London gives you a bit of everything. The city offers a blend of fascinating history and modern culture, with some of the best museums, architecture, attractions, and a buzzing nightlife scenery set to entertain one and all.
With all of the excitement London promises, planning a trip to the UK’s capital can be a tad overwhelming, especially if you are a first-time visitor. Even if you’ve got only 72 hours in London to spare, you need not worry, as I’ve put together a perfect 3 days in London itinerary, including top London’s top attractions, places to see in London and fun things to do, so you can make the most of your trip to London.
This 3 day London itinerary is designed for first visit-time visitors to London and includes both cultural and historical places to visit in London that everyone visiting the capital for the first time should see.
If you have less than 3 days in London, then check out my 1 day in London or 2 days London itinerary or read my London in 5 days itinerary guide, if you plan on staying longer in London. Also check out my guide on things to know before visiting London.
This London itinerary is designed to show you the UK’s capital in all of its glory, no matter what your preferences may be. It will show you a sneak peek of this bubbling and dynamic city, and make you plan for your next visit even before you leave!
Check out my guide on the best areas in London and where to stay in London for first-time visitors. Below I’ve shared a detailed listed of what to visit in London in 3 days.
For more from my London travel guide series check out my best things to do in London, bottomless brunch Shoreditch, things to do in Shoreditch, best food markets in London, Famous Streets in London, Neals Yard Covent Garden, best desserts in London, best brunch in London, and things to do in Brick Lane.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Things to do in London in 3 days
- 1.1 London Sightseeing with London Pass
- 1.2 3 Day London Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days In London
- 1.3 London Itinerary Day 1
- 1.4 Tower Bridge
- 1.5 Tower of London
- 1.6 St Paul’s Cathedral
- 1.7 London Eye
- 1.8 Big Ben
- 1.9 Palace of Westminster
- 1.10 Westminster Abbey
- 1.11 Changing of the Guard
- 1.12 Buckingham Palace
- 2 London Itinerary Day 2
- 3 London Itinerary Day 3
Best Things to do in London in 3 days
London Sightseeing with London Pass
The London Pass is a prepaid card that is designed to give you free entry top tourist attraction in London.
The London Pass gives you access to over 80 London attractions. With an optional Visitor Oyster card in addition to your London 3 Day Pass, it covers all your transportation needs. The London Pass is an excellent option for first-time visitors who want to stick to a budget, save money, while still having a fantastic time in an expensive city like London. It also allows you to skip the long line so you can spend more time sightseeing in London.
If you are looking to hit all of London’s major tourist attractions, buying The London Day Pass is an ideal option for sightseeing London. You can get your London Pass here. One of my tips for before visiting London is to check the opening hours of London’s different landmarks before travelling since these can vary depending on the season and day of the week.
3 Day London Itinerary: How to Spend 3 Days In London
London Itinerary Day 1
For your first day in London, I would recommend taking a sightseeing bus or walking tour to get a good feel of the city and orient yourself to the different sites and areas. Before exploring London on your own.
I am a fan of hop on hop off buses and their companies that operate in London. I have tried the hop on hop off tour in London, and New York are liked them. These buses tours cover most of London’s top attractions.
If you have purchased a London Pass for your 3 days in London. Then a free sightseeing bus tour is included with your London Pass.
Probably the most beautiful bridge in London, a visit to Tower Bridge is a perfect way to kick-start your 72-hour stay in London. Enjoy the views of some of the best architectural works in London, including the Sky Garden and The Gherkin. A visit to the Tower Bridge offers you a chance to have a feel of the old and new as these fantastic works are located next to the historic Tower of London, which is your next port of call.
Check out prices for tickets to Tower Bridge and Tower of London VIP early access tours.
Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of the UK’s most famous castles and has a lot of fascinating history. Known for its use as a jail where dozens of important characters like William Hastings and Anne Boleyn were interned, the term ‘sent to the tower,’ which was coined at the time, and is still used in the UK today.
The Tower of London has also been used as the Royal Mint and a Zoo. It is now home to the Crown Jewels and serves as a tourist attraction with a rich heritage, offering visitors an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of London’s history. The Tower of London is one of the main top London attractions.
Check out prices for tickets to Tower Bridge and Tower of London VIP early access tours.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Only a short walk from the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most notable buildings. One of the most famous landmarks in London by the great architect Christopher Wren has dominated the London skyline for over 1,400 years.
The opulent structure is admired by many for its magnificent architecture, but your visit to this iconic dome will only be complete when you check out its interior to learn about its history and, of course, admire the elaborate inner space which includes the Cathedral floors, crypt and three galleries. Visiting St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the best activities to do in London.
Book your fast track entrance to the St Paul’s sightseeing tour tickets. Last entry for sightseeing tour is 4pm Monday to Saturday.
