Are you heading to London soon and looking for the perfect London itinerary for 4 days? Look no further, I’ve got you covered. In this post, I will describe not one but two itineraries for what to see in London in 4 days for two types of travellers: people who want to see all the classics (aka “Big Ben”, British Museum) and people who would like to visit some of the top tourist attractions as well as some unusual, alternative and quirky spots and locations, such as street food markets, flea markets, parks, unique shops and so on!
If you decide to scroll through the entire post and see all the suggestions, maybe you can create a unique itinerary for yourself, ultimately including only the places you genuinely would like to see. Alrighty, without further ado, let’s get started with some helpful information you need to know before coming to London! And, by the way, you will be able to see the table of contents below – if you already know what exactly you’d like to read, just click on the chapter that interests you the most!
This post's overview:
- 1 Some useful London travel information:
- 1.1 Currency in London / can you pay cash?
- 1.2 UK Plug type
- 1.3 Weather in London
- 1.4 How to get to London from the airport, and which airport is the best to fly into when visiting London?
- 1.5 Safety in London: how safe is London
- 1.6 Where to stay in London?
- 2 Itinerary 1: The classics of London for the first-timers
- 2.1 Day 1 in London: the Classical itinerary
- 2.2 Day 2 of things to see in London in 4 days (The Classic Itinerary)
- 2.2.1 Where to have breakfast in London
- 2.2.2 Buckingham Palace & the change of guard
- 2.2.3 St. James’s Park & Horse Guards Parade
- 2.2.4 The traditional afternoon tea
- 2.2.5 Trafalgar Square & The National Gallery
- 2.2.6 Dinner at The Goring
- 2.3 Day 3 in London: Explore South Kensington & Knightsbridge
- 2.4 Day 4: Borough to Westminster. The British Museum
- 2.5 Summary of 4 days in London: the classic itinerary
- 3 The quirky and alternative itinerary for 4 days in London
- 3.1 Day 1: Tower of London, Sky Garden, Spitalfields and Shoreditch, Jack the Ripper tour
- 3.2 Day 2: Breakfast at the Shard, Borough Market, The Bankside, Tate Modern, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace & Covent Garden
- 3.2.1 Breakfast @ aqua Shard
- 3.2.2 Borough Market
- 3.2.3 Walk along the Thames through Bankside
- 3.2.4 Tate Modern & London Eye
- 3.2.5 Westminster. Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace
- 3.2.6 Green Park, Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, China Town, Covent Garden & a musical in Soho
- 3.2.7 Dining recommendations in London
- 3.3 Day 3: Explore Regent’s Canal, King’s Cross, visit Camden Town & Primrose Hill
- 3.4 Day 4: Notting Hill vintage shops, Portobello Road, Kensington High Street, South Kensington and Chelsea, Knightsbridge
- 4 Summary of London in 4 days: 2 itineraries for any taste
- 5 If you’re interested in more content about London, perhaps, one of these articles might be useful for you:
Some useful London travel information:
I’m sure you know most of it already, but I’d just like to leave it here just in case.
Currency in London / can you pay cash?
The currency you need in London (same as the currency throughout the UK): British pound (£ or GBP), euros or dollars are not accepted. If you’re bringing some cash in dollars and euros, you need to exchange them for pounds. You can do it in one of the currency exchange offices (e.g. Thomas Exchange on Oxford street or Victoria Street FX near Victoria station).
Please note that a lot of businesses stopped accepting cash, most of them being coffee shops, some cafes and food market stalls. The best way to pay for things and services in London is via a credit/debit card, preferably one without international transaction fees like Revolut (available in the US, Singapore, Japan, Australia, and most of the EU).
UK Plug type
UK plug type: G. You can get a US-UK adaptor here or a Europe-UK adaptor here. Alternatively, you can buy this adaptor that works for 197 countries. Even in hotels, I haven’t seen sockets of any other type, so make sure to bring one with you or buy one in the UK (your best call is any electronics shop like Curry’s PC world, newsagent like WHSmith or, in some cases, Poundland).
Weather in London
London weather is generally pretty mild. The average temperature in winter is 3-12C, and in summer, 18-25C. The rest of the year is pretty much in between, around 7-18C. It rains a lot during certain seasons (mostly in winter, late Autumn and early Spring), so I recommend bringing a raincoat.
How to get to London from the airport, and which airport is the best to fly into when visiting London?
London has a bunch of airports. There is Heathrow that everyone knows. There is Gatwick. Then there are Stansted and Luton, which are the main hubs for low-cost airlines such as Wizz Air, Ryan Air and Easyjet. Then there is London City airport which has very few flights and mainly destinations frequented by business travellers. Finally, there is London Southend which is VERY far away, so I’d recommend avoiding this one if you can.
Most of the airports are very well connected to the city centre. Heathrow is served by London Underground, and City Airport is served by DLR (the same thing, but it’s operated without drivers), whereas Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Southend all have trains serving them. There are also buses (e.g. Easybus and National Express) sometimes they are cheaper and more convenient than trains. You can buy tickets for Easybus and National express online.
Of course, there are taxis as well. You can ask for a traditional black cab (if you need to ask for one online, download Gett). There is also FreeNow and Bolt. There is also Uber (sometimes, but it hasn’t been great recently).
