Deep-rooted traditions, rich history, and culture, iconic landmarks equally-famous in all corners of the world, epic bridges and futuristic skylines, endless cafes, and restaurants, bustling business activity, the title of the most visited city in the world.
No matter how many things you list, it will still not be enough to describe the gorgeous city of London. If you want to understand its history, you need to spend years there. If you want to feel the spirit of the city you need to spend months there. If you want to explore its famous landmarks, you need to spend weeks in the home of Big Ben. And no matter how much time you spend there, you will still find that this city never runs out of discoveries. An average traveler doesn’t have years, months, or weeks to explore one destination and is usually looking for much shorter trips. But if we’re talking about London, several days will not suffice. This is why we decided to make a compromise and created this intensive 7-day London itinerary, which will allow you to immerse into all the good things that this glorious city has to offer.
But before we jump straight into the itinerary, let’s take a look at some useful tips and hacks that will make your London experience much more convenient and pleasurable.
7-Day London Itinerary: Everything you need to plan your London trip
Getting from the Airport
There are three main ways to get to London from London City Airport (LCY):
- Tube – the airport has its own stop called Docklands Light Railway (DLR). When you board on this stop, you will need to change the train on Stratford, Canning Town, or Bank to get to the city center. The train runs from 5.30 am to midnight from Monday to Saturday and from 7 am to 11.30 pm on Sunday. The train comes every eight to fifteen minutes, and you will need to pay €10 for the trip.
- Bus – take the bus 473 if you need to go to Stratford, Silvertown, North Woolwich, and Prince Regent DLR Station, or 474 if you’re going to Canning Town, North Woolwich, and East Beckton via Silvertown. The bus will cost you a little more than €3.
- Car – is the most convenient option. You can use the services of authorized drivers or hire a private chauffeur. The ride should cost you around €40, but it will be better if you ask the driver about the cost of your journey beforehand.
Consider Buying a Visitor Oyster Card
A Visitor Oyster card is the best way to pay for public transport in London. Having this card will save you some money and will make your London commutes more comfortable as there will be no need to stand in line waiting to buy a single paper ticket. The best thing about it is that you can buy it before you even leave home. You can buy it following this link and find out more about this card here. A Visitor Oyster Card will allow you to use buses, trams, DLR, tube, TfL Rail, London Underground, some riverboats, iconic red London buses, and most National Rail services in London. The cost of the card is £5 (plus postage), and it costs more if you buy a pre-loaded card (the card can have from £10 to £50). You can also buy it for a certain number of days. And often, you get nice discounts and bonuses when using a Visitor Oyster Card.
All-in-all it’s the best way to get around London with comfort, save money, and avoid standing in lines.
Consider Getting a London Pass
Another travel hack when it comes to exploring London is a London Pass. If you plan to see a lot of famous attractions and landmarks, then getting a London Pass is a must as it will save you a decent amount of time and money. For instance, a 6-day London pass costs around £154, which will save you around £90 if you visit all landmarks. These sightseeing passes are now available as a mobile app for iPhone and Android. Using the pass, you will be able to skip the lines, which will be especially useful if you’re visiting London during the high season. Plus, the app is filled with useful tips and information, including the contact details and opening times of each attraction. The London Pass gives you access to more than 60 attractions, museums, and tours and is a great thing to have for hardcore explorers who want to see everything.
7-Day London Itinerary: Day 1 – The British Museum, West End, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and Chinatown
1. The British Museum. No less famous than the American Museum of Natural History, The British Museum is probably the most important place to visit in London for museum-lovers. It receives about six million visitors every year and displays over two million years of human history. Actually, if you’re really interested in history, you can easily spend several days there. The things that everyone needs to see in the British Museum include The Rosetta Stone, Mummy of Katebet, Colossal Granite Head of Amenhotep, Easter Island Head, The Elgin Marbles, as well as the Greek and Assyria exhibitions.