Once the tallest Ferris wheel in the world and still the most popular contemporary attraction in London, the London Eye is a great place to enjoy some of the capital’s most amazing views. Though it is always busy, a visit to the London Eye is easily one of the best things to do in London. From the top of the London Eye, you will be able to see up to 25 miles per direction and enjoy views that cover the entire capital’s boundaries. The Big Ben, River Thames, Buckingham Palace, The Shard and Palace of Westminster are among the buildings to look out for when you visit the London Eye.
One of my top tips for visiting the London Eye is to visit it during a nice day with the clear sky as if the sky is too gloomy/cloudy it is unlikely you’ll really get to see some of these iconic building in London and really appreciate how gorgeous London is as a city.
Book in advance for tickets to the London Eye and skip the long lines.
Many people think that Big Ben is the tower where tourists visit, but it is actually the nickname for the bell inside the Elizabeth Tower.
Visitors are not allowed into the Elizabeth Tower, but you can see Big Ben which gives you a chance to enjoy the fantastic views of buildings around the tower. The Houses of Parliament sit next to the Elizabeth Tower so you could do with some photo session around the building.
Currently Big Ben is under maintenance and Elizabeth Tower tours are now suspended until 2021 due to these refurbishments
For more information check out their website.
Palace of Westminster
Also known as the Houses of Parliament, the Palace of Westminster is a gothic style building where the two houses of parliament (the House of Commons and the House of Lords) meet.
The current masterpiece structure was designed by A. W. Pugin and Sir Charles Barry to replace the old parliament buildings which were destroyed by a devastating fire on October 1834. The result of the current design is one of the most significant buildings of the Victorian era where visitors can see the statuses of the English kings and the gilded pinnacles.
Visitors are only allowed to visit the Palace of Westminster on Saturdays or during the summer (in July and August). To get access to the building, you would need a ticket which you can get on the same day of your visit. However, it would be ideal for getting to this historic place early, so you do not wait too long.
For more information check out there website.
Dating back to 1245, Westminster Abbey is one of London’s most famous churches, and one of the capital’s premier attractions. The 700-year old structure does not only wear a mesmerisingly beautiful architecture, but is home to tombs and memorials of some of Britain’s most decorated characters from the past 1,000 years, including artists, scientists, aristocrats, and royalty.
Westminster Abbey has been used to host several royal weddings, including the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011.
If you plan a visit to this historical building, arrive early. Doors open at 9:30am and visitors are provided with an audioguide as it is a self-guided tour.
Westminster Abbey Tickets from their website.
Changing of the Guard
After visiting Westminster Abbey, walk to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard’s ceremony. The ceremony takes place at 11:00am (keep this in mind if you plan on visiting Westminster Abbey and also want to see the Changing of the Guard), at the forecourt of Buckingham Palace and lasts around 45 minutes. To get a nice spot to visit the Changing of the Guard arrive early.
A perfect place to watch the ceremony with less crowd is the Friary Court in front of St. James Palace (the Old Guard normally lines up and starts here). If you do any of the London walking tours that focus on the City of London. They’ll usually pass by Friary Court, depending on the tour route.
Check here for the Changing of the Guard schedule (remember to check the dates before heading to Buckingham Palace to make sure the ceremony takes place).
Check here for tickets to City of London walking tours.
Buckingham Palace holds the title for UK’s most famous palace and serves as the London residence of the reigning monarch. The Change of the Guards ceremony is a must see in Lon don if you plan to visit the Buckingham Palace, and if this is the case, be sure to get there before 11am.
London Itinerary Day 2
If the weather is sunny on your second day in London, grab a sandwich and go for a stroll around Hyde Park London’s largest park. One of the four Royal parks in London (there are 10 royal parks), Hyde Park is home to the Serpentine, Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, Speaker’s Corner, rose garden and more.
You can do some open water swimming in Serpentine and many of London top triathlete clubs actually have opening water swimming practices in the Serpentine in weekends during the summer months) or you can go boating on the Serpentine. You can also rent a Santander bike and ride around the park.
Hyde Park is one of the best green space in central London to visit.
Located at the north-east area of Hyde Park (nearest Marble Arch and Oxford Street), Speakers Corner has been a traditional site for debates and public speeches since the mid-1800s when demonstrations and protests were held in Hyde Park.
Speakers Corner is referred to as the home of free speech as anyone can go there and make their voice heard. So long as the police consider your speech lawful, you too can speak on any subject. Visiting the speaker’s corner in Hyde Park is an unusual thing to do in London, but is one of the most interesting things you’ll witness in Hyde Park.
Piccadilly Circus is a road junction connecting Regent Street with Piccadilly but is most famous for its large flashing neon billboards and home to the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. The Circus is used as a meeting point for tour groups.
