3 Days in London: Helpful Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

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Got 3 Days in London? Here’s a Full Itinerary on What to See, Do, and Eat!

Looking to explore London? You are not alone! The capital of the United Kingdom is a bustling international city with loads of popular things to do! From top attractions to places to eat and areas to explore, spending a few days in London is a great way to get a true taste of what the city has to offer!

Having lived in the UK ourselves, we’ve always really enjoyed visiting London. Eric got the chance to explore London on a number of occasions and has put together a one day London itinerary. Unfortunately, there are always things you miss and more sights to see no matter how many times you visit!

So, if you want a more detailed London itinerary, we’ve got you covered. Our former UK resident Laura from She Who Wanders has dived deep into London to craft a great 3 day London itinerary. Broken up day-by-day, she’ll walk you through where to go, what to eat, and more. You can also change this 3-day itinerary into a 2-day London itinerary – or choose to make it longer by stretching it out!

If you need more London travel knowledge, check out these other practical London guides:

Brunch/Breakfast at The Regency Cafe

Depending on where you come from, your first day in London might find you jet-lagged and craving something hearty. So, you’ll want to fuel up for the day. Your best option in Central London is definitely The Regency Cafe.

Opened in the late 1940s, this place is an iconic establishment on Regency Street. While it may look unsuspecting from the outside, the inside and the food will definitely impress. Dig into a full English breakfast – and one that won’t break the bank either. This cafe is perfect for a cheap and good meal. Plus, Regency Cafe is in a great location to start off your first day in London.

Address: 17-19 Regency St, Westminster, London

Morning Activities

After a good feed (and lots of coffee) you’re in the right neighbourhood to kick off your tour of London with a visit to the Royals. Okay, so while you may not actually see any of them you’ll still be able to “ouu” and “ahh” at the places they frequent.

Westminster Cathedral is open to the public and holds the title as the Mother Church of England and Wales. The exterior will draw you to it and the interior will leave you in awe. Open daily to the public, and it’s free to visit.

This Cathedral can be mistaken for Westminster Abbey but the Abbey is a little ways from the Cathedral (and well worth a visit, too). The Abbey has been the site of coronations throughout the ages and while much smaller than the cathedral it is still quite beautiful and popular to visit (for a fee).

Your regal tour of London concludes at Buckingham Palace. Depending on the time of year you visit, you’ll be able to tell if the Queen is in based on whether or not the Union flag is up or down. If it’s up, she’s home, if not, she’s possibly at Sandringham House – a beloved country home of hers.

Tours of the Palace are best booked in advance and online. If you want to explore the surrounding area (including The Mall or Green Park) you are welcome to. Keep an eye out for guards on horses in the full uniform – and even a famous Changing of the Guard ceremony. 

Lunch at Fuller’s Kitchen

Before your hangriness gets the better of you, make sure you stop in for lunch or even a cheeky midday pint at Fuller’s Kitchen right by St. James’s Park. This pub-style restaurant is down a quiet alley so you’ll be sure to avoid the crowded restaurants on the high street by stopping here.

You can choose from delicious small plates like Halloumi fries, prawn skewers, and even mini pies. For a more filling lunch, fill up on an award-winning pie or even a pie tasting board! You’ll get a real deal pub lunch in a great atmosphere before heading out to continue your day of adventuring.

Address: 33 Tothill St, Westminster, London

Afternoon Activities

Just a stone’s throw from the pub is St. James’s Park. Covering over 20 hectares of space in central London, this lush green space is the perfect spot to escape the city for a bit of a more relaxed vibe without having to go very far.

St. James’s offers so much more than your regular park attractions (aka a playground). There is a beautiful lake home to swans and whatever other birds fancy a paddle including a resident colony of pelicans.

The park also has multiple fountains, the beautiful Blue Bridge, and a whole lot of paths to stroll along and patches of grass to soak in the sun. Another fun aspect of the park are the birds who live here. So, keep your eyes peeled and camera at the ready to spot vibrant coloured parakeets.

After a short walk from the park, you’ll find yourself face to face with the big man himself – Big Ben that is! Officially renamed Elizabeth Tower for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the Clock Tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster makes for an iconic photograph. Big Ben is just the nickname for the great bell inside the tower.

The tower itself stands over 300 feet high and can be easily spotted from multiple points around the city, but the view from up close is the best. Stroll around this area long enough and you’ll be sure to see members of Parliament near the Palace of Westminster. Number 10 Downing Street is just down the way and is home to the Prime Minister.

From this area, Westminster Bridge will lead you from one side of the River Thames across to the other and will also give you a fantastic view of Big Ben, Parliament, and the river as it snakes through London.

