If you’ve only got a few short days to stay in the city of London, then here is how you can maximize your time. With this guide for 5 days in London, you not only see the very best of London but beyond this beautiful cosmopolitan city. This 5-Day London Itinerary takes you through London’s popular tourist attractions as well as those hidden gems only locals know about. The itinerary below allows you to focus in on individual areas which also allows you the freedom to do a bit more exploring and add in nearby places that take your interest. Also, most of these places are close to each other, to help you prevent wasting time in London traffic trying to get from one end of the city to the next.
First things first, take a minute to consider how you’re actually getting into London. The city has six airports and depending where you’re flying from, not all airports are as convenient for making your way into the heart of the city. Double check the flight info before booking and read up quick with this guide to London airports.
London Day 1 – Westend and Southbank
AM – Covent Garden
For the first of your 5 days in London, Westend and Southbank are good options to get started in seeing London. Start the day with the Covent Garden Market which allows you to enjoy shopping, food, and culture all in a central location. This car-free piazza makes it easy for you to move about and from store to restaurant.
Also, in Covent Garden is the famous Neal’s Yard, one of London’s prettiest streets. Rounding out the morning is a trip to Trafalgar Square, one of the largest squares in London and some say the heart of the city. The final stop before lunch is Buckingham Palace where the changing of the guards is always an exceptional scene.
PM – Westminster & Southbank
In the afternoon is a visit to the world-famous Big Ben. This area makes it easy to take in the Westminster Bridge, have a go around the London Eye, and take a stroll through the Southbank Market where you can enjoy freshly made food from up London’s small food business. You can find everything from baked delights to vegan curries and top that off with double chocolate pancakes. They cater to all diets so just bring your appetite. On Southbank, if you have time, also check out The London Dungeon if you’re not easily scared, the London Aquarium. While London Southbank is such a great place to explore whatever time of day, the rest of the afternoon is yours free to explore at leisure of check out London’s best rooftop bars to grab a drink and enjoy the views of London’s skyline.
London Day 2 – Knightsbridge And Chelsea
AM – Chelsea
There are quite a few exciting places to visit in Chelsea. Head there in the morning to avoid crowds, especially for the likes of the Instagram cafes like Peggy Porschen Cakes. Must see places in Chelsea are The Saatchi Gallery for cool art exhibitions, Sloan Square/ Duke of York for retail therapy in London’s cool boutiques and of course Square Peggy Porschen Cakes, and the Chelsea Farmers Market for the sweet life.
The Saatchi Art Gallery is a modern art gallery presenting contemporary art. It has launched the careers of quite a few artists and continues to allow young artists to showcase their work. The Duke of York Square and Sloan Square were beautiful places for shopping and coffee. Though not an actual farmer’s market, the Chelsea Farmers Market is a collection of restaurants and shops along Kings Road. The restaurants are outdoors, and you can get a variety of other items.
PM – Knightsbridge
Knightsbridge also offers plenty of attractions to visitors. So, I picked out the ones I most wanted to see and limited myself to those. If you have more time, then of course add a couple more places to your list.
London offers a lot of museums and in Knightsbridge, The Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum of Art and Design, and the Science Museum offered much to appreciate. The V&A museum is the largest of its kind in the world for decorative arts and design.
After the museums is a good time to unwind at the Elan Café which is a nice coffee and pastry shop – Yes, the very one you see on Instagram. There are now a couple of branches around London too but as you are in Knightsbridge why not check one out the Brompton Road branch. After coffee and a sweet treat then it is time to take in the world-famous Harrods Store with its gorgeous indoor architecture and shopping of course. For high-end shopping, there was Sloane Street with some of the world’s most exclusive designer labels on display. You don’t have to be a millionaire to appreciate Harrods. Explore and until your heart is content and shop until your feet give way. Don’t worry there are black cabs lined up outside the department store to take you to your hotel or apartment (for a cheaper ride though – use Uber!)
