You can see a lot with 4 days in London.
More than 9 million people live in London. This massive city is so large that it can well take you a couple of hours to commute from one side to the other. This is to say that if you are planning to spend 4 days in the city, you will definitely be able to see the most important landmarks. But you can’t expect to see it all, or to get off the beaten path.
Planning a trip to a city so large can be quite a job, I know. Some may say you can improvise it, and that 4 days in London is plenty of time to allow yourself to be a bit flexible. But – and especially if it is your first time in the city – I dissent. London is one of the most visited cities in the world, with millions of visitors every year. It is so spread out that moving from one place to the other may require some time. And there often are lines at the most popular attractions so you simply can’t show up hoping to get in swiftly.
In other words, unless you have a good itinerary, you may end up see just a portion of what you may otherwise.
That’s why I am here for you. I have spend 8 years living in London. This is to say, I know it really well. And I am happy to draft an itinerary for your 4 days in London which will help you to make the most of the city.
Keep on reading to discover what to see and do in London in 4 days and for tips on how to plan your trip there.
A Few Notes On This 4 Days In London Itinerary
Before getting to the details of what to see and do in 4 days in London, let me stress that this is a huge city with lots and lots of tourists, no matter the season. So, if you want to avoid the long lines at tourist attractions, you need to book some of them in advance. I will make sure to let you know which ones you are better off booking ahead of time.
For this itinerary for 4 days in London I am going to give you a good mix of paid attractions and others that are free. In a city that is so expensive, knowing that some of the best places to visit don’t actually charge is much of a relief.
This itinerary is based on the assumption that you have 4 days in London – and 5 nights. It’s based on personal taste (mine, indeed – because I am the expert here, and I am the one writing the post). But, if you have any questions about it, would like to substitute some attractions with others that I don’t mention, etc, definitely let me know in the comments and I will be happy to let you have my opinion.
Keep in mind I am not including places such as Camden Market, Oxford Street and a few others which I think have lots all of their local character and have become massive tourist traps.
You will see that the first two days of this 4 days in London itinerary appear to be significantly more packed than the others. Trust the expert! If you are anything like me, you will have plenty of energy and be unstoppable on the first couple of days, and you’ll start feeling a bit worn out afterwards – hence why I left the last couple of days a bit lighter.
Here are some extra tips to help you make the most of your 4 days in London.
- Get out early – it’s the best way to beat the crowds.
- Go to bed early – remember that the best way to beat jet-lag, in case you are coming from the other side of the world, is to drink lots of water and take some melatonin supplements.
- Go on a food tour. Food in the United Kingdom has a reputation for being boring, but I dissent – and I am Italian so my opinion counts more hehe. Traditional British food is actually tasty. I recommend this Secret British food tour which has 3 daily departures – it’s a great way to try some local flavors and to visit Borough Market, one of the coolest in London. You can book it here.
- You much eat lunch on the go to save some time. You won’t have trouble finding sandwiches or salads to go in London. My favorite chain for that is Pret-A-Manger. You’ll find several stores in town.
- Get an Oyster Card if you intend to use public transportation (more about that below).
- Double check the opening times of museums and if they are open late, leave them as the last activity on your day.
- London is an easy going city – no need to dress up. Comfortable is the way to go.
- Feel free to follow this itinerary in the order you prefer in terms of days, but I don’t recommend swapping attractions – I have drafted it in a way that is logic, so that you visit attractions that are close one to the other on the same day.
- Ignore any attraction in this 4 days in London itinerary that doesn’t fit with your interests or budget.
Follow my directions and I promise you will have a memorable 4 days in London.
A Fantastic Itinerary For 4 Days In London
The first of your 4 days in London will take you to some of the most popular attractions. You will end your day with impressive views of the city.
Map of day 1
You can get a map for today’s itinerary here.
St. James Park
NEAREST METRO STATION: Green Park. Alternatively, you can also get off at Hyde Park Corner.
This is one of London’s nicest parks. You can walk around it a bit on your way to Buckingham Palace. Depending on the season, it can get packed with families hanging out with children, people basking in the sun, and squirrels and ducks having fun in the bushes and on the pond.
