using public transportation. This will keep you from spending unnecessary time on London’s metro (aka the Tube and the Underground) and backtracking through the city.
Also, I grouped some of the most expensive activities into days 2, 3, and 4, so you can take advantage of the London Pass (more about this at the end of the post).
Also, at the end of this post, we give recommendations on how to shorten this London itinerary if you only have 2, 3, or 4 days to spend in London.
The provided walking distances are the amount of walking you will do to get between sites. These do not include the amount of walking you will do inside museums, art galleries, etc.
5 Day London Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in London, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, the London Eye Day 2: Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Whitehall, Covent Garden Day 3: Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Borough Market, Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sky Garden Day 4: National Gallery, Greenwich, Prime Meridian, Up at the O2 Day 5: British Museum, Afternoon Tea, Portobello Road Market, Museums in Kensington
London Itinerary: Day 1
Arrive in London
Depending on your flight, most likely you will arrive in London in the morning. Check into your hotel and get settled. Only take a nap if you desperately need one. It’s better to drink some coffee and stay awake so you can adjust to the time change as quickly as possible. It’s amazing what getting out into the sunshine can do to revive tired travelers. However, it is London, so there is the chance that the sun will be hidden behind the clouds.
To get to your hotel from the airport, you can take a taxi or hire a private driver (expensive, about 45 minutes, but most likely will be longer depending on traffic), take the Underground (cheap, about 1 hour), or take the Heathrow Express to Paddington station and then take the Underground to your hotel (about 45 minutes but varies depending on hotel location).
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Normally, we do not recommend bus tours. Unless you are in London. This city is huge and the list of sites to see is long. Taking a bus tour is a great way to get an overview of this amazing city. Plus, it’s the perfect, low-key activity for jet-lagged travelers.
There are multiple companies that offer Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours. Big Bus, Golden Tour, and The Original Tour are the most popular. We recommend Big Bus , only because this is whom we used and we had a good experience.
Most companies offer multiple routes through the city. Tickets are valid for one, two, and three days, and extra excursions may be added in, such as a river ride on the Thames. For the purpose of today, all you need is a basic 24-hour ticket.
To get an overview of the city, I recommend the Red Route with Big Bus. This route takes you past the main sites without going too far out of the way. Enjoy the journey as you glide by Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and the River Thames.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you purchase your tickets online in advance, you will save money compared to purchasing them same-day on the city street.
Take a Ride on the London Eye
A ride on the London Eye is another ultra-touristy thing to do in London, but if this is your first time in the city, it’s thrilling to look down on the River Thames, Parliament, and over the London skyline.
London Eye | 5 Day London Itinerary
Cost: Tickets start at £33 if you book in advance. If you want to skip the line, choose the Fast Track option (slightly more expensive). Tickets are available on the official website and through GetYourGuide. Hours: 10:00 am – 8:30 pm, although hours change frequently depending on the season. Visit the London Eye website for more information. Getting here: Use the bus tour to get here, hop off and ride the London Eye, and then hop back on the bus to complete the loop back to your hotel (or your starting destination).
Have dinner and go to bed early to get that much needed sleep.
RELATED: London Bucket List: 50 Epic Things to Do in London
London Itinerary: Day 2
Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Whitehall, Covent Garden
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the walking route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest. If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Westminster Abbey is the site of the coronation of the monarchs of England, royal weddings, and the funeral of Princess Diana. Hundreds of people are buried in tombs and in the floor of the Abbey, including Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton. Included with your entry fee is an audio guide that explains the history of this amazing place.
Westminster Abbey | 5 Day London Itinerary
Henry VII Lady Chapel | 5 Day London Itinerary
PRO TRAVEL TIP: To avoid waiting in line, it helps to pre-purchase your tickets online and arrive at Westminster Abbey 15 minutes before opening time. By making this the first thing you do today, you will get to tour Westminster Abbey before it gets crowded.
Plan Your Visit: Tour Westminster Abbey in photos and learn how to plan your visit in our Guide to Westminster Abbey. Hours: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm Monday through Saturday; Sundays: only open for worship Cost: £27 online in advance; included on the London Pass; if tickets are sold out for your dates of travel, they can also be purchased through GetYourGuide. Website: Check opening times and get updated pricing on the official website
Buckingham Palace | Ewelina W/shutterstock.com
From Westminster Abbey, walk through St. James’s Park to The Mall (1.1 km, 0.7 miles, about 15 minutes) to Buckingham Palace. Most visits here are quick, with just a view of the Palace through the fence, but if you get your timing right, you can watch the Changing of the Guard.
The Changing of the Guard occurs every other day at 11 am (usually Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday). In the summer, the Changing of the Guard may occur daily. This schedule can change and the ceremony will not occur in inclement weather. Click here for the up to date schedule.
The Changing of the Guard is a ceremony that takes place between St. James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace. The ceremony starts at 10:30 am at St. James’s Palace, at 10:45 the procession enters The Mall and walks towards Buckingham Palace, and at 11 am the official Changing of the Guard occurs at Buckingham Palace. You can watch this ceremony on the Mall and in front of Buckingham Palace. It helps to get here early (as much as an hour early during the very busy summer months) to get a good spot.
If you want to watch the Changing of the Guard from the best vantage points and learn more about this tradition, this walking tour gets great reviews.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If this is something that’s at the top of your list to do in London, you can visit Buckingham Palace before Westminster Abbey. However, the Changing of the Guard will take up most of your morning and then you will be dealing with long lines and crowds at Westminster Abbey. In our opinion, your time is better spent at Westminster Abbey than joining the crowds at the Changing of the Guard.
During the months of August and September, and select times during the rest of the year, you can tour the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace. Learn more here.
Next we will be walking over to Whitehall. Restaurants on Whitehall either mediocre or expensive (your best bet on Whitehall is The Red Lion). There are numerous restaurants to try just south of Buckingham Palace, including Bon Gusto (Italian), Quilon (Indian and Asian), or Buckingham Arms (bar/pub located on at 62 Petty France).
Churchill War Rooms
After lunch, walk to the Churchill War Rooms. This museum has two parts to it. At the Churchill Museum you learn about the life and legacy of Winston Churchill. Then you enter the Cabinet War Rooms . This is the underground bunker where Churchill and his staff ran their operations during World War II.
This museum is fascinating and you do not need to be a history buff to appreciate this visit. If you want to learn more about Winston Churchill before your visit to London, consider watching the movie Darkest Hour or reading the book The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson. It is about Winston Churchill’s first year as prime minister during the bombings by Hitler. This story is told by using the journals from Churchill’s inner circle and it provides a fascinating insight on the mind of Churchill and what it was like to live through this time period.
To skip the line, purchase your fast track tickets online in advance.
Cost: Adults £27.50, Child (5-15) £13.75 Hours: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm, last admission at 5 pm Website: Get updated hours and pricing before you go on the official website. Tour of the Churchill War Rooms: Get more out of your visit on this small group tour of the Churchill War Rooms and war sites in Westminster.
From the Churchill War Rooms, walk towards Westminster Bridge along Great George Street/A302. Along this walk, you will pass several red phone booths where you can photograph the phone booth and Big Ben together, as in the photo below.
From the Churchill War Rooms, continue the walk towards Big Ben. Before long, you will be able to see some of London’s most iconic sites: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Parliament.
Walk across Westminster Bridge and take a look back towards Parliament. This is a great place to snap that iconic photo of Parliament and the River Thames.