Safety in London: how safe is London
London is a big city. Crimes happen. While I personally had nothing stolen in 5 years of living in London, you need to be cautious. I recommend getting this anti-theft backpack and a money & documents pouch if you need to carry essential documents with you.
There is an increased number of thefts involving thieves on mopeds. If you’re walking too close to a busy road, they could try to snatch your handbag or phone. They are mainly active around Angel tube station in Islington.
While there are no no-go areas in London, some areas might seem a bit rough or sketchy to you. When choosing accommodation, I would generally avoid areas like Barking, Forest Gate, Wood Green, Turnpike Lane, Dagenham, Willesden & Harlesden, Camberwell, Elephant & Castle (although E&C has changed a lot in the recent years), West Ham, Tottenham, Edmonton, Lewisham, Plaistow, Ilford and some parts of Walthamstow. That doesn’t mean that something would necessarily happen to you there, but as a tourist, you won’t probably like these areas much.
Where to stay in London?
Alright, now you know where NOT to stay, so let’s talk about the best areas to stay at as a tourist in London.
If your budget permits, I recommend staying anywhere in Kensington, Fitzrovia or Mayfair. However, most of the hotels in these areas are really expensive. Some of the best & most luxurious hotels in London are located in these districts, for example, The Dorchester, Claridge’s, The Lanesborough.
Suppose you still want to stay centrally and you’d like to be able to walk everywhere. In that case, you can stay around London Bridge, Shoreditch, Tower Bridge, Islington or King’s Cross areas. There are plenty of mid-range hotels such as Point A London Shoreditch, nHow London, citizenM Tower of London.
If you’re okay using transport, you can pick a location that is slightly further away and stay in Hampstead, Greenwich, Ealing, Clapham or Canary Wharf. Some nice hotels & apart-hotels there are: Point A Canary Wharf, The Gateway Hotel, Ibis Hammersmith.
Finally, for that countryside feel, you can stay further away (if you’re okay using transport and spending 30 minutes to 1 hour getting to Central London). Perfect areas would be Richmond, Wimbledon and even High Barnet. You might be interested in The Petersham, Dog & Fox.
Okay, without further ado, let’s start with itineraries for 4 days in London!
The first itinerary for 4 days in London:
Itinerary 1: The classics of London for the first-timers
So let’s start with the classic itinerary for 4 days in London. As I mentioned before, it’s the itinerary that features the main highlights and can be recommended to anyone visiting London for the first time. You’ll see the main highlights and museums, and you’ll visit some of the most iconic afternoon teas, cafes, restaurants and department stores in London! I know that everyone has a different budget, so in the case of afternoon teas and restaurants, I’ll provide two options, one on the expensive side and another one on the budget-friendly side.
Day 1 in London: the Classical itinerary
The London Pass
By the way, if you’re planning to visit even more attractions that I have featured in this post, perhaps it makes sense for you to buy a London pass for 3 or 4 days. It costs around £130 for 4 days and £110 for 3 days (per person), and it’s worth it if you’re planning to visit a lot of paid attractions like The Tower of London, the Tower Bridge, Uber Boat, Kensington Palace and more (please note that museums like British Museum, Tate Modern etc are free to visit, but you can donate £1-10 if you wish). You can book the London pass online here.
The first day depends on your arrival time. If you arrive early in London, you can leave your bags at the hotel and go to explore the city. If you don’t have anywhere to leave your bags (e.g. you’re staying at an apartment), you can use Radical Storage to leave your bags (you need to pre-book in advance here)
Visit Tower Bridge & The Tower of London
I recommend starting your day early (but not too early, so you don’t get too tired by the end of the day). Depending on where you’re staying, head to the Tower of London by foot or by public transport. The Tower of London opens at 9am on most days, except for Sunday and Monday when it opens at 10am. You can pre-book your ticket online here and save some money.
The Tower of London is impressive, and all tickets also include a free tour with a beefeater. My favourite part was seeing the Crown Jewels, I found them absolutely stunning. On average, people spend 2-3 hours in the Tower of London. After exiting the Tower of London, head to Tower Bridge, another iconic landmark of London. Inside, there is a museum, but you can probably skip it since you’re only spending 4 days in London and it’s not a must-visit attraction. However, make sure to walk the Thames promenade and take some great photos of the bridge.
Lunch at The Ivy Tower Bridge
Cross the Tower Bridge to get to the next stop, a traditional Brasserie, The Ivy. After walking around The Tower of London for so long, you must be at least a bit hungry, so this is a good place to stop by and have a bite. The Ivy is very popular among Londoners, and hence, you need to book it in advance here or just use Open Table app. It’s not expensive (on average, a dish is around £12-18, which is fairly standard in London). The Ivy Tower Bridge has stunning views of London & a heated outdoor terrace as well.
Explore the City of London
After having lunch, I would recommend heading to the City of London and exploring the area. The city is the heart of London – that’s how London has started, and while most of the buildings didn’t survive the great fire of 1666, there are many architectural gems built in the later times (plus, there are still few buildings that survived the area, you might be able to see them). Cross the Tower Bridge back to the Northern side of the Thames and start a walk towards St. Paul’s cathedral.
St. Paul Cathedral
Walk all the way to St. Paul – the most stunning and majestic cathedral in London! The tickets cost around £20 per person; however, they are a bit cheaper if you buy them online here.
