The Globetrotting Teacher

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Your First Trip to London

Are you planning your first trip to London?  

This global city is endlessly popular with travelers from all over the world. With its famous landmarks and iconic sights, the number of things to see and do in London can easily excite and overwhelm first-time visitors.

In this post, you’ll find a cheat sheet compiled over 3 separate visits to London packed with information about how to get to London from the airport, where to stay in London, how to get around once you arrive, and best of all,  mapped-out London itinerary planning tips .

Are you ready to make your first trip to London a success? 

How to Plan a Trip to London

Tower Bridge in London, UK

It can seem daunting to get started on your London trip plan. It’s a huge city with lots of iconic sights and experiences. In fact, I think it’s often underestimated by travelers who often write to tell me what a great time they had in London and that the city was such a surprise…in a good way!

So, as any good teacher will tell you, start with an outline. In this case, you want to break down each step you’ll need to do to plan a trip to London and then work on filling in all the details.

Start with deciding when you want to visit London and how many days you’ll stay. (I recommend at least 3-4 days.)

Once you know this, you can work on booking your London accommodations. (I recommend staying in a central-ish area within walking distance of a Tube station. Keep reading for more below) The further out you book your London hotel, the more available options you’ll have with competitive pricing.

ProTip: If you have flexibility, you might even look at London flights and hotels first to find the cheapest combination of dates and rates. In this way, you’re letting the deals decide when you travel versus looking for a deal on the dates you need/want to travel.

Once you’ve got the major logistics set, it’s time to work on your London itinerary. (I’ve got specific itinerary ideas below so keep reading!)

At this point in your planning a trip to London, you’ll want to make a list of the London sights and attractions that are your must sees and dos. Then, using the maps below (or Google Maps), start grouping them by area.

One really important thing to know as you plan your London trip is that the city is huge. The distances between places can be far, and with limited days, you don’t want to backtrack or plan activities on opposite ends of the city on the same day.

From here, figure out what can be booked ahead…and actually book it ahead! London is a popular destination. It’s normal for there to be lines at top sights and restaurants that are completely booked.

You can use sightseeing passes like The London Pass (my complete review) to pre-plan and save money. Or you can book individual tickets through a platform like Get Your Guide .

Once you know where you’re staying and what you’ll be doing each day, you can round out your London trip planning by looking at the Tube Map to orient yourself and decide how you’ll get from the airport to the city center. (More tips on this below!)

What to See and Do on Your First Trip to London

This London trip planner is set up in different sections to help you plan a trip to London from start to finish. The first part helps you get ideas about how to plan your days in London with landmarks, attractions, museums, markets, and activities in a logistically sensible way.

You want to maximize your time in London without backtracking or zigzagging around the city. These ideas can also help you piece together a complete day because not all of them require a full day.

You also note that I’ve included the Tube stops for individual attractions. This is to help you in case you visit these places outside of the order I’ve suggested in the Google Map for each itinerary idea.

After these itinerary ideas for planning your trip to London, you’ll find tips and helpful information so you can navigate the city confidently.

Are you ready to plan your trip to London?

London Itinerary Planning Idea #1 – History Buffs and Foodies

Tower of London – Tower Hill Tube Stop – Circle and District Lines

The  Tower of London  with its crown jewels is an absolute must with its thick, ominous walls, dark past, resident black ravens, and informative Beefeaters. The Tower and the nearby Tower Bridge sit stalwartly as a link to the past when Kings and Queens sent prisoners to “think” about their choices and to wait for the inevitable… execution.

The Tower of London was the inhospitable home to infamous gangsters, spies, Dukes, Bishops, Princes, and even Queens!

First Trip to London Tower of London as seen from the River Thames

Undoubtedly the most famous Queen of them all was the ill-fated Anne Boleyn. The Tower of London is where Henry the VIII’s executioner beheaded her on charges of adultery and conspiracy, however, Henry actually blamed her for not producing a male heir.

Today, visiting the Tower of London is like stepping back in time. The daily traditions involving this historic castle have continued for hundreds of years. The resident Beefeaters live at the Tower of London and maintain the rituals and routines of the past. But they also offer free tours (once inside) and comically share their vast Tower of London knowledge.

These tours begin every 30 minutes starting at 10:00 a.m. and finishing with the last tour at 2:30 p.m.

Pro Tip:  Arrive in the morning when the Tower first opens. It becomes quite crowded later in the day. Use your  London Pass  to get Fast Track Entry and bundled savings when compared to buying attraction tickets individually.

Tower Bridge & Borough Market – London Bridge Tube Stop – Northern and Jubilee Lines

After a morning at the Tower of London, time your escape for lunch at  Borough Market . It’ll be easiest to walk from the Tower of London. Walk across Tower Bridge instead of London Bridge as shown on the map above. The walk is a bit longer than crossing London Bridge, but historic Tower Bridge is a sight in its own right.

You can tour the Victorian-era engine rooms, as well as climb to the bridge’s upper walkways for gorgeous views over London and the River Thames. Get your Tower Bridge ticket in advance or use The London Pass to visit the bridge.

You can also cross the River Thames with a river bus using your Tube Oyster Card (more on these below) from Tower Pier to London Bridge City Pier.

Once at Borough Market, the market lanes are lined with food and grocers selling every imaginable food item. It’s a great place to sample a variety of foods from all types of global cuisines. Not to mention, no London trip is complete without taking advantage of the city’s amazing international food scene!

Borough Market London

From famous falafel to perfectly spiced Indian food, huge skillets of paella, and savory British pies from Pieminster, you’ll be thankful to visit with an empty stomach on your first trip to London and every time you return like I do!

Restaurants and cafes fill the upstairs level and the surrounding streets (in case you’d prefer to sit rather than sample and roam) making this Southwark neighborhood a foodie’s delight.

ProTip: From Borough Market, you’re just a 5-minute walk to The Shard , London’s tallest glass skyscraper to see the highest views over the city. If you have it, you can use your London Pass for access. Be sure to follow the pass instructions to pre-reserve a time.

London Itinerary Planning Idea #2 – Royalty and High Tea

Westminster Abbey – Westminster Tube Stop – Jubilee Line

Coming out of Westminster Station, you’ll immediately be in the shadow of Big Ben and London’s iconic Parliament Building. You can walk back onto the Westminster Bridge to capture fuller photos of these London landmarks. If you’re lucky, you just might get a classic shot with a red doubledecker bus!

Continue on to  Westminster Abbey , just a couple of minutes walking from Big Ben. Westminster Abbey is open to visitors Monday-Saturday from 9:30 a.m until 3:30 p.m. The Abbey is closed on Sundays so keep this in mind when planning your London trip.

Use your  London Pass  to gain access to Westminster. Once inside, admire the architecture and the Abbey’s gorgeous choir room. Westminster is also the final resting place of numerous kings, queens, and dignitaries. You can see the monuments in their honor, as well as learn about their place in history.

If you’re a fan of the Royals, you’ll be visiting the spot where Kate and William were married.

Pro Tip:  If you want to take a ride on the London Eye , it can be included with the stops you make in and around Big Ben because it’s just a short walk over the bridge you see in the photo below. Avoid the lines by choosing the fast-track ticket option. It’s also quite popular to depart from the Westminster Pier for a cruise along the River Thames to take in the sights of London from the water.

History buffs won’t want to miss the Churchill War Rooms. They’re not far from Westminster Abbey, along the edge of St. James’s Park. These rooms served as the secret headquarters for Churchill during WW2. The rooms have been preserved just as they were during the war and give a fascinating look at how Churchill operated and made decisions during this dark time in history.

If your trip to London is 3 days or less and it’s your first visit, this WW2 museum may not be a top priority. But if you or a travel companion is interested in visiting WW2 sights and museums in Europe, The Churchill War Rooms are a great way to divert from the typical first time in London sights.

Buckingham Palace-Green Park Tube Stop-Jubilee, Victoria, & Piccadilly Lines

Next, make your way to  Buckingham Palace  where the  Changing of the Guards  happens.

The ceremony is all pomp and fanfare. The King’s Guard outside the castle has been on watch for hours and the new guard comes to take over in grand style! A marching brigade of guards along with a mounted cavalry and a marching band head up The Mall and through the palace gates.

This ceremony draws a crowd so it’s best to arrive ahead of time so that you can get yourself in a position to see the fanfare. I’ve watched from both the gates of Buckingham Palace and the Queen Victoria Monument directly opposite the palace gates.

First Trip to London Changing of the Guard

You’ll have to choose the location you want because it’s typically too crowded to move from place to place. To get a spot along the fence at Buckingham Palace, be prepared to arrive up to an hour early and wait.

If this is the case, you also may need to reverse the order and visit Westminster Abbey after so that you can stake out your Changing of the Guard spot in the morning.

Pro Tip:  Check the  Changing of the Guard schedule  before you go to make sure the ceremony is planned for the day you intend to visit.

Hyde Park – Hyde Park Corner Tube Stop – Piccadilly Line

When the ceremony is finished, keep those royal juices flowing for a stroll around  Hyde Park . It’s one of the largest parks in London, as well as one of the Royal Parks. Enjoy its monuments, bridges, fountains, gardens, and lake, including the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.

Finish up with a classic afternoon tea experience at  The Dorchester Hotel .

No doubt, it’s a luxurious splurge, but after having experienced life as a royal, it’s the perfect way to properly finish the experience. From finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, sweets, and of course, tea, you’ll have had a quintessential London outing.

First trip to London Afternoon Tea

Alternatively, if you plan afternoon tea for another day, you might want to visit London’s Natural History Museum or Kensington Palace on the other end of Hyde Park.

The latter has been a royal residence for hundreds of years and was where Princess Diana lived with Princes William and Harry. Today, you can tour the apartments and staterooms and see the sunken gardens where there is a statue of Princess Diana commemorating the 20th anniversary of her death.

While the Natural History Museum displays animal specimens, dinosaurs, and exhibitions about the history of the natural world and the people who evolved in it.

If you intend to walk into Hyde Park and casually make your way towards Kensington Palace or the Natural History Museum, the walk will be broken up by the time spent in the park.

Otherwise, if your aim is to get to either of these sights without a long walk, use the London underground. The Queensway stop along the Central line is the closest to Kensington Palace and the South Kensington stop along the Circle and District lines is near to the Natural History Museum.

London Itinerary Planning Idea #3 – Architecture, Theatre, & Art

St. Paul’s Cathedral – St. Paul’s Tube Stop – Central Line

Start off at  St. Paul’s Cathedral  to admire this Anglican Church’s architecture. You can explore the crypt or head in the opposite direction and climb the dome’s 528 steps for spectacular panoramic London views.

If you have it, entry is included with your London Pass .

Take your time crossing the pedestrian-only Millennium Bridge on your way to the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This is a great spot to watch boat traffic along the River Thames.

First Trip to London Millenium Bridge with view of St. Paul's

Tate Modern & The Globe Theatre-Blackfriars Tube Stop-Circle & District Lines

These 2 London attractions are just next to one another.

The  Tate Modern  has a vast permanent collection of modern art by the likes of Henri Matisse and Jackson Pollock, as well as temporary exhibitions. There are beautiful views looking back on St. Paul’s Cathedral and the River Thames, as well.

It’s free to enter the museum and there’s no need to book ahead, unless there is a specific exhibit you’d like to see that requires a reserved space.

The nearby  Globe Theatre  is a replica of Shakespeare’s original which burned in a fire many years ago after the thatched roof was ignited during a production of Henry VIII.

For your first trip to London, you’ll want to use your  London Pass  to tour the theater during the day and hear about its historic past. The Globe also has evening performances during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. The ambiance of the open-air theater makes for a fantastic night out!

First Trip to London Shakespeares Globe Theatre

Pro Tip:  Check times to coordinate visits to both the Tate Modern and The Globe in a way that lets you see one after the other. The Globe performance tickets sell out so purchase them in advance, especially if you want to see a play on a specific date.

London Itinerary Planning Idea #4 – Artifacts, Landmarks, and Shopping

The British Museum – Tottenham Court Tube Stop – Central & Northern Lines

No trip to London is complete without a stop at The   British Museum . The art and artifacts on display are open free to the public beginning at 10:00 a.m. each day. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, sculptures from the Parthenon, and a vast Egyptian collection including mummies.

It’s worth checking for any special, limited-time exhibits during your stay. If there’s one you’d like to see, it’s worth buying tickets online or at the museum when you first arrive.

London British Museum

After the museum, spend the afternoon strolling through  Covent Garden  or head over to  Soho  and  Oxford Street  for a shopper’s paradise. Covent Garden is in London’s West End, home to theaters, restaurants, and shops. You’re sure to find anything you’d want to buy from the numerous chain stores, boutiques, and markets.

Pro Tip:  There are many classic London pubs in these neighborhoods. If you haven’t had a plate of fish and chips yet, now’s the time. You can also join a historical pub walking tour to visit some of London’s most iconic pubs.

Fish and Chips London

Leicester Square – Leicester Square Tube Stop – Piccadilly & Northern Lines

Make your way to  Leicester Square  and the heart of London’s Theatre District. It’s super touristy here. Think Times Square-esque…a place where you take a few photos before moving on.

But if you plan to see a musical or a play later (and you certainly should!),  get your discounted tickets at the TKTS booth right in the square for performances that day or night.

There’s crossover between shows in London and New York’s Broadway district. Sometimes, you can even catch a performance in London before it heads to New York City.

Trafalgar Square – Charing Cross Tube Stop – Bakerloo & Northern Lines

Finish your walk at  Trafalgar Square . This iconic London crossroads has monuments, historic buildings, museums, and street performers. It’s an absolute beehive of activity and perfect for taking more classic London photos complete with red double-decker buses passing by on the streets in and around the square.

First Trip to London Trafalgar Square

With any luck, you’ll have time to check out the  National Gallery  right in Trafalgar Square which houses famous paintings by the likes of Vermeer, Monet, Rembrandt, Cezanne, and Leonardo Da Vinci.

Best of all, it’s free to visit, and you can use your  London Pass  Hop On Hop Off double-decker bus ticket to reposition yourself closer to your hotel when you’re done.

London Itinerary Planning Idea #5 – Harry Potter Fans

Harry Potter Studio Tour Meeting Point – Victoria Station – Circle, District & Victoria Lines

Are you traveling with a wannabe wizard dying for a Hogwarts adventure?

Plan a visit to the  Harry Potter and Warner Brothers Studio . Buses leave from Central London and travel to the magical sets of the famed movie and book series. The closest tube stop to the meeting point is Victoria Station. From there, it’s just a few minutes on foot.

You’ll have 4 hours to see places like the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s Office, Diagon Alley, and more! Plus, get to see some of the most famous props and the costumes worn by Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

If you’ve wanted to visit Platform 9 ¾, ride the Hogwarts Express, and attempt to ride a broomstick, then you definitely don’t want to miss escaping the world of Muggles for just a bit on your visit to London!

ProTip: If you want to sprinkle some Harry Potter into your London trip but don’t want to commit a full day to the experience, this Harry Potter Guided Walking Tour is a popular alternative.

Out-of-Town Must-Sees on your First Trip to London

From London, many parts of Britain and the U.K. are easily reachable by train. This makes it possible to visit a couple of popular sites with even just a half day’s worth of time.

Trains run from London to both  Windsor Castle  and  Hampton Court Palace . From their respective train stations, it’s just a few minutes on foot to reach the entry points.

The exquisite staterooms at Windsor Castle are open to the public when the King is not in residence. These rooms are some of the most spectacular castle rooms you’ll see anywhere in the world.

St. George’s Chapel, within the grounds of Windsor Castle, is the final resting spot of Henry VIII and several other Kings and Queens. It’s also where Meghan and Harry were married and the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth II.

First Trip to London Windsor Castle

Hampton Court Palace is full of Tudor history, as it was a regular stop for Henry VIII and his royal court. The palace creates a historical experience by revealing the inner workings of how the palace operated in its heyday. It’s undoubtedly one of the most interesting and well-preserved looks at Tudor history, as well as what life was like during this period.

Look out for King Henry VIII himself, as visitors can watch the King interact with Anne Boleyn or flirt with his soon-to-be next wife, Jane Seymour. Leave some time for the palace’s gardens and maze.

Pro Tip:  Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace are both included with the  London Pass . Get Fast Track Entry at Hampton Court to maximize your time and avoid any entry line.

If you have extra days in your itinerary, consider a London day trip to:

  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Bath
  • The Cotswolds
  • Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) & the Filming Locations

If you’re planning a trip to England, rent a car and drive into the English countryside when your time in London is done. I’ve done this to spend time exploring places like Stratford-Upon-Avon , the Cotswolds villages , and Warwick Castle .

It’s a perfect way to add on to an England itinerary and explore more of what the country has to offer beyond London.

Best Area to Stay in London

Where to stay in London is one of the most frequently asked questions for anyone planning a trip. It’s understandable. You want to be somewhere conveniently located, safe, and within your travel budget.

London’s neighborhoods and districts each have their own unique charm and flavor. And while some might say you should absolutely stay in the heart of the most touristy areas of the city, I think the most important thing when choosing where to stay in London is to  stay somewhere with convenient access to the Tube. 

You shouldn’t be hesitant to book a hotel or rental accommodation that’s a few Tube stops away from popular attractions. You can truly get nearly anywhere in London very quickly by using the underground train system.

That being said, you don’t want to stay too far from the heart of London, either. The city is big and the Tube rides from London’s outer neighborhoods can take upwards of an hour back to the center.

Ideally, you want to find a London hotel that matches your travel budget, close to a Tube station, in a relatively center-ish location. Example neighborhoods include Seven Dials, Covent Garden, Westminster, Soho, and near Southwark along the south bank.

Below, I’ve shared a couple of hotels where I’ve stayed. They’re in different budget categories and neighborhoods, and they have convenient Tube access.

Interior of a hotel room the house-keeper of a class

I’ve had excellent hotel points and paid stays at several London hotels including the ones listed below.

Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel  – The hotel is located in the Seven Dials neighborhood near Covent Garden, the West End’s Theatre district, pubs, and my favorite Indian restaurant, Dishoom. Rooms are a classic modern boutique style for which Radisson Blu hotels are known.

Holiday Inn Express London-Southwark  – Just a 10-minute walk to Borough Market, the Tate Modern, or the Globe Theatre, with a Tube station nearby. This hotel is on the south bank of the city not far from the Southwark Tube station.

London Rental Accommodations

During my travels, I’ve also opted for apartment and home rentals. You feel more like a local and oftentimes can save money because you’re able to prepare your own breakfast or share the overall cost with family members or friends. Not to mention, you can find truly unique places to stay with awesome views or even discover a new neighborhood!

London is the perfect destination to consider a rental accommodation over a hotel because hotels aren’t cheap(!) and London is well-connected with its underground trains.

My go-to place to search for rental accommodations is Plum Guide . They vet the properties on their site using “Home Critics” and only select the best properties in a variety of price brackets. Plum Guide even offers phone support 24/7 should you need any help or have questions.

How Many Days to Spend in London

As with most places, you can spend an extended period of time and still not see and do everything a fantastic city like London has to offer.

If it’s your first time in London, you likely will focus on the most popular attractions and experiences that interest you. For this, you’ll need 3-4 days to explore and make use of the London itinerary ideas in this guide.

With 4+ days in London, you can also use a day to visit a popular sight just outside of London or even  get off the beaten path .

London is a great city to explore. It’s also the perfect jumping-off point for future trips to Europe. It’s not complicated to add a couple of days in London as a stopover before continuing on to another destination in Europe.

Arrival into London

The  Heathrow Express  is a quick and efficient way to get into the city from London Heathrow Airport. The train leaves every 15 minutes and arrives in just about the same time to Paddington Station.

You can book your tickets online or using the Heathrow Express App. Not only will this save you any hassle at the airport, but you’ll also save money. Heathrow Express prices are lower the further you book in advance.

Gatwick Airport also has an  express train  which arrives at Victoria Station. Trains run every 15 minutes and take a half-hour to reach London.

Similarly, the express train from Gatwick offers considerable discounts for booking online and ahead of time.

First Trip to London Trains at Paddington Station

The airports also have commuter trains, buses, and taxis to get you into London. Except for the taxis, these options are less expensive than the express trains mentioned above but do take more time.

You can check prices and schedules for  Southern Railways  from Gatwick to compare.

In addition, from London Heathrow, you can take the Tube. Trains along the Picadilly and Elizabeth lines connect terminals 2, 3, 4, and 5. The ride takes between 45-50 minutes to reach central London but is less expensive than the Heathrow Express.

From Paddington and Victoria Stations in London, you’ll have access to the  London Tube  with lines spreading across the city, as well as a taxi queue at ground level. Most taxis take credit cards but be aware of the occasional cash-only sign in a taxi’s window.

Pro Tip:  My recommendation is to use an express train or the Tube (from/to Heathrow), for a quick and easy trip to London’s city center or even directly to your hotel. Avoid London traffic and expensive taxi rides.

If you’d prefer to arrange transportation and/or avoid taking the trains, consider booking a car with Welcome Pickups  to transfer to the city. Although I’ve only used the trains to get from Heathrow to London, I’ve used Welcome Pickups in several other European cities and always had a great experience.

This will be a much more affordable option compared to a London taxi. The price will be a flat rate, as opposed to paying based on the taxi’s metered fare which can get quite high with even the smallest amount of traffic

How to get around London

First Trip to London Tube Station near Big Ben

London is very pedestrian-friendly and you’re bound to do a good amount of walking during your London trip. Remember, cars are on the opposite side of the road compared to the U.S., so you need to LOOK RIGHT when crossing the road. When in doubt, just look both ways before crossing.

Along the Thames, the riverwalk is a clear path connected with several bridges to help you cross to the other side as frequently as you need.

In addition, London’s Tube (subway) is reliable, easy to navigate, and stretches across the city. The announcements are clear and the lines are identified with colors and names, like Central, District, and Piccadilly. Given how big London is, you’ll need to rely on public transportation to maximize the time you have rather than always walking long distances.

As with getting to London from the airport, taxis are expensive in London and get even pricier when traffic is heavy. It’s best to go underground to save time, money, and patience.

Visitors staying for a few days can get an Oyster Card for easy use and refills in the Tube. Your Oyster Card is good for your first trip to London and every return trip thereafter!

London Pass  purchases come with the option to add a visitor’s Oyster Card. I would skip this option because the card takes several weeks to be physically mailed to you. You can also save more money by simply using a regular Oyster Card or the Tube’s contactless payment system because it will cap how much you’ll pay each day automatically.

Use a contactless credit card to pay to enter the Tube, as well as a mobile device like a smartphone with Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. Just be sure you’re using a card with no foreign transaction fees.

A few things to keep in mind when paying to access the Tube.

  • Use the same card or device when you touch in and out at the yellow card readers. The London Tube caps how much you’ll pay. So, you can ride as much as you want in a day or a week and you’ll never pay more than the capped price.
  • If you don’t use the same card or device, the Tube card readers won’t be able to accurately cap the amount you pay.
  • If you’re using a device like a smartphone, be sure you have enough battery power. You need to touch in and out of the Tube. You also need to use your phone all day otherwise the system can’t cap the amount you pay.
  • You can pay for another person if you are traveling together. (They will need to touch out of the Tube and can’t do it without your card or device.) You’ll need to pay for yourself with a separate card or device.

London Tips for Your First Trip

View of the River Thames in London across from the London Eye

As you plan things to do in London and where to stay in London, also take into consideration the tips below. They’ve come from 3 separate trips to London and a lot of travel experience overall.

The best time to visit London is during spring and fall.

Visiting London in the shoulder/winter season months, April-June and September-November, are the perfect combination of moderate to cool temperatures and fewer visitors. January to March can also be a good time to visit if you’re not bothered by colder temperatures and prefer to visit during the least busy time of year.

Summer can be very busy, making the next London travel tip even that much more important.

Book as many things as possible in advance.

Not only will things like the London Pass or advance fast-track tickets help you save time and money, but it’ll eliminate indecisiveness about what to do while you’re in London and who to trust when you eventually buy the tickets, tours, and passes you want.

