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The Perfect 3-day London Itinerary (WITH MAP)

by Lisa Stentvedt
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You may or may not know that London is my favourite city in the world. I lived there for 3 years, and have since had a constant longing to move back. There is no such thing as the “perfect” amount of time to spend in London, but a lot of people visit London in 3 days or a weekend. So, I hope this 3-day London itinerary will be helpful for you when planning your trip!

Side note: head this way to read why I miss living in London!

The vibrant city of London is filled with iconic landmarks, tourist attractions, and photogenic spots. There are also plenty of fun and quirky things to do here no matter what your interests may be. Figuring out how to spend your time in London during a 3-day visit can be overwhelming, and this itinerary is here to guide you and provide you with some of the best places to see and the coolest things to do. From scenic riverbanks strolls to picnics in royal gardens, you’ll discover what truly makes London one of the dreamiest destinations, and this 3-day London itinerary has you covered!

red phone booth and double decker in London

3-Day London Itinerary Map

Below is a map for the 3-day London itinerary outlined in this post, that will hopefully make it easier for you to plan your trip!

3-Day London Itinerary: DAY 1

Before you start reading through this 3-day London itinerary (and planning your trip), know that there is an incredible amount of fun things to do and see in this city. You can spend years and years on end there, and never run out of things to see. So, if you want to read a great breakdown, here’s a quick guide to what to visit in London!

Explore the Majestic Westminster Abbey

Start your journey in London in the Westminster area, home to the most famous and iconic spots in town — Westminster Abbey, Palace of Westminster, and of course, Big Ben. The latter has unfortunately been scaffolded since 2017, but repairs should be done by the early 2020s. Even though you might not be able to see Big Ben in all its glory, exploring Westminster Abbey should keep you busy for at least half a day. This historical place is simply stunning and has been the site of all coronations for English and British monarchs since the 11th century. It’s also where royal weddings and funerals take place. Arrive early in the morning to avoid queues, and be prepared to get a really cool history lesson!

Top off Westminster abbey exterior, London

Make Your Way to Buckingham Palace Through St. James’ Park

After your tour of Westminster Abbey, walk 5 minutes to the nearby St. James’ Park, one of the most stunning royal parks in London. The atmosphere there is really laid back, and there’s also a beautiful lake in the middle of it with ducks swimming inside. It’s a great place to have a picnic or simply relax on the grass. Afterwards, head over to Buckingham Palace, which is on the western end of the park. This majestic palace is the London residence and headquarters of the monarchs, and exploring its incredible interiors should take roughly 2 hours. 

Stroll Through Trafalgar Square to Covent Garden

A pleasant 15-minute stroll from Buckingham Palace will take you to the famous Trafalgar Square, the main site of gatherings and demonstrations in London. It’s also a great place to relax by the fountains, or if you’re in the mood for it, to discover some art in the National Gallery inside the square.

Trafalgar Square is just a 5-minute walk from Covent Garden, another must-see spot in London. Tons of cafes, restaurants, pubs, and small shops can be found there, along with street performers and a large craft market. The vibe there is lively and upbeat, and it’s hard to not be in a good mood when you’re there! Top tip: Be sure to try Ben’s Cookies when you’re in Covent Garden. It’s deemed by locals to be the most delicious cookies in town!

Enjoy the Night Lights of Soho

Covent Garden is only a 10-minute walk from the splendid Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, the perfect areas to spend the evening in London. The tall buildings there are lit up in vibrant colours at night, giving off a slight Times Square vibe (minus the skyscrapers). This area, called Soho, is also filled with award-winning restaurants and world cuisines, as well as street performers and tons of theatre venues. You will find plenty of things to do here; even just strolling the area is a brilliant experience!

Side note: I have written about my favourite London cocktail bar here!

3-Day London Itinerary: DAY 2

Tour the Historic Tower of London + Admire the Tower Bridge

Start your second day at the famous Tower of London, where you can learn about its 1,000 years of history. This castle once served as a treasury, a prison, a public record office, and an armoury amongst many other things. Today, it’s where the Crown Jewels of England are found, and it’s totally worth queuing up to see them. You can easily spend half a day inside this fortress, and when you get out, you’ll have the beautiful Tower Bridge (not to be confused with London Bridge) in front of you. Take a walk on the bridge and cross over to the other side. The view of the towers while you’re on the bridge is one of the most beautiful sceneries in London — take some time to soak it in!