Think about London and your mind will inevitably go to her majesty the Queen Elizabeth II and Buckingham Palace, where she lives. If you have 4 days in London, you can’t skip this! In case you want to see the Changing of the Guard Ceremony make sure to get there early enough as it does get very crowded.
Should you want to visit inside, you need to book in advance. Here are some good options.
- Changing of the Guard and Buckingham Palace tour – a good guided tour that lasts about 3 hours. Your guide will also follow you for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony. The tour starts at 10:30 am.
- Buckingham Palace tickets with Royal walking tour – a good tour that starts at 1:30 pm.
- Buckingham Palace: The State Room entrance tickets – a budget friendly audio-guided tour of about 3 hours. You can pick between the 3:15 and the 3:45 pm tours.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: St. Paul’s Cathedral is open Mondays to Saturdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Admission is £17 British Pounds (little over $21 USD) and with that you get an audioguide. You can get your tickets in advance here.
NEAREST METRO STATION: St. Paul’s.
HOW TO GET THERE: From Buckingham Palace, walk to Green Park tube station. Get on a northbound Victoria Line train and change at Oxford Circus (just one stop), where you need to get on an eastbound Central Line train. Get off at St. Paul’s
Destroyed by the Great London Fire in 1666, St. Paul’s was completely rebuilt. It is one of the most easily recognizable sights in London. The dome is huge, so you will spot if from a distance. You can visit the inside of the church, the crypt and the dome (for which there will be a line). I find this church to be rather bare compared to Westminster Abbey, so if you are not a massive fan of churches and decide to visit only one in your 4 days in London, skip it.
Tower of London
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Tower of London is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm and Sunday and Monday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.
NEAREST METRO STATION: Tower Hill on the District and Circle lines.
At about 20 minutes walk from St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London is a former prison (it’s where Anne Boleyn was held and then executed) and one of the most impressive sites in the city and you shouldn’t skip it in your 4 days in London. I can’t even remember how many times I have been there, but each time I am just as impressed. Make sure not to skip the Crown Jewels exhibit.
In this case, advanced bookings are necessary. You can can get your ticket here.
Make sure to read my post “How To Get Tower Of London Tickets.”
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can walk on the bridge freely. The opening times of Tower Bridge Exhibit are 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Once you exit the Tower of London, turn left and get on Tower Bridge. This is the kind of place you can immediately recognize – it is so iconic! If you want to learn more about the history of the bridge or walk the glass walkway, you need to get inside for the Tower Bridge Exhibit – you can get tickets here.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Sky Garden is open Mondays to Fridays from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm; Saturdays from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm and Sundays from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. Admission if free but you need to book a time slot for your visit, unless you plan to go after 6:00 pm. You can do it here.
From the bridge, you will have to walk back and past the Tower of London to reach the Sky Garden.
There is no better way to end your day of exploration at a place from where you can get stunning views of the city. And if you have 4 days in London, you will have plenty of chances to see it from above.
This high garden is free to visit, but keep in mind that if you are going after sunset (I really recommend that, and I have structured this itinerary with this idea in mind) you need to dress up a bit as there is a dress code. Another thing to keep in mind is that drinks are expensive – but worth it in my opinion!
The second of your 4 days in London is about more iconic places to visit – some require pre-bookings. Today you have a good mix of free attractions and others you need to pay for
Map of day 2
Download your map for your day 2 itinerary here. You will occasionally need to use public transportation.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: London Eye closes at different times depending on the season. The usual opening time is 10:00 am and it closes between 6:00 and 8:30 pm.
More views of London, at a different time of day, from a different perspective and over different things. I thought I’d include London Eye among the list of places you should visit in your 4 days in London because – albeit touristy and crowded – it really is one of my favorite places in town. I went up for the first time in 2010 and truly enjoyed the views of the Houses of Parliament, the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.
Make sure to book your ticket in advance. You can get your tickets here.
GOOD TO KNOW: Close to the London Eye, London Dungeon is a real fun place to visit. You can tickets that will allow you to visit both places for discounted price here. If you visit both, go to the London Dungeon first. The tour lasts 90 minutes.
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Another great sight not to miss during your 4 days in London is the seat of the British Parliament. It will take you about 10 minutes to walk there from London Eye. You can go inside and join a guided tour if you want. It includes the Abbey as well. But keep in mind it tours usually last 4 hours. If that is not your thing, just opt for what most people do: stand on the bridge and take some photos!
