4 day London itinerary for first time visitors

4 day London itinerary

London is a city which is on most people’s bucket list, whether from the UK or abroad. The British capital is without a doubt one of the busiest and most exciting cities in the world, with a beautiful mix of old and new to discover.

From exploring a one thousand-year-old fortress and witnessing traditional royal ceremonies, to having cocktails at the top of skyscrapers or enjoying a show in one of the worlds best theatre districts, London really is a city which has it all.

I’m lucky enough to call myself a Londoner through-and-through, from being born in the north of the city many moons ago to renting my first flat in the south-west as a fresh-faced university graduate. I have therefore spent a lot of time exploring the city I love to call home and have used my extensive knowledge to put together this 4 day London itinerary for first-time visitors.

Although you can’t see absolutely everything in London in 4 days, you can certainly see a lot. Especially with the help of this ultimate itinerary. So let’s get started…

 

What to expect from this 4 day London itinerary

The first thing to note is that this 4 day London itinerary is rather full-on. It’s not for those who want a relaxed and laid-back trip to London but rather is for those who want to see and explore as much of London as possible in 4 days.

Although I have laid this London itinerary out literally down to the hour, the days and timings are only a rough guide and can, of course, be adjusted based on your own personal interests and how long you’d like to spend in each place.

Many of the attractions in this itinerary are free, such as exploring neighbourhoods, markets and free museums. For some others, I’ve included details about the ticket price to enter or take a guided tour, however, if you are visiting London on a budget, many are just as interesting to view from the outside.

 

What to do in 4 days in London – PIN FOR LATER!

4 DAY LONDON INFOGRAPHIC PIN

 

 

Day 1

Royal London and the West End

10:30-11:30am: Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace with people outside of front gates, London itinerary

Start the day at what is certainly one of London’s most popular tourist attractions – Buckingham Palace, home to the British Monarch herself.

Try to arrive at the Palace around 10:30am, as at 11am every day (10am on Sundays) visitors can watch the ceremony known as the Changing of the Guards, in which one shift of the Queen’s Guards are replaced by the next.

In the elaborate ceremony, the new Guards are inspected and led into the palace accompanied by a large marching band while parading their regiments flags. The new Guards take their place while the old Guards leave and the keys to Buckingham Palace exchange hands.

The ceremony is completely free to watch and lasts around 30 minutes in total, however, it is extremely popular and gets busy so best to get there sharp and try to get a good spot.

Where to watch the Changing of the Guards?

The area around Buckingham Palace Gates gets the busiest and is probably only worth it if you can get to the front. Instead, try watching the ceremony from the Victoria Memorial opposite the palace (which offers an elevated view) or The Mall leading to the Palace where the Guards are paraded down.

 

11:30-12pm: St James Park

St James Park London UK

From Buckingham Palace take a 20 minute stroll through St James Park, the oldest of London’s eight Royal Parks.

Start at the colourful flower beds in front of Buckingham Palace then wander through the lush green park and around the central lake, watching out for the parks resident pelicans and sunbathers relaxing on deck chairs during the summer months.

When you cross the bridge over the lake in the middle of the park, don’t forget to stop and admire the amazing views back to Buckingham Palace and across to St James Palace.

 

12-12:30pm: Downing Street & Whitehall

One the eastern edge of St James Park you’ll find 10 Downing Street.

Although you can’t walk down Downing Street itself as its cordoned off from the public, you can view Number 10 and its famous front door from a distance, the residence and office of the British Prime Minister.

From Downing Street continue up Whitehall, a road full of important historical buildings including the Cenotaph War Memorial, Banqueting House, Winston Churchills former War Office, Dover House, Admiralty House, and The Household Cavalry Museum which leads out to the large Horse Guards Parade. 

 

12:30-1:30pm: Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square London

Photo credit: Wikimedia.

At the end of Whitehall you’ll reach historic Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square is a large public square built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. The centre of the square is pedestrianised and is now used for many of London’s annual events such as Chinese New Year celebrations, Diwali festivities, St George’s Day foodie festival, West End Live and a festive Christmas market (so keep an eye on what events are on during your visit).

