How to Spend 5 Days in London: An Insider’s Itinerary

Pericles Rosa is a Brazilian model and travel blogger based in London, and the one behind the website 7 Continents 1 Passport. He’s passionate about traveling and has visited over 50 countries. Find out more

London is undoubtedly one of the coolest cities in the world, with first-class museums, world-famous landmarks and museums, stunning architecture, vibrant markets, and trendy neighborhoods.

Planning a London itinerary can be exciting but also a bit overwhelming. There are so many things to do, amazing places to visit, and tours to take. It can be hard to decide what to leave out of your itinerary.

That’s why I’ve put together this 5-day itinerary for London, with some insider tips to help you spend an unforgettable time in the city I call home.

London 5-day itinerary overview

Day 1 – City of Westminster: Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, Parliament Square, and the London Eye 

Day 2 – London’s famous neighborhoods: Mayfair, Soho, the British Museum, and Covent Garden

Day 3 – City of London: Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Borough Market, The Shard, the Tate Modern, and Saint Paul’s Cathedral

Day 4 – West London: Notting Hill, Kensington Palace & Gardens, National History Museum, V&A Museum, and Harrods

Day 5 – London’s coolest areas: Camden, Greenwich, and the South Bank

Table of Contents

Day 1 – Explore Westminster

9:00 AM – Hyde Park

Boats and pedalos can be hired in Hyde Park

Almost half of London is made up of green spaces, so you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit some of its 3,000 parks during your stay.

Hyde Park, one of eight Royal Parks, is in the heart of the city and home to a large lake, gardens, children’s playgrounds, sports facilities, and historic treasures.

You can go for a gentle stroll, dip your toes in the Diana Memorial Fountain, admire the view across the lake from a waterside cafe, or watch as London’s residents take a morning walk.

10:15 AM – Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Leaving Hyde Park and following Constitution Hill Road, you’ll arrive at Buckingham Palace, home to Britain’s kings and queens since 1837. 

The residence boasts 775 rooms, including 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, 19 state rooms, and 78 bathrooms.

If this is your first time in the city, don’t miss the Changing of the Guard, one of the oldest and most recognizable ceremonies associated with the palace. The ceremony on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace starts at 11:00 AM most days, but make sure you get there at least 20 minutes in advance to beat the crowds.

Changing of the Guard takes place daily in June and July, and on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays from August to May. It lasts approximately 45 minutes and is free of charge to watch. However, if you want to learn more about it, I recommend you take this guided tour.

12:00 PM – Trafalgar Square

The National Gallery on Trafalgar Square

Walk from Buckingham Palace along The Mall and you’ll eventually arrive at one of the most important squares in London, Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square was designed in 1830 to commemorate the British victory against the French and Spanish fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar. This vibrant and picturesque square features two fountains, huge bronze lions, and the monumental Nelson’s column. It’s surrounded by museums, galleries, cultural spaces, and historic buildings.

You can take some pictures, head to The Admiralty pub or The Rooftop for lunch, and visit the National Gallery, which houses one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world.

2:00 PM – Parliament Square

The Palace of Westminster

Ten minutes’ walk from Trafalgar Square you’ll arrive at another important square in the city.

Parliament Square, next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) contains 12 statues of famous political figures, including Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela.

Standing in Parliament Square you can admire Westminster Palace, a fine example of Neo-Gothic architecture, and the Elizabeth Tower, better known to the world as Big Ben. Big Ben is actually the name of the 13-ton bell behind the famous clock.

I recommend you book your ticket in advance to visit Westminster Abbey. Then, walk to the London Eye. 

5:00 PM – the London Eye

London Eye

Bring the first of your five days in London to a close around sundown at the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom.

The London Eye is Europe’s tallest observation wheel and provides unparalleled panoramic views of London and beyond from its 32 glass capsules. It’s the perfect way to see the city bathed in golden light before dinner. 

If you’ve been dreaming about riding the iconic London Eye, book your skip-the-line ticket online in advance. It’s highly recommended, because the lines are long regardless of the day and time. 

Tip: If jetlag makes this amount of walking seems like a challenge, take the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus to get a glimpse of all of these and London’s other top attractions, jumping off to ride the London Eye.

Day 2 – See London’s famous neighborhoods

9:00 AM – Mayfair

Oxford Street

Start your second day wandering around Mayfair, one of the most prestigious areas of London.

There are many things to do in this upscale West End neighborhood, including admiring the elegant Georgian townhouses, window-shopping at flagship stores, discovering contemporary art galleries, and visiting Mercato Mayfair (a market inside an old church). Not to mention afternoon tea in one of its luxurious hotels.

My suggestion is to start on Oxford Street, Europe’s busiest shopping street, near Marble Arch or Bond Street, and walk towards Regent Street. Follow the road round to Piccadilly Circus, checking out the shops as you go.

This popular tourist destination features big, bright billboards, like the ones in Times Square, a fountain with a statue of Eros, as well as street performers entertaining visitors and locals alike.  