Use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

London isn’t a budget destination. The last thing you want to add to the currency exchange are fees from your credit card once you get your bill back home.

Credit cards are widely accepted throughout London and also remove the necessity to convert and carry large amounts of dollars to British pounds.

ProTip: When paying by credit card or using your debit card to withdraw money at an ATM, always pay in the local currency (Pounds) and/or decline the currency conversion. This is a sneaky way to convert your money at a less-than-desirable rate.

Wear comfortable walking shoes.

I know this seems obvious but it truly can’t be understated. As someone who lives in New York City, I can always recognize a visitor who’s regretting his/her shoe choice.

These are the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. I wear them walking around New York City and they’re a staple I pack for nearly every trip I take. You can walk miles without any irritation or blisters.

Check for service charges.

Tipping isn’t obligatory in London. In fact, service charges are often added to bills at restaurants and pubs. That being said, if you’re happy with your service, you always leave a small amount as a gesture of appreciation.

Pack the right electrical converters.

Most commonly, you’ll need a Type G converter to plug into the outlets throughout the U.K. I’ve encountered one place where this wasn’t the case. So, it’s smart to also have a universal adapter with USB ports, too.

London Trip Planner FAQs

How do i start planning a trip to london.

To plan a trip to London, first, decide how many days you’ll spend in the city. Then, book your hotel. You’ll find more options and competitive pricing the further in advance you book. After this, plan your London itinerary. Make a list of the sights and activities you want to see and do. Then, group them by area to logically plan what to do without backtracking. Be sure to book ahead as many things as possible to save time and to ensure you can visit places on the days that make sense for your London itinerary.

How many days should I plan for London?

As you plan a trip to London, you’ll need at least 3-4 days to comfortably see the city’s top sights and attractions. London is a very large city with an endless number of things to see and do. You can easily plan a trip to London for a week and have plenty to fill your itinerary.

What time of year is best to go to London?

The absolute best months for a perfect combination of weather and number of visitors is from April to June and September through November. January to March can also be a good time to visit London because fewer people are visiting during this time. Summers come with big crowds and long lines.

What is the best area to stay in London?

The best area to stay in London is in the heart of the city, especially if you’re visiting London for the first time, and within walking distance of a Tube station. These include neighborhoods like Seven Dials, Covent Garden, Westminster, Soho, and along the south bank near the Southwark area.

Where should I go on my first trip to London?

For your first London trip, plan to see the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the British Museum, Covent Garden, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and the iconic view of Big Ben and Parliament from Westminster Bridge. You should also plan to have afternoon tea, eat at Borough Market, go to a play or musical, and glimpse London from above at the London Eye or the Shard.

First Trip to London – Bottom Line

You have chosen a fantastic city to visit, full of important landmarks, historic sights, good food, and fun experiences. With some advance planning, you’ll arrive in London prepared with your itinerary and know-how to navigate the city confidently for an unforgettable trip.

So, what questions do you have about your first trip to London or about planning a London itinerary?

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Planning a trip to London? This is a complete London Guide with itinerary ideas and tips, things to do in London, where to stay in London, how to get around and save money in London, as well as great day trips from London. Plus, get a FREE London Cheat Sheet to take with you on your trip! | #London #UK #Travel #Bucketlist #Europe #greatbritain #england #thingstodoinlondon #londonguide #londontrip #londonitinerary #europetravel #wheretostayinlondon #londondaytrips

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76 thoughts on “the ultimate cheat sheet for your first trip to london”.

planning trip to london

I have been to London several times, but I found your guide and itineraries very helpful!

planning trip to london

I’m so glad, Chrysoula! Thanks for reading. 🙂

planning trip to london

Such a great guide! I’ve been to nearly 50 countries and still not the UK, so I’ll have to remember to come back to this article when I finally make it to London 🙂

Thanks, Tamara! 50 countries is quite an accomplishment! Awesome. Glad the guide will be useful when you make it to London. 🙂

planning trip to london

Somehow I wish I’ve read this post before my first trip to London. Then I wouldn’t have skipped many experiences listed here) Thank you for putting this up! I’ve pinned it as well (maybe I’ll visit London again, then I’ll need it for sure)

Thanks for reading and sharing on Pinterest, Natalia. 🙂 Here’s to hoping you make it back to London soon!

planning trip to london

Love the Pro Tops plus how you broke each day down into categories. What a great way to see London! I also like how you included things to see if it is your first time there. Going anywhere for the first time can be so overwhelming!

Especially in a big place like London, Bryanna. It’s nice to break it up and make the most of your time.

planning trip to london

You made me want to visit London again! Love the way you divided the itinerary with themes and suggestions for good food. London is such a huge city and planning a trip there for the first time can be overwhelming, you just make it so easy! Cheers,

Thanks, Natalie! Sometimes, it’s just easier to work on trip planning in small chunks. 😉

planning trip to london

I’ve been to London a few times, but I’ve never made it to the Windsor Castle or the Hampton Court Palace. There is just so much to do in the city and its surroundings, but you’ve highlighted the must-sees in a very comprehensive and informative post. I’d love to go back and take more advantage of the free museums, especially the National Gallery!

Next trip, Erika, take some time for Windsor Castle and/or Hampton Court Palace. They’re well worth your time. 🙂

planning trip to london

Wish I had your cheat-sheet on m first trip to London! You certainly covered all the hot spots and then some. I can’t wait to go back and hit the places I missed.

Thanks, Sue. A return trip to London is always a good idea. 🙂

planning trip to london

Loved your tips! I’ve pinned and will reference during my London trip planning. Can you share a bit more about the oyster card?

Thanks, Amanda! I’m so glad the post is helpful for planning your London trip. The oyster card is a plastic card you can use for quick and easy entry to the London’s metro, buses, and many commuter trains. The card is 5 pounds to buy, after which you load some money onto it. The fare you’ll pay for a metro ride with the oyster card will be cheaper than if you had simply purchased a single ticket for the ride. The Oyster card also caps off what you’d pay in a day making sure you never pay more than had you bought a day pass travel card. Hope that helps! 🙂

planning trip to london

I love the addition of the pro tips, especially times of day best to visit. I do love London, but timed a few things wrong, ending up in bigger crowds than I like.

Thanks, Rhonda. I certainly know that feeling of being in a crowd and wanting to be anyplace but there! Glad the pro tips will help for your next London trip. 🙂

planning trip to london

Hi Jackie! Any tips for going to London with a toddler? Going to London this Wednesday and I’m going to use your cheat sheet! Thanks!

Hi Jen! So exciting to hear about your trip. 🙂 I’d definitely do the London Eye, but book tickets ahead of time online to skip the line. The Changing of the Guard with its parade, music, and horses are also toddler-friendly. He’ll get in free to the London underground, but if you don’t want to do that, go for the Hop on Hop off Bus Tour. The pirate-themed Princess Diana Playground in Hyde Park is also supposed to be a big hit. Not sure if he’s too young, but the I’d also look at the Natural History Museum, the National Maritime and/or Transport Museum, and maybe a show like Lion King. If that show is too long, how about The Gruffalo? It’s based on the kids book and is less than an hour long. Let me know if you have any more questions and have a great trip!! 🙂

Awesome, thank you for this! I printed out your cheat sheet & 8′ using it for our guide! Thanks!

Great! Hope you have a fantastic trip, Jen!

planning trip to london

I’m actually from London, yes all these places are great, but you haven’t mentioned how expensive they can be. Most museums and art galleries are free and fantastic but eating at fancy hotels is only for the rich! Try to go to restaurants and pubs that are not in the tourist areas and you’ll be much better value for your money. As for traditional fish and chips, there is a great place in Waterloo road called Superfish. It’s the best around and very reasonable. Lots of London Taxi drivers eat there, so you know it’s good!

Hi, Joanne and thanks for the tip about Superfish! It’s so great to get that from a local. Totally agreed about eating in hotels, too expensive. I only splurged on the Dorchester Tea because we wanted to have a fancy afternoon. Thanks again for reading. 🙂

planning trip to london

Hi, thank you for your tips. We’re going to London ne te may, my husband and I. Do you recommend Stonehenge ?

Hi Helene, Thanks for reading and commenting. You know, as many times as I have been to London, I have not made it to Stonehenge. To help you, I’m linking to another blog post all about visiting Stonehenge written by a blogger friend of mine. She’s got some great tips. Hope that helps! 🙂

planning trip to london

There are some great tips here. I’m planning a trip to London during the high season with a variety of ages from grandmother, 4x 30 year olds, 4 kids between the ages of 8-3, and 2 newborns. Aiaiai. Just trying to get a place to eat together will be challenging. I loved your tips about the Oyster card, and pre-booking tickets, It saves lots of time to book in advance so that you are not waiting in line for tickets, and then waiting in another line for entry. Depending on how early you book it also puts that block of tickets on separate credit card bill instead of all at once. Just a tip from how I travel with all the children and trying to be budget concsious, I usually stop in a local grocery store and grab the 3 (pound, I don’t have the symbol on my keyboard) meal deal, Its filling and usually healthy. If you have any more kid friendly tips I’d love to hear them. Thanks for the guide, I found you on Pintrest, and will make sure to repin.

Thanks for reading, Erin, and for repinning on Pinterest. I appreciate it. 🙂 Sounds like your trip is set to make some amazing multi-generational memories. Thanks for sharing your food tip. London has great parks to make use of when the kids need a break. Hyde Park has paddle boats for rent and a great playground and fountain. St. James Park also has a popular playground. Enjoy your trip!

planning trip to london

Do you have more ideas? We will be in London for 10 days. We will do all you mention but we need more?

Hi June, Thanks so much for reading and so exciting about your upcoming trip to London! 🙂 A couple other sites/places I’d recommend is Kensington Palace and if you’re at all a history buff, the Churchill War Rooms. If you’re doing all of that plus these last 2, check out the London Pass to save some money. Also, check out Free Tours by Foot and Sandeman’s free walking tours. If you’re interested in street art and/or learning more about London’s ethnic food scene check out a tour in the Shoreditch neighborhood. With 10 days, you can also plan day trips out of the city if you want. The Cotswolds Warwick Castle , and/or Stratford upon Avon are just a couple of hours drive, as are Stonehenge and Bath. Even Paris is a doable day trip with the Chunnel train taking just 2ish hours. Good luck and enjoy your trip!

planning trip to london

Thanks for the tip about the London Pass! We went last year and no one told us about it, and we are going back in October and still want to do many of the activities included in the pass. Sounds like a great value!

Fantastic, Dana. I hope your trip is fantastic and enjoy the London Pass! Thanks so much for reading. 🙂

planning trip to london

The best North Indian food is in southall (West London), trains run from Paddington. Brilliant Restaurant highly recommended..

Thanks Preetvan for the tip! 🙂

planning trip to london

It’s ravens that you find at the Tower of London, not crows!

Thanks for that! I have no bird ID skills! 🙂

planning trip to london

Thanks for your post; definitely adding it to my Pinterest board. I’m heading there for Spring Break with my husband and three teenage girls. We have eight days (flying into Gatwick and out of Paris-CDG). How do you suggest we split the days between London and Paris? And what would your top recommendations be?

Thanks for reading, Sheath. So exciting about your upcoming family trip to London and Paris. Both cities have so much to see and do, it all depends on your interests. You can easily split your time in half, although the Francophile in me says to give yourself an extra day in Paris. Not sure if you’re into theatre, but a night out to see a show in London’s West End is unforgettable. Tower of London, Shakespeares Globe, Borough Market, high tea are all at the top of my London first time list. For Paris, visit the top of Notre Dame in the morning, Arc de Triomphe at dusk, Sainte-Chappelle, Musee de l’Orangerie, and wander through 4th, 5th, and 6th arrondissements for tucked away shops and cafes as a start to your Paris visit. Hope that helps and have soo much fun! 🙂

planning trip to london

Thank you for this cheat sheet. Great tips and ideas. My best friend and I are traveling to Europe for our 40th birthdays in March. We are spending about 2 1/2 days in London. It seems you were recommended traveling by way of the tube for most everything. I had been looking at the Hop On and Off Bus before reading your cheat sheet. Would you recommend skipping the bus and just using the tube?

Hi Heather, Thanks for reading. London is such a great city for a friends birthday trip! I would still recommend the Tube. The traffic in London can be horrible and Hop on Hop off buses can get stuck in it with the rest of the vehicles. With 2 1/2 days, getting underground will help you maximize your time getting from place to place. Enjoy your trip! -Jackie

planning trip to london

Do you have any recommendations for visiting in December (just prior to Christmastime)? My family and I will be arriving on a Monday and departing on Thursday (for Germany), flying in and out of Stansted. It will be myself, my husband, and our 2 kids, ages 20 and (will turn while we’re in London) 17 year old (boy and girl). My husband is normally into things like the museums, but he’s the type that would need several days in any one museum (he literally reads each and every plaque, and doesn’t miss a display, LOL). So, because we’re limited on time, we’ll probably skip museums until another time. My husband and I are doing Harry Potter/WB Studios on Tuesday (I’m a big fan, kids not so much) and we’re letting them go off on their own. Will definitely be getting Oyster Cards.

Any other recommendations, especially since will will be cold weather? Thanks!

Thanks for reading, Cammi. I’d definitely try and see a show, be it one in the west end or a special Christmas themed show or concert. I’d also like to see the seasonal attractions like the winter wonderland in Hyde Park and all the lights around the city. I’m a cold weather gal so I love to get outside. But just in case of super cold weather, I’d have 1 museum in mind just as a back up if you need to warm up. Not sure if your hubby has seen the Churchill War rooms not far from Westminster, but I highly recommend. Enjoy your trip!

planning trip to london

My husband and I leave for our first ever trip abroad, London, in less than a week! The ironic and very strange thing is that as soon as I read the title of our article was that the authors last name is Sills. That is MY maiden name and some of my father’s family still lives in England! Dad himself, Charles Sills, was actually born in London! We will be visiting some Sills relatives in Suffolk on our trip!

Anyway, thanks for the great articles!

Sincerely, Elizabeth (Sills) Hurd

Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for reading and omg! My maiden name is Sills as well! I have done a ton of family research but always run into a dead end trying to figure out more about the George Sills who came over from England to the U.S. back in the 1800s. That’s so amazing you’ll be combining your tip with some ancestry travel. I hope you have a great trip and enjoy meeting your relatives! Thanks again for reading the blog. 🙂 Jackie

planning trip to london

Nice tips overall. Anyway, thanks for the great articles!

Thanks for reading, Brandy. 🙂

planning trip to london

I must say this is an ultimate post for travelers who are looking for trip to London at affordable cost. You have covered everything in your post such as best places to stay, which is really helpful.

Thanks for reading, Sandeep. Happy travels to London!

planning trip to london

Your blog is amazing – thanks for all the incredible ideas. We are considering going to London for Spring Break (March 8-17, 2019). Would you recommend going at his time ….will the weather be agreeable? Thanks, Stacey

Thanks for reading, Stacey, and for your kind words. So, it’ll likely still be chilly, but I’d say yes, go! Take this with the knowledge that I live in NYC and walk around in all kinds of weather and that I love visiting Europe in the off-season. I’d rather have cooler temps and fewer crowds. Plus, with London’s Underground/Subway, you can so easily pop underground and get around if you needed to escape the weather for a bit. Not to mention with delicious tea, scones, English pies, and Indian food, there’s plenty to warm you up! 🙂 Thanks again for reading.

very informative blog love to read it. i got so many new ideas about London. Thanks for sharing and it will help me during my visit to London. [LINK EDITED OUT]

Thanks for reading, Mickey. Enjoy London. 🙂

planning trip to london

Love this guide and the one for Portugal also. Now if I could print it and store it in my travel file folder for easier access when I go to London. Thanks for writing these detailed trip reports – they are extremely helpful

Thanks do much for reading, Jane. You can download the London cheat sheet to help with your travels. 🙂

planning trip to london

Going to the Harry Potter Studios by bus from Central London is the silliest thing to do. It takes too long AND you can only stay at the studios until the time your bus would take you back (about 4 hours) – not enough time for a true Harry Potter fan. It is fastest and easiest to go by train from Euston Station to Watford Junction (Oyster can be used) and takes about 30minutes. The studio has buses at Watford Junction to take you there – it takes just about 10 minutes. We stayed over 7 hours at the studios – my kids would start a riot if we had to leave after some 4 hours only!

Thanks for reading, Deesi! And great tips! Appreciate you sharing. 🙂

planning trip to london

Your blog is amazing. How do I download the cheat sheet??

Thank you ~Alison

Thanks so much for reading, Alison. All you need to do is fill in the fields on the cheat sheet sign up box. It’ll get sent to you. 🙂 So glad the blog has been helpful for you.

planning trip to london

If you have enough time you should certainly consider Kew Gardens and Greenwich. You can take the clipper down the river to Greenwich. Also Kenwood is free to visit and set in beautiful grounds on Hampstead Heath. Don’t pay to go up the Shard. Book the free tickets for Skygarden three weeks ahead. Or go up the tower at Tate Modern. Children like all these places but as other people have said the parks are lovely and all different. It’s lovely to see this thread still working and growing after such a long time. Well done!!!

Thanks for reading and sharing your London tips, Marian! I didn’t know that about the Shard!

planning trip to london

The Dorchester is indeed a great hotel, but the very best Afternoon Tea has to be the Ritz.

Thanks for reading and sharing, David. I have heard great things about the afternoon tea at the Ritz. I’ll have to try it next time I’m in London. 🙂

planning trip to london

Thank you for sharing this info about London. I am planning to visit in a neaxt month.

Thanks for reading, Alina. Have fun in London. 🙂

planning trip to london

Amazing. you have told very easy and splendid ways for exploring London. London is my favourite place to travel and for food too. I love the food Enjoy!

Thanks for reading, Amy. Glad you had great travels to London. 🙂

planning trip to london

My niece and I want to go to London. We’ve considered a tour group, but the itinerary is limited, I enjoyed reading your cheat sheet. It was interesting, and we got very excited at the thought of actually visiting the sites, Have you ever traveled there in December? I am a teacher and my big break is in the month of December, I don’t want to go and freeze! The travel dates would be between December 14th and December 24th. Any tips would be appreciated. Thank you.

Rebecca and Brooke

Thanks for reading, Rebecca and Brooke. I haven’t been to London in the winter but I’ve been to many other cities in Europe in winter like Paris, Prague, Budapest, Munich, and more, also during my winter school breaks! I’m probably not the most objective person on this as I live in NYC and walk around outside all winter long. But I love European cities around Christmas. Yes, it’s chilly. But if you dress right the charm and the ambiance is unforgettable. I’d highly recommend a London Christmas visit! If you want some freedom to explore mixed with a few organized activities, plan a couple of day tours instead of something more comprehensive. The London Pass is also a great way to see what’s popular while saving money by bundling sightseeing costs. Hope this helps and you have a great trip! 😉

Thank you so much. We are moving ahead with our plans. I agree, if you dress appropriately, the weather will not be a factor.. Again, I really learned a lot from your cheat sheet and have read it many times.

Thanks for reading, Rebecca and Brooke. 🙂 So glad to hear the cheat sheet was helpful. I hope you have a wonderful trip to London.

planning trip to london

Heathrow express!! Saved me so much time! So glad I read this.

Thanks for reading, Scott. Yep, the Heathrow Express makes things super easy! 🙂

planning trip to london

Thanks for informative sharing. I must say that your shared information is very useful for me as well as other readers.

Glad to hear it, William. Thanks for reading.

planning trip to london

Hello Jackie, I am at the beginning of planning a second Girls Trip to London, and the country side of England. The first was with a group of high school girls friends,(tons of fun) and this one will be with all my sister in laws. Both groups are in their early 60’s. I appreciated the link to the GO transportation site. I like the idea of a van to haul us all to the hotel from Heathrow. There will be six of us in this up coming trip. There were only four on the high school trip. We all squeezed into one cab, and shared the cost. I don’t think we can squeeze six ladies and luggage into a cab, so the van idea sounds good. I suggested a cab for the HS group, knowing it is the more expensive way to get from the airport. I knew we would be sharing the cost AND also with the age of the group, didn’t think we (or I ) would want to be dragging our luggage in and out of tube trains. They were all ok with the idea of a cab. Also one thing I tell anyone I know who is on their way over, WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES!!! I know they aren’t always the most fashionable, but gee, your feet will thank you at the end of the day. No new shoes that haven’t been wore in yet either. One last thought– the HS trip was a full week in London, so we all decided that the London Pass would be a good idea– and it was! The Shard visit alone would have cost 50 pounds for one person to enter. The payable sites do add up. All worth seeing, but can get pricy. Not so sure it will be worth it for this sister in law trip, we won’t be spending as much time in London. Thanks for the time and research you put into this travel blog. Very enjoyable read. 🙂

Thanks so much for reading, Deborah! So exciting to be planning another trip (and a Girls Trip, even better!) to London. Thanks for sharing your experiences, too. Totally agree on comfortable shoes! My go-to’s for lots of walking (live in NYC) and traveling (one pair is with me on every trip) are Allbirds . In fact, I just bought 2 new pairs (Tree Runner & Wool Runner) since I’ve worn my others out. If anyone in your group or you are looking for something comfy, definitely give these shoes a look. Enjoy your trip to London and come back if there are any questions I can answer. Thanks again for reading. 🙂

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The Best Time to Visit London

Weather & Climate

London's Airports

Neighborhoods to Know

Driving in London

Public Transport in London

London's Top Attractions

Free Things to Do

Things to Do With Kids

London's Best Parks

Museums in London

Theater in London

Live Music in London

Shopping in London

One Week in London: Itinerary

Day Trips From London

Beaches Near London

The Best Fish & Chips in London

London's Top Restaurants

Eating With Kids in London

London's Best Bars

Craft Beer in London

Your Trip to London: The Complete Guide

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planning trip to london

London is a popular travel destination thanks to its culture, lively food scene, and royal ties. The British city attracts millions of visitors every year (more than 40.9 million in 2019! ), including many Americans, who find London easy to navigate (especially since the main language is English). Whether you're planning an extensive trip to explore London or including it as a stop on an itinerary of other European cities, there are a few things to keep in mind when planning. Consider what you want to see and do, and plan accordingly. And don't forget the umbrella.

Planning Your Trip

Best Time to Visit: London welcomes travelers all year, but the best times to visit can be spring and late fall thanks to the mild weather . Summer can be especially crowded, so you may find fewer lines and throngs of tourists during more off-peak times. The winter holidays can also be a great time to visit London, which gets very festive and well-decorated in December.

Language: English is the primary language spoken in London and the U.K., however Londoners come from all over the world, so it's not surprising to hear multiple other languages spoken around the city.

Currency: The currency in the U.K. is the pound sterling   , also known as GBP or just "the pound."

Getting Around: Transport for London has a vast network of public transportation options, including the Tube, buses, trains, and boats. It's recommended to avoid driving into the city center and use public transportation, or opt for a taxi or Uber. Black cabs are the official taxis in London and easy to hail anywhere around town.

Travel Tip: London is a very walkable city and one of the best ways to see different areas is to go by foot. Plan your days by neighborhood or general area, and stroll from attraction to attraction to make the most of your experience. For example, see Kensington Palace, Hyde Park and Notting Hill in the same day, or hit up the Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral and the Tate Modern in one swing.

Things to Do

There's a lot to see and do in London, from historical sites like Buckingham Palace to cultural institutions like the National Portrait Gallery. A trip to London typically consists of a mixture of iconic attractions, including Big Ben and the London Eye, and neighborhood exploration in areas like Notting Hill. Consider purchasing a London Pass to make the most of popular attractions. Don't miss theater in the West End, shopping around Covent Garden and snacking in London's many outdoor markets, including Borough Market and Broadway Market.

  • Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens
  • The Tate Modern
  • Westminister Abbey

Explore more attractions with our full-length articles on what to see if you only have a few hours , what to do in the West End and things to do when it rains .

What to Eat and Drink

London's food scene is an eclectic mix of British and international eateries, with cuisine from all over the world available in the city's diverse neighborhoods. A classic experience is to dine (and grab a pint) in a local pub, which can be a great way to try British dishes like fish and chips and bangers and mash. London's ever-growing food scene isn't limited to just those well-known dishes, though: Look for hip spots like The Barbary, Barrafina and Caravan to experience a vibrant melange of internationally-inspired dishes.

