72 Hours in London: A 3-Day Itinerary

Shireen is a travel writer from Wales who has visited London over 15 times. Shireen writes about food and literary travel including filming/famous locations around the world. Read her guide to Amy Winehouse locations for an immersive experience in London. Find out more

When it comes to visiting a major city like London, it’s hard to gauge how long you should spend there. I’ve always found that a weekend or three days is an ideal length of time to see the top sights, get a feel for the city, and dip your toe in the culture. There’s so much to see in the English capital, but this 3-day itinerary for London should help you choose what to fit in. 

One of the best ways to get around the city is using the London Underground, which Londoners call the Tube. It’s regular, reliable, and affordable. There are Tube maps in every station, or you can download the Citymapper app. It’s a great way to navigate the lines so you can easily travel between attractions.

Table of Contents

Day 1 - Begin your 3-day London itinerary visiting the city’s major players

The first day is all about visiting what is iconic in the mind’s eye, the London you’ve seen in films and TV shows.

Begin with the London Eye

London Eye Pier opposite Westminster

Europe’s tallest observation wheel, the London Eye is centrally located near Westminster Bridge, with excellent views of the city. It’s also known as the Millennium Wheel, as it was opened to the public in March 2000. 

It attracts over 3 million visitors per year, so I’d advise purchasing your London Eye ticket in advance so you can plan your 30-minute ride accordingly. The fast-track option means you can avoid the lines and fit more into your 3-day London itinerary. 

Next is Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Palace of Westminster and Big Ben

If there is one iconic image of London, it’s Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben (or the Elizabeth Tower, to give it its official name) is a sight to behold, with its grand stance watching over the city. The Houses of Parliament, located inside the Palace of Westminster, are next to Big Ben. It’s where the UK Parliament meets to debate and work.

Visit Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, a Gothic-style church, is where monarchs are crowns and national figures such as Charles Darwin are laid to rest. Pre-book your Westminster Abbey entrance ticket so you can walk in the steps of British royalty — this is where Prince William married Kate Middleton in 2011.

Relax on a River Thames cruise with lunch

Thames River cruise

The River Thames winds through the London and southeast England and — at 215 miles long — it’s the second-longest river in the United Kingdom. Take a relaxing river cruise to see panoramic views of the city along its banks. Reserve your place on the London River Thames Lunch Cruise and pass by major sites like the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theater while enjoying lunch and drinks on the water.

If you’d prefer a quicker cruise on the Thames, try the River Thames speedboat ride for an adrenaline-filled 50 minutes of sightseeing and feel like James Bond.

Marvel at Buckingham Palace

Horse Guards outside Buckingham Palace

One of London’s most famous landmarks, Buckingham Palace is the headquarters of the British royal family. Its balcony is where they gather for special occasions and where Queen Elizabeth II waved to the adoring public on countless occasions during her 70-year reign. 

For a more immersive way to experience Buckingham Palace, take a Changing of the Guard & Buckingham Palace Tour to learn all about its history and witness the magnificent Changing of the Guard ceremony. You can also visit the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace during its summer opening period. 

Explore Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Since the 17th century, Kensington Palace has been a residence of the royal family. It’s now the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children, meaning two future kings currently reside here. Although you’re unlikely to bump into them, you can get a ticket to go inside Kensington Palace, marvel at this royal home, and learn stories of the British kings and queens that have lived here. 

See St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral seen from One New Change

St Paul’s Cathedral is boasts impressive architecture and lots of history. It’s a working church today and was famously the venue for Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981. 

Get a St Paul’s Cathedral entry ticket in advance to explore inside and enter the dome for spectacular views.

Head to the Tower of London

Tower of London

To end a day of royal highlights in London, visit the Tower of London where you can spot ravens, wave at the guards, walk among the castle walls, learn the history of a thousand years, and admire the Crown Jewels, many of which are still in use today. Buy your Tower of London and Crown Jewels exhibition ticket in advance to explore this unmissable London attraction.

Day 2 - Discover art and culture in London

Explore the arts and culture of London from a leading art museum, visit an exciting neighborhood, watch the sunset over the city, and catch a theater show.

Start with the V&A

Victoria and Albert Museum

The world’s leading museum for art, design, and performance, The Victoria and Albert Museum (or V&A) is the perfect place to explore galleries and exhibitions showcasing over 1 million objects of human creativity. You can find textiles, pieces and styles from around the world — from Middle Eastern mosaics to Queen Victoria’s Jubilee medal. General admission is free.

