Imagine spending 3 days in London, one of the world’s most iconic cities. From the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace to the contemporary art at Tate Modern, this ultimate 3-day London itinerary will guide you through must-see sights and hidden gems, ensuring you make the most of your trip to this vibrant and historic city.
- Discover the ultimate 3-day London itinerary, including must-see sights and hidden gems!
- Tips and tricks for first time visitors to make the most of their trip.
- Accommodation recommendations & additional activities/day trips to add onto your itinerary.
London Essentials: Tips and Tricks for First-Time Visitors
Loosening up in a city as large as London might initially appear daunting, but with some direction, you’ll soon find yourself navigating the city with ease. Your 3-day London itinerary will be best experienced by blending tube travel with on-foot exploration. Public transport, especially the tube, is the best way to get around central London. Visitors are advised to use an Oyster Card, which provides access to most public transport and saves both time and money.
When packing for your 3-day trip to London, make sure you wear comfy shoes for all the walking you’ll be doing, bring a rain jacket, a small day pack, a pocket-sized A-Z map, and a power bank to stay charged up. In terms of sightseeing, the London Pass is a fantastic option as it grants free entry to over 90 attractions and museums, plus some discounts on tours, restaurants, souvenirs, and theater tickets. The London Pass also gives you the benefit of skipping the lines and getting instant access to the most popular attractions.
Accommodation options in London are diverse, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to self-catering apartments and luxurious five-star hotels. Booking your accommodation a few months in advance is recommended for the best rates and availability. To save money on attractions, consider purchasing the London Pass, which includes free entry to major attractions like the Tower of London, London Zoo, Windsor Castle, The Shard, and a Thames river boat cruise.
Finally, remember that London is home to a wealth of world-class museums, many of which offer free entry. Make sure to visit renowned institutions like the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum to fully experience London’s rich culture during your visit London.
Day 1: Iconic Landmarks and Royal Attractions
Begin your London adventure by immersing yourself in the city’s rich history and iconic landmarks. Day 1 takes you to:
- Buckingham Palace
- Westminster Abbey
- Trafalgar Square
- The West End Theatre district
Morning: Buckingham Palace and Changing of the Guards
Start your day by visiting Buckingham Palace, the official royal residence and administrative headquarters of the UK’s monarch, and home to the British royal family. Experience the time-honored Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. It takes place around 11 am and typically lasts for 45 minutes. To catch this impressive display, make sure to check the schedule online beforehand and arrive early for a prime viewing spot.
If you’re unable to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, consider checking out the Changing of the Queen’s Lifeguard (horse guards) at the Horse Guards Parade as an alternative. After taking in these quintessential London experiences, you’ll be ready for an afternoon of exploration in the city’s historic heart.
Afternoon: Westminster Abbey and Big Ben
Next on your itinerary is the awe-inspiring Westminster Abbey, a historic church that has been the setting for all English and British coronations since William the Conqueror in 1066, as well as many royal weddings, such as Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s in 2011. Inside the magnificent church, you’ll discover tombs and memorials of many distinguished British people from the last millennium, including some related to the crown jewels. These include royalties, scientists, aristocrats, and artists. To learn more about the history of Westminster Abbey, consider using the audio guide.
Just a short walk from Westminster Abbey, you’ll find Big Ben, the famous clock tower adorning the Houses of Parliament. Often mistakenly called Big Ben, the tower itself is actually known as the Elizabeth Tower, while Big Ben is the name of the huge bell inside the tower. Admire the stunning architecture and take a stroll across nearby Westminster Bridge for a spectacular view of the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames.
Joining a guided walking or bike tour is a great way to fully appreciate Westminster and its numerous attractions, such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Trafalgar Square. This way, you’ll be able to cover more ground and learn fascinating facts about London’s iconic landmarks.
Evening: Trafalgar Square and West End Theatre
As the sun begins to set, make your way to the lively Trafalgar Square, home to the National Gallery, impressive fountains, and the iconic stone lion statues. This bustling public square is the perfect spot to unwind after a day of sightseeing and enjoy some street performances or simply watch the world go by.
For an unforgettable evening, take a trip to London’s renowned West End Theatre district and enjoy a mesmerizing performance of a hit show like:
- Les Miserables
- Mamma Mia
- The Lion King
Be sure to book your tickets in advance or try your luck with last-minute deals if you’re flexible on which show to see.
Day 2: Cultural Treasures and Modern Marvels
On Day 2, immerse yourself in London’s cultural treasures and modern marvels. Here are some must-visit attractions:
- The British Museum: Explore its vast collection of art and artifacts from around the world.