Parliament and Big Ben | 5 Day London Itinerary
If it interests you, you can take a tour of Parliament or attend the debates, if Parliament is in session. You can take an audio tour or watch the debates at the House of Commons or the House of Lords, but what exactly you can do depends on whether or not you are a UK resident. Click here for full details on how to visit Parliament.
#10 Downing Street
Cross back over Westminster Bridge and walk up Whitehall. You will first come to #10 Downing Street, the official home of the British Prime Minister. The entrance is protected behind a fence with armed guards, but you will be able see the residence from a distance.
Horse Guards Parade
Walk one more block north on Whitehall to Horse Guards Parade. This is a large, gravel area used for parades and a daily changing of the guard (at 11 am).
Continue the walk north to Trafalgar Square. This is one of London’s most popular public squares. It has been the site for anti-war demonstrations, New Year’s Eve celebrations, and victory parades.
Trafalgar Square | 5 Day London Itinerary
Ben Franklin’s House
Ben Franklin, in London? For sixteen years, from 1757 and 1775, Ben Franklin lived in London. This house is the only surviving house that he called home. It is now a museum and can be visited while you are in London. Visit the official website for hours of operation and ticket prices if a visit here interests you (included on the London Pass).
Covent Garden is a district in the West End that is now a popular shopping and dining area. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring this neighborhood.
There are numerous restaurants in this area, including a cluster of restaurants and shops in Apple Market.
Neal’s Yard is a colorful alley near Covent Garden. It’s worth the quick visit just to take a photo. Just around the corner is Neal’s Yard Dairy , one of the best spots in the city to sample artisanal cheese.
Neal’s Yard | 5 Day London Itinerary
London Itinerary: Day 3
Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Borough Market, Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sky Garden
Tower of London
For nearly 1000 years, the Tower of London has served as a royal palace, prison, place of execution, stronghold for riches, and the symbol of the monarchy in England. This is absolutely a must-visit destination in London. This was our favorite history lesson in London, plus the crown jewels are stunning, and probably the best in all of Europe.
There are several parts to a visit to the Tower of London, so expect to spend approximately 2 hours here.
The one-hour Yeoman Warder tour is not only educational but also entertaining (even for kids!). It’s a fascinating lesson about the history of London and the events that occurred at the Tower of London.
The Crown Jewels , an astonishing display of diamond studded crowns and scepters, are the most amazing in Europe. Now they sit on display for all of us common folk to see.
You can also explore the tower walls and tour the White Tower and visit its museum with exhibits containing executioner’s blocks and the Royal Armory.
Ceremony of the Keys: This is a ceremony where the Tower of London is locked up at the end of the day. Tickets must be reserved online in advance and they can sometimes sell out a year in advance. Learn more here.
AVOID THE CROWDS: Lines to enter the Tower of London are notoriously long, especially midday during the summer months. By making this the first activity of the day, you can avoid the crowds. Plan on arriving here at opening time. To skip the lines at the Crown Jewels, go here first and then take the Yeoman Warder tour. Another option is this highly rated tour, which begins with the Opening Ceremony of the Tower of London by the Beefeaters, followed by a visit to the Crown Jewels and ends with skip-the-line access to the Tower Bridge Experience.
Cost (online price): Adults £29.90, Child £14.90, included on the London Pass; walk-up tickets cost £2 – £4 more than online tickets Hours: Summer (March 1 to October 31) Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 am – 5:30 pm, Sunday and Monday 10:00 am – 5:30 pm, last admission 5:00 pm; Winter (November 1 to February 28) Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm, Sunday and Monday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm, last admission 4:00 pm Getting here: Take the underground to Tower Hill, then it is a 5 minute walk to the Tower of London Website: Get updated hours and pricing on the official website
RELATED: 12 Important Things to Know for Your First Visit to London
Walk out to the River Thames to Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge is London’s most famous bridge. Enjoy the view and take your photos.
Tower Bridge | 5 Day London Itinerary
Stroll across the bridge and take in the view down the River Thames.
You can also climb the tower to an elevated glass floor. From here, it’s a thrilling look down at the pedestrians, cars, and buses traveling over London Bridge.
Walking across the bridge is free, but if you want to climb the tower and walk across the glass walkway, you will have to buy a ticket.
If you purchase your tickets online 24 hours in advance, you will save money off of the ticket price. You still may have to wait in line to enter the glass walkway depending on crowd levels.
Cost: Adult £11.40, Child £5.70, included on the London Pass Hours: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm; last entry at 5:00 pm
The View from The Shard
From Tower Bridge, walk west along the Thames River to The Shard. You know you are heading in the right direction if you see a building that looks like a giant piece of broken glass pointing up to the sky. This is The Shard, one of London’s newest editions to its skyline.
At the View from The Shard, you will have the highest view over London. It’s pricey, but it may be worth it on a day with clear weather.
The view from The Shard | 5 Day London Itinerary
Note: If you don’t want to spend your time or money here, later today you will visit the Sky Garden. This is another viewing platform that gets rave reviews and it is free.
Cost: tickets start at £28; included in the London Pass (we recently heard that the London Pass cannot be used at The Shard on a Saturday; if your visit will be on a Saturday, you may have to buy a separate ticket for The Shard, rather than using the London Pass) Hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm, with reduced hours during the winter. Visit the official website for more information.
Lunch at Borough Market
From The Shard, walk a few blocks to Borough Market. The food options are endless at this market. Stalls specialize in different cuisines from around the world, so this is a great place to sample some new foods or assemble a picnic lunch to enjoy back on the banks of the River Thames.
Note: Borough Market is closed on Sundays. However, there are numerous restaurants nearby if you are here when the market is closed.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Continue your walk along the River Thames to the Globe Theater. The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 and hosted plays written by Shakespeare. A modern version of the Globe Theatre was built in 1997 on the site of the original theatre. Visitors can take a tour of the theatre or watch a performance here.
For the performance schedule and details about visiting the Globe Theatre, visit their website .
Sitting next door to the Globe Theatre is Tate Modern, a museum that is home to modern art. This is a place that most people seem to either love or hate. Either you will think the art is rubbish or you’ll think that it’s brilliant. We kept our visit quick (about an hour) and were still able to tour most of the museum.
The Tate Modern is worth it if you are an art lover, but it is skippable if you are not. Hey, if you don’t like it, no biggie. The Tate Modern is free to visit!
Cost: Free Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Built in 2000, Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Thames River. It has been featured in several movies, including Harry Potter and Guardians of the Galaxy . Walk across Millennium Bridge and continue on to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral dates back to the late 17th century. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London of 1666. Recent historical events that have taken place here include the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, and the funeral of Winston Churchill.
For us, the highlight was climbing the steps to the Whispering Gallery and to the rooftop for views over London.
St. Paul’s Cathedral | 5 Day London Itinerary
You can buy your fast-track entry tickets online , in advance, to save £3 per ticket and skip the line.
Cost (online): Adults £20.50; included with the London Pass; tickets are also available through GetYourGuide. Hours: Hours vary by the day of the week and it is not open on Sunday for sightseeing. Get updated hours here.
Monument to the Great Fire of London
After your visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral, walk east to the Monument of the Great Fire of London. This is a permanent reminder of the Great Fire of 1666 that destroyed the city of London. Christopher Wren was also the architect for this monument. If you still have energy, you can climb its 311 steps for another view over London.
