London Trip Itinerary – 3 Days

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Discover the best of London trip itinerary 3 days with our comprehensive itinerary, covering iconic landmarks, must-try food, and local experiences.

If you’ve only got 72 hours to explore one of the world’s most iconic cities, you’ll need a well-planned itinerary to make the most of your time. This ultimate “London trip itinerary 3 days” guide will take you through the best sights, bites, and experiences this vibrant city offers, ensuring you don’t miss a thing during your short stay.

Don’t worry this itinerary won’t be running you to the ground. There is plenty of room for wandering aimlessly, reading at historic sites, and trying all the foods.

We’ll cover our detailed London trip itinerary 3 days of fun, where to stay in London, how to get around in London, the best time to visit London, and more!

London Trip Itinerary 3 Days

This post is all about our daily London trip itinerary 3 days.

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London Trip Itinerary 3 Days:

Day 1: Iconic London

london itinerary
itinerary for london

Day one is filled with all the classic London sites you would expect to see – Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. Don’t forget to get a photo with a classic phone booth!

Breakfast - Crumpets

Start your day by trying one of England’s famous breakfasts—crumpets. These small griddled breads are typically served with any number of sweet or savory toppings, from butter and jam to runny eggs or meat. They will be a good start to your day since they are relatively quick to grab and start your big day of sightseeing.

Buckingham Palace

The famous Buckingham Palace. It’s best to arrive from The Mall at Admiralty Arch so you can walk down the massive pedestrian-only street leading up to the front of Buckingham Palace. Walking down the Mall is iconic in and of itself, but you will be in awe once you are standing in front of Buckingham Palace. See the balcony where so many royals have stood and the front gate where so many have driven through. You might even get lucky! 

You can also visit the State Rooms within Buckingham Palace

Changing of the Guards

This is a bucket list-worthy item I highly recommend. From 10:45 am to 11:45 am, the troops stage a Changing of the Guards ceremony. It’s free to see and takes place in a few different spots. The main place to watch is directly in front of Buckingham Palace. It can get very crowded, though. You’ll want to get there early if you want to be able to see it well. The best spots to see it are from the traffic circle directly in front of the main gate of Buckingham Palace. Once this is full, I recommend getting a spot right by the main gate or against the fencing to Buckingham Palace.

We arrived at 10:30 am on a rainy day in February and did not get great spots, but we made it work, and you can still generally see what’s going on. The entire ceremony is over an hour long, and you can leave early if you are just itching to see more. However, if you stand in the traffic circle, you’ll have to wait until the entire show is over before you can leave.

  • Summer (June-July): Daily
  • Off-Season (August-May): Monday, Wednesday, Fridays, Sundays

guided tours for changing of the guard

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Westminster Abbey

It’s a good time to grab some lunch in Westminster before we head on the next half of our day. We opted for a quick sandwich at Sapori. Westminster Abbey will be next on your route. This is England’s most historically important church as every coronation since the 11th century has taken place here. This is also where William and Kate and Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were married (as well as countless others).

We took the budget approach and only admired the abbey from the outside. However, you can visit the inside and see where so much history has taken place.

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big ben

The House of Parliament, or Palace of Westminster, sits just across the street from Westminster Abbey. This is where the current Parliament sits and works daily. It’s a gorgeous historical building sitting right on the riverfront. This is also the building that houses Big Ben. While Big Ben is technically the name of the bell, it’s well-known as the massive clock tower famous for it’s accuracy. 

The best place to see Big Ben and the House of Parliament is from the Westminster Bridge over the river. There will be tons of tourists and traffic, but it has a great view of the clock tower. You can also head down Great George Street to get a photo with a London photo booth and Big Ben in the background.

We, again, took the budget route, and admired the stunning palace and architecture from the outside (aka free). You can take tours inside of the House of Parliament and even climb Elizabeth Tower to see Big Ben up close!

big ben tours

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London Eye

The London Eye was once the largest Ferris wheel in the world (now the High Roller in Las Vegas). It’s still an impressive feat and an icon of the London skyline. Since it’s such close proximity to all the stops in Westminster, now is the perfect time to check it out. It’s just across the Westminster Bridge along the river’s east bank. Simply taking a photo from the bridge with it can suffice. Or you can ride in it during sunset and get a magical view over all of London.

