WHAT TO DO: 4-DAY LONDON ITINERARY
Planning a trip to London can be overwhelming at first. With so many attractions, neighborhoods, history, and hip places, you need to think about the places you want to visit in a short amount of time. Here you have a London itinerary that helps you plan your 4 days in London.
There is so much to do and see – this post covers some of the main tourist attractions and some quieter and less busy places.
This 4-day itinerary for London is quite busy, and it depends, of course, on how much time you actually spend at each attraction, but it is doable if you are out early and ready to see the best places in a few days.
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Travel Tips For Your 4 Days in London Itinerary
Before discussing your itinerary, here are some important travel tips.
How to Get Around
Though many sights are within walking distance in London, you might need to take the bus or underground once in a while. It is bigger than other European cities, like Paris, and I always use public transportation in addition to the many miles I walk.
However, when I created this London itinerary, I tried to pay attention so that you do not have to walk aimlessly. Wear comfortable shoes – it still includes a lot of walking.
🚆 Public Transportation: You can choose between buses and the underground. The underground in London works fine, although it gets extremely busy, especially at rush hour. At times, the stations are so busy, that they don’t even allow people in (I saw this with my own eyes at stations around Oxford Street after work). If you use it at other times, it works fine and is quite cheap and fast. The bus is a good alternative for shorter rides – this way you can also see more of London. Some of the buses are the red double-decker buses which are also iconic.
💳 Oyster Card: Buying an Oyster Card makes sense if you plan to use public transportation often. You can load it up with credit and swipe it in/out at every bus and underground station. In the end, it finds the best rates and calculates the cheapest tickets (so, no need to worry beforehand if a day ticket will be cheaper than single tickets).
🚎 Hop-on and Hop-off buses: I use the buses whenever I have a limited amount of time in a new city and want to get an overview. The buses in London have several routes, and if you cannot walk long distances, these are super handy to use. You can get to most of the mentioned points of interest by hop-on and hop-off buses, and you can save some money on a few attractions, too. Check out prices here.
🚴♀️ Bikes: I actually have rented bikes several times. There are many stations throughout London where you can swipe your credit card and pay a small fee to rent a bike. Once you have paid that general fee, you can use the bike for as long as you need.
Fees depend on the duration and length. If you use it for less than 30 minutes, you can avoid any extra charge. I just used it to get from one place to another when my legs got tired. So, I dropped it at the next rental station and took another bike whenever I needed one again.
🚖 Taxis: The black cab is iconic in London and having a cab ride might be a must-do for some London visitors. I have never ridden one, and with such good public transportation, it probably isn’t really needed.
Ubers are also available.
🚘 Cars: In the UK, you drive on the left side. I have never considered renting a car or driving by myself. For most people in the Western world, driving on the left side isn’t standard, but of course, you could rent a car and explore the city this way. But honestly, I do not really recommend it as London is busy and attractions are clustered, so a car isn’t needed (and traffic and parking can be insane in London).
Keep in mind that traffic in London can be crazy, so the underground is probably one of the best means of getting around if you don’t want to spend too much time in vehicles.
Best Time to Visit London
When you visit London for four days, I am pretty sure you will have at least one rainy day (even in the summer). Weather in London can be challenging – summer doesn’t guarantee sun and nice weather.
- July and August are popular months for visitors, and December is great for shopping.
- Though weather prediction in England is difficult, I recommend visiting between May and September. If you aren‘t visiting for a specific event, I also suggest checking to see if a big event (like Fashion Week or a Royal Celebration, etc.) is going on, as accommodations can be even more expensive at those times.
- However, Christmas is also a great time to visit London. It might be jam-packed, but those Christmas Lights… Just wow. So check out my London winter travel guide.
Food in London
It is not only about fish & chips in London. I love the endless amounts of restaurants in London. As a vegetarian, it is quite easy to find veggie food (much easier than it is in Paris, for example), and even finding good vegan food is easy. You have many fine-dining restaurants as well as cheaper places to eat – you will find everything from fast food to healthy choices, and you will get traditional British food as well as all food from all around the world.
Where to Stay in London for 4 Days
Accommodation in London is quite expensive – so even the more budget-friendly places cost a bit or are quite far from the city center.
Here are some of the best-rated hotels for each budget:
$$$ – Luxury Hotels in London: London is home to numerous luxury hotels. If you find something easily, it is a luxury accommodation in London. Ritz-Carlton is one of the top hotels – it is also conveniently located in the city center and quite close to Buckingham Palace. Click here for the best rates and more info.