2. The West End. It is an excellent place for exploration. And the best way to explore it is to just walk around the streets, look at the people, listen to street performances, marvel at the timeless architecture, and think how lucky you are to walk the streets of London. There are over 40 theaters in the West End area, which means that you can spend some quality time watching a show. Just make sure not to watch Les Misérables on the first day, because the duration of the show will make it impossible to see everything planned.
3. Covent Garden. Covent Garden is a beautiful part of the West End, and there are plenty of cool things that you can do there. Start at Cover Garden Piazza, where you can enjoy excellent street performers, then take a look at majestic Royal Opera House and proceed to St. Martin’s Courtyard and take a walk down the Neal Street. You will find Neal’s Yard Dairy, where you can buy tasty cheese and organic skincare products. When you finish your Covent Garden walk, think about the fact that this area was once one of London’s biggest slums. Luckily, things change!
4. Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square is famous for the iconic Nelson’s Column and also for the National Portrait Gallery. Grab a selfie with Trafalgar Square lions and take some rest near the fountain before you’re ready to go on to explore the Chinatown.
5. Chinatown. The first thing that you need to see in Chinatown is the charismatic Qing dynasty style gates, called the Four Gates, which serve as the entrance to this part of the city. In fact, it’s the largest Chinese gate in the United Kingdom. As soon as you pass the gates, you will immerse yourself in a completely different atmosphere full of paper lanterns, old shops, and cafes and restaurants emitting yummy smells. You can expect quirky finds, stellar foods, and the classic atmosphere of the Chinese district. And if you’re a foodie, you should grab some food-tours like Dim Sum and Dumpling Tour. That will give you an excellent aftertaste of the first day in London.
7-Day London Itinerary: Day 2- Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Palace and Abbey, London Eye, High Tea at Ritz London
1. Buckingham Palace. The second day in London is the day of iconic landmarks, and it starts with Buckingham Palace. You can’t go to London without seeing this place! Being the official working place and residence of the Queen of England, it’s soaked-up with royal vibes.
You can look at the magnificent architecture, walk across the gardens, watch the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, and even go inside the palace and visit the chic and lavishly furnished State Rooms when the queen is not in residence (We visited in September, however photos are not allowed inside).
2. Big Ben. Take a little walk across the St. James Park to discover Big Ben, the most famous Tower bell in the world and one of the most recognizable symbols of London. Big Ben was completed in 1859, and at that moment, it was the most accurate and the largest chiming and striking four-faced clock in the world. Big Ben is louder than a jet taking off and louder than the human pain threshold.
3. Westminster Palace and Abbey. Big Ben is a part of the Westminster Palace, so you can go on exploring it right after taking pictures of the iconic tower. You may have seen the photos of the Westminster Palace (which houses Great Brittan’s parliament), but we assure you that it has nothing to do with exploring it in person. The level and scale of ornate details that you will find on this building are simply staggering. If you want to know how the parliament functions and see the famous Westminster Hall, you can take a 90-minute guided tour. Otherwise, you can go on to see Westminster Abbey. This beautiful gothic building is the final resting place of 17 monarchs. If you want to find out more about the history of Westminster Abbey, guided tours are also available. A fascinating part of the tour is that you will see the gardens that have been cultivated for over 900 years.
4. London Eye. London offers many places where you can experience the city from above, but probably one of the best ones is the London Eye. We have strategically put this attraction closer to the evening time of the second day because watching London form the bird’s eye view during the sunset, and twilight is an unforgettable experience. In addition to the beauty that the ride offers, you can also opt for the Champagne Experience, The Hot Chocolate Tasting Experience, and many more. To avoid standing in lines, we advise you to book the Fast Track Tickets online. It will allow you to board your capsule much faster.