Tip: if you’re interested in attending a service (Mass), you can visit St. Paul free of charge as it’s a working church. You can see the schedule here; however, you won’t have access to the colonnades & the panoramic view of London and an e-guide.
There is also a shopping mall next to St. Paul’s, from where you can see amazing views of the cathedral – it’s called One New Change. Access to the rooftop is free, so you can just head there and take some fantastic photos of St. Paul!
Visit Fleet Street and have a pint in an ancient pub.
Once you have visited St. Paul, head to the famous Fleet Street (you must have heard of it if you have read a lot of Charles Dickens books or watched Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber from Fleet Street.
You can stop in a pub called Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – it’s one of the oldest pubs in London and it was rebuilt after the great fire – in 1667 and has stood in the same place since then. Some of the frequent visitors of this pub included Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and R.L. Stevenson. If you’re hungry, you can also eat there or have a snack; however, most people just come there for a pint.
Other amazing pubs in Fleet Street:
Ye Olde Cock Tavern – an ancient pub located in an incredibly narrow building
The Olde Bank of England – a much newer pub with a stunning interior located in the former offices of the Bank of England. It’s better to pre-book this one.
At the end of Fleet Street, you will see one of my favourite buildings in the City of London – the Royal Court of Justice. It’s absolutely stunning!
If you have any energy left, head to Covent Garden. Covent Garden is the iconic market (it used to be an apple market), that has transformed into an affluent shopping and dining area. However, there are still stalls selling souvenirs and some clothes at the market. You can walk around and listen to street musicians, do some shopping and explore the area. It’s usually nicely decorated for Christmas, and it’s pretty much always busy!
Now it’s time to have dinner. I promised you to provide two options, one upscale and another one more affordable.
For a more affordable dinner, head to Brasserie Zedel (you need to book it in advance) for a very nice & affordable set menu or Flat Iron for a very affordable steak (if you’re a meat-eater). Alternatively, there are a lot of burger spots (e.g. Honest Burgers, Patty & Bun) and Wetherspoon pub chains offering budget-friendly meals for less than £10.
Optional: cocktails at Sky Garden or The Ned
If you have any energy left at all, you can take a taxi to Sky Garden for cocktails – it’s a marvellous skyscraper with a garden on the top floor. You normally need to book, so make sure to give them a call and make a reservation for drinks. Sometimes they also allow people to visit without a reservation (for drinks). The best time to go up to Sky Garden is during the sunset – you will see beautiful colours (if you’re lucky to be in London on a sunny day, of course).
Alternatively, head to The Ned – it’s a stunning hotel very popular among trendy Londoners. There is live music almost every day, and you can get there for drinks without needing to book a table.
Day 2 of things to see in London in 4 days (The Classic Itinerary)
It makes sense to continue with the classics on your second day in London! You don’t have that much time in London, so it’s always better to start early and make the most of the day. I can imagine that you might be a bit tired from yesterday’s long walk, so today will be a bit easier on walking (to prepare for your super-tiring day 3 in London).
Where to have breakfast in London
Let’s start with the breakfast! If you don’t have breakfast at your hotel, you can either have something quick & affordable (e.g. Pret-a-manger, Leon, Greggs all have fast and affordable breakfast options, which are mostly pots of eggs & veggies, fruit pots, yoghurt pots, breakfast baps or sandwiches – you can either sit in or order them for takeaway). Suppose you’re keen on having a “proper breakfast”. In that case, you can head to Balans Soho, The Delaunay, Duck & Waffle (for panoramic views of London), the Wolseley & Chiltern Firehouse – most of these places require a reservation. If you just want a place where you don’t need to book in advance, try Eggbreak, The Breakfast Club (there are many of them across London), Eggslut, Farm Girl, EL&N or Caravan.
Buckingham Palace & the change of guard
For the first sightseeing activity of your second day in London, head to Buckingham Palace to see the change of guards. You can see the schedule of the change of guard here, however, it usually happens around 11am each day. I recommend arriving earlier, as it’s one of the most iconic things in London, and, as you can imagine, it gathers quite a crowd each time.
If you want to visit Buckingham palace, as of now, it only opens for 10 weeks a year, between July and October, and if you’re very lucky, it also works on certain days in spring and winter. You can see the full schedule here.
While Buckingham Palace is undoubtedly iconic and it’s a place of the primary residence of the British monarchy, it’s probably not the most impressive palace in the world, so I’ll leave the decision of whether to visit the palace or not to you!
St. James’s Park & Horse Guards Parade
After witnessing the change of guard, head to St. James’s Park, one of the most beautiful parks in London. It’s not as huge as Hyde Park or Regent’s Park, but it’s much prettier (in my opinion) and has a lot of birds, including parakeets and even pelicans! You can easily spend 45 minutes to 1 hour just walking around and admiring the park if the weather permits.
When heading to the park, don’t forget to make The Mall – a wide road that connects Buckingham palace with Trafalgar Square.
Don’t forget to take a look at the Horse Guards Parade located right in front of The Household Cavalry museum right next to the park.
The traditional afternoon tea
Once you’re finished with the Horse Guards Parade, it’s time for Afternoon tea! Afternoon tea is a very traditional tea ceremony that includes unlimited tea (although some cheaper places might limit the tea), a few small savoury sandwiches and a lot of small sweet cakes. What is served usually depends on the restaurant; some go really far and come up with pretty creative and unique offerings (especially desserts, as you can’t experiment that much with sandwiches). Sometimes, Afternoon tea can also be served with a glass of bubbly. And of course, some places cater for various diet preferences, e.g. places that offer gluten-free and vegan options. While some places might accept walk-ins, it’s essential to book in advance!