$ – Budget Hotels in London: I once stayed at this hostel – YHA London Central – and can definitely recommend it if you are a hostel fan. It is conveniently located, and if you book a bed in a dorm, you can actually get a bargain. Click here to get your room at the hostel.
PLACES TO VISIT IN LONDON IN 4 DAYS
Okay, enough talking. Here are my tips on the best things to do.
Day 1 in London
For day 1 in London, you should start with some of the most famous sights and attractions.
Stop 1: Hyde Park and Speaker´s Corner
One of the most famous parks in the world can be a perfect starting point and a must-see in London in 4 days. Hyde Park is the biggest royal park in London, but it also hosts events and concerts. Despite special events, it is a place that allows you to breathe and enjoy the green lunge of the city.
The Speaker´s Corner, a part of Hyde Park, is famous for people giving free speeches and demonstrating there. If you are lucky, you might experience some of those speeches yourself. Start early (around 9 am) from the Kensington Palace entry and stroll the area, relax, or meditate before heading, via Wellington Arch, to one of the best places to see in London.
- Extra Tip: If you are into museums you could visit the Victoria & Albert Museum, close to the palace. Museums in London are not only great for rainy days, but for anyone interested in history or arts.
Stop 2: Buckingham Palace
Whether you like the Royal Family or not, Buckingham Palace is a must-see. More than 200 years ago, it was built for the Duke of Buckingham, before the king acquired it in 1761. Now, it is the home of Queen Elizabeth II.
If you are lucky and are one of the 50,000 invited annual guests, you can peek at the inside interior. Are you interested in a tour and seeing the inside of Buckingham Palace? Then check out tours and prices here. Buckingham Palace is not open to the public throughout the year, so it might be closed when you visit!
With 775 rooms, it surely is impressive, but don’t mourn if you cannot see it from the inside. It is still interesting to look at from a distance. Also, from outside the gates, you can see the Changing of the Guards around 11 am. Personally, I wasn’t too impressed, but it is on the bucket list of many.
Stop 3: St. James´ Park
From there, head to St. James´ Park, which is another royal park with a lake, fountain, pelicans, and some cute squirrels who would like to meet you. You can also rest before heading to the next main tourist attraction of London.
Extra Tip: For museum lovers, the Tate Gallery will be an interesting stop.
Stop 4: Westminster Abbey
One of the most beautiful places in London is Westminster Abbey – the city has several beautiful churches and cathedrals worth visiting. One of them is Westminster Abbey.
It is a popular church for royals to get married. You can visit the Lady Chapel, the Royal Tombs (Westminster Abbey is the final resting place for 17 monarchs), the Coronation Chair (a 700-year-old piece of furniture that is on display), and the Abbey Gardens.
- Attending the services is free, but seeing the other places requires tickets, which you can book in advance.
From there, you are just a stone‘s throw away from the next gorgeous place in London.
Stop 5: Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) and Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower)
The Palace of Westminster and Elizabeth Tower (also known as Big Ben) have such distinctive architecture that they‘re beautiful whether it‘s day or night. The Palace plays an important role in England’s political life – it is the meeting place for the House of Commons and the House of Lords (the two houses of the Parliament).You can visit the Palace of Westminster, as some parts are open to the public. It just requires some preparation. Check out their official website for more info. I have never visited, but the architecture was enough to have me fall for it.
Also, here you will find the famous Elizabeth Tower (formerly known as the Clock Tower) is the impressive tower at the Palace of Westminster and one of the world’s most iconic landmarks. Most people refer to it as Big Ben, though Big Ben is actually only the largest of the clock’s five bells. Unfortunately, only UK residents are allowed to visit Big Ben.
After seeing these main sights, I also suggest having lunch somewhere here. I suck with restaurant tips because I mostly just sit down whenever a restaurant appeals to me. Sometimes it is a terrible choice, but most of the time, it works out for me. Thus, I recommend you do the same.
Stop 6: Westminster Bridge
Then, cross Westminster Bridge (from there, you will also have the best free views of the Elizabeth Tower and the Houses of Parliament), and you are already at the next London attraction.
Stop 7: London Eye
I have a thing for great views – one of the first activities on my list (for any destination) is looking for the best vantage point. One of the best panoramas is from London Eye. It is the biggest Ferris wheel in the world and is located right on the Thames.
There are 32 capsules with glass windows, offering great views over the city. One ride takes about 30 minutes – it is not a wild ride but goes very slowly. People suffering from a fear of heights might be scared, though. London Eye is 135 meters high at its highest point so it might feel like a thrill ride for them.