5. High Tea at Ritz London. We recommended finishing the first day with dumplings in Chinatown. The evening of the second day prepares something entirely different for you. Because tasting high tea while you’re in London is as important as seeing Big Ben and Westminster Palace. And one of the best places to have high tea is at Ritz London. Famous all over the world, Ritz London is a proud member of the Tea Council’s esteemed Tea Guild, and it’s an enchanting landmark that both tourists and residents like to visit. Ritz London offers the highest service and some of the best tea in town. And it expects you to follow their dress code in return.
7-Day London Itinerary: Day 3 – Breakfast at Sky Garden, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Thames Cruise, Soho Food Tour
1. Breakfast at Sky Garden. Starting and ending your day in a beautiful place during your trips is a great way to enhance your experience. This is why we recommend beginning your third day with breakfast at Sky Garden. You have probably guessed from the name that the Sky Garden will give you an excellent view of the city. What you probably don’t know is that it’s also London’s highest public garden. And it offers various dining options. You can go to Fenchurch Restaurant or Darwin Brasserie for breakfast (both serve British classics), and visit City Garden Bar or Sky Pod Bar to have a cocktail or coffee. Better have some coffee because you have another exciting day ahead!
2. The Tower of London. Tower of London is located not far from the Sky Garden. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the castle itself was previously used as a fortress to protect the City of London and then as a prison. The Yeoman Wardens, whom you will encounter in the castle, are one of the most famous symbols of Great Britain and London. An interesting thing about the Tower of London today is that it looks completely odd, surrounded by 21st-century buildings.
3. Tower Bridge. After exploring the Tower of London, you should slowly walk the Tower Bridge. We say slowly because to experience this properly, you don’t need to hurry. Enjoy the views, and then look at the Tower of London and try to imagine how many centuries of history and how many generations of people the walls of that castle have seen. If you feel the goosebumps on your skin, then you got the vibe!
4. Thames Cruise. Till now, you’ve been experiencing the city from the land, but now it’s time to traverse the waterways! You can find many companies that offer Thames Cruises, and there are piers on both sides of the Tower Bridge. Just imagine the views of Big Ben, the London Eye, The Tower of London, and many more landmarks from the water. That’s a real treat.
5. Twilight Soho Food Tour. That’s how real foodies would end their third day in London! The Twilight Soho Food Tour will lead you to London’s nightlife hub, where you will haunt for a real taste of London’s food scene. On the one hand, you will explore the night streets of London bustling with life, and on the other hand, you will taste all kinds of excellent and diverse foods that will make your taste receptors explode!
Spanish Jamón, tapas, dim sum (again!), Champagne infused Chinese tea, chocolate caviar, Hazelnut praline brownie and espuma in milk chocolate sphere, dark gianduja… that’s a dream of any foodie.
7-Day London Itinerary: Day 4 – Hampton Court Palace and Kew Gardens
- Hampton Court Palace. The previous three days were jam-packed, so we offer you a more relaxed pace for the fourth day and only two landmarks to visit. The easiest way to reach the Hampton Court Palace is from the Waterloo station. If you’re interested in Tudors’ scandalous history, this palace will become an immersive experience. Even if you’re not, give it a try, and it won’t disappoint you because these Tudor stories will leave everyone flabbergasted. Ghosts, beheadings, betrayals, adultery, mysterious events – these were all routine things for Tudors. A must-see in Hampton Court Palace is a 300-year old hedge puzzle maze. You may have seen these in the movies about royals, but now you have a chance to walk across one too.
- Kew Gardens. If you have no energy to go to another landmark after the Hampton Court Palace, you can spend the rest of the day in the Hampton Palace Garden. Or, vice versa, if you have no interest in Tudors’ dark past and hedge puzzle-mazes, you may skip the Hampton Court Palace and go straight to The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. It has one of the largest and most diverse collections of plants in the world. Some of them are threatened and rare. You will also find there several big and impressive glasshouses – the Palm House and the Temperate House (the largest Victorian glasshouse in the world). Another notable place of the Kew Gardens is the Princess of Wales Conservatory that houses plants from 10 different climate zones. What’s more, it has a 200-meter long treetop walkaway located 19 meters above the woodland floor. You can literally touch the treetops. Not just nature-lovers, everyone should experience this!