Things to see in Trafalgar Square:

  • Nelson’s Column – the tall central statue built to honour Admiral Nelson after his victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
  • The Four Lions – four large bronze lion statues said to protect Nelson’s Column.
  • The Fountains – two large fountains in the centre of the square decorated with statues of mermaids, dolphins and tritons.
  • The Fourth Plinth – in each corner of the square is a plinth, with three being permanent homes to statues of General Sir Charles James Napier, Major General Sir Henry Havelock and King George IV. The ‘fourth plinth’, which was empty for many years, is now home to a changing selection of contemporary artworks.
  • The Smallest Police Box in London – keep an eye out for the tiny police box in the southeast corner of the square.
  • The National Gallery – at the north of the square is the architecturally impressive National Gallery, a free art museum with paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900.

 

1:30-2:30pm: Covent Garden

Covent Garden Statue

Covent Garden is just a 7 minute walk from Trafalgar Square.

Covent Garden is a large pedestrianised piazza in London’s West End.

Previously the home of London’s biggest fruit and vegetable market, Covent Garden is now a shopping and entertainment hub known for its central Apple Market (now home to craft market stalls), its many shops and dining establishments, numerous street entertainers and the London Transport Museum

For more, check out: Things to do in Covent Garden.

 

2:30-3:30pm: Leicester Square & Chinatown

Chinatown lanterns and gate, London 4 day itinerary

A five minute walk away from Covent Garden is Leicester Square.

Bustling Leicester Square is another important pedestrianised square in the heart of London’s West End.

The area is London’s real entertainment hub, being home to numerous cinemas which host red carpet premieres throughout the year, as well as several large casinos plus many restaurants, bars and elaborate flagship stores (M&M world and the Lego Store).

The TXT’s booth in the middle of Leicester Square is also the best place in London to buy last minute theatre tickets for discount rates. Pop by the booth and pick up some great value tickets for a show this evening.

For more, also read: Things to do around Leicester Square.

 

3:30-5pm: Regent Street & Oxford Street

Regent street with lots of people and rainbow flags during pride celebrations in London

Regent Street during Pride Weekend (don’t worry, it’s not usually this busy)

From Leicester Square, head west through the bright lights of Picadilly Circus, then up Regent Street onto London’s famous Oxford Street.

Regent Street is the long curved road which connects Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Circus and is one of London’s major shopping streets, home to many of the more high-end, luxury and designer brands. If you have kids (or even if you don’t), don’t miss Hamley’s Toy Store, one of the oldest and largest in the world.

At the top of Regent Street you’ll hit Oxford Circus. Take a right or left at the junction and you’re now on London’s biggest and most famous shopping streetOxford Street.

Depending on how much you like shopping – and how much room you have in your suitcase – take your time hitting the many shops of Oxford Street. As well as plenty of high street shops, you’ll also find huge department stores including Selfridges, House of Fraser, John Lewis and Liberties.

 

5-7pm: Soho & Carnaby Street

Soho London

When you’re done shopping, walk back towards Oxford Circus and down into the popular neighbourhood of Soho.

Soho is definitely one of London’s most lively and vibrant areas, with plenty of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theatres and shops compacted into a series of narrow streets and alleyways. It is also where you’ll find the majority of London’s sex shops, burlesque shows and LGBQT+ bars.

Make sure to take a walk down Carnaby Street which is home to many independent fashion boutiques, and pop into Kingly Court with its selection of restaurants, a great place to stop for dinner.

 

7pm onwards: West End for the Theatre

London West End Theatre, signs for MouseTrap and Harry Potter

After spending the afternoon exploring London’s West End, it’s only right to experience the one thing it’s most famous for – the theatre!

The West End is home to many of London’s best theatres, with Shaftesbury Avenue being the most famous street, clearly recognisable by the glitzy signs and neon lights that line the road.

Make sure you’ve brought your tickets in advance and that you know which theatre you’re going to (some shows aren’t in the West End so make sure you allow travel time if so). Shows tend to start at 7:30pm but best to arrive around 7pm in order to get inside, grab a drink and some snacks at the bar and take your seat ahead of the curtain.

