London is a unique, vibrant, cosmopolitan city that boasts a magnetic charm and great atmosphere. And I was lucky to live there!
However, there’s so much on offer here that planning a London itinerary can be a genuine challenge. Trust me, you can live in London for years and only just scratch the surface of what’s available to see, do, and experience. With that in mind, I thought I’d put together some comprehensive London itineraries for any aspiring travelers planning a visit.
I decided to work my way up 2 days in London all the way to a 7 day London itinerary. So, building a day at a time, here’s how I’ve broken this giant London travel guide down:
Guest post by Danny Newman
As you’ll see, London literally has something for everyone. Planning the right itinerary for you is all about finding the things that appeal most. I may have structured these London itineraries in terms of days, but my main goal is to highlight the major attractions in London for you to see in a short time. Looking for London itinerary ideas? Keep reading!
When to Visit London
People flock to London throughout the year. And, honestly, it’s hard to say there’s one time to visit that’s better than another. London is changing as the year goes by and there’s something unique to experience in every season. It’s also busy throughout, with prices remaining fairly consistent year-round.
The main consideration may be the attractions available in the different seasons and the weather that goes with it. For instance, winter in London is pretty special: fairy lights and Christmas markets are everywhere and there’s a general air of festivity- it’s quintessential Christmas as far as I’m concerned! In summer, it’s obviously much warmer and sunnier (you might even need to pack some travel shorts!). This welcomes special festivals and events, as well as bringing the bars, restaurants, and parks to life.
The temperature in London’s generally pretty mild. That said, it’s England! And you can never rely on English weather! Expect (and prepare) for rain, wind, and cold (especially in autumn and winter).
In reality, the best time of year to visit London will depend greatly on the experience of the UK capital that you want to have. Rest assured, it’s a city that’ll keep you amazed and entertained whenever you visit.
How to get around in London
Once you have a little practice, getting around London is easy. However, it can be a little daunting on your first trip to the UK capital. Here are the best ways to get around in London:
Public Transport in London
Public transport is your friend. It’s cheap, consistent, and (generally) on time. I’d say by far the easiest way to get from place to place is by tube (the London Underground). Especially if you’re traveling reasonable distances. It can be confusing at first, but pack a little map (I have an app on my phone for this), ask for directions, and you’ll master it in no time.
A Note on Payment Methods
Something to know about public transport in London is that it’s now all cashless. Buses and tubes no longer accept actual physical money. Instead, you can pay with your phone (eg Apple Pay), with a contactless Bankcard, or by Oyster card. You can buy an Oyster card (a little pre-paid, debit card sized bit of plastic that you swipe for entry) at all underground stations. They cost £5, but that money goes straight onto the card to be used for travel.
Alternative Ways to Get Around London
Don’t worry if public transport isn’t your thing or seems too slow. There are tonnes of other options for getting around London. These include bike hire (with bike stations available all around the city), buses, black cabs/taxis, Ubers, and also good old-fashioned walking.
Honestly, it’s surprising how relatively quick and easy it is to get around by foot in the center. It’s also good exercise (not as good as these body weight travel workouts though!) and a great way to explore somewhere new.
If you’ve hired a car and plan to drive around London, you should know about the congestion charge. This is “an £11.50 daily charge for driving a vehicle within the charging zone between 7 AM and 6 PM, Monday to Friday”, where the charge zone is pretty much anywhere in central London.
I wouldn’t recommend hiring a car. It’s exceptionally busy around town and there’s often no-where to park either. When you do find somewhere to park up, it’ll charge you a bomb for the privilege.
Busiest Times of Day in London for Transport
A quick mention of peak times in London. Like most places, mornings and evenings during the working week are the worst for getting around. From approximately 7 AM to 9 AM and from 5 PM to 8 PM, it’s effectively rush hour traffic…just with people.
Tube lines are jammed full of tired commuters wearing minimalist backpacks in a hurry to get home; streets are awash with the same…it can feel hectic, busy, and stressful! It’s also far harder to find seats on public transport, and don’t be surprised to find yourself sharing your personal space with a bunch of sweaty strangers. If at all possible, I recommend avoiding these peak times when getting around.
London Itinerary 2 Days
On to the itineraries, starting with a London itinerary 2 days. You’ve come to London and have 48 hours to experience it. With a relatively short amount of time, where should you go? What should you do?
