The author, Brooke Horrobin during a nice weather in Sloane Square, one of the stops on her London itinerary

A London Itinerary By a Local (5 Days Perfectly Planned)

👉 Jump to: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Where to Stay | Map | Getting Around | Tips | FAQ | Get Printable Version

A five-day London itinerary is just enough time to get a taste of what this incredible city has to offer. Still, I can guarantee that after you experience the magic of the Big Smoke, you’ll be planning your next trip back.

In this guide, you’ll find a diverse 5-day pre-planned London itinerary that is filled with hand-picked recommendations by me, a London local.

We’ll cover some of the best things to do in London including world-famous attractions such as the London Bridge, Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, and more. Let’s dive in!

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5-Day London Itinerary

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Day 1 – London’s World-Famous Sites and Attractions

Morning

A Matcha latte with foamy art served at Shaman Coffee in London
Matcha latte from Shaman in the City of London

There’s truly no better way to spend your first day in London than by taking in the world-famous sights that the city has to offer. 

Start off your London itinerary by heading straight into central London and grabbing a drink from a special local coffee shop like Blank Street Coffee or The Cosy Coffee Corner, the latter of which is located in an old church. If you’re feeling hungry before touring around, The Riding House Café in Soho is an amazing brunch spot. 

Then, embark on a self-guided walking tour of the famous sites, such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, Kensington Palace Gardens, Big Ben, Hyde Park, Millennium Bridge, and Royal Albert Hall.

It sounds like a lot, but these places are all within walking distance of each other. 

This sightseeing Thames River cruise is a great alternative to walking tours if you’d prefer to learn about British history from a knowledgeable guide.

👉 Pro Tip: The London Pass is a great way to see multiple attractions at a lower cost. It’s worth the buy if you plan on visiting places such as the Tower of London, a Unesco World Heritage Site, to see the crown jewels.

Afternoon 

The National Gallery under the colorful sky in Trafalgar Square during sunset
The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square (photo: Boris Stroujko / Shutterstock)

For lunch, head to Borough Market for a quick bite to eat. Borough Market is located near London Bridge, so if you’re doing a walking tour, I recommend ending it around that area for convenience. 

Now that you’re fueled up again, it’s time to take in some arts and culture. If you’re more of a history buff, I highly recommend a stop at the British Museum, and if art is more your thing, a visit to the National Gallery is a must. These spots are located about a 15-minute walk from each other, so if you have time and are feeling ambitious, you could tackle both.

Following your afternoon of learning, a cocktail or mocktail at one of the best views in London is in order. The Sky Garden is a 20-minute tube ride from the British Museum on the central line from Holborn station or a 20-minute tube ride from the National Gallery on the District line from Embankment station. 

👉 Pro Tip: A great perk of the Sky Garden is that it’s free, but you have to book a ticket in advance. Tickets are released at the start of the week, so make sure you set a reminder so you don’t miss out.

Evening

A plate of pork belly served at Blanchette French Bistro in Soho
Delicious pork belly at Blanchette French Bistro in Soho

To cap off the evening, head to Soho, arguably London’s liveliest neighborhood, for a nice dinner and some entertainment.

I recommend Shack-Fuyu for a reasonably priced Japanese tasting menu, Lina Stores for pasta, or Blanchette (pictured above) for French cuisine with a modern twist.

👉 Pro Tip: Soho is a great area to stay when visiting London if you’d like to be in the middle of all the action. For a budget-friendly hotel in Soho, I would recommend the Z Hotel Trafalgar, located in the heart of Soho’s Trafalgar Square.

Day 2 – West London

Morning

‘Beyond the Streets’ exhibit displayed at Saatchi Gallery in London
Paintings from the ‘Beyond the Streets’ exhibit at Saatchi Gallery

On today’s West London itinerary, you will begin your morning by grabbing brunch on Chelsea’s iconic Pavilion Road at Granger & Co., a great Aussie cafe. However, if you’re more in the mood for something sweet, there’s an Ottolenghi deli and cafe, inspired by the famous Israeli-born British Chef, and Bread Ahead, a local chain serving up decadent pastries. 

