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Discover London in 3 Days: An unforgettable Itinerary

If you’ve only got three days in London, you’ll certainly be keen to spend them well. And if you’re new to the city, the sheer volume of things to do might feel overwhelming! But not to worry – we’ve done the planning for you. Visit London in 3 days with our handy itinerary and you’ll be guaranteed an experience packed with London history, iconic landmarks, vibrant culture and endless entertainment options. Your 3-day trip to London begins right here.

  • Discover London in 3 Days: An unforgettable Itinerary
  • Day 1
  • Day 2
  • Day 3
  • Bonus things to do in London
  • London travel tips and best time to visit
  • Day 1 of your London travel itinerary: History, Mystery and Majesty in Westminster and Central London

    Day 1: Morning

    Begin your first morning in London with a Full English Breakfast. Also known as a ‘Fry Up’, you can expect a plate heaving with fried eggs, sausages, back bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread and white or black pudding. Wash it down with a proper brew (tea) and you’re practically a local. These days, the Full English might also include baked beans and hash browns, and vegans are suitably catered to with substitutions like seitan sausages, scrambled tofu and tempeh bacon. So where to go for the most authentic Full English? Order the ‘Set Breakfast deal’ at the Regency Café (17-19 Regency St, SW1P 4BY, just a 10-minute walk from Westminster Abbey) or drop in at the English Rose to order their ‘Traditional Full English Breakfast’ (4 Lower Grosvenor Place, SW1W 0EJ, right behind Buckingham Palace).

    The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in London
    Set yourself up for a day of sightseeing with the famed Full English Breakfast.

    After your fortifying breakfast you’ll be ready for some sightseeing. Head to Buckingham Palace in time for the Changing of the Guard, which takes place at 11.00am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Here, the King’s Guard switch with their colleagues in a grand ceremony that takes place in front of Buckingham Palace, complete with regimental band. The Changing of the Guard takes around 45 minutes, but doesn’t go ahead when it’s raining, so simplify things by taking our Royal Walking Tour – on days when The Changing of the Guard doesn’t take place (or rain gets in the way) our live guide will take you on a journey packed with sights and secrets relating to all things Royal.

    The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in London
    See the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in London and learn about its history on our Royal Walking Tour

    Day 1: Afternoon

    Your next destination is Westminster Abbey. It’s only a 15-minute walk away from Buckingham Palace, but give yourself some time to take the scenic route. Leaving the Palace, wander through pretty St. James’s Park up to Trafalgar Square, then turn right down Whitehall, passing Horseguards and Downing Street. When you get to Parliament Square, enjoy the close-up views of London’s iconic clocktower Big Ben (officially called the Elizabeth Tower) and the Houses of Parliament (AKA the Palace of Westminster). That’s ten more iconic London landmarks clocked in under 40 minutes! If you’re ready to spend some time off your feet, hop on our London bus tour at our Green Park stop (next to the Ritz hotel), travelling through Mayfair, Soho and Piccadilly before hopping off at our Whitehall stop.

    Westminster Abbey in London
    Westminster Abbey has been the site of 40 coronations, 16 Royal weddings and over 3300 burials and commemorations.

    If you haven’t been too distracted by the sights along the way, you’ve now arrived at Westminster Abbey. Although it’s impressively gorgeous from the outside, Westminster Abbey is well worth an interior tour. All tickets include a multimedia guide in 14 languages, with English commentary by Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons! Once inside, follow one of the multimedia guide’s recommended itineraries – choose between 30 minutes, 1 hour, or a special children's tour. But for an extra-special experience, take the 90-minute Verger-guided tour. Vergers know the Abbey history back to front, and can show you all the secret nooks and crannies. Verger tours can only be booked on arrival at the Abbey and cost £10 in addition to the entry ticket price.

    Big Bus Top Tip: book your timed Westminster Abbey entry ticket in advance to give your day some structure, and don’t skimp on the fast-track – after all, you’ve only got three days in London, and we’re sure you don’t want to spend them conducting an anthropological study of British queuing!