7-Day London Itinerary: Day 5 – Discover the Districts of London (Camden Town, Peckham, City of London, Shoreditch)
On the fifth day, we suggest you soak up the atmosphere of London by exploring its districts. Visiting all four recommended districts may be too hectic, that’s why we think that it will be better to choose two or three. For instance:
- Camden Town, Shoreditch and City of London
- Peckham, City of London, Shoreditch
- Camden Town, Shoreditch
1. Camden Town. This district is famous for its market located by the Regent’s Canal. The market has a strong cosmopolitan image, and you can find many interesting items there, as well as have some tasty snacks. This market is quite popular as it attracts approximately 250,000 people each week. Camden Town is also known as a haven of counter culture with many teenagers, punks, and a thriving nightlife scene. If you like zoos, then Camden Town might also attract you because it houses the London Zoo, which can be found not far from Regent’s Park.
2. City of London. You might be confused by the name, but the City of London is one of London’s districts, which is more of a city inside the city. And it’s not just a metaphor. In contrast with the other 32 districts of London, the City of London has the status of a separate ceremonial country, which makes it the smallest country in the United Kingdom. Throughout the 19th century, the City was the primary business center of the world. In modern times, the City of London is the historic and financial center of London, where you can find the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange, futuristic skyscraper towers, iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral, Old Bailey, Smithfield Market, Mansion House, Museum of London, and more. A great way to explore the City of London is to take a walking tour with Blue Badge Guide. It starts near the absolutely astonishing St. Paul’s Cathedral and leads you through the district, revealing you more and more fascinating facts and allowing you to learn about this area from a local perspective.
3. Shoreditch. This is a residential district of London where you can find many trendsetters and creatives in the local bars and clubs that surround Shoreditch High Street. You can find plenty of design and vintage shops there, and the selection of artisan coffee shops and restaurants is also pretty impressive. Many of the shop fronts are plastered with graffiti. If you decide to visit Shoreditch, make sure to walk the Old Street, Great Eastern Street, and Shoreditch High Street. These are excellent places for people watching.
4. Peckham. According to Time Out’s annual ranking, Peckham has the 11th place in the list of the coolest neighborhoods in the world, which is the highest rating among the other UK areas. We liked that district too, that’s why it made it to our list. Walk the vibrant Rye Lane and visit some African food shops or bargain homeware shops. Go to Bellenden Road to explore global eats and indie boutiques. Or head to the Bussey Building to discover trendy nightspots for rooftop films and club evening.
7-Day London Itinerary: Day 6 – Shopping at Oxford Street and Kensington Area and a Visit to the Iconic Harrods
This day is totally dedicated to the fans of shopping. We offer to start the day by walking across the ultimate shopping paradise of London and one of Europe’s busiest streets – Oxford Street. Gap, Primark, Topshop, River Island, Selfridges, Debenhams, John Lewis & Partners, House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer, and many more shops (approximately 300) of top-notch brands are located on this street. It’s over a mile and a half of stores, can you imagine that?!
But don’t let your fuse burn down too fast. Leave something for the other shopping vistas as they’re yet to come. You need to save some energy and cash for Harrods, which is one of the world’s largest and most famous department stores and an essential London’s shopping destination. If you want to visit Harrods in a ‘browsing only’ mode, you should be aware that you can do it only between 11:30 am and 12:00 pm.
But the fun doesn’t end here (and hopefully the place in your shopping bags too) because you still have the Kensington area to explore. Here are some of the Kensington High Street shops that we recommend you to visit: L’Occitane, Jigsaw, Urban Outfitters, Columbia Sportswear, Trotters.
After the shopping day is over, you can head to Clarke’s Restaurant for a British meal, or to Macellaio Roberto Costa for Italian food, or to Artisan du Chocolat to have some excellent chocolate. You’ll definitely need to have some chocolate to hijack your happiness hormones even more after a full day of shopping.
