The Ultimate Itinerary for 3 days in London
London, the capital city of England is one of the great mega cities of the world. It ranks as the 3rd most visited city in the world for tourists and is home to the largest number of billionaires in Europe. It’s one of my favourite places to visit. Every time I do visit London I always find something new to see. Which always makes me want to come back again and again. So I wanted to share my ultimate itinerary for 3 days in London.
Heathrow International Airport is the busiest airport in the world with approx. 17 million passengers a day; this is the main hub for travel into London and England. London was founded by the Romans. The city has 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites (Tower of London, London Bridge, Westminster Abby, Palace of Westminster and Greenwich). It is also home to the oldest known elected government in the world. London is home to many landmarks and tourists attractions including Buckingham Palace, London Eye, Trafalgar Square and Kew Gardens to name but a few.
Getting around in London should not be a problem; London is home to the world’s oldest and third longest underground metro network. 270 stations, which sees around 9 million people a day using the network. I love using the London Underground, it has become a must when visiting London. Its cheaper and quicker to get around the city. London is known famously for its cultural heritage being the place many authors wrote about. The most famous, William Shakespeare being one of them.
Now you know a little more about London, let me show you how you can maximise your time in the great city. Get to see and do all of the very best things with my Ultimate 3 day Itinerary.
It does not really matter when you arrive in the city. I did not arrive until the late afternoon, as I could not check into my hotel until 3pm (15:00hrs). It would have been mad for me to arrive any sooner. If you arrive sooner and you can’t check in it would be worth getting in touch with your accommodation. Ask if you could drop off the cases so you don’t have the cart them around London with you.
I arrived in London after getting the train into Waterloo, I always stay near Waterloo at the Travelodge. It’s a great location in the centre of London and right next to the underground station. (More on the hotel a little later). I made my way to the hotel, checked inn. Dropped off our bags and headed straight out, this is London after all with so much to see and do.
London City Tour
The first thing I did to kick off the ultimate itinerary for 3 days in London. Put some walking shoes on and head out around some of the biggest tourist attractions in the city. It’s easy to walk to all the main attractions in London in a circular route. Which I did, I visited City of Westminster, Westminster Abby, Big Ben, Downing Street, Buckingham Palace, St. James Park, The Mall, Trafalgar Square, London Eye, Tower Bridge and The Thames. Its totally worth a stop at all these brilliant places. Most of them are not too far away from one another. I always enjoy walking through places because you always spot something new.
After a lovely tour of the city it was time to stop and grab some food. I just grabbed some street food from the many stalls and eating places around the Thames. If you wanted to try this area out you will need to head for the National Theatre. You will find many eating and drinking places with outside seating to enjoy the views of the Thames. Fingers crossed for some good evening sunshine as well.
The Shard (Level 68 & 72)
It was time to head to The Shard, the tallest building in the United Kingdom. This would be a first for me too. Having never been into the Shard before I was excited to see the view and what the place had to offer. I had an 8pm entrance as it was my plan to get there just before the sun set over London. I figured that would make a great end to my first half day in London. However, it did not go to plan at all. Although I did make it up the Shard to level 68 (viewing gallery) there was NO sun to be seen as it was extremely overcast. I was a little disappointed but I was finally at the Shard and doing something I had never done before.
What to expect?
This was a pre-booked activity. The entire process was easy, from getting the ticket online to getting up too level 68. They accepted the ticket on my mobile phone. Then you pass security, it is a quick lift to the top. Once you get to the top you are greeted from some amazing views over the London City. Although it was overcast, it was a clear evening so you could see for a few miles in every direction. The top was crowded and it was expensive. if you wanted a snack or drinks, it would cost more money. I thought it was to much money, so I did not bother in the end.
I enjoyed my time in The Shard and I am glad I did it. However I will say It’s something I don’t need to be doing again. I thought the price of the ticket was a little expensive for what you got. I mean YES the views were great. But I could get the same views free in the Sky Garden for example (TOP TIP for Later). If you wanted a drink or even a seat it would cost more money. This is when I thought, it was a little steep in my opinion.
Grab your tickets NOW to experience the tallest building in the United Kingdom and The View from The Shard.
That would be my first half day in London completed. After The Shard I went for a little walk around London during the evening to see what was about. I stumbled upon an open air music concert that was free. The band playing were great and it was lovely to see people outside enjoying themselves again after having restrictions for so long. I stayed and watched the show for a little while. It was back to the hotel ready for my second complete day tomorrow.
The ultimate itinerary for 3 days in London continues with the start of day two. It would be an early morning rise for me today, at 7am and breakfast at the hotel. I set off at 8am (08:00hrs) ready for the first adventure of the day. I walked through London again on this occasion to take in all the sights and sounds to continue the ultimate itinerary for 3 days in London.