Posh afternoon teas in London
The nicest & most bougie afternoon tea you can find in London is the one from The Ritz! It costs £67 per person (without bubbly – if you want a glass of champagne, that’s around £20 or more), but it’s definitely worth it! The food is amazing, but the most impressive thing is the stunning room, where the tea ceremony takes place. If Ritz is unavailable, try The Claridge’s – it’s another iconic hotel in London and the afternoon tea there is a bit more expensive, around £75 per person.
If you’re looking for something nice, but more simple, try Walford Hilton or Mariott Park Lane – they have amazing afternoon teas for £45 per person.
Another quite unique experience is having afternoon tea served on a bus, and not an average bus, but on an iconic vintage route master from the 1950s. It costs £45 per person and includes a tour of London. You can book it in advance here.
Budget-friendly afternoon teas in London
If you’re not ready to part with a significant sum of money and would prefer something less opulent, there are also plenty of budget-friendly afternoon teas in London, and, luckily, some of them don’t need to be booked in advance. That means that you can be pretty flexible with your plans and decide to pop in for an afternoon tea whenever you’re ready (or feel like it).
At the Morton Hotel, you can have lovely afternoon tea for just £19 per person. The hotel is located in central London, very close to the British Museum and the room where the afternoon tea is served is super pretty. You can find the menu here.
Another lovely spot to have afternoon tea is The Wallace Restaurant. It has a different atmosphere compared to the Morton Hotel (more grand, I’d say) and it costs around £20 per person.
Alternatively, head to Patisserie Valerie or Caffe Concerto (there is one of each around every corner in London) – these would be the best places to have the most affordable afternoon tea! It would cost you around £32-37 for two people.
Trafalgar Square & The National Gallery
Later, head to the famous Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square is an iconic landmark of London, and there is always something going on there. Right on Trafalgar Square, you can find The National Gallery, one of the world’s finest art museums. Visiting National Gallery is free of charge, but donations are always welcome (you can just slip a note in a box at the entrance or exit, plus there are plenty of them all around the museum or tap your bank card / smartphone to use contactless payment). As of April 2022, you still need to pre-book your free time slot to have a guaranteed entry, so you can do it here.
Alternatively, you can just try your luck and get in without reserving a slot!
Inside the National Gallery, you can find a lot of world-famous artworks, such as “Sunflowers” by Vincent Van Gogh, “Virgin of the Rocks” by Leonardo Da Vinci, Samson and Delilah by P. P. Rubens and ‘Arnolfini Portrait’ by Jan van Euk. You can see which other famous paintings are there on this website.
The National Gallery is open until 6pm every day except for Fridays when it’s open until 9pm.
Dinner at The Goring
After visiting the National Gallery, you probably don’t feel your legs! If that’s the case, head to your hotel for a short rest before heading out for dinner. If your hotel is far, it makes sense to just sit and relax inside a cafe or a coffee place.
As a dinner pick, I recommend heading to The Goring Dining room. It’s a restaurant located inside the iconic The Goring Hotel, where a lot of royals and celebrities have stayed over the last 100 years. The dining room is also frequented by royals and celebrities and on top of that, it also has a Michelin star! One of the best dishes to try at The Goring is Beef Wellington (some people say it’s the best beef wellington in all of London). Since it’s an upscale (and posh) place, the dress code for the restaurant is pretty strict (you need to look elegant). You can book The Goring online here >
A much more affordable option would be having dinner at St. John Smithfield – you can try a variety of traditional British dishes in a very casual and relaxed atmosphere!
Day 3 in London: Explore South Kensington & Knightsbridge
Alright, on your third day in London, let’s head West! To South Kensington and Knightsbridge! This area is famous for its museums, unique department stores and stunning streets with slightly different architecture compared to The City or Central London. There aren’t that many breakfast options in Kensington compared to Soho (unless you head to Notting Hill, another area of the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea). I recommend either having breakfast in Soho or just grabbing a sandwich/pastry near the South Kensington underground station, where you need to go in order to make the most out of visiting South Kensington.
The Museum Quarter
When I said that Kensington is famous for its museums, I was not joking. There are four amazing museums to choose from, three of them located right next to each other. All these museums are free to visit (donations are always welcome).
The first museum is the Museum of Natural History – it’s situated in the most impressive building, however, only visit it if you’re very interested in Natural History. I’d say that most visitors are parents with their kids, as kids love this museum. However, adults can also enjoy this museum! If there is no queue outside, nothing can stop you from popping in and taking a look at some of the main exhibits.
The second museum is the Science Museum. It’s very impressive, and it’s probably one of my favourite museums in London; however, just like the Natural History Museum, it’s mostly frequented by parents with kids and by teenagers and students.
Then, we have Victoria & Albert Museum. I absolutely love V&A, and I visited it over 10 times in the last few years. V&A museum has an amazing collection of sculpture, art, jewellery and fashion. Moreover, the interior of the museum is pretty impressive as well.
Finally, we have The Design museum, which is located a bit further away (15-20 minutes walking). It’s not as big as any of the museums in the Museum Quarter, however, it’s also an exciting museum to visit.