    As the afternoon fades into the evening, you might be ready for some relaxation. Westminster is a great place to hop back on the bus, with tours heading north to the City of London and west towards Kensington and Chelsea. But if you’re after refreshment, this might be the perfect time for an English afternoon tea or perhaps even a visit to a pub. All that history and grandeur certainly deserves some contemplation.

    If you’ve raced through your sightseeing, our bus driver Katie’s top picks for traditional afternoon teas in Westminster include the Cellarium Café and Terrace at Westminster Abbey (SW1P 3PA), Fortnum & Mason’s (Piccadilly, W1A 1ER), the Goring Hotel (SW1W 0JW) and Library at County Hall (SE1 7PB).

    Afternoon Tea in London
    A typical English Afternoon Tea includes a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, and a variety of small cakes and pastries.

    Day 1: Evening

    If you’ve taken a more leisurely approach to the day, head straight to a pub and let your pint lead you into a traditional pub dinner. The Red Lion (Parliament Street, SW1A 2NH) is the perfect place to eavesdrop on the latest political gossip while you tuck in toin to a plate of fish and chips. The Albert (SW1H 0NP) has a striking Victorian interior and is the only original building on redeveloped Victoria Street. And for the connoisseurs, head to the Blue Boar on Tothill Street (SW1H 9LQ). In 2022, this elegant pub was named the best pub in London by the National Pub and Bar Awards.

    After dinner, you might find yourself ready for some entertainment. Fortunately, you’re already right in the heart of the West End, London’s Theatreland. One any given night, you’ll have a broad variety of plays, musicals, dance and other performances to choose from. Read up on the current shows and book tickets in advance, or leave it to chance - Leicester Square is home to booths for discount London theatre tickets, so arrive early (at around 9am) and head to TKTS London to find out what’s on offer.

    Big Bus Top Tip: if you’re in the mood for theatre but haven’t got tickets for anything, Shakespeare’s Globe on the South Bank isn’t far away. You can usually show up and buy £10 tickets to be a ‘groundling’ – that is, watching the play from a standing position in ‘the pit’ in front of the stage. It is truly the best way to appreciate Shakespeare – you’ll be right in the midst of The Tempest!

    West End Theatre in London
    There are over 39 different theatres in London's West End. Which one will you visit?

    Day 2 of your London travel itinerary: Towers and Top Viewing: South Bank and The City of London

    Day 2: Morning

    Your second day in London takes you to the energetic South Bank, and then on to the City of London, otherwise known as the ‘Square Mile’. If you start out on our London bus tour, stay on board until Whitehall, then hop off and walk across Westminster Bridge. This is the perfect place to get photos of The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben before you begin your exploration of the South Bank.

    Best Views of Big Ben and Westminster
    Get this iconic view of Big Ben and Westminster from the arch beneath the south-east corner of Westminster Bridge

    If you like your morning views sky-high, begin with a spin on The London Eye. This iconic observation wheel towers 135 metres over the Thames, with a full revolution in one of its 32 capsules taking about 30 minutes. Interactive guides help contextualise the views with helpful information and facts, and you’ll have the freedom to wander about the capsule to capture photos from all angles. If heights aren’t your thing, venture under the sea at London’s famous SEA LIFE Aquarium, enjoy some high-tech haunting at The London Dungeon, or head Far Far Away at Shrek’s Adventure – all three attractions are just a stone’s throw from The London Eye.

    View from a capsule on the London Eye
    The 32 capsules of the London Eye represent London’s 32 boroughs.

    Big Bus Top Top: Queues are to be expected at The London Eye, especially between 11:00am and 3:00pm, so book a fast-track ticket to make the most of your time. If you’re planning on taking our bus tour, why not book our London Eye combo?