Some people say that this is the best view of London. What’s even better is that a visit here is free. From its large observation deck, you can look out over the River Thames and see many of the places you walked to today.
You need to book your visit online in advance (do so on the Sky Garden website ). This is a great spot to enjoy dinner with a view or find a nearby restaurant or pub.
London Itinerary: Day 4
National Gallery, Greenwich, Prime Meridian, Up at the O2
National Gallery | 5 Day London Itinerary
Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is the most popular art gallery in London. It is here that you can see British art from the 13th century to 1900. It would take all day to fully explore this art gallery. For those who want to hit the highlights, visit the National Gallery website and check out their list of 30 must-see paintings.
Cost: Free Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, open until 9:00 pm on Friday
If you have extra time (and do not have museum fatigue yet) you can also visit the National Portrait Gallery, located behind the National Gallery.
Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street
From the National Gallery, walk to Piccadilly Circus. This spot is similar to Times Square in New York City. This meeting point, where several main roads come together, is a very busy spot in London. Enormous neon signs bath the area in colorful light and double decker red buses and cars continually stream by. Have a seat on the steps of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and watch London in action.
Next, walk up Regent Street. This is a major shopping street in London. Along the way, you will pass Hamley’s, one of the largest toy stores in the world and a great place to take kids. Continue up to Oxford Circus, another famous London intersection.
Have lunch nearby. If you like the idea of Indian food, consider Dishoom Carnaby , located on Kingly Street, one block off of Regent Street.
There are several great things to do in Greenwich. Depending on how much time you have left in the day, you may not be able to get all of these in.
Getting Here: From Oxford Circus Station, take the Central line towards Epping, getting off at Bank Station. Change to the DLR towards Lewisham, getting off at Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich. Approximately 30 minutes travel time.
Old Royal Naval College
This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Greenwich. It once served as a naval hospital and later as a naval college. Now, this site is being used as a filming location for many famous movies such as The King’s Speech , Patriot Games , Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides , Four Weddings and a Funeral , The Avengers , and The Dark Knight Rises .
The Painted Hall, which is the main attraction in the Old Royal Naval College, reopened in 2019 after a renovation project.
You can book your tickets online in advance through the official website. Entrance tickets with an included audio guide are also available through GetYourGuide.
Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian
Here is your chance to stand over 0° longitude, placing one foot in the eastern hemisphere and one foot in the western hemisphere. You can also visit the planetarium museum. Since this observatory sits on top of a hill, you have a great view over Greenwich and the River Thames from here.
Website: Get hours and pricing on the official website
The Cutty Sark was the fastest ship of her time, the world’s sole surviving tea clipper ship. Tours are available daily. The Cutty Sark is located in Greenwich.
Up at the O2
The O2 is an entertainment district with an arena, music club, cinema, and restaurants. Up at the O2 is a 90-minute experience where you get to climb onto the O2 roof. The views over London from the top are spectacular.
You can do the climb during the daytime, at sunset, and at twilight.
Visit the Up at the O2 website for full details, hours, cost, and how to schedule your visit. Tickets are also available through GetYourGuide.
Getting here from Greenwich:
By Bus: Bus 188 from Cutty Sark from Maritime Greenwich to North Greenwich, 10 stops, 10 minutes By Tube: Cutty Sark from Maritime Greenwich to Canary Wharf on the DLR, transfer to Jubilee Line, go one stop to North Greenwich Station
End the day with dinner and drinks.
London Itinerary: Day 5
British Museum, Afternoon Tea, Portobello Road Market, Victoria and Albert Museum, Harrod’s
The British Museum is one of the world’s greatest museums. This museum contains a massive collection of historical artifacts that were amassed while Great Britain was a major world super power. See the Rosetta Stone, a portion of the Parthenon, Egyptian mummies, and hieroglyphics. As you wander through these rooms you will be amazed at how much stuff the British Empire amassed during their world rule.
We are putting this museum first in the day. The British Museum is huge and it is best tackled when you are fresh and full of energy. Make sure you have a good breakfast to keep you fueled as you journey back in time at this museum.
Depending on what you want to get out of this visit, you have lots of options. You can see the highlights in one hour, or spend three hours and dive deeper into what there is to visit here. There is so much to see that really you could spend an entire day at the British Museum. Unfortunately, there is not enough time in this itinerary for a visit that long, but spending the morning here is an appropriate amount of time for most visitors.
The British Museum website has lots of great information on how to organize your time and how to keep kids interested. To have the best experience, check out their recommendations.
Cost: Free! Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm daily, open until 8:30 pm on Fridays Getting here: The nearest underground stations are Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Goodge Street, and Russell Square.
Portabello Road & More Museums Or Afternoon Tea
At this point, you have a choice to make: would you like to do more sightseeing or would you like to have a leisurely, somewhat indulgent afternoon and evening?
You can spend your time visiting Portabello Road, followed by the museums in Kensington. OR, have afternoon tea, take a stroll through one of your favorite neighborhoods in London, and follow this up with dinner and drinks.
Option #1: Portabello Road & Museums in Kensington
Portobello road market.
From the British Museum, hop on the underground and head out to the Portobello Road Market. Portobello Market is the world’s largest antique market . You can also shop for books, clothing, music, and grab lunch here. It is open all week but the best day to go is Saturday. On this walking tour of Notting Hill, you get to visit Portobello Road Market, famous filming locations, and celebrity homes.
Getting here: From Tottenham Court Road Station, take the Central Line to Notting Hill Gate (direction Ealing Broadway). Then walk 5 minutes to the market.
Museums in Kensington
Spend the rest of the afternoon at the Natural History Museum and/or the Victoria and Albert Museum. These two museums sit next to each other on Cromwell Road.
With wildlife and geological exhibits, the Natural History Museum is a museum that is fun for the whole family.
The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world’s largest museum of decoration arts and design. Paintings, sculptures, medieval objects, jewelry, photographs, and costumes from around the world can be seen here.
Both museums are free to visit and are open until 5:45 pm.
Getting here: from Notting Hill Gate Station, take the Circle line to South Kensington Station
Natural History Museum | 5 Day London Itinerary
End the day with a visit to Harrods, one of the most popular department stores in the world. It’s motto, Omnia Omnibus Ubique, is Latin for “all things for all people, everywhere.” And have everything, they do. There are 330 departments offering things for sale like jewelry, electronics, furniture, clothing, and stationary. There are also 32 restaurants so finding a place for dinner should be easy.
Option #2: Afternoon Tea & a Leisurely Afternoon
For a quintessential British experience, dine on finger sandwiches, scones, and small cakes at one of many hotels offering afternoon tea.
There are many hotels and restaurants that offer afternoon tea. We had afternoon tea at The Dilly , at the Montagu Kitchen & Lounge at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, and at the Wellington Lounge at the InterContinental London Park Lane. Each experience was fantastic and of the three, we really don’t have a favorite. You can visit each of the websites and pick out the one that looks the most interesting to you, or take a look at the list of afternoon teas in this article.
After having tea, go for a stroll in the neighborhood of your choice, or visit one of London’s green spaces, such as Hyde Park and Green Park.
In the evening, have drinks and dinner at a rooftop bar or restaurant. We recommend 8 at the Londoner (creative cocktails and Japanese cuisine), The Rooftop (great views over Trafalgar Square), and the Aviary Rooftop Restaurant.
Aviary Rooftop. In the winter, dine in an igloo. For the remainder of the year, this terrace has outdoor seating without the igloos.
