You can see London in 3 days. Ok, to be fair you can’t really – you will at mostly see the most famous attractions. But the fact that you can’t see all of it definitely shouldn’t stop you from going.
With a population of 9 million people, London is the fourth largest city in Europe. Commuting from one side to the city to the other is a matter of hours, even on a good day when traffic isn’t bad – or when you opt to take the metro. This gives you an idea of how much there is to see there!
If you just are planning to visit London in 3 days and you are a first time visitor, you will be happy to know that you can definitely see a lot of the city – the most touristic sites for sure, and even some newer attractions.
The thought of planning an itinerary to see London in 3 days can be a daunting task. But good news! I am here for you. The only city I know better than London is my hometown. I have spent 8 years there, studying and working, and roamed it so much that I know it like the palm of my hand. Whenever family or friends would visit, I’d guide them around showing them the best of the city. In other words: I am happy to draft a good itinerary that will help you make the most of your 3 days in London.
Continue reading this post for an awesome itinerary to see London in 3 days. It’s a great option if you are planning a long weekend in the city or even if you are including London in a longer trip across the United Kingdom or Europe. At the end of the post, I will share some tips on how to plan your trip.
In a rush? Check out these guided tours of London:
- London In a Day: Tower of London tour, Westminster Abbey & Changing of the Guard – a fabulous 8-hours tour that goes to the most famous places to visit in town. It seems costly but it actually is great value for money.
- London walking tour with Westminster Abbey and Changing of the Guard – similar to the one above, it’s a bit cheaper because it doesn’t include the Tower of London.
- London top sights: fun tour with a local guide – a good budget friendly option to see the main landmarks in town.
How To Use This London In 3 Days Itinerary
Before I tell you what you can see in 3 days in London, I want to point out that 3 days are hardly enough to see everything that the city has to offer. One thing for sure, if you don’t want to spend time in line at the ticket counter of some attractions, you need to get skip the line tickets ahead of time.
You see, London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and no matter the season you are bound to find it crowded with tourists. Some attractions are free to visit – good to know, in a city that has become beyond expensive. Others have to be booked in advance if you want to get in. Omit to do so, and you may get stuck at the ticket counter – not ideal if you are trying to see London in 3 days.
I will be sure to point out in this post any time you need to get tickets online.
For the purpose of this itinerary, I will assume that you have 3 days in London – in other words 3 full days and 4 nights. If you only have 3 nights, you can try to still squeeze in as much as possible; especially if you get into the city with a really early flight, or depart in the late evening on your last day.
The itinerary you will be following is based on my personal experience – and my personal taste. So you won’t see places like Camden Market or Oxford Street. I used to love them when I was a student, but I think that in the last 15 years they truly lost their character and became a massive tourist trap. Besides, if you are planning to see London in 3 days, you are better off visiting other more central places anyways or more interesting attractions. You also won’t really be able to get off the beaten path as well – leave that for another visit.
The overall idea is to give you a good mixture of classic attractions, museums, free places to see and markets, so that you get a bit of everything.
TIP: If you are flying into London from the other side of the Atlantic, chances are jet leg will hit you. The best remedy for that is drinking plenty of water – start on the plane – and taking melatonin supplements.
If you really want to do something as soon as you arrive, opt for a guided food tour. Despite its reputation for being quite plain, traditional food in Britain is actually pretty tasty. You can opt for this Secret British food tour which has 3 daily departures – you get to taste some local staples. It also goes to Borough Market – my favorite in town, and included in this itinerary anyways. You can book it here.
These are some further tips to help you make the most of your 3 days in London:
- Have an early start – it’s the best thing to do to beat the crowds.
- Ignore any attraction that doesn’t fit with your interests or budget.
- Have lunch on the go. London has a plethora of take away places. For sandwiches and salads, go to Pret-A-Manger, a famous local chain. Grocery stores like Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury or Waitrose always have a selection of ready made meals. On day two, you can have lunch in Borough Market.
- Get an Oyster Card to save on public transportation (more about that below).
- Always double check the opening times of museums – if they are open until late, visit them last in the day.
- Always wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
Stick by this itinerary and I promise you you will see lots of London in 3 days.
A Fantastic Itinerary To See London In 3 Days
The first of your 3 days in London will take you to some of its most iconic attractions. Some place require pre-bookings ahead of time. Others are free and open to visit any time of the day – and anyways way more interesting in the evening.
Map of day 1
Download your map for your day 1 itinerary here. Take a good look at it and get yourself acquainted with the walking distances. You will probably need to use public transportation to reach your first attraction.
