What to do for 1, 2, 3 and 4 days in London?
To visit London , England is to discover a great economic and cultural capital of Europe ! Vibrant, lively, modern, cosmopolitan … The qualifiers are not lacking to describe this huge and beautiful city , where there are so many places of interest.
Buckingham Palace, Soho, the Tower of London, do not miss any of the most beautiful places in London thanks to our Top 20 things to do and see during your trip to the English capital.
To help you organize your stay , you will also find our suggested itineraries to visit London in 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 days and even to visit London in a week. As always at the end of the article, I also prepared the selection of the best accommodations to know where to stay in London.
So, what to do in London?
Visit London: the essentials
1. Assist the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
If I were to name one iconic tourist attraction in London , it would surely be this: the changing of the Royal Guard in front of the Queen of England’s Palace.
This is an opportunity to see an amazing show and immerse yourself in the world of the English monarchy. Join the crowd that is rushing to admire the dozens of Royal Guards in red suits and bear-hair headdresses that march to the beat of the band, some on foot, others on horseback, starting from the Wellington barracks ( about 500 meters from the palace) to the inside of the castle courtyard.
The changing of the guard takes place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 11am. This 40-minute ceremony attracts thousands of tourists every day, especially in summer. If you would like to discover the history of the next generation and attend the guards’ inspection with a guide, I recommend booking your activity right here.
The changing of the guard is canceled in case of bad weather read it here.(No, I will not joke about the bad weather in London! :-P) Fortunately, a calendar is made available on the Internet to check if the succession takes place. You can
2. Walk around Hyde Park
Hyde Park is the largest green space in the city . Like Central Park in New York or Mount Royal Park in Montreal , Canada , it is one of the most beautiful city parks in the world.
A walk in Hyde Park is a must during a stay in London . It is also the ideal place for a picnic in summer, or lunch on the terrace at the water’s edge.
At the end of the year you will also find a large Christmas market in Hyde Park. And if you’re visiting London with your family , your kids will enjoy the Winter Wonderland fun fair and the biggest ice rink in the UK.
In summer, many concerts and festivals are organized within the park.
Small curiosity: Do not miss the “Speaker’s Corner” (the “Speakers Corner”) to the northeast corner of the park where do speak every Sunday, anonymous people who wish to pass messages to passersby , not without a touch of humor.
3. Party in the Soho neighborhood
We continue this tourist guide of London by the district of Soho.
Soho is one of the smallest areas of London , but it’s also the liveliest .
The hub of London’s nightlife , Soho is home to the hottest pubs, theaters, restaurants, cinemas and discos. Soho is also part of the tourist center of London, with many places of interest like Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, China Town and Oxford Street.
There is always a crowd at night and if you want to party in London and ask where to go out , you will understand that this is the perfect place!
4. Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is the unmissable crossroads of the city, and the emblem of modern and commercial London . It is impossible not to have in mind the image of this lively place with huge advertising screensthat broadcast advertisements 24/24 and 7/7.
It’s a bit of London Times Square , a smaller version.
This square connects the Soho neighborhood with the most commercial streets of Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue and Covent Street among others.
At its center, the angel atop the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain seems to be watching the scene.
To see absolutely in London , in continuation of a stroll in Soho, preferably in the evening to appreciate the contrast of the lights.
5. Covent Garden
Among the things to see in London, I recommend you to go to Covent Garden.
The London market halls were once established in Covent Garden but, having become too small, they moved in the year 1970.
Covent Garden has fortunately kept its pretty glass roof that is all the charm of the place, and under which are now installed many shops, workshops, restaurants, and even a museum: the London Transport Museum.
It is a nice neighborhood with shopping streets and lots of entertainment and street performances. On Saturday morning, you can discover the craft market (very very tourist!).
6. Go shopping on Oxford Street
Oxford Street is a bit like the Champs Elysees in London.
If you want to shop at affordable prices in London , this is the place to go. Of hundreds of boutiquesfashion, decorative and others are linked over 2.5 kilometers long. There are the most famous English channels (Mark & Spencer, Primark, TopShop, River Island, Lush, The Body Shop …).