Things to do in London for 2 days
Here are my suggestions for a 2 day London itinerary and up.
Day 1: Sightseeing in the Centre
I recommend going full tourist on your first day in London! After all, the heart of the city is full of famous attractions to enjoy. Here’s a list of them that you might consider:
The London Eye
Take a ride in one of the most famous London landmarks and enjoy amazing views of the city. Prices range from £26 and the ride lasts approximately 30 minutes.
St. Pauls Cathedral
This London cathedral in the center of the city is another must-see attraction. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren it’s a building of remarkable scale, grandeur, and stature.
It’s a working church, so feel free to head along for daily prayer and services. For tourists, it’ll cost you £18 for an adult to enter and explore, but it’s said to be free for people worshipping.
You can go on a walking tour and/or hire a headset to learn more about the building and its history. You should definitely head on up to the top of the dome too, which provides awesome views over the city.
Houses of Parliament
Another hugely famous London landmark is the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament: otherwise known as Big Ben. Be there to hear chimes as the clock strikes the hour!
The Tower of London
This remarkable London historic landmark should be on anyone’s agenda. This incredible building holds 900 years of British history. Pay for a tour, see the jewel house and learn about this building that served as a palace, prison, and place of execution at different points in its history.
This famous square is situated in Westminster in Central London and commemorates the British victory in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson’s column is another well-known London landmark that stands proudly at its center.
Nowadays it’s also home to some of the other attractions included in this post, such as the National Gallery. Head to Trafalgar Square for a vibrant, electric atmosphere where there’s always something new and fun to see.
Buckingham Palace & Changing of the Guard
Head to the home of the Queen to join the masses of tourists there to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Get there at around 10.45am to see the Queen’s Guard, in their traditional red tunics and bearskin hats, welcoming the new guard in for the day. This is a popular, free activity in London, so get there in good time to secure a place.
Top London Itinerary Tip
All this activity on the tourist trail is sure to tire you out! Try to stop every now and again to take stock of where you are. Sometimes you can get a better sense of a place by stopping and observing, instead of rushing to the next tourist attraction.
Why not break up the day with a walk along the South Bank of the River Thames? There’s tonnes to see here too, but with benches and bars to break up the route, it’ll feel far less strenuous! I recommend doing this at any time and for any of the itineraries in this post.
Day 2: London Museums & London Parks
I’m a sucker for a good museum- especially when it’s free. And there can be few better cities than London for a free museum. On a bad weather day, nothing quite beats it. Even if the weather’s good, though, you should definitely check them out on your second day in the city.
Here are my recommendations of the must-see museums in London:
The British Museum
Situated in the Holborn area of Central London, this museum collection spans 2 million years and hosts some of the greatest historical artifacts in the world, including the Rosetta Stone. The building is staggeringly impressive too. Well worth a visit. This is also where you can see some stunning Roman Mosaics, most of them brought from North Africa.
The Natural History Museum
Next door to the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum is another fantastic place to spend the afternoon. It’s like a giant inside playground for both children and adults! Explore science, space, and technology in this fun and hugely interactive venue.
The Victoria and Albert Museum
Also known as the V&A, visit this South Kensington museum to experience all things art and design. There are 3,000 years of creativity to explore here and it’s all for free. Permanent and temporary galleries of all styles and sorts are available (though some require entry charges).
The Museum of London
This museum is where to go to learn all about the history of this remarkable city. Step back in time by exploring the permanent exhibits and get to know the stories (both ancient and modern) behind the streets.
A quick N.B.
If you’re more of the arty type and prefer a good gallery, check out day 3 of the following itinerary. And, of course, mix and match as you see fit!
London Parks You Might Want to Visit:
Museums are all well and good- especially on a rainy day. But there are plenty of parks to visit when the sun comes out. And, for the second day in London, it can be great to escape the concrete and spend some time in nature (check out these nature captions for Instagram photos you take!).
An idyllic 410-acre park in north-west London that’s full of things to do. It actually hosts London zoo (more on this in later itineraries!), but there are also tonnes of places to eat and listen to music. Regent’s canal also runs through it, which is a beautiful place to walk and enjoy the longboats the line its banks.
