Day one:This 3 day London itinerary includes a sightseeing bus, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London… ending with a West End show
You can see the best of London in 3 days with our sample tourist itinerary. We’re going to begin our three-day trip around London with an open-top sightseeing bus. This will give you a quick look at the city on your first morning, and get you excited for what’s coming ahead. If you want to spend a few days in London sightseeing then you need to make good use of your time, so this is a handy way of seeing a lot of landmarks in one go.
These bus tickets are usually valid for 24 hours as well (sometimes 48, depending on the time of year), so we’ll be jumping on and off it throughout the day.
We suggest catching the ‘Red Route’ at Trafalgar Square, which will take you up the Strand and Fleet Street and drop you off outside St. Paul’s Cathedral (allow for 30 mins). Craig has written a review of the Original Bus Tour on his blog. He’s also described the Big Bus tour as well.
St. Paul’s was built by Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London. Have a good look around and climb up to the famous Whispering Gallery if you don’t mind the height (allow for 2 hours). Craig chickened out of climbing up to the highest dome, but you can read his review of the cathedral on his blog.
Now jump on the same sightseeing bus and ride it over London Bridge. The Shard will loom up ahead. If you’d like to check out the view from London’s tallest observation deck then get off here and allow yourself 60 mins. Craig has reviewed The Shard as well.
Now jump back on the bus and continue the route to Tower Bridge. Don’t worry about taking any photos – you’ll get a much better view when you get off at…
…the Tower of London. (Note: we don’t recommend going inside Tower Bridge, but you might get lucky and see the drawbridge open.) The Tower of London is a world heritage site and is home to the Crown Jewels. Why not do a Yeoman Warder tour with one of the Beefeaters? (allow for 3 hours in total) There are lots of things to do at the Tower and Craig has reviewed them all. Check out his review of the Beefeater tour and of the Tower of London itself.
No London sightseeing itinerary for three days would be complete without a ticket for a West End show. Check out our London theatre guide to see what’s on.
The same sightseeing bus will take you all the way back to Trafalgar Square via the Victoria Embankment (remember to look out for Cleopatra’s Needle along the way). If you’re pushed for time then you can catch the District line from Tower Hill to Embankment instead (10 min train ride, plus a 2 min walk to Trafalgar Square).
Alternatively, you could just stay on the bus and ride it all the way around Westminster, Victoria, Marylebone, and back to Trafalgar Square again (but that will take ages – we don’t recommended it!).
Day two:London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus
Here are some more things to do in London for three days. If you’re wondering how to tour London in 3 days without knackering yourself out then here’s the secret: avoid the buses and trains. Just clump the stuff together and make sure they’re all within walking distance.
When tourists are trying to decide where to go in London then this is usually near the top of their list: the London Eye. It’s best to buy your tickets beforehand, though, because the queues can get quite heavy (allow for 30-45 minutes queuing, and 30 minutes on the wheel). Remember to read Craig’s review of the London Eye so you can see what it’s like.
Westminster Abbey is London’s most prestigious religious buildings, and the setting for coronations, state funerals, and the burial place of many celebrated kings and queens (allow for 90 mins). You can read Craig’s review of Westminster Abbey on his blog.
Now head down Whitehall, past The Cenotaph and No.10 Downing Street. You might like to spend 10 minutes in front of the famous gates to see if you can spot the Prime Minister. Craig’s never managed to see the PM, but maybe you’ll have better luck.
Continue through Admiralty Arch and up The Mall towards Buckingham Palace (allow for 15 mins walking time). Once you’ve taken some photos of the facade head through Green Park to Piccadilly (10 mins walking time).
A stroll down Piccadilly will take you past the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Arcade and Fortnum & Mason, ending up under the neon lights of Piccadilly Circus. Craig has reviewed Piccadilly Circus by day and seen it by night as well.
Day three:Our 3-day trip itinerary for London continues with two of London’s best museums, some souvenir shopping at Harrods, and ends with a show
This day plan for tourists spending 3 days sightseeing in London will begin with a train to South Kensington. Then pick two of the following three museums. Our recommendation would be the Natural History Museum plus one other (especially if you’ve got kids with you). All three are within five minutes walking distance of each other.
The Natural History Museum is called the “dead zoo” because it’s full of stuffed animals from all around the world. The most popular exhibits are the age-old dinosaur bones (allow for 2 hours). Check out Craig’s review of the Natural History Museum.
The Science Museum covers everything from the earliest computers and motor cars to the Apollo moon landings. They’ve also got an IMAX cinema showing 3D movies (allow for 2 hours). Craig has written a review of the Science Museum on his blog as well.
Your third choice is the Victoria & Albert Museum, which explores the history of art and design. You will see fabulous furniture, jewellery and clothes inside, and the world-famous Cast Room which contains plaster-cast and concrete replicas of the world’s greatest monuments and statues (allow for 2 hours). Have a read of Craig’s blog before you decide, because this museum is a lot better than it sounds.
All three of those museums are free, so you should have plenty of money left to do some shopping at Harrods – the world’s greatest 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). Craig has reviewed the inside of Harrods, but obviously couldn’t afford to buy anything.
The best way to finish off your holiday is with a show. You’ve already been to the theatre, so how about some music instead? The Royal Albert Hall is a short distance from Harrods (find out what’s on at the Royal Albert Hall). You can catch a 10-minute bus from Knightsbridge (numbers 9, 10, 52 or 452). Craig has been to see a Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall, but you’ll have to come during the Proms season to see one of those.