You just need to pick one or two museums to visit, and you can easily spend there 3-4 hours! If you’re done with one museum, you can always enter another one next to it.
If you have time and energy left, you can walk around and explore the most beautiful streets in Kensington. There are plenty of stunning and very photogenic streets and mews. I have a separate article about the most beautiful streets and mews in London, you can read it here.
Harrods department store
After visiting Kensington, head to Knightsbridge – one of the most expensive areas of London. In the heart of Knightsbridge, you can find the famous department store Harrods which belongs to the Al-Fayed family. Harrods is really one of its kind department store, maybe the flagship Galeries Lafayette in Paris can be compared to it, but in my opinion, Harrods is way more impressive.
My favourite area to visit in Harrods is its food hall, where you can buy yourself lunch or dinner (or some snacks), as well as buy some food & edible souvenirs to bring back home. There are amazing teas, biscuits, cookies, chocolate and everything you can actually think of! And that’s only one floor. There is a floor with souvenirs, another floor with luxury furniture and home accessories ( a gold vase in the shape of a camel for £200,000, anyone?), floors with clothing, electronics, cosmetics, bags and more! There are also plenty of restaurants scattered across Harrods, so it’s a really lovely place to sit down and have lunch or something between lunch and dinner.
Visit a Musical or Theatre in London
Visiting all the museums and wandering in Harrods probably has been tiring, so if you have any energy left, you can visit a Musical or a Theatre performance. If you want to visit a very popular play like Les Miserables, The Lion King or the Hamilton, it’s best to buy tickets at least a couple of months in advance to have good prices and seat availability. A lot of plays and musicals actually sell out, so you won’t be able to buy tickets on the day of the play for these performances. You can buy a ticket for London musicals and theatres here.
However, you might be lucky, and sometimes, there are last-minute cancellations and tickets available even for the most popular plays. You can check which tickets are available on the day of the play on the TKTS website (you will also get a 10-40% discount when you buy a ticket on the day of the performance).
If you want to see opera or ballet, head to the Royal Opera House website – you will be able to see prices and playbills there.
Day 4: Borough to Westminster. The British Museum
The Borough Market
On the last day of your 4 days in London, head to London Bridge Underground station. When exiting the tube, make sure to take the Borough Market exit; otherwise, you will exit right next to the Shard, the tallest building in London. If you want to see London from above, The View from The Shard might be a good option, despite its price of £28 per person. The view from there is stunning! You can buy the tickets online here.
Next, head to Borough Market, the iconic market of London, where you can buy yourself breakfast and choose from dozens of stalls from all around the world. Londoners usually come to Borough Market to buy something unique, e.g. Austrian food or speciality Croatian olive oil. Or amazing seafood and oysters. There are plenty of stalls and restaurants where you can grab a bite as well! Borough is deceivingly big – when you come there at first, it seems like there is not that much to see; however, there are two more sections of the market hiding from your eyes, so believe me, it IS big!
There is also a small area outside the market, where you can almost always see a large queue. That’s because Borough Market has one of the best bakeries in London called Bread Ahead. People queue to get a fantastic doughnut or a very delicious pastry there.
Walk along the Thames all the way to Westminster through Bankside.
Once you’ve finished exploring Borough, walk to the Anchor Pub, where the Bankside starts. In my opinion, this is the best part of London, especially when the weather is good. The Bankside is a long promenade that stretches all the way to Vauxhall and passes a lot of iconic landmarks of London such as Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern, London eye, “Big Ben”, and the Houses of Parliament. You can also see the stunning skyline of London on the other side of the river.
The walk from The Anchor all the way to the Westminster Bridge takes about an hour (or less if you walk fast). However, you can also make an indefinite number of stops, including a stop to visit Tate Modern, London’s most famous museum of modern art! It’s free to visit (however, you need to book a ticket in advance (1 or 2 days in advance are enough). You can also try to get tickets at the door, but you might get an inconvenient slot at a later time in the day. On the last floor of Tate Modern, there is a free observation deck with fantastic views over London!
The rest of the walk is also amazing. You can see a lot going on near the National Theatre – it’s always very cheerful and very crowded there. If you keep walking for 5-10 minutes, you will get to the London eye. It costs £36 per person, and you need to book tickets in advance. You can check the availability here.
Finally, you’ll get to the Westminster Bridge that you need to cross to get to our next destination!
Elizabeth Tower, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey
Alright, now you have come to some of the most iconic landmarks of London! Just a few months ago, the works on the Elizabeth tower (the official name of the “Big Ben”) were completed, and you can finally see it in its full glory. Right next to the Elizabeth tower, you can see the Houses of Parliament (Westminster Palace), which you can visit on a guided tour. Please note that the guided tours only happen on certain days and are quite rare. You find more information about availability here.
You can also visit the marvellous Westminster Abbey. Unlike the Houses of Parliament, it’s much easier to visit and you can book your tickets online here.
Lunch & the British Museum or Oxford street
If you decided to visit any of the landmarks mentioned above, you are probably very hungry! It’s definitely time for lunch. Some of the best spots I’d recommend are La Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Soho (the best pizza in London), Dishoom (Indian food), Barrafina (amazing Spanish tapas), Palomar for good Middle-Eastern food or Dozo in Soho for excellent Japanese food. All of these places are not overly expensive (well, maybe Barrafina is a little bit), but they are really worth it!
