I spent a considerable amount of time in London last year, so I thought that I would put together a 5-day London Itinerary of the best things to do in the city.
There are so many things to do in London, that I made a list of 150+ things to do in London. To make this itinerary, I picked the very best things to do and see and then organized them into a 5-day itinerary that makes sense logistically.
5 Day London Itinerary
London Itinerary – What to do on your First Day:
After a long flight to London, I like to spend my first day walking around a lot. Being active helps me to fight off jet lag, and it always feels great to get some exercise after a long flight.
Walk along the Thames
The River Thames winds through London connecting several major sites and offering excellent view of the city.
This grand church is where Prince William married Kate Middleton, and where coronations take place. It is a popular destination, so you may want to book tickets in advance.
Unfortunately, Big Ben tours are unavailable until 2021, and the clocktower might be under scaffolding. If you are lucky, you might be able to get a good photo.
Take a Ride on the London Eye
London’s famous Ferris Wheel is just across the river from Big Ben, so this would be a convenient stop. You might want to book tickets in advance.
You can’t go to London without having an Afternoon Tea, and since you might have a touch of jet lag, why not do it on your first day in the city. Some of the best spots for Afternoon Tea include Fortnum & Mason, Brown’s Hotel, Sketch, and The Goring Hotel all of which are less than a mile from the River Thames. I recommend booking a reservation.
Explore Covent Garden
This is one of the livelier parts of London. Many of the roads are closed off to traffic and there are lots of shops, pubs, restaurants, and street performances. Depending on how hungry you are, grab a pint and a snack, or have a full meal before heading off on a nighttime tour.
Pub Tour or Jack the Ripper Tour
It is key to stay up until 9pm. This will help you fight the jet lag. You might feel tired and be tempted to go to bed early, but that is just setting yourself up for failure. Plan a fun evening activity to keep you up and active so that you can go to bed at 10pm and hopefully sleep through the night. Trust me, if you go to bed at 6pm, you will wake up in the middle of the night and you will have a harder time getting on the time zone.
London Itinerary – What to Do on a Rainy Day:
This is your rainy day itinerary. It’s London. You never know just what the weather will do. I have spent weeks in London when it never rained. And I have spent weeks in London where it rained everyday. Here are some fantastic indoor activities.
The British Museum
I love this museum. It is free, kid friendly, and filled with some of the most spectacular cultural artifacts in the world. You can see the highlights in an hour, or you can easily spend half a day seeing the entire collection.
The British Library
This library is just a mile from the British Museum and they have a free exhibit of Treasures including handwritten Beatles lyrics, Da Vinci’s notebooks, and Shakespeare’s First Folio. Make it a quick trip, or have lunch in the onsite café, or stay to see the special exhibit.
If you are a Harry Potter fan, you might want to stop by Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross for a photo opportunity. King’s Cross is a little out of the way from most London attractions, but it is just a block from The British Library, so this is the best time to go.
Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
If you want to see the sights while staying dry, sign up for the Afternoon Tea Bus Tour with B Bakery. A vintage double decker bus takes you on a drive to see architectural landmarks, while you tea and drink. If you want to go at night, there is an Evening Bus Tour with gin cocktails.
If you want to go to another museum, check out Tate Britian, Tate Modern, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Churchill War Rooms.
Head to one of the big stores like Harrods, Selfridge’s, or Fortnum and Mason. If department stores aren’t your thing, go to Leadenhall an indoor marketplace and Harry Potter filming location.
London Itinerary – What to do on a Saturday:
The London Itinerary for Saturday is based around going to Notting Hill for the Portobello Road Market.
Stroll through Notting Hill
Head to the Portobello Road Market. It is open everyday except Sunday, but Saturday is the best day to go because all of the antiques stalls are open. You can also find stalls selling clothing, food, and other items. Once you are done shopping, grab lunch at one of Notting Hills many fantastic restaurants.
Grab a Pint at The Churchill Arms
This pub is bursting with flowers in warm months, and at Christmastime they decorate the outside of the pub with 80 lighted Christmas trees. The inside is packed with decorations too, and I think it is worth admiring the outside of the pub and then popping inside for a pint.
Hyde Park is a short walk from Notting Hill. Walk past Kensington Palace (where Will, Kate, Harry, and Meghan live) and through Kensington Gardens, and to The Serpentine (a long pond that divides Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park). Depending on the weather, you may want to rent a rowboat.
See a Show in the West End
Theater is much less expensive in London than it is in the U.S., so you might want to take advantage and see a show. For a fantastic pre-theater meal, I recommend The Palomar or the Dean Street Townhouse.
Silent Disco at The Shard
If you want something fun to do late night, there is a silent disco at the top of The Shard at 10pm on Saturday nights.
London Itinerary – What to do on a Sunday:
The things on this list can really be done any day, except of course the Sunday Roast which takes place only on Sundays.
Tower of London
The Beefeater led tours of the Tower of London are fantastic, and a perfect way to get a dose of English History. Plus, the Crown Jewels are kept at the Tower of London, just be prepared for a wait to view them.
Tower Bridge is one of London’s most recognizable architectural landmarks, and since it is just beside the Tower of London, it makes sense to visit the two together. You can opt to just walk across the bridge, or go to the small museum on the bridge.
Top of The Shard
Take in one of the best views from the top of The Shard. Once you cross Tower Bridge, The Shard is just about a 10-minute walk.
Have Sunday Roast in Pub
I love a Sunday Roast and I think it is well deserving of a spot on your London itinerary. A Sunday Roast is a meal that is served at pubs and restaurants in England on Sunday at lunchtime. Each restaurant has their own version but essentially the meal consists of a roasted meat (chicken, beef, and pork are popular), a couple of vegetables, roasted potatoes, gravy, and Yorkshire Pudding (which is actually a delightful savory pastry). Sunday Roast is a quintessentially British meal and it is usually delicious. I recommend asking a local (or your hotel staff) for a recommendation of a great pub for Sunday Roast.
Explore London’s Shopping
Head to Carnaby Street. This is one of my favorite areas in London. Liberty London is perhaps the most famous shop in this area, although there are many London retailers and boutiques to discover. At night you can grab a bite at one of the Kingly Court restaurants, grab a seat outside at one of the pubs and people watch, or have a cocktail at Cahoots, a speakeasy in an old tube station.
London Itinerary – What to do on Any Day:
This is a London itinerary that fits into almost any day of the week, just take note that the changing of the guard only takes place daily in the summer.
Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guards
This takes place at 11am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. It takes place daily in the summer. I recommend just double checking the website before you go since the schedule is subject to change. The changing of the guard can get canceled due to weather.
Harrods Food Court
After the changing of the guards, you will probably be hungry. London’s most famous department store, Harrods is just about a 20-minute walk from Buckingham Palace and they have a wonderful food court.
Shop on Sloan Street
If you want high end shopping, walk a couple of blocks to Sloan Street where you will find stores including Hermes, Dior, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton.
This neighborhood is filled with street art, unique boutiques, and fun pubs. You can explore the street art on your own, or you can take a street art tour. Once you get hungry either grab dinner at Dishoom or Andina, or head to Brick Lane for a curry.
More London Travel Guides:
150+ Things to Do in London
What to do in the City of London
What to do in Mayfair and Marylebone
What to do in Soho
What to Do in Notting Hill
What to Do in Chelsea and Kensington
What to Do in Camden
What to Do in St. Johns Wood
What to Do in London at Christmastime
Harry Potter Filming Locations in London
London Packing List
24 British Foods to Try in London
Can’t Miss London Restaurants
What to Know about Visiting London
If I missed any of your favorite things, let me know in the comments!