Alternatively, you could ride the No.9 bus to the Royal Festival Hall in 25 minutes (find out what’s on at the Royal Festival Hall). But if you really want a treat, how about watching a concert at the O2 Arena?
If you don’t fancy any of those shows, then you will need to catch a tube to North Greenwich for this next idea, because it’s miles away in Greenwich. It’s a 40-minute ride, and you’ll have to change trains at Green Park.
Note: Whilst it’s certainly possible to see the best of London with our 3 day sightseeing tour, remember that all of these day trips for tourists can be chopped and changed around. So why not grab a few days out of our six day London itinerary, and use some of them instead?
Day one:The best way to see London in a few days is to group everything together so it’s within easy walking distance: Trafalgar Square, Changing the Guard, Big Ben, Churchill War Rooms, Westminster Abbey, London Eye
Is three days enough to tour London? If we’re being honest, then probably not. But you can still do plenty of London sightseeing in three days if you plan everything out in advance. It’s a huge city (far too big to walk across), so you need to know where you’re going to squeeze as much in as possible.
Here are some more places to visit in London in 3 days. Let’s start with Trafalgar Square.
One of the top things to see in London in three days is the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace. The ceremony starts at 11.15 AM but we recommend getting there before 10 AM for a spot up right against the gates. Bear in mind that that it sometimes operates every other day, so check the schedule.
Now we’ll have a leisurely stroll through St. James’s Park towards the restaurant for a bite to eat. But remember to cross the bridge first, which cuts across the middle of the lake. It has one of the finest views in London (allow for 60 mins).
If you’ve got a soft spot for Winston Churchill, then you might like to visit the Churchill War Rooms – home to his wartime government in World War II. It can be found at the south-eastern edge of the park (allow for 90-120 mins, although you’ll have to skip one of the following places to compensate).
At the eastern end of the park is Horse Guards Parade. If you walk through the central arch you will emerge into Whitehall, where you can take your photo standing next to one of the sentries (allow for 30 mins).
Big Ben will soon loom up on your left, alongside the Houses of Parliament. If you happen to be visiting during the ‘Summer Opening’ then we definitely recommend doing a guided tour inside (allow for 90 mins in total, although you’ll have to skip one of the following places to compensate).
Now cross over Parliament Square to Westminster Abbey – London’s most prestigious religious building.
This is the setting for coronations, state funerals, and the burial place of many celebrated kings and queens. It is well worth a visit (allow for 2 hours).
Day two:British Museum or Museum of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, followed by Covent Garden and a West End theatre show
We’re going to continue our day trip ideas for 3 days in London with a choice of two different museums (just pick one). The best three day travel itinerary includes a bit of everything: landmarks, attractions, galleries and a show, and this is going to be our educational day. We’re going to slow everything down a bit after yesterday’s hectic rush around town.
The British Museum has exhibits from ancient Egypt, Greece, Italy, Africa and the Orient, including colossal works by the Romans, Greeks and Persians. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon Marbles, and the world-famous Reading Room (allow for 2 hours).
If you’re touring London in 3 days then it’s a good bet that you’re a fan of the city, so how about learning some more about it at the Museum of London? This place tells the story of the city all the way back to prehistoric times, through its Roman period, the Great Fire of London, the Blitz, and right up to the modern-day (allow 2 hours). There are also some remains of the Roman Wall around the Barbican, if you’re a history buff.
If you went to the Museum of London then you can walk to St. Paul’s Cathedral, otherwise you’ll have to get the 521 bus (15 mins ride). No trip to London would be complete without looking around Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. We recommend going inside and climbing up to the dome for a fantastic view of the city (allow for 2 hours).
You can’t visit London in 3 days and not have a ride on a double-decker bus, so now we’ll catch the No.15 to Covent Garden for a bite to eat. There are plenty of great restaurants in the Covent Garden piazza, and you can also sit back and enjoy a bit of street entertainment.
A great way to end your second day is with a West End show. Check out our theatre guide to see what’s on. Or you might like to watch a big blockbuster movie in Leicester Square instead – home to three of the biggest cinemas in the capital (allow for 3 hours).
Day three:Tower of London, Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, the Shard, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall
Our suggested itinerary for three days in London continues with the Tower of London. It was originally 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? (allow for 3 hours in total)
A short walk from the Tower of London is the world-famous Tower Bridge. If you’d like to go inside and see the exhibition (we suggest that you give it a miss) then you’ll enjoy some fine views from the top walkways (allow for 60-90 mins).
No two people are ever going to agree what to do for three days in London, so we’re giving you a choice of four different options now (just choose one). If you like World War II battleships, then cross over the bridge past City Hall, and explore HMS Belfast (allow for 2 hours).
Another option is to continue on the RV1 to the Tate Modern gallery. This is home to the country’s modern art collection, and includes works by Dali, Matisse, Rothko, Pollock and Pablo Picasso. If you’d like to have a look around then allow yourself 90 mins.
The third option is a guided tour around Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (allow for 90 mins). If you come during the summer then you might be able to catch a play (allow for 3 hours, but you’ll probably have to jiggle your day around to get it in).
Note: You can plan a few days in London with our three day itineraries, or you can just take some days out of our other itineraries instead. Check out all the different suggestions on our 1-day plan, 2-day plan and 4-day plan, and then decide what to see in London over three days.
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