With More Time
If you have more than five days, here are a few sights you can add to your London itinerary.
This is a beautiful spot to visit. It also makes a tranquil escape from the museums and busy city streets of London. If you are on museum overload, skip some of the museums on this itinerary and journey out to Kew Gardens.
Kew Gardens | 5 Day London Itinerary
Take a Walking Tour of London
There are numerous options for walking tours in London. SANDEMANs offers free walking tours that get rave reviews and those over 18 can take a Liquid History Tour of London. There are also Jack the Ripper tours , street art tours, and foodie tours.
The list of walking tours in London is long. Here are a few more options.
How to Adjust this London Itinerary with Less Time
2 Day London Itinerary: On day 1 of this itinerary, do the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour and then take in the view from the London Eye, the Sky Garden, or The Shard. On day 2, spend the morning at Westminster Abbey, midday visit the British Museum, in the afternoon visit the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. End the day in Covent Garden.
3 Day London Itinerary: Do days 1 and 2 of this itinerary. On the afternoon of Day 3 visit the British Museum instead of spending time at The Shard, the Globe Theatre, and Tate Modern.
4 Day London Itinerary: Do days 1, 2, and 3 of this itinerary. On your 4th day, spend the morning at the British Museum and the afternoon in Greenwich.
Should You Get the London Pass?
If you follow this London itinerary and plan on visiting everything we list, then purchasing a 3-day London Pass is worth it.
In order to make the London Pass worth it on this itinerary, start using the pass on the morning of day 2 at Westminster Abbey. The pass will pay for most of your activities on days 2, 3, and 4. On these three days, if you did everything , your cost would be £160.20. The cost of a 3-day London Pass was £122 when I did this pricing update in April 2023 (a savings of £38.20).
It is possible to purchase the London Pass with a discount during certain months of the year. GetYourGuide also has discounted pricing for the London Pass.
Another advantage of having the London Pass is that you do not need to order numerous tickets online in advance. Purchasing the London Pass not only saves money but also time.
Learn more about the London Pass on their website .
I do not recommend adding on the Oyster Card through the London Pass. It is slightly cheaper if you purchase the Oyster Card separately.
About the Oyster Card
The Oyster Card is a smartcard that you use to pay for transportation in London, including the Tube, trams, buses, and more. Before you travel to London, you can purchase an Oyster Card online and have it shipped to your home. Or, you can buy an Oyster Card at Underground Stations, Gatwick Airport, and Heathrow Airport. There is a one-time £5 fee to purchase the card.
You will preload the card with money. Each time you scan the card to enter the Underground or board a bus, the fare will be deducted from the card. There is a daily max which means once you hit the max, you can travel as much as you like in a single day and the amount you pay is capped.
For a four day stay in London, £30 on the card is a good place to start. For five days in London, start with £35. You can always add more money as you go (do this in the Underground stations).
For an article that explains the Oyster Card in great detail, click here.
Where to Stay in London
London is enormous. To maximize your time, either stay in the city center or pick a hotel within walking distance of convenient tube station.
OUR TOP PICK: The Marriott County Hall. We just stayed here on our most recent trip to London. The location is unbeatable. It’s located on the River Thames, in between Westminster Bridge and the London Eye. Some rooms have views of Parliament and Big Ben. This hotel is within walking distance of two handy Underground stations: Westminster and Waterloo. We loved the location, the views, the onsite restaurants, and being just steps away from Westminster Bridge.
View from our room at the Marriott Hotel County Hall | 5 Day London Itinerary
LUXURY: The Savoy. This world-famous hotel dates back to 1889. It sits on the River Thames and from here it’s just a short walk to Covent Garden and the British Museum. Have a drink in the famous American Bar and dine in Gordon Ramsey’s Savoy Grill.
MIDRANGE: The Sanctuary House Hotel. Just a 5-minute walk from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, this is a great mid-range hotel to consider if you want to be centrally located in London. Rooms are tastefully decorated and there is a traditional pub on the ground floor that offers hearty meals like fish and chips.
BUDGET: YHA London St Pancras. If you are visiting London on a budget, this property is a great choice. This hostel sits just across the street from St. Pancras station. It gets very good reviews and it is easy to get anywhere in London with its handy location near multiple tube lines.
For more recommendations on where to stay, read our Best Hotels and Neighborhoods Guide for London. Learn where to stay for a great view of city and get recommendations whether you are looking for a budget hotel, luxury hotel, or if you are traveling as a family.
More Information about London
BEST OF LONDON: For a list of the top experiences in London, read our article Best Things to Do in London.
WHERE TO STAY: Take the guesswork out of where to stay in our article Best Places to Stay in London.
LONDON TRAVEL ADVICE: Here are 12 important things to know if it will be your first time in London.
WESTMINSTER ABBEY: Tour Westminster Abbey in photos and learn how to plan your visit in our Guide to Westminster Abbey.
WINDSOR CASTLE: Windsor Castle makes a great day trip from London. Learn how in our article How to Plan a Day Trip to Windsor Castle.
LONDON AT CHRISTMAS: For an overview of what to do, here are 15 things to do in London at Christmas. We also have guides to the best Christmas lights and best Christmas markets. Learn how to put it all together in our London Christmas Itinerary.
ITINERARIES WITH LONDON: London and Paris can be combined into a wonderful 7 or 10 day trip. With 10 days, you can also visit London, Amsterdam, and Paris.
Happy travels! If you have any questions about this London itinerary, or if you want to share your experience here, comment below!
More Information for Your Trip to London
PARIS: For the top experiences in the city, read our article Best Things to Do in Paris . Learn how to visit Pere LeChaise Cemetery , plan your time with our 3 Day Paris Itinerary, learn where to get the best views of Paris , and read our Paris Food Guide for information on what to eat in Paris.
MORE CITIES AROUND THE WORLD: Visit more cities around the world with our guides to Rome , Paris , New York City , Barcelona , and Athens.
EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe and the 20 Best Hikes in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our 10 Days in Europe itinerary guide, which has 10 great itineraries for your next trip to Europe.
FIRST TIME IN EUROPE: If this is your first time in Europe, don’t miss our article 7 Things to Know when Planning Your First Trip to Europe.
TRAVEL ITINERARIES: For more travel itineraries for destinations around the world, take a look at our Travel Itineraries page.
To read all of our articles about the United Kingdom, check out our United Kingdom Travel Guide.
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All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.
Hi! Several years ago, we stayed in Paris for a week and took a day trip over to London . We didn’t have time to do much, but we did the hop-on-hop-off bus tour and saw the London cityscape from up high. We are now planning a trip specifically to London and wondered if you had alternative suggestions for Day 1 (since we’ve already done what you’ve suggested for Day 1 on this post), considering the fact that we’ll be somewhat sleepy from our overnight flight from the US. Thanks!
That’s a great question. I still recommend riding the London Eye that first. In that area, walk across Westminster Bridge at least halfway (it’s such an iconic spot in London and good to do on your first day). Then take the Tube to Covent Garden, go shopping, have a bite to eat there or in a nearby pub. That makes it easy to get dinner without having to make a reservation (that first day can go well or you could feel exhausted, so I think it’s best to have open plans from our experience). Then, on day 2, since you already did Covent Garden, you can visit Soho, go window shopping on Regent Street, and/or go shopping at Selfridges or make a reservation for dinner. Have a great time! Cheers, Julie
Hi – this is great, I am trying to print it out to bring with me to London, leaving today – any chance you have a PDF of it?
