London Itinerary: 8 Things You Absolutely Cannot Miss
Searching for the perfect London itinerary? Tired of those incredibly unhelpful “100 things to do” London travel blog posts? I was too, which is why I started this 8 things you absolutely cannot miss itinerary series.
While you could easily spend at least a full week exploring London, I've done so only in short spurts over many trips (a few per year). Because of this I have become an expert on drilling down my London itinerary to just the most important things.
So whether you have 2 days in London, a day in London, or 10 days in London, here are the 8 things you absolutely cannot miss!
The Best Tools for Traveling Europe
Before we get into the London itinerary, let’s talk about planning tools! As a full time traveler with a LOT of experience planning trips, I have a handful of sites and tools that I cannot live without. They save me money, time, and frustration - all of which are very important for me and should be to you, too.
For flights, I use Skyscanner. Skyscanner is great because they find you the cheapest flights by comparing millions of options from airlines and travel agents. Click here to find the best flight deal!
For hotels I always use HotelsCombined, as you will notice in my specific recommendations below. I love them because they compare all of the top travel sites in one spot - with no booking fee and no markup. Best price guarenteed! Click here to search HotelsCombined.
When I'm not staying at a hotel, I love Airbnb. When chosen right, it provides a more local experience and you can often get a lot more space for less money. Click here to get $40 off your first stay.
To get from city to city while in Europe, I usually either fly or take a train. For train travel I recommend using Rail Europe, the #1 distributor for European train tickets and rail passes. I like that you can create an account with them which helps keep all of your tickets and info in one central location. Click here to search Rail Europe.
To get around while in city, I recommend walking, using public transit, or Uber if it's available. In many places, like Lisbon for example, Uber is dirt cheap. If you are new to Uber, use code "kbae3" to get your first ride for free. You can also use it on Uber Eats!
For tours, museum tickets, airport transfers, and other activities, I recommend GetYourGuide. They are a trusted site and have lots of unique things to do along with all of the standard touristy activites. Booking everything individually can be a bit of nightmare to keep track of. With GetYourGuide you can create an account to book and manage all of your tickets in one central location. Click here to search GetYourGuide.
Want to stay connected while abroad? I recommend renting a pocket-sized personal WiFi hotspot from Tep! Click here to see the latest prices.
Where to Stay in London
While I have been to London many times and stayed many places, my number one recommendation is The Hoxton Holborn. It is a beautiful 4-star boutique hotel that is extremely reasonably priced and in a great location. Click here to see the latest prices.
Click here to search all London hotels.
What to Pack For London
COMFORTABLE SHOES. You will likely (hopefully) be doing a lot of walking so this is very important! My very favorite are M. Gemi’s white leather sneakers. I literally never travel anywhere without them. Click here to see latest prices.
CHIC BOOTS. Same as above —they must be extremely walkable! After countless years testing all over the world, my two recommendations are these (I own 5 pairs and could run a marathon in them) and these which I’m hoping to buy a second pair of! Click here to see a full list of my travel shoe recommendations.
LIGHTWEIGHT TRAVEL CARDIGAN. Barefoot Dreams’ circle cardigan is honestly one of the best travel-related purchase I have made. So warm and absolutely necessary, I’ve brought mine on every single trip since purchasing it. Also great for transit days and hotel lounging! Click here to see the latest prices.
CONVERTER ADAPTER. This one is universal and works no matter where you’re going so it’s a must. When going to the EU I also bring along this very inexpensive 6 pack so that I have extras. So much to charge these days! Need other recommendations? Click here to see my list of 20 must have travel products from Amazon Prime.
WARM NEUTRAL COLORED SCARF. & Other Stories’ oversized wool scarf is my absolutely favorite and comes in so many beautiful colors. London can get quite cold — you’ll need one! Click here to see the latest prices.
STYLISH CAMERA BAG… if you are bringing a camera! You can’t go to London with anything that isn’t chic ;) Since pickpocketing is a thing in London I bring GATTA’s Christie camera backpack (named after me) because it’s hands free, has a zipper AND a buttoned flap, and fully protects my camera yet is so cute no one will ever know it’s a camera bag. Click here to see the latest prices. Want to see more options? Click here for the most stylish camera bags for women!