London is also well-known for its impressive cocktail bars, many of which are nearly a century old. Don't miss a martini in The American Bar or Dukes, and consider exploring newer cocktail spots like Satan's Whiskers in Bethnal Green. Of course, you'll also want to book an afternoon tea somewhere classy. Look for high-end spots like Fortnum and Mason, The Savoy Hotel and The Ritz to make the most of your experience.

Explore our articles on the best restaurants with views , the best spots for afternoon tea and the best places for brunch .

Where to Stay

London is a large city, with many different areas, but most visitors find that it's convenient to stay centrally. Central neighborhoods like Covent Garden, Mayfair, Marylebone, Victoria and Kensington provide easy access to many popular attractions, as well as nearby restaurants and nightlife. Staying in adjacent areas like Fitzrovia, Pimlico, St. John's Wood and Southbank can be a good way to avoid crowds but keep the journey to the tourist spots quick and hassle-free. While many visitors elect to stay in a hotel, there are also many options for Airbnb and other vacation rental services. Those who want to splurge should look into iconic hotels like The Connaught, The Ritz and the Mandarin Oriental, which overlooks Hyde Park.

Explore our articles on the best budget hotels , the quirkiest places to stay and London's diverse neighborhoods .

Getting There

Most travelers arrive in London by plane, flying in to nearby airports like Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and City. Visitors coming from Europe can also arrive via the Eurostar, which comes into to St. Pancras Station, or via ferry. Trains link London with the rest of England, as well as Scotland and Wales, and cruise ships typically port in the nearby city of Southampton. Most travelers don't rent a car when visiting London, but a car can be handy if you plan to explore other areas of the U.K.

  • Heathrow International Airport: Heathrow, located west of London, is the primary airport used by international travelers. It can be accessed by Tube, train, bus or taxi, and it's recommended to look into public transportation when arriving during rush hour. The Heathrow Express gets passengers from the airport in to Paddington Station in only 15 minutes (and is significantly cheaper when booked more than 30 days in advance online).
  • Gatwick Airport: Gatwick, also known as London Gatwick, is located to the south of central London and can boast cheaper flights than Heathrow. It's also a hub for EasyJet, a budget airline. The airport is best accessed via the Gatwick Express from Victoria Station or a train from London Bridge Station.
  • London Luton Airport: Luton can be found to the north of London and is frequently used for flights to the rest of Europe. Look for the Thames Link train or bus services to access the airport since a taxi can be quite expensive.
  • London Stansted Airport: Stansted, also to the north of the city, is an international airport, but typically used for shorter flights rather than big international arrivals. Trains and buses are the best way to get to and from Stansted, which can be an inconvenient and disorganized airport experience.
  • London City Airport: Located on the Royal Docks, London City is popular with short haul flights to Europe, but also services the U.S. via New York City. The airport is fairly central, so taxis or public transportation are both good options.

Explore our articles on how to get to Heathrow and how to get to Luton , as well as our guide to London's airports .

Culture and Customs

While London can feel similar to the U.S., there are a few differences, particularly when it comes to tipping. All restaurants and bars will include a service charge (usually 12.5 percent) on the bill, so there's not need to leave extra cash. If you do, 10 to 15 percent is customary   . Tip taxi drivers a few pounds if you appreciate their service, but unlike in the U.S. employees in the U.K. don't expect large tips.

One other important thing to be aware of is that British culture is fairly reserved. When using public transportation, especially the bus or the Tube, keep your voice low and be polite. Londoners also appreciate a good queue, so never skip the line or push your way to the front.

Money Saving Tips

  • Take advantage of free museums. Many of London's museums are free to enter, including the British Museum, the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain. This can be a great way to see iconic spots without spending any of your travel budget.
  • Get a free view. While high-up attractions like the London Eye and the Shard's viewing gallery can be pricy, the Tate Modern's 10th floor viewing deck is free, as is Sky Garden , which allows visitors to book a complimentary ticket in advance online.
  • Picnic in one of the parks . On a sunny day, Londoners love a good park outing. Head to Marks & Spencer or Pret to stock up on sandwiches and drinks, and find a spot in one of London's many parks. Some of the parks, including London Fields, even allow portable BBQs.
  • Purchase a London Pass. The London Pass includes entry to over 80 attractions, so can help save money if you plan to do a lot of sight-seeing. It also allows for fast-track entry at several of the attractions, which can be great when visiting during a busy time of year.

For more tips, explore our articles on the best free things to do in London , how to travel around London with your kids for free and the best free museums .

Visit Britain. "Inbound Tourism Performance: 2019 Snapshot."

Visit London Official Visitor Guide. "British Money."

Visit London Official Visitor Guide. "Tipping in London."

Getting Around London: Guide to Public Transportation

Best London Budget Hotels

How to Travel from London to London City Airport by Underground and Taxi

How to Enjoy a Quick Layover in London on a Budget

How to Travel From Luton Airport to Central London by Train, Bus, and Taxi

26 Free Things to Do in London, England with Kids

How to Travel from New York to London by Plane or Ship

What to Do and See During One Week in London

Top 10 Things to Do With Kids in London

Washington, D.C. Guide: Planning Your Trip

Tate Modern Guide

Your Trip to the United Kingdom: The Complete Guide

Your Trip to England: The Complete Guide

How to Travel From London Stansted Airport to London by Bus, Train, and Car

Your Trip to Edinburgh: The Complete Guide

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Full Suitcase Travel Blog

Traveling to London for the First Time (2023): Tips & Tricks

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: September 19, 2023

Traveling to London for the First Time (2023): Tips & Tricks

Traveling to London for the first time and not sure where to start? Planning a trip to London might be overwhelming indeed and especially so if this is your first time in the city!

How long do I need to spend in London? When to visit? What are the best places to stay in London? How to save time and money and still see the best that London has to offer?

To help you plan your first trip to London, I selected some of the best tips for visiting London . This no-nonsense practical guide will not only help you plan your London trip, but will also show you how to make the best of your visit, time, and budget. Find out!

Top 5 Experiences in London:

  • London Eye .
  • Tower of London & Crown Jewels .
  • Thames River Cruise .
  • Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio .
  • The View from The Shard .

Everything you should know before traveling to London for the first time

These are our top travel tips for visiting London:

1. Stay in Central London

The question that gets asked a lot by first-time visitors is what are the best places to stay in London.

Hotels in central London can be expensive, yet while it might be very tempting to choose cheaper accommodation outside the city center, it’s a choice that you’ll quickly regret. First, commuting into the city every day will cost a lot of money and time. Precious time, that you could otherwise use for sightseeing.

Visiting London for the first time? Stay in central London!  By staying in central London you can see much more in less time. Ultimately this will save money not just on transportation, but also on your overall trip budget because you’ll need fewer days in order to see just as much.

Now that we established that central London is the best place to stay when visiting London for the first time, you might be wondering which neighborhoods are the best for sightseeing.

There is probably no single best answer to this, but here is a short list of neighborhoods that we personally looked at when planning our recent trip to London with kids : Westminster, Trafalgar/ Covent Garden, Soho, Bankside, and South Bank. 

Ultimately we chose the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel , which is located on the South Bank close to the London Eye . We loved being in the center of the action and being able to easily walk everywhere. Staying in the center makes visiting London so much easier because many of the main attractions are within easy walking distance or just a short bus/ tube drive away.

The area around Covent Garden/Trafalgar Square is another great choice. Check out Citadines Trafalgar Square if you are looking for a nice price/quality/location hotel.

TIP: Using the map below, you can also easily see what’s available in central London for your travel dates and group size.

In general, I’d say just look for the best deals that you can find for your group and travel dates and as long as it’s in Central London, you know you made a good choice.

TIP: If you are looking for a lower budget stay in central London (although ‘budget’ is a relative term here), check out the Waterloo Station area (10 minutes walk to London Eye ). It’s one of the few places in the center where you can often find good quality budget accommodation. Here are two of the best choices in this area: Nox Hotel Waterloo and Point A Hotel London Westminster .

If you go further from the center, accommodation gets a bit cheaper. But a lot also depends on the specific area. In general, west/ northwest of the River Thames is better than going further east/ southeast because most of the main landmarks and attractions of London are on the western side of the river. Unless you stay very close to the river, in which case, it’s as good as it gets.

LEARN MORE: Where to Stay in London

Big Ben or Elizabeth Tower in London

2. Avoid Bank Holidays and School Breaks

London is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK , and one of the most popular cities in Europe. It’s an extremely popular destination that attracts millions of visitors from all over the world.

The busiest times to visit London are July and August, as well as European bank holiday weekends and school breaks. If you can, try to avoid these peak periods for fewer crowds and better prices.

If you plan to see London during Holiday Season, it’s best to avoid the main shopping streets on the weekends and the last days just before Christmas.

TIP: Since spring school holidays in Europe usually fall later than in the U.S., London is a great European destination for spring break . It can also be very nice in June when most European countries still have school.

READ ALSO: Best Time to Travel in Europe

London's Oxford Street during Holiday Season

3. Foresee Enough Time and Don’t Try to See Everything

If you are traveling to London for the first time, you are probably wondering how much time you need in London. You have to realize that London is huge and there is no way to see everything in just a few days or even a few weeks… So don’t come to London thinking that you can see it all in just one or two days.

While you can see most of the main sights in London in one day or two days , for first-time visitors, I highly recommend spending at least 3-4 days in London. This should give you sufficient time to get acquainted with the city, see the main landmarks, and visit a few of the most popular tourist attractions in London .

However, we also suggest visiting at least a few places outside of the city as that will make your trip so much more special. In that case, you should really plan at least 5-7 days in London. More about day trip suggestions further below.

Also, don’t try to see ‘everything’ in London. This is simply not possible and will leave you tired and frustrated. Plan to visit no more than two or three bigger attractions every day and leave some time for unexpected discoveries.

It's always fun to watch street artists in London

4. Book as Much as Possible in Advance

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when visiting London is not to plan your visit in advance. Starting with flights and accommodations and ending with London attractions and activities – booking in advance means more choice, better prices, and less time wasted queuing. After all, you want to make the most of your trip to London and not spend all your precious time standing in line.

TIP: Often tickets for the main London attractions are cheaper if booked online at least a day in advance. For example, you can usually get cheaper tickets for Madame Tussauds , The View from The Shard , or the  London Eye online (not even to mention avoiding the biggest queues and actually being able to visit).

For some places like e.g. The View from The Shard, not reserving in advance usually means that you won’t be able to visit at all.

If you want to go see a musical in London, book your theater tickets well in advance. There are sometimes last-minute tickets available as well, but not to the most popular shows, and the seats you get are usually far from great.

TIP:   If you are looking for last-minute theatre tickets in London, check the TKTS ticket booth on Leicester Square. You can buy theatre tickets only in person for performances on the same day, or up to two days in advance.

Les Miserables in London - book London theatre tickets well in advance

5. Save Time and Money on London’s Major Attractions

Visiting London for the first time means visiting all the main landmarks and attractions in London . However, if you aren’t prepared, it’s very likely you will waste hours and days standing in lines.

If you want to make the most of your time in London, consider skip-the-line tickets and priority passes at the most popular attractions.

Yes, they are expensive but think of it this way. What’s the point of paying all that money to travel to London to then spend all your time queuing instead of sightseeing…

The London Pass

One of the best ways to see a lot of the major attractions in London with a priority entrance is The London Pass . For example, it includes FREE entrance to places like The Tower of London, The View from the Shard, Westminster Abbey, London Bridge, or London Zoo and experiences like the Thames River Cruise or Hop-on Hop-off bus tour (to mention just a few)…

However, it only makes sense to get the pass if you visit at least 2-3 of the included attractions per day, so you need to decide if it’s worth it for you.

If you are planning to visit a lot of major attractions in a very short time, then the London Pass is definitely worth it. But plan well and make sure you get the most out of your pass during its validity period.

TIP: If you are staying in London longer, buying a pass for multiple days is more beneficial than just getting a pass for one day. Note that there are several different choices of passes in London ( The London Pass , London Explorer Pass ). Our research shows that the London Pass is one of the best options.

Fast Track and Skip the Line Tickets

The London Pass includes free entrance to 60 top attractions in London, but some of the most popular attractions like the London Eye are not included in this pass. The queues here can easily be 2-3 hours long, so believe me, a fast-track ticket is a real lifesaver .

We visited London with our three kids and used fast-track tickets wherever we could. I can’t imagine how different our experience would have been if we had to wait in line everywhere. We could have never seen half as much in the time that we had, not to mention our sanity, standing in line for hours with young children…

For example, you can buy fast-track tickets for the London Eye ,  St Paul’s Cathedral , the Tower of London and Tower Bridge , Madame Tussauds , and many others.

A fast-track ticket to the most popular attractions like the London Eye or even Madame Tussauds can easily save you a couple of hours!

TIP: The London Eye also has several different prices depending on when you book and when you visit. For example, the early morning, late evening, or weekday tickets are usually a bit cheaper. Plus, you can save up to 20% if booking online and at least 24 hours in advance! You can find all the best ticket options for The London Eye on the official website .

London Eye is not to be missed if visiting London for the first time

6. Visit London’s FREE Attractions

Here are some places and activities that you should definitely add to your London travel list:

Free Museums in London

Visiting London is not cheap, but there are so many great things to see and do completely for free. Here are just a few London museums that can be visited free of charge : British Museum, Natural History Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum, Museum of London and many more.

London’s Parks and Gardens

London has many gardens, parks and playgrounds that are free to visit. It is also a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

London Views

While some places require a ticket, there are lots of great views in London that don’t cost anything at all. For more information, please see our guide to the best views of London .

London’s Shops

Don’t get me wrong – shopping in London isn’t cheap by any means. But visiting the shops is of course absolutely free and can be an attraction in itself. Don’t miss Harrods and Oxford Street ! Kids will love  Hamleys (the world’s largest and oldest toy store), the LEGO store , and the  M&M store .

TIP: Try to avoid shopping streets and big department stores on the weekends and just before Christmas.

London Markets

London has lots of wonderful markets, scattered all around the city. With quirky, unique shops and food stalls that will leave you mouthwatering, it will likely be hard to resist buying something. But you can spend hours and days wandering around London’s markets without spending anything…

TIP: Some of our favorite markets include Camden Market , Greenwich Market , Spitalfields Market, and Borough Market.

Changing of the Guard

The Changing of the Guard is one of the free things to do in London that are not to be missed. The ceremony is free to watch and takes place at Buckingham Palace at 10.45 AM on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays (weather permitting).  It’s very popular among tourists, so make sure to arrive early in order to secure a spot with a good view.

For the exact location and up-to-date schedule, please consult the website of the Household Division .

British Royal Guard in London, UK

7. Use Credit Cards (or Smartphone)

These days, you hardly ever need cash for payments in the UK. Pretty much every place accepts credit cards and most places now also accept payments directly via your smartphone. You may want to get some cash for small purchases, but it’s so much easier to just use your credit card or smartphone.

You can use all major credit cards in London, but VISA and Mastercard are by far the most accepted cards. Amex is not widely used in Europe and Diner’s Club is pretty much useless. Debit cards (or cash-only cards) are also accepted pretty much everywhere.

One thing you should know is that if you use a card, often, you need one with a chip and a 4-digit PIN. Make sure that you know your PIN number by heart! You’ll need a credit card with a PIN for most payments all over Europe. Some places might still accept a card with your signature, but often, they don’t even know that they can or how to approach it because nobody in Europe uses that system anymore.

Good to know: When using an ATM or paying for purchases, you’ll be asked to choose currency – either local currency (UK pound sterling) or your own currency (US dollar if you’re traveling from the US, or Euro if you’re from Europe). Always choose to pay in local currency (UK pound sterling) and let your own bank do the currency transaction, or you risk losing a lot of money. A lot.

TIP:  If you don’t have the right credit card with a chip and a 4-digit pin, check out this selection of  the best American credit cards for travel . I recommend choosing  a card with no foreign transaction fees .

London travel tips - paying by card

8. Use Public Transport & Use a Contactless Credit Card or Oyster Card

London is a big city and visiting everything on foot just isn’t feasible. The good news is that London’s public transport system is very efficient.

One of the best and quickest ways to get around in London is metro, aka the London tube . The biggest advantage of the tube is that you can quickly get to the other side of London without having to waste your time in the traffic. Here’s a tip for you I once got from a local. Avoid the tube during rush hour and during Christmas.

However, while traveling underground, you don’t see anything of the city, so for shorter distances, I recommend taking one of the city’s buses. Riding these original red double-decker buses is a typical London experience you should try at least once.

TIP:  Get the Oyster card . It’s a sort of electronic ticket that can be used for all public transport in Greater London and is much cheaper than paying for single-ride tickets. You can find more information about the Oyster Card here .

Alternatively, just use your contactless credit card . You can scan it when entering the metro, then scan it again when you leave. It works the same way as the Oyster card and if you use public transport several times a day, the maximum amount you spend will be capped at a daily ticket rate.

Note that children often travel free of charge (more information here ). However, for older kids where kids’ tariff is applicable, you better get a ticket. Using your credit card for the kids as well would mean that you’re paying adult rates for them. On top of that, you need one card per person anyway.

TIP: Since the recent Uber ban in London, a traditional London cab is the best option if you have lots of luggage. You really don’t want to take the tube with young kids and big suitcases, take my word for it. We took a cab twice in London and it was much more affordable than we expected. Furthermore, riding a traditional English cab is part of the experience of visiting London for the first time.

Red double-decker bus on the Westminster Bridge in London

9. Walk or Rent a Bike

I know that I just told you that seeing London on foot isn’t feasible. However, you’d be missing a great deal if you take a tube or a bus every time. After all, one of the best ways to see a new city is to explore it on foot . London is no exception.

Another great way to see London and easily cover bigger distances is by bike . There are lots of self-service city bike stands where you can rent a bike, or you can join a guided bike tour.

If you are visiting London for the first time and don’t know the city well, renting a bike without a guide is maybe not the best idea, unless in the parks. London traffic is really busy, it comes (for most of us) from a different side than what we are used to, and if you also need to read the map, it can get quite dangerous.

TIP: If you want to explore London by bike, book a tour with a local guide. There are several great options, e.g. this half-day bike tour that covers the main highlights of London , or this bike tour that brings you to the less-known places of London .

Santander public bike rental system - bicycles for hire in London

10. Use Hop-on Hop-off Buses and River Cruises

There are so many ways to see London! For the complete experience, I recommend you try as many different means of transport as you can during your London trip.

Hop-on hop-off buses are extremely popular and are a great way to see the city and major attractions.

One of my favorite ways to see any city is by taking a boat where possible. There are so many boat trip options in London, so you really have no excuse not to see London from the Thames. One of the most popular options is hop-on hop-off boat on River Thames . It allows you to see many attractions close to the river in an easy way.

TIP: Hop-on Hop-off bus tickets usually include one FREE Thames River cruise ride and a FREE walking tour.

Thames river cruise is a great way to see London

11. Get off the Beaten Path

It’s understandable that you want to see the main landmarks when traveling to London for the first time. However, London is so much more than Big Ben or Buckingham Palace!

There are so many quirky neighborhoods, local markets, lesser-known museums, and beautiful gardens in London.

Visiting a few less known places like this will just make your first trip to London even more special and memorable.

TIP: Here you can find some great ideas for different things to do, the hidden gems of London . And here you can find some nice ideas for the best views and viewpoints in London .

READ ALSO: Camden Town – one of the coolest neighborhoods in London

Little Venice is a true gem in London

12. Eat Like the British

London is an expensive city and dining out can be a pricey experience. Furthermore, restaurants located close to tourist attractions don’t always serve the best food, so researching restaurants in advance can be a good idea.

Here are some insider tips on where to find the best food in London and save money :

  • Try traditional Fish&Chips where locals eat (e.g. Poppies Fish&Chips or The Golden Chippy).
  • Local supermarkets offer lots of affordable options for sandwiches or salads – perfect for a picnic in the park.
  • Borough Market is the best food market in London, but there are also so many other smaller markets and food stalls.
  • Ottolenghi deli sells delicious packed lunches.
  • Harrods food hall is not to be missed.
  • Lots of fine restaurants cost a fraction of the price if you go there for lunch rather than dinner.
  • Traditional afternoon tea experience is a must in London and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. We had  afternoon tea with kids at St. Ermin’s and loved it! Nowadays, there are many easily accessible and very affordable high tea experiences all over London (see here for some of the best options ).

READ ALSO: British Food to Try in the UK

Typical English afternoon tea

13. Take a Day Trip Outside of the City

While London has so much to offer, there are also so many nice places to visit outside the city as well! From the most popular destinations like Windsor Castle and bucket-list places like Stonehenge to the English countryside and charming villages of the Cotswolds , but also some of the UK’s best towns and cities such as Bath, Oxford, or Cambridge – there are so many amazing possibilities near London.

So if you can, plan a longer stay in London and take at least a few day trips to explore more of England. This will make your trip so much more special!

TIP: If you are short on time, we recommend that you take organized tours that cover some of the nicest places in one day. That way you can see a lot in just a few days – much more than you’d ever be able to do on your own. And yes, it’s not exactly exploring deeper, but if this is your first time in the UK, it’s better than nothing.

Here are some of the best day tours from London that we recommend for first-time visitors:

  • Windsor Castle, Stonehenge & Bath .
  • Oxford, Stratford & the Cotswolds .
  • Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio with Transfer .
  • Liverpool and The Beatles (a very long day, but well worth it for The Beatles fans). See also our guide on how to visit Liverpool from London .

READ ALSO: Best Day Trips and One Day Tours from London

London travel tips - take a day trip near the city

14. Don’t Forget The Little Important Details

Here are some more practical tips to consider when traveling to London for the first time:

  • You can pay by credit card pretty much everywhere, but it’s always useful to have some cash as well. And no, you can’t pay in Euro or US Dollars in London, you really need to get Pound sterling from an ATM.
  • You are not expected to tip in the UK and service charge is often included in your restaurant bill. In most London restaurants, you’ll get charged 10-15% in addition to your bill. Locals say they don’t typically tip at the bar, but would usually leave a 10% tip at a restaurant if the service was good and not yet included in the bill.
  • Don’t forget your travel adapter . UK uses Type G plugs, which are very different from other European countries, or the US.
  • You’ll be walking a lot, so wear comfortable shoes . Nowadays, Europeans wear sneakers in the cities too, and London is no exception. However, we tend to wear more fashionable sneakers (something like this ), not the ones you wear when playing tennis… However, some places in London still throw upon (and some doormen give you ‘the look’ or even refuse entry) if your clothing and/or footwear looks too casual…
  • Look right(!) when crossing a street in London. Yes, right, because they do drive on the other side of the road in Britain. If this is your first trip to the UK, it might take some getting used to. So be careful!
  • You may want to consider buying a local SIM card or a pocket Wi-Fi to save on roaming charges.
  • Pack an umbrella or a good rain jacket. It rains a lot in London, especially in the colder season. Although, as climate changes, the weather has gotten significantly drier here too. So check the weather forecast before your trip. Wearing layers is always the best way to go!

Traditional black London cab is a must when tarvelling in London

So, these are some of the most important practical tips you should know when traveling to London for the first time.

Do you have any questions or maybe want to share your experience and tips from visiting London? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

READ ALSO: Best Secret Places of London That Most Tourists Never See

London Travel FAQ

The best time to travel to London is in the warm season between March and October. Summer is the peak season with big crowds. For mild weather and fewer people, come in spring or in the fall. The very best months to visit London are April-May and September-beginning of October.

London is huge and there’s no way to see everything in one trip. If you are visiting for the first time, we recommend spending at least 3-4 days in London. This will allow you to see the main landmarks and visit a few tourist attractions. If you also plan to take day trips and see some of the UK from London, then plan to stay for at least a week.

The best way to explore London is by focusing on one area at a time and walking between the main attractions that are located next to each other. For bigger distances, use the London subway, hop-on hop-off buses, or river cruises.