Churchill War Rooms
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Churchill War Rooms is open every day from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
NEAREST METRO STATIONS: Westminster, St. James’ Park.
I want you to start your itinerary to visit London in 3 days with an attraction you may have not heard of, but which is incredibly interesting for history geeks. Churchill War Rooms are indeed made of two connected museums: Churchill Museum and The Cabinet War Rooms. The first one is dedicated to the life of Winston Churchill and his political figure. The second one is a bunker from where the WWII efforts were directed. It’s the place where Churchill and his government hid during the London Blitz.
My recommendation is to join a guided tour – it will help you make the most of this attraction and give you historical insights. This is a good guided tour:
- WWII Westminster Walking Tour and Churchill War Rooms – this 2.5 hours walking tour takes you the museum and to the places in Westminster that had most significance during the war.
For more information, visit the official website of the museum here.
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. The church closes at 6:00 pm on Wednesday. It is closed on Sundays.
Founded in 960 AD, Westminster Abbey is the most famous place in the country – and rightly so, since this is were coronations and royal weddings took place since 1066. It’s also the burial ground of some notable Britons such Isaac Newton. But most importantly, it is a nice church to visit.
It will take you between one and two hours to visit. Since there may be a line at the ticket counter, you may want to get a skip the line ticket in advance. These are some good options:
- Westminster Abbey entry ticket and multi-media guide – a good self guided tour. You can walk in at your convenience.
- Westminster Abbey skip the line ticket with audioguide – another good, no frills option.
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
If you want to see London in 3 days, you can’t skip its most iconic buildings. This is the seat of the British Parliament, where all political decisions in the UK are taken. I must admit that despite living in London for a long time, I never went inside. You may want to join this Exclusive Houses of Parliament Tour & Skip the Line Westminster Abbey Tour if you are really keen. It includes the Abbey as well. The main downside is that it lasts 4 hours so not ideal if you are squeezing in as much as possible.
Alternatively, just snap a few photos of the Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament from the bridge on your way to London Eye.
GOOD TO KNOW: Big Ben is currently being restored. I warned you, so you won’t be too disappointed by the obstructed view.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: London Eye opening times vary depending on the season. The usual opening time is 10:00 am and it closes between 6:00 and 8:30 pm.
This is one of my favorite attractions in London – touristy, on the expensive side, crowded most of the time. But who cares when the views from it are so incredible? I went up for the first time in 2010 and enjoyed it so much that returned again. You can get the best aerial views of the Houses of Parliament, the Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.
GOOD TO KNOW: At a stone’s throw from the London Eye, the London Dungeon is one of the best places to visit in London. You can get discounted tickets to visit both places here – opt for the London Dungeon first. The tour lasts 90 minutes.
National Gallery and Trafalgar Square
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The National Gallery is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. On Fridays is closes at 9:00 pm.
It will take you around 15 minutes to walk from London Eye to the National Gallery, which is located in Trafalgar Square, one of the most famous squares in town.
As it is my favorite museum in town, I decided to included it in this itinerary to see London in 3 days. The good news is that it is free to get in (you may have to pay if you want to attend a special exhibit). Inside, you can admire an immense collection of art from different periods. It is a well organized museum, easy to navigate, but for ease you may want to opt for an audio-guide which you can rent for £5 (around $6.2 USD) at Sainsbury wing.
TIP: Check out the website of the National Gallery for special exhibits and make sure to book in advance if interested.
Seeing London in 3 days you will definitely walk to Piccadilly Circus. It’s on the way from Trafalgar Square to Leicester Square, and a major crossroads. There is a fountain where people like to hang out, and for the rest it is just all shiny lights and commercial, noise and traffic. But it is a fun place if you are into photography, especially at night.
Minutes away from Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square was the place to be in the heyday of disco-clubs. This is where the Hyppodrome and Equinox were located – and where I have spent many a night when I was celebrating the end of high school with my friends. It’s also where you will find cinemas – though I doubt that you will have time to watch a movie if you are spending just 3 days in London.
I used to love hanging out at Covent Garden, then I somehow grew out of that phase. But it is pretty, fun and central so easy to include in this itinerary to see London in 3 days. It’s at just 5 minutes from Leicester Square.
Covent Garden used to be a flower market. Now it is a place where street artists perform – you will see them inside on the ground level, and outside – and there are some nice but expensive shops, stalls and pubs.
If you happen to be in London around Christmas time (the decorations are out at the beginning of November) make sure to go. It looks beautiful when it is all festive. Keep in mind this is one of the most crowded places in London.
