Visiting London? In this guide we’re sharing our favorite sights, food, and things to do if you only have 3 days in London, as well as things to know before you go. Ready to get planning? Keep on reading!
During our UK adventure, the first stop was London, which has always been at the top of our travel list (you can read all about our trip here). And it lived up (and even exceeded) our expectations! The city was beautiful and full of very cool architecture, delicious coffee and food, and so much history!
We were only in the city for 2 days, but we managed to squeeze in tons of sights and fell in love with the city. Using our experience from our trip, lots of research, as well our list of things to do next time, we created this 3 days in London itinerary and travel guide that is perfect for first-timers to the city!
The guide includes a mix of free and paid attractions, many of which we visited ourselves—although we did not pay to go inside of every single one, some of them are great to just walk by and see!
It is also filled with lots of food options, tips on how to get around, suggestions of where to stay, and things that are good to know beforehand. We hope you enjoy your trip to London!
Looking for more things to do in the UK? Check out our Scotland guides:
Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
Tips for visiting London
There are a few things that we learned before and during our trip that will help make your trip go smoothly:
- Buy an adapter before you go! Also, make sure your hair dryer and straightener (and other electrical items) are dual voltage. We took this hair dryer and this straightener with us during the trip and they worked great!
- If you’re staying at Airbnbs and need somewhere to store your bags, we recommend checking out Bagbnb and LuggageHero. We used both services while in London and they were convenient and safe!
- Get Pound sterling from your bank before you go. It’ll save you from having to find a place to exchange money and save you fees!
- Multiple places closed earlier than they were supposed to. For example, the British Museum says it closes at 6 PM, but they kicked us out of exhibits at 5:30 PM, so plan accordingly!
- Restaurants and coffee shops open up later on the weekends. While this is relatively common in the US too, we thought we’d point it out because there were a couple occasions where we really wanted coffee, but the places we wanted to go to weren’t open yet, even at 8 AM.
- 10-15% seems to be the standard when it comes to tipping and some restaurants add on a 12.5% service charge (make sure you review your bill!). We had a couple situations where there was no tip line on the receipt and we had to use cash if we wanted to leave a tip.
- We highly recommend getting an international phone plan (or a SIM card), it’s worth every penny. We purchased AT&T’s International Day Pass in advance, but hoped to not use it most days and rely on Wifi instead. Although we tried our hardest, it was much easier to get around using data and saved us a lot of headaches!
- There was no AC in our Airbnb in London, which we hear is common since the temperatures never get too warm. However, during our visit it was pretty hot, so it was a bit uncomfortable.
When to visit London
We visited London in August and despite London’s reputation of being rainy, we had sunshine the entire time! The daytime temperatures were super warm (it hit the 90’s, which we weren’t expecting and we think was unusual for the city), but minus a little bit of humidity and sweating, the weather was perfect.
The summertime is definitely the peak time to visit London, as the temperatures are warmer, so the crowds were a bit large at times during our trip. But we expect crowds in a large city, so it didn’t bother us at all. However, the prices were a tad higher as well, which is something to keep in mind if you plan to visit during the summer.
Winters tend to be cold and rainy, so unless you really don’t mind the weather, it may not be the best time to visit for your first trip. However, Christmas in London is very magical, so if you’re able to time your visit with their Christmas markets, it would definitely make up for the weather!
If you want slightly warmer weather and less crowds than the summer, fall and spring can be a beautiful time to visit London. However, you may deal with more rain than the summer, so be prepared!
If do you visit in the rain, we think it would only make the trip feel more London-y…just make sure to pack an umbrella or rain jacket!
Getting to London
London is home to two airports: Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Gatwick Airport (LGW), both of which are international airports with many flights around the UK, Europe, the US, and more!
We flew into Heathrow during our visit to London, which is the larger of the two airports, and is located about 16 miles west of the city. Depending on where you’re staying in London, you can take the tube (underground trains) the entire way to your accommodations or take a combination of the tube and a bus, which will take about 40-50 minutes.
When we visited Italy, we flew into Gatwick for a quick layover, but we have never visited London from Gatwick. Gatwick is located about 28 miles south of the city and has a train (the London Victoria or the Thameslink) that can take you into the city in about 35 minutes.
We had a great experience at both airports. They had great lounges (read how we get access to lounges here), which is an important factor for us, at both airports and the easiness to get into the city from both makes either airport a great option when visiting London.
Getting Around London
When we visited London, we either walked, took the bus, or took the Tube (underground trains) all around London. We never once took a taxi, which saved us a ton of money. To figure out which was the best option to get around, we used Google Maps and never had any issues.
After you land in London, we highly, highly recommend getting an Oyster card and using that to get around the city. It will make it easy to hop on busses and trains without worrying about getting a ticket!
Tip: Double decker busses are super fun to ride on and a great way to see more of the city. Make sure you sit on the top floor in the front for the best views! 🙂
Where to Stay in London
London is known for being a very expensive city and lodging is no exception! We chose to book an Airbnb during our trip and found the prices to be much cheaper than hotels and we felt that we got a more local experience.
