In London

HOW TO SPEND THREE PERFECT DAYS IN LONDON: YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE AND ITINERARY

Bustling, busy and ever humming with the constant buzz of city life, London is a city which is ever changing and always worth a visit. Here’s your ultimate guide and complete itinerary for spending three days in London.

Side note: I lived in the UK capital on and off for five years, which is probably why it’s taken me a couple of years to even decide what should go into a 72 hour London guide, let alone how to go about crafting one. So this itinerary is all about London from a local’s perspective… And each day is based on a theme. Day 1 is ticking off those ‘essential must-see’ bucket list London items. Day 2 is all about getting a feel for the heart of the city (i.e. where it all began), as well as exploring the culture and history of the capital’s rich past. Day 3 is based on learning about a few of London’s cutest districts on a local level and experiencing some of its prettiest areas.

Day 1: Get a feel for the city

Day one of your three days in London is your crash course to life in the UK and it’s all about getting up to speed on those ‘must-see iconic’ London attractions. Much of the day will be spent wandering around Westminster, admiring the Houses of Parliament and catching an up-close and personal view of the London Eye.

Wander along Oxford Street and Regent’s Street

Of course, no London itinerary would be complete without a quick mention of the UK’s most famous shopping street! Wander along Oxford street, meander through Regen’s Street and perhaps check out some iconic shops along the way (Hamley’s Toy store is just one store which springs to mind).

At the end of Regent’s Street, you’ll find Piccadilly Circus, which is famous the world over for its non-stop coca cola advert and hub of central London life. Piccadilly Circus is also one of the top Harry Potter filming locations for wizarding fans! A little on from Piccadilly Circus, you’ll stumble across Leicester Square- which is where all the major film openings take place in London. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a star!

How to spend three days in London, England: your complete guide to spending 72 hours in the capital of the uk: wander along oxford street

Snap a Red Telephone Box

Around the World, the UK is known for its red telephone boxes and red post boxes- they’re almost as iconic as fish and chips or the Houses of Parliament! So of course no trip to London would be complete without snapping at least a quick picture or two of these must see British sights. While phone boxes can be found throughout the city, one of the most iconic locations can be found just a short five minute walk from the Houses of Parliament.

How to spend three days in London, England: your complete guide to spending 72 hours in the capital of the uk: snap a red telephone box

‘See’ Big Ben

Of course, you can’t really see Big Ben. After all, Ben is just the nickname for the largest bell at the Palace of Westminster. Instead, you can see the Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben! At the same time, marvel at the gothic architecture of the Houses of Parliament, aka the Palace of Westminster.

How to spend three days in London, England: your complete guide to spending 72 hours in the capital of the uk: see big ben

Stroll Along the Thames

See London in all its glory from along the Thames. A wander along the Thames will guarantee you the chance to catch a glimpse of nearly every major London attraction. From the OXO tower to the Shard, to the elusive MI5 headquarters, you can spot all these sights and more on a quick walk down the iconic river.

London in September: what to do, see and visit in the Big Smoke this month. How to spend September in London, England

See the London Eye

I don’t really recommend going on the London Eye as it takes a while to queue for tickets and you’ll want to see as much as possible during your three days in London. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t see it at least once, if only from a distance. Once the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, it can be seen from miles around and the London Eye welcomes over 3.75 million visitors annually!

How to spend three days in London, England: your complete guide to spending 72 hours in the capital of the uk: see the london eye

Visit Tower Bridge

Of all London Bridges (and there are a fair few), Tower Bridge must be the most iconic. And so it makes the list of things you must do during your first 24 hours of three days in London. So iconic is this bridge that once upon a time (okay, okay, it was only in the 1970s), a wealthy American thought he was buying the magnificent feat of Victorian engineering that is Tower Bridge. In actual fact, he ended up buying and shipping London Bridge to the USA (not the same thing), rather than the two pretty towers he was expecting!

three days in london: visit tower bridge

Be amazed by the Tower of London

The medley of buildings that form the Tower of London is just one of many royal palaces dotted throughout the city. That being said, there is no doubt that at one time, the Tower of London was arguably the most strategically important of all royal residences. After all, in its nearly nine hundred years worth of history, it has seen plenty of prisoners, feuds, and it now houses the Crown Jewels.