The second of your London in 3 days itinerary will take you to some important landmarks – which you will have to reserve in advance – and some other attractions which are incredible, and free (as well as my favorite in town!).
Map of day 2
You can download today’s map here. Everything is within easy walking distance, and I have included a nice short scenic walk too.
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.
The Tower of London is one of the most important sites in London, and if you are visiting London in 3 days you should not skip it. I have been there many times and marvel at it each time. I especially enjoy the Crown Jewels exhibit, and I am fascinated by the story of this place – this used to be a prison, where the royal family used to get rid of any unwanted person. For example it’s where Anne Boleyn was executed.
TIP: Make sure to be at the Tower of London in time for its opening to beat the crowds.
This is a popular attraction – advanced bookings are necessary. These are some of the best options:
- Tower of London and Crown Jewels exhibition ticket – a basic skip the line option. It includes access to all areas.
- Early Access Crown Jewels with Opening Ceremony and Complete Tower of London Guided Tour – a good guided tour, it lasts almost 3 hours!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The bridge is free to access. The exhibit is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Once you leave the Tower of London, walk to your left and get on Tower Bridge, one of London’s most famous landmarks. To learn more about the history of the bridge or in case you want to experience the thrill of walking on a glass walkway suspended at 40 meters from the ground, you will have to visit the Tower Bridge Exhibit – you can get tickets here. If you are not interested in that, continue walking towards the South Bank.
A walk along the South Bank
I love walking on the South Bank and I do it every time I am in London. I think this is where you get the best views of London which you don’t have to pay for. The photos of the Tower of London and of Tower Bridge posted above were taken from the South Bank. It’s the perfect place to go for a walk on a sunny day. You will find lots of bars, cafés and pubs along the way.
GOOD TO KNOW: Beware of touts and scams along the South Bank. It’s a common place for the 3 cards or the 3 cups game.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Shard is open daily 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.
Inaugurated in 2012, The Shard is London’s most famous skyscraper. The viewing deck, inaugurated in 2013, is at the 95th floor and offers impressive views of the city. You have to book it in advance from the official website or here (the price is the same).
If you have already been on London Eye, feel free to skip this attraction.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The market operates from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
This is one of my favorite places in London. I think at some point I went there weekly to stock on delicacies from all over the world (and especially from Italy and Sardinia) which I wasn’t otherwise able to find in other places. It can get crowded on Fridays and Saturdays, and it is not exactly a cheap place, but it is a lot of fun, and your chance to try some delicious food.
Buckingham Palace really is a must see in London, so I have to include it in this itinerary to see London in 3 days. The majority of people who travel to London go there to see it from the outside and observe the Changing of the Guard Ceremony. I am honestly not a fan of it because it does get terribly crowded, so I have opted to include it towards the end of the day, when the crowds will have scattered. If on the other hand you are interested in it, feel free to rearrange the itinerary accordingly.
If you want to go inside, you need to book in advance and join a guided tour. Here are some good options.
- Buckingham Palace: The State Room entrance tickets – a budget friendly audio-guided tour. It lasts around 3 hours.
- Changing of the Guard and Buckingham Palace tour – a good guided tour of around 3 hours. You get a guide even for the Changing of the Guard.
- Buckingham Palace tickets with Royal walking tour – a good tour of the palace, it starts at 1:30 pm (so easier to fit in this itinerary) and lasts 2.5 hours.
St. James Park
St. James is one of London’s nicest and best kept park. You will be walking through it to get to Buckingham Palace, so make sure to take in the views, the people hanging out, the children playing. If the weather is nice, it’s a great place to catch your breath and just relax for a while.
London is a great place to see a musical – this is where I saw my first, back in 1999 – it was Grease and I had a blast! If you want to add one to your itinerary to see London in 3 days, make sure to book it in advance. There is an incredible choice of shows. Most theaters are located in the area close to Covent Garden / Leicester Square and Charing Cross. One of the best shows in town is Mamma Mia! based on Abba’s music. You can book it here.
The last of your 3 days in London will start with a tour that will entertain any kind of visitor. After that, you will have a chance to continue to one of the best museums in the world, and to other important landmarks.
Map of day 3
This is your map for day 3. Walking distances are a bit longer so you may want to use the metro to move around on occasions.
Harry Potter tour
I must admit I am not the biggest fan of Harry Potter, but when you are spending 3 days in London, discovering the sites of the movie and following his trail is a fun thing to do. Tours depart at 10:00 am and last around 2.5 hours. They go to some places you will have already seen the day before independently, and many many more that you will enjoy exploring. This GetYourGuide Originals tour comes highly recommended and it is quite budget friendly. You can pick the underground option, or the boat ride one. Opt for the second one for an even more scenic experience. You can book it 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. Although admission is free, you need to book a time slot for your visit. You can do it here.