Warning: there was no AC in our Airbnb in London, which we hear is common since the temperatures never get too warm. However, during our visit it was pretty hot, so it was a bit uncomfortable. So make sure to check if your hotel or Airbnb will have AC if you’re visiting in the summer and are concerned about being a bit warm!
During our visit, there were a few areas that we really liked and would be a convenient spot to stay at during the city: Notting Hill, Chelsea, Shoreditch, Soho, Mayfair, and Fitzrovia.
Since getting around London is super easy, even if you stay a little out of town, you can still get into town pretty quickly. Below are some Airbnb recommendations in the neighborhoods we mentioned above.
- Notting Hill: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom
- Chelsea: Studio apartment (across the bridge from Chelsea)
- Shoreditch: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom (5 night minimum)
- Soho: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom
- Fitzrovia: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom
PS: if it’s your first time booking on Airbnb, use our code to get $40 off!
3 Days in London Itinerary
In this 3 days in London itinerary we’re sharing all of the must-visit sights, best local food, and things to do if you only have 3 days in London.
Looking for more ideas? Make sure to check out our “if you have extra time” section at the end of this guide!
- Kick off your London adventure (and beat jet lag!) with coffee at Monmouth Coffee right next to Borough Market.
- Spend a couple hours eating your way through Borough Market (The market opens at 8 AM Saturdays, 10 AM Monday-Friday, closed Sundays). There are so many amazing vendors to choose from and we recommend trying as much as you can (come hungry!). Some good ones to check out are:
- See London from 72 floors up at The View from The Shard. Make sure to buy your tickets early, as the earlier you buy, the more you save!
- Walk across Tower Bridge and enjoy the views along the way.
- Learn some interesting history and see the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.
- Admire the beauty of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
- Wander around the Shoreditch area and snap photos of the murals.
- Dinner at Dishoom. This place is delicious and very popular–make sure to make a reservation in advance! We recommend the Chicken Ruby, Black Daal, Chicken Tikka, and their Chai.
- After dinner, grab a drink at Nightjar or Happiness Forgets, two speakeasy bars in Shoreditch.
- Get a traditional English breakfast at Regency Cafe (Note: Cash only & closed on Sundays)
- Grab coffee at Over Under Coffee or Arro Coffee. We highly recommend getting flat whites while in London. 🙂
- Spend a couple hours walking around the colorful streets of Notting Hill. They have a fun market on Saturdays too!
- Grab lunch at Hobson’s Fish & Chips. For all of my fellow gluten free eaters, they have gluten free fish and chips for you too!
- Spend the rest of the afternoon experiencing some of London’s royal landmarks. First up: Kensington Palace! We recommend just walking by this spot and visiting the free gardens.
- Walk through Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace. You can only go into the palace two months out of the year, usually during the summer, when the Queen is not in residence.
- Walk through the bustling Trafalgar Square. It’s a great place to sit and view the city. You can also visit the National Gallery for free here if you have enough time!
- Admire the beautiful architecture at Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster.
- Enjoy sunset along the River Thames. We recommend watching it from this spot.
- After sunset, head across the River Thames for dinner. A few good options:
- Treat yourself to some amazing gelato at La Gelateria.
- Coffee and breakfast at The Attendant. It’s a tiny coffee shop in a former underground bathroom…super unique! We suggest getting a small breakfast to save room for Camden Market 🙂
- Walk around Regents Park and hike up to Primrose Hill.
- Eat more food and explore Camden Market (Opens at 10:30 AM). Some of the best stalls in the market to try out:
- Visit one of London’s many museums. We visited the British Museum (free), but the Museum of London (free) and Churchill War Rooms look really interesting too!
- Explore the adorable and colorful Neal’s Yard.
- Wander around Covent Garden, a super cool area with restaurants and shops.
- Walk down one of our favorite streets in London, Regent Street. Make sure to take a classic tourist photo in the phone booth while you’re there!
- Grab dinner on Carnaby Street. We recommend getting meat pies or bangers and mash at Mother Mash.
- After dinner, finish the night with drinks at Cahoots.
If you have extra time…
- The Breakfast Club
- 49 Cafe
- Egg Break
- Beigel Bake
- Flat Iron
- The Oystermen Seafood Bar & Kitchen
- 10 Greek Street
- BAO Soho
- Fiddie’s Italian Kitchen
- Ben’s Cookies
- Drury 188-189
- Four Corners Cafe
- Coffee, Cake & Kisses
- Exmouth Coffee
- Bloomsbury Coffee House
- Afternoon tea at Claridge’s or Sketch
- If you’re in town on a Sunday, explore the Brick Lane Market (Sundays only)
- Eat and shop at the Boxpark in Shoreditch
- Visit Daunt Books
- See London from new heights at the Sky Garden
- Take a ride on the London Eye–We recommend going super early to avoid the crowds!
- Watch a football game!
- Go see one of the many shows in London’s West End
- Walk down Abbey Road
- For the Harry Potter fans, check out the Warner Bros. Studio Tour
- See the canals in Little Venice
- Go window shopping at the beautiful Harrods department store
- Visit more museums–British Museum (free), Museum of London (free), Churchill War Rooms, and the Natural History Museum (free)
Planning a trip to London?
Pin this 3 Days in London guide to help plan your trip!