Day One – What you will see:Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye
Let’s start off with one of the must-see sights – the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace. The ceremony starts at 11.15 AM but we recommend getting there by half-10 for a decent spot (you will need to get there by 10 AM if you want a spot right up against the gates).
The ceremony usually takes place every day in the summer, but alternate days thereafter. Check out our link for the schedule.
After the ceremony ends at 12.15 PM head down The Mall towards Trafalgar Square. This is home to one of London’s most famous landmarks – Nelson’s Column. If you like art, then you might like to spend some time exploring the National Gallery (allow for 60-90 mins).
At the end of Whitehall is Parliament Square, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (allow for 20 mins walking down Whitehall). Take some photos and then cross over Parliament Square to Westminster Abbey.
Westminster Abbey is London’s most prestigious religious building – the setting for coronations, state funerals, and the burial place of many celebrated kings and queens. It is well worth a visit (allow for 90-120 mins).
Now head over Westminster Bridge to the London Eye – a great way to end your first day. Try and buy your tickets beforehand to avoid some of the queues (allow for 30-45 minutes queuing, and 30 minutes on the actual wheel).
Let’s spend the morning at the Tower of London. This world heritage site was built by William the Conqueror, and is now home to the Crown Jewels. Why not do a Yeoman Warder tour, with one of the famous Beefeaters? (allow for 3 hours in total)
Next to the Tower of London is the world-famous Tower Bridge. They have an exhibition inside which takes you up to the top walkways. We suggest that you give it a miss, but if you’d like to give it a try then allow yourself 60-90 mins.
Now catch the No.15 bus outside the Tower of London, which will take you on a little sightseeing tour through the heart of The City. You will get great views of the Royal Exchange, Mansion House and the Bank of England, before getting off at St. Paul’s Churchyard (allow 20-25 mins).
St. Paul’s Cathedral is Christopher Wren’s masterpiece, built after the Great Fire of London in 1666. We recommend going inside and climbing up to the dome for a fantastic view of the city (allow for 2 hours).
There are plenty of great restaurants around Covent Garden for an evening meal, after which you can catch a West End show. Most of them start around 7.30 PM – check out our theatre guide to see what’s on.
Take the train to South Kensington and then pick two of the following three museums. Our recommendation would be the Natural History Museum followed by the Science Museum. All three are within five minutes walking distance of each other.
The Natural History Museum is called the “dead zoo” because it is full of stuffed animals from all around the world – elephants, birds and even a Blue Whale! The most popular exhibits though, are the ages-old dinosaur bones (allow for 2-3 hours).
The Science Museum covers everything from the earliest computers and cars to the Apollo moon landings. They’ve also got an IMAX cinema and a roof-space full of airplanes (allow for 2-3 hours).
The Victoria & Albert Museum explores the history of art and design. You will see fabulous furniture, jewellery and clothes, and the world-famous Cast Room – containing replicas of the world’s greatest monuments and statues (allow for 2 hours.
All three of those museums are free, so you should have plenty of money left to splash out at Harrods – the world’s most famous department store. You’ll find it a short walk down the Brompton Road (allow for 1 hour shopping time, or more if you use the restaurant).
Let’s start your final day with a nice relaxing boat trip to Greenwich. The 60-minute ride from Westminster Pier (by Big Ben) will give you great views of The City before passing Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf.
There are a few different things to do in Greenwich, so we are going to give you a choice. Bear in mind that you won’t be able to do them all – so choose 2 out of the next 3. The first one is the famous old Cutty Sark clipper ship (allow for 90 mins).
If you’re into naval history then you might like to visit the National Maritime Museum. One of the highlights is the actual jacket that Nelson wore during the Battle of Trafalgar (allow for 2 hours).
If you haven’t already had a spot of lunch, then we recommend walking into the historic town centre. Greenwich is a World Heritage Site that dates back hundreds of years, and there are plenty of traditional old pubs and tea rooms.
When you’ve got some energy back, take a stroll up the hill in Greenwich Park, for some fantastic views of the London skyline. Then check out the Royal Observatory. The museum covers everything from time-keeping to astronomy, and there is a large planetarium on site with several shows a day (allow for 3 hours in total).