 

Day 2

Historic London and the City of London

10-11:30am: Tower of London

Tower of London

The Tower of London is a historic castle on the bank of the River Thames, dating as far back as 1066. Over the last 1000 years, it has been used primarily as a fortress, royal residence or a prison.

The castle is still used for some ceremonial purposes, however, these days it is mainly a tourist attraction open for the public to explore and learn about its long history. Visitors can take a guided tour with a Yeoman Warder, the ceremonial guardians of the Tower and masters of the ravens.

One thing that remains inside the Tower of London is the Crown Jewels (important items used at Royal coronations), which have been housed in the Tower since the reign of Henry III in the 3rd century AD. The jewels are heavily protected but still on display for visitors to see.

The first tour of the day starts at 10am so if you’d like to take a guided tour, make sure to arrive and get your tickets beforehand. Tickets cost £26.00 for an adult and £20.70 for a concession.

 

11:30-12pm: Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge London

No trip to London is complete without seeing one of the city’s most well-known landmarks, Tower Bridge.

Conveniently located next to the Tower of London, you can cross the iconic suspension bridge by foot, take some photos from either side and if you’re really lucky, watch the bridge open for a ship to pass underneath.

Then from Tower Bridge, take a 15 minute walk east down the bank of the River Thames, passing HMS Belfast on route, until you reach London Bridge and Borough Market.

 

12-2pm: Borough Market

Borough Market London

Borough Market is one of the largest and oldest food markets in London, with a market on the site dating back to at least the 12th century and the market in its current form being established in 1885.

The market today is still as relevant and popular as ever, with 100+ produce stalls selling fresh fruit, veg, meat, cheese, bread, chocolates and alcohol, as well as speciality traders from across the world including Spanish charcuterie, British jams, Italian olive oils and Caribbean spices.

Borough Market is also a great place to grab a delicious cooked lunch, with many food traders on site serving everything from Middle Eastern shawarma to Taiwanese Bao buns and even good old fashioned British roasts.

 

2-2:30pm: The Globe Theatre

Globe Theatre London Itinerary

Just a 10 minute walk down the river from Borough Market you’ll find Shakespeare’s Globe.

Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre for which British playwright William Shakspeare wrote his world-famous plays.

The original playhouse unfortunately burnt down in 1613, but you can visit the excavation site and the 5% of the original theatre which has been discovered just 750 feet (230m) around the corner from the new Globe.

You can still watch regular productions of Shakspearean classics at the current theatre, with a changing rotation of plays throughout the year and standing tickets for as little as £5.

However, if you’re visiting during the day when no plays are on, you can either admire the architecturally striking wooden building from outside or take a guided tour of the interior and learn about the building’s history and about the Bard himself.

Tours take around 40 minutes and cost £17.00 for an adult or £10.00 for a child.

Interested in Shakspeare? Check out this post about exploring Shakspearean London

 

2:30-3:30pm: Tate Modern

Tate Modern Overlooking Thames London

Photo credit: Flickr

The Tate Modern is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art, located in an old power station on the bank of the River Thames.

The Tate is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world, with 11 floors and free exhibitions taking over the majority of these. On floors 9 and 10 there is a restaurant and bar with fantastic views over the London skyline, so even if you’re not that into art, the museum is still worth a quick visit.

And what’s more? It’s completely free to enter.

 

3:30-4:30pm: St Pauls Cathedral

Where to Stay in London, St Pauls and Millennium Bridge

From the Tate, cross over the uniquely designed Millennium Bridge towards St Pauls Cathedral. 

St Pauls is another of the most recognisable landmarks in London, with its famous dome dominating the city skyline for over 300 years.

The impressive Grade I listed building is an Anglican cathedral and sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London.

The original church on this site goes all the way back to 604 AD, while the present Cathedral dates back to 1697 and was designed by acclaimed British architect Sir Christopher Wren.