Explore Camden Market

Camden Market

Camden is one of the most urban, progressive, and hipster boroughs of London. It breeds art. From the music hubs to Museum Corner, there is something for everyone here.

You can take the bus or Tube, but the most picturesque way to get to Camden is to hop on a Regent’s Canal Waterbus boat trip to Camden from Little Venice where you can learn about the area’s history and marvel at the surrounding greenery.

Camden Market is home to multiple local businesses, craft stores, and an incredible outdoor food market next to the canal. Don’t forget to snap a picture with the famous Camden Lock Bridge and explore the places where Amy Winehouse lived, worked, and found her voice. 

Start by perusing the food stalls and trying cuisines from all over the world. Find a spot by the canal to enjoy your lunch. 

Catch the sunset at Primrose Hill

View from Primrose Hill

A short walk from Camden Market, Primrose Hill is famously home to some of London’s rich and famous. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities. The hill is a short incline but worth it for the very best skyline view of London at sunset. 

Enjoy a pint at a British pub

Trying craft beer

Pub culture is vibrant in the UK and it’s where you can join the locals for a pint of beer and a chat.

If you visit a pub serving food you’re likely to be able to enjoy British “pub grub” staples such as fish and chips, bangers and mash, pie and gravy, and — believe it or not — chicken tikka masala, the UK’s favorite dish.

Take in a West End show

The West End

The theater district of London is known as the West End, similar to Broadway in New York. Decide which show you’d like to watch from the list of long-standing residencies, like “Phantom of The Opera” or “Wicked,” or try a revolving array of new plays and touring productions. Join the West End Musical Theater walking tour to learn more about the history of London’s theater district and hear stories of its greatest productions, traditions, and superstitions.

Day 3 - A day to experience magical London on your 3-day itinerary

Day 3 focuses on magic in London. Eat the best English food, climb a skyscraper, and discover a British sensation that stormed the world. 

Order a full English breakfast

Full English Breakfast

For a memorable breakfast in England, a “full English” or “fry-up” showcases the best of British food culture. A “full English” consists of eggs, baked beans, sausage, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes, toast, and a cup of tea or coffee. 

Plenty of pubs and cafes serve them up, but the best places to try one are the locally-run cafes known as “greasy spoons.” These are usually the cheapest, and often full of Brits reading the paper or fuelling up on their way to work. 

Enter the world of Harry Potter at Warner Bros Studios

Diagon Alley at the Warner Bros Studio Tour

London is famous for its many scenes in the world-famous “Harry Potter” books and films. Spots like King’s Cross Station and Leicester Square allow you to step into the wizarding world on your 3-day London itinerary. 

Many other scenes were shot in Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden, north west of London, which is now open to the public and is the very best Harry Potter-related activity you can experience in the UK. On the Warner Bros Studio Tour, you can walk in the same shoes as the cast in places like Diagon Alley and aboard the Hogwarts Express. 

As the studio tour is located a little outside of the city center, purchase your Warner Bros Studio Tour tickets including transfers for an unforgettable experience without the hassle of booking separate train or bus tickets. This includes a bus transfer to the studios and back to London, entry to Warner Bros Studios, and a behind-the-scenes walking tour of the Harry Potter phenomenon, including sets, props, and memorabilia from the movies. 

There’s also a family package with transfers from London for families of up to four.

Indulge with dinner and views at The Shard

The View From The Shard

End your 3-day London itinerary in style with dinner at the award-winning restaurant, Hutong, or drinks at Gong, the highest hotel bar in Europe. The Shard is the tallest of London’s skyscrapers and a fantastic place to watch the city light up after sunset. It’s best to purchase a Shard entry ticket in advance so you can visit the 72nd floor for a memorable 360-degree view of London. 

This is the perfect attraction to reflect on everything you’ve seen and experienced during your trip. 

While this is a jam-packed itinerary for 3 days in London, if you fit most of it in it’s going to leave you with extraordinary memories of adventures, food, and top sights in the Big Smoke.

Shireen is a travel writer from Wales who has visited London over 15 times. Shireen writes about food and literary travel including filming/famous locations around the world. Read her guide to Amy Winehouse locations for an immersive experience in London. Shireen’s favorite things to do while traveling are tasting local cuisines, meeting locals and reading books about the place in a scenic spot. 

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