11:00 AM – Chinatown

Ice cream in Chinatown

From Piccadilly Circus, you can head to Leicester Square, a pedestrianized square surrounded by restaurants, stores, theaters, and cinemas. There are always street artists at Leicester Square, and a glittering Christmas market during the festive season.  

A few meters away you’ll find the orange and red Chinese lanterns hanging over the side streets and the decorative Chinese gates of Gerrard Street. It’s a good photo opportunity.

You can have lunch in Chinatown (Four Seasons Restaurant is one of my favorites), or cross Shaftesbury Avenue and head to Soho.

12:00 PM – Soho

One of London’s most vibrant neighborhoods, Soho is the place to find entertainment, independent fashion boutiques, stellar restaurants, charming cafes, gay bars, and lively nightlife.

You can go book shopping in Foyles, explore Carnaby Street, and browse designer labels in Liberty London. This iconic department store is a striking Tudor-style building that was formerly two ships and is now filled with high-end fashion and luxury homeware

2:30 PM – The British Museum

The Great Court at The British Museum

There’s an array of excellent museums in London and even better — most of them are free. One of the best in town is the British Museum

Founded in 1753, it has an incredible collection featuring over 8 million objects that will take you through the ages as you discover stories from world history.

The highlights are the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, which houses an extensive collection of pieces dating back to the Neolithic period, and the Department of Greece and Rome, which contains a fantastic collection from the Classical world — over 100,000 objects.

5:30 PM – Covent Garden

Covent Garden

About a 10-minute walk from the British Museum is another district in London that you simply can’t miss: Covent Garden.

This neighborhood is centered around the historic Covent Garden Market, a restored building with fashion stores, craft stalls, cafes, bars, and restaurants.

You can grab a drink at the Piazza, watch street performers, dine at gourmet restaurants, and pick up trinkets and luxury items in the shops.

Since you’re in the West End, you should end your day watching one of the musicals or shows the area is famous for. It’s best to book your tickets well in advance or try your luck at the box office a few hours before showtime.

Day 3 – City of London

9:00 AM – St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral

A London itinerary isn’t complete without the City of London, an 800-year-old walled square mile that was the original city limits of London. Its landscape blends Roman ruins, Victorian architecture, and modern skyscrapers. 

You can start by visiting St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the most recognizable sights in London that’s dominated the skyline for over 300 years. The church is where Winston Churchill’s funeral took place, as well as Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding, among other important cultural and religious events.

Book your ticket in advance to visit this remarkable landmark and climb the steps to see all the galleries in the dome. It’s worth it!

10:30 AM – Tate Modern

The Turbine Hall at Tate Modern

Crossing the Millennium Bridge from St Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll arrive at the Tate Modern — one of London’s finest art museums.

It boasts an impressive collection of modern art by renowned artists — such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Andy Warhol — and rotating exhibitions. The Tate Modern is free to enter and open seven days a week. 

After, stroll along Bankside, which is dotted with many points of interest such as Shakespeare’s Globe and The Golden Hinde (a replica of Sir Francis Drake’s ship). Walk all the way to Borough Market.  

12:00 PM – Borough Market

Borough Market

I’ve never seen a city with as many street markets as London. Among them all, Borough Market is my favorite.

This historic food market has over 1,000 years of history. With pubs, wonderful restaurants, and more than 100 stalls serving a wide range of amazing food and fresh organic products, it attracts locals and visitors in their hundreds.

It’s open every day, but the best time to visit is Saturday when every stall is open and the market is much livelier. You’ll be spoiled for choice when visiting Borough Market.

2:00 PM – Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Spend a few pleasant minutes strolling along the river from Borough and you arrive at Tower Bridge.

Constructed between 1886 and 1894, the Neo-Gothic-style bridge is an icon of London. On my first visit, this was one of the places that I wanted to see the most.

This bascule and suspension bridge can be crossed for free, but its towers and the upper level is open to visitors. You can experience the spectacular glass floor in the high-level walkway, admire the superb views, learn the history of the bridge, or simply snap some great souvenir pictures. There are plenty of photo spots around Tower Bridge on both sides of the river.

3:00 PM – Tower of London

Tower of London

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site you should not skip during your 5 days in London, the Tower of London is one of the world’s most famous fortresses. It’s been used as a royal palace, prison, armory, and even a zoo.

You can explore this iconic London castle, get up close to the Crown Jewels, take a tour with the legendary Yeoman Warders, spot the ravens, and learn interesting facts about the Tower of London’s moat.

Book your skip-the-line ticket online in advance to avoid the lines. 

5:30 PM – The Shard

The Shard

What better way to finish your day than getting an even higher bird’s-eye view of the city?

Standing 310 meters (1,016 feet) tall, The Shard is the tallest building in the UK, and its observation deck is one of London’s most popular attractions.

This 72-story skyscraper provides unbeatable 360-degree panoramic views of London — day and night. 