St Pauls Cathedral in London, domed roof with pink flowers outside

While it is free for visitors to wander around the cathedral’s gardens (which in Spring are filled with beautiful pink cherry blossom) and admire the building from the outside, you must buy a ticket to enter the cathedral floor, crypt and the three galleries in the dome. Once inside you can also take a guided tour.

Tickets at the door cost £20 for adults, £16 for students and seniors and £8 for children. St Pauls shuts at 4:30pm and the last admission is at 4pm.

 

4:30-6pm: The City of London

The Shard and the Gherkin Skyscraper in London at night

After you’ve finished at St Paul’s, head east and continue to explore the area known at the City of London.

The City of London is an important district which contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London.

It is London’s main financial district, home to both the Stock Exchange and the Bank of England, as well as having many modern corporate skyscrapers towering over old cobbled medieval streets and the ancient city walls below.

Leadenhall Market London

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Here are a few places you should visit in the City of London:

  • Visit Leadenhall Market, an old Victorian indoor marketplace, which is now home to many shops, restaurants and pubs. The main reason to visit Leadenhall Market is to look up and admire the stunning architecture and elegant Victorian roof.
  • Watch out for sections of the old Roman city wall on the street known as ‘London Wall’, with pieces all around the area of the Barbican and the Museum of London.
  • Walk past the historic building which has been housing the Bank of England since 1734.
  • Try and spot London’s most iconic skyscrapers and match them with their well-known nicknames, including the Shard, the Gherkin, the Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie.

 

6pm onwards: The Sky Garden

Sky Garden London at night

End your evening in the City of London by heading up to the Sky Garden for some of the best free skyline views in London.

The Sky Garden is London’s ‘highest public garden’ located on the 43rd floor of the skyscraper known as the Walkie Talkie. The large indoor garden offers amazing panoramic views across London, while the garden’s Sky Pod Bar welcomes walk-in guests so you can sit and enjoy a drink and food while watching the sunset over the city and enjoy music from a live band.

Visiting is free of charge however you need to book a time slot in advance and it gets booked up fast.

Or if you’re looking to splash out a little, you can book into one of the Sky Garden’s high-end British restaurants, Fenchurch Restaurant or Darwin Brasserie, so you can enjoy delicious food while taking in those same stunning views.

 

Day 3

Markets and Museums

9:00-10:30am: Notting Hill & Portobello Road Market

Portobello Road Notting Hill London

Between the 1999 film of the same name, its rows of colourful houses splattered all over Instagram and the notorious yearly Carnival, Notting Hill is one of the most well-known neighbourhoods of West London.

Arrive early and take a stroll down Notting Hill’s Portobello Road, home to Portobello Road Market, the world’s largest antique market with over 1,000 dealers selling every kind of antique and collectable. There are also many other stalls with the likes of tourist nicknacks, clothes, fresh produce and hot food.

Portobello Road Market is open from 9am Monday to Saturdays. Saturdays are the best and busiest day to visit, while the market is almost entirely shut on Sundays.

Find out more about Portobello Road Market here.

 

10:30-11:30pm: Kensington Palace and Hyde Park

From Notting Hill, it’s only a few minute walk to reach the entrance of Kensington Gardens which leads into Hyde Park.

First you’ll enter Kensington Gardens, the lush public park surrounding Kensington Palace which is home to the younger members of the royal family, currently including TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will and Kate) and their children.

While the gardens and Palace exterior are beautiful in their own right, if you have an interest in the royals you can also go inside the front section of the Palace and walk in the footsteps of royals including Queen Victoria (who was born and raised there), see the lavish Kings State Apartments and visit the special royal exhibits which change throughout the year.

Entrance tickets to the palace are £15.30 for adults and £7.60 for children.

People on a row boat in The Serpentine Boating Lake London

Then from Kensington Gardens just walk straight through to Hyde Park (they’re connected and you probably won’t even realise when one turns into the other), the most well-known of London’s 8 royal parks.

On a warm summers day, you could easily spend a whole day out in Hyde Park, although if you only have 4 days in London this probably isn’t the best use of time.