This giant park is just next door to the Natural History and Science Museums respectively. Combining all these attractions makes for a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Hyde Park is beautiful and has London’s oldest boating lake, known as The Serpentine, where you’ll see all manner of birdlife.
St. James’ Park
This one is right next door to Buckingham Palace and is situated on the doorstep of Hyde Park too. You’ll find similar stuff to see and do: a lake (with pelican feeding!), a grass-roofed café, and a bunch of ceremonial displays.
London Itinerary 3 Days
3 days in London is a nice amount of time to spend in the capital as with an extra day there’s obviously more time to play with. It’s less of a rush and allows for more ground to be covered! With the previous 2 day itinerary ideas listed above, here are some suggestions for what to do on your third.
3 Days in London Itinerary
Day 1 & 2: See above for the 2 day London itinerary suggestions!
Day 3: Explore the Art Galleries
On the third day in London, why not take the time to experience some art and culture at some of the world-renowned galleries in the city? You could spend an entire afternoon in any one of these galleries so don’t try to do them all in one day. Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m writing this with the intention of highlighting the options for what to include in your London itinerary.
Be sure to pick and choose the things you would most enjoy! Here is a selection of the biggest and best-known art galleries in London:
The National Gallery
This gallery is housed in a grand, fancy-looking building in Trafalgar square. It’s also one of the most celebrated collections of paintings in the world. Even better, you have free access to it for 361 days of the year.
The Tate Modern
The Tate is one of the most recognizable buildings on the whole of the South Bank of the Thames. A former power station, this huge space is home to modern and contemporary art, boasting names such as Picasso, Matisse, Dali, and Warhol. Be sure not to miss out on this incredible London gallery.
The Tate Britain
This incredible gallery is also situated on the banks of the Thames, but this time on the northern side next to Vauxhall Bridge. Visit this free gallery to enjoy the largest collection of British art in the world, with works dating from 1500 all the way to the present day. Head here for Hogarth, Whistler, Bacon, Hirst, and Turner, among other famous British names.
The National Portrait Gallery
A neighbor to the National Gallery (above), this gallery is just as well known and equally as recommended. It does exactly what it says on the tin: housing the world’s largest collection of portraits, from middle age times until now. The rooftop restaurant is an added bonus.
London 4 Days Itinerary
If 3 days is good, 4 days in London has to be better, right? I mean, after 3 days exploring the Big Smoke, you might be tired of the tourist stuff. Having a 4th day allows you to slow things down a touch. On your 4th day in London then, why not take it a little slower, treating yourself with some retail therapy and a saunter around a few of the magical markets available.
London in 4 Days
Day 1, 2 & 3: Check out the 2 and 3 day London itineraries above!
Day 4: Visit the London Markets
London is home to some truly magical markets, each with its own unique atmosphere and offerings. If you’re looking for some mementos, souvenirs, or gifts for friends and family, now’s the time! Here are some of the Best Markets in London:
Borough Market is arguably the most famous market on this list. It’s pretty old too, with roots stretching back to 1014…crazy, right? It’s a typical wholesale market in the early morning but is now most famous as a foodie paradise. If you love good food, Borough Market will be a fun place to visit. There’s street food galore and top quality foodstuff of all types to be purchased. It’s a cool and popular place that gets exceptionally busy at peak times.
Brick Lane Market
Brick Lane is one of the most famous streets in London and is packed full of reasons to visit. Among everything else, Brick Lane is known for its scrumptious curry houses and traditional, beautiful bagels. However, on Sundays, its markets come alive with pretty much anything you could hope to see in a market. This is another market with a cool, distinctive, and buzzing atmosphere. And there are a whole bunch of different markets to explore in the surrounding area too.
With a unique, grungy atmosphere, Camden is a must-see for anyone heading to London. The Camden markets really justify the visit. They’re huge, interconnected, and spread the entire way between the tube station and the canal. My particular favorite is the Camden Lock market.
This houses the international food market at its center! Here, street food and bars cater to every taste. The Stables is another top attraction here. It hosts a crazy, cool, underground style market that packs all manner of stuff to buy. Think antique, vintage stuff with a twist of gothic bondage…Yep, you read that correctly!