Ideal for window shopping and having fun for a little afternoon.
7. Visit the National Gallery Museum
This museum dedicated to art exhibits one of the largest collections of works of art in Western Europe . You can admire more than 2300 paintings, which date from the 13th to the 20th century. This is where the famous Van Gogh Sunflowers are on display !
Founded in 1824, the National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square, this famous square guarded by four large black lions. It is one of the most beautiful museums in London and is perfect for a cultural tourism break in the middle of your stay.
Like all national museums in London, the National Gallery is free all year round. A free activity to do in London, go for it!
The museum is open every day from 10am to 6pm, and even until 9pm on Fridays.
To find out more, it’s on the official website .
8. Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster
If you want to see one of London’s iconic landmarks, head to Big Ben ! Surely the most famous image of London and one of the strongest symbols of the city and all England : the reputation of Big Ben is well established.
Built in 1858, this huge clock tower (the Clock Tower) is an integral part of the Palace of Westminster , also known as the Houses of Parliament. The Clock Tower is 106 meters high and is adorned at the top with 4 huge clocks 7 meters in diameter, each installed on each side.
Big Ben and the beautiful Westminster Palace are of course must-sees during a trip to London. On the other hand, you can admire them only from the outside since only the British are allowed to visit the interior of the Clock Tower. And even they are obliged to make the request months in advance!
A short walk from Big Ben, you can visit Westminster Abbey, the coronation place of kings and queens of England. Remember to book your tickets in advance here.
To organize your visit you can also consult the official website.
9. The London Eye
The London Eye is the largest wheel in Europe, each capsule accommodating up to 25 people.
It is located on the banks of the Thames , close to Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster. You must reserve your place in advance but the panoramic view of all London that has from the summit to 130 meters is well worth it!
The wheel rotates very slowly and a complete turn lasts 30 minutes. This is an original way to discover London from above , which will amaze young and old alike.
10. The Tower Bridge
Le Tower Bridge est reconnaissable de loin grâce à ses deux immenses tours de style gothique et ses armatures couleur bleu ciel.
Encore un monument symbolique de Londres, ce pont bâti au-dessus de la Tamise à la fin du 19 ème siècle était, à l’époque, le pont à bascule le plus sophistiqué du monde. Il permet aujourd’hui à des milliers de conducteurs et de piétons de traverser chaque jour de la rive nord à la rive sud. Si vous êtes là au bon moment, vous pourrez même le voir s’ouvrir en deux pour laisser passer les gros bateaux.
Tower Bridge admires from the banks of the Thames below . At night, it is even more spectacular with all its twinkling lights. You can of course cross it on foot and the most curious will go to visit the old machine room inside the towers.
Take a look at the old hydraulic system that was used to lift the bridge until 1976. On each of the upper decks, you can also walk on a glass walkway to feel like flying over the Thames.
Tickets for Tower Bridge can be purchased by clicking here.
11. The Tower of London
Near Tower Bridge, the Tower of London stands on the North Bank of the Thames.
The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site . The foundations of this fortress date back to 1066 and served as both royal residence, prison and place of execution.
Today it is a museum of medieval history, which houses the Jewel of the Crown. The aesthetic exteriors of the Tower are also worth a look.
This is a family activity in London that will definitely please children.
Remember to book your tickets in advance right because there is a crowd, especially in summer.
12. Take a walk on the banks of the Thames
Weather permitting, it is particularly pleasant to walk along the banks of the Thames.
Several tours are possible, but I recommend the walk from the old docks of Southwark to Butler’s Wharf . You will come across a succession of iconic landmarks such as the London Eye, the Tate Modern Museum, the Globe Theater and the Millennium Bridge.
Your steps will guide you to the Tower of London to finally reach Tower Bridge .
It is an ideal walk to visit London during a romantic afternoon or with family.
And if you want to take a cruise on the Thames and discover most of London’s sights by boat, I recommend booking this tour. On the same principle as hop on / hop off buses, you can hop on and off the boat as many times as you like. In addition the tickets are valid for 24h which is super convenient.