If you are visiting London for the first time and want to see all the main landmarks and attractions, we recommend staying in Central London. The areas around Big Ben – London Eye have the prime location for sightseeing. Staying here will save you lots of time for commute and will allow you to make the most of your trip.

London is one of the best cities in the entire world and definitely worth visiting! With famous landmarks, royal history and traditions, fun tourist attractions, world-class museums, theaters, and a unique cultural mix, London has something to offer for any type of traveler. It’s a bucket list destination that everyone should visit at least once in a lifetime!

More inspiration for your trip to the UK:

  • Best Things to Do in London
  • Things to Do in Greenwich
  • Best Things to Do in Liverpool
  • Best Things to Do in Manchester
  • Yorkshire Day Trips
  • Best Places to Visit in Cornwall
  • London with Kids
  • Isle of Skye Itinerary
  • Scotland Whisky Tour
  • Top Things to Do in Blackpool
  • Tips for Visiting Blackpool
  • Best Things to Do in Edinburgh
  • One Day in Glasgow

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends who are planning their first trip to London. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

First-timer's guide to London - practical tips for visiting London for the first time

Travel tips for other major cities in Europe:

  • Amsterdam Travel Tips
  • Barcelona Travel Tips
  • Paris Travel Tips
  • Rome Travel Tips
  • Read also our step-by-step guide with planning info and tips for traveling to Europe .

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Thursday 12th of October 2023

My name is Albert, I was very impressed after reading your article and I also got a lot of useful information. Thank you.

Glad to help, Albert. Have a great time in London!

Sunday 6th of August 2023

Wow !!Planning to visit London along with out of city October, Thank you for helping me find thé information I needed ,it’s so helpful and informative! looking forward to hear you more 💙

Glad to help, Diki. Enjoy London!

Thursday 3rd of August 2023

you did a great job of providing all the essential information that visitor need to know, such as the best time to visit, where to stay, what to see and do, and how to get around

Saturday 5th of August 2023

Glad to help, Maran. Have a great time in London!

Thursday 6th of July 2023

This post was amazing. Thank you for all of the wonderful and helpful information. My boys (21 & 17) will be visiting London for 8 days and the end of July. We are all looking very forward to it. I forgot all about adapters, so I am glad that you posted about them. My older son wants to visit Paris while we are there, but the train tickets seem pretty pricey.

Saturday 8th of July 2023

Glad to help, Aja, and have a great trip! As for Eurostar tickets, they are never really cheap and they only become more expensive as the travel dates get closer, so if you absolutely want to visit Paris from London, be sure to book the train tickets asap. But there's so much to see in and near London that's probably worth the time and money more, especially if you only have a day for the excursion. You may want to check our guide to the best day trips from London for some inspiration. If you decide to go to Paris, you can find information and a few suggested itineraries here.

Thursday 29th of June 2023

Wow !!! You really helped me sort out our upcoming visit to London . I was feeling so overwhelmed before I read your blog .... Cannot thank you enough.

Friday 30th of June 2023

Glad to help. Have a great time in London!


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5 Days in London: The Ultimate London Itinerary

Julie Last updated: July 26, 2023 England 118 Comments

London Itinerary and Travel Guide

There’s just something about London. With its iconic skyline, trendy neighborhoods, world-class museums, and long list of popular attractions, London is a city that every traveler should visit. We put together this 5-day London itinerary to help you have the best experience here.

Table of Contents

About this London Itinerary

In general, I grouped sites together based on their location in order to save you time walking and using public transportation. This will keep you from spending unnecessary time on London’s metro (aka the Tube and the Underground) and backtracking through the city.

Also, I grouped some of the most expensive activities into days 2, 3, and 4, so you can take advantage of the London Pass (more about this at the end of the post).

Also, at the end of this post, we give recommendations on how to shorten this London itinerary if you only have 2, 3, or 4 days to spend in London.

The provided walking distances are the amount of walking you will do to get between sites. These do not include the amount of walking you will do inside museums, art galleries, etc.

5 Day London Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in London, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour, the London Eye Day 2: Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Whitehall, Covent Garden Day 3: Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Borough Market, Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sky Garden Day 4: National Gallery, Greenwich, Prime Meridian, Up at the O2 Day 5: British Museum, Afternoon Tea, Portobello Road Market, Museums in Kensington

London Itinerary: Day 1

Arrive in London

Depending on your flight, most likely you will arrive in London in the morning. Check into your hotel and get settled. Only take a nap if you desperately need one. It’s better to drink some coffee and stay awake so you can adjust to the time change as quickly as possible. It’s amazing what getting out into the sunshine can do to revive tired travelers. However, it is London, so there is the chance that the sun will be hidden behind the clouds.

To get to your hotel from the airport, you can take a taxi or hire a private driver (expensive, about 45 minutes, but most likely will be longer depending on traffic), take the Underground (cheap, about 1 hour), or take the Heathrow Express to Paddington station and then take the Underground to your hotel (about 45 minutes but varies depending on hotel location). 

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Normally, we do not recommend bus tours. Unless you are in London. This city is huge and the list of sites to see is long. Taking a bus tour is a great way to get an overview of this amazing city. Plus, it’s the perfect, low-key activity for jet-lagged travelers.

London Bus Tour

There are multiple companies that offer Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours. Big Bus, Golden Tour, and The Original Tour are the most popular. We recommend Big Bus , only because this is whom we used and we had a good experience.

Most companies offer multiple routes through the city. Tickets are valid for one, two, and three days, and extra excursions may be added in, such as a river ride on the Thames. For the purpose of today, all you need is a basic 24-hour ticket.

To get an overview of the city, I recommend the Red Route with Big Bus. This route takes you past the main sites without going too far out of the way. Enjoy the journey as you glide by Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and the River Thames.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you purchase your tickets online in advance, you will save money compared to purchasing them same-day on the city street.

Take a Ride on the London Eye

A ride on the London Eye is another ultra-touristy thing to do in London, but if this is your first time in the city, it’s thrilling to look down on the River Thames, Parliament, and over the London skyline.

London Eye

London Eye | 5 Day London Itinerary

Cost: Tickets start at £33 if you book in advance. If you want to skip the line, choose the Fast Track option (slightly more expensive). Tickets are available on the official website and through GetYourGuide. Hours: 10:00 am – 8:30 pm, although hours change frequently depending on the season. Visit the London Eye website for more information. Getting here: Use the bus tour to get here, hop off and ride the London Eye, and then hop back on the bus to complete the loop back to your hotel (or your starting destination).

Have dinner and go to bed early to get that much needed sleep.

RELATED:   London Bucket List: 50 Epic Things to Do in London

London Itinerary: Day 2

Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Whitehall, Covent Garden

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest and the walking route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.   If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is the site of the coronation of the monarchs of England, royal weddings, and the funeral of Princess Diana. Hundreds of people are buried in tombs and in the floor of the Abbey, including Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton. Included with your entry fee is an audio guide that explains the history of this amazing place.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey | 5 Day London Itinerary

Henry VII Lady Chapel

Henry VII Lady Chapel | 5 Day London Itinerary

PRO TRAVEL TIP:  To avoid waiting in line, it helps to pre-purchase your tickets online  and arrive at Westminster Abbey 15 minutes before opening time. By making this the first thing you do today, you will get to tour Westminster Abbey before it gets crowded.

Plan Your Visit: Tour Westminster Abbey in photos and learn how to plan your visit in our Guide to Westminster Abbey. Hours: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm Monday through Saturday; Sundays: only open for worship Cost: £27 online in advance; included on the London Pass; if tickets are sold out for your dates of travel, they can also be purchased through GetYourGuide. Website:  Check opening times and get updated pricing on the official website

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace | Ewelina W/

From Westminster Abbey, walk through St. James’s Park to The Mall (1.1 km, 0.7 miles, about 15 minutes) to Buckingham Palace. Most visits here are quick, with just a view of the Palace through the fence, but if you get your timing right, you can watch the Changing of the Guard.

The Changing of the Guard occurs every other day at 11 am (usually Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday). In the summer, the Changing of the Guard may occur daily. This schedule can change and the ceremony will not occur in inclement weather. Click here for the up to date schedule.

The Changing of the Guard is a ceremony that takes place between St. James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace. The ceremony starts at 10:30 am at St. James’s Palace, at 10:45 the procession enters The Mall and walks towards Buckingham Palace, and at 11 am the official Changing of the Guard occurs at Buckingham Palace. You can watch this ceremony on the Mall and in front of Buckingham Palace. It helps to get here early (as much as an hour early during the very busy summer months) to get a good spot.

If you want to watch the Changing of the Guard from the best vantage points and learn more about this tradition, this walking tour gets great reviews. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If this is something that’s at the top of your list to do in London, you can visit Buckingham Palace before Westminster Abbey. However, the Changing of the Guard will take up most of your morning and then you will be dealing with long lines and crowds at Westminster Abbey. In our opinion, your time is better spent at Westminster Abbey than joining the crowds at the Changing of the Guard.

During the months of August and September, and select times during the rest of the year, you can tour the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace. Learn more here.

Next we will be walking over to Whitehall. Restaurants on Whitehall either mediocre or expensive (your best bet on Whitehall is The Red Lion). There are numerous restaurants to try just south of Buckingham Palace, including Bon Gusto (Italian), Quilon (Indian and Asian), or Buckingham Arms (bar/pub located on at 62 Petty France).

Churchill War Rooms

After lunch, walk to the Churchill War Rooms. This museum has two parts to it. At the Churchill Museum you learn about the life and legacy of Winston Churchill. Then you enter the Cabinet War Rooms . This is the underground bunker where Churchill and his staff ran their operations during World War II.

This museum is fascinating and you do not need to be a history buff to appreciate this visit. If you want to learn more about Winston Churchill before your visit to London, consider watching the movie  Darkest Hour or reading the book The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, Defiance During the Blitz  by Erik Larson. It is about Winston Churchill’s first year as prime minister during the bombings by Hitler. This story is told by using the journals from Churchill’s inner circle and it provides a fascinating insight on the mind of Churchill and what it was like to live through this time period.

To skip the line, purchase your fast track tickets online in advance.

Cost: Adults £27.50, Child (5-15) £13.75 Hours: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm, last admission at 5 pm Website: Get updated hours and pricing before you go on the official website. Tour of the Churchill War Rooms: Get more out of your visit on this small group tour of the Churchill War Rooms and war sites in Westminster.

From the Churchill War Rooms, walk towards Westminster Bridge along Great George Street/A302. Along this walk, you will pass several red phone booths where you can photograph the phone booth and Big Ben together, as in the photo below.

Red Telephone Booth

From the Churchill War Rooms, continue the walk towards Big Ben. Before long, you will be able to see some of London’s most iconic sites: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Parliament.

Walk across Westminster Bridge and take a look back towards Parliament. This is a great place to snap that iconic photo of Parliament and the River Thames.

Parliament London

Parliament and Big Ben | 5 Day London Itinerary

If it interests you, you can take a tour of Parliament or attend the debates, if Parliament is in session. You can take an audio tour or watch the debates at the House of Commons or the House of Lords, but what exactly you can do depends on whether or not you are a UK resident. Click here for full details on how to visit Parliament.

#10 Downing Street

Cross back over Westminster Bridge and walk up Whitehall. You will first come to #10 Downing Street, the official home of the British Prime Minister. The entrance is protected behind a fence with armed guards, but you will be able see the residence from a distance.

Horse Guards Parade

Walk one more block north on Whitehall to Horse Guards Parade. This is a large, gravel area used for parades and a daily changing of the guard (at 11 am).

Horse Guards Parade

Trafalgar Square

Continue the walk north to Trafalgar Square. This is one of London’s most popular public squares. It has been the site for anti-war demonstrations, New Year’s Eve celebrations, and victory parades.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square | 5 Day London Itinerary

Ben Franklin’s House

Ben Franklin, in London? For sixteen years, from 1757 and 1775, Ben Franklin lived in London. This house is the only surviving house that he called home. It is now a museum and can be visited while you are in London. Visit the official website for hours of operation and ticket prices if a visit here interests you (included on the London Pass).

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is a district in the West End that is now a popular shopping and dining area. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring this neighborhood.

There are numerous restaurants in this area, including a cluster of restaurants and shops in Apple Market.

Neal’s Yard is a colorful alley near Covent Garden. It’s worth the quick visit just to take a photo. Just around the corner is Neal’s Yard Dairy , one of the best spots in the city to sample artisanal cheese.

Neals Yard

Neal’s Yard | 5 Day London Itinerary

London Itinerary: Day 3

Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Borough Market, Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Sky Garden

Tower of London

For nearly 1000 years, the Tower of London has served as a royal palace, prison, place of execution, stronghold for riches, and the symbol of the monarchy in England. This is absolutely a must-visit destination in London. This was our favorite history lesson in London, plus the crown jewels are stunning, and probably the best in all of Europe.

Tower of London

There are several parts to a visit to the Tower of London, so expect to spend approximately 2 hours here.

The one-hour Yeoman Warder tour is not only educational but also entertaining (even for kids!). It’s a fascinating lesson about the history of London and the events that occurred at the Tower of London.

Yeoman Warder Tour

The Crown Jewels , an astonishing display of diamond studded crowns and scepters, are the most amazing in Europe. Now they sit on display for all of us common folk to see.

You can also explore the tower walls and tour the White Tower and visit its museum with exhibits containing executioner’s blocks and the Royal Armory.

Ceremony of the Keys: This is a ceremony where the Tower of London is locked up at the end of the day. Tickets must be reserved online in advance and they can sometimes sell out a year in advance. Learn more here.

AVOID THE CROWDS: Lines to enter the Tower of London are notoriously long, especially midday during the summer months. By making this the first activity of the day, you can avoid the crowds. Plan on arriving here at opening time. To skip the lines at the Crown Jewels, go here first and then take the Yeoman Warder tour. Another option is this highly rated tour, which begins with the Opening Ceremony of the Tower of London by the Beefeaters, followed by a visit to the Crown Jewels and ends with skip-the-line access to the Tower Bridge Experience. 

Cost (online price): Adults £29.90, Child £14.90, included on the London Pass; walk-up tickets cost £2 – £4 more than online tickets Hours: Summer (March 1 to October 31) Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 am – 5:30 pm, Sunday and Monday 10:00 am – 5:30 pm, last admission 5:00 pm; Winter (November 1 to February 28) Tuesday through Saturday 9:00 am – 4:30 pm, Sunday and Monday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm, last admission 4:00 pm Getting here: Take the underground to Tower Hill, then it is a 5 minute walk to the Tower of London Website:   Get updated hours and pricing on the official website

RELATED: 12 Important Things to Know for Your First Visit to London

Tower Bridge

Walk out to the River Thames to Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge is London’s most famous bridge. Enjoy the view and take your photos.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge | 5 Day London Itinerary

Tower Bridge Walk

Stroll across the bridge and take in the view down the River Thames.

You can also climb the tower to an elevated glass floor. From here, it’s a thrilling look down at the pedestrians, cars, and buses traveling over London Bridge.

Walking across the bridge is free, but if you want to climb the tower and walk across the glass walkway, you will have to buy a ticket.

If you purchase your tickets online 24 hours in advance, you will save money off of the ticket price. You still may have to wait in line to enter the glass walkway depending on crowd levels. 

Cost: Adult £11.40, Child £5.70, included on the London Pass Hours: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm; last entry at 5:00 pm

The View from The Shard

From Tower Bridge, walk west along the Thames River to The Shard. You know you are heading in the right direction if you see a building that looks like a giant piece of broken glass pointing up to the sky. This is The Shard, one of London’s newest editions to its skyline.

At the View from The Shard, you will have the highest view over London. It’s pricey, but it may be worth it on a day with clear weather.

View from the Shard

The view from The Shard | 5 Day London Itinerary

Note: If you don’t want to spend your time or money here, later today you will visit the Sky Garden. This is another viewing platform that gets rave reviews and it is free.

Cost: tickets start at £28; included in the London Pass (we recently heard that the London Pass cannot be used at The Shard on a Saturday; if your visit will be on a Saturday, you may have to buy a separate ticket for The Shard, rather than using the London Pass) Hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm, with reduced hours during the winter. Visit the official website for more information.

Lunch at Borough Market

From The Shard, walk a few blocks to Borough Market. The food options are endless at this market. Stalls specialize in different cuisines from around the world, so this is a great place to sample some new foods or assemble a picnic lunch to enjoy back on the banks of the River Thames.

Note: Borough Market is closed on Sundays. However, there are numerous restaurants nearby if you are here when the market is closed.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Globe Theater London itinerary

Continue your walk along the River Thames to the Globe Theater. The original Globe Theatre was built in 1599 and hosted plays written by Shakespeare. A modern version of the Globe Theatre was built in 1997 on the site of the original theatre. Visitors can take a tour of the theatre or watch a performance here.

For the performance schedule and details about visiting the Globe Theatre, visit their website .

Tate Modern

Sitting next door to the Globe Theatre is Tate Modern, a museum that is home to modern art. This is a place that most people seem to either love or hate. Either you will think the art is rubbish or you’ll think that it’s brilliant. We kept our visit quick (about an hour) and were still able to tour most of the museum.

The Tate Modern is worth it if you are an art lover, but it is skippable if you are not. Hey, if you don’t like it, no biggie. The Tate Modern is free to visit!

Cost: Free Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Millennium Bridge

Built in 2000, Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Thames River. It has been featured in several movies, including Harry Potter and Guardians of the Galaxy . Walk across Millennium Bridge and continue on to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral dates back to the late 17th century. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London of 1666. Recent historical events that have taken place here include the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, and the funeral of Winston Churchill.

For us, the highlight was climbing the steps to the Whispering Gallery and to the rooftop for views over London.

St Pauls Cathedral London itinerary

St. Paul’s Cathedral | 5 Day London Itinerary

You can buy your fast-track entry tickets online , in advance, to save £3 per ticket and skip the line.

Cost (online): Adults £20.50; included with the London Pass; tickets are also available through GetYourGuide. Hours: Hours vary by the day of the week and it is not open on Sunday for sightseeing. Get updated hours here.

Monument to the Great Fire of London

After your visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral, walk east to the Monument of the Great Fire of London. This is a permanent reminder of the Great Fire of 1666 that destroyed the city of London. Christopher Wren was also the architect for this monument. If you still have energy, you can climb its 311 steps for another view over London.

Some people say that this is the best view of London. What’s even better is that a visit here is free. From its large observation deck, you can look out over the River Thames and see many of the places you walked to today.

You need to book your visit online in advance (do so on the Sky Garden website ). This is a great spot to enjoy dinner with a view or find a nearby restaurant or pub.

London Itinerary: Day 4

National Gallery, Greenwich, Prime Meridian, Up at the O2

National Gallery

National Gallery London

National Gallery | 5 Day London Itinerary

Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is the most popular art gallery in London. It is here that you can see British art from the 13th century to 1900. It would take all day to fully explore this art gallery. For those who want to hit the highlights, visit the National Gallery website and check out their list of 30 must-see paintings.

Cost: Free Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, open until 9:00 pm on Friday

If you have extra time (and do not have museum fatigue yet) you can also visit the National Portrait Gallery, located behind the National Gallery.

Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street

From the National Gallery, walk to Piccadilly Circus. This spot is similar to Times Square in New York City. This meeting point, where several main roads come together, is a very busy spot in London. Enormous neon signs bath the area in colorful light and double decker red buses and cars continually stream by. Have a seat on the steps of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain and watch London in action.

Next, walk up Regent Street. This is a major shopping street in London. Along the way, you will pass Hamley’s, one of the largest toy stores in the world and a great place to take kids. Continue up to Oxford Circus, another famous London intersection.

Have lunch nearby. If you like the idea of Indian food, consider Dishoom Carnaby , located on Kingly Street, one block off of Regent Street.

There are several great things to do in Greenwich. Depending on how much time you have left in the day, you may not be able to get all of these in.

Getting Here: From Oxford Circus Station, take the Central line towards Epping, getting off at Bank Station. Change to the DLR towards Lewisham, getting off at Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich. Approximately 30 minutes travel time.

Old Royal Naval College

This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Greenwich. It once served as a naval hospital and later as a naval college. Now, this site is being used as a filming location for many famous movies such as The King’s Speech , Patriot Games , Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides , Four Weddings and a Funeral , The Avengers , and The Dark Knight Rises .

The Painted Hall, which is the main attraction in the Old Royal Naval College, reopened in 2019 after a renovation project. 

You can book your tickets online in advance through the official website. Entrance tickets with an included audio guide are also available through GetYourGuide.

Painted Ceiling

Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian

Here is your chance to stand over 0° longitude, placing one foot in the eastern hemisphere and one foot in the western hemisphere. You can also visit the planetarium museum. Since this observatory sits on top of a hill, you have a great view over Greenwich and the River Thames from here.

Earth Trekkers London itinerary

Website: Get hours and pricing on the official website

The Cutty Sark was the fastest ship of her time, the world’s sole surviving tea clipper ship. Tours are available daily. The Cutty Sark is located in Greenwich.

Up at the O2

The O2 is an entertainment district with an arena, music club, cinema, and restaurants. Up at the O2 is a 90-minute experience where you get to climb onto the O2 roof. The views over London from the top are spectacular.

You can do the climb during the daytime, at sunset, and at twilight.

Visit the Up at the O2 website for full details, hours, cost, and how to schedule your visit. Tickets are also available through GetYourGuide.

Getting here from Greenwich:

By Bus: Bus 188 from Cutty Sark from Maritime Greenwich to North Greenwich, 10 stops, 10 minutes By Tube: Cutty Sark from Maritime Greenwich to Canary Wharf on the DLR, transfer to Jubilee Line, go one stop to North Greenwich Station

End the day with dinner and drinks.

London Itinerary: Day 5

British Museum, Afternoon Tea, Portobello Road Market, Victoria and Albert Museum, Harrod’s

British Museum

The British Museum is one of the world’s greatest museums. This museum contains a massive collection of historical artifacts that were amassed while Great Britain was a major world super power. See the Rosetta Stone, a portion of the Parthenon, Egyptian mummies, and hieroglyphics. As you wander through these rooms you will be amazed at how much stuff the British Empire amassed during their world rule.

We are putting this museum first in the day. The British Museum is huge and it is best tackled when you are fresh and full of energy. Make sure you have a good breakfast to keep you fueled as you journey back in time at this museum.

British Museum London itinerary

Depending on what you want to get out of this visit, you have lots of options. You can see the highlights in one hour, or spend three hours and dive deeper into what there is to visit here. There is so much to see that really you could spend an entire day at the British Museum. Unfortunately, there is not enough time in this itinerary for a visit that long, but spending the morning here is an appropriate amount of time for most visitors.

The British Museum website has lots of great information on how to organize your time and how to keep kids interested. To have the best experience, check out their recommendations.

Cost: Free! Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm daily, open until 8:30 pm on Fridays Getting here: The nearest underground stations are Tottenham Court Road, Holborn, Goodge Street, and Russell Square.

Portabello Road & More Museums Or Afternoon Tea

At this point, you have a choice to make: would you like to do more sightseeing or would you like to have a leisurely, somewhat indulgent afternoon and evening?

You can spend your time visiting Portabello Road, followed by the museums in Kensington. OR, have afternoon tea, take a stroll through one of your favorite neighborhoods in London, and follow this up with dinner and drinks.

Option #1: Portabello Road & Museums in Kensington

Portobello road market.

From the British Museum, hop on the underground and head out to the Portobello Road Market. Portobello Market is the world’s largest antique market . You can also shop for books, clothing, music, and grab lunch here. It is open all week but the best day to go is Saturday. On this walking tour of Notting Hill, you get to visit Portobello Road Market, famous filming locations, and celebrity homes.

Getting here: From Tottenham Court Road Station, take the Central Line to Notting Hill Gate (direction Ealing Broadway). Then walk 5 minutes to the market.

Museums in Kensington

Spend the rest of the afternoon at the Natural History Museum and/or the Victoria and Albert Museum. These two museums sit next to each other on Cromwell Road.