After brunch, head down to Sloane Square for a lovely scenic walk to Saatchi Gallery, a contemporary modern art gallery in the heart of Chelsea. The gallery has featured exhibits on everything ranging from a jewelry feature on Tiffany’s to a streetwear collaboration with Adidas.

Afternoon

Seats and plants found around Battersea Power Station
Seating area on the water surrounding Battersea Power Station

Right outside of the Saatchi Gallery is a fine food market in Duke of York Square that takes place every Saturday from 10 am – 4 pm. This is a great spot to grab a quick bite and carry on without having to spend the time for a sit-down meal. 

After your lunch or as you’re enjoying it, walk through Chelsea and across the bridge into Battersea, where you will arrive at the newly refurbished Battersea Power Station, which came back to life after over 40 years in the form of a shopping center in 2022. 

In this area, check out the coaling jetty dock where you can sit and enjoy a drink with friends, the surrounding shops and restaurants with a waterfront view of the River Thames, or the inside of the power station, equipped with a number of brand new shops and restaurants and a free museum on the history of the power station.

After visiting the industrial-chic power station, walk along the embankment directly into the lovely Battersea Park. This is a very picturesque walk and Battersea is hands down my favorite park in London.  

Evening

A plate of Piccatine Al Limone served at La Famiglia restaurant
Piccatine Al Limone at La Famiglia family restaurant in Chelsea

Walking through Battersea Park, cross the pastel-colored Prince Albert Bridge back into Chelsea. Then, walk along King’s Road in the direction of Fulham until you reach the turn-off street to La Famiglia, a charming and authentic family-owned Italian restaurant that has been around since 1966. 

For dessert, stop in at Badiani – a great Gelato place within walking distance. They even have a private back terrace where you can sit and enjoy the gelato outside on a summer evening.   

Day 3 – Shoreditch

Morning

A pastry on a plate served in Yeast Bakery
A delicious flaky fruit crumble pastry from Yeast Bakery in East London.

On day 3 of your 5 days in London itinerary, you’re going East to Shoreditch, which will likely feel like the polar opposite of what you experienced in yesterday’s adventures. East London is very edgy, up-and-coming, and has a completely different vibe from West London. 

Start your morning by visiting one of London’s best coffee shops. A couple of my favorites are Allpress and Yeast Bakery. Both of these coffee shops have great atmospheres, but if you fancy taking your coffee on the go, I’d highly recommend taking a walk along the Regent’s Canal to Victoria Park

East London is known for being a street art haven, so make sure you keep an eye out along the way to admire murals from local artists. Victoria Park is always buzzing with people, and on Sundays, you can find a food market with a wide array of food trucks lined up.

Afternoon 

People during a sunny morning in Broadway Market
Busting Broadway Market on a sunny day

Once you’ve gotten your fill of nature at Victoria Park, walk back up the canal to Broadway Market, a great street market in Hackney that takes place daily. You’ll normally find a great selection of vendors, particularly on weekends, and a number of sensational food choices that will be sure to tempt you with their delicious aromas.

At the tail end of the market, you also have London Fields Park which has a great pub in the middle of it called Pub in the Park with an outdoor terrace. 

Giving your feet an extra workout for the day, I would highly recommend continuing on to nearby Brick Lane, London’s vintage haven. This should take between 20-25 minutes, and I can assure you it is well worth the additional exercise.

A 6-minute walk away you’ll also find Boxpark Shoreditch, a cool shopping center, food court, and beer garden made out of old shipping containers. On weekend afternoons, this place fills up and is definitely the place to be.  

Evening

A plate of pasta with clams served in Brawn London
Silky pasta with Clams at Brawn

After a full day of walking, you’ll be ready to sit back and relax, and what better way to do so than with a high-quality meal in an atmospheric restaurant? 