A quick stroll across the bridge and to the left brings you to Jubilee Gardens, a relatively new space in London, but a lovely one. This public park on London’s South Bank is a perfect spot to rest your feet, do some people watching, and get an up-close and personal view of the London Eye. There are tons of food trucks, drink stalls, and live performers along the Thames, so grab an iced coffee and enjoy the stroll as the sun begins to set.

Dinner at Banh Bao Brothers

London is a melting pot of cultures and therefore you’ll have a million and two choices when it comes to restaurants for dinner. So, why not take a little trip to Vietnam without even stepping foot on the underground?

Banh Bao Brothers is a Vietnamese restaurant in one of the city’s former railway arches and split across two floors. It has a fun and vibrant atmosphere with an equally fun and vibrant menu that will be sure to please anyone.

From the classic bao (a steamed bun with amazing fillings), to veggie options, chicken wings, and specialty Asian rolls, you’ll be sure to start your night off right with dinner and drinks here.

Address: 20 Leake St, Bishop’s, London 

Evening Activities

It’s evening now and you should check out Trafalgar Square. To get there, you’re steps away from Waterloo Tube Station or you can take a stroll across Westminster Bridge to get there on foot. A wander through the Square is a neat experience as you see London come to life as night falls.

On any given day/night, this public square can have multiple performances going on with tons of musicians, artists, and dancers putting on a show. It’s even home to celebrations during the Christmas holidays. You’ll find anything from a floating Yoda, giant games of chess, and some of the most brilliant musicians all in one place – and all for free. 

Evening drinks anywhere are fun, but what if you were told you could have evening drinks on a boat on the River Thames while watching the London Eye light up the sky? Pretty fantastic right! The SS Tattershall Castle is a moored, floating restaurant and bar right in the heart of the River Thames.

Sip on a classic gin and tonic or a Pimms while watching the sunset behind the London Eye. If you want to skip the drink and head up on the Eye (if you haven’t already) you’ll be gifted with some magical views of the city.

As one of the most popular of London’s attractions, the London Eye – or Millennium Wheel – is nearly 450 feet high and is one of the best viewing platforms in the city. Cozy up in your pod and watch London light up before you. It truly is an amazing way to end your first day in London.

Day 2 – Museums, Galleries + More

Hopefully you’re waking up on day two in London to the sun – or at least no rain. However, if by chance the rain has descended on the city, do not panic. That’s because day two is all about museums and art galleries.

London has a ton of museums and galleries to choose from and (good news) many of them are free to enter! So, even if you aren’t a huge museum buff, you’ll be sure to find something that interests you.

Brunch/Breakfast at The Good Life Eatery

In the trendy Chelsea neighbourhood of London, you’ll find anything you could ever need for a bangin breakfast. The Good Life Eatery is a dine-in or take-out spot that creates real (good) food for real people with several locations around London.

You’ll find Acai bowls to bring your taste buds to Bali, a plate of waffles to fill your soul, and even half a dozen versions of avocado toast. This is a great spot for anyone who is Celiac or wants something a bit healthier than a full English breakfast. Plus, this location is just a 10-minute walk from the first stop on today’s adventure.

Address: 59 Sloane Ave, Chelsea, London

If you’re staying more central in the city (closer to Oxford Circus), the Riding House Café is also excellent for a nice brunch!

Morning Activity

Today is definitely a day where that Oyster Card will come in handy. This is because taking the Underground will be the easiest way to get around – and the driest way if it begins to rain.

If you’re already accustomed to taking the Underground, then you’ll want the South Kensington stop for the Natural History Museum. It’s possibly one of the most incredible museums in London – if not the world. You’ll immediately see why when you enter the building, for free as well!

The museum showcases a vast array of specimens and artifacts from the world’s history through the ages. Plus, there’s a massive blue whale skeleton suspended in the centre that is sure to impress anyone.

Just a stone’s throw from here you’ll find the Victoria & Albert Museum, aka The V&A Museum of Art and Design. The exterior is pretty impressive but it’s what’s inside that really will blow your socks off: nearly 2.5 million objects! Housed in this museum is an incredible collection and it will give you some serious design inspiration.

Onward from this area, hop on the Underground at South Kensington station. Head for Leicester Square on the Piccadilly Line (it’ll take about 15 minutes) and you’ll have arrived just a few minutes from The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. This part of the city is bursting with culture, live music, and performers so you’ll get a real feel for the National Gallery before even walking inside.

Yet another free entrance, The National Gallery was founded in the 1820s and is home to well over 2,300 paintings dating from as early as the 13th century and as recently as the 1900s. The Gallery also hosts touring exhibitions and events so be sure to check out their website before your visit to see what extras are on.

Lunch at The Real Greek

By this point, there’s a good chance you’re starved so head 10 minutes on foot and be transported to Greece at The Real Greek.

This place offers lunch deals Monday-Friday for as little as £8.00/per person. You’ll find souvlaki plates & wraps, freshly made falafel, and all the olives you could ever imagine. Sit down and enjoy your lunch or get it to go and people watch in the nearby park.