This is a really cool attraction and a nice addition to this itinerary to see London in 3 days. It’s a high garden from where you enjoy more splendid views of the city, in case you didn’t get enough of it (not sure about you, but I never do!). If you opt to go in for sunset, keep in mind that reservations are not necessary but there is a dress code and drinks are crazy expensive.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: St. Paul’s Cathedral is open Mondays to Saturdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
NEAREST METRO STATION: St. Paul’s.
Rebuild in 1697 after the Great Fire of London destroyed it in 1666, this is one of the sights in London you are likely to recognize – the dome is massive so you surely see it from a distance. You can visit the main part, the crypt and the dome but keep in mind there generally is a line to get to the dome as there are limitations to the number of people who can go up at once.
The church is not free to visit – there is a fee of £17 British Pounds (little over $21 USD) and you get an audioguide to go around. You can get your tickets in advance here.
OPTION 1: British Museum
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The British Museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. It closes at 8:30 pm on Fridays.
NEAREST METRO STATIONS: Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Russell Square, Goodge Street. If you are coming from St. Paul’s, you will get off at Tottenham Court Road.
You really should try to include the British Museum in your itinerary to see London in 3 days. There you will find an incredible collection of artifacts from different times in history. My personal favorite is Rosetta’s Stone, but I also love browsing through the ancient Egypt section in search for mummies.
The museum if free (though some special exhibits aren’t and they have to be booked in advance) but so vast that I recommend getting an audioguide for your visit. It costs £7 GBP (around $9 USD). Alternatively, you can join a guided tour. These are some good options:
- The British Museum Tour: the ideas that made our world – an excellent tour that takes you through the collection swiftly. It lasts 2.5 hours and starts at 2:00 pm.
- British Museum guided tour – another excellent tour. It lasts 2 hours and starts at either 10:00 am or 2:00 pm.
OPTION 2: Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Palace is open every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
NEAREST METRO STATION: High Street Kensington, on the District and Circle lines.
If you are visiting London in 3 days, you don’t have enough time to explore both the British Museum and Kensington Palace. If you love art and history, go to the museum. The palace is a nice alternative if you are keen on learning a bit more about the royal family.
Kensington Palace dates back to the 17th century and was first used as a royal residence by Queen Mary II. It kept being the royal residence until the time of George II and from then on it became the residence for members of the royal family, but not the sovereigns themselves.
In more contemporary times, it was the residence of Princess Margaret, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince William and Prince Henry – though the latter famously decided to give up his royal status.
Although the palace is still in use, it is open for visits. Admission is £17.50 ($22 USD). You can easily visit it independently as there are various itineraries you can follow. Alternatively, opt for a guided tour such as this one. Once you are done visiting the palace, you can move to Kensington Gardens, another beautiful London park where you will find statues (the most famous one is that of Prince Albert) and other sorts of decorations.
Guided Tours Of London
You can easily follow this London in 3 days itinerary by yourself. If you want to get a good idea of the city with a guided tour, you may opt for one that takes you to the most famous attractions so all you have to worry about is bringing your camera.
These are some good options:
- London In a Day: Tower of London tour, Westminster Abbey & Changing of the Guard – a great tour that lasts 8 full hours and goes to some of the most iconic places. It seems expensive but it is good value for money.
- London walking tour with Westminster Abbey and Changing of the Guard – the Tower of London is not included.
- London top sights: fun tour with a local guide – a bit more budget friendly.
Using A 3-Days London Pass
I fail to see the point of city passes. The savings are minimal, you have to book each and every attraction separately anyways and sometimes the most popular ones are not even included. However, I know some find them convenient because they have all the tickets at once, they can include transportation and discounts for restaurants, So you may want to invest in one if you visit London in 3 days.
These are the 2 best London Pass options:
- The London Pass with access to over 80 attractions – the 3-days one, it costs little over $147.30 USD. It includes a one day hop-on hop-off bus pass.
- London 5 attractions pass – a more budget friendly option but you can only use it for one day and for no more than 5 attractions.
Practical Tips To Make The Most Of London In 3 Days
Where to stay in London
There are many good accommodation options in London. The bad news is that hotels are crazy expensive and if you want something decent – I am not even talking about plush, but just basic clean places – you will have to invest quite a bit of money.