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Downing Street

This famous street is honestly not much to really see since it is a highly secured zone. 10 Downing Street is where the Prime Minister of the UK works and lives while in office. While you can pass by the street, you won’t actually be able to go down the street or stand in front of 10 Downing Street. It’s all in the same area as most of the top sites in London, so it doesn’t hurt to pass by it, but I wouldn’t go out of your way for it. Best case scenario, you get to see the Prime Minister coming or going as you pass.

Pub

No better way to end your day of sightseeing than to find a cozy pub and settle in for a bit. Pubs are quintessentially UK and one of our favorite experiences. They are quite tiny and crowded and every bit as wonderful as you can imagine. Set up shop before dinner with a few beers at one of the many many pubs all over London. This is a good opportunity to find a pub by your hotel and make it your regular spot for the trip – like the locals do. Our favorite pub was the oldest in London, established in 1602 – The Seven Stars.

Dinner

Growing up, I always heard that English food was bland and boring. I really don’t know how they got this reputation because we found all the food delightful. For your dinners, you’ll want to try as many of the popular and delicious English meals as you can. Below are a few of our favorites and the spots we ate them:

Day 2: Culture Central

london food
london museums

Today is perfect to indulge a bit in the classic culinary offerings of London and enjoy a ton of history and art.

Breakfast - English Breakfast

The massive and classic English Breakfast pairs well with the day you plan to have afternoon tea since you can fill up on a big breakfast and have a later, smaller lunch at tea. A typical English Breakfast will include bacon, sausages, eggs, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, and toast. Like I said, it’s massive and delicious. 

There are a ton of restaurants that offer an English Breakfast. Some are more popular than others. For example, The Breakfast Club chain is a great option, and they always have a line, so be prepared to wait.

Museums

Now that you’re fed, it’s time to visit some of London’s wonderful museums. There are around 200+ museums in Metro London, so you’ll have the choice of finding something that interests you.

  • British Museum: The oldest and largest museum in London [FREE]
  • Natural History Museum: One of the most popular museums in London [FREE – book ahead]
  • National Gallery: Classic works from van Gogh, da Vinci, Picasso, and more [FREE]
  • Victoria and Albert Museum: Massive museum of decorative art and design [FREE]
  • London Transport Museum: Old double-decker buses and Tube trains [£25 ANNUAL PASS – book timed entry]
  • Churchill War Rooms: World War II History [£32 – book ahead recommended]

Afternoon Tea

Having a proper afternoon tea is a quintessential London activity. You can typically expect afternoon tea to include tiny sandwiches, cakes, scones or teacakes, and, of course, tea. Most restaurants will offer a set tea menu. I would recommend making reservations for the restaurant you want to try. Afternoon tea runs from around 2 pm until 5 pm, and they usually have a dress code of “smart casual.”

Amazing restaurants all over London offer their own unique afternoon tea. I’ve listed a few below and what they are best known for.

more afternoon tea ideas

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Piccadilly Circus

After tea, you can head to the Piccadilly Circus area for shopping and people-watching. This is the “Times Square” of London—a large, trafficked intersection covered with neon billboards and tons of pedestrians. Regent Street is where all the high-end shopping is. Even if you don’t plan on shopping, walking Regent Street and admiring the architecture is worth it. This is also a great place to visit during Christmas to see all lit up.

There are dozens of theaters in London’s West End hosting various shows. With most shows starting at 7:00 p.m. and lasting around two hours, I recommend eating in the West End area before the show. 

You’ll want to book your tickets ahead of time, as many sell out, especially during the summer. They have everything from classics like Mamma Mia!Phantom of the Opera, or Wicked to modern takes like Stranger ThingsBack to the Future, or Hamilton. Even if you’re not into musicals, you can find plays (without music) like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or The Mousetrap. Or find ones with music you know, like MJ the Musical or The Tina Turner Musical!

Day 3: Foodie Heaven

london markets
london things to do

Did I mention we love the food in London? Well, day three includes more food because there are so many good options!

Borough Market

Start your day at Borough Market. This outdoor covered market has over 100 vendors selling every food you can think of. You can walk for hours simply trying different dishes and drinks in a pleasant atmosphere. There are also a handful of boutique shops sprinkled throughout for non-food items. The markets get very crowded around lunchtime and are especially busy on the weekends. The earlier you can get there, the better.