The British Museum
Another first for me, having never been to the museum before. I wanted to check it out and see what this place had on offer. Many people had said many good things about the museum so was excited to see if they would be true.
I booked entry tickets online again and the process was easy. Just showed my phone and went straight in, the first impression of the museum is the size of the place. When you walk into the entrance hall, I was blown away at how big it was. It is not until you start walking around the exhibits that you really get a feel at how big the museum is. They have over 8 million items on display. Making the museum one of the most visited tourist attractions in the United Kingdom.
What to expect?
The Museum has everything you will need to make a great day out. Loads for the kids to get involved in as well. Toilets, eating-places, and loads of stuff to see and do, some of the highlights for me were:
- Rosetta Stone
- Great Sphinx Stone
- Tree of Life
You must take into account this is a huge tourist attraction so prices for food will be more inside. You can bring food and drink into the museum to keep costs low if you are a large family. I had lunch inside the museum, a sandwich and drink, which cost £9.
I did not even get around half of the museum but it was time to leave as I had another activity booked for the afternoon. With regret, I left the museum and headed for the second adventure of the day. I walked to the Tower but got caught in a huge rain storm so needed to grab some shelter which actually made me a little late for the activity but they were OK and still let me in.
The Tower of London
The ultimate itinerary for 3 days in London continues with the second adventure of the day. A tour inside one of the United Kingdom’s top tourist attraction and a World UNESCO Heritage site, the brilliant Tower of London. The Tower of London is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United Kingdom and has been welcoming visitors since 1669, the tower got so popular that by 1851 a brand new purpose build ticket office was erected.
The Tower of London is famous for housing some of the worst criminals in history including Guy Fawkes, The Kray Twins and Anne Boleyn and Sir Walter Raleigh were all locked up in the tower. There is so much history inside this amazing place. Learn how King Henry 8th used the tower and changes he brought upon it. See where he executed Anne Boleyn, how he used the tower to hold great state gatherings and how he came to rest within the tower.
See the dungeons, the crown jewels and the famous tower ravens and I totally recommend a tour with the Yeoman Warders who still to this day live and work within the tower. They have so many great stories and knowledge and their tours are free to join. I highly recommend. This has been one of my favourite things to do in London so far and I would do it all over again. I can’t recommend this trip enough.
This really was a brilliant day out and I can’t stress enough how good it was, I highly recommend a visit to The Tower of London. Grab your tickets NOW.
As the tower is right next to the world, famous tower bridge, it was only custom to have some photos and walk over the bridge to get some amazing views of London and the River Thames.
After these two cool activities, I was getting a little hungry so decided to stop for a coffee and snack (sandwich) at one of the many small little cafes along the Thames. We sat and drank our drinks, eat our food right next to the river, which was a lovely thing to do.
It was actually getting on in time, we did not leave the tower until 5pm (17:00hrs) and by the time we had some food and sat by the river, time was moving on. We headed for the hotel to get changed and try somewhere for dinner, NOW I will stress there wasn’t much planning involved here on our part. As it was during the COVID pandemic it was custom to pre-book at most restaurants in London and because we had not and it was Saturday night in the capital, we were becoming hard pushed to find somewhere good to eat. Thankfully, Franco Manca came to our rescue.
RESTURANT – Franco Manca
Franco Manca is an Italian restaurant a stone throw away from our hotel, we pretty much walked past and thought, let’s see if they can fit us in. Lucky for us they did. The food was great, I had Pizza and lemonade and it was all wonderful and for pudding I tried the homemade ice cream, which was really something, well worth a try if visiting.
As it was Saturday night in London, it would have been a real shame to miss some of the most popular night time attractions, so after some food about 10pm we headed for Soho, Leicester Square and China Town. We didn’t pre-book or anything so couldn’t go into any bars but you really don’t have too in London, there are so many people around that the streets in these areas become a party on its own with street venders offering drinks and snacks. The party really was in full swing and we had a great night, which ended another great day in London.
Our last full day of my ultimate itinerary for 3 days in London. It seemed to have come around so quickly, but today would be another day where I would do something for the first time. We had booked day tickets to world famous Kew Gardens.
Getting to Kew from central London couldn’t have been easier, going by car is NOT recommended, due to its location and surrounding area being protected Kew cannot extend the parking facilities and so they are limited. However, there are plenty of buses, taxis and trains taking tourists right to the entrance. We got the train from London Waterloo to Kew Bridge Station, which took, around 20mins. The train ticket cost just £11 return for 1 adult. We found out the hard way but when you come out the station, (Kew Bridge) the entrance is opposite Kew Green. So, leave the station and walk over the bridge. Kew Green will be on your right, follow that and you should see the entrance.