You will, however, have time for a quick stroll through the park, where you’ll be able to see the likes of the central Serpentine boating lake, the Diana Memorial Fountain and the colourful rose garden. And if it’s a Sunday morning, take a peep in at Speakers’ Corner where you’ll hear people from all walks of life share their views.

 

11:30-2pm: South Kensington Museums

Natural History Museum in South Kensington London

Close to Kensington Gardens you’ll find the area of South Kensington, all you need to do is exit the park from the south gates.

Any good London itinerary absolutely must include a visit to the high-end neighbourhood of South Kensington and its abundance of cultural institutions.

Not only are the impressive museum buildings iconic London landmarks in their own right, but they’re also fascinating places to look around.

Once again, you could easily spend a whole day here exploring all of the museums in full, however, if you only have 4 days in London you might want to limit it to having a brief look around one or maybe two depending on your personal interests and time.

All of the museums are completely free to enter.

  • Natural History Museum

This London hot spot is the most visited natural history museum in Europe and has a collection of more than 80 million specimens. There are plenty of permanent galleries as well as interesting temporary exhibitions and interactive events throughout the year. My personal favourite part of the Natural History Museum has to be coming face to face with a giant T-Rex.

  • Science Museum

London’s Science Museum is an interesting and interactive museum with many exhibitions spanning all aspects of science, and plenty of family-friendly areas such as the fun and hands-on Launchpad gallery.

  • V&A

The Victoria and Albert Museum has displays on art and design from ancient to contemporary times, including furniture, ceramics, fashion, jewellery, photographs, sculpture, textiles and paintings

 

If the weather is particularly bad this day, Portobello market and Hyde Park might not be the best options.

Instead, swap up this day of the 4 day London itinerary by heading to the South Kensington museums in the morning then picking something else to fill the middle of your day…

If you’re not yet sick of museums you could pop into the impressive British Museum in Bloomsbury on the way up to Camden.

Or if shopping is more your thing, just up the road from South Kensington you’ll find the high-end neighbourhood of Knightsbridge where you can visit the famous Harrods luxury department store.

 

2:30-5pm: Camden Town & Camden Market

Camden Market London Itinerary

Tube Directions: From South Kensington, take the Picadilly Line to Leicester Square then swap on to the Northern line to Camden Town. The journey takes around 20-25 minutes.

Camden Town is one of London’s more bohemian areas and one of my favourite places in the city. The almost constantly busy neighbourhood is home to an eclectic mix of markets, shops, international restaurants and live music venues, as well as being the meeting point of many of the city’s more alternative subcultures.

Camden Market, which consumes much of the area, is a sprawling indoor and outdoor market with over 1,000 stalls selling everything from clothes and homeware to food and alcohol. Attracting around a quarter of a million visitors every week, it’s not only one of London’s best markets but also the fourth most popular tourist attraction in the city.

Many of the market stalls and shops cater for the areas unconventional clientele, with plenty of alternative fashion such as cybergoth, steampunk, grunge and even the more old school hippie.

KERB, Camden’s food market, is also a great place to pick up a tasty cooked lunch from one of the many international street food traders.

Find out more about Camden Market here.

 

5pm onwards: Shoreditch

Tube Directions: From Camden, take the Northern Line southbound to Old Street station in Shoreditch. The journey takes just 10 minutes.

Shoreditch is another colourful and lively neighbourhood in the heart of East London and is particularly popular with the city’s young hipster crowd.

The first thing to do in Shoreditch is to take a walk around and admire the amazing street art which consumes the majority of this neighbourhood. It’s constantly changing and there almost always an elaborate new piece of artwork every time you visit.

Shoreditch’s Brick Lane is home to many of the city’s best curry houses and Indian restaurants if you’re looking for a good spot for dinner. Or if Indian isn’t your thing try Brick Lane’s Beigel Bake, one of London’s most famous eateries known for their salt beef, pickled gherkin and mustard beigel.