Old Spitalfields Market
A covered market close to Liverpool Street station that draws crowds every day of the week. It has a cool vibe, with its concourse crammed full of stalls selling all manner of goods: from vintage and modern clothing to home items and artisan food. Check it out on a Thursday to experience the Antiques Market that (literally) sets up shop there that day.
London 5 Day Itinerary
You can see and do a lot in 5 days in London. After 4 days in the capital, you’ll have already ticked off many of the activities and attractions from your London bucket list. But there’s always more to do in London, so rest assured there’ll be plenty left for your London in 5 days itinerary.
Here’s how I’d spend day 5.
London Itinerary 5 Days
Day 1, 2, 3 & 4: Check out the itineraries before this for ideas on how to spend your first 4 days in London!
Day 5: Music, Theater and Shows in London
There is no shortage of places to experience a show in London. From the world-famous theatres of the West End to the live music in the hipster bars of Shoreditch, there’s music, drama, and more in the capital city.
Generally speaking, the parts of London best known for music (or shows of any kind) are full of cool stuff to see and do, with atmospheres and vibes that need to be experienced. So, though the show itself is unlikely to take up the entire day, you could spend the rest of it wandering the streets and exploring the areas around the venues!
Or, of course, pick and choose anything from the itinerary ideas in this post to fill the time. Here are some of the best places in London to catch a show of some shape or form:
Leicester Square and Covent Garden Theatres
These two places should be on your London itinerary anyway. Leicester Square and Covent Garden are central pillars of London’s tourist scene, with a buzzing, busy busy busy atmosphere and tonnes of cool stuff to see and do.
While you’re there, why not make the most of all the plays and musicals being performed every day? Seeing a West End Play is a special experience, so I encourage anyone to do so on their visit to London. There are masses of theatres around, featuring plays from all over the world.
Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club
This is one famous jazz club. The likes of Sarah Vaughn and Miles Davis have graced its stage and it continues to welcome jazz talent of the highest degree. Situated in Soho you know it’s going to be full of energy (more on this below). It’s a swanky, cool, lively atmosphere inside. It comes at a bit of a cost, but it has to be worth it! And it sells out pretty much every night, so make sure you book in advance to secure your place.
The O2 Arena on the Greenwich Peninsula is a go-to venue for some of the biggest and most famous names in the music industry. Pop stars from around the world perform here at shows happening all year round.
It isn’t just music here though. The 02 is a cool place to visit in its own right. Live sports, such as tennis matches, get played here at certain times of year too. There are also all sorts of things to do inside ‘the Dome’ (as it’s otherwise known), including a bowling alley, clubs, a cinema and loads of bars and restaurants.
Chalk Farm (a place in North London) boasts one of the coolest performing arts and concert venues in the city. The venue gets its name from the shape of the building, which is actually a circular (round) old railway engine shed. They perform all manner of shows here, including music, theatre, poetry, and various festival-type events too.
This is a cool place that creates a platform for aspiring creatives and thus offers its audiences a first glimpse into emerging talent. It is well worth a visit.
Camden is home to all sorts of amazing music venues. Just walk the streets on any given evening and you’re bound to find some incredible show to watch. One of my favorites is a tiny little place called Green Note, where mind-blowing folk, roots, world, and acoustic music gets performed on a nightly basis.
The atmosphere’s welcoming, friendly, and distinctly its own. You feel cut from the world in Green Note, left alone with awesome music and bands, in a small space that creates a unique intimacy.
London 7 Day Itinerary
You’re in the capital for a whole week! Amazing- you have a load of opportunities to experience all the city has to offer. Here are some of the other things you could include on a week-long London adventure.
(You’ll notice that I skipped the 6-day itinerary! I decided against it for different reasons, namely because I thought this piece was becoming a bit of a giant! I thought I’d skip straight to a 7-day itinerary instead…).
London Itinerary 7 days
So, you’ve been in London for 5 days already and done most of the amazing things in the itineraries above. What’s left? What are some of the remaining options to include in your final 2 days?
Visit Shoreditch & Dalston
These two amazingly cool and upcoming places in London have a reputation for being hipster-friendly. Whether that’s your thing or not, you should definitely check them out. They might even want to feature in the itinerary of someone with far less time on their hands.