7-Day London Itinerary: Day 7 – Greenwich Park, Old Royal Naval College, The Shard, Shakespeare’s Globe
1. Greenwich Park. It would be a good idea to spend a more relaxed evening after the shopping spree of the sixth day. And Greenwich Park is an excellent place to do this. Visit the Queen’s Orchard garden (walled garden with fruit trees), the Flower Garden (the longest herbaceous border in London), and The Pavilion Café to have a cup of coffee and relax.
2. Old Royal Naval College. By the seventh day in London, you should have understood that no matter how much time you spend here, there are will always be new architectural marvels to take your breath away. One of such masterpieces is the Old Royal Naval College located not far from Greenwich Park. Being a UNESCO World Heritage site, it symbolizes the country’s scientific and artistic endeavors during the 17th-18th centuries. You can either take a tour or explore the College yourself.
3. The Shard. By now, you should have already witnessed the breathtaking London’s skylines from different spots (London Eye, Sky Garden). Still, The Shard offers you an opportunity to look at London’s panorama from a different angle. There are two viewing platforms in the building (one on the 69th floor and the other on the 72nd floor), but you can enhance your experience by adding an afternoon tea to the spectacular view. You can visit the Aqua restaurant on the 31st floor or the Ting restaurant on the 35th floor. Chances are you will want to spend the rest of your day in one of these restaurants thinking about the amazing seven days you spent in London. But if your explorer’s spirit will still ask for more, we invite you to finish the day in Shakespeare’s Globe.
4. Shakespeare’s Globe. A cultural landmark, educational center, and world-renowned theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe is located not far from The Shard. If you are lucky, you can end your day with a spectacular play offered at this charismatic theater. Keep in mind that booking the tickets beforehand may be a good idea.
Best Day Trips from London
If you can’t get enough of your stay in the United Kingdom, you might be interested in one of these fascinating day-tours from London:
- Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds – visit 3 of England’s most romantic cities in one 10-hour tour. You will spend several hours in the birthplace of William Shakespeare, discover beautiful Tudor-style buildings, enjoy the views of the lovely landscapes and stone villages, and explore the world’s most famous university city. Your route will include the most famous Oxford sites and will be accompanied by fascinating stories that uncover the history of this magnificent place.
- Stonehenge and Bath Tour – Stonehenge requires no less attention (and maybe even more) than the Big Ben, so taking this tour is highly recommended. First, you will see the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stonehenge and then proceed to the lovely city of Bath (famous for Roman Baths and Georgian architecture) that you will be able to travel around for the rest of the day. You will have 90 minutes to explore the mysterious Stonehenge on your own.
- Windsor Castle – if you want a shorter-duration tour, then the Windsor Castle tour might be just for you. You’ll have a morning visit to Windsor and can enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. On this tour, you will see the Windsor Castle and discover the official residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. You will be able to learn the long history of the palace and stroll its beautiful ground at your own pace.
- Warner Bros Studio Tour with Making of Harry Potter – if you’re a Harry Potter fan, then chances are that this will be one of your most exciting experiences in England. You will be taken by train to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. And there, the magic will begin! You will find out many behind-the-scene facts, encounter the original props, sets and costumes from all Harry Potter films, take a look inside Dumbledore’s office, visit the original Hogwarts Express locomotive, discover the full range of Harry Potter merchandise and more! Throughout the tour, the guide will share with you many insights and secrets which you would never find out otherwise. There can’t be anything better for a Harry Potter fan.
Top 5 Places to Eat & Drink in London
TING Restaurant and Lounge – the Shangri-La brand means quality and uniqueness in style and service. It doesn’t matter in which part of the world Shangri-La hotels are situated. You can expect the same level of quality and service. The same goes for the restaurants in this hotel chain. TING Restaurant and Lounge located at the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard will impress you with both the food and the views, as it’s located on the 35th floor. The restaurant serves classic European dishes, authentic Asian specialties, and outstanding cocktails.
