Best Things to Do in London for 3 Days: A Complete Guide for First-Time Visitors
London is one of the most popular and exciting destinations in the world, with countless attractions, activities, and experiences to offer. But how can you make the most of your time in this amazing city if you only have 3 days to explore? In this article, we’ll show you the best things to do in London for 3 days, from the iconic landmarks to the hidden gems, and give you some practical tips and recommendations to help you plan your perfect trip. Whether you are interested in history, art, culture, or entertainment, London has something for everyone. So get ready to discover the best of London in 3 days with this complete guide for first-time visitors.
Day 1: Explore the Historical and Cultural Highlights of London
London is a city that has a rich and diverse history, culture, and art. On your first day, you can explore some of the most iconic and impressive landmarks and attractions that showcase the best of London’s heritage and creativity.
Visit the Tower of London and See the Crown Jewels
Head to the Tower of London, one of the most iconic landmarks in London and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about the history and secrets of this ancient fortress, prison, and royal palace, and see the dazzling Crown Jewels, the collection of ceremonial objects used by the British monarchs. You can also join a guided tour by the Yeoman Warders, also known as Beefeaters, who will entertain you with stories and anecdotes.
The Tower of London is one of the oldest and most famous buildings in London, dating back to the 11th century. It has witnessed many events and dramas, such as the executions of Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas More, the imprisonment of Elizabeth I and Guy Fawkes, and the escape of the Princes in the Tower. You can also see the ravens, the legendary guardians of the Tower, and the armory, where you can admire the weapons and armor of the kings and queens.
Take a Ride on the London Eye and Enjoy the Panoramic Views of the City
Take a short walk along the River Thames to the London Eye, the giant observation wheel that offers stunning views of the city skyline. Hop on one of the glass capsules and enjoy a 30-minute ride that will take you 135 meters above the ground. You can also book a Champagne Experience to make your ride extra special. The London Eye is one of the most popular attractions in London and the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in Europe. It was built to celebrate the millennium and opened to the public in 2000. It has 32 capsules, each representing one of the London boroughs, and can carry up to 800 passengers at a time. From the top, you can see up to 40 kilometers on a clear day and spot landmarks such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Buckingham Palace.
Explore the British Museum and Marvel at the World’s Treasures
After lunch, visit the British Museum, one of the world’s greatest museums of human history and culture. Explore the vast collection of artifacts and artworks from different civilizations and periods, such as the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, the Egyptian mummies, and the Japanese netsuke. You can also join a free guided tour or a themed trail to discover more highlights. The British Museum was founded in 1753 and opened to the public in 1759. It has more than 8 million objects in its permanent collection, covering two million years of human history. It is divided into several departments, such as Ancient Egypt and Sudan, Greece and Rome, Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas, and the Middle East. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events throughout the year.
Watch a Show in the West End and Experience the Theatre Scene
In the evening, head to the West End, the vibrant and bustling area that is home to the famous London theatre district. Choose from various shows, from musicals to comedies to dramas, and enjoy a night of entertainment and culture. Some of the most popular shows include The Lion King, Wicked, The Book of Mormon, and Hamilton. The West End is the main commercial and entertainment center of London, with many shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs. It is also the heart of London’s theatre scene, with more than 40 venues offering a range of performances. The West End theatres date back to the 17th century and have hosted some of the most renowned actors, playwrights, and composers in history. The West End is also known for its musicals, which have attracted millions of visitors and won many awards.
What to Eat on the First Day in London?
Breakfast at Devine Restaurant Coffee Bar
Start your day with a hearty breakfast at one of the best spots in the city, such as Devine Restaurant Coffee Bar, where you can enjoy a traditional full English breakfast or a delicious omelet with fresh ingredients. Indeed, this cozy and friendly cafe is located near the British Museum and offers a range of hot and cold drinks, pastries, sandwiches, and salads. You can also try their specialty coffee, which is roasted and brewed on-site.
Lunch at Skylon
For lunch, treat yourself to modern British cuisine at Skylon, a stylish restaurant located in the Royal Festival Hall with panoramic views of the South Bank and the river. Try their signature dishes such as the roast cod with smoked bacon and leek sauce, or the lamb rump with minted peas and salsa verde. Skylon is named after the futuristic sculpture that was displayed on the South Bank during the Festival of Britain in 1951. It has a sleek and elegant interior, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a central bar. The menu changes seasonally and features locally sourced ingredients and creative flavors. You can also enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine from their extensive list.
