London is one of my favourite cities! A city of history, new beginnings, adventure, and opportunity. A place I travelled to twice before deciding to call it my home 3 years ago this summer. In the last 3 years in London, I’ve explored and eaten, spent days at the park and in museums, gone to West End shows, and marvelled at each neighbourhood’s unique character.
If I only had 3 days in London, here’s how I would spend them:
Day 1 – Arrive at Heathrow, Gatwick, or Stansted
When flying into London, chances are high that you’re landing at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. Getting yourself into the city is easy from all of these! Take the Picadilly Line from Heathrow, the Gatwick Express to Victoria (or Thameslink to London Bridge) from Gatwick, or the Standsted Express to Liverpool Street from Stansted.
Pro Tip – The Heathrow Express isn’t worth it unless you’re saying very close to Paddington, are short on time, or the Piccadilly Line is having delays.
Plan for 2-3 hours to get through customs, grabbing bags and heading into the city. Leave the bags at the hotel and put on your walking shoes!
Grab the tube to Tower Hill to start your walking tour along the Thames. Walk straight out of the tube and you’ll see London’s most iconic bridge right in front of you. Walk across the bridge (or wait for a double decker bus and ride across the bridge) and head down the stairs on the other side. From the bridge you can see The City, Saint Paul’s, and on a clear day Canary Wharf on the other side.
Start walking west along the river. Along the walk, you’ll walk past City Hall, Hay’s Galleria, London Bridge, and the Shard. The walk is about .8 miles (1.2 km). If the weather is nice, buy tickets to go up the Shard for breathtaking views of London.
If you’re ready for a snack or a caffeine fix, head to one of the following:
- London Grind
- Rabot 1745
- Monmouth Coffee Company
Next, explore Borough Market – Enjoy the smells and sounds of London’s oldest food market! People come from all over to find spices and speciality meats and oils here.
Continue along the river and walk towards Shakespeare’s Globe and the Tate Modern. While you’ll need to book tickets to see a show at the Globe, the Tate is free entry.
In front of the Tate, you’ll find the iconic Millennium Bridge, connecting the south of the river to the north and St Paul’s Cathedral. Head across the Millennium Bridge, pit stop at St Paul’s for a few pictures and head to the nearby shopping center One New Change. Instead of paying to go up St Paul’s, take the elevator to the top of One New Change to Madison’s roof top restaurant and bar. You don’t need a reservation and don’t feel obligated to buy a drink at the bar to enjoy the views. That said, the bar does do very nice cocktails! Enjoy happy hour and see my recommendations below for restaurants nearby:
Restaurants near St Paul’s:
- Bread Street Kitchen
- Ping Pong
Day 2 – West London
Take the tube to Westminster to start exploring West London. Immediately when you come up from the tube exit, you’ll see Big Ben and Parliament, then behind Westminster. Take time to explore the area and enjoy the history. Note – This is one of the most touristy areas of London, so going into Westminster Abbey can take time, if the lines are long.
If you’re a history buff, or interested in learning more about Winston Churchill, I highly recommend booking the Churchill War Rooms ahead of time. The exhibit is fantastic and one I’d go back to time and time again!
When you’re done, head towards St James Park to start the walk to Buckingham Palace. I think the nicest walk is through the park and across the bridge, halfway through the lake, on to The Mall.
Pro Tip – Buckingham Palace State Rooms are only open to the public during certain times of the year. Make sure to check the opening times and book tickets ahead of time, if you’d like to tour the palace.
Next, head towards Hyde Park Corner and rent some bikes. Notable things to see in the park include the Peter Pan Statue, the Rose Garden, and the Serpentine Gallery.
Stretch Goal for the Day – Tea! Notable places to book Tea in West London include:
- The Ritz
- The Wolesley
- Fortnum & Mason
Restaurants in West London
- Signor Sassi
Day 3 – Eat Brunch & Enjoy a Lazy Sunday
Start the day with a good brunch and ready to head west again to round off the visit to London. My recommendations for brunch in London:
- The Table
- Breakfast Club
- Where the Pancakes Are
- Duck & Waffle
- The Modern Pantry
Pro Tip – Brunch is quite popular in London on Saturdays and Sundays. If you have you’re heart set on a specific place, check to see if they do reservations ahead of time, or arrive early to secure a spot in line.
After lunch, head back out West with the tube and get off at Knightsbridge. Depending on how much you saw yesterday, head to Harrod’s for window shopping and ride up and down in the Egyptian escalators. Next walk towards the V&A Museum to soak up some world history. Make sure you check out the jewellery exhibit before leaving!
If you have time to continue exploring before heading off to the airport, I’d recommends topping by the Natural History Museum, or strolling through the mews of West London. If your feet don’t hurt too much from walking, I’d make my way up towards Paddington to explore Maida Vale (London’s Little Venice) and walk along the canal to Primrose Hill.
Have you been to London? How would you spend 3 days there?