The most popular thing to do in Shoreditch is to make the most of its exciting nightlife, with numerous bars and nightclubs, as well as many of the city’s more unique drinking establishments. So chill out this evening and enjoy your time in London with a drink or two…

Unique places to drink in Shoreditch:

  • BallieBallerson Ball-pit Bar
  • Junkyard Golf Club
  • All-Star Lanes Bowling Alley
  • Bounce Ping Pong Bar
  • Alcatraz Prison Bar

 

Day 4

Greenwich, Westminster & Southbank

10:15-11am: Canary Wharf

Many skyscrapers of Canary Wharf in London

This first stop of the day is completely optional depending on personal interests and what part of London you’re coming from. If you’re coming from central London you’re more than likely be jumping on the DLR to get to Greenwich and therefore Canary Wharf is on the route.

Canary Wharf is the second central business district of London (after the City of London) located on the Isle of Dogs in the east of the city. Much like the City, it is made up predominantly of towering skyscrapers belonging to some of the world’s largest companies.

As well as the impressive modern offices, there are also a number of shops and restaurants in Canary Wharf so you can pop in and maybe even grab brunch on a terrace somewhere.

If you’re not interested in seeing more skyscrapers, just stay on the DLR all the way to Greenwich.

 

11-3pm: Greenwich

Where to Stay in London

The main stop of day 4 is the area of Greenwich. Slightly out of central London to the east, Greenwich is a relaxed and beautiful spot which is popular with both locals and tourists for a day out.

This charming neighbourhood is where two hemispheres meet (giving its name to Greenwich Mean Time), is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, plenty of stunning architecture and a large green park, as well as having a rich royal and maritime history which visitors can explore.

King William and Queen Mary Courts, Greenwich

Things to do in Greenwich:

  • Climb aboard the Cutty Sark, the world’s only surviving tea clipper ship
  • Visit the National Maritime Museum to learn about Britain’s encounters with the world at sea
  • Explore the Old Royal Naval College and its impressive symmetrical architecture designed by Sir Christopher Wren (the same as St Pauls Cathedral)
  • Step inside the former royal residence known as the Queen’s House
  • Climb to the top of the hill in Greenwich Park for amazing free views back over London
  • Visit the Royal Observatory and learn about the planets and stars
  • Stand on the Prime Meridian Line and have a foot in each hemisphere
  • Walk under the River Thames in the Greenwich foot tunnel
  • Go shopping and grab lunch at Greenwich Market

 

3-4pm: Boat ride down the Thames

Shard and Tower Bridge London

When you’re finished in Greenwich, head to Greenwich Pier and jump on a boat back down to Westminster in central London

A boat trip down the Thames will take you past plenty of London’s top attractions such as Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, the Shard and the London Eye, so be sure to have your camera ready for some great photo opportunities.

Boat on the River Thames

You can take a Thames Clippers boat from Greenwich Pier to Westminster in just 35 minutes. Boats come regularly and fares cost £7.70 for an adult and £3.85 for a child. Being a commuter service you can even use your Oyster Card to tap on and pay.

Or hop on a City Cruises Hornblower sightseeing boat from Greenwich Pier to Westminster Pier, which takes a slightly more leisurely 50 minutes, with onboard commentary and a cafe serving drinks and snacks. These depart every 40 minutes and will cost you £13.50 for an adult and £8.75 for a child.

 

4-4:15pm: Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey London in the daytime and lit up at night

Arriving at Westminster Pier, its just a short 5 minute walk to Westminster Abbey, a large gothic Abbey church.

Founded in 906 AD, Westminster Abbey has hosted many of Britain’s most significant historic moments over the past thousand years, including the coronation of every King and Queen since 1066 and many royal weddings. It is also the burial site of a number of royals and notable English persons such as prime ministers, actors, poets, scientists and military leaders.

The inside of the Abbey is open to the public (with a paid ticket), however, it is only open until 3:30pm. So if you’d like to visit the inside of the Abbey you’ll have to find this into the schedule another time (maybe on Day 1 when you’re closeby at 10 Downing Street).

 

4:15-4:30pm: Houses of Parliament & Big Ben

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben London 4 day itinerary

Next to Westminster Abbey back towards the river, you’ll find the Houses of Parliament and what is probably the most famous landmark in London… Big Ben.

