International | 07.20.2023

How to Spend 3 Days in London

A street view of London city, including Trafalgar Square.

By Franki Hanke

London is a big city with a lot to see and eat! If you fit your visit into a 3-day London itinerary, you have to cut down on travel time between spots. It’s impossible to see all of London, England in three days, so don’t stress about it, just enjoy the sights you do see! 

In our 3-day London itinerary, you’ll spend day one in South Bank, day two in Westminster and Victoria, and day three in Central London including Soho, Marylebone, and Covent Garden. 

Day One

An essential part of 3-day London itinerary is Borough Market.

Start your first day with Borough Market, a historic food market across a series of Victorian buildings. From here, you can look up and see The Shard and Southwark Cathedral. Across a variety of stalls, find a late breakfast.

The market opens at 10 AM though you often find a lull in crowds between the opening hour and lunchtime. If you start your day earlier, stop into Crol and Co’s London Bridge location for a toastie and a hot drink. Don’t eat too much ahead of Borough Market though, you’ll want to be able to eat a few things from different vendors. 

Don’t miss Humble Crumble, one of our featured favorite desserts in London

Walk across London Bridge towards your next destination. On the bridge, you can look across to Tower Bridge up the river. Make your way to the Tower of London

Tower of London is full of fascinating history including a period as London's prison.

The Tower of London is a must-visit spot both as a historic fortress and prison, plus as the location for other exhibits including the crown jewels. For the full experience, attend a Yeoman Warder (“Beefeaters”) guided tour, dressed to represent the historic guardsman of the tower. Book tickets ahead for this experience! 

After touring, you’ll be ready for a rest, so find a sit-down spot for lunch where you can refuel and rest your feet. There’s a variety of restaurants on your way to St. Paul’s Cathedral. If you want a tip, try Caravan for a global menu with a lot of variety. 

Depending on your day’s pace, you may have time to explore both St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern before the evening’s show, but you’ll likely want to pick one. 

St. Paul’s Cathedral is stunning with a grand dome from the 17th century. Tate Modern, conversely, is a modern art museum. Tate Modern does have free admission, so it’s affordable to add to the day. If you’re a bit tired of the typical stops, you’ll also be near the Jack the Ripper Museum, so you could add that to your plans instead. 

Round out your day at Shakespeare’s Globe. On the bank of the River Thames, this theatre is a replica of Shakespeare’s original Globe theatre, “the Theatre.” Built in 1977, the building is a replica using the same materials as the original would have been. There’s a performance most evenings (usually at 7:30 PM). Watching a show is the best way to experience the legacy of this space and their continued work. 

If you walk this entire day, you’ll only log about three miles! The whole day is less than an 60-minute walk all combined. 

Day Two

Start the morning at Pantechnicon. If it’s the weekend, you can sit on the roof garden for a brunch menu, otherwise, their weekday cafe is plenty delicious with classic French pastries with Japanese flavors. 

Once you’re properly awake, walk to Harrods to browse levels and levels of luxury fashion and accessories in the stunning building. 

If you’re not keen to shop, skip Harrods and go straight into the rest of the day’s plan after breakfast. Either Pantechnicon or Cedric Grolet would be a wonderful breakfast. 

Depending on how long you want to spend at Harrods, you could plan for an afternoon tea experience at Cedric Grolet at The Berkeley next. 

Buckingham Palace is a must-see during your 3-day London itinerary.

Next, head to Buckingham Palace. Depending on the day of your visit, you may be able to catch the changing of the guard, which typically only happens on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Explore the State Rooms inside to see the elaborate, royal decor. Depending on when you visit, there may be additional displays set up. Until September this year, the Ballroom is displaying the Coronation garb from the royal family including The King and Queen Camilla. 

Once you’re done at the palace and its grounds, head to The Laughing Halibut for some grub. 

Fuel up before hitting several of the must-see sights of London rapid-fire this afternoon: Westminster Abbey and Big Ben (and the Houses of Parliament). If you like history, add a stop for Churchill’s War Rooms. Otherwise, the National Gallery is nearby too, if you’d prefer seeing art to history. 

You could add some extra distance to see Trafalgar Square and Great Scotland Yard in Leicester Square of the West End but don’t overdo the walking tour. It’s always better to enjoy the things you see than to see everything but be miserable. With only three days, you’ll miss some things, and that’s okay! 

Find dinner when you’re ready. There are several restaurants within this area depending on your budget and preferences. 

See the sights of London from the London Eye Ferris wheel.

End the evening by crossing Westminster Bridge to the London Eye to see the view and lights of the city. It’s one of the best views you’ll see. 

If you don’t add extra stops, today’s distance is just over three miles, but you will rack up more steps touring the attractions and walking through the palace’s grounds and gardens. 

Day Three

Start your day at Arôme Bakery for rich, flakey French pastries blended with Eastern flavors. Their signature is a honey butter toast with a crunchy, honeyed crust outside a tender, fluffy shokupan. 

You can't miss the global history at the British Museum.

Next, visit the British Museum. As one of the most referenced art museums in the world, the British Museum has several famous pieces to see including the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Sculptures, and the Ramesses II bust to name a few. Many of these iconic pieces aren’t from Britain’s own English artists, but they are historic on a global scale. 

Now, you could have an entire day trip to explore the British Museum from top to bottom, but the average traveler won’t do that. If you do finish the museum with a lot of time left, head towards the Queen Mary Rose Gardens and Sherlock Holmes Museum

The rose garden is especially notable when you’re catching it in bloom in early June. 

Or if you’re museum’d out, consider just exploring Soho more. The streets are lined with shops and eateries to wander through at a slower pace than a museum. 

There are dozens of stellar restaurants in Soho, including Michelin-starred Barrafina. Pick out one you’ll love and make a reservation. 

Before You Go

Be sure to check the schedule for any of our suggestions. Some attractions are only open on certain days of the week. Swapping the order of the days might make your plans work. If any one activity doesn’t work, don’t sweat. There are lots of tourist attractions in every borough of London, so fill in time with something else you’d enjoy. Depending on your final itinerary, you may save money on attractions with the London Pass. If it’s not your first time visiting, consider exploring some of the boroughs you might have missed last time like Notting Hill, Hyde Park, Camden, West End’s theater, Greenwich, or Windsor Castle (west of Heathrow).  

This 3-day London itinerary aims to keep all the sightseeing closely clumped to minimize the wear and tear on your toes, but you can shorten the distance by using public transport to get to a nearby underground tube station. Consider an Oyster card if you’ll use transport often. 

If you want more travel content, our founder Paula and social media manager Emma have both been traveling around Europe this year and sharing it all on our Instagram

As with any travel guide, only take the recommendations that excite you. You’ll enjoy traveling more when you do what you like, and when you’re in the city of London, there’s plenty to enjoy. 

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