City of London Neighbourhood Guide: Tower of London


Day 2: History and Culture of London

No trip to London would be complete without a delve into its historic past and day two in this three days in London city guide is all about learning the history and culture of the capital. And, of course, all about the people who created the London we all know and love today. The morning of day two will be based in and around the City of London: the cultural and historical heart of London. In the afternoon, I have selected a number of museums and galleries which are close by one another (after wandering around the City of London in the morning, you’ll only have the energy/ time to choose one of the musuem options).

Morning: To the Romans and Beyond- Exploring the City of London

Museum of London, City of London

This quirky museum is dedicated to all things London related. Head here to learn all about the history of London, as well as see artefacts from three millennia worth of history. Some particular highlights of the City of London Museum include the Roman exhibition (a look at what life was really like during the Roman era) and a look at what the area was like before London. The museum is free to visit and well worth a trip, if only for an hour or so!

Harry Potter in London: westminster tube station

St Dunstan’s in the East

Built in the 16th-Century, St Dunstan’s in the East is one of those hidden gems of the city that even the locals don’t know about. Located in the very heart of the City of London, and set amongst towering skyscrapers, this Christopher Wren creation was badly damaged during the Blitz of WWII. Following the war, the decision was taken to leave the ruins of the church as they were, and transform the space into a green garden. Today, it’s a lovely space to chill out and take a quick breather.

Secret spots in London you'll love: St Dunstan-in-the-east

Monument to the Great Fire of London

The Monument to the Great Fire of London offers one of the best views of the city you can find for under a fiver and is a great introduction to the history behind the Great Fire of London. Often referred to as just ‘the Monument’, it’s located right next to a tube station of the same name, Monument. After climbing the 311 spiral steps, you’ll be greeted with 360 degree panoramic views of the city.

City of London Neighbourhood Guide: Monument to the Great Fire of London

See the Sky Garden

As the highest public green space in London, you’ll want to make sure you head to the Sky Garden for some of the best views of the city you can find anywhere in London. If you do want to visit the Sky Garden, just make sure to book your tickets in advance!

sky garden london

Visit St Paul’s Cathedral

Iconic Christopher Wren at his finest, St Paul’s Cathedral is easily the most iconic church in London. Located on Ludgate Hill, it’s all opulent architecture and is easily one of the best things to do in the City of London. Nearby, you’ll also find Millennium Bridge, and if you cross the Bridge, you’ll end up at the Tate Modern Gallery.

City of London Neighbourhood Guide: St Paul's Cathedral

Afternoon: Get some culture/ London Museums

One of the most interesting aspects of London is the sheer volume of galleries and museums dotted around the city. Day two in London is dedicated to spending at least a little time getting to know these cultural hotspots. Options for various galleries are listed as you obviously won’t have time to see them all. Each option includes galleries or museums which are close to one another and make a good pairing.

a) National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery

Situated in Trafalgar Square, some of the Nation’s very best paintings can be found in the National Gallery. Think: Vermeer, Titian, and Cézanne to name but a few. While in Trafalgar Square, make sure to check out the Smallest Police Station in England, which sits in a rather neglected corner of the square. A visit to the National Gallery can easily be combined with a trip to the National Portrait Gallery which is conveniently located next door. Both are free to visit!

b) Sir John Soane’s Museum and British Museum (as well as Petrie Museum and Grant Museum of Zoology)

Your second option for the day is to see the Sir John Soane’s Museum and the British Museum. The Sir John Soane’s Museum is a quirky house museum created by an architect, while the British Museum houses treasures from around the world. Nearby, on the UCL campus, you’ll also find the Petrie Museum (dedicated to Egyptology) and the Grant Museum of Zoology. In the UCL main building, you’ll also find the auto-icon of Jeremy Bentham. Close by to the Sir John Soane’s Museum, you’ll also find the Old Curiosity Shop, a store which is thought to have been visited by Charles Dickens.