After lunch, you can either head to British Museum for more exploration and sightseeing or walk to Oxford street through Regent street and go shopping. Both Regent street and Oxford street are the best shopping streets in London. On Oxford Street, you can find Londoner’s favourite department store, Selfridges!
For your last dinner in London, I’ll give you some recommendations to choose from! If you want to visit a place celebrities go to, head to 34 Mayfair or Kitchen W8.
Looking for somewhere trendy & super delicious, head to The Barbary or Kiln.
In case you prefer something non-pretentious and simple yet delicious, try Old Compton Brasserie or Hoppers.
Summary of 4 days in London: the classic itinerary
Well, that was definitely a jam-packed and pretty tiring itinerary for exploring London in 4 days and visiting all the main highlights. If you think it’s too tiring, just skip a few museums and spend this time walking around London and exploring the city at your own pace! I tried to fit into this 4-day itinerary for London all the most iconic spots in London, but in reality, there is so much more to see in London! From Spitalfields and Shoreditch to Chiswick, from Greenwich to Richmond, from Hampstead to Lambeth, there are so many amazing places to see and visit in London! Hopefully, you will be able to visit some of them on your next trip to London.
The quirky and alternative itinerary for 4 days in London
Now, when we finished with the traditional itinerary for spending four days (or a very long weekend) in London, let’s talk about an alternative itinerary that, of course, includes some of the main highlights but is not solely focused on the main landmarks. This itinerary is perfect for someone who is interested in more trendy and unusual places such as street food markets, antique shops and places locals love!
Without further ado, let’s start with the alternative itinerary for London in 4 days:
Day 1: Tower of London, Sky Garden, Spitalfields and Shoreditch, Jack the Ripper tour
The Tower of London & Sky Garden
On your first day in London, you’re going to be exploring East London! I recommend starting your day early and heading to the Tower Hill station to see The Tower of London and the iconic Tower Bridge. Whether you want to visit the Tower of London depends on you, but if you’re keen on it, you can book your tickets online here.
From the Tower of London, head to Sky Garden for the best panoramic view of the city. Sky Garden is very close to The Tower of London, just about 15 minutes walking. Sky Garden is an iconic skyscraper with a huge garden and a couple of restaurants on the last floors. There are free tickets to visit Sky Garden; however, they tend to get fully booked, so you either need to book days/ weeks in advance or book something else inside (e.g. a restaurant for breakfast) to get to Sky Garden. You can see the availability of tickets here.
From the Sky Garden, head directly to Shoreditch, one of the trendiest alternative neighbourhoods in London. Shoreditch used to be quite rough, but now it’s not anymore. It’s a great place to discover the best street art in London as well as visit some quirky shops in Boxpark Shoreditch and on Brick Lane. Brick Lane is one of the most iconic streets in London. You can find a lot of vintage shops, coffee spots, vinyl shops and Indian restaurants there, and it’s always pretty busy, especially on the weekends, when there is a street food market.
If you haven’t had anything for lunch / or didn’t have breakfast at the Sky Garden, Shoreditch is a great location to eat out, as there are so many great restaurants around. If you’re looking for something really nice, try Brat or Pachamama. In case you’re not keen on sitting in and you just want a quick bite, then the Beigel shop at the beginning of Brick Lane is an amazing option. There are two bagel shops on Brick Lane and people always argue which one is better, so make your choice and decide for yourself which one you like more (they are right next to each other).
After lunch, head to Spitalfields & Spitalfields market. Spitalfields market is one of London’s best street food markets. However, apart from food, it also has a lot of souvenir stalls and stalls selling unusual things, including clothes. Spitalfields might look a bit grim to some people, but I absolutely love it. It’s full of dark brick buildings and has a very strong industrial vibe of the 19th century. I guess that’s what makes it truly unique.
As you’ll have a tour starting at 7pm, I recommend grabbing something to eat at the Spitalfields market. One of my favourite places to try there is the Pleasant Lady Chinese Pancake; however, if it’s not something you’d like to try, Bleeker Burger is also a great option!
Jack the Ripper Tour in London
One of the best alternative activities in London is Jack the Ripper tour. Jack the Ripper is London’s most famous serial killer, whose identity was never discovered. There are many legends about this mysterious killer and many buildings connected to him (or her). The tour starts at 7pm every day; however, you need to book your spots in advance. You can check the availability and prices here.
During the tour, you will hear more about the history of London, as well as visit some of the most interesting buildings in the Whitechapel/Spitalfields area.
Drinks and going out in London
If you still have energy left after the tour, perhaps it’s time to explore some of the best nightlife spots in London. London is really famous for its cocktail bars, and there are a few of them that are on the list of the top 50 best bars in the world! Some of them don’t require reservations, so you can just walk in (and probably wait in the queue beforehand, unless you arrive very early). So here are some of the best bars in London:
Tayer & Elementary
A bar with shapes for a name
and, of course, number 1 on the list of the best bars Connaught Bar
Day 2: Breakfast at the Shard, Borough Market, The Bankside, Tate Modern, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace & Covent Garden
On your second day in London, you’ll see London from above, try a lot of gastronomic delicacies at Borough Market, walk London’s most beautiful promenade, explore Tate Modern, see London’s most famous landmarks such as Westminster, London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, National Gallery and have a dinner in one of London’s trendiest places in Covent Garden.