Dinner at Hawksmoor Seven Dials
End your day with a steak or seafood feast at Hawksmoor Seven Dials, a short walk from Covent Garden and Seven Dials. This restaurant is renowned for its quality British beef and fresh fish, cooked to perfection on a charcoal grill. You can also enjoy a selection of sides, sauces, and desserts, as well as a range of cocktails and wines. Hawksmoor Seven Dials is located in a former brewery and has a cozy and rustic atmosphere, with exposed brick walls and wooden beams. The menu features prime cuts of meat, such as rib-eye, sirloin, and fillet, as well as seafood, such as scallops, lobster, and oysters. You can also try their signature dishes, such as the bone-in prime rib or the surf and turf.
Day 2: Discover the Modern and Diverse Sides of London
On your second day in London, you can explore some of the city’s most modern and diverse attractions, from royal palaces and shopping streets to markets and nightlife. London is a city that celebrates its diversity and innovation, and you can experience it first-hand with this itinerary.
Visit Buckingham Palace and Witness the Changing of the Guard Ceremony
After breakfast, head to Buckingham Palace, the official residence of the Queen and the symbol of the British monarchy. You can witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place every day at 11 a.m. from April to July, and on alternate days for the rest of the year. This is a spectacular display of military tradition, where the old guard hands over the responsibility of protecting the palace to the new guard, accompanied by a band playing music. The ceremony lasts for about 45 minutes and attracts a large crowd of spectators, so make sure to arrive early to get a good spot. You can also visit the State Rooms of the palace, which are open to the public from late July to early October, and see the lavish furnishings, paintings, and sculptures that adorn the royal residence.
Shop at the Famous Oxford Street and Regent Street
After the ceremony, you can walk along The Mall, a ceremonial route that leads to Trafalgar Square, where you can see the famous Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery, one of the world’s finest art museums. Alternatively, you can take a bus or a tube to Oxford Street, London’s busiest and most popular shopping street, where you can find over 300 shops, from department stores and high street brands to designer boutiques and independent labels. You can also explore Regent Street, another famous shopping destination, where you can admire the elegant architecture and visit some of the flagship stores of British and international brands. Some of the best places to shop on Oxford Street and Regent Street are Selfridges, John Lewis, Liberty, Hamleys, Apple, and Burberry.
Enjoy the Vibrant Markets and Street Art of Camden Town
In the afternoon, you can head to Camden Town, one of London’s most eclectic and lively neighborhoods, where you can experience the city’s alternative and creative side. Camden Town is home to a variety of markets, where you can find everything from vintage clothing and antiques to crafts and street food. You can also see some of the amazing street art that decorates the walls and buildings, and visit some of the music venues and pubs that have hosted many famous bands and artists. Some of the best markets to visit in Camden Town are Camden Lock Market, Camden Stables Market, Camden Buck Street Market, and Camden Canal Market. Some of the best places to see street art in Camden Town are Chalk Farm Road, Hawley Street, Hartland Road, and Camden Mews.
Experience the Nightlife and Entertainment of Soho and Covent Garden
In the evening, you can enjoy the nightlife and entertainment of Soho and Covent Garden, two of London’s most vibrant and colorful areas.
Soho is known for its bars, clubs, theatres, and restaurants, as well as its LGBTQ+ scene and history. You can catch a show at one of the many theatres. For instance, the Prince Edward Theatre or the Palace Theatre, or have a drink at one of the trendy bars, such as Bantof or Speedboat Bar.
Covent Garden is also a great place to have fun, with its street performers, opera singers, and magicians, as well as its shops, cafes, and restaurants. You can dine at Skylon, which offers stunning views of the South Bank and the River Thames and serves modern British cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. Or, you can try Cinnamon Club, which is a fine-dining Indian restaurant located in a former library and serves innovative and sophisticated dishes.
What to Eat on the Second Day in London?
