If you’ve only got three days in the Big Smoke, you’ll need to plan your London itinerary well. You wouldn’t want to miss out on any top sights after all. Or the opportunity to find local hidden gems, try the best of British fare and perhaps even catch a West End show.
The good news is, we’ve done the planning for you. Our 72-hour itinerary ticks off the city’s best bits. Your London sightseeing experience will include a full introduction to the world-famous attractions as well as a visit to those little local gems too.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get started…
Whistle Stop Tour
The best thing you can do on any city break is to get acquainted with the city’s top sights right away. Get your bearings as soon as you arrive with a whistle-stop tour and make a note of the attractions you might want to get a closer look at later.
Who can blame you for wanting to get stuck in and start exploring as soon as you arrive?
You’ll find London’s most famous attractions close to one another, so you won’t have to walk far or spend hours on the tube to see them all. The main ones to tick off are Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Get organised and buy your tickets now.
If you fancy a relaxed first day, take a guided bus tour of all of these major sights. Sit back and enjoy being ferried from one attraction to another with live commentary from your dedicated guide. They’ll give you a brief history of the city, plus loads of fun facts and tips on places to visit to help you plan the rest of your trip. It’s the perfect way to start your holiday.
To see London’s best bits: London Bus Tours - Red Route
After you’ve done some intense sightseeing, it’s time for a fun activity. Why not visit Madame Tussauds to rub shoulders with the celebs and mingle with (wax) royalty? Or, head to the London Dungeons to get a fun and immersive history lesson, complete with macabre re-enactments and special effects. This place lines up no less than 19 live shows and 2 thrilling rides to keep you thoroughly entertained.
For Madame Tussauds:
Blue Tour Route, Stop: Baker Street
Madame Tussauds Tickets
For London Dungeons:
Red Tour Route, Stop – London Eye
For London Dungeon Tickets
Round off a successful first day in London by taking a moment to appreciate sweeping views of the city from up high. Take a trip on the London Eye – Europe's tallest Ferris wheel – just before sunset and enjoy amazing views of the entire city. Or, head up to London’s tallest building, the Shard, for gorgeous sunset snaps and equally impressive views. You can even get a sky-high dining experience complete with views of London at the Duck & Waffle restaurant which is open 24 hours a day.
Red Tour Route, Stop: London Eye
London Eye Tickets
History and Culture
Day 2 of your London itinerary should be all about delving deeper into the history and culture of the city, and getting a closer look at the attractions you saw on your whistle-stop tour. Of course, you can tailor the day to whatever takes your fancy.
If you’re keen to catch a West End show, head to Leicester Square early (at around 9am) to grab tickets for your chosen production. There are plenty of booths where you can nab discounted tickets, with the official one being TKTS London, open 7 days a week.
Afterwards, make your way over to Buckingham Palace for 10.45 to watch the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony. Walk there from Leicester Square and you’ll pass through Trafalgar Square and the stunning St James’ Park on your way.
Blue Tour Route, Stop: Buckingham Palace
From Buckingham Palace, it’s easy to travel down to South Kensington and visit the museums. The Natural History Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Science Museum are all right next to each other, so you can explore them all in one go. Or, head back up to Russell Square to see the mummies at The British Museum.
If you’d prefer to get up close and personal to some historic sights, head east to explore the oldest part of London. You can take a tour of the Tower of London to learn all about the historic fortress and see the crown jewels (spend around 3 hours and make the most of the experience). Tower Bridge is right next door, so you can tick this one off your list as well. Either walk across while taking a few snaps or do the Tower Bridge Exhibition and going right inside it. There’s also the Monument to the Great Fire of London nearby and you can climb its 311 steps right to the top.
Your trip to London wouldn’t be complete without a pint and a pie at a good old British pub, and there are plenty of historical ones to choose from. If you’re in the London Bridge area, head to The George Inn which was once Shakespeare’s and Charles Dickens’ hangout of choice.
If you’ve booked a West End show, head back to the Covent Garden area before the performance. Wander around the cobbled back streets enjoying the shows from street entertainers, and duck into a pub for a bite to eat. There’s The Lamb & Flag which is one of the oldest pubs in the city and a favourite of Charles Dickens. Or, the Marquess of Anglesey which offers a selection of pies for you to sample and their signature fish and chips.
Alternative Districts and Foodie Experiences
Use this day to tick off any sights you didn’t manage to see earlier in the trip. And, if you’ve got time, explore some alternative districts and little known gems. There’s so much more to London than the usual sights if you venture further out from the city centre.
Missed the Tower of London or Madame Tussauds? Head there first thing to avoid the queues, and enjoy a more relaxed visit. If you’re a pop culture fan, don’t miss the chance to take a photo by Harry Potter’s Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross station before the crowds arrive. Or, head up north to Abbey Road to take the famous Beatles zebra crossing photo before the traffic builds up.
Green Link Route, Stop: Kings Cross
Fancy a very British experience in the city? Book afternoon tea at one of the many London venues and feel like a Queen with three tiers of cakes and treats - check out our guide to places we recommend you take tea darlin'. There are so many to choose from, including Disney-themed offerings, ultra posh afternoon teas and ‘gentleman’s’ versions too with whisky and cigars. If you’re not so much of a tea fan, dine at one of London’s famous restaurants instead- we have a guide for that too. You’ll find the lunch options are usually more budget friendly, and the restaurants are quieter, so it’s the best time to go.
Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring some alternative districts. You’ve got Camden in the north which is famous for its alternative scene, markets and music, and Shoreditch in the east which is London’s artsy and trendy area.
If you love green spaces, head north to Hampstead Heath where you’ll get gorgeous views of the city from the sprawling park. Or explore Little Venice near Warwick Avenue, London’s very own slice of Italy complete with winding canals and colourful boats.
Round off your day with some souvenir shopping before you head home. Oxford Street and Regent Street are the main shopping districts and close to all the other main attractions. Both stay open until 8pm and even later on Thursdays. You’ve also got the huge Westfield shopping centres and Harrods in Knightsbridge if you fancy more of a splurge.
Blue Tour Route, Stop: Oxford Street
Ready to start exploring London? There are so many sides to this iconic and diverse city, but this itinerary takes you to all of the famous spots. Browse our London tours in full to get even more inspiration for your trip.