If you see a line at a stall, it’s probably some delicious famous dish, and a good idea to get in line. Some lines are longer than they appear since they have to make room for walking traffic. They’ll sometimes split the line. The line for The Black Pig was crazy long. We waited at The Ginger Pig (a totally different place) for a sausage roll, and they went through the line rather quickly.

There are a ton of awesome markets throughout London, depending on what you are looking for. Another good option is Camden Market – an outdoor market with shopping and food along the river. Or Columbia Road Flower Market that’s only open on Sundays. It’s filled with flowers, antique shops, and boutique retailers.

take a market food tour

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Shakespeare Globe Theatre

If you are interested in classic literature or theater, you should stop by Shakespeare’s Globe. It’s a short 10-minute walk from Borough Market. While this is not the original Shakespeare’s Theater, it is a replica rebuilt in the late 1990s. The original was destroyed in a fire in 1613, rebuilt, and then destroyed in the 1640s. It’s an impressive structure that takes you back in time the moment you see it. You can actually still see plays here, too!

Also, please, please take some time to read a bit of this beautiful Shakespeare book while sitting here. How magical is that?

Tower of London

To get from Shakespeare’s Globe to the Tower of London, you can take a public ferry along the Thames River. On the way, you’ll pass the London Bridge and the Tower Bridge. These two bridges often get confused because the Tower Bridge looks so iconic, and the London Bridge has such an iconic name. It’s fun to actually see the real London Bridge, which is very different from the massive Tower Bridge.

The Tower of London is London’s castle. It holds the Crown Jewels and is home to the ravens that guard the tower. It was also once a very infamous prison. You can see some of the iconic landmarks from outside for free, but this is one that, to experience it truly, you’ll want to go inside and maybe take a tour.

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Dinner - Sunday Roast

If you happen to be in London on a Sunday, do your best to find a tavern that serves Sunday Roast. It’s a Sunday special of roasted meat, Yorkshire pudding, and veggies. It’s really quite lovely and perfect for an early Sunday dinner. Some places will have set menus and they can range in price. Many were quite expensive, but we found a delicious spot at The Market Tavern with an Aged Beef Sirloin Sunday Roast for £22.

More Information about London:

Where to stay in London

We stayed at The Trafalgar St. James London and loved the central location. We were within walking distance to all the major tourist attractions and tons of really great restaurants and pubs. This hotel is next level in terms of service and amenities as it is a five-star hotel. We were lucky enough to stay there only because they were under renovation then, so we got a much lower-than-usual rate.

Be sure take a look at the main activities you would like to do and try to stay closer to them. However, the closer you are to the tourist destinations, the more expensive accommodations will be. If you do decide to stay outside of the main areas, that’s okay because the public transportation is so good in London that you can still easily get to where you want to go. 

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Getting around in London

Public Transportation

This was our preferred method of traveling around London. We took both the Underground train system and the famous double-decker buses. Both are easy to use with Google Maps directions. You can pay for them via a contactless credit card. Just be sure to use the same card all day since they will max out your charges at a certain point (bus only travel at £5.25 ($6.70) and around $10 for a mix of transport), and you can keep riding for free! You will need a separate card for each person.

Rideshare or Taxis

This is a good option for when you have luggage. Although getting to the city center from the airport is easy, most stations don’t have elevators or escalators. We took the train to the city center (Oxford Circus Station) and lugged our luggage up the stairs. We didn’t want to walk the half mile to our hotel or transfer to a bus, so we ordered an Uber.

You can also opt for one of the super classic black cabs. These are metered fares and you can pay via credit card. Although they cost similarly to an Uber, they usually range on the more expensive side.

Bike

We love biking through cities to get around. However, our visit was during winter, so biking wasn’t really an option. If you are traveling during warmer periods, you can use their bike-sharing services all over town. Be sure to set up the app and your account with Santander Cycles ahead of time to make your rides even easier. London is a great city to ride a bike in, as it has tons of bike lanes and gorgeous parks all over town.

Rental Car

Renting a car in London is not ideal, but possible. I wouldn’t recommend driving in or around London unless you plan a road trip through the United Kingdom. Parking is a nightmare around town and will cost you quite a bit. Also, my American friends, they do drive on the right side of the car and the left side of the road. If you decide to rent a car, get your international driver’s permit before your trip.