Breakfast at The Wolseley
Start your day with a luxurious breakfast at The Wolseley, a grand and elegant restaurant located in a former car showroom on Piccadilly. The Wolseley is famous for its breakfast menu, which offers a range of dishes, from pastries and porridge to eggs Benedict and kippers. You can also enjoy a pot of tea or coffee, served in silverware, and admire the stunning interior, which features marble floors, chandeliers, and arches. The Wolseley is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Lunch at Dishoom
For lunch, treat yourself to delicious Indian cuisine at Dishoom, a trendy and cozy restaurant that pays homage to the old Irani cafes of Bombay. Dishoom serves a variety of dishes, from curries and biryanis to grills and salads, as well as a range of drinks, such as lassis, chai, and cocktails. You can also try their signature dish, the bacon naan roll, which is a soft naan bread stuffed with crispy bacon, cream cheese, and chili jam. Dishoom has several branches in London, but the one on Carnaby Street is the closest to Oxford Street and Regent Street.
Dinner at Rules
This is one of London’s oldest restaurants and was established in 1798. The classic English menu offers simple cooking such as fish, game, and beef. You can also enjoy a cocktail or a wine from their extensive list. Rules is located in a charming courtyard in Covent Garden, with a cozy and intimate atmosphere. Rules is open daily from 12 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Day 3: Relax and Enjoy the Nature and Beauty of London
After two days of exploring the cultural and historical attractions of London, you might want to take it easy and enjoy the natural beauty of the city. Here are some suggestions for a relaxing and scenic day in London.
Have a Picnic in Hyde Park and See the Famous Speakers’ Corner
Start your day with a leisurely stroll in Hyde Park, one of the largest and most famous parks in London. You can admire the Serpentine Lake, the Diana Memorial Fountain, the Italian Gardens, and the Rose Garden. You can also rent a pedal boat or a rowing boat and explore the lake, or visit the Serpentine Gallery for some contemporary art.
If you’re feeling hungry, you can have a picnic in the park and enjoy the fresh air and greenery. Furthermore, there are plenty of cafes and kiosks in the park where you can buy snacks and drinks, or you can bring your own food and find a nice spot to sit and relax.
One of the most interesting places to visit in Hyde Park is Speakers’ Corner, a traditional site for public speeches and debates since the 19th century. You can listen to people express their opinions on various topics, or even join in the discussion if you’re feeling brave. Speakers’ Corner is usually busiest on Sunday mornings, but you can find speakers there throughout the week.
Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and Admire the Exotic Plants and Flowers
After your picnic, you can take a bus or a tube to Kew, where you can visit the Royal Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gardens cover 326 acres and contain over 27,000 taxa of living plants and 8.3 million plant and fungal specimens.
You can spend hours exploring the gardens and discovering the amazing diversity of plants and flowers from around the world. Some of the highlights include the Palm House, a Victorian glasshouse that houses tropical plants; the Temperate House, the largest surviving Victorian glasshouse that showcases plants from temperate regions; the Princess of Wales Conservatory, a modern glasshouse that displays 10 different climatic zones; and the Treetop Walkway, a 59-foot-high platform that offers a bird’s-eye view of the trees and wildlife.
You can also visit Kew Palace, a former royal residence that dates back to the 17th century, and the Hive, a giant sculpture that mimics the sound and movement of a real beehive.
Take a Boat Ride on the River Thames and See the Landmarks from a Different Perspective
After your visit to Kew Gardens, you can hop on a boat and enjoy a cruise on the River Thames, the longest river in England and the lifeblood of London. You can see some of the most iconic landmarks of the city from the water, such as the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London. You can also admire the skyline of the city and the architecture of the riverside buildings.
There are many options for boat rides on the Thames, depending on your budget and preference. You can choose a sightseeing cruise that offers live or audio commentary, a dining cruise that includes lunch or dinner, or a speedboat ride that adds some thrill and excitement. You can also combine your boat ticket with entry to some of the attractions along the river, such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre or the Tower of London.
Catch the Sunset at Primrose Hill and Enjoy the Views of the City Skyline
To end your day, you can head to Primrose Hill, a grassy hill on the north side of Regent’s Park that offers one of the best views of London. You can climb to the top of the hill and watch the sunset over the city, creating a stunning spectacle of colors and lights. You can see the London Eye, the Shard, the Gherkin, and other skyscrapers, as well as the gas towers of Cambridge Heath and the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Primrose Hill is also a popular spot for picnics, kite-flying, and relaxing. You can find a plaque on the summit that features a quote from William Blake: “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.” You can also see an oak tree that was planted in 1864 to mark the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.
What to Eat on the Third Day in London?