Duck & Waffle – the great thing about this restaurant is that it welcomes guests 24/7. So even if you decide to explore London until midnight, you can still come and have a delicious meal here. It’s best to visit Duck & Waffle with friends because its dishes are designed for sharing and sampling. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer exceptional views, or you can choose to look at the bustling open kitchen to see how the dishes are being prepared. And if you have a special occasion, you can make use of their 18-seat private dining room.
Paesan – if you love simple, authentic Italian food, then Paesan restaurant is an excellent place to stop by. The restaurant’s philosophy lies in using simple ingredients for cooking flavorsome, honest food. And they do it really well! Paesan has both bar and restaurant.
Balthazar – you might want to visit this restaurant during your first day in London while exploring Covent Garden. It’s a great French bistro with good wine and friendly service. Just like Duck & Waffle, it’s opened 24/7 and serves breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, and afternoon tea. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, they serve vegan and vegetarian food.
Sanderson London (Long Bar) – and here’s a great people-watching long bar to have a drink. It’s located at the Sanderson Hotel in London, and if you like visiting a bar, this place should be on your list for sure. This glowing onyx long bar is a heaven of cocktails which attracts glamorous people from all over the city. Go to Sanderson’s Long Bar to enjoy an elegant atmosphere, positive vibes, excellent drinks, and to meet new people.
Top 5 Places to Stay in London
- The Mandeville Hotel – Mandeville Hotel is an excellent choice for leisure, corporate and cultural guests. It has 142 bedrooms with excellent interiors designed by internationally recognized specialists. Each bedroom has its unique look and feel, as they all are decorated with exclusive fabrics. Mandeville Hotel also has great facilities to host corporate meetings. This luxurious hotel is located close to the Oxford streets and many of London’s famous landmarks. Click here for rates and availability.
- Andaz London Liverpool Street – located in the heart of East London, this 5-star hotel boasts excellent service and modern design. Its suites are very spacious and decorated with mesmerizing street art. The breakfast buffet is amazingly diverse, and even if you couldn’t find what you’re looking for, you can use an additional menu and order the dishes you like. The hotel is located within walking distance to the Tower of London, London Bridge, and St Paul’s Cathedral. Click here for rates and availability.
- citizenM London Shoreditch Hotel – if you want to experience the future of hospitality, then citizenM London should be your choice. It’s a hotel for cosmopolitan people or global citizens. The future starts right away when you do your check-in process yourself beside a touch-screen. When you enter your room, you will notice how smartly the space is organized. You won’t find any switches as everything in the room, starting from the lights and ending with the TV, is controlled by the iPad. You can even decide the mood of your room if you want to. So, if you’re looking for something different, citizenM is the best option. Click here for rates and availability.
- Novotel London Canary Wharf – it’s a classy 39-story hotel that offers 360 views across the skyline of London. The location of the hotel makes it very easy to reach any place you want. As the design of the hotel is inspired by the maritime age, you will see a lot of ropes, pipes, metal, fixtures, and fine fabrics. Aside from the fantastic views and location, another reason to choose Novotel London Canary Wharf is its award-winning 2 AA Rosette dockside beacon for artisanal food and drink. If you happen to be a gourmet, this may convince you to make a decision. Click here for rates and availability.
- City Relay London – it’s a great option if you don’t like hotels and prefer to stay in serviced apartments. City Relay London offers a variety of decent rentals both for business and leisure travelers. The best thing about this option is that most probably by renting an apartment like this you will get an experience of living like a local, which is so precious. It’s the best option for those who plan a more extended stay and are traveling with friends and family.
We hope that you will enjoy your time in London. We KNOW that you will enjoy your time in London! But don’t forget what we mentioned at the beginning of the 7-day in London itinerary. No matter how much time you spend in London, you will still find that this city never runs out of discoveries that are waiting to be made.