With wildlife and geological exhibits, the Natural History Museum is a museum that is fun for the whole family.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world’s largest museum of decoration arts and design. Paintings, sculptures, medieval objects, jewelry, photographs, and costumes from around the world can be seen here.

Both museums are free to visit and are open until 5:45 pm.

Getting here: from Notting Hill Gate Station, take the Circle line to South Kensington Station

Natural History Museum London

Natural History Museum | 5 Day London Itinerary

End the day with a visit to Harrods, one of the most popular department stores in the world. It’s motto, Omnia Omnibus Ubique, is Latin for “all things for all people, everywhere.” And have everything, they do. There are 330 departments offering things for sale like jewelry, electronics, furniture, clothing, and stationary. There are also 32 restaurants so finding a place for dinner should be easy.

Option #2: Afternoon Tea & a Leisurely Afternoon

For a quintessential British experience, dine on finger sandwiches, scones, and small cakes at one of many hotels offering afternoon tea.

There are many hotels and restaurants that offer afternoon tea. We had afternoon tea at  The Dilly , at the  Montagu Kitchen & Lounge  at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, and at the  Wellington Lounge at the InterContinental London Park Lane. Each experience was fantastic and of the three, we really don’t have a favorite. You can visit each of the websites and pick out the one that looks the most interesting to you, or take a look at the list of afternoon teas in this article.

After having tea, go for a stroll in the neighborhood of your choice, or visit one of London’s green spaces, such as Hyde Park and Green Park.

In the evening, have drinks and dinner at a rooftop bar or restaurant. We recommend 8 at the Londoner (creative cocktails and Japanese cuisine), The Rooftop (great views over Trafalgar Square), and the Aviary Rooftop Restaurant.

Aviary London

Aviary Rooftop. In the winter, dine in an igloo. For the remainder of the year, this terrace has outdoor seating without the igloos.

With More Time

If you have more than five days, here are a few sights you can add to your London itinerary.

Kew Gardens

This is a beautiful spot to visit. It also makes a tranquil escape from the museums and busy city streets of London. If you are on museum overload, skip some of the museums on this itinerary and journey out to Kew Gardens.

Kew Gardens London itinerary

Kew Gardens | 5 Day London Itinerary

Take a Walking Tour of London

There are numerous options for walking tours in London. SANDEMANs offers free walking tours that get rave reviews and those over 18 can take a Liquid History Tour of London. There are also Jack the Ripper tours , street art tours, and foodie tours.

The list of walking tours in London is long. Here are a few more options.

How to Adjust this London Itinerary with Less Time

2 Day London Itinerary: On day 1 of this itinerary, do the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour and then take in the view from the London Eye, the Sky Garden, or The Shard. On day 2, spend the morning at Westminster Abbey, midday visit the British Museum, in the afternoon visit the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. End the day in Covent Garden.

3 Day London Itinerary: Do days 1 and 2 of this itinerary. On the afternoon of Day 3 visit the British Museum instead of spending time at The Shard, the Globe Theatre, and Tate Modern.

4 Day London Itinerary: Do days 1, 2, and 3 of this itinerary. On your 4th day, spend the morning at the British Museum and the afternoon in Greenwich.

Should You Get the London Pass?

If you follow this London itinerary and plan on visiting everything we list, then purchasing a 3-day London Pass is worth it.

In order to make the London Pass worth it on this itinerary, start using the pass on the morning of day 2 at Westminster Abbey. The pass will pay for most of your activities on days 2, 3, and 4. On these three days, if you did everything , your cost would be £160.20. The cost of a 3-day London Pass was £122 when I did this pricing update in April 2023 (a savings of £38.20).

It is possible to purchase the London Pass with a discount during certain months of the year.  GetYourGuide also has discounted pricing for the London Pass.

Another advantage of having the London Pass is that you do not need to order numerous tickets online in advance. Purchasing the London Pass not only saves money but also time.

Learn more about the London Pass on their website .

I do not recommend adding on the Oyster Card through the London Pass. It is slightly cheaper if you purchase the Oyster Card separately.

About the Oyster Card

The Oyster Card is a smartcard that you use to pay for transportation in London, including the Tube, trams, buses, and more. Before you travel to London, you can purchase an Oyster Card online and have it shipped to your home. Or, you can buy an Oyster Card at Underground Stations, Gatwick Airport, and Heathrow Airport. There is a one-time £5 fee to purchase the card.

You will preload the card with money. Each time you scan the card to enter the Underground or board a bus, the fare will be deducted from the card. There is a daily max which means once you hit the max, you can travel as much as you like in a single day and the amount you pay is capped.

For a four day stay in London, £30 on the card is a good place to start. For five days in London, start with £35. You can always add more money as you go (do this in the Underground stations).

For an article that explains the Oyster Card in great detail, click here.

Big Ben London itinerary

Where to Stay in London

London is enormous. To maximize your time, either stay in the city center or pick a hotel within walking distance of convenient tube station.

OUR TOP PICK: The Marriott County Hall. We just stayed here on our most recent trip to London. The location is unbeatable. It’s located on the River Thames, in between Westminster Bridge and the London Eye. Some rooms have views of Parliament and Big Ben. This hotel is within walking distance of two handy Underground stations: Westminster and Waterloo. We loved the location, the views, the onsite restaurants, and being just steps away from Westminster Bridge.

Big Ben and Parliament London

View from our room at the Marriott Hotel County Hall | 5 Day London Itinerary

LUXURY:  The Savoy.   This world-famous hotel dates back to 1889. It sits on the River Thames and from here it’s just a short walk to Covent Garden and the British Museum. Have a drink in the famous American Bar and dine in Gordon Ramsey’s Savoy Grill.

MIDRANGE:   The Sanctuary House Hotel.  Just a 5-minute walk from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, this is a great mid-range hotel to consider if you want to be centrally located in London. Rooms are tastefully decorated and there is a traditional pub on the ground floor that offers hearty meals like fish and chips.

BUDGET:   YHA London St Pancras.  If you are visiting London on a budget, this property is a great choice. This hostel sits just across the street from St. Pancras station. It gets very good reviews and it is easy to get anywhere in London with its handy location near multiple tube lines.

For more recommendations on where to stay, read our   Best Hotels and Neighborhoods Guide for London. Learn where to stay for a great view of city and get recommendations whether you are looking for a budget hotel, luxury hotel, or if you are traveling as a family.

More Information about London

BEST OF LONDON: For a list of the top experiences in London, read our article Best Things to Do in London.

WHERE TO STAY: Take the guesswork out of where to stay in our article Best Places to Stay in London.

LONDON TRAVEL ADVICE: Here are 12 important things to know if it will be your first time in London.

WESTMINSTER ABBEY: Tour Westminster Abbey in photos and learn how to plan your visit in our Guide to Westminster Abbey.

WINDSOR CASTLE: Windsor Castle makes a great day trip from London. Learn how in our article How to Plan a Day Trip to Windsor Castle.

LONDON AT CHRISTMAS: For an overview of what to do, here are 15 things to do in London at Christmas. We also have guides to the best Christmas lights and best Christmas markets. Learn how to put it all together in our London Christmas Itinerary.

ITINERARIES WITH LONDON: London and Paris can be combined into a wonderful 7 or 10 day trip. With 10 days, you can also visit London, Amsterdam, and Paris.

Happy travels! If you have any questions about this London itinerary, or if you want to share your experience here, comment below!

More Information for Your Trip to London

PARIS: For the top experiences in the city, read our article Best Things to Do in Paris . Learn how to visit Pere LeChaise Cemetery , plan your time with our 3 Day Paris Itinerary, learn where to get the best views of Paris , and read our Paris Food Guide for information on what to eat in Paris.

MORE CITIES AROUND THE WORLD: Visit more cities around the world with our guides to Rome , Paris , New York City ,  Barcelona , and Athens.

EUROPE TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more great ideas on where to go in Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe and the 20 Best Hikes in Europe. You can also get more travel ideas in our 10 Days in Europe itinerary guide, which has 10 great itineraries for your next trip to Europe.

FIRST TIME IN EUROPE: If this is your first time in Europe, don’t miss our article 7 Things to Know when Planning Your First Trip to Europe.

TRAVEL ITINERARIES: For more travel itineraries for destinations around the world, take a look at our Travel Itineraries page.

To read all of our articles about the United Kingdom, check out our United Kingdom Travel Guide.

London Itinerary and Travel Guide

Note: This London itinerary post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

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London Paris Itinerary

Comments 118

Avatar for Becca

Hi! Several years ago, we stayed in Paris for a week and took a day trip over to London . We didn’t have time to do much, but we did the hop-on-hop-off bus tour and saw the London cityscape from up high. We are now planning a trip specifically to London and wondered if you had alternative suggestions for Day 1 (since we’ve already done what you’ve suggested for Day 1 on this post), considering the fact that we’ll be somewhat sleepy from our overnight flight from the US. Thanks!

Avatar for Julie

That’s a great question. I still recommend riding the London Eye that first. In that area, walk across Westminster Bridge at least halfway (it’s such an iconic spot in London and good to do on your first day). Then take the Tube to Covent Garden, go shopping, have a bite to eat there or in a nearby pub. That makes it easy to get dinner without having to make a reservation (that first day can go well or you could feel exhausted, so I think it’s best to have open plans from our experience). Then, on day 2, since you already did Covent Garden, you can visit Soho, go window shopping on Regent Street, and/or go shopping at Selfridges or make a reservation for dinner. Have a great time! Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Elizabeth

Hi – this is great, I am trying to print it out to bring with me to London, leaving today – any chance you have a PDF of it?

Unfortunately, we don’t have a pdf or eBook version of this itinerary. You can save it as a pdf but it will be long/a lot of pages since our website is not printer friendly. Have a great time in London! Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Melisa

This is incredible. Your level of detail and ease to follow is fantastic. We leave for Japan next week and I get sad when the planning is over and the trip – so I always have my next destination in mind before leaving for the current trip. This itineary is amazing and my inspiration – just booked my hotel for next April! 🙂 Do you have any similar advice for Cotswold or more “Country” London? Hoping to split the trip!

Hello Melisa. I’m glad you like our site! Unfortunately, we have not been to the Cotswolds yet. We have been to Stonehenge and Bath but that was over 10 years ago so our experience wasn’t “current enough” in my opinion to write about it for this website. Hopefully you can find what you need online and I hope you have a wonderful trip to London! Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Traci

Hi there! Thank you SO MUCH for all of your advice! I’ve used so much of it for our upcoming London/Paris/Amsterdam trip!

My question: do you guys use the public drinking fountains in these cities? I’ve purchased collapsible water bottles for our family of 6. I can’t really find if anyone says these public fountains are good water. I’m def not a water snob; but I’d like a little reassurance from someone who uses them! If you DON’T use them, do you have any tips for sightseeing days? Anything easier than just buying a couple gallons of water every day to fill us all up?

Hello Traci. Thanks for writing in. The only place we’ve used the public fountains was in Rome and that water was fine. If we want to carry water with us, we tend to fill up a water bottle in the hotel and bring that with us, and then drink tap water or sparkling water at lunch and dinner. But we have not tried the public fountains in London, Paris or Amsterdam (but it’s most likely fine). I hope you have a great time! Cheers, Julie

Avatar for Jennifer in OK!

I just want to take a moment to say thank you. I am a mom in Tulsa who feels incredibly lucky that we are going to take our kids to London this summer. But I am totally overwhelmed. My son is celiac and eating out anywhere is a huge ordeal or unsafe. The thought of putting an itinerary together PLUS figuring out how to safely feed my son in another country made me want to just cancel the whole thing. Then I stumbled upon this itinerary and I feel inspired. It is so thoughtfully prepared and allows me the freedom to find a gluten free option for my son (thanks to London’s very celiac friendly environment) along the path you laid out. I am still working on our details (we are traveling late july 2023) but you’ve given me the launching pad I needed to make our European Adventure a mission GO!

Hello Jennifer in OK! You are very welcome! And I can relate to your concerns, as Tyler has an allergy to peanuts and some nuts, so I have similar concerns about traveling with him. I think you will be fine in London…there are a lot of gluten free options, and we are beginning to see that throughout Europe and also in New Zealand, where we are right now. Have a great time in London! Cheers, Julie

Avatar for melanie

Hi Jennifer- we are also traveling to London in July and 2 of us are gluten free. I would love to take a peak at your itinerary as I am totally overwhelmed. Would you mind?

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UK Travel Planning

Planning a London trip (essential tips for first time visitors)

Planning your first visit to London? Feeling overwhelmed? We have you covered! In this article, I share all my best tips for visiting London. Follow these steps and I will show you how to plan your trip to London and make the most of your visit.

London is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and certainly the number one destination for visitors to the UK. If this is your first time visiting London it can however feel quite overwhelming when it comes to planning your trip.

Common questions you may be considering include

When is the best time of year to visit London?

  • How many days do I need to spend in London?
  • What are the must see London sights and landmarks?
  • Where should I stay in London?
  • What should I budget for London?

These and a myriad of other questions can make planning your visit seem complex and just too hard.

Read on for London travel tips and practical actionable steps to help when planning a London trip and reduce stress.

Step 1 – Decide when to visit London (and for how long)

Step 2 – book your london accommodation, a. book tickets and tours in advance, b. consider purchasing a london sightseeing pass to save you time and money.

  • C. Include some of London's free attractions and sights in your itinerary

A. Use public transport including the London Underground (the Tube)

B. purchase an oyster card for use on public transport, c. hire a santander bicycle or take a river cruise on a thames clipper, d. catch a london cab, step 5 – plan where (and what) to eat in london, step 6 – consider adding a day trip from london into your itinerary, insider tips for first time visitors to london, how many days do you need in london, what is the best area to stay in london for first-time visitors, how much do i need to budget for london, enjoy your visit to london, london travel guide & itinerary planner (+ 4 bonus ebooks), how to plan your trip to london – top travel tips for planning your visit to london.

(Tip – If possible avoid visiting London during peak times)

Deciding when to visit the UK is the first step in my UK trip planner and if London is your first destination you may also be considering just how long you need to spend in London.

London is the most popular city in the UK for visitors from all over the world and is busy all year round. However, it gets even busier and more crowded during school holiday periods, particularly in the summer months of July and August though London in spring is also a popular time to visit too.

July and August is peak tourist season in the UK with many Brits as well as overseas visitors heading to the capital for their holidays. 

While London is not a particularly budget-friendly destination at any time of year you will find hotel prices are particularly steep during peak season.

Weekends and public holidays* can also be fairly hectic in London especially around popular shopping areas such as Oxford Street and Covent Garden. Museums and art galleries can also be more crowded than usual.

London in December is always busy and if you (like me) can’t resist the beautiful Christmas lights, markets and shops keep in mind that the weekends before and after the holidays are the worst. If you plan to visit London in winter but want to avoid the busy season you will find January and February is quieter and as it is low season prices are lower too.

Thousands of visitors throng the streets and fill underground stations. If you panic in crowds or in confined spaces avoid the underground around this time, particularly around Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden.

My answer to the question, ‘How long should I plan to stay in London?” is at least 3 to 4 days. This should enable you to see and enjoy some of London’s major sights and landmarks.

  • Public holidays (called ‘Bank’ holidays in the UK are December 25/26, Jan 1st, Good Friday and Easter Monday, the first and last Mondays in May and the last Monday of August)

Read more – When is the best time to visit London and the UK?

Regents Street Christmas lights.

(Tip – Stay in central London)

Hotels are expensive in London and it is tempting to book accommodation further out of the capital. I would advise against this.

When planning your UK travel budget do keep in mind that accommodation costs in London may be the most expensive of your trip.

Areas I would recommend to stay in include the West End – Covent Garden , Soho, Leicester Square, Westminster or South Bank and Bankside . These are all central locations with most of London’s top sights within walking distance and convenient access to the Tube.

Read more – Where to stay in London (a guide to the best areas)

St Pancras Hotel London.

Step 3 – Plan your itinerary

(Tip – Don’t try to do and see everything)

It may be impossible to see and do everything you want when you visit London. It is easy to over plan and overestimate how much you can do. It can also be exhausting.

I would recommend identifying your “must-do’s and must-see’s” when you plan your travels to London and developing your London itinerary around those.

Read more – Ultimate London bucket list (including the main landmarks and attractions)

I recommend booking tickets and tours in advance especially if visiting during peak times. It can be difficult to purchase tickets on the day for many London attractions such as the London Eye for example.

Tickets for some attractions may also be cheaper if you purchase in advance.

To save time and money when visiting London for the first time I would consider buying a sightseeing pass.

One of the most popular is the London Pass .

The London Pass includes free entrance to 80 attractions in London (including the Tower of London , London Zoo, the View from The Shard and many more) plus a one day Hop On Hop Off bus tour as well as discounts on shopping, dining, and entertainment. It comes with priority entrance to attractions so you can skip the queue and avoid wasting precious holiday time.

Which pass you purchase will depend on what you plan to see and do. The London Pass is a great option if you plan to see 2 or 3  of the attractions every day but it may be a case of calculating the costs of entry to each attraction versus the cost of a pass to decide if it is worthwhile for you. Read our complete review of the London pass!

Another pass available is the London Explorer Pass where you can create your own tour of London with a pass to 3, 4, 5 or 7 top attractions

There are also lots of excellent tours of London available to book. Choosing the right sightseeing or themed tour of London can be a little overwhelming so use my comparison guide to the best walking tours of London to help you to decide which tour is right for you.

London Eye

C. Include some of London’s free attractions and sights in your itinerary

Visiting London is not cheap so it’s good to know that there are lots of free things to do there. Many museums and galleries are free of charge for visitors. The British Museum, Tate Modern and Natural History Museum are free and very popular with visitors.

The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is another popular (and free) attraction that should not be missed.

Enjoy a stroll around one of London’s many parks. In summer head to Primrose Hill with a picnic for great views across the city. There are lots of markets to visit too including Borough Market, Brick Lane and Portobello Market.

The Sky Garden (London’s highest public garden) is another popular free attraction in London though you will need to book a ticket to ensure you can see them. (Bookings open 3 weeks before – click here to book your free ticket to The Sky Garden )

Read more – 32 free things to do and see in London

Sky Garden London

Step 4 – Planning a London trip; consider how you will get around London

(Tip – Buy an Oyster card )

I would NOT recommend hiring a car and driving in central London. I speak from experience as I was required to drive in central London when I worked there and it is a stressful experience. 

It is much easier to use the public transport system (the Tube, trains, buses, trams, light railway, trains)

While the Tube is the quickest and easiest way to travel around London don’t use it all the time as you won’t see much of London if you spend your time travelling underground.

I recommend booking a hop-on hop-off bus tour (read our review of the best London bus tours ) or jumping on one of London’s famous red double-decker buses to see the main sights as it’s a great way to orientate yourself with the city.

One of the top sightseeing bus routes to take is Route 24 from Pimlico to Hampstead Heath (catch the bus from Victoria) which passes some of London’s most famous sights including Westminster Cathedral, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square before continuing onto Camden Town and Hampstead Heath.

Good to know – Keep in mind that peak times of day to travel in London are 06:30 to 09:30 and 16:00 and 18:00 Monday to Friday when people commute in and out of London for work. It is cheaper to avoid these times on public transport and travel during off-peak for better prices.

LEARN MORE – Complete guide to getting around London on public transport

London bus with Christmas decorations in the background.

An Oyster Card is an electronic ticket that is preloaded with credit and is used to pay for public transport in London including the Tube, Overground, trams, buses and boats. Read more about Oyster Cards.

I recommend purchasing an Oyster Card as it is a cheaper option than buying single-use tickets.

Visitor Oyster Cards are available if you are visiting London from overseas. The cards can save up to 50% off regular fares, are accepted everywhere and will save you time on arrival in London.



How to use the Oyster card

To use the Oyster Card simply tap on the yellow card reader when you enter a station and tap off again when you exit. There is a maximum daily amount that can be charged.

Alternatively, you can also use a contactless credit card and tap on and off as you enter and leave tube stations.

Children under 11 travel free on the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway and buses and do not need their own ticket. Children aged 11 – 15 will need their own Oyster Card but can get a 50% reduction in fares for up to 14 days.  

If you need to top up your card during your trip you can do it at a station or in over 4000 shops around London. If you have money left on your card before you leave London you can get a refund (over £10) or keep the card for your next visit. 

Good to know – When using an Oyster card on a London bus swipe the yellow card reader as you get on the bus. Do not swipe it again as you get off! You can’t buy tickets using cash for buses in London so you will need an Oyster card or a contactless credit card.

Oyster card is worth buying when planning a london trip.

You will see Santander bicycle docks all around the city. These were introduced by the now Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he was the Mayor of London.

Bikes are charged at £2 for the first 30 minutes and you will need to use the Santander bike app to enter your credit card details to rent one.

Alternatively, if you like the idea of cycling in London but are a bit nervous why not book a bicycle tour with a guide ?

Another great way to experience London is to take a river cruise. I recommend jumping on a River boat service run by Thames clipper to Greenwich from Westminster. Oyster Cards are valid for use on the clippers too so no need to worry about buying a ticket!

Alternatively, why not take book a boat trip or cruise along the Thames – read our comparison guide to the best Thames cruises here.

Santander bicycles with a red bus in the background.

London cabs are synonymous with the capital and I would recommend travelling in one at least once during your London visit.

Yes, they can be pricy but there are times when I would advise that you take a London cab rather than public transport. For example, don’t struggle on the underground with large suitcases – it is not the place to take large items of luggage.

If you are flying into London you have a number of options to travel into the city. You can either book a transfer direct to your hotel or take the Heathrow Express to Paddington then a cab to your hotel (or if you are landing at Gatwick Airport take the Gatwick Express to London Victoria then get a cab to your hotel from there)

Read more in my guides to the best ways to travel from Heathrow to London or from Gatwick into London .

How to hail a London cab

  • Look for a cab with the light on top displaying the word “TAXI” as that means that it is available. Once you hop in and drive off the light is switched off.
  • Stick out your arm when you see the taxi (make sure you are standing somewhere the taxi can stop)
  • Once the taxi has pulled over go to the front window and tell him where you want to go.
  • You will notice the meter clicking over as you drive to your destination.
  • Some London cab drives are very chatty and have some interesting stories to tell – I always ask if they have picked up anyone famous in their cab!
  • Once you have arrived you will be told the final cost. I round up to the nearest £

A woman hailing a cab.

Tip – Visit markets and supermarkets for budget lunches and picnic options

Although the UK may not be famous for its cuisine London really is a fabulous destination for foodies.

I would recommend sampling some traditional English food and while this list isn’t exhaustive here are some dishes to try.

  • Afternoon tea – there are lots of fantastic afternoon teas  available in London from the classic Ritz afternoon tea to themed afternoon teas including one on a red London bus !
  • Fish and chips
  • Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding
  • Jellied eels 
  • Pie and mash
  • Strawberries and cream (A Wimbledon classic)
  • An English pint of beer in a traditional English pub with a bag of pork scratchings
  • A full English breakfast

If you are simply looking for a sandwich for lunch pop into a Pret a Manger . This UK sandwich shop chain sells baguettes, sandwiches, wraps, salads at a reasonable price.

Supermarket chains such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, M&S and Waitrose are also good for sandwiches, snacks and drinks.

Borough Market is London’s most famous food and drink market offering diners a wide choice of restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes.

To save money eat at popular budget restaurant chains such as Nandos, Wagamama, Pizza Express, Pho, and Cafe Rouge.

Read more –  20 traditional English foods to tempt your tastebuds


Tip – If you are nervous about travelling independently there are lots of tours available which combine 2/3 of the most popular destinations such as Windsor/the Cotswolds & Bath into a one day trip.

If you have enough time in your UK travel itinerary why not take a  day trip from London by train?

Popular day trips to the South East and South West of London include Bath , York , Oxford, Stonehenge and Blenheim Palace to name a few. There are also some fabulous castles near London which make easy day trips.

If you really feel adventurous why not book the Eurostar to Paris ? It will be a full day and busy but it is doable (my husband once met me in Paris for coffee via the Eurostar!). Click here to read my top tips for first-time visitors to Paris

Discover 17 of the best day trips to make from London in my complete guide.

⇒ Click here for prices and to reserve your Eurostar ticket to Paris!

