4 days in London are a good amount of time to get a feel for this incredible, lively, thriving and eclectic city.
Planning a trip to a city so large (more than 9 million people live there, and it’s very spread out) can be a real challenge. And don’t get me started on those that suggest you don’t really need an itinerary and that you can swing it. Seriously? Well let me tell you: having 4 days in London, especially if it’s your first time there, means you need to plan carefully, which includes getting tickets to some attractions well in advance, as the lines at the ticket counters can be long.
The key to seeing London in 4 days is sticking to an itinerary that minimizes the time spent commuting (there are often delays on the metro, or “tube” as locals call it), and that maximizes the number of places you visit in an area.
Don’t worry if you don’t know how to plan your time in the city. I can do that for you! I have lived in London for 8 years and knowing the city so well i am happy to help.
Keep on reading to discover what to see and do in London in 4 days and for additional tips on how to plan your trip there.
How To Use This 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. Booking attraction tickets in advance is usually a requirement – don’t worry, I will let you know when that’s necessary. I
This itinerary is based on the assumption that you have 4 days in London – and 5 nights. Of course it is based on my experience, and my personal taste will definitely come across. You can swap some attractions with others that I don’t mention – if you are worried it may not make sense, let me know in the comments and I will tell you what I think about it.
This 4 days in London itinerary includes a good mix of paid and free attractions. Place such as Camden Market and Oxford Street are not included because – you guessed it – I am not a fan and I feel they are now mostly tourist traps.
Your first two days will feel more packed – but that’s normally when you’ll also have more energy.
Finally, here are some extra tips to help you make the most of your 4 days in London:
- Have an early start to avoid the crowds.
- Take it easy the day you land, especially if you are coming from North America and may be jet-lagged: perhaps go on a food tour to get acquainted with the local culture. I recommend this Secret British food tour which has 3 daily departures.
- Don’t linger over for lunch. Sandwiches, salads and soups to go are found anywhere in London. My favorite chain for that is Pret-A-Manger. You’ll find several stores in town.
- Dress comfortably and especially wear comfortable shoes.
Follow my directions and I promise you will have a memorable 4 days in London.
Are you getting ready for your trip? Then my post What To Wear In London will tell you what to put in your bag, and what to leave at home.
What To See With 4 Days In London
On this day, you will go to some of the most popular attractions and get the chance to enjoy impressive views too. You can get a map for today’s itinerary here.
St. James Park
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, St. James Park gets 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. It’s an overall nice place to spend a bit of time either before or after you visit Buckingham Palace.
If you are taking the tube, the best station to get off is Green Park, but you can also get off at Hyde Park Corner.
Think about London and your mind will inevitably go to the Windsor and Buckingham Palace, where the Royal Family lives. It honestly is quite a special sight, no matter the time of day and the time of year you decide to visit.
The highlight here is experiencing the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, which takes place at 10:45 am daily – if you are interested in that, make sure to get there early enough as it can get very crowded.
Should you want to visit inside, you need to book in advance and can only explore on a guided tour. Here are some options you may want to consider:
Changing of the Guard and Buckingham Palace tour – This tour is the best overall option. Your guide will also follow you for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony. The tour starts at 10:15 am which means you have plenty of time to wander around St. James Park before you visit.
Buckingham Palace tickets with Royal walking tour – a good tour that starts at 1:30 pm, again perhaps not a good option for the purpose of this itinerary.
Buckingham Palace: The State Room entrance tickets – This audio-guided tour is one of the most budget friendly and actually comprehensive options for visiting Buckingham Palace. For the purpose of this itinerary it’s probably not a good solution as the only offered time slots are 3:15 and 4:00 pm.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
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 (but I shall warn you for there may be a line).
To be frank, 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 during your time in London, skip it.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is open Mondays to Saturdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (it opens at 10:00 am on Wednesdays). There is a fee to visit and it may be better to book your tickets in advance. You can do that here.
The nearest metro station is St. Paul’s. To get there from Buckingham Palace, walk to Green Park tube station. Get 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.
Tower of London
This is probably my favorite (paid) attraction in town – I like it so much I can’t even remember how many times I have visited.
About 20 minutes walk from St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London is one of the most impressive sites in the city. It was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror and throughout its history it’s been a royal palace, an armory, a treasury, a menagerie and even the Royal Mint. It eventually became a prison – it’s here that Anne Boleyn or Guy Fawkes were held and executed.
It was used for this purpose until WWII, when 12 men accused of espionage were executed there – the last execution was that of Josef Jakobs, a German spy who was executed in 1941.
The highlight of the visit is the Crown Jewels exhibit, but I recommend taking your time to wander around the building and take in the massive structure. Don’t skip the Beauchamp and Salt Towers, where you can spot prisoners’ graffiti; the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, located near the execution site; and the Norman Chapel of St John’s, which is in the White Tower wall.