Guided Tours

If planning is overwhelming, guided tours are a great way to see a lot of sights and learn a lot of information. You’ll likely do stuff you wouldn’t have even known about and meet lots of fellow travelers. You can plan a guided tour through Europe, including London, with Go Ahead Travels. They will plan all your transportation, accommodations, and sightseeing.

Cost of Travel in London

Since we opted for a slightly off-peak travel period and secured deals on flights, accommodations, and transportation, we spent an average of $230 per day, or $115 per person, during our adventure. Our strategic choices, like booking a hotel under renovation for a discount and using free activities, allowed us to save money while visiting a more expensive country. Reflecting on our journey, London emerges as a destination that demands careful budgeting, particularly for dining and accommodations. However, planning allows you to navigate the city without sacrificing the essence of your travel experience.

>> Read our full budget breakdown: London Travel Cost – Our Budget Breakdown for a 4 Day Itinerary

London Trip cost

Our Total:

$923 for 2 people

Daily Total:

$230 per day for 2 people

Value:

Cash vs. Credit Card in London

This was one of the first times in a country we didn’t need to go to the ATM. We had some Euros from a previous trip and used that if we wanted to tip with cash. Otherwise, everything was paid for via credit card. Public transportation was all contactless payments, and even the market stalls took credit cards.

Best Time to Visit London

The best time to visit London is during the spring (late March to June) when the weather is mild and the city’s parks are green and blooming. However, late spring – along with summer – is also peak tourist season, and attractions can be crowded. For fewer crowds and lower costs, consider visiting during the fall or early winter.

We visited in early February. It was rather cold and often rainy, but there were far fewer tourists than we expected. We were also able to get a better deal on flights and accommodation for visiting during this time.

SIM Card for London

Get your data before you land in London with an e-sim from Airalo. You don’t need to remove your current SIM card, you can top up at any time, and best of all, you’ll have data when you land. They have United Kingdom e-sims starting at $4.50 and Europe Regional from $5.00.

Purchase and download your e-sim before you even step foot in the country. Airalo allows you to have data when you land! 

Visa for London

US Citizens can visit the UK for up to six months without fees or prior applications.

The United Kingdom is no longer part of the European Union, so it is no longer part of the Schengen visa program. This means that any days you visit the United Kingdom won’t count towards your 90-day visa in Schengen. This is especially ideal if you are planning on traveling through Europe.

Travel Insurance for London

We never leave home without it. Travel insurance from SafetyWing is the perfect option for your London travels. They offer affordable plans to help cover you if you get injured or have unexpected delays or cancellations. This can be especially important with how expensive it can be in London! 

For a weekend getaway or a long-term adventure, SafetyWing has you covered. They cover medical accidents, lost luggage, emergency response, and natural disasters. AND it’s affordable!

Is london safe?

London is a massive, populous metropolitan city, so crime is inevitable. It’s definitely not a dangerous city, though. As with other massive cities, keep your wits about you and all valuable items safe. The most common crimes are petty crimes like pickpockets or theft.

We were often out after dark and felt perfectly safe walking around the main touristy areas. I was never alone (as a female), but I never felt threatened or uncomfortable there.

London packing list

We visited during the winter months so these are a few things I would definitely recommend for your trip to London in winter.

  • Sling Bag: They are perfect for staying stylish and keeping your belongings close by (and not in your pockets).
  • UK Plug Converter: The UK uses G-type plugs, which differ from the standard C-type plugs in Europe and America’s A and B-type.
  • MagSafe Charger: Between taking 10,000 photos and trying to get directions to each spot, your phone will die quickly. This charger easily connects to your phone to keep it charged without having cords everywhere in your bag.
  • Coat: It can get very cold in the winter, so be prepared with a dressy wool coat and a weatherproof puffer jacket, depending on the day and activity.
  • Hand warmers: seriously, these were lifesavers. It can get so cold at night!
  • Waterproof Boots: It’s England, so it’s likely it will rain or snow while you’re here, especially in winter, so bring a pair of fashionable boots that will keep your toes dry!

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This post was all about the ideal London trip itinerary for 3 days.

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