An image showing 4 day trip destinations including Oxford, Paris, Bath and Stonehenge.

  • Do be careful with your belongings in London. Unfortunately, there are pickpockets around so I would recommend using a pickpocket-proof bag/backpack when you travel. Read more about pickpocket bags and why I highly recommend using them in my guide to the best anti pickpocket bags and backpacks.
  • Pay attention when withdrawing money from ATMs. Card skimming is a problem particularly around popular tourist destinations such as Oxford Street. If anything looks suspicious do not use the machine. If possible only use machines in banks.
  •  Tipping is not expected in the UK – leave 10% for good service but do check your bill in case a service charge of 10 – 12.5% has already been added. If you take a cab round up the fare to the nearest £
  • Vehicles drive on the left in the UK. Pay attention when you cross the road because if you are used to driving on the right you will look the wrong way! Always cross at traffic lights and don’t jaywalk. London roads are busy and you need to concentrate when crossing them.
  • It can be very hot on the underground at any time of year. In winter shops can also be stifling. I recommend wearing layers so you can cool off if necessary. Carry a bottle of water too to stay hydrated. 
  • If you want to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace do check the schedule as it does not occur every day and times can vary.
  • At the time of writing this article, Big Ben is covered in scaffolding for essential repairs. The scaffolding is now scheduled to be removed by spring 2022.
  • Visiting London always involves lots of walking so ensure you wear comfortable shoes.  
  • The weather in London can be very temperamental and change rapidly (it is a myth though that it rains all the time) It can actually be very hot in London in summer. Read my essential packing list for London and the UK so you know exactly what to bring for your trip.
  • Read my guide to purchasing tickets for popular London attractions

Big Ben covered in scaffolding

FAQs – Planning your first visit to London

These are the most frequently asked questions about visiting London that come up in my Facebook group (Why not head over to my London and UK travel planning group where you will find a friendly community of like-minded travellers to chat to or ask for advice about your UK travels)

London is a world-class destination at any time of year. Deciding what time of year is best to visit London will really depend on what you want from your trip!

If you prefer warm weather and longer days then the summer months of June to August are generally the best though this is also the busiest and most expensive time of year to visit.

Popular London events such as the Chelsea Flower Show (May/June), the Trooping of the Colour (June), and Wimbledon (June) also lead to an influx of visitors.

London is generally at its wettest and coldest from December to February when snow can sometimes fall in the capital. Outside of the run-up to the Christmas holidays and New Year, this can be a less hectic time of year to visit.

When evaluating the best time of year to visit London consider your budget, what you want to do, what weather you prefer and if there are any events you particularly want to see.

I recommend planning 3 to 4 days in London especially if it is your first visit. There is so much to do and see and it can be exhausting so I recommend adding one more day than you think you will need to your itinerary. 3 to 4 days in London should give you enough time to see most of the main sights.

If you are thinking of adding some day trips from London into your UK itinerary I would plan at least a week in London.

I recommend booking accommodation in central London. Yes, it may be more expensive but if you only have a few days in London stay near all the main sights and landmarks.

There is nothing worse after a long tiring day of sightseeing realising that you have to travel some distance to your accommodation.

You can find lots of options for all budgets and travel styles in my London Accommodation Guide.

London can be an expensive city to visit but if you are worried about your budget there are ways you can save on costs.

  • Purchase an Oyster card to save on transport costs (including getting into London from the airport.
  • Evaluate the cost of buying individual tickets to attractions versus the London Pass .
  • Buy sandwiches, drinks and snacks from supermarkets.
  • Avoid London during peak season when prices are at their highest.
  • Many of London’s attractions including museums, art galleries, parks and markets free
  • Read my budget London travel tips guide for more ways to save when visiting London.

Read more – Planning your UK trip budget


Enjoy planning your trip to London. You can find more practical travel planning tips and resources to help plan your visit to London and the UK below:

  • London Travel Planning Guide
  • Top tips for first-time visitors to England
  • Guide to 9 principal train stations in London
  • Guide to visiting the UK in winter
  • Complete guide to the London Eye
  • Best day trips from London by train
  • 9 Red phone booths for that iconic photo
  • 17 Best Apps for London and the UK

If you have specific questions about visiting the UK and planning your visit why not join my UK and London Travel Planning Group on Facebook where you can chat with others planning their trip.

London Travel Guide and itinerary planner.

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Travel Guide

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Planning a Trip in London

In order to get the best out of London, you need to be as informed as possible: To know the hotspots from the not-spots, the bargains from the rip-offs, and the up-and-coming from the down-and-going. Obviously that sort of information can be difficult to pick up during an (all-too-brief) visit, which is where this guide comes in.

The following pages provide an in-depth introduction to the U.K.'s capital, giving you the low-down on its key areas, and advice on how and where to allocate your time. 

Note : This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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The Ultimate London Trip Planner – 1 Day and 3 Day London Itineraries

Things to do in London London Travel Guide London Itineraries London Itineraries

Home to countless popular attractions such as Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and so on, London is a top destination for tourists around the world. This modern city houses gorgeous Victorian houses and old cathedrals which have often caught the attention of art and architecture enthusiasts. For others, there is no shortage of museums, gardens, festivals, and cultural events to experience in this city. From shopping to nightlife, London has it all. So, if you are planning to visit, we have covered everything you need to know about this city below.

Best Time To Visit London


London is the capital city of the United Kingdom that can be visited throughout the year. However, the best time to visit London is spring (March - May) when the parks are blooming and the weather is slightly warmer. While this would mean that there are more tourists around the city, worry not because London is big enough to explore all on your own, irrespective of the crowds!

Summer is the best time to visit London if you are looking for some warmth but this also means that everything is expensive at this time. Autumn (September - October) is ideal for a visit to the city if you wish to avoid the crowds and get slightly cheaper hotels and flight rates.

For those who want to save a few extra bucks, November and February are a great time to plan your trip. These months receive fewer tourists so you can get amazing deals and discounts. Also, it is not as cold as compared to January or December. Read more about the best time to visit London .

Best time to visit London

London Itineraries

Depending on how long you're in London for - whether it's just a day or 5 days, we have the perfect itineraries crafted for you. Go through these London itineraries and plan your stay well in advance!

planning trip to london

If this is your first time traveling to London, you could use some help planning your daily itineraries. Apart from the basic planning (flight tickets, visa, accommodation in London, etc.), you'll need to consider your day-to-day activities in London - where to go, what to see, how to get there, and more. But fret not, for we are here to help.

1-Day London Itinerary

1 day in London

New Covent Garden Market

1 day in London

Buckingham Palace

1 day in London

Westminster Abbey

1 day in London

St. Paul's Cathedral

1 day in London

Thames River Cruise

1 day in London

Tower of London

1 day in London

Shakespeare's Globe

1 day in London

Trafalgar Square

Read In Detail: A Comprehensive 1-Day London Itinerary

planning trip to london

Top 20 Instagrammable Places in London

3-day london itinerary.

5 days in Dubai

Borough Market

3 days in London

Thames Dinner Cruise

3 days in London

Harry Potter Tour

3 days in London

West End Show

3 days in London

Kensington Palace

3 days in London

Wembley Stadium Tour

3 days in London


3 days in London

Read In Detail: A Comprehensive 3-Day London Itinerary

5-Day London Itinerary

Hop On Hop Off Bus

Hop On Hop Off Bus

London Eye

Covent Garden

Tower of London

Globe Theater

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Camden Market

Camden Market

Buckingham Palace

Piccadilly Circus

West End Shows

Notting Hill

Portobello Road Market

Portobello Road Market

Up at the O2

Up at the O2

Read In Detail: A Comprehensive 5-Day London Itinerary

London Travel Restrictions

Given the current situation across the globe, it is important to read up on the travel restrictions. As of now, France has has partial restrictions in place, and it is important to keep that in mind before traveling to this country. Find out about the new rules and reopening of attractions on the blog post below.

Hacks To Buying Cheap London Flight Tickets

Now that you've figured out the perfect time to visit London and braved through the restrictions, it is time to look for flight tickets. Go through our 17 golden hacks for cheap flight tickets before scouring through the flight ticket websites. You'll be surprised how easy it is to save a pretty penny while booking flight tickets!

Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Traveling involves a certain amount of uncertainty always. With the pandemic, this amount has only increased. Opting for travel insurance is not something many people have done (pre-pandemic), but post-pandemic, it is highly recommended that you opt for it. Choosing the right travel insurance plan gives you a safety net to prevent losses if things go downhill.

Travel insurance can be complex- how do you know what to choose? For this very reason, we can crafted a ultimate guide to choose travel insurance post-covid .

Packing For London

If you are planning a trip to London, then you also need to pack efficiently for your trip. Make sure to pack in advance to avoid missing out on some crucial items for your trip. A travel adaptor, reusable bottle, crossbody bag, raincoat, photo ID, etc. are a few important things to pack for your trip to London. Apart from that, you need to carry clothes according to the month that you would be visiting. Don’t forget to carry a pair of comfortable walking shoes to allow yourself to explore this ancient city comfortably e. Most importantly, if you plan to visit a lot of churches in the city, make it a point to carry clothes to cover your knees and shoulders.

Packing Checklist

Travel Packing Checklist

Where to stay in london.

An important thing to remember when visiting London is that attractions are spread throughout the city. This is why there is no one neighborhood that would be perfect for staying in London. Depending upon your budget and interest, you will find several nice neighborhoods to stay in London on your trip.

One of the best yet slightly expensive places to check out accommodations in London is the West End. It is home to several attractions in the city and has many amazing bars and restaurants to explore. There are many shopping spots here as well and it is one of the top places to watch theatrical shows in the city.

For sightseeing, one of the best places to stay in London is Westminster. Here, you have many attractions in close proximity such as Westminster Abbey, The Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, and so on. Plus, it is well-connected via public transportation so you can easily reach other parts of the city.

If you want to enjoy London’s nightlife, then the best area to stay in London is Soho. From restaurants to late-night bars, Soho has everything you need to party all night!

Planning a trip with the family? Then, check out accommodation options in Kensington. There are many free museums within walking distance in this area, and it is quite well-connected through public transportation too.

For a luxury stay, Mayfair and Victoria are a good choice. You can not only see Buckingham Palace here but can also explore several high-end restaurants and shops here.

Getting Around In London

London is a big city with 20 boroughs but thankfully has a good public transportation network. Of course, the best way to explore the sights here is on foot but this is not always possible.

London’s extensive public transportation system can help you reach wherever you want in the city. The city offers you multiple options to choose from including tube, railway services, buses, cable cars, trams, and taxi cabs.

The Tube, overground rail, and bus services are the most convenient and cheapest way to get around London. You can get an Oyster card to ride on any of these transportation options and reach most parts of the city.

In terms of speed, the underground tube is the best choice. It is quick, flexible and can be availed at a discount using the Oyster card.

For tourists, the red double-decker buses and the riverboat (Thames Clipper) are good choices too. The places where you cannot take underground tubes or overground rail can be reached with the help of the Docklands Light Railway services.

A taxi cab is a quick way to reach your destination but extremely pricey. London is a huge city with attractions spread throughout and not concentrated in a single area. So make sure to know about the transportation options available in the city and how much it would cost you.While you can explore the city by car, the traffic in London is a nightmare. This is why it is best to travel around the city using the metro or the buses.

Packing Checklist

Public Transportation in London 101

5 best day trips from london.

Planning a trip to the UK is a monumental effort; the country has amazing destinations that appeal to travelers of all kinds. Art enthusiasts, history buffs, wine connoisseurs, architecture aficionados, and culture vultures; everyone can pick and choose their favourite destinations in Italy. London is at the heart of all these experiences, and merely a day away from it are incredible destinations that offer a variety of experiences.

Check out our list of 5 the best day trips from London :


London Travel Tips & Hacks

London is just about as touristy as it gets. A city rich with ancient history and many things to be explored, it can be a little tricky to navigate. Go through our guide and jot down some interesting travel tips that even the locals swear by. Learn how to navigate tourist traps in London, how to save money on transport, food, and accommodation, and then some. Start making notes and use these tips before your trip to London.

Rome travel tips & hacks

20 London Travel Tips & Hacks

Ready to head out to london.

Check out the top things to do in London & our comprehensive London Travel Guide packed with itineraries, tours, culture trips, best hotels, restaurants and a lot more.

Here are a few more guides that should help you plan your visit.


FAQs: London Trip Planner

Is london worth visiting.

London is one of the top tourist destinations in England and is home to many world-famous attractions. From admiring Big Ben to cruising on the River  Thames, there are a lot of fun things to do and explore in this city.

When is the best time to visit London?

Spring (March - May) and autumn (September - October) are the best times to visit London. During these months, the weather is pleasant and there are fewer tourists around.

What are the top things to do in London?

The top things to do in London are the hop on hop off tour, museums, monuments, riding the London Eye, and more.

What should you pack for London?

As it tends to be cold and wet in London for the most part of the year, it is important that visitors carry a raincoat and an umbrella. A pair of waterproof boots is a must too.

How to get around London?

The cheapest and best way to get around London is by using a tube, overground rail, or bus services. There are cabs and railways available too but cabs can be a little expensive.

What is the cheapest mode of transportation in London?

The cheapest way to travel around London is via tube, buses, or overground rail.

Which is the best place to stay in London?

The best places to stay in London are West End, Victoria, Bloomsbury, and Kensington.

See more London. Save more money.

Save €5 on your first booking with Headout when you use promo code 'GOLDN' !


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Amulya Chintaluri

Amulya's love for travelling was a natural consequence of her moving around so much as a child. Throw in her love for writing into the mix, and there's no better way to spend her time. A person who collects hobbies like Infinity Stones, she loves reading, sketching, drawing, painting, dry pressing flowers, music, cooking, eating cake, watching TV and sleeping.

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Plan a Trip to London: 50+ Ideas For Your Itinerary

Plan a Trip to London: 50+ Ideas For Your Itinerary

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London, one of Europe’s biggest cities, has a lot to offer visitors. Planning a trip to London can feel overwhelming, simply because there is so much to do! Turn to a travel advisor at The Travel Team to build an itinerary filled with things to do in London that fit your interests, timeline, and budget. First, get inspired with ideas for your trip, from museums to markets, no matter if you’ve been to England before or are experiencing a London vacation for the first time!

The Best Time to Visit London

England has a mild climate, thanks in part to the warm winds that blow across the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the insulating nature of the Atlantic’s waters. You can visit London almost any time of year and experience tolerable weather. June, July, and August see the most tourists in London. Shoulder season, which includes March, April, May, September, and October, means your trip will likely be less expensive and less busy. At this point, most attractions are still open, although you may see reduced hours when compared to the summer months. The off season (November through February) can be cold and wet, but holiday festivities may make winter travel worth it.

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Where to Stay in London

London offers travelers a lot of neighborhoods to choose from when booking accommodations. The advisors at The Travel Team recommend:

  • For first time visitors: The West End (especially Covent Garden)
  • For tourists: Westminster
  • For tourist attractions: London Bridge and the South Bank

Where you stay will depend on your budget, what attractions you want to see, and how comfortable you are with public transportation. The London Underground is “one of the world’s most reliable and innovative metro systems.” You can get from Heathrow Airport to Trafalgar Square (the geographic center of London) in less than an hour via the “Tube,” as it’s affectionately called. The Underground is an affordable mode of transportation and it’s easy to pay as you go with contactless mobile payments or a Visitor Oyster card. Plus, you can avoid the infamous London traffic, which is considered the worst in the world .

As for the accommodations themselves, there are lots of options, including:

  • Hotel chains
  • Luxury hotels
  • Guest houses
  • Vacation rentals

Things to Do in London

London has more attractions than you can reasonably see in a single trip. Plan your itinerary based on what sounds most exciting and interesting to you (and your travel companions)—not what you think you should visit.

With so much to see, you may want to add a London sightseeing tour to your schedule. Tours are an efficient way to see the most iconic sights in just a few hours, whether by bus, bike, or foot. Plus, they often include interesting narratives that combine centuries of history with pop culture and personal experience. Then, you can return to any attractions or areas you want to spend more time in.

No visit to London is complete without at least a couple of museums. London is home to almost 200 museums , ranging from traditional to experiential. Many of London’s world class museums are free to enter, although some otherwise free museums include specific exhibits that require paid admission.

Trafalgar Square at night with fountain and national gallery in London

  • The Natural History Museum highlights billions of years of natural history with many free exhibits.
  • The British Museum aims to cover the history of culture around the world with over eight million objects. Many exhibits are free.
  • The National Gallery houses paintings from Western Europe, sits on Trafalgar Square, and is free to enter.
  • The Design Museum covers contemporary art with many free exhibits.
  • Tate Britain and Tate Modern offer their collections of British art free of charge.
  • The Victoria and Albert Museum , also known as the V&A, is a “family of art, design and performance museums” where many exhibits are free.
  • The Science Museum covers science, technology, and medicine with award-winning exhibits for free.
  • The Museum of London plans to reopen in 2026 as The London Museum.

Share your interests with your travel advisor; this list is by no means comprehensive and there is probably a museum within the city tailored to your favorite topics!

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

In order to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a location must have global significance—and London is home to a whopping four of them . While you’re visiting London, consider viewing at least one, if not all four:

  • The Tower of London , built in the 1070s as a royal fortress and home to the crown jewels.
  • Maritime Greenwich , where you can stand on the Prime Meridian line.
  • Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey , where the Houses of Parliament are and royals have been coronated for centuries, respectively.
  • Kew Gardens , home to over 50,000 living plants in a variety of environments.

Kew botanical garden in spring, London, UK

Iconic Attractions

There are many destinations that are simply synonymous with London. Very few trips (especially if it’s your first time in the city) would be complete without at least some of these attractions. If you’re planning to add several of these landmarks to your trip, consider The London Pass, a credit-based system accepted at more than 90 London attractions.

Big Ben and House of Parliament in London panorama over Thames River

  • Big Ben , high in Elizabeth Tower, is steps away from the Palace of Westminster.
  • Westminster Bridge crosses the River Thames just past Big Ben.
  • Buckingham Palace is a short walk through St. James’s Park. Catch the Changing the Guard ceremony several times a week!
  • The British Library is located north of central London and is home to the Magna Carta.
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral combines daily services with times for visitors to marvel at its history and architecture.
  • The Tower Bridge , crossing the River Thames near the Tower of London, is an engineering marvel.

Theater and Entertainment

London’s West End, which contains several smaller neighborhoods, is the city’s theater district. Here, you can see a show at one (or more) of several theaters both old and new, including the Royal Opera House .

A Bird’s-Eye View

London’s skyline is iconic, and what better way to see it than from above? Several vantage points offer stunning bird’s-eye views of the city.

  • The London Eye may only be a couple of decades old but it has quickly become an iconic part of the London skyline.
  • The Shard claims the best view of London from its viewing gallery on floors 68, 69, and 72.
  • Up at The O2 offers a more active experience as visitors climb up and over The O2 arena.

Aerial view over Tower Bridge, River Thames and the city of London, UK

You can’t visit London without coming across what is referred to as football across the Pond, whether you happen to be in a pub during a heated match or you’re traveling specifically to see one of London’s seven Premier League teams play on their home pitch.

London is also home to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which hosts the famed Wimbledon Championships. Visitors can enjoy the carefully curated Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum as well as tours of the grounds.

Walkable Neighborhoods and Parks

While many of central London’s neighborhoods are dotted with tourist attractions, just blocks away are much quieter, walkable streets. For picture-perfect houses, gardens, and shops, head to Notting Hill, Kensington, and Chelsea to the west. North of Buckingham Palace, you’ll find the Soho and Covent Garden (including Neal’s Yard) neighborhoods. London also offers thriving historical ethnic neighborhoods, including Chinatown, Little India, and Little Korea.

Beautiful and colorful pastel houses of Notting Hill, London, England

Even though it’s a bustling city, visiting London should include a stroll through at least of its beautiful parks. Consider:

  • Primrose Hill, part of the much larger Regent’s Park.
  • Kyoto Garden, a Japanese garden in Holland Park.
  • Kensington Gardens, a pristine green space within Hyde Park.

Lastly, don’t neglect London’s street art , which includes everything from Banksy murals to thought provoking pieces by lesser-known artists.

Markets and Food

London’s markets (of which there are many) all offer their own personality. For produce and street food, head to Borough Market, just south of London Bridge and not too far from Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. If you have room in your suitcase to bring home an antique or two, visit Portobello Road in Notting Hill. For a little bit of everything from fashion to food, try Camden Market near Primrose Hill.

While London might not seem like a foodie paradise at first glance, there’s more than the obligatory afternoon tea, fish and chips, and ale here. England’s long history of colonialism has resulted in a thriving international cuisine scene in London. The wide variety and high quality of London’s Indian restaurants is especially notable.

Pop Culture

Lastly, London has been the backdrop of many iconic pop culture moments in recent memory. While you’re here, walk across Abbey Road just like the Beatles, imagine yourself defending London from Tower Bridge like Spiderman, or attempt to board the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 ¾ in Kings Cross Station.

If You Have More Time

While you could easily spend weeks inside London’s city limits, there is a lot to do nearby as well. Consider day trips to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Bath, Cotswold, Rye, Brighton, Hastings, Oxford, Cambridge, or some combination of these destinations. Or, take advantage of how easy it is to travel across Europe and enjoy a multi-city vacation !

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Chasing The Unexpected

How to Plan a Trip to London in 10 Easy Steps

One of Europe’s most popular destinations, there are many things to consider when you decide to plan a trip to London. Are you unsure whether you need a visa or not? Are you planning a trip to London and don’t know which places to visit? Are you wondering where to book your hotel? Read our great London journey planner and book that ticket!

How to plan a trip to London

Table of Contents

So you want to visit London? The capital of the UK is a city that every globetrotter has to go to at least once in their life – there’s nowhere on earth that has the same combination of history, culture and modern entertainment, with an endless amount of things to do for any age group.

The city of London is magical, but as it is so large, it can be a tad overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this London trip planner – to simplify the process for you! So whether you’re backpacking in London or on a trip with kids, don’t fret – here’s a customizable London journey planner with all the necessary things to do before heading to the city!

How to plan a trip to London – Essential tips for a perfect London itinerary

Plan the right time of year.

London is a good idea at any time of year, but depending on what exactly you want to do here, you might want to time your visit for a certain time of year and might also need to decide how long to stay for . British summer is officially from June to August; although May and September are often warm and sunny as well.

You can never completely rely on British weather for your London trip – it does like to rain here – but if you want to spend a lot of time outside, time your trip for late May to early September. This might be a good time to visit if you are travelling to London with kids, so they can let off steam in some of London’s many parks!

On the other hand, nowhere does Christmas quite like London. Oxford Street is just magical (albeit crazily busy) from late November to early January, Winter Wonderland is on, and there is a constant air of excitement everywhere in the city. If you’re a Christmas fan and love the festive spirit of huge cities at Christmas time, seeing London at this time of year is a necessity.

London revels in other festivals throughout the year as well, and there is always something to do for each celebration. These include celebrations like Halloween, Bonfire Night (which is November 5th – it is literally a celebration of a man trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament…) and Easter. Throughout the year there are other events like Pride and various other festivals.

If you’re not a crowds person, consider visiting London in January, February, March or October (out of school holidays). These are the quietest time of year (January and February being the quietest) and sometimes you’ll nab good restaurant and hotel deals – especially in January. Also, do bear in mind that the closer you get to December 21st the earlier it will get dark in London – for a couple of months of the year it is complete darkness by 5 pm.

Pick the perfect carry-on luggage for your trip

London travel planner: Do you need a visa?

A major step of your London trip planner is to get your visa sorted out.

For visitors from the EU and Switzerland (note, this might change soon – hmph Brexit hmph), the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, most South American countries and many Caribbean countries, no visa is needed. If you’re from other countries, you may need a visa to visit London – you can check here . Most visas allow you six months in the UK – so if you get stuck in London, no worries!

If you’re from some selected countries you can apply for a working holiday visa. You can also work in London if you’re from an EU country or Switzerland (again, this may change!).