East London has some of the best restaurants in London, and I’ve found a number of my favorite restaurants of all time in this area. A few of my top picks include Brawn, Manteca, and Brat.

Following dinner, head down to Nightjar for a nightcap. This is a really trendy underground speakeasy bar that serves creative cocktails. There is also live music on certain dates and times, so take a look at their website beforehand so you know what’s on for entertainment.

Day 4 – Day Trip to Cambridge

Morning

View from the inside of the Cambridge University’s King’s College
A peek inside Cambridge University’s King’s College

On the fourth day of your itinerary, you will be venturing 45 minutes out of London to none other than the world-famous academic city of Cambridge. For a Cambridge day trip from London, get on an express train at either London Liverpool Street or London King’s Cross stations.

Cambridge offers a little bit of everything. It is a booming economic city centered around the university, surrounded by nature, and filled with great independent shops, restaurants, and a huge farmer’s market. 

When you step off the train, head to Bould Brothers on Round Church Street for some specialty coffee and baked goods. This is some of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, and this spot is local to Cambridge, founded by two brothers who are truly passionate about coffee. While you’re enjoying your coffee, wander around the city and explore the local shops and the picturesque University of Cambridge.

Afternoon 

View of boats at the River Cam in Cambridge
Punting along The River Cam in Cambridge

The next stop on your Cambridge tour is Cambridge Market Square, a huge farmer’s market in the middle of town. The market boasts several delicious street food vendors offering many types of international cuisines. Grab lunch before continuing on with the next activity.

Once you’re feeling full and satisfied, walk down to the River Cam and try your hand at punting, a very popular activity in Cambridge. You have two options when it comes to punting – either try doing the punting yourself or hire a boat with a guide who will do the hard work for you.

Once your punting tour is over and you’ve picked up a few new facts about Cambridge, it’s time for a cream tea at the Orchard Tea Room. This is a lovely garden oasis where you can enjoy your tea and scones on a lounge chair with a good book.

👉 Pro Tip: Punting is a very popular activity in Cambridge, especially in the summer, so I would highly recommend booking a tour in advance.

Evening

View at the Castle Mound ancient monument in Cambridge
Castle Mound ancient monument, a Cambridge local’s favorite sunset-watching spot (photo: Andy333 / Shutterstock)

After a relaxing afternoon in the tea garden, start your evening by watching the sunset on Castle Mound, a popular spot among residents. This historic mound offers incredible views across the Cambridge countryside, making it a great place to cozy up and see the sunset. 

This jam-packed day trip full of activities will likely have made you work up an appetite, so the final stop on the list is dinner. The Cambridge Chop House, The Oak Bistro, and Trinity Restaurant are a few highly rated spots that are great for a nice dinner. Just as I would advise for London, Cambridge gets busy, especially on the weekends, so pick a restaurant that looks good and book ahead of time.

This concludes the day trip leg of your London itinerary. Once you’ve finished your meal, you will catch the next train back to London. Be sure to check the train times before your dinner to see how late they are running, and make sure you don’t miss the last one of the night.

Day 5 – Covent Garden, Afternoon Tea, & Broadway

Morning

View at the entrance of the Covent Garden Market in London
The glorious Covent Garden (photo: Petr Kovalenkov / Shutterstock)

Day 5 is all about the best of London and will be a mix of arts, traditional food, and shopping.

On your last day in London, start your morning at Covent Garden, a part of London that doubles as a market and shopping area. This is one of the most popular neighborhoods in London, up there with Soho, and for good reason. It’s filled with charm, character, great food, and a wonderful selection of shops that are high-end and affordable. There are also great vendors inside Covent Garden’s famous indoor Apple Market

While doing your shopping, enjoy some live entertainment from the buskers that often put on performances in Covent Garden. 

After walking around the market grounds, take a walk through nearby Neal’s Yard to take in the colorful buildings and street art. My favorite brunch spot in the area is Drury 188-189, serving up fantastic coffee, pastries, and eggs benny.