    Before continuing along the South Bank’s Queens Walk, it might be time for some brunch. A few minutes’ walk from The London Eye you’ll find The Black Penny, masters of French toast, poached eggs, halloumi, avocado and more (17 Casson Square, SE1 7BQ). Moving further along you’ll find The Green Room, located behind the National Theatre (101 Upper Ground, SE1 9PP). The outdoor garden here makes a beautiful suntrap in the summer months, and the eclectic menu has something to please every breakfast craving. Party vibes abound on Saturdays, with bottomless brunches and a DJ drawing in Londoners ready to start revelling early. If you’ve only got a quick on-the-go bite in mind, you’ll find plenty of food trucks lining the Queens Walk – stop for a crepe or a smoothie, or slip into an upmarket café like GAIL’s for coffee and pastry perfection (28 York Rd, SE1 7ND).

    View of the Green Room restaurant garden in London
    The Green Room. Our favourite menu items are the grilled cornbread and chocolate pecan brownie.

    Day 2: Afternoon

    After The London Eye and brunch, hop back on our London bus tour at Waterloo, or make your way north along the Queen’s Walk on foot. This route will take you past a plethora of London landmarks, including The Royal Festival Hall, National Theatre, OXO Tower, Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. There are also diverting pockets of retail to explore along the way, like the South Bank Book Market, Gabriel’s Wharf and bookshops at Foyles, the National Theatre and the Tate Modern.

    At the Tate Modern, cross over the pedestrian-only Millennium Bridge and enjoy the city panorama as you make your way up towards St. Paul’s Cathedral, the 18th-century masterpiece of famed architect Sir Christopher Wren. If you’re on our bus tour, hop off at our St. Paul’s Cathedral stop. Walk around the Cathedral to appreciate the English Baroque detail of the exterior. The best views (and photo opportunities) can be enjoyed from the adjoining Festival Gardens or at the nearby Sabine rooftop bar. Take a break here, or venture inside the Cathedral to discover it in more detail.

    Big Bus Top Tip: If you plan to tour the interior of St. Paul’s Cathedral, our sales team leader Alex recommends that you check in advance to ensure the Cathedral is open for sightseeing, and book online to save money versus the on-the-day door prices. The famous names in the Cathedral’s crypt aren’t to be missed, and the open-air views of London’s old and new cityscape are well worth the 528 steps to the dome’s uppermost Golden Gallery. Touch-screen multimedia guides are available in several languages so that you can wander through the Cathedral at your own pace. And at 5:00pm on weekdays there is a choral evensong – it’s an experience to savour if you want to spend some time in peaceful reflection.

    If you’ve sped through or skipped the St. Paul’s Cathedral interior, hop back on our London bus tour at our St. Paul’s Cathedral stop. You’ll travel westwards through the City of London, crossing south over the Thames on London Bridge, passing landmarks like Borough Market and The Shard, and then crossing back north on iconic Tower Bridge. Hop off the bus at our Tower of London stop to visit this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site - a symbol of London's dramatic history. The Tower of London is an official royal palace, but with a dark and intriguing past as a fortress, prison, treasury and tomb. You’ll spot its ravens, wander through the 1000-year-old White Tower to see the armoury, and be dazzled by the Crown Jewels exhibition.

    Big Bus Top Tip: Our Operations Manager Rian suggests taking a guided tour with one of the Tower’s famous Yeoman Warders (also known as ‘Beefeaters’) to learn more about the stories and legends surrounding the Tower. Tours depart every 30 minutes and are included in the Tower of London entry ticket.

    A raven at the Tower of London
    A raven at the Tower of London. As legend has it, if all six ravens abandon the fortress, the Kingdom and Tower will fall.

    Day 2: Evening

    As the sun begins to sink in the west, make your way to one of London’s impressive new skyscrapers for twilight views of the city as it becomes illuminated in the evening. Leaving the Tower of London, there are two immediate and excellent choices: The Shard is an easy 20-minute stroll from the Tower, located on the other side of the river near London Bridge. And just a 10-minute walk away you’ll find Sky Garden, located at the top of the Fenchurch Building (dubbed ‘The Walkie-Talkie’ by locals).