AN INSTAGRAMMABLE HAT. Good for both avoiding doing your hair and also to help make photos pop! This time of year wool is the best option. Click here for the one I just bought
London Itinerary: 8 Things You Absolutely Cannot Miss
1. See All the Highlights via a London Sightseeing Tour
If you're new to London, you must go on a London sightseeing tour. My personal favorite way to get around any new city is by bike tour. I always do it first thing upon arriving so that I can get a feel for the city and so I have time to go back to whichever spots I want to see more of.
If you only have one day in London and are wondering what to do in London for a day, this tour is my highest recommendation.
This London sightseeing tour I especially recommend because you get to see all the major spots at once, such as:
The London Eye
Houses of Parliament
Westminister Abbey + Big Ben
And many more!
If you are interested in other London guided tours, there are many more options. I book all of my tours via Get Your Guide. You can create an account with them and store all of your tours and attraction tickets in one central location, making it incredibly easy.
Harry Potter fan? Try the Harry Potter guided walking tour instead! Click here to reserve your spot.
Prefer being on the water? Click here for a River Thames hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour. You can also hop-on hop-off on land via bus. Click here for that.
Want to walk? Click here.
If getting good photos of yourself on your holiday is also important, I’ve got you covered! Whether it’s for the ‘gram or just to keep for yourself, I consider photos to be incredibly important. Here is my recommendation: Click here to see the latest prices and reserve your spot!
Are you a foodie? Click here for a popular tour of the best food in London!
2. An Instagram-worthy brunch in Chelsea
Next I recommend an Instagram-worthy brunch in Chelsea because you can't go if it's not Instagram-worthy, right? Right.
No. 11 Pimlico Road in Chelsea is my new London brunch go-to, do not miss it! It’s delicious and the decor is to die for. It gets pretty busy but luckily they take reservations so I would suggest making some if possible.
Once you're done give yourself some time to walk around Chelsea which is full of cute boutiques, cafes, and streets.
If you aren’t able to make it here for brunch, some other brunch spots I recommend are:
Farm Girl Notting Hill
26 Grains in Neal’s Yard (faster, more casual type of place)
And the Hoxton Holborn where you are hopefully staying has great breakfast, too!
3. Lunch at Borough Market
Borough Market is London's biggest outdoor market and is fun even to just walk around and snack on samples. Jackie says it's most famous for it's grilled toasties (grilled cheese) and Maja suggests Rabot 1745 where they put cocoa in everything and have amazing pancakes! If you aren't hungry but need a little pick me up, try Monmouth for coffee if the line isn't too crazy.
Are you a fan of beer? Click here for a very highly rated Borough Market craft beer tour!
Want to visit other markets in addition to Borough? Click here for a famous London tour, including 3 different markets.
When you’re done head over to the London Eye! Click here to see the latest prices.
4. Tea time in the Famous Pink Room at Sketch
Not gonna lie, I go here every. single. time. I'm in London. Last time I really hit the jackpot because we coincidentally were there during the flower show so the entire place was covered in fresh flowers... I have never seen anything like it.
Anyway, you can't go to London without going to afternoon tea and Sketch is home of that fabulous pink tea room you see everywhere on Insta so there's no better place to do it! Even the bathrooms are to die for, no joke. They do take reservations and it gets packed so make these as early as possible. Pro tip: go right when it opens for the best photo opps.
If you're feeling extra fancy (we were), stop at Blow LTD for a blowout on the way. We loved ours & it's a nice walk from Blow LTD through Regent Street over to Sketch. You can also have them come to you if you need!
5. Watch the sunset from Sky Garden or Madison Rooftop Bar
Madison has an open roof terrace with an amazing view of St. Pauls. It's pretty fancy, so make sure you are dressed appropriately if you go! Sky Garden is another great option (gorgeous photo opps, omg!) if you are able to get passed the huge lines.