GOOD TO KNOW: Keep in mind that the Big Ben is being restored, so the views aren’t the best at the moment.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Westminster Abbey is open Mondays to Fridays from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm, and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. On Wednesdays it closes at at 6:00 pm. It is closed on Sundays.
Westminster Abbey was founded in 960 AD. It’s been the church where most coronations and royal weddings have been taking place since 1066, a burial ground to some notable Britons, and – most importantly – a truly beautiful church.
Factor in up to 2 hours for your visit. Get tickets in advance to avoid the lines at the counter. You can get them here.
Churchill War Rooms
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Churchill War Rooms is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.
NEAREST METRO STATIONS: Westminster, St. James’ Park.
Not far from the Abbey, Churchill War Rooms is a very interesting place and a nice addition to this itinerary. It is made of two connected museums: Churchill Museum, dedicated to the life of Winston Churchill; and The Cabinet War Rooms, a bunker from where Churchill hid during the London Blitz and from where the WWII efforts were directed.
You can visit the museum independently (get your tickets at the official price here) or join a guided tour. This WWII Westminster Walking Tour and Churchill War Rooms lasts 2.5 hours and also goes to nearby places. You can book it here.
National Gallery and Trafalgar Square
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The National Gallery is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. It closes at 9:00 pm on Fridays.
At about 10 minutes walk from Churchill War Rooms, in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is one of the best museums in the country and shall be included in this 4 days in London itinerary. It’s free to get in – so you can pop in for a quick visit if you are getting tired – and well organized (make sure to grab a map at the entrance). If you want a more in depth visit, get an audio-guide for £5 (around $6.2 USD) at Sainsbury wing.
TIP: Special exhibits ofter required advanced bookings and payment. Check out the website of the National Gallery for more.
You will probably walk by Piccadilly Circus a few times during your 4 days in London. To be honest, if you go during the day it is just a major crossroad with lots of traffic and noise. Go at night though, and you will be fascinated by the charming lights and commercial signs.
Once the center of London nightlife with clubs such as the Hyppodrome and Equinox, Leicester Square, at a few minutes from Piccadilly Circus, is now a major tourist hub with a bunch of cinemas. There is a small garden at the center where it is nice to hang out. Beware, as it is scam-land!
At about 5 minutes walk from Leicester Square, Covent Garden once was a beautiful flower market. Nowadays, it is a place for street performers and musicians (there is always someone playing on the corner of the ground floor) and you will find some nice but expensive shops and stalls, a bunch of good pubs, and little else. It’s great at Christmas time when the decorations are up – but beware it can be extremely crowded.
The third of your 4 days in London is all about free attractions, if you pick option 1. Option 2 includes a fun tour
Map of day 3
This is your map for day 3. You will need to take the metro to go from the British Museum to Borough Market.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The British Museum is open Wednesday to Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. On Fridays it closes at 8:30 pm.
NEAREST METRO STATIONS: Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square, Goodge Street.
This is one of the best museums in the world, and you really have to visit if you have 4 days in London. It has a fantastic collection that includes Rosetta’s Stone, ancient Egypt mummies and Athen’s Parthenon pieces.
There is no admission fee (but check for special exhibit in advance). I recommend getting an audioguide for your visit – it costs £7 GBP (around $9 USD). Or else, go on a guided tour. Here are some options:
- British Museum guided tour – a good guided tour of about 2 hours that starts at either 10:00 am or 2:00 pm.
- The British Museum Tour: the ideas that made our world – this tour lasts 2.5 hours and starts at 2:00 pm.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Open from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Forget about Camden Market – this is where the real thing is! With stalls selling food from all over the world, this easily is one of my favorite places in London – I used to go there every Saturday to stock on my favorite Sardinian Pecorino when I lived in London. It’s a cool place to stop for lunch. Keep in mind it can get crowded on Fridays and Saturdays.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Shard is open every day from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm in the summer time, and from 10:00 to 7:00 pm Sunday to Wednesday and from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm Thursday to Saturday in the winter time.
If you have already been on the London Eye, there really is no reason to go up The Shard. If you are set on it, make sure to book it in advance from the official website or here (the price is the same). The Shard was inaugurated in 2012, and its viewing deck, at the 95th floor, in 2013.