- Tate Modern: Marvel at the contemporary art displayed in this iconic gallery.
- St. Paul’s Cathedral: Be amazed by the architectural splendor of this historic cathedral.
Morning: British Museum and Covent Garden
Begin your day at the British Museum, a world-renowned institution with a collection of over 7 million objects related to human history and culture, and located near a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the museum’s must-see exhibits are:
- The Rosetta Stone
- The Parthenon Sculptures
- The Bust of Ramesses the Great
- The Hoa Hakananai’a
With so much to explore, plan to spend 1 to 2 hours at the British Museum. And the best part? Admission is free!
After exploring the British Museum, head to the enchanting streets of Covent Garden. This former covered market is now home to a delightful mix of:
- artisan studios
- the London Transport Museum
As you wander through Covent Garden, enjoy the lively atmosphere and keep an eye out for street performers showcasing their talents.
While in the area, don’t miss the opportunity to grab a delicious breakfast or coffee at one of Covent Garden’s popular spots. With your appetite satisfied, you’ll be ready for an afternoon of further exploration in the city.
Afternoon: Tate Modern and St. Paul's Cathedral
Next, visit the Tate Modern, a modern art gallery located in a repurposed power station on the River Thames bank. The gallery boasts an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by:
Plan to spend one to two hours exploring the vast array of exhibits, and remember that admission to the Tate Modern is free.
Just a short walk from the Tate Modern, stands the majestic St. Paul’s Cathedral, a historic London icon dating back to 1697. The stunning architecture, beautiful interior, and impressive dome make St. Paul’s Cathedral a must-visit during your 3-day London itinerary. Be sure to explore:
- The main parts of the cathedral
- The dome
- The crypt
- Climbing the steps to the Whispering Gallery and the Stone and Golden Galleries for incredible views of the city.
Joining a guided tour could be beneficial to learn about the history and significance of these famous attractions, including Tower Bridge, maximizing your time in the area. Alternatively, you can embark on a self-guided walking tour and discover the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and the Millennium Bridge at your own pace.
Evening: The Shard and London Eye
As the sun sets on your second day in London, head to The Shard, a 95-story skyscraper located in London Bridge. The View from The Shard, the highest public viewing gallery in London, offers incredible 360-degree views of central London, allowing you to spot almost all of the city’s major landmarks. Tickets for The View from The Shard currently cost £32 per person. Alternatively, you can visit the GONG Bar on Floor 21 for a more relaxed experience, enjoying a cocktail while taking in the breathtaking views.
Another fantastic option for an evening activity is a ride on the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel located on the South Bank of the River Thames. Time your visit for sunset, and you’ll be treated to a magical view of London’s skyline as the city lights begin to twinkle. The London Eye offers a unique perspective on the city, making it an unforgettable experience to cap off your second day in London.
Day 3: Vibrant Neighborhoods and Local Experiences
Your final day in London is best spent exploring the city’s lively neighborhoods and experiencing the local lifestyle. Here are some recommendations:
- Discover the colorful streets of Notting Hill.
- Delve into the eclectic atmosphere of Camden Town.
- Indulge in a foodie adventure in Borough Market and Soho.
Morning: Notting Hill and Portobello Road Market
Begin your day with a leisurely walk through the scenic streets of Notting Hill, a quaint neighborhood known for the 1999 film featuring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. The area is known for its colorful houses, trendy boutiques, and delightful cafes, making it a perfect destination for a leisurely morning walk. After exploring Notting Hill, you can continue your stroll towards the nearby Hyde Park for a refreshing change of scenery.
A must-visit attraction in Notting Hill is Portobello Road Market. This bustling market has been a part of the area for over 150 years. Open on Saturdays from 9 am to 7 pm, the market features a wide variety of stalls, including:
- Second-hand clothes
- Vintage items
- Delicious culinary specialties to enjoy on the go
As you explore the market, keep an eye out for unique finds and sample tasty treats from the diverse array of food stalls.
Following the energetic ambiance of Portobello Road Market, proceed with your Notting Hill exploration by visiting iconic landmarks like:
- The Mews
- Westbourne Grove
- St Lukes Mews
- The Museum of Brands
- The Notting Hill Carnival
This vibrant neighborhood is sure to leave a lasting impression as you immerse yourself in its unique charm.
Afternoon: Camden Town and Street Art Tour
The next stop on your itinerary is the quirky neighborhood of Camden Town, renowned for its bustling markets and lively street art scene. Camden Market is a must-visit, featuring over 1,000 shops and stalls selling everything from:
- vintage clothing
- steampunk items
- Moroccan lamps
- quirky accessories
The market’s worldly and eclectic vibe is sure to captivate you as you browse its unique offerings.