Unfortunately, we don’t have a pdf or eBook version of this itinerary. You can save it as a pdf but it will be long/a lot of pages since our website is not printer friendly. Have a great time in London! Cheers, Julie
This is incredible. Your level of detail and ease to follow is fantastic. We leave for Japan next week and I get sad when the planning is over and the trip – so I always have my next destination in mind before leaving for the current trip. This itineary is amazing and my inspiration – just booked my hotel for next April! 🙂 Do you have any similar advice for Cotswold or more “Country” London? Hoping to split the trip!
Hello Melisa. I’m glad you like our site! Unfortunately, we have not been to the Cotswolds yet. We have been to Stonehenge and Bath but that was over 10 years ago so our experience wasn’t “current enough” in my opinion to write about it for this website. Hopefully you can find what you need online and I hope you have a wonderful trip to London! Cheers, Julie
Hi there! Thank you SO MUCH for all of your advice! I’ve used so much of it for our upcoming London/Paris/Amsterdam trip!
My question: do you guys use the public drinking fountains in these cities? I’ve purchased collapsible water bottles for our family of 6. I can’t really find if anyone says these public fountains are good water. I’m def not a water snob; but I’d like a little reassurance from someone who uses them! If you DON’T use them, do you have any tips for sightseeing days? Anything easier than just buying a couple gallons of water every day to fill us all up?
Hello Traci. Thanks for writing in. The only place we’ve used the public fountains was in Rome and that water was fine. If we want to carry water with us, we tend to fill up a water bottle in the hotel and bring that with us, and then drink tap water or sparkling water at lunch and dinner. But we have not tried the public fountains in London, Paris or Amsterdam (but it’s most likely fine). I hope you have a great time! Cheers, Julie
I just want to take a moment to say thank you. I am a mom in Tulsa who feels incredibly lucky that we are going to take our kids to London this summer. But I am totally overwhelmed. My son is celiac and eating out anywhere is a huge ordeal or unsafe. The thought of putting an itinerary together PLUS figuring out how to safely feed my son in another country made me want to just cancel the whole thing. Then I stumbled upon this itinerary and I feel inspired. It is so thoughtfully prepared and allows me the freedom to find a gluten free option for my son (thanks to London’s very celiac friendly environment) along the path you laid out. I am still working on our details (we are traveling late july 2023) but you’ve given me the launching pad I needed to make our European Adventure a mission GO!
Hello Jennifer in OK! You are very welcome! And I can relate to your concerns, as Tyler has an allergy to peanuts and some nuts, so I have similar concerns about traveling with him. I think you will be fine in London…there are a lot of gluten free options, and we are beginning to see that throughout Europe and also in New Zealand, where we are right now. Have a great time in London! Cheers, Julie
Hi Jennifer- we are also traveling to London in July and 2 of us are gluten free. I would love to take a peak at your itinerary as I am totally overwhelmed. Would you mind?
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2 Days in London: Detailed Trip Itinerary, Map & Insider Tips
By Author Jurga
Posted on Last updated: October 12, 2023
Have two days in London and wondering how to best plan your time and make the most of your short visit? In this guide, we share a recommended 2-day London itinerary that covers some of the best London sights and attractions that you absolutely have to see if this is your first time in the city. In addition, we include some hidden gems that will make your visit so much more special. Find out!
Packed to the rafters with unmissable sights, attractions, and general points of interest, you could spend weeks in London and only scratch the surface of what’s available there. I should know! I lived and worked in the Big Smoke for years and still discover new places and hidden gems each time I go back! So planning a comprehensive itinerary for just 2 days in London poses something of a challenge…
With just 48 hours in London, you have to be picky with what you do. Falling foul of FOMO and trying to squeeze too much into your trip is a recipe for trouble! You risk being rushed off your feet, exhausted, and unable to truly enjoy each stop along the way.
So to help you make the most of your two days in London, we put together this itinerary with some insider tips and advice to ensure that you see as much as possible, without going overboard. This guide is written with the help of a fellow travel writer, Danny Newman of What’s Danny Doing , who lived in London for several years and knows the city really well.
Good to know: At the end of this article, you can find a short overview of this itinerary, a map indicating all the places mentioned in our guide, tips for getting around, and suggestions for the best area to stay for this London itinerary. Read on!
Please keep in mind that it’s really impossible to see all the best places in London in just two days… So there’s no standard itinerary for 2 days in London or one ‘best’ way to do it. This is just one of the possible options, a good first introduction to the city if you want to see the best of London in two days.
Whether you’re planning a short city getaway, a stopover, or a weekend in London, and no matter if you are visiting London with kids , with a group of friends, or traveling alone , this guide will help you make the most of your time and see most of the ‘musts’ of London in just 2 days. Find out!
Here’s how we recommend spending 2 days in London:
Day 1: London must-sees
On your first day in the UK capital, we recommend taking the chance to see most of the classic London tourist attractions that everyone visiting for the first time shouldn’t miss. Here’s how you could plan your day:
For an amazing way to start the day in London, I suggest taking a leisurely stroll around the famous Hyde Park . The morning’s usually the best time to see it, especially when the weather’s good. With sunshine glazing the greenery and a relative paucity of people, you’ll have some space to relax and ready yourself for the busy schedule ahead.
There are several cafes in the park – mostly around the lake, The Serpentine, where you can get breakfast or some coffee to start your day.
Don’t hang around too long though! Make sure you’ve taken the short walk from Hyde Park and through Green Park to the iconic Buckingham Palace well in time for the 11 am Changing of the Guard ceremony!
Buckingham Palace & Changing of the Guard
The official residence of the King, Buckingham Palace is a must-see in London. Usually, you can only admire this impressive building from the outside, but in late summer – usually from the last week of July to the first week of October – it is also possible to visit inside (you can find more info and tickets for the State Rooms here ). However, with just two days in London, you’ll have to plan your itinerary really well and doing this would mean less time for the other places.
If you enjoy pageantry and tradition, then don’t miss the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Since this is a very popular attraction, be sure to arrive in time so that you can secure a good spot to see everything! This is a free event and you can see it from the street.
Good to know: This ceremony takes place daily at 11 am in June and July, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays during the rest of the year. More info here .
TIP: Alternatively, you can also see a similar ceremony at the Horse Guard Parade . This would be a good option if you want to make the most of your day time-wise. More info below.
If you are not sure where to go, you can also take a Changing of the Guard tour .
St. James’s Park & Horse Guards Parade
After seeing Buckingham Palace, continue on foot through St. James’s Park (another rather lovely royal patch of land!) toward the Horse Guards Parade. The walk through the park is very pleasant and is just about 15 minutes.
Horse Guards Parade is a big parade ground at the Whitehall where The Household Cavalry Museum is located. This is one of the best places to see the famous Horse Guards. And there’s also a daily Changing of the Guard ceremony here at 11 am (at 10 am on Sundays).
TIP: This ceremony is shorter than the one at Buckingham Palace, and it’s also located closer to the other landmarks that you’ll want to see next. So if you want to start your day earlier and make the most of it, you could see Buckingham Palace first and come here for the Change of the Guard. This would give you a bit more time for the other attractions afterward.
10 Downing Street
Just nearby is the famous 10 Downing Street , the official residence of the UK’s Prime Minister.
You won’t be able to get very close to the building since the street is closed to the public by huge guarded gates. But you can see the famous 10 Downing Street from a distance.