Walk along Shaftesbury Avenue from Piccadilly Circus, and you are minutes from most of the West End theatres in London. Walk along Regent Street from Piccadilly and your minutes away from London’s most prominent shopping streets – Bond Street, Oxford Circus and Carnaby Street. These are some of the most famous streets in London.
Known as London’s entertainment centre, Leicester Square is famous for hosting world film premieres. It is centrally located and features several restaurants, theatres, artists, and buzzing nightlife. So, if you’re visiting London with your kids or you’ve got a craving to satisfy that sweet tooth, you could visit M&M world, which is the largest sweet shop in the whole of Europe. Leicester Square is also home to the largest LEGO store in the world.
The National Gallery
If you are an art lover, you’d definitely appreciate the time spent at the National Gallery. Located in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is home to some the UK’s best paintings, including those of Vermeer, Monet, Picasso, Cezanne, and Titian.
If you have some time to spare, you could combine your visit to the National Gallery with a stop at the National Portrait Gallery next door. Entry to both museums is free, and you’ll be given a free audio guide for your tour around the museum if you have a London Pass.
Trafalgar Square is a historic square which dates back to the 1800s when the British navy triumphed at the Battle of Trafalgar. The square is home to contemporary art and a number of monuments, including the famous lion statues and Nelson’s Column.
You’d also likely find performing street artists at the square for some unique entertainment.
Visit St Dunstan’s in the East
The Church of St Dustan was initially built in 1100 and has been rebuilt and repaid over many years. However, the building was damaged in 1666 following the Great Fire of London, and in 1941, the rest of the church took another big hit during the Blitz of the Second World War. In all of these, though, much of the church still remains today. In 1967, the City of London made the decision not to rebuild the church but utilise and transform it into a beautiful public garden and an escape from the hustle and bustle of life in London.
A stroll around the inner walls of the church will lead you to a number of recesses and alcoves with different places to sit and while away time. St Dunstan’s in the East is truly a hidden oasis in the middle of London. St Dunstan’s in the East is one of those unique and cute places to see in London in 3 days in London.
Want to know what to do in London for 5 days read my 5days in London itinerary.
London Itinerary Day 3
The Shakespeare Globe in London is a reconstruction of William Shakespeare’s original open-air theatre built in 1599.
Though it isn’t the original Globe, it is only 200 meters away from where the original Globe would have stood and stayed true to the original theme. Visitors are welcome to explore all aspects of the Globe’s history, including the epic struggle of Sam Wanamaker to recreate the theatre from the original one built by William Shakespeare in 1599. If you’re visiting in the summer, you’ll be welcome to enjoy the open-air performances, but be sure to book your performance ticket ahead of your trip.
The Tate Modern, Borough Market, London Bridge and the Shard are all within walking distance from the Shakespeare’s Globe and are great alternatives of things to do in London if you are wandering along the Southbank.
Visit the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum
The V&A is one of my favourite museum in London and the museum I would most likely recommend to fashion/art lovers. I’ve seen the Christian Dior, Grace Kelly and Frida Kahlo exhibition here and loved them all.
So, check to see which fascinating fashion exhibition will be on at the V&A before you go.
The V&A is located next door to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. These are just a few of the many museums you can visit three days in London.
The British Museum
You are welcome to one of the oldest museums in the world! With over two million years of human history and culture. The British Museum is home to a remarkable collection of world art and artefacts and is an epitome of Britain’s long traditions of obsessive collecting, original artwork and some would even say the exploration of these countries.
Truth is, with over 8 million objects representing the different culture of the world seated in the museum, you could literally spend weeks here. Yes, the British Museum is that huge!
Visit Notting Hill and Explore Portobello Market
Notting Hill is one of the most iconic neighbourhoods in London and an excellent destination for those seeking the quintessential London experience. This candy coloured neighbourhood become a popular destination for tourists and film fans since the release of romcoms like Notting Hill and Love Actually.
You’ll find plenty of attraction spots that can make your Instagram feed pop in Notting Hill and along Portobello Market. The famous Portobello Market is one of the reasons you should visit Notting Hill, as you can find everything from vintage to antiques and some great street food.
If you only have a day in London then read my 24 hours guide to London.
London Mews Streets
If you want to see some of the prettiest streets in London, then check out my guide London Mews Streets and where to find them. Mews were originally groups stables with dwelling above that were built around a yard. These mews have long since been converted to some of prettiest residential areas with charming cobbled stone streets and lush floral displays that change with the season.
This 72 hours in London itinerary has highlighted London’s major attractions. But of course, there are hundreds of more things to do in London. London has so many beautiful locations and hidden secrets which could take a lifetime to explore, but this itinerary which covers your 3 days in London stay is your perfect guide if you only have a few days to spare in UK’s capital!
Now you know what to do in London for 3 days!