3 day London itinerary: London is an amazing city with weeks’ worth of new and exciting activities. However, even if you only have 3 days in London, you are still guaranteed to have lots of fun! Sure, it may be a packed schedule, but it’ll be well worth it! Here are two versions of a London 3 day itinerary to help you plan your trip!
The United Kingdom is a country with ample history. As its capital city, London is a fascinating city with lots to see and more to do. No matter if you want to explore different cuisines, marvel at incredible architecture, soak in the city’s culture or just have good clean fun, you are most certainly at the right place. Especially if you follow this 3 day London itinerary!
London in 3 Days
Day 1 Stroll Along the River Thames
This great river is the city’s main artery, and many iconic places are spread around it. Let your first day be dedicated to the Thames because there is plenty to see and enjoy. Even if you only have only one day in London, you will still be able to enjoy yourself immensely. Start off the morning by getting to the Waterloo Station.
Sea Life London Aquarium (Time needed: 1 hour and 15 minutes)
London Aquarium has a whole lot to offer: sharks, corals, turtles… There’s much to explore! The aquarium is excellent and well worth a visit, perfect for those who are traveling with children. I still remember the feeling when I first saw the huge tiger shark swimming right in front of me. It’s definitely something else.
London Eye (Time needed: 1 hour and 15 minutes)
London Eye sits next to the aquarium. Plan for extra time ahead as there may be queues in front of this huge wheel. The ride lasts for 30 minutes with an incredible view on top. It’s a great way to spend some time with your loved ones during a 3 day London itinerary and you will surely grab loads of great photos by the end of the tour!
Shakespeare’s Globe (Time needed: 1 hour)
Head north along the Thames, past the Millennium Bridge, towards Shakespeare’s Globe, a fascinating reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre, the place where Britain’s most famous playwright worked. The tours here last about 40 minutes, and you should spend some time exploring the premises once it ends. All in all, an hour will be just enough to cover this interesting London sight.
Tower Bridge (Time needed: 1 hour)
Further along the Thames (you are now heading east) is the Tower Bridge. Personally, I think it’s the most beautiful bridge in the city, and the view from the walkway suspended between the towers is nothing short of spectacular. Interactive displays can be seen inside, and there is plenty to learn, so go and visit this place, you won’t regret it!
Tips: The hotels around River Thames, though pricey, have great views. You can grab a room at the Monkey Island Estate or the Macdonald Compleat Angler, which is a romantic 18th century hotel with 2 gourmet restaurants.
Day 2: London Museums
London is full of incredible museums. They have some remarkable collections that will leave you with a better understanding of the country’s history and culture. Even if you’ve only 3 days in London, you should spend a day exploring these establishments. The best part is, most of the museums in London are free to enter. As some of the largest and most famous of their kind in the world, you’re in for a treat!
British Museum (Time needed: at least 2 hours)
The British Museum is a huge institution with loads of incredible artifacts from many different cultures. It has a jaw-dropping collection that contains everything from cat mummies to the Rosetta Stone. You can get guided tours that last about an hour and a half, but spending anything less than a whole morning here would be a shame.
Natural History Museum (Time needed: at least 2 hours)
The Natural Hisotry Museum is another educational space to take the kids. Its numerous interactive exhibits will attract both childrens and adults alike. I was delighted to see excited school children running around conducting experiments. As a matter of fact, I joined them!
Do not miss this place!
Victoria and Albert Museum (Time needed: at least 2 hours)
Just across the street from the Natural History Museum is the Victoria and Albert Museum, another magnificent place to visit. With over two million items, it is the biggest museum of art and design in the world! There are loads of fascinating things to see, and given that you can enter for free, it’s also a must!
Day 3: A Day for Royalty
Dedicate your last day to the royal family and the main political bodies of the country. Fascinating architecture and loads of iconic sights will fill out your last day as you learn more about British history.
Buckingham Palace and gardens (Time needed: 2.5 hours)
Obviously, no trip to London is complete without seeing the Buckingham Palace. However, it is only open to the public during summer, otherwise, you can only marvel at it from the outside. Do take a stroll in the gardens, however – it’s incredibly relaxing and the squirrels there are very, very friendly! Give them a walnut for being so cute!
Westminster (Time needed: 2 hours)
Just east of the Buckingham Palace is the Westminster Bridge, with the famous Big Ben in front of the Thames. Below it is the Houses of Parliament and behind it, you have the Westminster Abbey, the place where royal weddings, funerals, and coronations take place. All of this is under UNESCO’s protection and a quintessential part of London. The parliament can only be visited on Saturday or in summer, but the abbey is open year -round.
Trafalgar Square (Time needed: 2.5 hours)
Slightly north of Big Ben is the famous Trafalgar Square. It is one of the most popular and important squares in the city, with Nelson’s Column commemorating one of the most famous victories of the British fleet. There are plenty of places to eat and sit around the area, and there’s the National Gallery too. You could literally spend hours enjoying yourself on and around this magnificent square.
Day 1: Famous Squares and Plazas
Trafalgar Square (Time needed: 2 hours)
Start your tour of London with a visit to Trafalgar Square. It’s always bustling with activity, with the impressive Nelson Column dominating the landscape. Visit the National Gallery and enjoy masterpieces by Cezanne, Monet, Rubens, and so many other famous artists. Be warned, you could easily spend a whole day here, but we have more to do. In any case, a great way to start your morning!