    Visitors to the Shard have a broad choice of viewing opportunities. The building’s main observation deck is the highest in London. Called The View From The Shard, it offers 360-degree views for up to 40 miles (on a clear day). The lift carries you over 60 stories in under 60 seconds, and although tickets are timed and dated, the weather guarantee means you can return another time if viewing conditions are poor. There are some truly astonishing restroom facilities (the ultimate ‘loos with a view’) and a sophisticated bar for refreshments. If you’re ready for something more substantial, there are seven different restaurants located within the Shard – our marketing executive Jamie loves the elegant modern British cuisine at Aqua Shard on the 31st floor.

    If you choose to visit Sky Garden instead, you’ll find yourself in London’s highest public garden, with landscaped plantings encased in a three-storey greenhouse perched 160 metres above the city. This tranquil environment opens up to reveal gorgeous views across the city, particularly looking south across the river from the outdoor terrace. There’s a bar within the garden, and two restaurants if you feel like settling in for an evening meal with a side of epic views.

    Big Bus Top Tip: If you decide to head to Sky Garden, entry is free, but tickets usually need to be booked in advance, with new allocations released every Monday. Sunset is often a busy time, so viewseekers will do well to be organised with tickets. Restaurant bookings do not require tickets.

    The Shard and Sky Garden in London
    Left: The Shard | Right: Sky Garden in the Fenchurch Building (© User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons)

    Day 3 of your London travel itinerary: Best of the West: Notting Hill to Soho

    Day 3: Morning

    Begin the third day of your London itinerary in picturesque Notting Hill. If you haven’t had your breakfast yet, hop off the bus at our Notting Hill stop and head straight for Bluebelles of Portobello (320 Portobello Road, W10 5RU). Our driver Kieran recommends the ‘chocky road’ French toast, complete with chocolate ganache and marshmallows. Other options include the local favourite Golborne Deli (100 Golborne Road, W10 5PS) and the refined healthy menu at Granger & Co (175 Westbourne Grove, W11 2SB).

    Colourful Houses in Notting Hill
    The colourful houses on Portobello Road make a pretty backdrop to the bustle of Portobello Markets.

    After breakfast, it’s time to take a turn through the famous Portobello Markets. There’s something to see (and buy) here every day, but the best day to visit is Saturday, when Portobello Road is closed off and all the street stalls are set up. Best known for antiques and collectibles, Portobello is actually several markets rolled into one – you’ll find everything here from fresh produce and artisanal food to curated vintage clothing, furniture and collectibles. If you need a bit of retail therapy, our engineer Liam says that a vintage band t-shirt is the perfect souvenir to take home – you can find these at Fifteen Minutes (253 Portobello Road, W11 1LR). It’s also a good idea to pick up a few snacks here to enjoy later, and there’s plenty available from the stalls along Portobello and Golborne Roads to build a perfect picnic.

    Following your wanderings through Portobello, head to Hyde Park. This 350-acre green space is London’s largest park, nestled right between upmarket Mayfair, Kensington and Knightsbridge. Established by Henry VIII in 1536 as a hunting ground, the park then proved popular with duellers in the 18th century. 1851’s Great Exhibition saw the famous Crystral Palace temporarily erected just south of the lake, and the park has continued to make history since. Here the suffragettes delivered their first fiery speeches, the Rolling Stones rocked out by the lake, the UK’s first Pride march began, and Nelson Mandela celebrated his 90th birthday. It’s ‘The People’s Park’, and it's packed with features, including its own lake (the Serpentine), its own gallery (also called the Serpentine), monuments, nature trails, tennis courts and sports lawns, swimming lidos, boat hire and plenty of wildlife. The park hosts a good share of epic seasonal events as well, like the British Summer Time concert series in June and July, and Winter Wonderland from November to January. To the west, the park becomes Kensington Gardens, home to Kensington Palace, the official residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales. The Palace is open to visitors, with excellent temporary exhibitions and tours of Queen Victoria’s childhood rooms and some state apartments available.

    Big Bus Top Tip: Either Hyde Park or Kensington Gardens is the perfect place to settle down with a picnic after your walk. Our customer service representative Amina says her best Hyde Park picnic spot is just north of the lake, near the Boat Hire kiosk. This spot has the advantage of shade from the trees, great people watching along the Serpentine Road, proximity to the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen restaurant, and to the toilets.