I wouldn’t go out of the way just for this, but it’s such an iconic place in London and you’ll be passing here anyway, so take a peek!
Next, head to the inimitable Westminster Abbey , the site of many of Britain’s most important historic moments.
A gothic building of incredible beauty and scale, Westminster Abbey is a popular venue for royal weddings and coronations. Since 1066, every British monarch has been crowned here. Don’t miss the Coronation chair in St. George’s Chapel !
The Abbey is also the burial site of countless famous British historical figures, including Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, and David Livingstone, one of the famous explorers , just to name a few…
PRO TIP: If you want to actually visit Westminster Abbey and not just see it from the outside, be sure to book your timed-entry tickets in advance .
Good to know: If you visit all the other places mentioned before and want to visit Westminster Abbey inside , you’ll probably not have enough time to get to the Tower of London by the end of the day. So either skip the Changing of the Guard, choose just one of these two places – Westminster Abbey or the Tower of London, or adjust the itinerary in such a way that you visit Westminster Abbey on day 1 and The Tower of London on day 2.
Houses of Parliament & Big Ben
A mere stone’s throw from Westminster Abbey, you’ll find another must-see landmark, the equally impressive Houses of Parliament , aka the Palace of Westminster. This beautiful gothic building sits proudly on the banks of the Thames and makes for a mightily impressive sight.
The Houses of Parliament is home to the British government, where the House of Commons and the House of Lords assemble. Political meetings have taken place here since 1066!
This is also where you’ll find Big Ben , the infamous bell tower that rises like a magnificent ornate monolith and forms part of the Palace of Westminster.
There are tours available to visit the Houses of Parliament, but with so much to see in London and so little time, just take some pictures of these iconic buildings and move on to your next destination. It’s time to cross the river via the famous Westminster Bridge and walk to one of my favorite parts of the entire city, London’s South Bank!
South Bank is one of the liveliest and nicest places in the heart of London. The views are stunning and walking along the South Bank, you can see some of London’s most iconic buildings and cityscapes.
There’s also a lot to do here! From art venues to aquariums and, of course, the famous London Eye, you could easily spend an entire afternoon enjoying all that the South Bank has to offer. But on your first visit and trying to squeeze in as many of the nicest places in a day as possible, we recommend just one activity – London Eye.
London Eye is the highest observation wheel in Europe, offering easy access to some of the nicest views in London . From the top, you’ll get a birds-eye view of central London and all the places you saw up to now – from Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace in the distance to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament almost at your feet.
PRO TIP: The London Eye is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London, so be sure to get timed-entry tickets online in advance . We highly recommend fast-track tickets as this can save you several (!) hours. With just two days in London, this is really the best way to do it, especially if you want to see all the other places recommended in this itinerary.
Otherwise, just admire the structure and the views from the ground, and enjoy the views from The Shard at the end of the day (see further below). Of course, you can also do both – the views and the experiences are totally different.
Good to know: There are some nice restaurants and cafes in this area, so it’s a good place for a quick late lunch. You could also take a quick look at The Vaults , one of the hidden gems of London . However, you can’t afford to spend too long embracing the joys of the South Bank. At this point, it should be early afternoon, and you’ve got one more unmissable stop to go to – the Tower of London.
Taking a cruise on the Thames River is one of the musts in London. And even though your schedule will be quite full already, you can easily squeeze this into your itinerary because the fastest way to get to the Tower of London from the Westminster area is indeed by boat.
Another option is taking a tube (metro) from Westminster to Tower Hill. But we recommend the boat because it allows you to see more of the city!
TIP: One of the fastest and cheapest ways to get from the Westminster area to the Tower area is by taking this boat cruise from Westminster Pier (the opposite side of the river from the London Eye). Boats run on a regular basis throughout the day. You can get one-way tickets or round-trip, depending on where you have to be in the evening.
This hop-on hop-off cruise also stops at the London Eye Waterloo Pier (so you don’t have to cross the river). If you are thinking of taking the boat both ways anyway, this can be a more convenient option (and you can take advantage of the hop-on-hop-off ticket to see more places along the river after visiting the Tower of London).
Tower of London
Yet another striking and iconic London landmark, the Tower has a central (if grisly) place in the city’s history. This is where Britain’s most infamous prisoners of old were held captive before being publicly executed. But this fortress was also built to show off the power of British royalty and it’s also a royal palace, with luxuriously furnished apartments and staterooms.
The Tower is home to Crown Jewels and a vast collection of over thousands of gemstones. In addition, you can meet the Yeoman Guards, aka Beefeaters, who are the ceremonial guards of the Tower.
A truly epic sight to behold, the sense of history here is palpable. A visit here is a great opportunity to learn all about the fortress’s long, tumultuous, and fascinating background, as well as the stories of the people imprisoned there. Along the way, you’ll see the Crown Jewels, the Battlements, the White Tower, and many more.
TIP: The Tower of London is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, so be sure to book your tickets online in advance .
These days, you can choose between a ticket that is valid the whole day or a timed-entry ticket, which can save you some time (but you have to get there on time). Also, keep in mind that you need at least 2 hours to see the main sights (3 hours would be better). So ideally, you get here by 3 pm at the latest because the museum usually closes at 6 pm. Or plan to visit first here thing in the morning on your second day in London.
St Dunstan in the East
TIP: If you still have some energy left after visiting the Tower of London, you could take a short detour and see one of the nicest hidden gems of London, St Dunstan in the East .
This impressive church ruin and garden is really picturesque and you won’t believe that such a tranquil place can be found in the heart of London, just a few minutes from the crowded Tower area.
Originally built in the early 12th century, the church was expanded and repaired throughout the centuries until it was seriously damaged by the Great Fire of London in the 17th century and then again during WWII. It was decided not to restore the church, but to protect the ruin as a monument.
It is now a public garden that you can visit free of charge.
Good to know: We indicated this place in our map below, so you can easily find it. Please keep in mind that it’s open until dusk or 7 pm, whichever is earlier. So, depending on the season, it might be difficult to squeeze it into your itinerary if you only have two days in London and want to see as many of the main places as possible. But if you are visiting in summer when the days are longer, you could come here after visiting the Tower of London. It’s definitely worth a detour.
Just near the Tower of London, you’ll see Tower Bridge , probably the most recognized bridge in the world. Even if you don’t feel like visiting inside the Tower of London on such a short visit, you definitely have to come to this area for this iconic bridge!
You’ll see it from the boat when you arrive here, and you can also take some nice pictures from the pedestrian waterside promenade. But we highly recommend walking over the bridge as well. It’s such an impressive structure! It’s also possible to visit Tower Bridge inside , but with just two days in the city, the Tower of London is probably worth your time more.
And, by crossing the bridge, you can also see it from the other side of the river where you can find many nice cafes for a drink or restaurants for dinner. In addition, you can see HMS Belfast, a WWII navy ship that now serves as a museum.
Amazing city views from The Shard
Just a short walk from the southern side of Tower Bridge, you’ll find one of the iconic skyscrapers of London, The Shard . The tallest building in the country, the Shard has several viewing platforms with dazzling views of London.
There are two indoor viewing platforms and an open-air sky deck all the way at the top. The 72nd floor of the Shard offers an amazing 360º view over London and up to 64 kilometers (40 miles) around the city. The views here are amazing at any time of the day, at sunset, or even after dark. So this is a great place to end your first day in London.
TIP: In summer, the viewing platform is usually open until 10 pm, and the rest of the year – until 9 pm. But be sure to check this for the most up-to-date info. Also here, you have to book timed-entry tickets in advance .
Good to know: The Shard also has several excellent restaurants, and you can find plenty of dining options nearby.
Day 2: Bustling cool areas & amazing museums
London has a reputation for being an expensive place to both live and travel. And it’s true! From food to accommodation, you can expect to stretch your travel budget during any stay. However, there are also innumerable things to do in London that are 100% free!
So on the second leg of your London 2 day itinerary, you’re going to sample a selection of some of the best free attractions in London…
Here is what your second day could look like:
Trafalgar Square & The National Gallery
Start off day 2 at the famous Trafalgar Square , a bustling heart of London, and one of the must-see landmarks. If you are staying further away, take a metro to Charing Cross in order to get here in the morning.
With Nelson’s Column guarded by four huge bronze lions at the center of the square, grand stone waterfalls on both sides, and the emblematic National Gallery at the rear, Trafalgar Square is quintessential Great Britain. The atmosphere is at odds with the architecture though, and the place heaves with people from all walks of life. Usually, you’ll find lots of talented street performers here, and it’s a nice place to simply sit back, do some people-watching, and soak in the electric atmosphere.
If you feel the need for some peace and quiet, then be sure to step into the National Gallery to wander through silent rooms filled with artistic masterpieces. It’s usually open daily from 10 am and there’s no entry fee, making it one of the best things to do in London for free.
You could spend hours just wandering around this museum, but on such a short visit to the city, you’ll have to make choices. As a minimum, go inside for half an hour or so, even if just to admire the beautiful architecture and see for yourself how amazing this place is.
Leicester Square, Chinatown & Piccadilly Circus
After leaving Trafalgar Square, walk a little way north until you hit another well-known public space, Leicester Square . Crowded and over-priced, it won’t be everyone’s idea of fun. But I still think this lively spot’s worth seeing! Walk around, embrace the busy tourist vibes, and visit one of the cool stores, such as M&M’s London, the LEGO Store, and many others.
Just nearby, you’ll find London’s Chinatown. Don’t miss the impressive Chinatown Gate .
Afterwards head to the nearby Piccadilly Circus , which is sometimes compared to Times Square in New York. It’s a very busy road junction with shops and restaurants and colorful billboards all around you. At its center, you’ll find a bronze Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain , aka Eros Fountain.
You can spend as little as 20-30 minutes exploring these areas, or a couple of hours, but we recommend not lingering here too much since there’s so much more to see!
Just next door, you’ll find one of the coolest areas in the center of London, Covent Garden . Not only is it home to some awesome theatrical productions, but there are also exciting street performers to watch, good cafes and restaurants, and cool independent shops to look inside.
Covent Garden Market is a must, with its 19th-century glass roof and fantastic architecture. Also Covent Garden Infinity Chamber is nice to see.
This is a wonderful place to be at any time of the day, and if you want to watch a musical in London, you’ll want to get back to this area in the evening as well. But it’s also a really good area to come for lunch, with countless good restaurants and cafes. Whether you want to try some traditional British food , get a pizza, or try some of the best curries in town, you’ll find plenty of choices here.
TIP: Check out the colorful little square known as Neal’s Yard . It’s one of the hidden gems of London and a nice place to check out if you are nearby anyway. From here, it’s just 10 minutes walk to your next stop, the British Museum.
British Museum is another place that we recommend to anyone visiting London for the first time. Talk about impressive architecture! From the outside, this museum’s huge stone columns are reminiscent of the Parthenon. Walk through the front door, though, and you’re met with this vast, modern, light, and airy space with an eye-catching domed glass ceiling.
It’s like stepping back in time and into the future all at once.
But you don’t come to the British Museum just to gape at the architecture. There are 60 epic galleries in this monumental space, including exhibits on Ancient Greece, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, and so on. And, of course, don’t miss the Egyptian mummies!
Basically, if you visit just one museum in London, British Museum is the place to go. It’s one of the best museums in the world!
Good to know: Also here, entry is free of charge (although you may have to pay to see certain temporary exhibits). For more information, please see their website . And also here, you could spend days and even weeks and not see everything. But even if you only have an hour or two, it’s well worth it.
The Regent’s Park
After exploring the British Museum for a couple of hours, it’s time to stretch your legs again and take the mile-long walk up and across to the Regent’s Park . A personal favorite, Regent’s Park’s downright gorgeous. Large, circular, and home to an open-air theatre, a glass-clad café, and mile after mile of walking paths, it’s a great green space for chilling out on a sunny day.
Walk, sit, grab a coffee from the café, and relax for a while. On the southern side of the park, you’ll find Madame Tussauds , and on the far north end of the park, you can visit the much-loved ZSL London Zoo . If you still have the energy, you could visit one of the two, but definitely not both. Alternatively, for amazing views over London , you could cross the canal and go up Primrose Hill .
TIP: If you want to get a bit off the beaten path in this part of London, head to Little Venice. From there, you can take a boat on Regent’s Canal to Camden Town , your next destination on this itinerary. On the other hand, if you are already at the northern side of Regent’s Park, Little Venice is really out of the way and it’s much quicker to just walk to Camden (and you can also follow the canal).
Camden Town & Market
Camden Market is the last destination on this 2 day London itinerary and you could spend the entire evening here. If you are walking from Regent’s Park, exit the park on its northeast side and walk a short way down the road to enter the incomparable Camden Town .
With the canal running through its center and countless shops, bars, clubs, and restaurants, Camden is a perfect (more local) place to end your busy day in London. There’s a lot to see and do here, yet I highly recommend starting with the Camden Market (because most stalls will start to close at around 6 PM, whereas restaurants stay open late).
This is a sprawling, eclectic venue with thrift stores, upmarket street food stalls, and independent shops that sell all manner of interesting trinkets. You really won’t want to miss it!
Good to know: Camden Market is open daily, from 10 am to late (see here for more info). So it’s a great place to stay for dinner. The best way to get back to the city center from Camden is by taking the tube, which takes just 15-20 minutes.
LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Camden Town Camden Market
Theater / Show
If you want to get the absolute most of your 2-day visit or a weekend in London, you could head back to the city center and watch a show or a performance at one of London’s theaters .
In that case, it’s likely that you’ll have to cut some of the other activities short or skip one museum. Otherwise, your day would be too rushed, but it’s definitely possible.
Most theaters are located near the Covent Garden / Leicester Square area where you started this morning.
Ideally, you book your tickets well in advance , especially if you want to see a specific show and get good seats. Otherwise, you can always try one of the ticket offices near Leicester Square to see if there are any last-minute tickets available (but you would have to do this when you are in this area in the morning and not right before the show).
2 Days in London Itinerary & Map:
- Buckingham Palace & Changing of the Guard.
- St. James’s Park & Horse Guards Parade.
- 10 Downing Street.
- Westminster Abbey (get timed-entry tickets if you want to visit inside).
- Houses of Parliament & Big Ben.
- London Eye ( get (fast-track) tickets in advance !) (+ The Vaults – optional).
- Thames Cruise from Westminster to Tower Bridge ( boat ticket and info ).
- The Tower of London (be sure to book tickets if you want to visit inside!).
- St Dunstan in the East (optional).
- Tower Bridge (get tickets if you want to visit inside!).
- The Shard (also here, you absolutely have to book timed-entry tickets ).
- Trafalgar Square & The National Gallery.
- Leicester Square, Chinatown, Piccadilly Circus.
- Covent Garden.
- British Museum.
- Regent’s Park (optional Madame Tussauds or London Zoo or Little Venice Canal Cruise ).
- Camden Market.
- Theater/ show (optional – see what’s available for your travel dates ).
How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.
If you read our 2-day London itinerary carefully, you should have noticed that most of the time we advise walking between the main attractions in London. In some cases – for longer distances – it’s best to take the tube , and sometimes a boat . Either way, be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking a lot!
Walking is really the best way to explore central London. Driving is out of the question and taking a taxi is expensive. Plus, you really don’t want to get stuck in the city’s notorious traffic. Furthermore, most of London’s main attractions in the center are really close to each other. Also, walking from place to place is the best way to soak up London’s unique atmosphere, traverse the age-old streets, and notice the tiny details you might miss otherwise.
And if you don’t want to walk more than necessary, public transport in London is a great alternative (i.e. reliable, efficient, and fairly budget-friendly). Once you’ve mastered it, the extensive metro system (aka “the tube”) will take you all over the city in good time. Otherwise, London’s famous double-decker buses run 24/7 and will take you to most places too (just expect the journey to take longer!).
Good to know: Public transport in London is cashless. You can only pay using a contactless debit card, your smartphone (assuming it has mobile payments setup), or what’s called an “ Oyster Card ”. Alas, this last option has nothing to do with oysters! A credit-card-sized piece of plastic, you buy it from train stations, payment booths in underground stations, etc. and use it as a pre-paid card for getting around.
If you are planning to take the bus and metro instead of walking (or if your accommodation is far away), you can also opt for a 1-day transport card. You pay once, for the entire day, and don’t have to worry about anything.
TIP: If you are not feeling fit enough to walk everywhere and want to make the most of your time in London, you can also opt for hop-on hop-off buses . They have 1, 2, and 3-day tickets, and all tickets include at least one ride on the Thames River cruise.
Where to stay
With transport covered, another most important thing to decide when planning a trip to London is where to stay.
London has thousands of accommodation options for all budgets, and using the tube allows you to quickly cover big distances. Still, if you only have a few days in London and want to make the most of your stay, we highly recommend staying as centrally as possible . This will make your trip so much more enjoyable!
For this itinerary, we recommend staying in the area around Covent Garden/ Trafalgar Square . The location is great for sightseeing, public transport connections are good, and there are many restaurants, cafes, bars, and a big variety of things to do day and night. The majority of London theaters are also located nearby, making it easy to catch a show in the evening.
Here are some of the best hotels in this area:
- £££££ The Savoy (ultimate luxury stay in the world-famous Savoy).
- ££££ St Martins Lane London (an affordable luxury at an amazing location).
- £££ Citadines Trafalgar Square (beautiful modern 4* hotel, one of the top picks in central London).
- ££ The Z Trafalgar (one of the most affordable hotels in this area with tiny, but modern rooms).
If you are looking for a lower budget stay in central London (although ‘budget’ is a relative term in the city center), then take a look at the Waterloo Station area (10 minutes walk to London Eye or Westminster Bridge). It’s one of the few places in the center where you’ll be able to find good quality budget accommodation. Here are two of the best choices in this area:
- £ + Nox Hotel Waterloo .
- £ Point A Hotel London Westminster .
READ ALSO: Where to Stay in London for First Time
Good to know
You won’t be able to visit all the main landmarks of London in two days. However, if you plan well, in 2 days, you can see most of the ‘musts’ of London and also visit a few museums and tourist attractions. Our itinerary above should help you make the most of your short visit.
Ideally, you plan at least 3-4 days in London, plus a few days for the surroundings. This would allow you to explore the main attractions a bit deeper and at a more relaxed pace, and also visit a few interesting places nearby. An ideal first trip to London would be about 5-8 days: 3-4 days for the best of the city, 1 day in Greenwich , and 2-3 days for some of the best day trips from London .
Even though two days will be rushed and you won’t be able to see everything, visiting London for 2 days is absolutely worth it. You’ll be able to see most of the main highlights, visit a few attractions, and get a good idea of what London is like. No doubt, you’ll want to come back for a longer visit! But if two days is all you got, then definitely go. You won’t regret it. In fact, it’s well worth it even if you have only one day in London too!
So, this is our recommended London 2 day itinerary. We hope that it will help you make the most of your trip to London. Of course, you can adjust this to your liking and pick and choose as you see fit, but this gives you an idea of what can be done in two days and how you could best plan your time if you want to see as much as possible.
The good news is that anything you choose to do will be great because London is full of amazing places!
If you have any questions about this itinerary, feel free to leave a reply below, and we’ll try to help. Be sure to also check our other guides to London, especially the one with the tips and tricks for your first visit. See below!
READ ALSO: London Travel Tips for Your First Visit
More travel inspiration & information for your trip to London:
- Must see: Top Things to Do in London
- Short visit: London in One Day
- Views: Best Views & Viewpoints in London
- Off the beaten path: Hidden Gems & Cool Places in London
- Greenwich: Best Things to Do in Greenwich & Tulip Stairs & Painted Hall
- Near London: Best Day Trips & One Day Tours from London
- With kids: Best Things to Do in London with Kids & Family-friendly Afternoon Tea in London
- For The Beatles fans: Liverpool Day Trip from London
More travel inspiration for your trip to the UK:
- What to eat: Best Traditional Dishes to Try in the UK
- Where to go: Best Cities to Visit in the UK
- Yorkshire: Yorkshire Day Trips
- Cornwall: Best Places to Visit in Cornwall & Where to Stay in Cornwall
- Liverpool: Best Things to Do in Liverpool & Liverpool Beatles Attractions
- Manchester: Best Things to Do in Manchester & Manchester 1-day Itinerary
- Scotland: Isle of Skye Itinerary & Scotland Whisky Tour
- Edinburgh: Best Things to Do in Edinburgh & One Day in Edinburgh & Tips for Visiting Edinburgh
- Glasgow: One Day in Glasgow
- Blackpool: Best Things to Do in Blackpool & Blackpool Travel Tips
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Monday 12th of June 2023
Hi Jurga. Loved your itineraries and insights.Big shut out for travel blog. I`ll be visiting the country from July 30 -August 15. Yeah right. Been browsing what to do lol. Your tips and itineraries are really huge help. Just wondering why I can`t copy paste them??? Would really be thrilled if you can guide me on my upcoming trip. Cheers.
Hi Gigi, glad to hear that you find our articles helpful. For a variety of personal and professional reasons, we do not allow copying. But you can always bookmark the articles that you find useful and come back later. And if you absolutely want to have some info on paper, use Ctrl+p, just please consider the environment and only print the pages you absolutely need. Have a great trip!
Thursday 9th of February 2023
I was lost as to how to plan our two day stay in London this summer with four kids;) Thank you for the excellent article. This sounds doable for our family & I know where to start and go on now. Much love:)
Friday 10th of February 2023
Glad to help, Madiha. Have a great time in London!
Dr Muhammad Ishaque
Monday 30th of January 2023
Very comprehensive Very helpful article
Wednesday 1st of February 2023
Happy to help. Have a great time in London!
Sunday 3rd of July 2022
Thanks for the amazing itinerary!
Monday 4th of July 2022
Glad you found this useful. Have a great trip!