London Eye opened in 2000, so I did not visit during my first trip to London, but eventually, I did. I loved the amazing view of my favorite London building: The Elizabeth Tower (aka Big Ben).
The ride is not cheap though. If you are into great views and Ferris wheels, it is worth the money and time (it normally includes some standing in lines, so getting a fast-track ticket might be a good option). Check out prices for London Eye here.
Lunch and Dinner: There are many options for dining along the Thames. You will find something for every budget and taste. Ending your day at a restaurant on the Thames River is a perfect idea!
Day 2 in London
One of my favorite activities in London is to stroll the Thames River and see the most beautiful places along the way, and the river does play a role on day 2 of your London itinerary.
Stop 1: Tower of London
I recommend starting at the Tower of London, which is located at the River Thames. The UNESCO World Heritage site is extremely popular and one of the most visited landmarks in London.While I only visited the inside once, I always love strolling the area, though its history is actually rather violent and tragic. This historic castle was a prison for the longest time (1100-1952), but also a royal residence (weird how those go together). Now, it is a museum and open to the public. The Crown Jewels are probably the most famous attraction, though you can also learn more about England´s past while there. For anyone interested in history and royalty, this is a great place to see in London.
You should know that it can be very crowded. Buying a ticket, online or on spot, does include a guided tour (either audio guides or guided tours).
- You can prices for London Eye here.
Stop 2: Tower Bridge
Just next to the Tower of London, you have Tower Bridge. It is one of the most popular – and photogenic – bridges in the world. Its unique shape and design remind me of a large toy. It was built in the late 19th century, and it has two pathways. The lower one is for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles, and the upper one is with a glass floor only for pedestrians.
The pathway below opens for ships and boats, adding a bit more spectacle to it. Crossing it via the upper pathway is free, but you have to pay an entrance fee if you want to cross the upper one. You can also visit the exhibition and learn about its mechanics. Check out the prices on the website.
Stay on the other side (so, not on the Tower of London side) and walk for about 1.8 km and you will see another unique bridge.
Stop 3: Millennium Bridge
This Millennium Bridge is a steel suspension bridge that opened in 2000 and is one of my favorite bridges.
Given that it is only for pedestrians, it is a safe place to take Instagram shots. The views all around are beautiful, and the bridge is one of a kind. Take your time to soak in the views! If you walk that bridge slowly, you will have a beautiful, and kind of surprising, view of St. Paul´s Cathedral.
Stop 4: St. Paul‘s Cathedral
There are many London itineraries out there, and I am sure they all recommend visiting this place: As mentioned above, the best way to approach the beautiful St. Paul´s Cathedral is by crossing the Millennium Bridge – it almost feels dramatic (see picture above).
For more than 200 years, it was London´s highest building. It was rebuilt several times and was completed in 1710. It is now the Bishop of London’s seat, and the Anglican church is popular for royal weddings. Late Lady Diana and Prince Charles were probably the most famous couple who were wed there. You can visit the church for free if you attend the services. But you cannot walk around, and neither can you see the galleries, cathedral floor, and crypt, you have to get tickets (audio guides included).
- Check out prices, and skip-the-line tickets here.
Also, grab something to eat along your way as there are some pubs, cafes, and restaurants.
Stop 5: Sky Garden
Of course, I have to mention this place on my itinerary: Sky Garden. It is located close to the Tower of London and a popular and free option to see London from above.
You have fabulous views over the city – it is the highest public garden. It is nice to visit at any time of the day, but it could also be a great way to end the evening because it has several dining options.
- You have to book tickets in advance (about three weeks earlier) and secure yourself a slot. Yes, even if it is free, you need a reservation.
- If the tickets are booked out, you can make a reservation for one of the restaurants in the garden (but, of course, you would also have to consume something).
- Check out the official website of SkyGarden.
Stop 6: Shakespeare´s Globe
Okay, it really depends on where you like to end your day so you could swap Sky Garden with this tip – Shakespeare´s Globe.
For those of you interested in theater, why not visit Shakespeare‘s Globe? It will probably be one of the most unique theaters out there. It was built in the 16th century by Shakespeare’s playing company, and after it was closed in 1642, it reopened more than 350 years later – just a few hundred meters from the original theater.
You can watch plays by the famous William Shakespeare (Romeo & Juliet is just one of his famous scripts) or book theater “lessons.“ Believe me, after an exhausting day, it is refreshing to take part in such interactive lessons.
It is located in the Bankside´s Cultural Quarter – a very lovely and charming neighborhood by the Thames, with many restaurants and cafes. It is a great way to end the day (if you aren’t too into heights and prefer culture over great views at the Sky Garden).