A walk along the South Bank
On your way to St. Katherine’s Dock, make sure to walk along the South Bank for some of the most impressive (and free) views of London. The photos of the Tower of London and of Tower Bridge in this post were taken from there. It’s a lovely part of town with plenty of bars, cafés and pubs were you can stop for a drink or a meal. Extremely pleasant on a spring day.
GOOD TO KNOW: Touts and scams are common on the South Bank – especially those playing the 3 cups or 3 cards game.
St. Katherine’s Dock Marina
This is one of my favorite hidden corners in London. I first discovered it when I went to visit a friend that lived nearby, and have been going since because it is a pleasant place, a million miles away from the tourist crowds, and with nice restaurants and pubs. I wanted to add it to this itinerary to show you a bit of London not many tourists see.
Harry Potter tour
If you are a fan of Harry Potter, scrap option 1 and get on a guided tour instead. It’s a great way to spend one of your 4 days in London, discovering the sites that you will definitely have seen in the movie. The tour starts at 10:00 am and lasts about 2.5 hours. It goes to places such as Borough Market (which I have mentioned above) and ends at the Palace Theather, which is at about 10 minutes walk from the British Museum.
The British Museum
Once you are done with the tour, just head to the British Museum for some incredible art and history pieces.
The last of your 4 days in London is all about Kensington. This is a beautiful part of London, which I am sure you will enjoy. It’s an easy going day, so you can take your time.
Map of day 4
You can get a may of the itinerary for day 4 here.
NEAREST METRO STATION: High Street Kensington, on the District and Circle lines.
Start your day with one of the prettiest parks in London that is lesser known to tourists. You would hardly imagine how large it is judging by its small gate, but go inside and you will find yourself immersed in a forest and forget you are in London for a bit!
Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Kensington Palace is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is £17.50 ($22 USD).
At about 15 minutes walk from the main gate of Holland Park, Kensington Palace is a nice place to visit if you have 4 days in London. It’s a good place to learn a bit more about the Royal Family. Built in the 17th century, it first became a royal residence under Queen Mary II, and was so until George II. Since then, it’s been used by members of the royal family but not by queens or kings.
It’s where Princess Margaret, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, as well Prince William and Prince Henry until a short while ago lived.
The Palace is well organized in terms of itineraries, but if you want a guided tour this one is a good option.
Once you are done exploring the Palace, you can continue with the gardens, where you will find some beautiful statues such as that of Prince Albert.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Harrods is in Brompton Road.
NEAREST METRO STATION: Knightsbridge.
Harrods is more than a department store. It really is a London institution! That’s why I thought to add it to your 4 days in London itinerary. It’s a nice place to spend an hour or so, where you literally can find a bit of everything – quality groceries on the ground floor, designer clothes on the others. You can’t take photos when trying clothes on – I was once caught snapping a photo of a friend as she tried a funny hat and we both got told off!
If you haven’t had enough of parks, head to the largest one in London. On sunny summer days it is a favorite hangout for families, groups of friends, and people who enjoy basking in the sun. In the winter, you will spot people exercising.
London is one of the best places in Europe to see a show, and you will have ample choice. Most theaters are located in the area of Covent Garden / Leicester Square and Charing Cross. Have a look online to see what’s on during your visit and make sure to book in advance. If you are a fan of Abba, make sure to opt for Mamma Mia! You can book it here.
Guided Tours Of London
You can easily follow this 4 days in London itinerary by yourself. If you want to completely switch off for a day, the following guided tours are some good options – all you have to worry about is booking them in advance and bringing your camera. They follow the itinerary for the second day. You can book your tour here.
Using A 4-Days London Pass
I am not a fan of city passes, because if I have to book all tourist attractions separately, I may as well buy separate tickets and tours anyways. However, if you want to save a few dollars here and there, a 4-day pass may be a good idea.
These are the 2 best London Pass options:
- The London Pass with access to over 80 attractions – the 4-days one costs $156.51 USD. It includes a one day hop-on hop-off bus pass.
- London 5 attractions pass – you can only use it for one day and for no more than 5 attractions.
