How to plan a week-end in London – Itinerary for 3 days
London city is huge. It has loads of tourist attractions, it hosts different events every single week and it takes time to move from one area to another one.
Organising a quick trip to London can be exhausting given the fact that you will definitely have to give up to see some of the “must see” places.
Many sites and forums state that 3 days for London are not enough and you should spend at least 2 or 3 weeks there (even if many forums, as Tripadvisor tend to have this kind of comment for almost every destination). As much as this could be true is also quite annoying, given the fact that not everyone always has the opportunity or the time or the money for such a long visit.
That’s why I created this guide for a quick visit of London that could be used for a long week-end.
Day 1 – Arrival + King’s Cross Station + Piccadilly Circus + Trafalgar Square + Westminster Abbey + Big Ben + London Eye
The first day you will probably arrive in London by lunch time. From almost every airport it should take you more or less 2 hours to reach your hotel (assuming half an hour to leave the airport and wait for your bus, one hour by bus and another 30 minutes to reach your hotel/accommodation from central London).
If you have internet download the app CityMapper to check the public transports as this will make your life so much easier.
King’s Cross train station is a good place to start if you are a Harry Potter fans as you can visit the famous 9 and ¾ binary. If you are not, skip this first stop and go straight to Piccadilly Circus. In both squares you will find a Boots store, this store can really come in handy since they sell loads of items as drugs, adaptors but also lunch baskets very affordable. They also have many healthy and vegan options to choose from.
From Piccadilly Circus, you can walk up to Trafalgar Square, and then keep walking down to the Thames river.
You will be on the opposite side of the river compared to the London Eye, perfect spot for a photo. Still if you want to enjoy a ride you have to get there before 18:00 (I have done it and if you don’t have much time I would suggest skipping it).
Walk in the direction of the Big Ben, up to the Westminster Abbey – that you can see from outside, if you want to visit the inside you will have to go back in the morning.
For day 1, follow the yellow itinerary on the map at the bottom of this page.
Day 2 – Victoria Park + Buckingham Palace + Hide Park + Marble Arch + Portobello Market + Bond Street Station + Regent Street + Tottenham Court Road + Soho + Leicester Square + Covent Garden + Seven Dials
Start your second day by waking up as early as possible. Visit the Victoria Park where you can see the Buckingham Palace and if you are interested also the changing of the guards – check online the timings for this before you go!!
From the Victoria Park you can walk up to the Hyde Park. This park is huge so try not to get lost. Walk by the lake and then keep walking north to reach Marble Arch.
From Marble Arch, take the tube (central line, east direction) to go to Notting Hill and see the Portobello Market. Try to go on a Saturday that is when all the stalls are open.
After your visit to the market you can take the tube again in Nothing Hill Gate to go to Bond Street (central line, west direction).
You are now in the middle of the shopping area, so according to your interests you can decide how much time to spend here and where you should head to. Bond street is the luxury street, while Oxford street is the ultimate high street.
You can walk from Oxford street until you reach Tottenham Court Road or stop earlier in Oxford Square and turn to Regent Street (I would go for this option).
From Tottenham or Regent, you can easily walk in the Soho district. This place is full of trendy and hipster shops and restaurants.
Walk through Soho to reach Leicester Square. From here walk up to Covent Garden, crossing the theatre district, here you can also buy tickets for one of the world-renowned musicals.
After Covent Garden, make a final stop to Seven Dials, while getting lost in the enchanting small streets of this area. Nearby there is one of the best fish and chips shops I tried while in London (when I was still eating fish), Rock and Sole Plaice, where you could end your day with a rewarding meal.
For day 2, follow the green itinerary on the map at the bottom of this page.
Day 3 – Columbia Market, Brick Lane, Old Spitalfields Market, Sky Garden, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The Shard, London Bridge, Borough Market, Millennium Bridge, St. Paul Cathedral
On the third day start by visiting some of the best streets of East London. Take the tube and leave at Aldgate East.
From here you can walk up to the Columbia market, but this will take you a bit off-track so only take this in account if you are really passionate about flowers (also if you are travelling you won’t be able to do any purchase).
The quickest route for this day is to walk north from Aldgate East up to the Brick Lane Market, the quirkiest market in London, here there is also a food hall with food from all over the world.
From Brick Lane, walk south towards the Spitalfields Market. Keep walking south through Liverpool Street until you reach the Sky Gardens (you need to buy your entrance in advance on this site: https://skygarden.london/. This is a beautiful garden on the top floor of a skyscraper, perfect to get a panoramic view of the city.
From the Sky Gardens, move in direction east-south, until you reach the river and walk until the Tower of London. This is the old prison of London and is worth visiting if you have enough time.
From here you can cross the famous Tower Bridge to keep exploring the south bank of the river.
Now walk in the direction of the Shard. You won’t be able to miss it as this skyscraper, that is the tallest one in the UK. You can also go up on the Shard to get a panoramic view of the city but the entrance is not cheap. If you associate it with a booking to a restaurant is better so that you don’t have to pay the entrance fee (still it won’t be a cheap meal). Close to the Shard there is the Borough Market that hosts food stalls of all kinds.
Keep walking west, you will reach the Millennium Bridge, that I personally reckon being the most beautiful bridge of London. You are very close to the Tate Modern Museum (free entrance), but you might not have enough time to see this, that’s why I didn’t include it in this itinerary (along with any other museums).
Cross the Millennium Bridge and visit the amazing St. Paul Cathedral.
Nearby there is also a bar, called Madison bar that has a terrace with an incredible view of the city, a perfect way to end your day and rest your feet.
For day 3, follow the purple itinerary on the map here below.
This is assuming that you have your return flight first thing in the morning the day after, so it’s taking in account half day for arrival and half day exploring plus two full days in London.
Hope you might use this for a quick trip in London as this is possible and if you only have few days for this is still better than no days.
Andrea Visone aka Deneb