London journey planner: Think airports

London has six airports, all of which are very well connected to the city, but it pays to have a think about which one you will be going to in advance. None of the major airports are actually in the city – Gatwick is South, Heathrow is West, Stansted and Luton are North and London City is east – so check with where you’re staying and what time you’ll be getting there.

Taxis from each airport are expensive. Try to arrive before public transport shuts or get a coach (some which run all night) into the centre.

⇒ Extra Tip: Click here to buy a ticket to Central London from Gatwick , Stansted or to and from Heathrow .

London route planner: Take a peek at the underground map in advance

Underground is the only real way to travel around London. You can walk, but there’s no doubt that you’ll need to use the underground system at some point. Important to keep this in mind when planning a trip to London.

If you’re from a city that uses a similar system, it won’t be too overwhelming – but check out the underground map to get an idea of whereabouts you’re staying and how long it will take to get to different attractions.

Good to know: Uber is becoming illegal in London very soon. This is because of the loss of business that black cabs have suffered since its introduction. London cab drivers are generally incredibly friendly and very knowledgeable about London (they have to go through a very rigorous training system), so hail a cab for an authentic London ride!

Image: Southwark cathedral in London.

Sort out your London budget

London is, in many ways, an expensive city. But it’s actually pretty adaptable to all budgets – and you can still see a great deal of London without splashing a huge amount of money on your trip.

Are you a budget, mid-range or luxury traveler? Do you want to stay in hostels or swanky hotels? These questions are crucial when you’re working out your London budget.

It’s easy to keep things cheap by using hostels, buying street food and visiting free attractions (you can actually see a lot of London’s highlights for free). If you have a bigger budget, you might want to include decent hotels, dinners out and a few paid-for attractions. And of course, if money is no object, there are plenty of luxury hotels, fancy places to eat and premier tourist attractions to enjoy.

Book the right accommodation for you

Your party size and age range, as well as your budget, will factor in on the best places to stay in London. Here are some things to think about when selecting a neighbourhood on your London journey planner:

• Are there many bars/ clubs in the local area? This might be essential if you’re a young adult group but you might want to steer away from them if you’re a family! • Will you have to take an overland train to reach central London? Accommodation in the suburbs is often cheaper, but it will be a bit arduous to travel in and out of the city every day. However, if there is a group of you, Airbnb in suburbia are often of great value. • Is it near the main attractions you want to visit? London is a big place, so at least staying on the right side of the city to your top attractions is a good idea! • Is it accessible to your airport?

Nearly every area of London has a mix of hostels, budget, mid-range and luxury accommodation options. The further out you get, the less likely you are to find backpacker accommodation, but it is plentiful in the city centre.

⇒ Search for hotels in London and read guests’ reviews on TripAdvisor

Make sure you pack the necessary essentials

You don’t need anything too fancy to plan your trip to London. It rarely gets ridiculously hot or cold (although we always like to complain about the weather!), so just pack according to the seasons. Bear in mind that even in the summer, it can be between 10 and 15 degrees if you’re unlucky. In the winter, coats, scarves and gloves are essential.

Some other essentials are:

  • An umbrella – it does rain a lot here!
  • Sturdy shoes – you’re likely to be doing a lot of walking
  • A good travel camera
  • Lonely Planet London Guidebook

Learn about free attractions

There are actually a lot of free places to visit in London; and if you’re on a budget, you can easily plan your trip to London around these attractions.

Most London museums are free to enter and explore. Some of my favourites are the Natural History Museum, the V&A Museum, the British Museum, the Museum of London and the Science Museum. Or if you’re artistically inclined, the National Gallery and the TATE are also free to enter.

Walking around the city and exploring its different neighbourhoods are of course, free. Some great places to stroll around in are Covent Garden, Southbank, Shoreditch and Greenwich.

You’ll pay for any purchases at the markets, but not to just explore them. The best are Portobello Road, Camden and Old Spitalfields.

Equally, the parks are free to explore and a place to include in your London itinerary. Check out Hyde Park; which is huge, a great place for kids to play or to have a picnic in the summer, or St James’ Park which is right by Buckingham Palace.

If you are into Harry Potter, you can easily create your own self-guided tour around the famous landmarks used in the Harry Potter books and films.

⇒ Extra tip:   C lick here to book a full-day tour of the Warner Brothers Studios and visit Harry Potter film sets .

Speaking of which, it is free to see the change of the guards at Buckingham Palace. And there are other ways to see the best attractions in London; you can actually visit Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament.

Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral are free to enter if you are part of a service. Bear in mind that you will not be able to explore the buildings at your own leisure, and the fact that it is a religious ceremony must be respected, but you will be able to awe at the grandeur of each building.

The Tower of London can be visited for free during the ceremony of the keys – where you will witness the castle being shut for the night. Bear in mind that the free tickets for this event normally run out months in advance, although there are a limited number of cancelled tickets available each night.

⇒ Extra tip: Click here to book a tour of the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels Exhibition .

Anyone can attend a debate at the Houses of Parliament. These do not generally need to be booked in advance unless it is a very popular debate. Prime Ministers Question Time, however, must be reserved.

Think about paid-for attractions that you may prioritize

As you can see, a great deal of things to do in London won’t cost you a penny! However, some attractions are much better paid for – and some you can only experience by handing some pounds over.

  • London Eye – rated the top paid-for attraction in the UK, there’s no experience like ascending over the city. You’ll be able to see the entire metropolis and into the home counties. The price of tickets varies . Click here to book a fast-track admission to the London Eye .
  • London Dungeons – there are dungeons all over the globe, but London’s are fantastic – they tell the goriest stories of the capital, in a terrifying way! From Jack the Ripper to the Great Fire in 1666, there’s plenty to learn about within the London Dungeons. Tickets start from £33.
  • Westminster Abbey – even though you can see Westminster Abbey for free, it is well worth entering at your own leisure. It is the resting place of hundreds of monarchs and other notable characters and is home to the coronation chair which is still used today. Tickets cost £27 if you purchase them online. Click here to book a tour of Westminster Abbey with audio guide included .
  • St Paul’s Cathedral – again, you can enter during a service for free, but visiting during your own time will give you the freedom to take in the grandeur of the interior of this building. It’s an experience that’s well worth not rushing! Expect to pay £20.50 for tickets. Click here to book a fast-track entrance and multimedia guide and tour to St Paul’s Cathedral
  • Buckingham Palace – you can’t enter the queen’s home for most of the year, but during the summer when she isn’t there, tickets are available for guided tours of the state rooms. Obviously, this is a one-of-a-kind experience! Tickets start from £30. Click here to book a tour of the royal state rooms at Buckingham Palace .

Where from London? Consider visiting other spots in the UK or heading to Europe

London is one of the most accessible places in the world. Whether the next leg of your adventure takes you to Manchester, Madrid or Mexico , you’ll be able to get there easily from London.

If you are travelling in the UK :

Coach is the most budget-friendly way to get around the country. They leave from London Victoria coach station and go to pretty much every city and lots of large towns in the country. Even if a coach does not go directly to your destination, you’ll most likely be able to get a local bus or train for the last leg of your journey. The two coach providers are National Express and Megabus; Megabus is generally (not always) cheaper, but National Express serves more destinations.

Train is another popular way to get around. Although a lot more comfortable than coach travel, it can be multiple times the price! For cheap tickets, check Omio . London has several large overground stations that serve pretty much everywhere in the UK.

Car rental is another option, although I wouldn’t recommend driving in Central London. If you are wanting to visit more regional places, it might be the best bet for you.

If you are travelling abroad :

Flights leave from London to most destinations around the world – a non-stop flight between London Heathrow and Perth, Australia has even just started this year. Airlines like RyanAir and EasyJet provide great value across Europe, with some fares less than the price of lunch.

If you are travelling elsewhere in the world, you’ll be able to get a flight from London with none or not too many connections. Flights now leave Heathrow and Gatwick to every continent. Book in advance to get the best deals!

Author Bio: Claire is an eco-traveller and overland adventurer. She explores the world slowly, one country at a time, and is as sustainable as possible in the process. She writes about sustainable tourism, cultural awareness and publishes overland itineraries on her blog,  Claire’s Footsteps . She has spent a lot of time in Australia and China, she is originally from the UK and she is now living in Mexico.


London trip planner

I'm Angela Corrias, an Italian journalist, photographer, and travel writer located in the heart of Italy's capital. Welcome to my website, your comprehensive source for your travels and expert guidance for crafting your dream travel experience.

3 days in London – The best 3-day London itinerary

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  • London’s Most Popular Attractions
  • Day Trips From London
  • London With Kids
  • London Travel Tips

planning trip to london

As a London Trip Planner for over 10 years, I have helped over 100 families and individuals planning a trip to London

Why it's important to have a london trip planner when planning a trip to london.

Planning a visit to London can be a daunting task. Especially if it’s your first visit. Unlike many American and European cities where the are attractions located in one general area, London’s tourist attractions are spread out over a massive area. This makes planning on how to get around to them in an efficient way without wasting valuable vacation time very challenging to say the least. And then there are all the other questions you’ll need answers to, like where to stay in london, what form of transportation you should take to get around, which hotels to stay in and which to avoid, and so many other questions. As someone who has visited London 50 times, and has helped over 100 people plan their visit to London, I can answer these questions for you. Let me assist you with a personalized London Trip Plan that will help make your trip to London the perfect visit!

There are three factors you need to take into consideration when planning a visit to London as a tourist. These are:

  • Which area of London you should stay in.
  • How you’re going to get around to the attractions.
  • Answers to the many questions that will arise before you leave and after you get there.


My personalized London Trip Plan for you will address these 3 factors with a unique plan, designed for your visit, in a way that will alleviate the stress of dealing with these factors both before and during your London vacation. Here is how I can help you with all 3:

Where to stay in london, as a tourist, it is extremely important that you choose the right area to stay in london.

Choosing which area to stay in London is the most important decision you’ll make for your visit. It is the cornerstone of my London Trip Plan for you because not only not does it play a key role in maximizing your vacation time, but the neighborhood in which your hotel is located will have a huge effect on your overall London experience. I have stayed all around London and I can show you what I feel is the best area to stay, or help you maximize your stay in an area for which you have a personal preference.

Getting around London

London is very large geographically and its main tourist attractions aren't centralized.

As I mentioned earlier, London’s tourist attractions are spread out all over a vast area. My London Trip Plan shows you how to see London’s attractions efficiently by traveling to different sections of London each day, seeing the attractions in that particular section, rather than zig-zagging all over this huge city, robbing you of your valuable vacation time. The time you save following my plan will give you added time to do other things in London, which many of my clients consider to be a huge bonus!

Answers to your Questions

You're going to have a lot of questions both before and after you arrive in london.

If you’re traveling to London for the first time you’ll quickly find out that there are many questions for which you’re going to need answers. After helping so many people plan their visits to London, I know what those questions will be, and my London Trip Plan ensures you have answers to those questions before you leave. This too will save you valuable vacation time, and make your visit less stressful and more relaxing.


Other important topics you should know about when planning a trip to London

  • Which London airport to fly in to
  • The best way to get into London from the airport
  • Best area to stay in London
  • The best and safest way to exchange money for British pounds
  • The best way to get around to the tourist attractions
  • Things to do in London if you’re bringing children
  • How to see London on a budget


I encountered this very nice German couple at Cafe Nero in Paddington, and I quickly realized that I was looking at exactly why I started this website.

Your personal london trip planner is only $99, get in touch for a complimentary first time consultation.


( swipe to advance testimonials )


Join The London Crew: Grab this checklist with 110 things to do in london from a local.

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How to Plan a Trip to London | Ultimate London Travel Tips From A Local

This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our  disclaimer  here.

Planning a trip to London England, but don’t know where to start? In this article, I’ll share with you a complete guide on how to plan your trip to London, based on my 17 years of living in London.

London is a city everyone should see at least once in their life. Maybe I’m basis because I live there.

London Natural History Museum

It’s one of the top European cities to visit, so there is a lot to think about when you decide to plan a trip to London.

Like where to stay? 

How many days should I in spend in London? 

How much does a trip to London cost? 

What is the best time to visit London?

Questions, questions, questions

If you’re looking for more on London or planning a trip to the Big Smoke then read my London travel tips guide .

If it’s your first time visiting this bustling metropolis that is London, it can all seem a little bit daunting.

Even before you arrive in London, the planning involved for visiting such an iconic city can be stressful. But worry not – by the time you’ve finished reading this guide to planning a trip to London.

You’ll have all your questions about how to plan a trip to London answered, with even some helpful hacks to be a super savvy Londoner on your visit to the UK capital, thrown in for good measure.

London has something for every kind of traveller and budget. Whether you want to see the city solo, visit with some friends or explore with your family. London’s got you covered.

Voted the third most visited city in the world in 2018, according to Forbes magazine, it’s not hard to see why. There is just so many things to do in London. 

Struggling with knowing what to do in London?


Grab this hassle free checklist of the top 90 things to do in London from a local, includes:

✅ Top Free Things To In London

✅ Cool Touristy & Non-Touristy Things To

✅ Epic Free Viewpoints

✅ Cute Instagrammable Places in London

How to Plan a Trip to London England | Top Things to Consider when Planning a Trip to London

The best time to visit london.

London is one of those lucky cities (if you see it that way) which doesn’t get perishingly cold in the winter or overly hot in the summer unless you’re on ‘The Tube’, but we will get to that a little later. 

With temperatures rarely going below zero in winter, and snow seldom appearing, winter in London is grey, reasonably mild and very rainy.

Cherry Blossom in London

As with most places in the northern hemisphere, the summer months of July and August  are the busiest travel times and is peak tourist season for the city. 

Hotels and attractions are also at their capacity, so bear this in mind if you are planning to visit London during the summer months.

Mid-September through November, March through April (Shoulder Season): London’s mild spring and fall weather brings plenty of tourists, all though the city tends not to be as overrun as it is in the summer. 

During the shoulder season is the best to book hotel, attractions and theatre reservations. Airfares also falls into a budget-friendly range. The weather can be extremely variable around these times, so pack layers of clothing and an umbrella.

January and February (Low Season): Expect heavy rains and cold temperatures during these months, along with a decrease in tourism.

If you don’t mind the damp and greyness of London, there are bargains to be had on airfare and hotel rates in the off-season months.  Keep an eye out for the January airfare deals, and you can even pick up some Eurostar tickets during this time for a fraction of what they usually are.

What is the Cheapest Time to Visit London?

According to , the best time for bargains on flights to London is during September and October. 

November 1 to December 12, and December 25 through March 14 are other times to get the best airfare bargains as noted by

London Travel Planner | Flights

Depending on where you are flying from, the main airport serving the city is London Heathrow. With 84 airlines serving over 200 destinations in 84 countries, over 80 million people pass through Heathrow on a yearly basis.

Aside from Heathrow, London has five other airports that you may want to fly into; London City, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Southend and London Stansted. 

I’ll get to which airport will be best for you a little later, but a great tip for finding a flight to London is on a website such as Skyscanner . 

Here, you are able to enter your departure airport and select ‘any London airport’ which will search for the best deals to all of the above. You can even select what time of day you would like to depart and arrive when visiting London.

Central London Photography Spots

London Journey Planner | How to Get From the Airports to Central London

London has six airports across the city, and a bit beyond, ahem, Stansted and Luton. 

London Heathrow is by far the busiest and is 14 miles west of central London. The Heathrow Express takes you from the airport directly into London Paddington for around £25. Trains leave every 15 minutes and take about 20 minutes to reach the city. 

There are deals to be had on if you book in advance. The most cost-effective way to get to central London is via the London Underground, also known as ‘The Tube’.

For this, you don’t need to book in advance and, it will cost between £3 and £6 per person, depending on the time of day, and best of all, you can use your Oyster card.

London Gatwick is the second biggest airport in the UK and is actually located in West Sussex, to the South West of London.

There are several coach companies, such as National Express, that run regular services from Gatwick into central London from as little as £5.

There are also frequent overground (non tube) trains connecting the airport directly with stations such as London Victoria. Prices are usually around £10 one way and take about 35 minutes. 

The Gatwick Express takes about 30 minutes and costs closer to £20. For the sake of five minutes and £10 in your pocket – take the regular train! 

Gatwick trains are not covered by Oyster so you will need to purchase a paper ticket from a ticket office. (The National Rail tickets will come in useful, so hold on to those and learn why a bit later).

London City airport is absolutely tiny. Out towards the east of London, it is, funnily enough, the best connected for accessing ‘The City’ and indeed central London.

The Docklands Light Railway, which is a glorified version of the tube, costs £3 and feels very high tech because it’s driverless. You can get to and from this airport using your Oyster card.

With Luton airport in Bedfordshire and Stansted and Southend airports in Essex, you can see why these airports are not really ‘London’. 

Even though they’re not quite part of the capital geographically, they still all have ‘London’ prefixed to their names.

From Stansted and Luton, there are lots of coach companies that run in and out of the city at all hours of the day and night, from about £5. 

Trains also serve these airports, with Luton having a National Rail service into King’s Cross St Pancras and Stansted having the Stansted Express into Liverpool Street. Southend also has a train service into Liverpool Street and all of these links cost about £15. 

Tickets are required as these journeys are not covered on Oyster. These tips will guide you on how to plan your trip to London.

St Lukes Mews Pretty Streets in London

London Travel Planner | Do you need a visa to visit London?

The best thing to do when you start to plan your trip to London, and before making any travel arrangements, is to check if you will require a visa to enter the UK. 

With lots of confusing information floating around online, the simplest way to check is to visit the website and select your country from the list to get accurate and up to date information on what you will need to visit London England.

Check if you need this visa  if you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

Most visas allow you six months stay in the UK.

London Travel Planner | Packing

You can experience all four seasons in London in the space of a few hours. The most important thing to bring with you on your trip is an umbrella and a few layers.

Regardless of when you visit London, there is often a high chance of rain, and an umbrella does not go amiss in the famously wet city.

In winter, you need to wrap up warm, but you do not need to dress for the Arctic. A warm winter coat, with a scarf, some gloves and a hat would keep you cosy, with long-sleeved t-shirts, jumpers, jeans/leggings also coming in useful. 

In summer, jeans will also be great for the cooler days, with shorts, skirts and short sleeve shirts advised. It is also a good idea to bring with you a waterproof jacket or lightweight upper to properly prepare yourself for the changeable weather. 

Whatever time of year you visit London, comfy shoes are a must, London is a very flat city which makes it perfect for exploring on foot. A top tip for shoes would be to avoid flip flops or open shoes in the summer.

Although it can be tempting, the city dust can turn your feet black within a few hours of walking around, and flip flops are a bit of a hazard when you’re in a crowd anyway. Avoid like the plague.

Aside from clothing and an umbrella, make sure to bring your camera as there is a lot to see and many memories to make on your trip to London. 

You guys can already see from this blog that I take a ton of photos of London, as the city is beautiful no matter the weather.

So, pack a travel camera to capture your time in London.

453 Bus

How to Get Around London on Public Transport

A top tip for getting around London is to invest in an Oyster card. They cost £5 to purchase, online, airports or at any train station.

The card can be topped up with reloadable credit for pay as you go travel, and used as a contactless card at ticket barriers to trains and getting on buses.

London is split into six main zones, all of which are covered by the Oyster card. When you take a train, you ‘tap in’, by touching your card on the usually yellow reader at the barriers, and ‘tapping out’ when leaving. 

The screen at the barrier will tell you how much the trip cost and your remaining balance. Do monitor this as you might need to top up before making a journey.

When it comes to buses, you touch your card on the reader at the front of the bus and regardless of how far you travel, it will only cost £1.50.

You can even change buses within one hour of your first tap, and still, only be charged £1.50. Winning. 

Download the TfL Oyster card app to track your journey history and get notified of when your oyster card balance goes below £10.

You can also use a contactless payment card, but you might want to check if your provider will subject you to fees, before using it abroad.

In general, these cards are more expensive unless you plan on making three or more journeys for six days or more.

Once you start using your Oyster card, make sure you use that all day to benefit from the journey cap limit. 

The price ceiling, or daily price cap, of an Oyster card, is:

Zones 1-2 – £7.20

Zones 1-3 – £8.50

        Zones 1-4 – £10.40

        Zones 1-5 – £12.30

        Zones 1-6 – £13.20

These are off-peak fare prices. Travelling outside of peak hours (between 6:30 – 9:30 am and 4-7 pm) is more affordable and a great way to save money. 

More information on fares and zones can be found on the Transport for London website .

The balance on an Oyster card never expires so you can keep it for your next trip to London, or get it refunded when you leave from a ticket desk in a train station.

When it comes to planning London sightseeing, do pick up a map, which should be available at your hotel, download the Visit London app , or have a look on Google. 

Many of the attractions you will want to see in London are within walking distance of each other, for example, Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden to Leicester Square and on to Piccadilly Circus.  Getting around on transport is a top thing to consider when planning a London trip.

How to Navigate the Tube with Luggage

In short, just don’t try. It is not the most practical, and it’s already pretty warm down there and is often very crowded, (particularly at peak times), so lugging multiple suitcases will only make this worse. 

Sometimes, it is necessary but packing onto a crammed train (London has its own style of full when it comes to public transport) is not fun. 

Whilst you might just want to muddle through, services such as Sky Bags or LuggAgent will take your luggage from you at the airport and ensure it gets to your hotel safely.

The service costs around £40 and can be arranged on your return journey.  

Failing that, make sure you take the lifts when possible at stations. If an escalator is the only option, make sure you stand on the right, with your suitcase in front of you, so you do not block the walkway on the left side. 

Avoid travelling with your luggage at rush hour, at all cost and protect your stuff with these anti-theft travel items .

Budgeting for London trip | How much does it cost for a trip to London? 

A typical budget for a 7 day trip to London is £2,000 for a solo traveller, £3,250 for a couple, and £5,500 for a family of 4. This includes airfare, accommodations, public transport and daily expenses.

This is the average cost of a trip to London for a week. But depending on your budget and travel style this may vary.

Depending on what you want to see and do, a good, daily budget for a trip to London would be between £50 and £75 per person. Whilst it might seem like a lot, and if you book tickets to attractions in advance (more on that soon), you can end up saving a small fortune. 

A great way to save money in London is to book a hotel that includes breakfast in the price. That way, you’ll be able to have a hearty meal before exploring the city, and will not be tempted by the overpriced tourist traps selling pretty measly breakfast and tasteless pizza – yes, Leicester Square, I’m are looking at you. 

Plus you can pack some of the fruits from your hotel breakfast in your bag to snack on as you explore London, saving you additional money. Because every little helps.

London Streets

You can read my guide on how many days do you need to visit London .

How to Plan London Trip | Where to Stay for the Best Experience

There is no collective ‘best’ area to stay in London as the city is simply too sprawling for that. Whilst some neighbourhoods are more practical than others, where you stay will completely depend on your needs. 

For example, staying out by Heathrow in the West would not be ideal if you want to explore the East End. 

One of the best neighbourhoods for sightseeing and excellent transport links would be around Waterloo and London Bridge, with convenient access to attractions like the London Eye, Big Ben and the Shard.

Central locations such as Soho and Covent Garden will put you in close proximity with the buzzing social scene, lots of theatres, the River Thames, Leicester Square, Buckingham Palace and plenty of top-notch places to eat out. 

South Kensington, Earl’s Court and Hammersmith are great areas to provide all-around fantastic connections to the rest of the city and easy access to countless museums and galleries, as many are located in West London.

These areas are generally much quieter than the centre of the city and are the best for families.

Hotels around Hyde Park and towards Notting Hill would be where you should look if searching for something with a spa and a touch of luxury. 

Meanwhile, if you are looking for something typically London, head to the North or East of the city towards Camden or Shoreditch for a super trendy stay in the capital. 

Here ia a detailed guide on the best places to stay in London .

What Top London Attractions to Book in Advance

Essentially, anything you know you are going to want to see in London that involves a queue, book in advance.

St Pauls London London United Kingdom

We all know that booking in advance can save you a lot of money, but in London, it can also save you literally hours of waiting in line to get tickets on the day. 

Buying the London Pass can be a great way to get an instant ticket to over 80 attractions across the city. 