Afternoon 

Different kind of pastries displayed on a table in London
Delicious afternoon tea of pastries, scones, and finger sandwiches (photo: Angyalosi Beata / Shutterstock)

A couple of neighboring areas definitely worth visiting during your five days in London are the luxurious Mayfair and Knightsbridge. This area is home to the world-famous department store Harrods, which is a great spot to pick up a little memento of your London trip.

Next, head to The Dorchester for a premium afternoon tea experience. There is a very large selection of teas to choose from, or you can opt for the champagne offering.

For a more moderately priced afternoon tea that still provides a lovely atmosphere and experience, I would recommend Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly. 

👉 Need a hotel? Mayfair and Knightsbridge are filled with luxury hotels, notably including The Berkeley, The Dorchester, and Claridge’s.

Evening

View of architectures and billboards at Broadway in West End
London’s famous West End, home to Broadway (photo: Alexandre Rotenberg / Shutterstock)

To close out your London itinerary, head to dinner and a show in London’s West End. This area is quite touristy, so I would recommend having dinner in a nearby area and then walking over to the theater district from there. Fitzrovia and Marylebone are both lovely areas neighboring the West End that have amazing food and won’t be as saturated with tourists. 

For dinner, if you choose to go to Marylebone, my favorite restaurant in the area is Delamina, a contemporary Eastern Mediterranean spot. Other highly rated restaurant options in Marylebone include Orrery (French), Hoppers (Sri Lankan), and Zoilo (Argentinian). If you opt for Fitzrovia, my top picks are Norma (Sicilian), Honey & Smoke (Middle Eastern), and ROKA (Japanese).

After your dinner, it’s time to head to London’s West End for a Broadway show. I would recommend getting tickets in advance to guarantee a show that you want to see. I would recommend Book of Mormon if you are looking to have a laugh, Hamilton for something dramatic, or Wicked if you like fantasy. 

London is home to so many great Broadway shows, there will definitely be something that appeals to you.  

Where to Stay in London

Best Hotels 

Where to stay in London is probably a big question on your mind, and London has a great range of hotel offerings for all budgets. This shortlist includes my top picks across several categories, taking into consideration location, budget, and unique offerings. 

Best Neighborhoods & Areas

Exterior of a house in Chelsea
The stunning architecture in Chelsea

Each neighborhood in London has its own character and offers a different vibe, and picking just a few to visit is nearly impossible. Central London is completely different from West London, and one of the true beauties of this city is getting to experience what feels like so many different places. Here are some top choices of nice safe areas to stay in London.

  • South Kensington & Chelsea (Search apartments in South Kensington & Chelsea) – Elegant, classy, and sophisticated is how I would define the London borough of South Kensington and Chelsea. You’ll find many residential streets filled with Victorian architecture and be in close vicinity to great attractions such as the Natural History Museum.
  • Bermondsey (Search apartments in Bermondsey) – Bermondsey is filled with some of London’s best restaurants and provides a lively atmosphere in central London without feeling stuck in a tourist trap. The area also neighbors Southwark, London Bridge, and Borough. 
  • Islington (Search apartments in Islington) – Islington is quite residential, which provides a safe and homely feel, but don’t be fooled into thinking it lacks pizzaz. Buzzing Upper Street is filled with great shops, restaurants, and awesome London bars, making Islington the best of both worlds when it comes to peace and quiet and things to do.

London Itinerary Map

Here is a Google Map with all the stop, attractions, and hotels mentioned in this post.

How to Get Around London 

Black cabs parked at the Sloane Square
Black cabs line up in Sloane Square

A rental car is not necessary in London, thanks to the incredibly well-connected transit system. Between the London Underground, London Overground, double-decker buses, and trains, you can get pretty much anywhere you need to go within London and around several other parts of the UK, including Scotland and Wales.