Breakfast at The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club on Soho, which is a short walk or a bus ride from Hyde Park? This is a retro and cozy cafe that serves a variety of breakfast and brunch dishes, such as pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, and more. You can also enjoy their coffee, tea, smoothies, and cocktails. The Breakfast Club is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Lunch at The Botanical
For lunch, treat yourself to a delicious meal at The Botanical, a restaurant and bar located within the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. The Botanical offers seasonal and contemporary dishes, inspired by the plants and flowers in the gardens. You can choose from a la carte, set, or vegetarian menus, featuring dishes such as beetroot and goat cheese salad, roasted cod, mushroom risotto, and more. You can also enjoy a selection of wines and cocktails, as well as a view of the Palm House and the lake. The Botanical is open daily from 12 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.
Dinner at The Engineer
For dinner, enjoy a cozy and casual meal at The Engineer. It’s a gastropub that serves classic British dishes, as well as international favorites, with a large beer garden and a fireplace. You can enjoy dishes such as fish and chips, burgers, pies, curries, steaks, and more, along with a selection of beers, wines, and cocktails. The Engineer is located in Primrose Hill, a charming and trendy neighborhood, with many cafes, pubs, restaurants, and shops to explore. You can also catch the sunset and the views of the city skyline from the nearby hill. The Engineer is open daily from 12 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
Where to Stay in London
London is a huge and diverse city, with plenty of options for accommodation to suit different tastes, budgets and needs. Whether you are looking for a luxury hotel, a mid-range hotel, or a budget hotel, you can find something that meets your expectations and makes your stay in London enjoyable and comfortable. Here are some suggestions for where to stay in London, divided into three categories: budget, mid-range, and luxury.
If you are looking for a cheap and cheerful place to stay in London, you can choose from a variety of budget hotels that offer basic but clean and comfortable rooms, as well as some amenities and services. Here are three budget hotels that you can consider:
Luna and Simone Hotel
This is a family-run hotel in the heart of Westminster, within walking distance of many attractions, such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey. The hotel offers cozy and colorful rooms with private bathrooms, tea, and coffee-making facilities, free Wi-Fi, and a flat-screen TV. A generous English breakfast is included in the price, and there is a 24-hour reception and a lounge area.
Point A Hotel London Kings Cross – St Pancras
This is a modern and stylish hotel near Kings Cross and St Pancras stations, which provides easy access to the rest of the city and beyond. The hotel features compact and contemporary rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a smart TV. You can also enjoy a continental breakfast, a 24-hour reception, and a lounge area.
The Corner London City
This is a quirky and eco-friendly hotel in the vibrant area of Shoreditch, close to many bars, restaurants, markets, and street art. The hotel boasts funky and functional rooms with private bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, a smart TV, and a tablet. The rooms are also soundproofed and have organic mattresses and bedding. You can also benefit from a buffet breakfast, a 24-hour reception, a bar, and a restaurant.
If you are looking for a more comfortable and convenient place to stay in London, you can opt for a mid-range hotel that offers more amenities and services, as well as a better location and a higher standard of quality. Here are three mid-range hotels that you can consider:
H10 London Waterloo
This is a sleek and elegant hotel close to Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, and Tower Bridge. The hotel features bright and spacious rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a minibar, and a Nespresso machine. Some rooms also have a balcony and a city view. Additionally, you can enjoy a buffet breakfast, a 24-hour reception, a fitness center, a sauna, and a rooftop terrace.
The Z Hotel Soho
This is a chic and cozy hotel in the heart of Soho, one of the most lively and colorful areas of London, with many theatres, bars, clubs, and restaurants. The hotel offers compact and stylish rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a smart TV. You can also take advantage of a complimentary cheese and wine reception every evening, a 24-hour reception, and a cafe.
The Tower Hotel
This is a stunning and luxurious hotel on the banks of the Thames, with spectacular views of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. The hotel boasts spacious and elegant rooms with private bathrooms, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a minibar, and a safe. Some rooms also have a balcony and a river view. You can also indulge in a buffet breakfast, a 24-hour reception, a fitness center, a bar, and a restaurant.
If you are looking for a lavish and indulgent place to stay in London, you can splurge on a luxury hotel that offers the best of everything, from the location and the design to the amenities and the service. Here are three luxury hotels that you can consider:
This is an iconic and historic hotel on the Strand, with a glamorous and elegant reputation. The hotel features exquisite and spacious rooms and suites with private bathrooms, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a minibar, and a TV. Some rooms and suites also have a river view, a balcony, a fireplace, and a butler service. You can also enjoy a sumptuous breakfast, a 24-hour reception, a fitness center, a spa, an indoor pool, a bar, and restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay Savoy Grill.
Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard
This is a spectacular and contemporary hotel on the upper floors of the Shard, the tallest building in London, with breathtaking views of the city and beyond. The hotel offers luxurious and modern rooms and suites with private bathrooms, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a minibar, and a TV. All rooms and suites have floor-to-ceiling windows and some also have a balcony and a telescope. You can also benefit from a buffet breakfast, a 24-hour reception, a fitness center, a spa, an infinity pool, a bar, and a restaurant.
The Ritz London
This is a legendary and prestigious hotel on Piccadilly, with a classic and opulent style. The hotel boasts magnificent and spacious rooms and suites with private bathrooms, air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, a minibar, and a TV. Some rooms and suites also have a city view, a balcony, a fireplace, and a butler service. You can also savor a gourmet breakfast, a 24-hour reception, a fitness center, a spa, a casino, a bar, and a restaurant, which holds a Michelin star and hosts the famous afternoon tea.
Day Trips from London
London is a wonderful city with many attractions to explore. Yet, if you have more than 3 days in London, you may want to explore some of the nearby cities or attractions that offer a different and exciting experience. You will have more chances to see something different and experience the beauty and diversity of England. Fortunately, there are many options for day trips from London, whether you want to visit historic sites, scenic landscapes, or cultural attractions. You can easily reach these destinations by train, bus, or car, and enjoy a memorable day out. Here are some of the best day trips from London that you can consider:
Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful and elegant cities in the UK. It is famous for its Roman baths, which are the best-preserved ancient spa complex in the world. You can visit the baths and learn about their history and function, as well as enjoy the thermal waters in the modern spa facilities. Bath also has many other attractions. For example, the stunning Georgian architecture, the majestic Bath Abbey, the Jane Austen Centre, and the Royal Crescent. You can also explore the charming shops, cafes, and restaurants that line the streets and squares of the city. Bath is about 90 minutes by train from London Paddington.
Brighton is a seaside resort and a vibrant and colorful city on the south coast of England. It is known for its pebbly beach, its iconic pier, and its lively nightlife. You can relax on the beach, and enjoy the amusement rides and games on the pier. Or, you can visit the exotic Royal Pavilion, a former royal palace with an Indian and Chinese style. Additionally, you can discover the quirky and creative side of Brighton, with its street art, independent shops, and bohemian atmosphere. Brighton is about an hour by train from London Victoria.
Cambridge is a historic and prestigious university town, with a rich and impressive academic heritage. You can visit some of the colleges and admire their architecture, gardens, and chapels. To elaborate, King’s College, Trinity College, and St John’s College. You can also see some of the museums and libraries that house some of the world’s finest collections of art, science, and literature, such as the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, and the Wren Library. Besides that, you can enjoy a punt on the River Cam, a traditional and relaxing way to see the sights and the scenery of Cambridge. Cambridge is about 50 minutes by train from London King’s Cross.
Oxford is a historic and prestigious university town, with a rich and impressive academic heritage. You can visit some of the colleges and admire their architecture, gardens, and chapels, such as Christ Church, Magdalen College, and New College. In addition, you can see some of the museums and libraries that house some of the world’s finest collections of art, science, and literature. There are the Ashmolean Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Bodleian Library. You can also enjoy a punt on the River Cherwell, a traditional and relaxing way to see the sights and the scenery of Oxford.
Oxford is also known as the “city of dreaming spires” because of its beautiful skyline, which features many spires and domes of the university buildings. Oxford has a long and fascinating history, dating back to the Saxon period, and has been the home of many famous writers, scholars, and politicians, such as Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, and Margaret Thatcher. Would you like to visit Oxford? It is about an hour by train from London Paddington.
Make the Most of Your London Trip in 3 Days
We hope you enjoyed this guide on the best things to do in London for 3 days. By following this itinerary, you can see the most famous and beautiful sights of London, as well as some of the lesser-known and quirky ones. You can also experience the culture and entertainment of London, and taste some of the delicious food and drinks that the city has to offer. London is a city that will surprise and delight you, and leave you with unforgettable memories. So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets now and start planning your dream vacation. And don’t forget to let us know how your trip went in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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