13. The Notting Hill neighborhood
Among the areas to see in London, go through that of Notting Hill.
Notting Hill is one of the upscale neighborhoods of London. It looks like a small, peaceful village with its elegant pastel colored mansions .
Made famous by the movie “Love at Notting Hill”, you’re following in the footsteps of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Fans will not fail to go locate the shooting locations of the film.
In Notting Hill, do not miss the Portobello Road Flea Market which is open every morning. This is an opportunity to hunt among the many antiques , second-hand clothes and other unusual objects offered on the stands. You can also eat a lot of culinary specialties.
Notting Hill is also known for its annual carnival that takes place on the last weekend of August . This parade more than 5 kilometers to the sounds of Caribbean music is a show to live with family or friends if you have the chance to be there at the right time.
14. Take a trip to Camden Town Market
If you do not know what to do in London, I suggest you go to Camdem Town.
North of London, Camden Town is London’s trendy and atypical district , the home of punk, gothic and anti-globalization.
All along the main street are linked quirky clothes shops, piercing parlors and tattoo , thrift stores … The facades of the shops are all decorated in a very original way with giant shoes, frescoes and other figures shapes and psychedelic colors. This is where we really discover British eccentricity in all its splendor.
It is a very lively area, thanks to its market open every day from 10am to 18pm: the Camden Lock Market. It’s still a must-see flea market for a first time in London. There are more crazy stands than others. This is an opportunity to find treasures, but also to stroll along the Regent’s Canal , taste the street food of the world, listen to live music and have a great time.
15. Regent’s Park
Located in North London, Regent’s Park is one of the 8 lungs of the city.
This 166-hectare park is the most ornate of the city, and certainly one of the most beautiful. Formerly named Marylebone Park, it was a hunting estate that belonged to the royal family. In 1811, George IV asked architect Josh Nash to build the park and build sumptuous properties, including a palace.
The project did not succeed because of lack of resources and the park became public in 1930. However, Nash was able to build the beautiful neoclassical houses that you will see all around the park.
Regent’s Park is the perfect place in London for jogging, enjoying a picnic with friends or family or just for a walk in the green.
The lake of the park allows you to go for pedal boat or boat rides.
There are also playgrounds for children, sports courts, cafes and restaurants.
Not to be missed in summer: the beautiful rose garden in Queen’s Mary Gardens.
16. The Tate Britain and Tate Modern Museums
London is truly the city of museums. Here are two more must-haves and … free!
The Tate Britain Museum is located on the banks of the Thames River south of the Westminster District. It is dedicated to the five centuries of British art and honors many iconic artists such as Turner, Hogarth, Francis Bacon, William Blake and more … You can admire a very rich collection of paintings, photographs and sculptures dating from the sixteenth century to the present day.
While Tate Britain focuses on 100% British art, the Tate Modern Museum is more devoted to modern art in general. It is located on the south bank of the Thames in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Plan your visit through the official website.
17. The Chelsea neighborhood
Where to go in London if you are a luxury lover? In Chelsea!
The upscale neighborhood of central London , Chelsea is known for its luxury shops, countless designer boutiques lined up along King’s Road, Duck of York Square , bars, restaurants, restaurants and shopping.Saatchi Gallery …
But what visitors do not always know is that Chelsea also has a different face to offer the discerning tourist: pretty little quiet streets punctuated with pretty and colorful houses.
Do not miss out on Burnsall Street, Godfrey Street or Bywater Street, a pretty stalemate bordered by pretty terraced houses with facades of all colors. It is also a popular street that attracts filming and photo shoots for fashion and cinema.
18. The British Museum
Another must-see museum in London and one of the most visited sites in all of Britain: the famous British Museum , which traces the history and culture of mankind.
Opened to the public in 1759, it first exhibited the collections of Dr. Hans Sloane then gradually enriched, until today present more than 7 million objects from around the world.
The lovers of archeology will be served because the British Museum is especially many remains, mummiesand mythical pieces like the Rosetta Stone.