London Day 3 – Shoreditch and London Bridge
AM – London Bridge Area
Visit the spectacular St. Paul’s Cathedral and climb up to the whispering gallery. Marvel at the views from the Cathedral Dome viewing deck. From here walk down the iconic Millenium Bridge and explore the art gallery at Tate Modern, which is among London’s amazing collection of museums and galleries. While you are here, check out the recently opened Switch House with its viewing terrace that provides an awesome view of the area to London’s skyline. From here walk towards Borough Market for a look at fresh produce but mostly for the food and drink market that’s there. Have brunch/ lunch or you could wait until you get to Shoreditch.
Close by is London Bridge, walk towards the bridge as you take in the sights along the Thames – the beautiful Shard, London city skyline across the river. Take a stroll across Tower Bridge and then get a close up of Tower Castle. A Beefeater Tour in the Tower of London will not only give you a gruesome and important history lesson – with it’s famous English sense of humour, you’ll leave highly entertained.
Once you’ve had your fill there its time to head to Shoreditch. From Tower Bridge or London Bridge take the bus heading to Liverpool Street and its a short walk from there.
PM – Shoreditch
Shoreditch is somewhere you could easily spend a whole day just exploring the area. Shoreditch is an artist paradise with shopping, art, and nightlife. But, if you only want shopping and art. When you are in Shoreditch must-dos are the Cereal Cafe and of course the salted beef bagels at Brick Lane Beigel Bake. They are simply delicious! There is plenty of street art and shops to explore so have a free wander and just enjoy the area. In the evening if you still want more head to The Shard and have a breathtaking view of the sunset from The View from the Shard.
London Day 4 – Day Trip From London
For Day 4, you can choose to plan a day trip out of London. Popular day trips include Oxford, which is a great destination to explore for a day. Visit the Oxford University, Blenheim Palace, the Museum of History of Science, and the Sheldonian Theatre.
Cambridge is a popular spot for day trips out of London as well. Things you could do in Cambridge for the day include punting on the River Cam, having a traditional pub lunch or meals from food stalls, or exploring old colleges. Climb to the top of St. Mary’s Tower for the best view of the city.
Another option is to plan a day trip to the prehistoric monument Stonehenge, the city of Bath, and Windsor Castle. With Stonehenge, just know that if you go in the peak tourist season, the area will be packed with people. Most persons don’t spend more than an hour at Stonehenge so, to maximize your trip, visit somewhere else in that vicinity. Bath is a gorgeous Georgian city and you could spend hours there. Windsor, the Queen’s royal residence, is a popular attraction if you’re heading out to Stonehenge.
London Day 5 – Free Day Or Optional Itinerary
Day 5 in London is an optional free day for you to do whatever additional attraction that might have popped up during your trip. Or, you can follow the planned itinerary below to explore the Greenwich area.
AM: Greenwich, Part 1
Located along the River Thames in south-east London, Greenwich is a world heritage site with many attractions to keep you occupied for the day. In the morning you can take in the Greenwich Maritime Museum, Queen’s House – a former royal residence now home to internationally renowned artists, and the Greenwich Naval College which comes with an amazing painted hall. Here you also have the Greenwich Maritime Observatory where you will find the GMT line.
Before leaving for North Greenwich you can check out the historic Greenwich Market open Tuesdays to Sundays and grab a bite to eat. If you are travelling with kids another interesting spot to check out is Cutty Sark. For those that love a good afternoon tea they also do amazing afternoon tea inside.
PM: Greenwich, Part 2
In the afternoon, if you’re feeling adventurous, head over to North Greenwich and do the 90-minute climb across The O2 Arena roof and see scenic landmarks in London and finally, glide above the Thames in an Emirates Cable Car.
And there you have it – an epic 5 days in London to explore the best this city has to offer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bianca is a London-based travel blogger, with a focus on affordable luxury with a side of kick-ass adventure both in heels and in hiking boots. Her Instagram @itsallbee further shows off the world through her eyes.