The Tower of London is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and Sunday and Monday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. As it is a very popular attraction, you should get tickets in advance. You can get them here.
If you don’t want to walk, the nearest metro station is Tower Hill on the District and Circle Line.
For full guidance on how to visit the Tower of London, you should read my post How To Get Tower Of London Tickets.
As you get out of the Tower of London, walk towards the river and turn left. Go up a small flight of stairs and you will be on the Tower Bridge. It’s one of the most iconic sights in London, so don’t miss the opportunity to take a photo.
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. The glass walkway is suspended at 40 meters (131 feet) from the ground so it’s quite a thrilling experience!
You can walk along the bridge freely at any time of day and night, but the Tower Bridge Exhibit is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. To get tickets, click here.
The Sky Garden is a wonderful place to end your first day of exploration. Yes, you will have plenty of opportunities to take in the views of the city in your 4 days in London, but the Sky Garden is by all means one of the best.
First of all, it is free to visit. Secondly, you will get there right around sunset time which is stunning from there. Just make sure to carry a nice shawl or a clean shirt as there is a smart casual dress code to get in after a certain time, and remember that drinks are expensive in case you want to grab one.
From the Tower Bridge, you will have to walk back and past the Tower of London to reach the Sky Garden.
The Sky Garden is open on Mondays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm; Thursdays from 10:00 am to 12:00 am; Fridays from 10:00 am to 2:00 am; Saturdays from 8:30 am to 2:00 am and Sundays from 8:30 am to 11:00 pm. Visiting is free, but in order to visit, you must book a time slot here. Alternatively, book a table at the bar or restaurant.
Your second day in London is all about more iconic places to visit – some however require pre-bookings. Don’t worry though, there are also some excellent free attractions to keep an eye on your spendings. You can find the map of your London itinerary for today here. You will occasionally need to use public transportation.
The London Eye is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London, and for a good reason! The views from up the giant ferris wheel are unparalleled. It’s actually one of my favorite attractions in town, since I finally visited for the first time in 2010 (that’s when the photo above was taken!).
This it the third tallest ferris wheel in the world – it measures 135 meters (about 443 feet) in height. It was designed by David Marks and Julia Barfield for the millennium: building it took seven years, and lifting it up took a whole week. While it was meant to be a temporary attraction, it now is a permanent fixture of London’s cityscape.
The London Eye has 32 pods, each carrying up to 25 passengers and with small benches where they can sit, and tablets they can use to find information on the places they are looking at. A ride lasts about 30 minutes. The views from up there are stunning – the most remarkable sights are certainly the Houses of Parliament, the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, but on a clear day you can see as far as Windsor!
The opening times of London Eye vary depending on the season and day of visit. In case you are visiting in the summer, you will be happy to know it stays open from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm every day in July and August. You can actually walk there from the Big Ben.
This is an attraction you really must book it in advance. You can get your tickets here or on the official website here.
For more information on how to visit the London Eye, read my post 7 Easy Ways Of Getting London Eye Tickets.
Another fun attraction to visit nearby is the London Dungeon. If you are interested, you can actually get tickets to visit both at a discounted rate here or here. If you decide to see both, go to the London Dungeon first. The tour lasts 90 minutes.
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Another great sight not to miss in London is the seat of the British Parliament, the Houses of Parliament. Right next to it stands one of the most famous clock towers in the world, the Big Ben.
It will take you about 10 minutes to walk there from the London Eye. You can go inside and join a guided tour if you want, though tours currently only run on Saturdays and Sundays. If that is not your thing, just opt to do what most people do: stand on the bridge and take some photos!
If you want to visit the interiors, you can book your tour on the official website of the Houses of Parliament here. Alternatively, there are tours that include Westminster Abbey as well. But keep in mind they only run on Sundays and last 4 hours. here.
Westminster Abbey was founded in 960 AD. It’s been the church where most coronations and royal weddings have been taking place since 1066, and it’s also the burial ground of some notable Britons such Isaac Newton. Most importantly, it’s a truly beautiful church, and it’s worth visiting.
The Abbey is open to visitors from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm, Monday to Saturday. You can attend services on Sundays. It will take you about one hour to visit. Getting tickets in advance is a good idea. You can do that here.
Churchill War Rooms
Not far from Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms is one of the most interesting museums in London. It’s actually a combination of two museums. One is Churchill Museum, entirely dedicated to the life of the most notable Prime Minister of Britain, Sir Winston Churchill.
The other is the Cabinet War Rooms, a bunker where Churchill hid during the London Blitz and from where the WWII efforts were directed.
A guided tour is a good idea to fully appreciate this attraction. I recommend this WWII Westminster Walking Tour and Churchill War Rooms.