    A swan on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London
    A swan on Hyde Park's Serpentine. By prerogative right, the British Crown owns all unmarked mute swans.

    Day 3: Afternoon

    After you’ve finished your picnic, walk east along Serpentine Road, exiting the park by our Hyde Park Corner bus stop. Hop back on the bus here, and travel west into elegant Kensington, passing the world-famous luxury department store Harrods. Feel free to hop off the bus at Harrods if you’re in need of some retail therapy. Otherwise, stay on board just a little longer for our South Kensington Museums stop, which puts you right in the midst of museum heaven – hop off here and you’ll have your pick of three world-class museums: The Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum.

    Big Bus Top Tip: All three museums are free to visit, excluding some temporary exhibitions. Allow yourself at least 2 hours to explore the museum of your choice, and take a guided highlights tour for additional context. It’s achievable to see all three in one afternoon, but if you choose to partake in a museum marathon you’ll need to be targeted about which exhibits you plan to see, and eat a good lunch!

    The Natural History Museum, Kensington, London
    London's Natural History Museum was envisioned as a 'cathedral to nature'. Its Romanesque design includes gorgeous interior and exterior terracotta relief sculpture.

    The Natural History Museum is housed in the most impressive building, with its Romanesque front façade best viewed from outside the main entrance on Cromwell Road. While the building’s exterior and interior alone are worth the visit, the Natural History Museum’s galleries examining the natural world are equally fascinating. Highlights include the Dinosaur Gallery, earthquake simulator and Hintze Hall – home to incredible mega-exhibits like Hope, the blue whale skeleton, and Dippy, the replica diplodocus skeleton.

    The Science Museum is located just behind the Natural History Museum, with collections housed across two buildings – the Main Building and the Wellcome Wing. Highlights in the main building include steam engines, space rockets (Level 0), the Flight Gallery (Level 3) and the Linbury Gallery (Level 2), which explores the development of the sciences in London from 1550 to 1800. The Wellcome Wing contains one of the world’s biggest medical collections, with over 3,000 items tracing the evolution of medicine over 500 years.

    The Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum showcases creative expression. While it isn’t exactly an art gallery, its six departments focus on art and design, with themes including Asia, furniture, textiles, fashion, sculpture, metalwork, ceramics, glass, theatre and performance. This sophisticated museum preserves over 6 million treasures, including some of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks, the enormous Iranian Ardabil Carpet, the Japanese Mazarin Chest, and the Cast Courts - reproductions of some of the world’s most famous sculptures. The V&A’s grand entrance, ceramic staircase and Rotunda chandelier are well worth a look, and you can enjoy a peaceful moment in the courtyard’s John Madejski Garden.

    Day 3: Evening

    After uncovering some of the world’s treasures, hop back on the bus at our South Kensington Museums stop, staying on board until our Regent Street stop. Hop off here to conclude your 3-day London itinerary with an evening in Soho. Covering just over a square mile, this bustling central neighbourhood feels like an entire world, with endless restaurants, bars, clubs, boutiques and local characters. For dinner, you’re perfectly situated. Soho is the epicentre of London’s incredible culinary scene, with something to cater for every whim and wallet. Any cuisine imaginable is on offer in Soho, from elegant Michelin-starred fine dining to hole-in-the-wall kitchens specialising in just one or two dishes.

    Big Bus Top Tip: Our Dispatch Operator Julian recommends Bao (53 Lexington Street, Soho, W1F 9AS) for fluffy white Taiwanese steamed buns. Content Manager Ellen suggests Kricket (12 Denman Street, W1D 7HH) for zingy Bhel Puri and Keralan fried chicken. And for a top-notch night out, head to the famous Brasserie Zédel (20 Sherwood Street, W1F 7ED). This iconic London bar and restaurant is a must-visit for your last night in Soho. Both elegant and welcoming, it’s spectacularly decorated in the Art Deco style, and has an inspired menu of classic french dishes and beautifully mixed cocktails.

    If you’re not yet exhausted after three days in London, it’s time to head to the club, and Soho has you covered. For laid-back listening, go to Below Stone Nest (136 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 5EZ). Blues lovers should try St Moritz (159 Wardour St, W1F 8W) or Ain't Nothin But... (20 Kingly Street, W1B 5PZ). For jazz, head to Ronnie Scott’s (47 Frith Street, London W1D 4HT), Trisha’s (57 Greek St, W1D 3DX) or The Piano Bar (16 Carlisle Street, W1D 3BT). For cabaret, try The Windmill (17-19 Great Windmill St, W1D 7JZ) or stay on at Zedel’s and shift into CrazyCoqs (20 Sherwood St, W1B 5AP). Unmissable gay clubs include Village (81 Wardour St, W1D 6QD) and Freedom Bar (60–66 Wardour St, W1F 0TA). And if you just want to stay out and dance until the sun comes up, go to Thirst Bar (53 Greek St, W1D 3DR), Orange Yard (Mannette St, W1D 4JB) or The Piano Works (47 Whitcomb St, WC2H 7DH).

    Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho, London
    Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club at 47 Frith Street. This bucket-list club has been open since 1962, but book in advance if you'd like to catch a show here.

    Bonus things to do in London

    If you find yourself tempted to stay on after three days in London, we have plenty of recommendations. If you want to get off the beaten track with museums there’s plenty of oddly specific treasure troves to explore. Our top picks include Sir John Soane’s Museum (13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, WC2A 3BP), the London Transport Museum (WC2E 7BB) or the Museum of the Home (136 Kingsland Rd, London E2 8EA). Conflict history buffs should head south of the river to check out the Imperial War Museum (Lambeth Rd, London SE1 6HZ) or the Churchill War Rooms (King Charles St, London SW1A 2AQ). If there’s a lot of empty space in your suitcase, head to Carnaby Street in Soho. Take the time to explore Liberty London department store (Regent St, W1B 5AH) and then proceed up to shopping mecca on Oxford Street. And if you’re looking to chart some new territory, head to East London to explore Brick Lane, Spitalfields and Shoreditch. If you’re in London on a Saturday, Hackney’s Broadway Market (E8 4QJ) is a favourite for artisan food products, crafts, vintage and collectibles, and for Sunday visitors the nearby Columbia Road Flower Market (E2 7RG) is a bustle of botanical colour and energy. Hikers should explore the Regent’s Canal Towpath, a peaceful waterway which passes the back gardens of London’s fanciest neighbourhoods and landmarks like Regent’s Park, London Zoo, Camden Market, King’s Cross and Victoria Park.

    The Imperial War Museum in London
    The Imperial War Museum is just south of the river, a 10-minute walk from our stop at Lambeth Palace..

    London travel tips and best time to visit

    We may be biased, but the absolute best way to get your bearings in London is on our hop-on, hop-off London bus tour. With a variety of tickets available, choose one with a validity of at least 2 days, combined with entry to a landmark like The London Eye or The Tower of London. On your first day in London, why not hop on the bus for an entire loop to get your London orientation and hear the inside scoop from our audio guide. On your second and third days, take advantage of the free hop-on, hop-off benefit to travel between our recommended activities. Our buses arrive regularly, and we even have a free app showing you the location of buses along our routes!

    If you’re sightseeing after dark, join our brilliant London Night Tour. For getting around London after dark, we recommend using the free CityMapper app to help you plot your journey from A to B – this app gives you clear directions, with an abundance of neatly mapped and priced options including walking, cycle rental, tube, train, ferry and taxi travel. Virtually all travel options easily accommodate payment with your debit or credit card.

    That’s a Wrap

    London is absolutely brimming with history, culture, and endless possibilities. Although three days may seem short, this itinerary for London will help you make the most of your visit, ensuring that you experience the essence of this vibrant capital. From iconic landmarks and world-class museums to beautiful parks and bustling markets, each day will be one to remember, even if your feet do feel a bit sore by the end! And for that, don’t forget that the best way to travel in London for 3 days is on our hop-on, hop-off bus tour – as demonstrated above, our friendly staff are London experts, and can’t wait to show you around their brilliant city!