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!
A city that has been destroyed several times and then patiently rebuilt – whether after the great fire of 1666 or the thousands of bombs that fell on London during the Blitz in 1940 – each time, the city of London springs back, even bigger and more beautiful: a truly heterogeneous city bursting with magnificent cultural heritage.
Begin your stay in London by coming face to face with the British capital’s most emblematic monument, the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, whose bell is known as Big Ben. The bell is not open to visitors, however, you can visit Westminster Abbey, one of the world’s most famous medieval buildings in which British sovereigns are crowned, married and buried.
Next, stroll through St. James’s Park to reach Buckingham Palace, the residence of the rulers of England. With any luck, you’ll get there for 11:30, when the ceremonial changing of the guard takes place with a short parade.
For lunch, head into the leafy open spaces of Hyde Park for a picnic. It is huge, at 617 acres. Don’t miss Speaker’s Corner, a place where anyone can stand up and address the crowd on any topic.
On the famous Trafalgar Square you will find the National Gallery, which you can visit for free. Inside, you will discover one of the greatest art collections in the world, with works by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Velázquez, Monet, Van Gogh, Cézanne, as well as works by famous English landscape painters such as Gainsborough, Constable and Turner.
Once you have left the gallery, take Pall Mall and Regent Street to end up at Piccadilly Circus, the buzzing heart of London. Spend the rest of the afternoon shopping in the adjacent streets where you will find many boutiques and larger stores.
For the evening, stay put: just north of Piccadilly Circus lies Soho, one of the liveliest districts in London for nightlife. If you're in the mood to wander about, head south to London’s Chinatown where you will feel like you are on the other side of the world.
The next day, make your way to the right bank of the Thames to visit the Tate Modern, a fascinating place filled with modern and contemporary art, and an international reference. You’ll find works by Dalí, Warhol, Hopper and Magritte here in the permanent collection, as well as temporary exhibitions.
Right next to the Tate Modern, following the Thames downstream, you will find Shakespeare's Globe. This is a faithful reconstruction of the famous sixteenth century theatre, in which some of the English dramatist’s plays were performed. The only difference in the reconstructed theatre was the addition of precautions against fire, which should ensure that the theatre does not meet the same fate as its illustrious ancestor.
Continue downstream along the Thames riverbank, admiring the buildings and monuments as you pass, such as the headquarters of the Financial Times, St Paul’s Cathedral and the famous London Bridge, until you reach Tower Bridge and, on the other side of the river, the Tower of London.
Take a tour of this medieval fortress which once served as a prison. You’ll be chilled by the legends that haunt these walls but will also marvel at the beautiful treasures preserved here, including the crown jewels and the Koh-i Noor diamond, a precious 105-carat stone whose estimated value is over 10 million pounds sterling.
For the evening, stop off at a traditional London pub, as much a part of London as cafes are in the French capital. Much like Parisian cafes, London pubs are everywhere. Walk around the City, one of the world's most important financial districts, and you will come across many traditional pubs.
The next morning, head to the British Museum bright and early in order to avoid the crowds at this unique institution. You’d need more than a day to see the whole museum, so you are advised to concentrate on the most important departments or those that interest you most. The section on Egyptian antiquities is particularly fascinating, and here you can admire the Rosetta stone which enabled Champollion to decipher hieroglyphics.
After relaxing in Regent's Park with a picnic, the afternoon will be devoted to wandering and browsing the shops. Take the Tube to Notting Hill, west of the city centre, a particularly charming area known as a fashion hotspot. Here you will find record shops, the very famous flea market on Portobello Road, and a host of antique shops.
For your last night in London, it’s time to let your hair down a little and discover the vibrant nightlife in one of the music capitals of the world. For chic clubbing head into Camden, in the north of the city, to the Electric Ballroom, for example. To the east, Hoxton and Shoreditch offer a trendy, casual atmosphere. Fabric, in the heart of London, is the place to go for dance music.
Like all major capital cities, London is a whole world in a city; it cannot be tamed in just three days. However, this trip will allow you to see the British capital’s most emblematic places and to soak up some of London’s great atmosphere. If you have the opportunity to spend more time in London, you could go to Abbey Road and walk across the Beatles’ famous pedestrian crossing, explore Whitechapel and learn all about Jack the Ripper, or you could salute the British Navy at the Maritime Museum.