Breakfast @ aqua Shard
London’s highest building is called “The Shard” – it’s the iconic pointy building that is visible as far as Surrey Hills (or maybe even further). Equally, you can see a stunning panoramic view of London and its surroundings from the top floors of the Shard. By the way, you can actually stay at The Shard; there’s a stunning hotel (pretty expensive, but it’s one of the most unique stays in London, so if you have a budget for that – why not?). You can check the prices and availability of Shangri-La at Shard here.
You can also enjoy the view from Shard by visiting one of Shard’s restaurants, where you can have breakfast, lunch, dinner or an afternoon tea. Feel free to book it here.
Finally, there is a third option to see the view from the Shard – buying a ticket for the observation deck. You can check the prices and availability here
The view from there is stunning! You can buy the tickets online here.
Just a few minutes away from Shard, you can find London’s most popular market, called Borough Market. It used to be open 6 days per week (and somehow, I always ended up in the area on the day it was closed), but now it works 7 days per week. If you haven’t had breakfast before, it’s a good place to find something to eat. There are plenty of stalls with food from all around the world, but the bakery called “Bread Ahead” is on the next level. You can see it from a distance because of the large queues, especially on the weekends. Besides eating street food, you can also buy a lot of edible souvenirs and gifts there.
Walk along the Thames through Bankside
Once you’ve finished exploring Borough, walk to the Anchor Pub, where the Bankside starts, the most beautiful promenade in all London! The Bankside stretches all the way to Vauxhall and passes a lot of iconic landmarks, including Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern, London Eye, “Big Ben”, and the Houses of Parliament. It’s always very crowded and cheerful and it’s probably the best place to be on a sunny day in London.
The walk from The Anchor all the way to the Westminster Bridge takes less than an hour. However, you can also make an indefinite number of stops, including a stop to visit Tate Modern, London’s most famous museum of modern art!
Tate Modern & London Eye
Tate Modern is free to visit (however, you need to book a ticket in advance (1 or 2 days in advance are enough). You can also try to get tickets at the door, but you might get an inconvenient slot at a later time in the day. Hence, try to use this link and book the tickets a couple of days in advance.
On the last floor of Tate Modern, there is a free observation deck with fantastic views over London, I definitely recommend visiting it as well despite the large queues next to the elevator area.
The rest of the walk is also amazing. There is always a lot going on near the National Theatre – it’s always very cheerful and very crowded there. If you’re hungry, there are plenty of stalls and restaurants to grab something for lunch, from sandwiches to Mexican food! Sometimes, there is also a street food market, offering even a wider variety of food and drinks.
If you keep walking for 5-10 minutes, you will get to the London eye. It costs £36 per person and you need to book tickets in advance. You can do it here.
Westminster. Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace
Finally, you’ll get to the Westminster Bridge, from where you can see one of the most beautiful (and iconic) views in London – the view of Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and Westminster Palace (The Houses of Parliament) on one side and London Eye on the other side of the bridge. Once you reach “Big Ben”, turn left and walk for a few meters – you’ll be able to see the famous Westminster Abbey as well. Visiting it is free on Sundays, but only if you’re going to see through the entire Mass!
Now it’s time to head to Trafalgar Square, another iconic landmark of London. There is always something going on in Trafalgar Square as well, from protests to cultural fairs and exhibitions. If you’re interested in art, you can visit The National Gallery – visiting it is free; however, you need to book tickets in advance. If you’re very lucky, you can get some at the door.
Next, head to the Buckingham palace – just head to a large arch on Trafalgar Square and from there, you can see a large street leading to Buckingham Palace. Walk this street and voila, you’ll see Buckingham palace in all its glory (to be completely honest, it’s probably not the most beautiful and impressive building in London).
Green Park, Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, China Town, Covent Garden & a musical in Soho
Next, walk all the way to the Green Park underground station and turn to London’s very famous street Piccadilly. Pop into one of London’s most famous department stores, Fortnum & Mason, where you can buy some edible souvenirs in the most gorgeous tins and packages or just walk around and enjoy seeing what’s on sale. After visiting Fortnum & Mason, head to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square – another two landmarks of London that you can’t miss.
If it’s still before 6pm, you can go to the TKTS office, located at the far end of Leicester Square, close to the Odeon cinema, where you can buy cheaper same-day musical tickets. To save time, you don’t actually need to go to the ticket office, they have a website now. You can buy same-day tickets online and they usually get released in the morning. See today’s tickets on sale here.
While you’re near Leicester Square, make sure to visit China Town as well. London’s China Town is among some of the prettiest in the world, and there are so many places where you can try amazing bubble tea, pastries and South-East Asian food. If you still have some time left before your musical, go to Covent Garden, another lovely area of London. It usually gets decorated for various holidays and there are plenty of photo opportunities. Besides that, it’s a good place for shopping and eating out.
Dining recommendations in London
Again, if you have time before dinner, here are some restaurant recommendations in the area:
The Barbary (one of the best restaurants in London, specialises in North-African/Middle-Eastern food)
Kiln (another one of the trendiest restaurants to visit in London, specialises in Northern Thai food)
Homeslice – giant pizzas with quirky flavours
La Antica Pizzeria da Michele – is one of the best pizzas I’ve tried in my entire life.