c) Wellcome Collection and British Library

Many people think that the British Library is simply a massive place where books are stored. And while it’s true that it holds over 150 million artefacts and texts from around the world, it also houses gems like the Magna Carta (a 13th-century document which is heralded as one of the most important documents in history. The ‘Great Charter’ established that everyone is subject to the law, even the king). The Wellcome Collection is a quirky and hands-on science museum with ever-changing interactive displays.

d) V&A and Natural History Museum and Science Museum

Located along Exhibition road, you’ll find the most famous museums in the entire city. Here, you’ll find the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, a museum dedicated to design, architecture, art and fashion. These are the largest museums in London and they are all free to visit. Head to the Science Museum if you want some hands-on displays, the V&A museum if you love art and the Natural History Musuem if you love geology, fossils and the dinosaurs!

Secret spots in London you'll love: London's smallest police station

The smallest police station in England is located in the corner of Trafalgar Square.


Day 3: Cute, Pretty and ‘Instagrammable’ London Destinations

Your final day in the city is all about vintage shopping, quirky city life and pretty streets. (Come on, I know you’ve already been checking out the cutest, London Mews Streets on Instagram!) It’s also here that you’ll find some of the cutest cafés in London, and some of the best wisteria spots (if you’re heading to London in the late spring).

Morning: Notting Hill and Surrounds

Meander around Notting Hill

Notting Hill is easily one of the prettiest districts you’ll find in London. It’s here you’ll find the likes of Notting Hill Filming Locations, and some of the best cafés the city has to offer! Head to Notting Hill if you want to visit the Farm Girl Café (which serves some of the best speciality coffees in London), or Biscuiteers. Just be sure to bring your camera- this London district comes complete with oodles of photo opportunities!

Cutest Cafés in London, England you won't want to miss: Biscuiteers, Notting Hill

Portobello Road

All vintage shops and pretty streets, no trip to Notting Hill would be complete without a visit to Portobello Road Market, one of the largest antique markets in the world. Exit the Tube at Notting Hill Gate and follow the signs to Portobello Road. Here, you’ll find dozens of stalls and antique shops selling everything from antique clocks to vintage golf balls.

portobello road market finding vintage london england, uk

Afternoon: Exploring Kensington and Chelsea

Visit Kensington Roof Gardens

Pretty and themed, the Kensington Roof Gardens are one of those hidden London gems that even the locals haven’t heard of… And even fewer people visit! Founded on the roof of what was once a department store in the 1930s, they really are an oasis of green in the heart of the city. Oh, and the gardens are completely free to visit and open to the public!

Kensington Roof Gardens: an oasis of green in the heart of Kensington, central London. Visit hidden London in England

Wander around Hyde Park

Grab a sandwich or easy to eat salad from one of the many shops and eateries dotted around Kensington and head to Hyde Park. This is the largest of the four Royal Parks in central London and it’s here you’ll find activities such as boating on the Serpentine, rose gardens, and plenty of green space!

How to spend three days in London, England: your complete guide to spending 72 hours in the capital of the uk: explore hyde park

Check out some Mews Streets

Of all the things you should do during your three days in London, make it a trip to see some of the mews streets. These little London streets bring new definition to the word ‘cute’ and no trip to the UK capital would be complete without a quick meander down some of these cobbled lanes. Once home to horses and groomsmen from a time when the capital ran on horsepower, today these alleys and passages are now home to some of the most exclusive real estate in the city.

Best London Mews Streets: Kynance Mews

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Dealman
    2nd October 2017 at 12:41 am

    beautiful location. all pics stunning.

  • Reply
    Shibani
    1st October 2017 at 7:56 pm

    I loved every bit of your post, like the way you drafted the itinerary with so much details and still including the feel in as less as 3 days. Pinning it 🙂

  • Reply
    Jem
    1st October 2017 at 8:45 am

    This is one of the best posts I have read about how to see London in a short time frame! I have seen/done a few things on your list but now need to go back again and finish it off. Darn!!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    1st October 2017 at 4:47 am

    This is a great itinerary and great photos. It’s great to have a schedule that allows you to maximise your time too.

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