Read more: Explore Tower of London, Hampton Court and Hever Castle in the footsteps of Anne Boleyn!

Skip the line by getting your Tower of London ticket in advance here!

tower of london, anne boleyn tudor travel

Take a Riverside Stroll Along the Thames

Once you’ve crossed over to the other end of Tower Bridge, it’s time to take a walk west along the Thames and stop at some cool places on the way. The first stop is the Shard, a 95-story skyscraper. At 310 meters high, it’s the tallest building in the UK and a great place to snap some cool photos. From there, make your way to the nearby Borough Market, which has tons of street food, pubs, and cafes. Just a few minutes from there are two iconic sites: the Tate Modern, a modern art gallery, and next to it, Shakespeare’s Globe. If you have the time, definitely check out the fascinating exhibitions inside Tate Modern, or watch a play at Shakespeare’s Globe (they do more than just Shakespeare plays!).

Cross the Millenium Bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral

Once you’ve reached Tate Modern, the Millenium Bridge will be right in front of you. This bridge is one of the most scenic places in London not just for its beautiful riverside views but also because St. Paul’s Cathedral is right on the other end of it. Get your camera ready because you’ll get a magnificent view of it as you stroll along! Once you’ve reached St. Paul’s Cathedral, join a free guided tour there to see its stunning interiors. This cathedral is simply breathtaking and will make you feel as though you’re in Rome. 

Enjoy the Lively Evening Vibes of Southbank Center

From St. Paul’s Cathedral, cross the Blackfriars Bridge to reach Southbank Center, one of the best places to spend evenings in London. There are tons of food markets there and a great busy atmosphere. It’s also filled with artistic venues that offer musical and dance performances. The London Eye is very close by, and from that area, you can get a really nice view of the lit-up Palace of Westminster.

south bank london

3-Day London Itinerary: DAY 3

Visit the Natural History Museum

Start your third day in London at the incredible Natural History Museum, home to lots of interesting exhibitions such as volcanoes and dinosaurs. You can easily spend half a day there given how vast it is, and the building itself is also very photogenic inside and out. One of the best exhibitions in this museum is Wildlife Photographer of the Year. It showcases some really unique and fascinating wildlife shots along with insightful behind-the-scenes stories. In the winter, there’s also a beautiful ice skating rink in front of the museum.

Take a Relaxing Walk in Hyde Park

Less than a 10-minute walk from the Natural History Museum is Hyde Park, a very peaceful and serene green space perfect for relaxing strolls and picnics. Head over to the Serpentine Lake inside the park to enjoy some beautiful waterfront views with ducks and geese. There’s also a restaurant there if you’re in the mood for food. If you visit during the winter, you’ll also come across Winter Wonderland, a huge pop-up amusement park in the middle of Hyde Park. The atmosphere there is truly incredible, and it’s totally worth visiting for the upbeat vibes, food stalls, mulled wine, and of course — the rides!

Hyde park, sunny day

Explore the Colourful Notting Hill

From Hyde Park, make your way to Notting Hill (around a 25-minute walk from the northern end of the park). Notting Hill is one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods of London. Rows of charming Victorian houses decorate its streets, each one more colourful than the next. Make sure to stop by Lancaster Road, where you’ll see a rainbow row of houses painted in red, yellow, purple, and turquoise. This road is also very close to the famous pink house in St. Luke’s Mews, which was featured in Love Actually. Make sure to also visit Portobello Road Market, the world’s largest antiques market — a great place to shop if you fancy some vintage souvenirs!

Notting Hill is also filled with restaurants, cafes, and pubs. One of the best places to eat there is The Shed. Their unique dishes are made with the freshest produce that’s locally grown in their own family farm.

Are you a movie fan and want to take it a step further? Join a Notting Hill rom-com walking tour!

Notting hill gate tube sign

3-Day London Itinerary – more things to do?

There you have the perfect 3-day London itinerary. In short, there are countless of things to see and do in London, and you’ll never tire of the city (if we are to believe the famous quite; which I do). Whether you are spending a long weekend or 3 weeks, you’ll find plenty of activities and sights to fill your schedule. But, if a long weekend is your plan, I hope this 3-day itinerary was helpful!

Here are a few more London activities to add to your itinerary:

Read more London and UK travel guides here:

About the author: Jiayi Wang is the London-based writer and photographer behind The Diary of a Nomad, a travel blog with a special focus on less-visited destinations. She hopes to inspire more people to see the world through her travel guides and photography.

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