London 3-day Itinerary- Top things to do in London
If you haven’t been to London, what are you waiting for? Remember it is never a good time, there is never enough money or whatever excuse you have. We live in a time (thankfully) where flight ticket can cost less than daily public transport pass (even a one-way ticket). Don’t know how to score one? Then head here and check my brilliant (only I think so 😊 ) guide on how to get a cheap flight deal.
If you’re like me, you like to walk and explore the city. I think this is the best way to get to know the city. That’s why this guide is based on minimal use of public transport.
OK, now you have your ticket and you’re heading to London. Chances are you will arrive either with train (maybe you’re combining this with a Paris trip, huh?) or airplane. If you arrive at one of the airports, you will ask yourself: “How the heck, am I going to get to the city center?”. London Stansted is 50 km away from the city center. Well do not worry, I have covered you also with this. Below is a cheat sheet for all of you and all for free so you don’t have to think about that.
Day One in London – start at Tower Bridge
Let’s assume you had an early morning flight (because we all know early morning flights are mostly the cheapest). Since a lot of low budget companies fly to Stansted, I will again go ahead and assume that you landed at this airport. My suggestion is to catch a Stansted Express that will bring you in about 45 minutes to Liverpool Street Station. You can, of course, take a much cheaper bus but be aware that this can take sometimes even 2 hours. Since you have only 3 days in London, let’s splurge a little bit on this.
Below you can find a map of all sights we will be visiting first day (click on the picture to check closely which ones).
It’s 8 am and you just arrived in the city. And you’re so hungry. Well, don’t worry, head to the Wetherspoons Liberty Bounds pub (15 Trinity Square, Tower Hill, London EC3N 4AA,) near Tower Bridge and eat your delicious but surprisingly cheap English breakfast.
With a full stomach, you have no other than head off and explore British Capital. And with Tower Bridge being so near, you have no other option then walk over this, probably most famous London landmark. Since it’s still morning, there is probably (I say probably, don’t kill me if I’m wrong 😊) not a lot of tourists there. Take as many photos as you want and go down on the other side where you can start to explore the South Bank area. But wait! We are Instagram generation: don’t forget to take a picture with Tower Bridge behind you. 😊
I suggest you now to explore more South Bank Area: can you imagine that before my trip there I didn’t know anything about it. It’s a vibrant area full of activities. Here you have the option to go up to The Shard, super-tall skyscraper and see London from above. If you ask me, and you do, don’t do it. It’s fairly expensive and there is a lot better option (stay with me until day 3 and you will discover which one is it). Instead of that, walk along the Thames up to the Millennium Bridge. This bridge is a piece of modern art and gives a great view of the top of the St. Paul cathedral – our next point.
St. Paul Cathedral is an impressive work of architecture. You can go inside but be ready to pay 15-18 pounds. Don’t worry, the area around is also amazing and I loved exploring it. I think there is something unfair in paying to see the church, but who am I to judge? Sit in the park to relax a bit because there is a lot of walking in front of you.
I already said that there will be a lot of walking and I wasn’t kidding. 😊
40 minutes away from the cathedral is located Covent Garden, your very first food market in London. Grab a bite there or if you’re still not hungry, just explore the place. It’s an amazing place with indoor and outdoor markets, a lot of people and a lot of options to drink and eat.
At this point, I wasn’t still hungry, so I decided to go after this directly to the Times Square of London: Piccadilly Circus. It’s a road junction of many different roads and “center of the center”. China Town, Regent street or Oxford street are all nearby. If you’re still not hungry, explore a bit around.
Shh, don’t tell anyone but Oxford Street is a shopping street 😊 Just sayin’ …
I know you’re hungry now because I was hungry at the time. The breakfast was huge but that was hours ago. Now it’s time for your first Tube ride: Head on to Leicester Square Station, catch a Northern and go to the Camden Market. Just after 10 minutes ride, you will reach your destination. This is a big place so walk a little bit to get to the main market. If you haven’t eaten before, now it is your opportunity. But there is not only food but also a huge choice of vintage shops, coffee shops… Even if you ate before, I know you will like this place because of the vibe it has. I know, me and vibe, but what can I say: I love good old vibe.
I suggest eating something sweet as we did because it would be a pity not to try anything here.
Now it’s already evening and I suggest you head to your accommodation and take some rest. If you will be not so tired, you can go out and feel London by night. You don’t need a plan for this but I suggest you return to the city center, explore the area at night. It will be a different feeling. Sit somewhere, drink a beer (or whatever you prefer). But don’t stay up late, tomorrow we have another day full of activities. 🙂
Day 2-Explore Royals lifestyle and visit Portobello Road Market
Today we are again starting with the breakfast: Wetherspoons is again our choice. This mostly depends only on you. Perhaps your accommodation has breakfast so you can skip this part.
Below you can find a map of all sights we will be visiting second day (click on the picture to check closely which ones).
Anyway, exploring starts at Trafalgar square and hit the road on The Mall that will lead you directly to the Buckingham Palace. I always assume that you finish your breakfast around 10, which means that you will be at the Palace around 11 when, if you’re there on the right day, changing of Queen Guard is happening. Watch a show for a while and take some pictures (if possible, because of all the people there). I would even suggest you start your day earlier and avoid this, come to the palace earlier and avoid crowds. This is up to you. I think that the show is not worth it since the chances you will see it for real are low.
Anyway, after Buckingham head in the direction of London’s Central Park: Hyde Park. Take a coffee to go, sit near Serpentine lake and enjoy, hopefully, sunny day. Strolling around the park will lead you to Kensington Gardens and eventually to the Kensington Palace, home of Prince William. Palace itself is, of course, closed for visitors but you can stroll around and imagine how was the life of Princess Diana inside the gates. Back then she described a Kensington Palace as a prison.
Nevertheless, what happens with royals stay with royals. If you had enough of gardens and palaces, head out and go straight to one of my favorite London parts: Notting Hill. It’s a bustling place full of people, shops and my favorite Portobello Road market. But Notting Hill will forever stay as a home of imposing Victorian-style townhouses painted in all these pastel colors.
You know about them, I know about them, the whole world knows about them but how is it possible no one ever mentioned to me this food market? Thankfully you have me to pave your roads to this place. First of all, this market is more than just-food. Food is beyond excellent but the vibe that this place has: this is something amazing. I mean this 2-miles long market has a lot of tourist traps but on the other hand, there are so many shops, coffee shops, and pubs that you will for sure find something that you like. You can buy your souvenirs right here: We found a small cute red double-decker for 2 pounds.
Now that you’re filled with food and probably with some souvenir, return to the Notting Hill Gate station and head to the Westminster area. In less than 15 minutes you will be again in the very center of London.
Exiting at St.James’s Park station will lead you directly to Westminster Abbey. Yes, the royal church where Prince William and Kate got married. Right after it is Westminster Hall and the Palace of Westminster.
I know you came here to see Big Ben, but the famous landmark (at the moment of typing) is under reconstruction. Try once more in 2021 when all the work around it is planned to be done. But don’t be disappointed: there is much more to see.
You probably already saw one of the most famous London landmarks: the London Eye. If you want the photo as one above, stay still on the same side of the river and walk next to the Royal Air Force Memorial. I would suggest definitely to cross the bridge and see the Westminster place from the bridge perspective. Here you can opt if you want to go for the ride on the London Eye (around 30 pounds) or you want to save that money and go explore Chelsea? It’s definitely up to you here but I must say that charming Chelsea street will not disappoint you. Maybe there you can enjoy some late afternoon tea or visit famous Peggy Porschen coffee shop. Check on Groupon for some afternoon tea offers.
Day 3 in London
Day 3 is the most flexible and here I will give you the most freedom to choose what do you want to do.
My suggestion would be to visit Sky Garden in the afternoon, around sunset time. When we were there, the sunset was already around 4 pm but this depends on the time of the year. Just before visiting Sky Garden, you can have your lunch at another great food market: Borough Market, located 15 min walking from Sky Garden. Drink great Colombian coffee, eat some delicious food and then head to see London from the top, completely for free.
What else can you do today?
- Visit some of the free museums (find out more here)
- Go shopping – there are plenty of options but, of course, Oxford street is always highly recommended.
- Explore the Leadenhall market – it’s in the close vicinity of Sky Garden. It’ a very nice indoor market with an excellent interior. Even if you will not eat, it’s a nice place to explore.
- Visit some stadium (again if that’s your thing) – London is home to many famous football clubs. You can choose to visit some of the stadiums, including the famous Wembley.
- Harry Potter tour – every Harry Potter fan is in the right city. Probably the most famous Harry Potter thing is platform Nine and Three Quarters at King’s Cross Station in London. This platform served as a secret platform in the movie for Hogwarts students to catch a Hogwarts Express train. There are many HP tours you can join and find out more about your favorite movie. Check more here.
- Greenwich – if you choose to visit Greenwich, consider that this is like small city inside a city. Probably you will need a whole day for it. For more information check more.
Below you can find a map of all sights you can visit third day (click on the picture to check closely which ones). But don’t forget it’s all optional.
As you can see, you can do a lot of things in London in only 3 days. Of course, you will be dead tired in the evening and your legs will hurt but I’m sure you will be satisfied. And there are so many things left for your next visit. But that’s a topic for a different post.
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Until the next reading,
Your Traveler To Be