Best of London in 3 Days
No matter how many times I visit London, I never tire of the lively city. A fantastic destination for theatre, culture, dining, history, shopping and entertainment, London has it all. Like New York City, each neighborhood has a unique vibe and a place for everyone. You could spend weeks in London and still not see everything it has to offer — but if you have three days, start with this itinerary and prepare to fall in love with London town! If you’re flying into one of London’s many airports, you’ll likely need to hire a car, board the bus or tube or take an express train into central London. The Luton Express drops you off at St. Pancras station, while the Heathrow Express goes to Paddington. Travelers arriving in Gatwick can easily take the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station. Once you’re in central London, drop off your bags and get ready to explore!
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Where to stay
Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill
Sophisticated hotel in Marylebone overlooking Portman Square Garden honouring Sir Winston Churchill with bespoke design details.
$100 food / beverage credit.
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Covent Garden Hotel
Contemporary boutique hotel in the heart of London with modern rooms.
Welcome treat in room on arrival.
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The Standard, London
Contemporary property in a Brutalist-style building from 1974 with modern rooms and suites.
$100 food / beverage credit.
Upgrade, based on availability.
Extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Day 1: Markets and views
The Shard, Borough Market, Sky Garden, Tower Bridge, Brick Lane Market and Shoreditch
As its name suggests, the London Bridge tube station will leave you right at London Bridge, where you have a great view of the Thames River and the Shard. Only two minutes from the station, don’t miss Borough Market’s famous paella and Turnip’s chocolate covered strawberries. The market closes at 5pm, after which happy hour takes over. If you have plans to see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, have a pint in the Borough first.
From Borough Market, take a stroll towards Tower Bridge along the Thames. Cross the high-level walkways for panoramic views and explore the engine room with timed-entry tickets here. If you’re not up for the tour, it’s always free to cross the bridge. On the other side of the river, you’ll have a chance for more views at Sky Garden. While the garden is free to access, make sure to book tickets online beforehand.
Head to tea time or continue exploring London’s markets with Leadenhall Market, one of the oldest in London, dating back to the 14th century. Near the Shoreditch High Street tube station, check out Brick Lane Vintage Market, which is best for vintage clothing and unique finds and Spitalfields Market, near the London Liverpool Street Station. Keeping the arty vibes alive, head to the Shoreditch tunnels, a graffiti tunnel lined with bars, clubs and restaurants.
End your first night with dinner at Dishoom for excellent Indian food or The Clove Club for an innovative take on British cuisine.
Day 2: The main sights
Buckingham Palace, Westminster, London Eye, Southbank, Soho and Strand
Start your morning off by attending the Changing of the Guard, which normally takes place every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in front of Buckingham Palace. Be sure to check the confirmed schedule beforehand.
Afterwards, walk from Buckingham Palace through St. James's Park for some beautiful scenery. Continue along Birdcage Walk to Great George St, where you’ll see Westminster Abbey to your right and Big Ben ahead. Stop to take some classic red phone booth photos with the iconic landmark in the background.
Cross the Thames over Westminster Bridge to the London Eye and Southbank area. Check the Southbank Centre website for any events going on. If you love books, the Southbank Book Market takes place every day from 10 am (11 am on Sundays) under the Waterloo Bridge.
After taking a ride on the London Eye or browsing the Book Market, walk across the Waterloo Bridge or board the Northern line Northbound from Waterloo station to Charing Cross (two stops).
Once you exit the tube, pick your own adventure! Museum lovers can visit the adjoining National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, as well as the London Transport Museum near Covent Garden. The British Museum is also accessible by the Northern line, exiting a few stops later at Tottenham Court Road Station.
Covent Garden is your hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment, where independent performers will often take to the Covent Garden Piazza. You can watch from above at Punch & Judy, an 18th century pub named after the historic puppet shows. For a fine dining experience, book a table at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill, open daily for lunch and dinner.
London is the city for book lovers of all tastes. Near the Seven Dials, there’s the comic book store, Forbidden Planet. Continuing down Charing Cross Road, you’ll find Any Amount of Books, and past the Leicester tube station, Watkins Books, along with a handful of other rare and used book stores.
When you’re ready to take a break and head back to your hotel, you can board the tube at any of these nearby stations: Leicester Square, Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road or Charing Cross.
To resume the night, book a table at Masala Zone near Piccadilly Circus or stroll through Chinatown for other delicious options. If you’re searching for nightlife, Soho is the neighborhood to start at. Be At One Regent Street has great drinks and two floors to cater to different music tastes. Check out my London guide on Instagram for London’s best rooftop bars, according to locals. Other great neighborhoods for nightlife include Shoreditch, Camden and Brixton.
Day 3: London at leisure
Camden Market, The Regent’s Park, Hyde Park, Notting Hill and West End
If you haven’t gotten enough of London’s markets, take Taylor Swift’s advice and walk Camden Market in the afternoon (or morning, as it opens at 10 am.) To reach it, take the tube to Camden Town, exiting onto Camden High Street and walk over the canal. This huge outdoor market has everything – vintage clothing, delicious food, rooftop bars, unique accessories and even an indoor theme park, Babylon Park. The market just keeps going!
Next, head to Hyde Park or The Regent’s Park; both are perfect for a quiet stroll or picnic, and offer two beautiful gardens, Kensington Gardens and Queen Mary’s Gardens, respectively. A short tube ride away from The Regent’s Park is the famous Abbey Road, where you can recreate the iconic Beatles photo. Also near the park, in Marylebone, is the best bookstore for travelers: Daunt Books. They have a whole hall of books categorized by the country in which they’re set so go find your favorite book in the stacks.
Finally, get to know one of London’s most vibrant and trendy areas, Notting Hill. Notting Hill’s pastel colored houses and the Portobello Market make for some Instagrammable moments. With no shortage of great cafés and restaurants (even Michelin star ones), you’ll find something to satisfy your appetite.
At the end of three days in London, you’ll have no doubt surpassed your daily step goals. Finish off your trip with a West End show of your choice. Book tickets directly or download the Todaytix app for last minute deals. Whether you’re in the mood for a musical, comedy, or drama, West End has the show for you.
Day 4: More of London & a day trip
Other noteworthy activities not mentioned in the above itinerary include attending a show at Top Secret Comedy Club, joining an evening Jack the Ripper Tour for true crime fans or a Harry Potter Tour for Potterheads, playing free mini golf at the Canary Wharf or cruising along the Thames.
If you have longer than three days in London, consider taking a day trip to one of these spots: Brighton, Jurassic Coast, Whitstable, Cambridge, Bath or Oxford.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Nadia Bess’s guide, Cocktails & Culture: 3 Days in London.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to London.