Churchill War Rooms are open for visits every day from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. The nearest metro stations are Westminster and St. James’ Park. To find out more, visit the official website of the museum here.
National Gallery and Trafalgar Square
About 10 minutes walk from Churchill War Rooms, in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is one of the best museums in the country and easily my favorite in London. It’s a vast museum that was first opened in this location in 1838.
It has a large collection of paintings from all periods in history – my personal favorite are all the impressionists, but there are also a lot of religious art from Medieval times. Occasionally, special exhibits really add to the experience so stay tuned for those!
Unless you are there on a Friday, you won’t have much time to properly explore the gallery – so just focus on one or two exhibition rooms.
The National Gallery is free to visit. You can go in every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. It closes at 9:00 pm on Fridays. Check out the website of the National Gallery to find out about special exhibits as they may require separate bookings and the payment of a fee.
Discover this and other incredible museums in London by reading my post 22 Best Museums In London.
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, massive ads and lots of people (tourists) using the fountain as a meeting place. Go at night though, and you will be fascinated by the shiny lights and commercial signs. If you are into photography, bring a tripod!
Once the center of London nightlife with clubs such as the Hyppodrome and Equinox, Leicester Square, a few minutes walk from Piccadilly Circus, is now a major tourist hub with a bunch of cinemas, some chain restaurants and a nice airy square. There is a small garden at the center where it is nice to hang out. Beware, as it is scam-land so keep your eyes open for people who try to sell pretty much anything – including tickets for London’s famous shows!
About 5 minutes walk from Leicester Square, Covent Garden once was a beautiful flower market. Today, you will find a covered market (Apple Market), the Jubilee Market (where you can shop for classic souvenirs), and lots of nice shops. Also in Covent Garden there’s the interesting London Transport Museum, in case you arrive while it is still open.
Nowadays, Covent Garden is mostly place for street performers and musicians (there is always someone playing on the corner of the ground floor) and you will find some good pubs and restaurants too. It’s great at Christmas time when the decorations are up – but beware it can be extremely crowded.
There are actually many things to do in the area of Covent Garden. Discover them all by reading my post 11 Best Things To Do In Covent Garden.
I am giving you two options for your third day in London. They are quite similar and both include the British Museum, but the first option is entirely about free attractions, whereas option 2 includes a fun tour that is great in case you are visiting London with kids. This is your map for day 3. You will need to take the metro to go from the British Museum to Borough Market.
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 (my personal favorite! I am in awe every time I see it), ancient Egypt mummies and Athen’s Parthenon pieces.
There is no admission fee (but check for special exhibit in advance), however it operates on a time slot system. You can book your visit in advance on the official site here. Since it is such a big museum, you will be better off getting an audio-guide for your visit, or even joining a guided tour. Here are some options:
The British Museum Tour: the ideas that made our world – an excellent tour that takes you through the most important pieces of the collection. It lasts 2.5 hours and there are two daily departures – one at at 10:00 am and one at 2:00 pm. There is an extra scheduled tour at 5:00 pm on Fridays.
British Museum guided tour – this tour lasts 2 hours and starts at either 10:00 am or 2:00 pm.
The British Museum is open every day from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. It closes at 8:30 pm on Fridays. The nearest metro stations are Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square and Goodge Street.
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.
The market is open from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
For more markets in London, check out my post 20 Best Sunday Markets In London.
If you have already been on the London Eye, you probably can skip The Shard. The building was designed by Italian archi-star Renzo Piano and inaugurated in 2012, and its viewing deck, at the 72nd floor, first opened in 2013: it’s the highest viewing platform in Western Europe. This is Britain’s tallest building: 300 meters (1,000 feet) tall, and counting 72 floors.
The Shard opening times vary depending on the day of the week and the season – check the official website for more information. You also have to book your visit in advance from the official website or here (the price is the same).
You should also read my post Where To Get The Best Views Of London.
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, and it’s an extremely pleasant place for a walk on a spring day.
Touts and scams are common on the South Bank – especially those playing the 3 cups or 3 cards game. Keep your eyes open!
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, while it’s really close to many famous attractions, it’s still a million miles away from the tourist crowds, and located there you’ll also find some nice restaurants and pubs. I wanted to add it to this itinerary to show you a bit of London not many tourists see.
For more hidden gems in London, you should definitely read my post 24 Best London Hidden Gems.
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 if you are traveling with children, and perfect for discovering the sites that you will definitely have seen in the movie, if you are a fan.
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 Theater, which is about 10 minutes walk from the British Museum.
I recommend this Magical London Harry Potter tour: it is quite budget friendly and it’s also highly rated.
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. You can get a may of the itinerary here.
Start your day with one of the prettiest parks in London that is – for reasons I can’t really understand – still 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!
The nearest metro station is High Street Kensington, on the District and Circle lines.
Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens
About 15 minutes walk from the main gate of Holland Park, Kensington Palace is a nice place to visit 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, the Prince (now king) Charles and Princess Diana, as well Prince William and Prince Henry used to live.
Kensington Palace is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. You have to pay an admission fee to get in. The Palace is well organized in terms of itineraries, but if you want a guided tour this one is a good option. For more information, you can check out the official website here.
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.
Natural History Museum
If you are traveling to London with children, this is another must. This is by all means one of the most interesting museums in the city, with a collection of 80 million pieces that include plants, stuffed animals, fossils, minerals, rocks and more.
The museum first opened its doors in 1881 in a building that became known as the cathedral of nature – designed by Alfred Waterhouse. In 2009 the exhibit space was enlarged to include the Darwin Center extension.
Make sure to check out the Hintze Hall, where you can see Dippy the Diplodocus, a 26-meter plaster-cast replica of the skeleton of a Diplodocus that’s been in the same spot since 1905. If you are bringing children along, take them to the Blue Zone where they can see animatronics T rex, among others.
The Natural History Museum is open every day from 10:00 am to 5:50 pm. It is free to visit, but all visits must be book in advance on the official website – that’s where you can also check if there are special exhibits. The nearest metro stations are South Kensington and Gloucester Road.
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 (though granted, you can stay way longer), 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!
You will find Harrods in Brompton Road. The nearest metro station is Knightsbridge.
London is one of the best places in Europe to see a show, and there are so many to pick from! 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. The list of show is endless!
Guided Tours Of London
You can easily follow this 4 days in London itinerary by yourself, as long as you book attractions in advance and keep good timing.
If you want to completely switch off for a day, you could consider this London In a Day: Tower of London tour, Westminster Abbey & Changing of the Guard tour – it pretty much follows the itinerary set for your first day.
Using A 4-Days London Pass
I am not a fan of city passes, because they usually require you to book each attraction separately. However, they can be good value for money.
You can get your London Pass here.
Practical Tips To Plan Your Trip
Where to stay in London
London has no shortage of good accommodation options but you must be prepared to pay if you want to stay somewhere that is comfortable, clean and central.
If you are spending 4 days in London, I recommend the areas of 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.
- The Duke Rooms London has small but well equipped rooms in a central location.
- The Darlington Hyde Park is a good compromise in terms of location and cleanliness.
- Locke at Broken Wharf has small but nice apartments.
- SoHostel is a great option for budget travelers. You have a choice of dorms and private rooms.
For more accommodation options in London, head over to my posts Where To Stay In London: The Best Areas And Hotels and 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 quite 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.
Set to visit around Christmas? Then you should also read my post Should You Visit London In Winter?
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. The airports are at the outskirts of the city but well connected by bus, train or metro.
Whichever airport you land at, 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 (not to mention crowded and with lack of elevators it can be tricky to dodge suitcases around); cabs are very expensive and they can get stuck in traffic.
From Heathrow you have the option of taking the Piccadilly Line to central London, or (better) taking the express train to Paddington. Trains depart every 15 minutes and take just 15 minutes to reach Paddington, served by both metro and buses.
For more guidance on how to get to the city, my post How To Get From Heathrow To London will prove a precious guide.
If you are landing in Gatwick, you will have to take the express train to Victoria. Trains depart every 15 minutes and take around 15 minutes to get to Victoria Station, from where you can hop on the metro or bus to reach your final destination.
From Stansted, your best option is taking the express train to London Liverpool Street. Trains depart every 15 minutes. The journey takes less than one hour. Once in Liverpool street, you will find several metro lines to reach other parts of the city.
If you are landing in Luton, you can hop on a train to King’s Cross and once there take the metro to reach your hotel.
If you’d rather travel by private transfer, consider booking one via Welcome Pickups here.
How to move around London
The metro (London Tube or London Underground) is the best way to move around town. There is a network of 11 lines and 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 is ever punctual – so I would not count on them.
Things to consider when moving around by metro in London are:
- There always are renovation works which cause closure of certain stations, so you may be forced to find alternative routes.
- Some lines are very slow – the Northern line is always running late, for example.
- Most stations are not accessible – so if you are disabled, you may have troubles accessing the platforms or the trains.
- Trains run 24/7.
To supplement the lack of metro at night, 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 when the metro shuts.
You will be significantly better off getting an Oyster Card to use 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 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 be useful apps during your trip.
Beware of scams
Pickpockets are common on the metro and in the busiest stations, so keep your wits about. The most common scams in London are the 3 cups or card game I have already mentioned; 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
Whether you are spending 4 days in London or more, subscribe to a good travel insurance that also covers your medical expenses.
Check out my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance. Get your travel insurance here.
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
- 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
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- 20 + Great Things To Do In Oxford