Piccadilly Circus (Time needed: 1 hour)
Slightly north-west of Trafalgar Square is Piccadilly Circus, probably the most famous roundabout in the world. It is one of the most iconic places in London with its huge neon sign, and also a great place for a stroll if you want to feel the city’s vibe. Sit down for a cup of coffee here and spend some time people watching!
British Museum (Time needed: 2.5 hours)
From Piccadilly Circus, take Shaftesbury Avenue to the British Museum. This magnificent institution can quite literally take you weeks to explore,. Even if you are only in London for 3 days, a few hours are a must. The number and value of the artifacts held here is beyond comprehension, including an Easter Island statue, Aztec items, and loads of exhibits from ancient Egypt. Simply incredible.
Russell Square (Time needed: 1.5 hours)
Russell Square is right next to the British Museum. Once you finish exploring the museum, have a rest here. It’s a wonderful green space to unwind and relax. Feel free to grab some wine and snacks while you are at it!
Day 2: Famous London Architectures
St. Paul’s Cathedral (Time needed: 2 hours)
Until 1967, this magnificent cathedral used to be the tallest building in London . The impressive dome is one of this city’s most iconic landmarks, but the interior is even more awe-inspiring. Rich and ornate galleries really give you a clear sense of the importance this edifice has, and you will be amazed how quickly time passes during your visit!
Tower of London (Time needed: 2.5 hours)
This ancient castle has been around for almost 1000 years and is one of UNESCO”s World Heritage Sites. Almost three million visitors come here every year, and this is actually one of the most popular attractions in the whole country. Visit the White Tower from the 11th century, enjoy the view of the Tower Bridge and see the Crown Jewels in all their glory. You’ll be transported back in time instantly when you come here.
Tower Bridge: (Time needed: 1 hour)
Personally, I think this is the most beautiful bridge in London. The two towers are exceptional, but the walk between them and the view this provided was one of the highlights of my visit. You can actually stand right above the Thames! There are also plenty of things to see inside, so you will be able to learn a whole lot in a short while.
HMS Belfast (Time needed: 1.5 hours)
Once you’re done with the bridge, head on to the nearby HMS Belfast. This WW2 cruiser now serves as a museum and can teach you a whole lot about that horrible war. Besides, how cool is it to visit an actual WW2 ship?! There are nine decks you can explore, with an audio guide readily available, and the stories will really make you rethink life’s experiences.
Day 3: All the Palaces
Buckingham Palace (Time needed: 2 hours)
You simply can’t come to London and not see the Buckingham Palace. Although the royal residence is only open to the public in summer, it has absolutely beautiful gardens which are a great way to start your day. Sit down and relax a bit and just soak in the atmosphere.
Westminster Abbey (Time needed: 2.5 hours)
From the palace, head towards the Thames and you will arrive at Westminster Abbey, the place where the British royalty is crowned, gets married. and where funerals are held when a monarch dies. The church is a great destination, but it’s also right next to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, so you have a lot of sightseeing to do here.
Kensington Palace (Time needed: 2 hours)
Another royal palace in London, Kensington is a very intriguing place to visit, primarily because of its history, but also because of its fascinating architecture. Queen Victoria was born here and you can explore the life of Diana, Princess of Wales a bit more thoroughly. It’s a great way to end your trip in London. If you have the time, go and check out Royal Albert Hall, which is very close by, and walk the famous Hyde Park.
Other Tips & Advice
A minimum of 3 days in London is a decent time to catch a glimpse of this vibrant (though sometimes rainy city. Here are a few other tips and advice that may be helpful for your 3 days in London! After the trip, make sure to head to Wales, spend a week in Portugal or travel across Italy in 14 days for some more nature-inspired outings!
Estimated Cost for 3 Days in London
The first itinerary will cost you about GBP165 (US185/ EUR165 ), but if you want to invest in things like tours and a rental, that it can go above GBP 200 (US 255/EUR 225). The structure of the costs is as follows:
- London Aquarium and London Eye in a package deal for GBP 40.50
The Tower Bridge entrance is GBP 8.60
- Touring Globe will set you back GBP 17
- Museums are mostly free in London, so make the most of it. Some special exhibitions may require you to buy a ticket but the museums will be happy to take a donation from you.
- You can watch the debates in the parliament for free, but the tours will cost you GBP 19.50 for an audio tour or GBP 26.50 for a guided tour.
- Marvelling at the Westminster Abbey from the outside is free but it is GBP 21 for an online ticket and GBP 23 at the entrance.
- A tour around Buckingham Palace will cost you GBP 26.50
- As far as getting around is concerned, you can buy a three-day ticket to use London’s excellent public transport for GBP 40.50. If you want to rent a car, that costs about GBP 25 per day.
- There is a variety of food to choose from, but you can get by just fine with about GBP 20 per day. That can get you a decent meal in a pub (GBP 10), an English breakfast (GBP 5) and a dinner. Restaurants start from about GBP 15.
- Finally, most hostels cost between GBP 20 to 30 a night. Obviously, London has many fantastic hotels if you want to spend more for your accommodation!
The second 3 day London itinerary will add up to about GBP 190 (US 235 dollars/EUR 210). Of course, this can go up if you’re willing to spend on some more luxurious but maybe not essential aspects of the trip (better restaurants, hotels etc.). Anyway, here’s what you will certainly have to spend on:
- A ticket to St Paul’s is GBP 17 per adult
- Tower of London will set you back GBP 28.90
- Tower Bridge tickets stand at GBP 8.60
- A visit to HMS Belfast is GBP 17.10
- Tickets for Kensington Palace are GBP 15.30
Joe is the founder of OneDayItinerary.com. Follow his journey on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.