Apart from the collections on display, the building that houses the museum is itself a masterpiece of architecture , including the entrance, called The Great Court , with its central rotunda and glass and steel roof.
The museum is free for all and open every day from 10h to 17h30. Other practical information on the official website.
19. Attend a musical
Impossible to go to London without experiencing the magic of a musical in one of the theaters of Soho.
This is the exit to do when you come for the first time in the English capital, a pure moment of wonder. London is famous for its excellent “musicals” which you have a wide choice all year long.
From mythical musicals to more intimate in small establishments, do not miss to devote an evening.
To attend the famous musical “Les Miserables” at Queen’s Theater in London, be sure to buy your tickets in advance here.
And if you prefer the no less famous “Phantom of the Opera”, it’s also here!
20. Madame Tussauds
One of the most famous and most visited museums in London, Madame Tussauds. It’s the British Grevin museum, bigger and more spectacular.
The game consists of being photographed on the arms of the latest singers or actors in fashion , the royal family in full, English rulers, or great artists like Picasso, Oscar Wilde or the Beatles … The wax statues are Realistic, guaranteed effect!
As the museum is obviously one of the must-see places in London, I strongly recommend that you buy your tickets in advance.
Madame Tussauds is located on Baker Street and is open every day from 9:30 to 17:30. Count 3h of visit.
21. Do the pub tour (BONUS for stays with friends!)
How to spend a successful stay in London with friends without indulging in a “pub crawl” in the streets of London?
This term refers to a walk to pub publicity with friends , where everyone pays his tour in turn. It’s a fun way to discover historic establishments , typically British taverns and trendy nightclubs.
More and more providers are also offering crawling pub crawls to the tourists, with a guide who takes his clients to discover the best pubs and clubs in the city or neighborhood. Book your London bar tour directly here or here.
Other places of interest to visit in London
There is so much to do in London that I had to sort this TOP 20.
To complete it all, here is a list of some other places and activities not to be missed in the English capital:
- Hampstead Village
- The meridian of Greenwich
- National Maritime Museum
- Take a red-decker bus ride (2-level bus)
- Natural History Museum
- Westminster Abbey: book your visit in advance.
- Borough Market
- Victoria and Albert Museum
- Saint Paul Cathedral: ticket cut here.
- The Shard
- London Bridge
- Shakespeare Globe’s Theater
- Millenium Bridge
- Trafalgar Square
What to do around London?
Harry Potter Studios
Located a few kilometers outside the capital, it is in these studios that were mainly shot the 8 parts of the saga. The Harry Potter studios have now become a true museum exposing the entire collection of sets, costumes, and artifacts found in the movies.
I recommend that you book this tour in advance here. Transfers from London are included, which is really convenient. It’s really a visit to do around London!
Stratford-Upon-Avon is Shakespeare’s hometown of London, just an hour’s drive away. This charming, medieval-style country town is home to sublime English cottages as in the movies, endless fields, half-timbered houses …
You can admire the house where Shakespeare was born, as well as the cottage where he lived before going on a career in London. You can book a day trip here
Oxford, a famous university town, is close to London, just an hour away by train. It is easy to visit on foot in one day. Its sublime architecture, its many remarkable monuments, including the Christ Church Cathedral and of course the internationally renowned castle-like university leave no one indifferent.
Another very nice little town located west of London, Windsor is only 45 minutes by train from the capital. The main attraction in Windsor is the castle that can be visited and is also the second home of the royal family.
A 45-minute train ride from Kingscross Station, Cambridge is one of the most beautiful cities to see around London. With its Gothic architecture and world-renowned university, it can be reminiscent of Oxford but is much larger.
This beautiful coastal town is less than an hour away by train from Victoria Station or Clapham Junction. There is particular Brighton a beautiful pebble beach, pretty cobbled streets full of restaurants by the sea.
London neighborhoods to visit
To help you find your way around London, here is the list of different neighborhoods and what characterizes them.