If you still have some time left, then you might like to spend the evening watching a concert at The O2. You can find out what’s on here. The easiest way to get there is by train (allow for 30 mins train ride, and 3 hours for the show). You could also get the No.188 bus (allow for 35 mins).
Day One – What you will see:A sightseeing bus to Tower Bridge and back, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Churchill War Rooms, Horse Guards and Trafalgar Square
We’re going to start the first day with a sightseeing bus tour – a great way to get an overview of the city. We suggest catching the ‘Red Route’ at Trafalgar Square.
The journey will take you up the Strand and Fleet Street, past St. Paul’s Cathedral. After rounding Tower Bridge and the Tower of London it will cut across the river to Southwark. Then it will head down Victoria Embankment to Westminster (allow for 60-80 mins).
Westminster Abbey is London’s most prestigious religious building – the setting for coronations, state funerals, and the burial place of many celebrated kings and queens. It is well worth a visit (allow for 90 mins).
There are a couple of different things which you could do next – we suggest that you choose one or the other, depending on your interests.
The first one is the Churchill War Rooms, which is 10 minutes away on foot. This huge underground bunker was home to Winston Churchill’s wartime government in World War II (allow for 90-120 mins).
Whilst you’re walking up Whitehall, remember to stop for 10 mins outside the sentry boxes at Horse Guards. This is one of the most popular spots for tourist photos.
There are two more attractions nearby, which you can find in the County Hall. The first one is the London Dungeon, which has a good mix of costumed actors, scary rides and audience participation (allow for 90 mins).
The second one is the London Aquarium, with 3,000 different kinds of marine life. Highlights include the two-story shark tank and underwater sea tunnel (allow for 90-120 mins).
Now we’re going to take a stroll up the Southbank towards London Bridge (allow 30-35 minutes). If you don’t fancy walking, then you can catch the RV1 bus instead.
The route will take you past Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern gallery. If you want to step inside and see some pieces by Dali, Matisse, Pollock and Picasso, then allow yourself 90 mins.
Our final stop will be at The Shard. This is the tallest observation deck in the city, and is well worth spending 60-90 mins (if you don’t mind the height!). It’s a great place to enjoy an evening meal – but remember to book up beforehand.
No trip to London would be complete without a visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We recommend climbing up to the dome for a fantastic view of the city (allow for 2 hours). You can also check out the tombs of Admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington in the crypt.
Now catch the No.15 bus for a little sightseeing tour through the heart of The City, taking you past the Royal Exchange, Mansion House and the Bank of England. Get off at the Tower of London (allow 20-25 mins).
You can easily spend 3 hours at the Tower of London. This fortress was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th-century, and is now home to the Crown Jewels. Why not do a Yeoman Warder tour, with one of the famous Beefeaters?
Next door is Tower Bridge. The exhibition inside will take you up to the top walkways. We suggest that you give it a miss, but if you’d like to go inside then allow yourself 60-90 mins.
Make your way to the pier near Tower Bridge and catch a City Cruise back to Westminster Bridge. Boats leave every half-hour and take about 30 minutes. Along the way you will see some fine sights including the Globe Theatre, Tate Modern and Cleopatra’s Needle.
End your third day is with a show. There are a couple of different places you can try – check out our theatre guide to see what’s on.
Alternatively, you can catch the No.24 to Leicester Square, which is home to the capital’s three largest cinemas.
You should definitely buy your tickets in advance to avoid the queues, which can grow pretty huge (allow for 60 mins queue time, and 90-120 mins for the visit). They’ve got everything from David Beckham to President Obama and the Queen.
If you feel like a bit of exercise then take a long stroll through Regent’s Park to London Zoo. It’s got a huge lake and some nice rose gardens and cafés where you can stop for lunch.
If you don’t fancy the walk then catch the No.274 bus from Dorset Square to Primrose Hill (allow for 25 min ride, and 5-mins walking at either end)
London Zoo is fairly large and will take up your whole afternoon, so allow for 3 to 4 hours. Highlights include the lions and tigers, Gorilla World, the BUGS! exhibit, a rainforest enclosure and Penguin beach.
If you’re anything like me, then you will probably have spent all of your money by this point, so how about taking a 15-minute stroll up Primrose Hill to take in the view? Your final night can be spent atop the summit, swapping stories and taking in the London skyline.
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