Address: 50 Berwick St, Soho, London

Afternoon Activities

London can sometimes be an expensive city to spend time in. However, if you do a little research and are flexible with your plans, you can save money here as easily as you can in some of the cheaper European destinations. Case in point: A famous London West End show!

What can usually cost a lot of money becomes significantly cheaper when you see a live performance in the afternoon. Matinee shows can be a great way to experience some incredible shows without breaking the bank.

The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, Matilda, and even Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – all of these shows are on at different theatres in The West End. By booking online for midday showings or even at the last minute at any number of the booths in the area, you can see some world-renowned performances.

The West End is also a lovely place to explore before or after a show too. Head to Covent Garden for some top-notch shopping. Continue on the shopping haul on Oxford Street, Regent Street, or just have a wander and admire the architecture. These areas are magical year-round, but especially so during the Christmas period. After a show, you’ll want to stretch your legs so carry on for a bit of a window shop and then head off to dinner nearby.

Dinner at The Ivy

Located in the trendy Seven Dials neighbourhood, The Ivy is one of many around the UK. However, this place is unlike the chain restaurants you’re used to. Open 7 days a week until late, this iconic restaurant serves up seasonal British fare in a beautiful atmosphere.

You’ll find anything from prawn cocktails, steaks cooked to order, and an extensive vegan/vegetarian menu catering to all diners. The Ivy also has the central dining bar perfect for a small plate and some cocktails in a beautifully decorated space. Don’t fill up on drinks here as the night is still young and there’s so much left to see!

Address: 1-5 West St, West End, London

Evening

If the weather allows, it’s just a nice 30-minute stroll from Soho to the iconic Millennium Bridge. Any Harry Potter lover will immediately recognize this spot from the film “The Half Blood Prince”. However, seeing it lit up at night is so much more magical than being surrounded by “Death Eaters”.

The steel suspension bridge connects Bankside to Central London and has the most amazing view of St. Paul’s Cathedral, too. Carry-on by foot or hop on the underground to the London Bridge stop to see one of the most beautiful parts of London’s history, Tower Bridge.

As one of London’s most iconic bridges over the Thames – it’s the one that looks kinda like a castle -, visitors can go up the towers of the bridge and walk across a glass floor. At night, you’ll see the city covered in lights and can watch the boats come along the Thames.

From here, you can head for a nightcap at the iconic Aqua Shard. On the 31st floor of London’s famous building “The Shard”, you can have a drink with all of London on display. It’s highly recommended to make reservations here – especially on the weekend. However, if you can’t get in, you can still head up for the view without going into the restaurant/bar area. It’s worth it for the view of the city at night – trust us.

Day 3 – “Off-the-Beaten-Path” London

You know how they say to save the best for last? Well, when in London you should definitely take that advice. While London has so much to see and do, there are a few spots that are off the beaten path a little but very much worth exploring.

Beautiful canals, a trip on a ferry, and some pretty great views are just a few of things in store for your 3rd day in London. Here’s a little overview of the day in case you’re curious: Little Venice – Primrose Hill – Camden – Sky Garden – Maritime Museum & Greenwich (by boat).

Brunch/Breakfast at Quince Tree Cafe

With a packed day on your agenda, it’s best to start off in the neighbourhood you want to explore. So, take the underground to Warwick Avenue Station. From here, Quince Tree Cafe is less than a minute walk from the station (so no need to worry about getting lost before you get some caffeine in you).

Located in the Clifton Nurseries, this cafe is housed in one of the most beautiful parts of the city. They offer up everything from amazing pancake stacks to freshly made scones & jam, plus a range of other sweet treats, hot drinks, and even some bubbly (if you’re having that kind of morning).

Address: 5A Clifton Villas, Little Venice, London

Morning Activity

Now that you’re fueled up and ready to go, Little Venice is yours to explore. Just west of Central London, this area is best known for the canals that are equally as beautiful as those they are named after (in Venice, Italy).

Following the Regent’s Canal, you’ll wander your way through a lush path lined with trees, beautiful homes, and incredibly lovely houseboats. Within about 40 minutes you’ll find yourself heading towards Primrose Hill (a green park) which is a perfect spot to stop and rest your legs. There are tons of cafes in the area if you need an extra boost of coffee.

Covering over 60 acres, the park is the perfect place for views of the beautiful Victorian terraces and pastel-coloured houses. If you fancy an afternoon in the park, you can drop down into Regent’s Park to rent paddle boats, play a round of tennis, or explore the rose gardens.

If your legs will allow it, you can skip the park and carry on along the canal to Camden Lock. There are beautiful mansion-like homes to see and tons of boats coming and going. You’ll reach Camden Market in no time at all and be thrown into the hustle and bustle of Camden Town. Here, you’ll be able to find anything you ever needed – and much more that you didn’t know you wanted!