London’s iconic neighborhood, it embodies the heart of UK history and politics. To see in the district of Westminster:
- The Palace of Westminster
- Big Ben
- Westminster Abbey
- The London Eye
- Buckingham Palace
- Hyde Park
- Saint James Park
- Green Park
- The Tate Britain Museum
- Trafalguar Square
- The National Gallery
The business district and the geographical center of London. Do not miss it in the City district:
- Tower Bridge
- The tower of London
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
- The pickle-shaped skyscraper(or suppository, you choose :-P) nicknamed “The Gherkin”
Soho / Covent Garden
The festive and touristic district of London, where you have to go out at night. To do in Soho:
- Piccadilly Circus
- Oxford Street
- Covent Garden Market
- London Transport Museum
- China Town
The trendy and unusual district of London, the realm of street art and alternative cultures. To see the Camden Lock Market.
The sunny district of South London where live the Caribbean, African and Jamaican communities. What to see there:
- The Brixton Academy to attend a jazz concert
- The Brixton Village Indoor Market
Chelsea / Kensington
London’s beautiful neighborhoods, whose streets are lined by beautiful, pristine white Victorian houses, chic boutiques and pretty green spaces. Things to See in Chelsea and Kensington:
- Holland Park
- The botanical garden of Chelsea Physic Garden
- The Science Museum
- The Natural History Museum
- The Victoria and Albert Museum
- Kensington Palace
The chic and bohemian London district with its pastel-colored facades, made famous by the movie “Love at first sight in Notting Hill”. You can go for a walk:
- At the flea market and antiquities of Portobello Road
- At the Notting Hill Carnival which takes place every year in August
- In the streets with colorful houses: Hillgate Place, Callcott Street, Colville Terrace, Lancaster Road, Westbourne Grove
Small, outlying area of London with remarkable architecture, Victorian and Georgian monuments, large parkland and a lovely riverside promenade. The best way to get there is to take the boat. The main things to see in Greenwich:
- The Cutty Sark, huge sailboat built in 1869. One of the most robust and fast of the time, it is now converted into a museum.
- The Greenwich meridian at the Royal Observatory
- The National Maritime Museum
- The Greenwich Market
- The magnificent view of London from the Observatory
Luxury residential and shopping district of London with large mansions, grand hotels, luxury boutiques, priceless fashion stores.
Visit London with your family
London is an ideal destination for a family holiday.
Here are ideas of things to do to visit London with children:
- Walks in Hyde Park, Regent’s Park or Saint James Park, to do in the summer. Picnic on the lawn, walk and meet with the gray squirrels will surely please your children.
- Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster , then the Buckingham Palace are of course London family’s must-see places and the circuit between these 3 monuments is easily on foot.
- The walk on the banks of the Thames is also very nice to do with the family.
- Spend at least one night in Soho to see the giant screens of Piccadilly Circus, family dinner in the restaurant before going, if the budget allows, to attend a family musical.
How many days to visit London?
London is a huge city that can not be visited at one time, unless you spend several weeks there.
By spending a few days, you will have time to see the most emblematic places but know that even in a week you will still be far from knowing London at your fingertips.
I propose below some ideas of itineraries to visit London in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 days and even 1 week. Of course, these itineraries are to adapt according to your tastes , your desires but also according to the season. In winter or when it rains (which is common in London, I do not hide it), you will spend more time in museums than in parks.
Visit London in 1 day
A day in London is not enough, but it’s enough to see the main places of interest in the city. You will have to go to the essentials and stay in the center where the most emblematic monuments are concentrated.
In the program of this day I propose you:
- A walk to Westminster Palace and Big Ben
- To attend the changing of the guard at 11 am in front of the Buckingham Palace
- Picnic and relax in Hyde Park
- To spend an hour or two in the National Gallery
- To go to Covent Garden for its street entertainment and its market
- Dinner in a typical tavern and spend a lively evening in the Soho district
Visit London in a weekend
If you have decided to spend 2 days in London , you can resume the previous program and add:
- A morning in Camden Town to discover the market and taste the culinary specialties from around the world
- A trip to Piccadilly Circus and a little shopping on Oxford Street
- A cup of tea in a typical London tea room
- A cruise on the Thames to relax and join the Tower Bridge (taking a ferry to Embankment)
- An evening on the banks of the Thames
Visit London in 3 days
You have the chance to stay 3 days in London? Keep the program of a weekend and add these visits for the following day:
- Spend the morning in Notting Hill to hunt at the Portobello Road Market and stroll the streets
- Return to the center for a ride in the London Eye and see the city from above
- Visit Tate Britain and / or Tate Modern (connected by a river shuttle)
- At tea time, take a dip in Regent’s Park to enjoy a snack on the terrace and relax
- Spend another night in Soho to enjoy one last time the festive atmosphere of the streets, restaurants, and trendiest clubs and why not indulge in a pub crawl!