Want even better views? Get 360 degree city views at The Shard! Click here to see the latest prices.
Want to do something a bit more unique? Click here to visit a hidden jazz club at The Shard (but shh, don’t tell anyone!).
6. Walk Around Regent Street
Roam Regent Street if you want to do some shopping and even if you don't. Last time we were there it was covered in British flags for the Queen's birthday which made it extra beautiful, but it's still worth it otherwise!
Make sure to visit Kingly Court while in the area, too. It’s a great place to grab a bite and at night there are plenty of fun bars to go to.
7. Eat Indian Food For Dinner at Dishoom
I know, random... And full disclosure, I have actually never made it here, but I had Dishoom recommended so many times I felt compelled to add it. Maja even said that it's by far her favorite restaurant in London! There are many around town now but she suggests the King's Cross location due to it being the most "aesthetically pleasing" :)
As with all my recs (sorry), this spot is popular with the dinner line starting at 5:30 and people waiting up to 2 hours! According to Yelp they do take reservations so definitely go that route.
8. Explore Colorful Notting Hill
If you’re looking for a London itinerary 4 days or happen to have a spare day in your itinerary, I would allow for at least of half day of exploring. As a photographer I do this in almost all cities I visit. In London my favorite area to do this is Notting Hill.
I mainly visit Notting Hill for the photo opps (a color lover's heaven!) but also love to visit the Churchill Arms, cliche as it is. It's covered in plants and oddly the pub has a really good Thai restaurant in the back of it. Once you've tired yourself from all the walking around Notting Hill, stop here for a beer to recoop. If you happen to be there on a Friday or Saturday, also stop by the Portobello Road Market.
If you need a bite while in the area, I love Farm Girl Notting Hill.
To truly see Notting Hill, I recommend arranging a proper tour. There a plenty of great options. I’ve vetted the options and narrowed them down to a few I personally recommend:
This 2 hour walking tour. This is the least expensive option, which I recommend if you do not care about also capturing photos.
This colorful Notting Hill photo walk. If you want a tour AND some photos! FYI, you must bring your own camera.
This Instagrammable photos in Notting Hill option. If you don’t have your own camera and/or you want some edited by a professional, this is for you!
Other London Sights You Will Want to See
While I much prefer off-the-beaten-path type of trips, there are a handful of very famous things in London you may want on your to-do list. If you are filling a London itinerary 5 days or just need more items to add to your list, here are the other items I recommend.
I would recommend buying tickets to the items below from Get Your Guide, my favorite tour company. They are a trusted partner and this way you have all of your tickets in one central location, making it very easy to keep track of. Also buy them in advance if possible — London attractions sell out early and often!
- The London Eye — click here to reserve your spot
- Warner Brothers Studio — click here to get a ticket for a behind the scenes Harry Potter tour
- Tower of London — click here to get your ticket (including the Crown Jewels Exhibition)
- The Shard — click here to reserve your spot
- Tower Bridge — click here for exhibition tickets
- Wembley Stadium — click here for guided tour tickets
- Westminister Abbey — click here for tickets
- Kensington Palace — click here for sightseeing entrance tickets
- Chelsea Football Club — click here for a stadium tour
- St. Paul’s Cathedral — click here for fast track entrance tickets
- Windsor Castle — click here for an admission ticket
- British Museum — click here for a skip the line guided tour
London Day Trips
Stonehenge and Bath: a full day tour from London to one of the world’s most mysterious monuments and one of England’s most romantic cities! Click here to reserve your spot.
Windsor, Stonehenge & Oxford: a full day tour to see Windsor Castle, those mysterious rocks, and the city of Oxford. Click here to reserve your spot.
Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds: yet another full day tour, this time including the beautiful Cotswolds! If you’re an Instagrammer, I would do this one. Click here to reserve your spot.
Warner Brothers Studio: a full day tour to Warner Brothers Studio to go behind the scenes of the Harry Potter film sets. Click here to reserve your spot.
Backpacking? Check out this backpacking London guide!