To truly appreciate the creativity on display in Camden Town, consider joining a street art tour. This guided experience will take you to some of the most popular street art spots in the area, including Irony’s murals around Camden Town, Camden Market (Stables Entrance), and the main road in Camden Town (Himbad cat). A street art tour is a fantastic way to discover the diverse artistic talent that makes Camden Town so unique.
After taking in the street art scene, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Regent’s Canal, which runs through the heart of Camden Town. The canal is lined with colorful narrowboats, quirky shops, and inviting eateries, making it a perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon walk.
Evening: Foodie Adventures in Borough Market and Soho
As the sun begins to set on your final day in London, embark on a foodie adventure through the bustling Borough Market. This historic market is home to a diverse range of food stalls, offering everything from:
- Boston Sausage
- Olivier’s Bakery
- Flat Cap Coffee
- Le Marché du Quartier
Sample a variety of culinary delights as you explore the market and soak up its lively atmosphere.
Once your hunger is satiated at Borough Market, make your way to the lively streets of Soho for an evening filled with entertainment and exploration. This lively neighborhood is home to an array of:
Ensuring you’ll find something to suit your tastes. Whether you’re in the mood for live music, a comedy show, or a late-night bite, Soho is the perfect place to end your unforgettable 3-day London adventure.
Accommodation Recommendations for Your 3 Days in London
Securing the ideal accommodation is a vital part of planning your 3-day London itinerary, as it ensures a comfortable and enjoyable stay. London offers a wide range of options, from budget-friendly hostels to self-catering apartments and luxurious five-star hotels. Booking your accommodation a few months in advance is recommended for the best rates and availability. Popular websites such as Booking.com and Hotels.com can help you find the best deals on hotels in London.
For those on a budget, consider mid-range and budget-friendly hotel chains such as:
- Holiday Inn Express
- Best Western
- Premier Inn
These hotels offer comfortable rooms at affordable prices, making them an excellent choice for travelers seeking value for money.
If you prefer self-catering accommodation, consider booking an apartment or room through Plum Guide, a website that offers a curated selection of high-quality properties in London. This option allows you to enjoy the comforts of home while experiencing the city like a local.
Regardless of your budget or preferences, be sure to choose accommodation in a convenient location, ideally close to public transport links and major attractions. This will make it easier to explore the city and make the most of your 3 days in London.
Making the Most of Your Time: Additional Activities and Day Trips
If you wish to spice up your 3-day London adventure further, consider an array of additional activities and day trips. Within the city, you can:
- Check out the “20 Best Things to do in London” guide for more ideas
- Take a spin on the London Eye at sunset
- Explore the historic neighborhood of Greenwich
For those interested in venturing beyond the city limits, popular day trips from London include Stonehenge, Oxford, and the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour. These destinations offer unique experiences and a chance to explore more of England’s rich history and culture.
Joining guided tours or arranging private transfers for day trips is an effective way to maximize your time in London. This will allow you to cover more ground and learn interesting facts about the attractions you visit. Alternatively, many day trips can be undertaken using public transportation, with destinations such as Brighton and Bath easily accessible by train.
Regardless of how you plan your 3 days in London, immerse yourself in the city’s energetic ambiance, historical richness, and cultural diversity. With so much to see and do, your London adventure is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
In just three days, you can experience the best of London, from iconic landmarks and royal attractions to vibrant neighborhoods and hidden gems. By following this ultimate 3-day London itinerary, you’ll be able to make the most of your time in the city and create lasting memories. So pack your bags, grab your Oyster Card, and get ready to explore the incredible sights and sounds of London.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth it to go to London for 3 days?
Three days in London is definitely worth it – there's so much to explore and experience! Plus, you won't need to leave the city if your time is limited. Enjoy!
How do I plan 3 days in London?
Explore the sites of Westminster on Day 1, venture through City of London and Southwark on Day 2, and end your stay in London with a visit to Kensington and Windsor Castle on Day 3 for the perfect 72 hour London itinerary.
How many days should I stay in London?
For a first-time visit, four or five days is recommended to get a feel for the city and see many of its main sites. Plan your itinerary accordingly so you can make the most of your time in London! Enjoy your trip and remember to hopefully come back many times!
What is the best month to visit London?
Summer (June-August) is the best time to visit London because of the warm weather and vibrant atmosphere with multiple events happening.
How can I get the best deal on accommodations in London?
To get the best deal on accommodations in London, book a few months in advance for the best rates and availability.
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