From Westminster Abbey and the view from the Shard to Kensington Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral, the pass will also get you into Windsor Castle. With entry to many attractions being over £20 per adult, the pass can quickly save you time and money. 

The pass can be purchased online and can be valid for 1, 2, 3, 6 or 10 days at a time. 

Other Attractions worth booking in advance are:

The London Eye – A trip on the London Eye is truly captivating and is one of the top things to do in London. This attraction is one of the world’s tallest observation wheels and has been London’s number one visitor experience for over a decade.

Book Here | The London Eye  

Westminster Abbey – This should be an essential part of your visit to London, Westminster Abbey is one of the city’s most iconic buildings. With your ticket, explore a thousand years of history and marvel at the exquisite Gothic architecture and beautiful stained glass.

Book Here | Westminster Abbey entry ticket and multi-media guide

Royal States Room At Buckingham Palace – Take a tour of the royal State Rooms, which lie at the very heart of Buckingham Palace. Venture past the gates to admire many of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and porcelain.

Book Here | Buckingham Palace states rooms entrance ticket

Tower Bridge – Experience 2 of London’s must-see attractions with this combined entrance ticket to the Tower Bridge Exhibition at one of the world’s most famous bridges, and the Monument to the Great Fire of London, where you will go to the top to enjoy panoramic views over London.

Book Here | Tower Bridge exhibition and the Monument

Tour of St Paul’s Cathedral – Enjoy discounted fast-track entrance to the one of London’s major landmark St Paul’s Cathedral. Explore the cathedral floor and crypt, climb its three galleries and view panoramic London from the top of the dome. Multimedia guides and tours provided.

Book Here | St Paul’s Cathedral  fast track tickets

The Shard – Admire the sprawling skyline of London from the 72nd floor of an iconic landmark, The Shard. You’ll enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of the city from inside or, if you’re feeling brave, venture outside onto Western Europe’s highest viewing platform.

Book Here | for view from the Shard entrance ticket with Champagne option

How to Save Money in London

Aside from the obvious things like avoiding the tourist traps around big attractions, there are few particularly devious ways to save money in London. 

One of the best ways is through the ‘ Days Out Guide’ . This offers two tickets for the price of one on key attractions from the London Eye to London Zoo, and it can make for some great savings. 

You can obtain the voucher you need online or from a train station in London and with that you need to have a physical train ticket from National Rail (thinking back to the Gatwick ticket earlier), showing your journey from A to B.

Simply follow the steps and fill out the form to benefit from the great savings. 

If it is a show you want to see during your trip to London, on the famous West End stage, try downloading an app such as Today Tix as they offer daily tickets to some of the biggest shows for £25 each or less. 

These tickets can be purchased from usually around 10am on the app, on the day you want to see the show and are often much better than picking up last-minute tickets at one of the street vendors. The seats are often much better too.

With so many high-end restaurants to try in London it can be hard to know where to start. But with apps such as Groupon, you can get up to three courses for a fixed price at some of London’s finest restaurants, for often less than 50% of the regular cost. 

Getting around London can also be quite costly, so booking train tickets in advance can save you a lot too.

You can even buy an Oyster card in advance and have it sent to your home with the balance credited, so you are ready to go from the second you land.

First Time Trip to England | Free Attractions in London

One of the only things better than saving money is getting something for completely free. In London, it might come as a surprise there are quite a few free things to do and see.

Many of the museums in London are completely free, including the British Museum, Natural History Museum, National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Away from the museums, take a trip to M&M World, one of the biggest candy shops in the world, in Leicester Square, or stop by Covent Garden and catch one of the weird and wonderful street performers putting on a show in the piazza.

From fire eating to juggling and crazy contortionists, it can actually be pretty impressive.

There is also the changing of the guards outside Buckingham Palace. Known as ‘Guard Mounting’, the ceremony happens every day in summer and every other day in the winter and takes about 45 minutes. 

The Queen’s guards work in groups, with each person taking a two-hour rotation. The ‘changing’ marks the switch over from one group to a new set of soldiers. 

Trip to London Itinerary Planner | First Time Trip to London Suggested Itineraries 

London trip planner 5 days – This is a detailed travel guide for a 5 days trip to London

London trip planner 3 days – This is a 72 hours London trip itinerary

London 1 day trip planner – This is a 24 hours whistle-stop tour of London for the time, poor traveller.

Best Day Trips Out Of London By Train

When visiting the UK, you might want to pay a visit to some of the other attractions, far enough out of London to feel like you can see more of the country, but close enough to do as a day trip . These include:

A visit to the iconic Stonehenge 

Lunch in the Cotswolds, 

Seven Sisters Cliffs

A day in the u niversity city of Oxford and of course 

Windsor Castle

A day at a seaside town Whitstable

Day Trips to Europe From London

If you are planning on staying in London over 4 days, I’d recommend hopping on the Eurostar and, doing a day trip to Brussels, Bruges or Lille France .

As they’re only approximately 2 hours away from London and compacted enough that you can see the major attractions in one day.

Plan your London Trip : Final Take Away For Your London Trip Planning Guide

Take your time when planning your trip to London and you will have a holiday of a lifetime for sure. A few final things to note:

Do not take a rickshaw in central London – they often charge ridiculous amounts of money 

Do not eat anything smelly on public transport. It will not go down well.

Do walk from Leicester Square to Covent Garden instead of taking the Tube, it is one stop and takes about 6 minutes to walk it.

Remember, coaches, are different from buses in London. Coaches are bigger and are often used to get to and from the airport. Buses are big and red and all over London.

Do stand on the right and walk on the left when taking an escalator anywhere in London.

Do download the following apps – Visit London , Citymapper , The London Pass ,  Santander cycle , XE: Currency conversion , TfL Oyster card and Tube app .

I hope these tips help you in preparing for a trip to London.

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London Travel Planning


We are here to help you turn that dream into a reality!

Our London travel tips, guides, resources and itineraries are designed to answer all your questions and make planning your trip an easy and fun process.

We aim to remove the overwhelm from planning your visit and help you make the most of your time in London.


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Introduction - Planning a Trip to London

Planning a trip to London

Planning a trip to London

With so much to do and see, we know that planning a trip to London can sometimes feel overwhelming. From planning how many days to spend in London to choosing hotels and accommodation, as well as deciding which attractions and neighbourhoods to visit, these are the questions we always get asked from travelers, and hopefully our answers will help you plan your trip!

There’s so much to see- where do I start?

  • Start by reading our “ things to do ” article, which is a very comprehensive list of the most popular types of things to do in London.
  • Also, check out our guides to London based on different themes. There’s a guide on visiting London with kids , and another on how to visit London on a budget.

Where is everything located?

London is enormous and attractions are spread out across the city. We’ve created a guide to each of the main London neighbourhoods  that lists all the things to see, do and experience. In general, for first-time visitors, the main areas to visit are Buckingham Palace/Westminster, Oxford Street, Covent Garden, Soho, City of London, Southbank and Camden.

How can I use my time to maximize sightseeing and minimize traveling?

There are a million things to do in London, but how do you fit it all in? We’ve created lots of different itineraries which are planned so you can maximize your sightseeing and minimize travel time.

WHERE IS the best area to stay in London?

Our really comprehensive guide to hotels in London goes through the city area-by-area and lists the pros and cons of staying in each place.

Finding the best area depends on your budget and interests, but in general, families and couples like to stay in Bloomsbury, Bayswater or South Kensington, whilst single travelers might also stay in Soho. The secret is finding a Central London hotel that’s in walking distance from an underground station.

What’s the easiest way of getting around?

The simple answer is by underground and bus. The underground is usually the fastest way to get around the capital. However, sitting on the first floor of the bus is also a great way to see London at the same time as travelling.

Make sure to buy an oyster travel card which you use to pay for public transport (you can get them from the airport, at underground stations, or through  mail-order  where they are sent to your home). Do not buy paper tickets as this will cost you much more than the oyster card!

Is London expensive?

  • Accommodation in London can be very expensive, like all major cities!
  • Food prices are comparable to other major European cities.
  • The London underground is affordable when you use an oyster card.
  • Sightseeing can cost a lot of money, but we’ve created a money saving tips guide that shows you all the ways to save when visiting the capital!
  • The major museums, including the British Museum, are free.

any questions?

Feel free to contact us at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help plan your visit. We look forward to welcoming you to our great city!

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Browsing: London Itineraries

Our London itineraries will allow you to plan your trip to London easily. Discover the best of London, including London´s attractions and tourist spots with our walking routes which you can download and print or follow using our free mobile app.

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This walking route starts at Buckingham Palace, with the idea of watching the famous Changing of The Guard Ceremony. From…

London Itinerary 2: Oxford Street, Hyde Park and Knightsbridge

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London Itinerary 3: St Paul´s Cathedral, Tower of London and Southbank

This walking route starts at Monument. From here we’ll walk towards the Tower of London and Tower bridge. Get ready…

London Itinerary 4: Camden Town

Camden Town is where you´ll find one of London´s most famous markets, and it´s one of those places you need…

London Itinerary 5: Greenwich in London

Visiting Greenwich is a brilliant option if you are planning a trip to London. Greenwich is located within London’s travel…

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' class=

Wednesday- arrive in evening on train from Glasgow

Thursday - Tower of London / British Museum/ London Eye

Friday- Changing of the Guard tour 10-12:30/ Hampton Court Palace in afternoon

Saturday- morning train to Paris

11 replies to this topic

' class=

I would aim to go early to Hampton Court Palace ( unless you are a military aficionado) and have time for something else in the late afternoon/early evening.

planning trip to london

The CotG tours apparently normally avoid the area immediately outside the palace and instead move around between The Mall and Birdcage Walk so you can get a good view of the old and new guard marching to and from their stations. Whether it’s worth paying for that when the info to DIY is available online is a matter of choice and budget, I suppose.

While the link provided in comment #1 is the official Guard website, this one gives some great tips on where to stand and what times. It also provides information on which guard is on duty. Some do not wear the iconic red coats with black bearskin hats. You might not find the other regalia as interesting. I think DIY is fine for CotG, if you do some advance research.

Otherwise, your plan seems doable. The London Eye is only worthwhile if the weather is good. Somehow, I’ve been very lucky, went 3x, in April, July and December and got good weather every time.

This post has been removed at the author's request.

I think we may do the Family Membership as the cost savings is substantial!

Thanks again!

Hampton court is out of the centre. If you have any sort of lunch after the COTG you will not have enough time there in my opinion.

In reality no such thing as a 'free' tour.

There are a number of good pub restaurants near the palace, dine after your visit.

The Mute Swan is almost opposite the palace,

Agree with Auld Jimmy, Mute Swan does good food.

Honestly I would just take a stroll around Buckingham Palace at some point during your trip if you wish to see it, and focus the better part of the day on Hampton Court Palace, but YMMV

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Blackpool Tower, the North Pier and the fabled sandy beach.

Blackpool beats Benidorm as soaring air fares keep UK holidaymakers at home

Travel site Trivago says UK destinations are dominating Britons’ hotel bookings in the latter half of 2024

Blackpool is more popular than Benidorm for British holidaymakers booking trips away next year as soaring air fares lead people to opt for stayactions, according to accommodation search website Trivago.

The group’s chief executive, Johannes Thomas, said UK hotel bookings in the third and fourth quarters of 2024 are dominated by domestic destinations.

“The UK is a very domestic market. Part of that is down to airline tickets, which are significantly more expensive,” he said. “Overall across the globe, it’s true for the US, Europe and the UK that people are going closer to home. They’re travelling shorter distances and choosing to stay shorter periods and that’s probably a sign of higher ticket prices.”

Thomas’s comments come after Ryanair warned last week of more steep hikes in air fares this winter.

The no-frills Irish airline said its fares surged by 24% on average in the first half of 2023 and a further “mid-teens percentage” rise is likely over the final three months of the year.

Thomas said flight prices have increased by more than 30% since 2019, before the pandemic struck, but there is some hope of relief. “Since the middle of 2023, we’ve seen prices plateauing,” he said.

Trivago’s UK booking data shows that seven of the Top 10 bookings destinations for Christmas 2023 are domestic locations, with London, Llandudno in Wales and Edinburgh the three most popular choices.

Britons are also choosing to celebrate the new year in the UK, with London, Edinburgh and Blackpool among the top five places to see in the start of 2024.

The outlook for the first half of next year shows a similar trend, with more than half of the 10 most popular holiday destinations in the UK and Ireland for British travellers.

Trivago said its bookings data also shows the cost pressures faced by consumers and moves to make savings on travel, with a fall in average price a night and length of stay.

But he said despite the cost of living crisis, “we see the appetite for travel remaining very high”.

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“People feel a strong necessity to travel … and want to get out and experience the world,” he said.

Trivago’s Top 10 destinations for early 2024

1 London 2 Edinburgh 3 Dubai 4 Blackpool 5 New York 6 Benidorm 7 Amsterdam 8 Liverpool 9 Manchester 10 Dublin

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How much are tickets for Taylor Swift's 2024 Eras tour as new London dates are announced?

Posted: November 14, 2023 | Last updated: November 14, 2023

There’s going to be an extra chance for Taylor Swift fans to buy tickets to the London leg of the UK Eras Tour – despite the final chance seemingly going past in the summer.

The 1989 superstar has added two more London dates to her upcoming Eras tour , alongside support act Paramore on August 19 and 20.

A limited number of fans who previously registered for shows in London will be selected for access to the sale and will receive notifications via email starting today (November 14).

Ticketmaster listings for the new shows suggest that the general sale will go live for the August 19 show today at 2pm , while the August 20 sale starts tomorrow (November 15), also at 2pm.

Along with performances scheduled for London ’s Wembley Stadium and shows in Edinburgh, Liverpool and Cardiff, the popular concerts by the Bad Blood singer, 33, will cover every era of her career so far.

For those lucky enough to get the chance to nab tickets to the extra dates, it’s a good idea to go in prepared to purchase your tickets – by knowing what your options are, and how much tickets will set you back.

Here’s the full price list for Taylor’s Eras Tour tickets.

How much are Taylor Swift tickets for the UK Eras Tour?

Pre-sale tickets for London’s Wembley Stadium were priced as follows:

  • Seated ticket –  £58.65 – £194.75
  • General admission standing –  £110.40
  • Front standing –  £172.25 .

How much are Eras Tour VIP packages?

You can find out more about Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour VIP packages with our handy guide .

In a nutshell, though, the packages differ between venues – and the most expensive during the pre-sale was called It’s Been A Long Time Coming.

Taylor Swift UK and Europe Eras tour 2024 dates

  • Thu 9, 2024 – PARIS LA Defense Arena (France)
  • Fri 10, 2024 – PARIS LA Defense Arena (France)
  • Sat 11, 2024 – PARIS LA Defense Arena (France)
  • Sun 12, 2024 – PARIS LA Defense Arena (France)
  • Fri 17, 2024 – STOCKHOLM Friends Arena (Sweden)
  • Sat 18, 2024 – STOCKHOLM Friends Arena (Sweden)
  • Sun19, 2024 – STOCKHOLM Friends Arena (Sweden)
  • Fri 24, 2024 – LISBON Estádio da Luz (Portugal)
  • Sat 25, 2024 – LISBON Estádio da Luz (Portugal)
  • Thu 30, 2024 – MADRID Estadio Santiago Bernabeu (Spain)
  • Sun 2, 2024 – LYON Groupama Stadium (France)
  • Mon 3, 2024 – LYON Groupama Stadium (France)
  • Fri 7, 2024 – EDINBURGH BT Murrayfield Stadium
  • Sat 8, 2024 – EDINBURGH BT Murrayfield Stadium
  • Sun 9, 2024 – EDINBURGH BT Murrayfield Stadium
  • Thu 13, 2024 – LIVERPOOL Anfield Stadium
  • Fri 14, 2024 – LIVERPOOL Anfield Stadium
  • Sat 15, 2024 – LIVERPOOL Anfield Stadium
  • Tue 18, 2024 – CARDIFF Principality Stadium (Millennium Stadium)
  • Fri 21, 2024 – LONDON Wembley Stadium
  • Sat 22, 2024 – LONDON Wembley Stadium
  • Sun 23, 2024 – LONDON Wembley Stadium
  • Fri 28, 2024 – DUBLIN Aviva Stadium
  • Sat 29, 2024 – DUBLIN Aviva Stadium
  • Sun 30, 2024 – DUBLIN Aviva Stadium
  • Thu 4, 2024 – AMSTERDAM Johan Cruijff ArenA (Netherlands)
  • Fri 5, 2024 – AMSTERDAM Johan Cruijff ArenA (Netherlands)
  • Sat 6, 2024 – AMSTERDAM Johan Cruijff ArenA (Netherlands)
  • Tue 9, 2024 – ZURICH Stadion Letzigrund (Switzerland)
  • Wed 10, 2024 – ZURICH Stadion Letzigrund (Switzerland)
  • Sat 13, 2024 – MILAN SAN SIRO STADIUM (Italy)
  • Sun 14, 2024 – MILAN SAN SIRO STADIUM (Italy)
  • Wed 17, 2024 – GELSENKIRCHEN VELTINS Arena (Germany)
  • Thu 18, 2024 – GELSENKIRCHEN VELTINS Arena (Germany)
  • Tue 23, 2024 – HAMBURG Volksparkstadion (Germany)
  • Wed 24, 2024 – HAMBURG Volksparkstadion (Germany)
  • Sat 27, 2024 – MUNICH Olympiastadion (Germany)
  • Sun 28, 2024 – MUNICH Olympiastadion (Germany)
  • Thu 1, 2024 – WARSAW PGE Narodowy (Poland)
  • Fri 2, 2024 – WARSAW PGE Narodowy (Poland)
  • Sat 3, 2024 – WARSAW PGE Narodowy (Poland)
  • Thu 8, 2024 – VIENNA Ernst Happel Stadion (Austria)
  • Fri 9, 2024 – VIENNA Ernst Happel Stadion (Austria)
  • Sat 10, 2024 – VIENNA Ernst Happel Stadion (Austria)
  • Thu 15, 2024 – LONDON Wembley Stadium
  • Fri 16, 2024 – LONDON Wembley Stadium
  • Sat 17, 2024 – LONDON Wembley Stadium
  • Mon 19, 2024 – LONDON Wembley Stadium
  • Tues 20, 2024 – LONDON Wembley Stadium

This VIP package will set you back £662.40 for a reserved seated floor ticket, priority early check-in, plus merchandise.

The I Remember It All Too Well package costs £331.40 for a seated ticket and merch, while It’s a Love Story costs £250 for a cheaper seated ticket and merch.

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More London dates have been announced for the Eras tour (Picture: Getty Images for TAS Rights Mana)

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KB5027397: Feature update to Windows 11, version 23H2 by using an enablement package

Windows 11, versions 22H2 and 23H2 share a common core operating system with an identical set of system files. Therefore, the new features in Windows 11, version 23H2 are included in the latest monthly quality update for Windows 11, version 22H2 but are in an inactive and dormant state. These new features will remain dormant until they are turned on through the “enablement package,” a small, quick-to-install “master switch” that activates the Windows 11, version 23H2 features.

The enablement package is a great option for installing a scoped feature update like Windows 11, version 23H2 as it enables an update from version 22H2 to version 23H2 with a single restart, reducing update downtime. This enables devices to take advantage of new features now. For version 22H2 devices that receive updates directly from Windows Update or Windows Server Updates Services (WSUS), devices automatically get the enablement package by installing the feature update to Windows 11, version 23H2. 

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Before updating to Windows 11, version 23H2 using an enablement package, you must be running Windows 11, version 22H2. You must have the following prerequisite installed before applying this update:

October 31, 2023—KB5031455 (OS Builds 22621.2506 and 22631.2506) Preview or a later cumulative update

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    MAR 02, 2022 We make booking train tickets simple Go contactless with digital tickets on your phone Compare ticket prices from hundreds of train companies Check live train times Book tickets + More Take a day trip to London and discover the world-famous landmarks, ancient sights, and marvellous shopping and entertainment options available.

  16. 7 Days in London: A Perfect Week Itinerary for 2023

    6. Shoreditch, Brick Lane Street Art, St. Paul's Cathedral. 7. Sunday Roast in Richmond, Departure. Without further ado, let's dig into the details of my itinerary for 7 days in London. As always, you you have any questions about my recommendations or the order I've put them in - let me know in the comments.

  17. London Trip Planner

    As I mentioned earlier, London's tourist attractions are spread out all over a vast area. My London Trip Plan shows you how to see London's attractions efficiently by traveling to different sections of London each day, seeing the attractions in that particular section, rather than zig-zagging all over this huge city, robbing you of your valuable vacation time.

  18. 5 Days in London: A Perfect Short Week Itinerary for 2023

    Quiz Image Answer a few short questions to discover which neighborhood matches your travel plans and style - plus hotel recommendations! Find the Perfect Hotel Quick Glance: 5 Days in London I always like to give a quick glance at the itinerary before we dive into the specifics.

  19. How To Plan A Trip To London

    A typical budget for a 7 day trip to London is £2,000 for a solo traveller, £3,250 for a couple, and £5,500 for a family of 4. This includes airfare, accommodations, public transport and daily expenses. This is the average cost of a trip to London for a week. But depending on your budget and travel style this may vary.

  20. London Trip Planner

    Are you planning a trip to London? Have you chosen your London trip itinerary already? If you haven't found the right trip to the United Kingdom for you, browse our collection of the best London trips 2021 and select the most appealing one. Is it an extended British tour you are looking to chase, or craving to explore London's modern architecture?

  21. London Travel Planning

    We are here to help you turn that dream into a reality! Our London travel tips, guides, resources and itineraries are designed to answer all your questions and make planning your trip an easy and fun process. We aim to remove the overwhelm from planning your visit and help you make the most of your time in London. > PLAN YOUR TRIP.

  22. Introduction

    The simple answer is by underground and bus. The underground is usually the fastest way to get around the capital. However, sitting on the first floor of the bus is also a great way to see London at the same time as travelling. Make sure to buy an oyster travel card which you use to pay for public transport (you can get them from the airport ...

  23. London Itineraries and walking routes

    London Itinerary 7: Little Venice to Camden Lock. This walking route will allow you to explore Little Venice and guide you along Regent's Canal until you reach Camden…. Plan your trip to London easily with our London itineraries. Discover the best of London, including London´s attractions and tourist spots with our walking routes which you ...

  24. London Itinerary

    Here is the proposed itinerary. Is it doable? If not, what should I remove? Wednesday- arrive in evening on train from Glasgow. Thursday - Tower of London / British Museum/ London Eye. Friday- Changing of the Guard tour 10-12:30/ Hampton Court Palace in afternoon. Saturday- morning train to Paris.

  25. Cruises from Southampton

    Docking: Your cruise from Southampton docks at the Port of Southampton, approximately 1.5-2 hours from London. Attire: We suggest dressing in layers as temperatures fluctuate throughout the year and even throughout the day. This includes a light shirt, sweater and jacket. Transportation: While taxis are available around the city, you can also ...

  26. Blackpool beats Benidorm as soaring air fares keep UK holidaymakers at

    Travel site Trivago says UK destinations are dominating Britons' hotel bookings in the latter half of 2024 PA Media Mon 13 Nov 2023 04.00 EST First published on Sun 12 Nov 2023 08.20 EST

  27. How much are tickets for Taylor Swift's 2024 Eras tour as new London

    Taylor Swift UK and Europe Eras tour 2024 dates. This VIP package will set you back £662.40 for a reserved seated floor ticket, priority early check-in, plus merchandise. The I Remember It All ...

  28. Violent scenes in London 'disrespects' Armistice Day

    The Cenotaph will also have a dedicated 24-hour police presence which will remain in place until the conclusion of Remembrance events tomorrow. The Met said the march and all speeches must end at ...

  29. KB5027397: Feature update to Windows 11, version 23H2 by using an

    Summary. Windows 11, versions 22H2 and 23H2 share a common core operating system with an identical set of system files. Therefore, the new features in Windows 11, version 23H2 are included in the latest monthly quality update for Windows 11, version 22H2 but are in an inactive and dormant state.