Kew Gardens in southwest London is home to the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections anywhere in the world. Its living collections include some 27,000 taxa and over 8.5 million preserved plant and fungal specimens. Today it is a scientific bedrock for the study of plants from around the world with 1100 members of staff and sponsored by the department for environment, food and rural affairs. Kew Gardens remain one of the top tourist attractions in the United Kingdom with 3.2 million visitors in 2019.
Kew Gardens spans an area of 330 acres, which is made up of gardens, and greenhouses and the main glass greenhouse at Kew is the largest of its kind in the Northern hemisphere. At Kew you won’t be short of things to do either, there are loads of features all over the complex like a treetop walk, the floating bridge, an amazon jungle walk and countless shows, educational talks and demonstrations through-out the day.
After Kew we headed to another popular part of London, Camden Town.
We got the train back to London Waterloo and then got the Underground from Waterloo to Camden Town Station. It cost £6 for 1 adult return.
Camden Town is like no other place in London and maybe like no other place in the United Kingdom. It is a place where NO boundaries are set, no judgement is made and everyone is treated the same. Just from getting out of the underground station, I saw people in the most outrageous clothes, people with all different hair colours and styles, people with body art covering their entire bodies. It is why I love Camden and why so many other people love coming here. On top of all that, there are the many bars and eating places and the famous Camden Market.
The Market sells everything from food and drink to clothes, bags, shoes, pets and even motorbikes! It truly is a place to visit if you are in London and highly recommended. I love coming to Camden Town, I try to visit every time I am in London even if it is just for a short while. After a wander around the Market and seeing all the sights and sounds and stopping for a drink in the local pub it was time to visit our restaurant for the evening which we had pre-booked this time.
RESTURANT – Shaka Zulu
When it comes to eating places in London and being original I don’t think many will come close to Shaka Zulu. It’s a restaurant I have eaten at a few times now and will continue to go back as much as I can. The food, the staff, the décor, the building itself is like nothing I have ever seen before.
After dinner, it was time to start to head back to central London. So we got back on the underground and headed back for London Waterloo for our last evening in London. We took one last walk along the Thames and grabbed a coffee watching the sun setting over the city. Then back to the hotel to start packing and getting ready to leave in the morning which would end my ultimate itinerary for 3 days in London.
It goes without saying, when I travel to London I always use the train and head into London Waterloo and then for getting about in London I always use the London Underground Network.
For general getting around London, London Underground will get you pretty much to all the places you need and runs until around midnight. If you were going to be out later then there are night buses or I would recommend a London taxi or Uber. For me the London Underground is always the transport of choice when I am in London.
During weekday rush hour 16:30 until 18:30 the London Underground network can get extremely busy so if you are a little worried about being so close to people and large crowds then I would recommend using the network outside of these times.
On this trip, we also used the City Tour bus hopping. This is a bus service that takes visitors around all the major landmarks and tourist attractions within the city. You buy a ticket but you are able to hop on/hop off when you like. I had not used this service before so was a first for me. It was OK, but really if you are up to it SAVE your money and walk to the attractions. All of the attractions mentioned in the “city tour” are walkable and will save you a few pennies.
I have a map below of the places we visited on our “city tour” to show where we walked. Starting at the London Eye and ending at Westminster Abby.
As you can see it’s a circular route of 3.3 miles and should take just over 1hr to complete. It will take longer of course if you are stopping to take photos.
I love visiting the city of London. The feeling of being a tourist in one of the big mega cities of the world is a feeling that never gets old. I have been visiting London now for over 10 years. Yet I still find a new place to visit. A new activity to try or a new dining experience to indulge. I know London is not for everyone. It can get extremely busy, it can be expensive and it can leave people feeling overwhelmed, but doesn’t most mega cities have that same effect?
London for me is always a place I love visiting. From the culture and history of one of the world’s famous cities. From huge attractions like Tower of London, London Eye, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben London has something for everyone. Maybe you just want a relaxing weekend. London has plenty of Spa options as well. With some of them having stunning views of the city while you get wined and dined. London maybe a huge mega city but it also has some great places to chill out and relax like St. James Park, Hyde Park and Greenwich Common. I find it relaxing just walking along the River Thames with the many walking paths running along the river’s edge.
There you have it my ultimate itinerary for 3 days in London. There is no question that London is an awesome place to send a few days. Sightseeing, Eating and drinking, luxury hotels, budget hotels and party all night if you want to. London really does have it all and some.
Check out the latest hotel availability and prices to start planning your 3 day itinerary in London.
You can check out more in-depth reviews of the hotel and all the restaurants on my TripAdvisor page.
Until next time…..