The Houses of Parliament (officially called the Palace of Westminster) dates back to 1016 and serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Although Big Ben is often the name used to refer to the tower, clock and bell, it is actually just the name of the great bell which sits inside the Victoria Tower and rings every hour to mark the time so listen out closely.

Take a stroll across Westminster Bridge to admire the large gothic palace and be sure to snap your classic ‘Big Ben’ photo.

 

4:30-7pm: Southbank & the London Eye

South Bank and the London Eye

Once across Westminster Bridge, turn left and take a stroll down Southbank.

Southbank literally refers to the area lining the south bank of the River Thames in central London. It is a popular district with tourists and a cultural hub of the city.

The riverside walkway is filled with trees, restaurants and pubs and will take you past a number of attractions including SEA LIFE Aquarium, The London Dungeons, The London Eye, Wonderground Fairground, the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre and the BFI film theatre.

SEA LIFE aquarium and The London Dungeon shut around 5/6pm so if you want to visit one of these attractions make sure to go there first. The London Eye shuts between 18:00-20:30 depending on the time of year so be sure to check in advance and pre-book tickets if you can.

 

7pm onwards: The Vaults at Waterloo

You could either choose to spend the rest of your evening on South Bank for dinner and a couple of drinks overlooking the river, or if you’re up for something a little unusual for your last night in London, check out what’s going on at The Vaults in nearby Waterloo.

The Vaults is an alternative underground venue with an entrance located inside a hidden graffiti-covered tunnel in Waterloo. Throughout the year there are a serious of revolving events on, from immersive dinners and interactive shows to unusual parties and festivals.

Check what’s on during your visit and you could end your trip to London with a night you certainly won’t forget!

 

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Where to stay in London

With just 4 days to explore London, I’d recommend staying somewhere fairly central or with good connections to minimise the amount of time you need to travel back and forth every morning and evening. Some good areas to stay are the West End, Shoreditch, Bloomsbury, Fitzroy, St Pauls and Earls Court.

However, if your budget doesn’t allow for somewhere quite that central, London is still a very well connected city and public transport runs regularly so you won’t have a problem getting anywhere on this itinerary. You might just have to wake up a little earlier in the mornings!

To see where exactly in London you should stay, check out my ultimate London accommodation guide.

 

How to travel around London

London Underground, tube from outside and empty interior

Days 1 and 2 of this 4 day London itinerary can be done completely by foot (walking routes have been given on the maps). The days do involve quite a lot of walking but it’s only around 5-10 minutes between each attraction so I wouldn’t bother with public transport unless you really need to. Plus, the walking around and exploring neighbourhoods is part of the itinerary itself – you’ll get to see far more of London this way!

On days 3 and 4 you’ll be moving around different areas a bit more so you will need to use public transport. I’d definitely recommend jumping on the London Underground to get around (all routes have been given in the itinerary above). Getting the tube is much quicker and easier than either taxis or buses when travelling around central London.

 

What time of year is best for this 4 day London itinerary?

This 4 day London itinerary includes quite a lot of outdoor activities such as markets, parks and wandering around different neighbourhoods. Therefore visiting during the warmer months when there’s less chance of rain would be the best option.

The summer is when you have the best chance of getting good weather in London, however, peak summer and the school holidays in July and August can get particularly busy in the capital – expect lots of crowds and queues. 

Therefore the best time to visit London for the itinerary would be the fringe months of May, early June and September.

The lead up to Christmas in November and December is also a great (albeit colder) time to visit London, however maybe not suited to this itinerary. Instead, you’d want to be visiting the many Christmas markets, festive pop-ups and amazing lights displays around the city.

Read more: when is the best time to visit London?

 

Is 4 days in London enough?

Yes and no.

If this is all the time you have, you will be able to see the large majority of the main attractions in London in 4 days, as long as you put in the effort and don’t mind some long, busy days.

However, if you can afford to extend your trip for slightly longer, you should consider visiting London for around a week so you can enjoy the city and many of the attractions at a more leisurely pace. This way you’ll be able to take your time more when visiting the museums, markets and parks, as well as exploring some of the lesser-known areas and attractions around the city.

 


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