My recommendation is to visit The Shard just before sunset and book your skip-the-line ticket online in advance, because the lines are long, particularly on weekends. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants and bars in The Shard, should you want to book a table and get a side of views for free. 

Tip: Getting the London Pass gives you access to over 80 attractions, including Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and The Shard.

Day 4 – West London

9:00 AM - Notting Hill

St Lukes Mews in Notting Hill

Notting Hill is known for hosting one of the world’s biggest carnivals, as well as its vibrant Portobello Road Market. It has been featured in many films, thanks to its charming streets and picturesque pastel-coloured houses.

You can take a guided tour to discover more about this area. If you want great pictures, head to Lancaster Road. Its lovely rainbow-colored houses are a big Instagram hit.

11:00 AM - Kensington Palace & Gardens

Wander the Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace, a royal residence set in the beautiful Kensington Gardens, is the birthplace of Queen Victoria and the official residence of the Prince and Princess of Wales (William and Catherine) and their children. 

Kensington Palace was also home to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and a statue and memorial fountain in her honor can be visited nearby. 

Go inside the palace you can wander through the lavish rooms of the King’s State Apartments, take a look at the Queen’s apartments, before exploring the alluring gardens.

1:30 PM - National History Museum or V&A Museum

Victoria And Albert Museum

Cutting through Kensington Gardens past the Royal Albert Hall, you’ll get to the Natural History Museum. Or, if you’re an art lover, the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum should be your choice.

There’s so much for families to explore in the Natural History Museum, including getting up close to dinosaurs, volcanoes, and mammals. Adults and children alike will be fascinated and impressed with the big skeletons and eager to delve into the Wildlife Garden.

In contrast, the V&A is the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance, and has a collection of over 2 million objects. I love it.

Both museums are open seven days a week and general admission is free.

3:30 PM – Harrods

Around 15 minutes’ walk away, you’ll arrive at the most famous luxury shopping destination in the city.

Harrods is a lavish department store where you can shop designer fashion and accessories, luxury beauty, fine jewelry, food, furniture, and more from over 5,000 brands. It attracts millions of customers from across the globe and is one of the best places to buy exclusive souvenirs.

To end your day, head to the chic Ivy Chelsea Garden Restaurant in Chelsea, or the Michelin-starred Barrafina in Soho

Day 5 – London’s coolest areas

9:00 AM – Camden

Camden Town

Located in north London, Camden is famed for its eclectic mix of markets, live music venues, alternative culture, captivating stores, and great street food. You can browse for vintage fashion, handmade leather bags, accessories, and unusual gifts.

I love going to Camden to walk along Regent’s Canal, watch music concerts, explore its markets, and buy souvenirs. This is the least expensive place for souvenir shopping in town.

12:30 PM - Greenwich

Queen's House in Greenwich

Continue exploring London’s diversity. From Camden Town, go to Greenwich — one of my favorite parts of the city.

You can go by Tube, but my suggestion is to take this River Thames hop-on, hop-off cruise from London Eye Pier (a 13-minute tube ride from Camden). You’ll have the opportunity to see London’s famous sights from another perspective and arrive in Greenwich in a very special way.

Grab lunch at Greenwich Market before visiting the fascinating Old Royal Naval College, an English baroque complex dating back from 1669. The chapel and dining hall of this former hospital are open to the public and the Painted Hall has one of the most magnificent ceilings in Europe. 

Other places to visit in Greenwich are the Royal Observatory and Park, the Queen’s House (the earliest English building in classical style), the National Maritime Museum, and the Cutty Sark (a clipper ship from 1869).

4:30 PM - South Bank

Harry Potter walking tour

Take the hop-on, hop-off cruise back to London Eye Pier to discover another cool area. The South Bank is the perfect place to explore London’s rich history and culture. 

You can visit the Southbank Centre — a multi-venue art center — walk along the tree-lined riverside, watch the skaters at the Southbank Skate Space, feel the sand between your toes at Limin’ Beach Club or grab a mulled wine at the Winter Market, depending on the season. The superb views over the Thames River come for free.

And if you’re a graffiti lover, check out Leake Street, a graffiti tunnel covered in colorful street art under Waterloo Station.

To finish, enjoy some Asian-inspired cocktails and Vietnamese plates at Banh Bao Brothers or discover artists at The Vaults, an electrifying and welcoming musical experience like no other.

Tip: If you’re a big fan of Harry Potter, replace Greenwich and the South Bank with a visit to the Warner Bros Studios, or take this Magical Harry Potter London Tour. Or both. 

After these 5 days in London, you’ll understand why I made this incredible city “home.” 

Safe travels and have fun in London!

Pericles Rosa is a Brazilian model and travel blogger based in London, and the one behind the website 7 Continents 1 Passport. He’s passionate about traveling and has visited over 50 countries. Pericles loves London and one of his favorite things to do in the city is walk along the Thames River banks from Tower Bridge to Westminster Palace. Check out his website to find some inspiration for your next trip and also the most Instagrammable places in London.

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