For a more picturesque way of exploring London, I would highly recommend taking on the city by foot or bike. When biking, make sure to wear a helmet to ensure safety, especially in high-traffic areas. There are lime and Santander bike options that can easily be rented out all over London.

For weekend breaks from London to other parts of the UK that are less accessible by train, renting a car comes in handy.

London Itinerary Planning Tips 

Tip #1 – Plan Activities Based By Area and Day Of The Week

The Shard skyscraper from afar between two buildings
The Shard making its presence known from afar

London is a very big city, and it often takes 45 minutes to an hour to get between most boroughs and neighborhoods. 

Your London itinerary will work best if you plan your schedule around activities and restaurants that are in the same area. Plan this by the day of the week to ensure the events and activities are running on the day you visit a particular area. 

Tip #2 – Book Restaurants and Attractions in Advance

View inside the Berenjak restaurant in Borough
The atmospheric interiors at Berenjak restaurant in Borough

There are a number of fantastic restaurants and attractions in London, and I recommend making advance bookings. Some of the highest-rated restaurants and attractions get booked several months in advance, so give yourself time to prepare. 

Tip #3 – Utilize The Public Transit System

The London Underground public subway signage
The London Underground will be your best friend for getting across the city (photo: Toms Auzins / Shutterstock)

London is known for having one of the most well-connected and efficient transit systems in the entire world. If you’re not in the mood or don’t have the time to walk, or want to see parts of the city that are spread apart, you will have no problem getting from point A to point B through one or many of London’s various transit options. There is the tube, London’s huge Underground system, buses, trains, and the Overground, helping you get where you need to go.

Tip #4 – Pack A Variety of Clothing Options

The author, Brooke Horrobin dressed for a dinner in Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone
Dressed up for a fancy dinner at Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone

It is definitely possible to pack light, especially if you’re only spending a few days in London. I would recommend versatility when packing for London, with a mix of casual, dressy, warm, and light clothing. You’ll want to have options for different activities because the weather in the UK can be unpredictable at times.

Tip #5 – Walk As Much Of The City As You Can

Clear blue sky over the stunning architectures in London
Some lovely architecture I spotted while walking around London

Locals will agree that the best way to see London is by walking around and exploring on foot. It’s also the most economical option for exploring London on a budget.

London is such a beautiful and historic city, I guarantee you will be so busy taking in the sights that you won’t get bored. Many of the sights are located near each other as well within walking distance like the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The South Bank, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Houses of Parliament.

Tip #6 – Be Prepared For The Weather

View of the famous London Bridge in United Kingdom
Overcast skies in the City of London

If I could give you any piece of advice before your trip to London, I would say to visit London at the right time of year and make sure you are prepared for the weather. London is known for having unpredictable weather at times, especially with the rain, so come equipped with an umbrella to ensure you stay dry while you’re walking around. 

A rain jacket or small wellies that fit in a carry-on are also both great options that will help you be prepared for any weather that’s thrown at you. 

London Itinerary FAQs

How many days in London is enough?

For a trip to London, I would recommend 5-7 days minimum in order to properly experience the city and have time to explore multiple neighborhoods. London is quite expensive, so more than a week could become pretty pricey, especially if you’re visiting with the family.

Is one week in London too long?

One week is not too long for exploring London. London is a city with so much to explore, and you are guaranteed not to run out of things to do.

Can you do London in 2 days?

Two days in London is enough time to give you a little taste. If you’re staying in a central area, this is enough time to tick off some of the main attractions, but not enough to dive deep into the amazing culture of the city.

What is the best month to visit London?

The best months to visit London are May, June, September, and October, although you can cater your London itinerary accordingly depending on which time of year you choose.

***

🖨️ Get a printable version of this itinerary

There you have it, a London itinerary in 5 days! There’s a little something for everyone in here, and in addition to popular attractions, you’ll find off-the-beaten-path gems in this guide.

If you have more than 5 days in London the next time you visit, check out these London date ideas.

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