Go to Shoreditch and Dalston for reams of bars, cafes, restaurants, but also vintage gear, trendy shops, art galleries, and more. These are busy and vibrant parts of London where you could easily spend an afternoon exploring.
Soho is situated in the West End of London and is known for its high energy feel, a great mix of options for dining, nights out, and shopping. For some idea of its eclectic nature, Soho boasts both London’s Chinatown and London’s red-light district in what’s a fairly small area in London! It’s another unique area where you should definitely spend some time if you get the chance.
Go Oxford Street Shopping
If you’re in Soho and have the desire to go shopping in what seems like one of the world’s busiest places, head to Oxford Street. It is jam-packed full of shoppers at almost all hours of the day, but it is definitely the place to go if you have some money to burn or want to bring some souvenirs and gifts back home to loved ones.
Visit Madame Tussaud’s
I find it a bit bizarre just how popular this attraction is in London’s Marylebone! There’s more of what the brand’s famous for: life-size waxworks of the world’s most famous celebrities. Head to north-west London (on the southern side of Regent’s Park) to get your fill.
Explore London Zoo
If waxworks aren’t your thing, then consider crossing Regent’s Park to the other famous location situated there: London Zoo. This historical zoo (it opened in London in 1828, making it the world’s oldest scientific zoo!) is home to some of the most incredible animals on the planet, and you get to walk around the site seeing them all.
BONUS: London Itinerary 1 Day
If at all possible, I’d recommend staying in London for longer than 24 hours. However, if you really only have a day to spend in the capital, here is how I recommend you spend it. Start the day early and slap bang in the center. Get ready for some serious tourist trail activity!
Start in Westminster to experience the incredible architecture of the Houses of Parliament. Then, after your fill of Westminster, seeing the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, I’d head to Southbank to get a view of the London Eye. You could even go on it if you don’t mind the queue or the expense.
2. Tate Modern
Once you’re done with the Eye, walk eastwards along the river to the magnificent Tate Modern. The huge power station is instantly recognizable!
Go inside- it’s free. Even if you only experience the giant Turbine Entrance Hall it’ll be worth it.
3. Tower of London
Finishing up at the Tate, continue eastwards along the Thames, before crossing London Bridge. Not far from here is the Tower of London. It is worth seeing, so make sure you pass it. If you wanted to you can go for the tour as well, but be sure to keep an eye on the time.
Tower Hill tube station is next door. Hop on a tube to get to Holborn station.
4. British Museum
From Holborn, the British Museum is just around the corner. Go and visit the ancient Egyptian mummies inside! Soho’s just down the road. So when you’re done drinking in the history of the British Museum, head there. Wander around Soho in the late afternoon before heading to Covent Garden, which is pretty much next door.
5. Covent Garden & Leicester Square
Get a drink in one of the pubs in Covent Garden. Soak in the cool atmosphere, enjoying the street performers trying to make a buck from passers-by. From there, walk on to Leicester Square.
Get a quick bite to eat here before finding your seats at one of the theatre shows in the evening. The Box-office may have some last-minute tickets available, but I’d book ahead if possible.
If you’ve got the energy after the show, consider hopping on another tube from Leicester Square to Camden (Chalk Farm, or Mornington Crescent station) for a touch of the nightlife at any one of the bars here. And when you’re done partying the night away, walk it all off with a brief foray into Regent’s Park down the road.
And from there you’re bound to be absolutely shattered. Head home and put a date in the diary to experience all rest that London has to offer!
Remember These London Itineraries 2 Days to 7 Days
There you have it: everything a London 2 days itinerary up to 7 days has to offer. London’s an epic place to explore, but it’s also enormous! With a short amount of time to explore it’s hard to know exactly what to include on an itinerary.
Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to do everything. Hopefully, though, this post has provided enough ideas on how to make the most of what time you have. Whether it’s for a: London itinerary 1 day, a London itinerary 2 days, a London itinerary 3 Days, London 4 day itinerary, London 5 day itinerary, or a London 7 day itinerary, the suggestions here should have you covered!
Where do you plan to head first? Let me know in the comments! And when you leave London, head north to explore the best things to do in York.
About the author:
Danny Newman is currently writing and traveling his way around the world in a bid to figure out exactly what he’s doing with his life. He’d love you to follow along with his journey over at What’s Danny Doing, and on Facebook.
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