- TIP: If you want to see London by night, you could book a tour and relax while driving around and seeing the city by night. Here is such a tour.
Day 3 in London
Day 3 starts with another free activity.
Stop 1: Oxford Street
This day, you can start a bit later. If you are at Oxford Street around 10 pm, you should be fine. London´s main shopping street is home to 300 shops and restaurants – if you are a shopping addict, you´ll love it there.
From super-budget to super-fancy – you´ll find all kinds of retail shops and restaurants. If you cannot be bothered to walk the two-kilometer-long street, you can just walk a part of it and then head to Regent Street toward the next main attractions.
Stop 2: Regent Street
Just head from Oxford Circus Underground station to Regent Street, and you´ll have more places to shop. If you walk along Regent Street, you will experience one of the best tourist places in London with many restaurants and cafes. So, just sit down wherever it pleases you! It is also the prettiest street in December.
Stop 3: Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is a road junction connecting the above-mentioned Regent Street and Piccadilly and is the main hotspot in London.
It is a smaller version of New York´s Times Square and a popular meeting point with many neon billboards. There is an option to sit and just watch the bustling activity around in the middle of the junction. If you prefer sitting in a more comfortable environment, you can choose one of the cafes nearby.
Stop 4: Trafalgar Square
Another iconic place for your London trip is Trafalgar Square, which is just a stone‘s throw from Piccadilly Circus. Whether you are in London with children or not, this is a fun place for everyone.
You might have heard of the “Battle of Trafalgar.“ The Nelson Column was named in honor of Admiral Nelson, who fought in the before mentioned battle. The lion statues are probably the most distinctive attraction.
- Extra Tip: If you are into museums you could visit the National Gallery next to Trafalgar Square. The art museum houses more than 2,300 art paintings from around the world.
Stop 5: Covent Garden
After exploring Trafalgar Square, it is time for the next (and probably last) stop for the day: Covent Garden. This district is just one kilometer from Trafalgar Square and makes a perfect walk.
Part of Covent Garden is covered, so it is a perfect location if the weather is bad. Stroll the cobblestone square of Covent Garden Piazza, shop in one of the numerous shops and markets, and visit the museums. These are just a few things to do in London‘s Covent Garden. Given its many cafes, it is also a great way to end the day in London.
Day 4 in London
Here you have the last day of your 4-day trip, and you hopefully have a better idea of how to spend your days in London. Whenever I visit a place for more than two or three days, I give myself some free time, so I can spontaneously do and see what I like. You never know about the weather, how you‘ll feel, and so on.
If you have managed to see all of the recommendations mentioned above, I have a few more tips. If you haven’t checked them all off, I suggest visiting them (if you are interested) and using this itinerary for the fourth day as an extra. However, visiting both places might not take a full day.
Stop 1: Notting Hill
If you are looking for an extremely Instagrammable place in London, then Notting Hill is it.
This district is behind Kensington Place (at Hyde Park). It is known for its fun and colorful houses and its markets – especially Portobello Market, where you can buy fresh food and vegetables, antiques, and all kinds of fun souvenirs. TIP: Check out the markets’ times beforehand as they aren’t every day.
There are museums, cafes, and restaurants. There is so much to do that you could easily spend an entire day there. You will surely find a place to have lunch (or grab some sandwiches, sit down and watch people while sitting on a bench.
Stop 2: Churchill Arms
If you are in London (actually in any part of England), you will notice the beautiful pubs and cafes. There are flower pots everywhere, and I think this adds extra charm to this fun city and lovely country.
But the Churchill Arms, close to Notting Hill, is special. I am not a fan of pubs, so I did not go in, but looking at this stunning piece display of flowers was breathtaking. It is definitely the creme de la creme of amazing-looking pubs and a feast for the eyes – yours and the Instagram addicts!
If you like to end your day in a pub, then this is probably the most iconic!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SPENDING 4 DAYS IN LONDON
London is a diverse city that offers a lot to see and do, from historical landmarks, museums, and galleries to shopping, dining, and entertainment. In four days, visitors can explore some of the city’s most iconic attractions such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, the National Gallery, and the London Eye.
With this 4-day London itinerary, you will be busy, but you could spend weeks or even months in London without getting bored. However, I think that London in 4 days gives you a good overview of the city. I hope this post helps you focus on the best places to see!
READ MORE: Do you want to combine a trip to London with visiting Paris as well? Then check out my one-week Paris & London itinerary.
1 week in England? Then check out my one-week England itinerary.