Visit London in 4 days
In four days in London , you can begin to take your time to soak up the “so British” atmosphere and the beauty of the city.
Take again the essential visits to make in 3 days and add these some ideas to shape you an itinerary:
- If you like mummies and hieroglyphs, spend a few hours in the very rich British Museum
- Beatles fans are sure to visit Abbey Road and its legendary pedestrian crossing
- Take a walk in Saint James Park to enjoy the bucolic atmosphere and rub shoulders with gray squirrels
- Dinner at a restaurant in China Town
Visit London in 5 days
How lucky to be able to spend five whole days in London!
You can resume the visits proposed for 4 days and add the following ones:
- Discovery of the Chelsea district, London artists
- Tour of the Tower of London to see, among other things, the Jewels of the crown
- Getaway to Greenwich for a change of atmosphere and a stroll in the beautiful park
- Visit the magnificent Maritime Museum, then a small souvenir photo a foot on each side of the Greenwich meridian
Visit London in 1 week
A week in London is yours, you will succeed to see all the must-see places of our Top 20!
The idea is to take back the program proposed for 5 days , to model it with your sauce (and depending on the weather too, because the English parks is great in the spring but in the cold and under the rain, it’s immediately less fun) and to enrich it with these latest ideas of visits:
- Walk in the City to discover London’s business district
- Visit Madame Tussauds museum and its ultra realistic wax statues
- Visit of the magnificent Natural History Museum
- Shopping at Harrods, a prestigious shopping center in the heart of the city
- Walk in Hampstead Village
- Night walk in the Caribbean atmosphere of the Brixton district before attending a jazz concert
Where to sleep in London
Very large tourist city requires, the rates charged by hotels in central London are quite high. I can only recommend that you take it in advance to get the best rates. Do you know your dates of travel? Book your night now!
- The Chamberlain: Located near Tower Bridge, Tower of London and the banks of the Thames. This British style hotel offers cozy and comfortable double rooms from 120 € per night, breakfast at 12 €. Most: a smartphone available, excellent location, friendly staff and comfort of bedding. This is our favorite for its benefit / price ratio!
- Hotel Indigo London – Kensington: This hotel is located in the Kensington and Chelsea area, just steps from a metro station. Double room well equipped, quiet and warm from 200 €, breakfast 19 €. Most: quiet neighborhood, cozy atmosphere, smiling and efficient staff.
- Haymarket Hotel, Firmdale Hotels: A 5 * hotel located in London’s theater district, a short walk from St James Park and 15 minutes from Buckingham Palace. Super comfortable double room, very spacious and quiet from 390 € per night, breakfast 20 €. Most: the perfect location, the charming staff and speaking French, excellent bedding. To privilege for a romantic stay in London.
- The Soho Hotel is a luxury hotel located in the heart of London, 5 minutes from Oxford Street or Soho and only 10 minutes from Piccadilly Circus. Ultra spacious double room, design and beautifully decorated from 500 € per night, breakfast 29 €. Most: perfect location, beautiful rooms, sumptuous breakfast. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in London!
For those who prefer cheap hotels in London, I recommend the chain of “Z Hotel”. There are many different areas of London and the rates start at 60 € per night. This is the right place to stay in London.
- The Z Hotel Shoreditch
- The Z Hotel Gloucester Place
- The Z Hotel City
- The Z Hotel Victoria
- The Z Hotel Piccadilly
- The Z Hotel Soho
And you, what did you plan to visit in London?