If you are visiting London in 3 days, you really need to stay somewhere central. Areas like Camden may be a bit cheaper, but they are honestly dodgy and far from everything, so I won’t recommend it. Opt for areas such as Kensington or Westminster Borough for your stay. Covent Garden on the other hand is very expensive. I am a fan of Shoreditch, an up and coming area with cool pubs, nice restaurants and good accommodation options – and it is well connected to the main attractions.
The following is a selection of places to stay based on location and budget.
- 41 is a great hotel in central London with rooms furnished in classic style. Prepare to pay a lot of money. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- The Duke Rooms London is a nice bed and breakfast in very good location. Rooms are tiny but have everything you may need. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- The Darlington Hyde Park is a nice clean guesthouse in a very good location. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Locke at Broken Wharf has small fully equipped apartments. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- SoHostel is a great option for backpackers and travelers on a budget, with private rooms as well as dorms. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
I will be publishing a post on where to stay in London soon.
When to visit London
Any time is a good time to visit London – and it is always packed with tourists anyways. If you don’t mind the bitter cold weather, go between November and the end of December to admire the Christmas decorations. Otherwise, April and May or September and October are good options for milder weather.
How to get to London
You have the option to fly into 5 international airports when visiting London – London Heathrow, London Gatwick and London City are all served by main airlines; whereas Stansted and Luton are served by budget airlines. London City is the most central one, as it is in the Docklands and you can get there by bus from Central London.
The other airports are all a bit outside the city but well connected by public transport. If you are flying from the other side of the world, chances are you are landing in Heathrow or Gatwick. The best way to get to town from any airport is the train. It is fast and comfortable. Buses are a bit cheaper but ever so slow, and the metro which you will find at London Heathrow can get crowded and uncomfortable.
Heathrow Express runs to Paddington Train Station. Trains depart every 15 minutes and take just 15 minutes to get there. You can get your train tickets here.
Gatwick Express runs to Victoria Station. Trains depart every 15 minutes and take around 15 minutes to get there. You can get your train tickets here.
Stansted Express runs to London Liverpool Street Station. Trains depart every 15 minutes. The journey takes 47 minutes. You can get your train tickets here.
If you’d rather have private transport, these are some good options:
How to move around London
The best way to move around London is the metro (called underground or “the tube”). There are 11 metro lines, plus all the light-rail lines, so all areas of the city are well connected. I am not a fan of the buses – they hardly run on time and often get stuck in traffic.
London Underground doesn’t come without problems. First of all, there often are renovation works which means that some lines are closed, some stations are closed, and you will have to find alternative routes. Secondly, as it is old the trains move slowly and at times they have to wait till the train in the opposite direction goes before they move again. Many stations are not accessible – so don’t count on the metro if you have some physical impairment. Finally, the metro doesn’t run 24/7 so after a certain time at night you have to rely on the night bus – with all the related issues.
Make sure to get an Oyster Card if you intend to use public transportation. You get it once, keep it and top it up at metro stations any time you need it. Touch in and out at every station or any time you get on the bus. You can get yours here.
Uber works in London, but you are better off using the metro during the day anyways.
Luggage storage in London
You can find luggage storage facilities at all train stations in London. You need to book in advance. Stasher is a good company with reliable service.
Other useful tips
Get a guide book
To get a good idea of all the places you will be seeing in London in 3 days, get a good guide book with a map!
These are some good ones:
Get a data plan for your smartphone
Walking around London will be a whole lot better if you can use data to consult Google Maps or to call an Uber. Make sure your phone works in London and that you have a good data plan.
Tap water is safe to drink in England but honestly vile. You may want to take a bottle with a filter with you to save on plastic.
Mind the scams
London is not immune from pickpockets – make sure to keep your wits about in crowded places, especially in the metro and in metro stations. Scams are also common. I have already mentioned the 3 cups or 3 cards game which you surely know. Another common scam in London is that of the fake theater tickets. It usually occurs in Leicester Square, where there are lots of ticket boots too so it is easy to get mistaken. You are probably better off getting show tickets online. Also beware of fake charity collectors.
Get a good travel insurance
Further readings about London
For more ideas and itineraries for London, make sure to read these posts:
- How To See London In 2 Days
- An Easy To Follow Itinerary For 4 Days London
- The Best 5 Days London Itinerary
- 5 Easy Ways Of Getting London Dungeon Tickets
- 7 Easy Ways Of Getting London Eye Tickets
- How To Get Madame Tussauds London Tickets And Skip The Lines
- My Favorite Secret Destinations in London
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris