Planning a trip to London? Get some inspiration on what to do while you’re there with our idea of a perfect three-day itinerary. History, culture, entertainment, restaurants… Pack it all in at a comfortable pace and don’t miss a thing!
Start your stay in London by visiting Buckingham Palace, the London residence of the British monarchy and one of England’s most famous tourist attractions. If the flag outside is hoisted, that means the Queen is at home. Buckingham Palace also hosts the world-famous changing of the guard ceremony. To secure a good spot for this quintessentially English spectacle, ensure you arrive at the palace before 11am.
Now, it’s time for a nice spot of lunch in St James’ Park. Take a seat in the café of the same name, and enjoy the pretty flora and fauna in this royal park, which is adjacent to the Queen’s residence. You are bound to be fortunate enough to come across its famous residents: pelicans and mallard ducks, which live together in perfect harmony.
Start the afternoon by visiting one of London’s flagship landmarks, Big Ben, the city’s clock, which is housed inside the stunning 96-metre high Elizabeth Tower (also often referred to as Big Ben). Admire the inside of the tower from the Palace of Westminster, the home of the British Parliament. Take this opportunity to also visit Westminster Abbey, where you can learn more about the history of the United Kingdom’s sovereigns and see the place where, since 1066, all British monarchs have been crowned. Afterwards, visit the Churchill War Rooms to discover the strategies that Britain used during the Second World War (1939-1945) and see the rooms where those strategies were devised.
Next, head to Trafalgar Square, one of the city’s most popular spots, which features an imposing statue of Admiral Nelson and is frequented by all sorts of street performers. This is also where you will find one of the city’s most incredible museums: The National Gallery. There you can admire the work of some of England’s greatest artists such as Turner and Constable for free, as well as paintings by an array of masters such as Titian, Monet, Botticelli and Vincent Van Gogh.
Finish your first day by taking to the skies: The London Eye is a huge observation wheel that overlooks the city and the River Thames and offers the perfect view of the sunset. There, you can appreciate how far you’ve walked and get your bearings for the remainder of your stay in London. Alternatively, choose to dine in one of the restaurants at the foot of this amazing structure.
Begin the next part of your stay in London by heading to the north of the city and visiting the Tower of London. This building, built by William the Conqueror in 1708, was successively used as a castle, fortress, defence tower, prison and then an armoury. The medieval site is now classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site and houses the crown jewels, which attract a large number of visitors.
Now, cross the river and explore Southwark, a lovely part of South London with great bars and restaurants. Afterwards, cross Tower Bridge, taking the opportunity to admire both the view over the Thames and the stunning Victorian architecture. Then head to Tate Modern, a gigantic modern art gallery housed in a former power station. Besides seeing some of the world’s finest contemporary art, you can walk freely around the 14,000 square metres of exhibitions spread across the building’s many floors. Don’t miss the machine room, a gargantuan room which now houses a hall and special exhibitions.
For lunch, sample some quality English produce by heading to Borough Market, widely acknowledged to be London’s finest market and one of the oldest in the country. Discover the immense selection of fresh produce residents and local restaurateurs have available to them. From kangaroo steak to ostrich eggs and Caribbean spices, if it’s edible, then you’ll probably find it here! This place is a true treat for the senses, a hub of exciting flavours that captivate visitors. Find your way amongst the spices, meat, fish, baked delights, cheeses and wines as you try to stay on track and not get too distracted by the array of food stands dotted about the market. Choosing which cuisine to try on this day of your trip is going to be seriously tough: from Ethiopian wraps to Scottish beef stew, the choices are endless.
In the evening, head to the West End to enjoy some of the world’s best plays and musicals, with such a wide range of options for different audiences, you’re sure to find something you fancy. The West End is to London what Broadway is to New York, and seeing a show is a must during your stay in London. In total, over 30 theatres put on shows ranging from dance to comedy. Recently, the irresistible humour of The Book of Mormon made it a smash hit musical comedy and it continues to be one of the hottest tickets in the West End. Reserve your tickets in advance to be sure of a great seat, and don’t forget the golden rule of the West End: to shamelessly have a great time!
The following morning, start by having brunch in Hyde Park: The Serpentine Bar & Kitchen offers an incredible view over the lake. This is the perfect place to recharge your batteries and get the best possible start for the last day of your stay in London. Relax and admire these exceptionally well-maintained English gardens. Rarely seen like this in nature, the trees, flowers and fauna all blend together harmoniously. As you are sure to discover, London is a green city so make sure you make the most of it.
Heading through Kensington Gardens, pass the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, discover the architectural pavilion and the Serpentine art gallery on the other side of the bridge. Then head to Kensington Palace, the birthplace of Queen Victoria. Make sure to admire the magnificent marble statue representing her coronation at the age of 18.
Afterwards, have a break and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), which features splendid rooms decorated in Victorian style, such as the Morris and Gamble room. The outdoor areas also allow you to fully appreciate this truly British experience. After this pit stop, make the most of your visit to the V&A by discovering the amazing selection that this art and design museum has to offer, ranging from Chinese embroidery to the dresses of Alexander McQueen.
To finish off your stay in London, spend an afternoon shopping in the upmarket department stores Harvey Nichols and Harrods, both of which are situated in the Knightsbridge district.
Finally, visit one of the city’s pubs to end your trip in the best way possible. Choosing which pub to go to could not be easier: if it’s packed full of people, then it’s probably worth checking out. In the pub, you are bound to meet a few charming English locals who won’t hesitate to advise you about all of the places that you need to check out during your next visit.
During your stay in London, you will realise that it’s impossible to properly explore this multifaceted capital in just 3 days. As a result, take your time and appreciate every moment, remembering that you will one day no doubt return. In the meantime, let yourself be carried away by the irresistible energy of this wonderful city.