What started as a Sunday only market with a few small vendors in 1974 soon escalated to the massive market it is now. You’ll find everything from tie-dye shirts and silver jewelry, to vintage clothing, antiques, leather goods, homemade soaps, and so much more!

A good thing to note is that most stalls are cash-only and on the weekends the place can get quite hectic. So, you can always do this route in reverse starting at Camden Market and ending in Little Venice!

Lunch at Camden Market

Since you’re already in the hub of awesome food being in Camden Market, you should definitely stick around for lunch. From street food stalls to proper sit down cafes and restaurants, there is something here for everyone to find and enjoy.

Wandering through and letting your nose lead you to whatever smells the best is the perfect way to choose somewhere to eat. Some top suggestions for you include: Rudey’s Dirty Vegan Diner, Yolk Breaker, Lords of Poke, and The Cheese Wheel.

If you need an after-lunch treat, then stop in at Chin Chin Labs. This is more than an ice cream parlour – it’s a laboratory of ice cream scientists! Using liquid nitrogen to hand churn their ice creams, you’ll get a sweet treat here. Tip: You’ll get a treat and a little show if you order the hot chocolate (think blow torched marshmallows)!

Address: 54-56 Camden Lock Pl, Camden Town, London

Afternoon Activities

From Camden Market, you can hop on the Northern Line to Bank Station and be transported to the most spectacular garden setting – all within central London! The Sky Garden is actually located up in “the Walkie Talkie”, a skyscraper that looks exactly like, you guessed it – a walkie talkie!

Access to the Sky Garden is free, however, reservations should be made to ensure your spot as they only allow a certain amount of visitors in at a time. Up here, you’ll admire hundreds of species of plants from the Mediterranean and South Africa all while soaking in the best views of the city. There is also a bar and a restaurant here if you fancy an afternoon cocktail, too!

From the Sky Garden, head down towards Tower Bridge and hop onto one of the most scenic modes of transportation in London: The Thames Clipper. The Thames Clipper will take passengers from multiple stops (including Tower Bridge) along the Thames in either direction. However, for this activity, you’ll want to head out on the RB1 to Greenwich.

With banks along on the River Thames, this historic part of the city is one that is often overlooked but should definitely be visited. The biggest draw is the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Naval College. The museum is free (except for special exhibits and events) so it’s the perfect way to learn a bit more about London in a beautiful setting.

This UNESCO World Heritage site is beautiful inside and out, with the surrounding grounds a lush green space to be enjoyed. Up atop the hill at the back of the museum, you’ll be gifted with one of the most beautiful and unique views of London. This is also where you’ll find The Royal Observatory and home to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

You’ll be able to stand right on the historic prime meridian where East meets West and get a whole new sense of time. The park where the museum and observatory are located (Greenwich Park) is massive and well worth a wander through – especially on a nice day.

While you’re here at the park, you can also check out the boating pond, the Roman Temple Ruins, Flower Garden, and even The Wilderness Deer Park close to Charlton Way (a road through the park).

Dinner at Trafalgar Tavern

No trip to London would be complete without a meal or at least a pint in a pub. Well lucky for you there’s one on the banks of the Thames that will satisfy both of those needs. The Trafalgar Tavern serves up traditional British fare: Think delicious fish & chips and a Sunday roast (on Sundays only, of course) in a classic Victorian building.

What was once a 19th-century establishment still carries on the same values and charm as it did then. With a twist on classic pub fare and a range of local ales, you get to experience it all in a cozy atmosphere or even in their riverside beer garden!

Address: Park Row, Greenwich Peninsula, London

Evening

After a quick trip on The Clipper, you’ll move on from Greenwich to the iconic area of Canary Wharf. Known as the secondary business district of London, the buildings here seem to stretch upwards for miles and are quite a sight to see as the sun sets over the Thames.

While this area of London is business-centered that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun night out. Book in for a brewery tour/beer tasting session with Meantime Brewing Company where you’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of beer brewing while tasting some craft beers made in-house.

For some pretty spectacular views, you’ll want to scope out One Canada Square. This is the second tallest building in the city (after The Shard) at 50 floors and really stands tall above the rest. It’s a great spot for photographers as well to capture something modern and unique in the city.

During the holidays, this part of the city is set alight with magical Christmas decorations. For the perfect place to indulge in a nightcap, head to Humble Grape for a divine selection of wines and a great way to end your 3 days in London!

And there you have it – a complete 3 days in London itinerary! In the end, there are so many different things to see, do, and eat in London – this is just a sample itinerary. However, it’s a great mix of top attractions and things a first-time visitor might not think to see. Huge shout out to Laura for her sharing her in-depth London knowledge!

As always, Happy London Waddlin’,
– L&E

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