Practical Tips To Plan Your 4 Days In London
Where to stay in London
London has no shortage of accommodation options but – sorry to break the news – if you want to have something decent in terms of location and cleanliness you have to be prepared to pay. I have had my good share of truly horrible places in London to recommend shedding in the extra cash for that.
If you are spending 4 days in London, stay somewhere central such as Kensington or Westminster Borough. Avoid Camden as it is not central and honestly dodgy at night.
The following are some good places I have picked for you:
- 41 is a great hotel in a very good location – expensive but plush. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- The Duke Rooms London has small but well equipped rooms in a central location. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- The Darlington Hyde Park is a good compromise in terms of location and cleanliness. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Locke at Broken Wharf has small but nice apartments. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- SoHostel is a great option for budget travelers. You have a choice of dorms and private rooms. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
Make sure to check out my guide on Where To Stay In London: The Best Areas And Hotels and my post The Best Airbnbs In London.
When to visit London
London gets busy with tourists in any season. Beautiful when the Christmas decorations are out, it can get bitterly cold in the winter, and terribly hot in the summer. You may want to visit in April and May or September and October if you are hoping for milder weather.
How to get to London
London is served by 5 airports. London Heathrow, London Gatwick and London City are all served by main airlines; Stansted and Luton are budget airlines hubs. London City is in the Docklands and you can get there by bus from the center of London.
Other airports are at the outskirts of the city but well connected by bus, train or metro. I recommend using the train to get from the airport to the center of London. Buses are cheaper but slower; the metro is cheaper but terribly uncomfortable; cabs will cost you an arm and a leg.
From Heathrow take the express train to Paddington. Trains depart every 15 minutes and take just 15 minutes to get there. You can get your train tickets here.
From Gatwick take the express train to Victoria. Trains depart every 15 minutes and take around 15 minutes to get there. You can get your train tickets here.
From Stansted take the express train to London Liverpool Street. Trains depart every 15 minutes. The journey takes 47 minutes. You can get your train tickets here.
You can book your private transfer from the airport to the city center via Welcome Pickups here.
Make sure to check out my post “How To Get From Heathrow To London.”
How to move around London
London Tube or London Underground is the best way to move around town. There are 11 lines and to those you can add multiple light-rail lines. There are about a million buses moving around London (I haven’t counted them, but it sure feels like it), and none of them ever punctual.
The main downsides of London Underground are:
- Endless renovation works with closure of stations which will force you to find alternative routes.
- Old, slow moving trains.
- Most stations are not accessible – a real inconvenience if you have a physical impairment.
- It doesn’t run 24/7.
There are night buses – but they come with the same problems of the day ones.
My tip is to use London Underground to move around during the day, and opt for Uber for when the metro shuts.
Remember to get an Oyster Card if think you will be making use of public transportation. It’s a touch in touch out system, and you can top it up as you go. You can get yours here.
Luggage storage in London
Luggage storage facilities are located in all train stations. Stasher is a good company with reliable service. You need to book ahead of time.
Other useful tips
Get a guide book
Get a guide book with a good map to guide you around town.
These are some good ones:
Get a data plan for your smartphone
Make sure to have a data plan that you can use in London too – I am sure Google Maps and Uber will come in handy!
Water in London tastes vile, but it is safe to drink. Bring a foldable water bottle such as this one to carry with you during the day.
Mind the scams
Pickpockets are common on the metro and in the busiest metro stations, so keep your wits about. The most common scams in London are the 3 cups or card game – which you will see along the banks of the river; the fake theater tickets – which is common in Leicester Square; and the fake charity collectors – common around the most touristy sites.
Get a good travel insurance
Further readings about London
Looking for more ideas about London? Check out my other posts:
- How To Make The Most Of London In A Day
- How To See London In 2 Days
- 5 Easy Ways Of Getting London Dungeon Tickets
- 7 Easy Ways Of Getting London Eye Tickets
- 10 Cool Things To Do In Covent Garden
- How To Get Madame Tussauds London Tickets And Skip The Lines
- A Perfect Itinerary To See London In 3 Days
- The Best 5 Days London Itinerary
- 15 Great Day Trips From London
- My Favorite Secret Destinations in London
- Where To Get The Most Impressive Views Of London
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- The 20 Best Museums In London
- 20 + Great Things To Do In Oxford