Barrafina – Spanish tapas with a Michelin star
Dishoom – the most popular and sought-after Indian food restaurant in the UK (it’s a chain, there are many of them)
Day 3: Explore Regent’s Canal, King’s Cross, visit Camden Town & Primrose Hill
Regent’s Canal. King’s Cross
You’re probably exhausted after two very active days in London, so on the third day, I recommend making it easier! Have breakfast near your hotel, and then head to Angel underground station. From there, head to Muriel Street, where Regent’s Canal commences after a long tunnel. Regent Canal is a 14km long artificial canal built a couple of hundreds of years ago to transport goods in London. It’s part of a larger Union canal that goes all the way to Birmingham. Regent Canal is a popular destination for day walks and cycle rides for many Londoners. A lot of people do all the 14km in one go, while others split it into two large walks (from Limehouse to Angel and from Angel to Maida Vale). However, the most popular walks are the shortest ones, like the one you’re going to be doing – from Angel to Primrose Hill.
Your first stop on Regent’s Canal will be the newest part of King’s Cross. King’s Cross is the famous railway station from Harry Potter and there are actually quite a few Harry Potter-related places there (e.g. Platform 9 and 3/4) and St. Pancras International Building. Besides these places, the main area of interest in King’s Cross is Coal Drops Yard, a former Coal Warehouse transformed into a quirky shopping area with a lot of interesting stores and independent restaurants.
After you have finished exploring King’s Cross, walk back to the canal and continue walking all the way to Camden Town (which is about 15-20 minutes walking).
Camden Town is the centre of alternative & punk culture in London. It has a unique cultural heritage and a lot of places where the most famous punk, rock & alternative groups of the 1970-the 2010s used to hang out. Besides that, Camden is a very touristy area that can be described in one word: MARKETS. There is a great street food market, two more indoor street food markets, a vintage market and another large market selling clothes, souvenirs and a lot of other stuff. There are so many different markets that you can honestly lose track of them.
If you’re hungry, there is a huge variety of food stalls and restaurants to choose from.
After eating, just walk around and explore different markets. I recommend heading to the one selling vintage clothes near the Amy Winehouse statue. I actually bought my all-time-favourite vintage trench coat from Burberry there (and it was less than £200). Besides vintage designer finds, there are a lot of quirky and unusual shops, including a variety of subculture shops, jewellery shops and art stalls.
Finally, go for the last stretch of walk on the Regent’s Canal (this time a very short one, less than 10 minutes) all the way to Primrose Hill. Primrose Hill is lovely! It’s also a very posh area, where only celebrities, famous artists and business owners and old money people can afford to live. But when it comes to visiting the area, everybody can go. I love Primrose Hill because I used to work there and it was a wonderful place to walk around or sit down for a coffee & cake. Primrose Hill also has some of the best Charity shops in London – you can find some amazing designer finds for less.
Primrose Hill was the main filming location for the Paddington movie (remember that cute bear from “the darkest Peru”?) – so you can see the exact street where Paddington lived in London in the movie.
Finally, the main reason to go to Primrose Hill is the panoramic views of London. Arguably, Primrose Hill has the best view of London (my favourite is Alexandra Palace, but it’s far and totally not worth the ride for you). You can buy some sandwiches, Prosecco and sweets and have a picnic with a view there.
Day 4: Notting Hill vintage shops, Portobello Road, Kensington High Street, South Kensington and Chelsea, Knightsbridge
On your last day of 4 days in London, you will be heading west to the nicest and poshest parts of London, where you can see colourful houses, exciting museums, stunning stops and luxurious department stores.
Start your morning early and head to Notting Hill. Notting Hill got famous because of the movie with the same name (if you haven’t seen it, I recommend watching it before your trip to London) and the carnival that happens in August. However, it’s also one of the most photogenic and colourful parts of London. Take the tube all the way to Ladbroke Grove or Westbourne Park and walk to Portobello road. Portobello road is the most famous street in Notting Hill; you can find a lot of antique shops, vintage clothing stores and even a street market that becomes even bigger on the weekends.
There are plenty of small coffee shops and bakeries, and I especially recommend going to “Buns from home” and buying a delicious cardamom bun and coffee or tea for takeaway. Nothing Hill is also one of the best spots for brunch in London. Some of the best places for brunch are located there (e.g. Farm Girl, Granger & Co and my favourite – Eggbreak).
Walk around Portobello road and see some of the vintage clothing stores – maybe you will be lucky to find some hidden gems.
Next, walk all the way to the Notting Hill Gate station towards Eggbreak, where you can find some of the prettiest and most Instagrammable streets in London. From there, start walking towards South Kensington. It’s a slightly long walk (32 minutes), but it’s pretty enjoyable (it’s always nice to walk in this area of London), and it goes through the famous Hyde Park!
In about half an hour, you will reach the museum quarter of London. There are four amazing museums to choose from, three of them located right next to each other. All these museums are free to visit. The first museum is the Museum of Natural History – kids love it! Adults, too, but in my opinion, it’s more suited to kids. However, nothing stops you from popping in and taking a look at the main hall, which is very impressive.
The second museum is the Science Museum. It’s very amusing and it’s probably one of my favourite museums in London, however, just like the Natural History Museum, it’s mostly frequented by parents with kids and by teenagers and students.
Then, we have Victoria & Albert Museum. I absolutely love V&A and I visited it over 10 times in the last few years. V&A museum has an amazing collection of sculpture, art, jewellery and fashion. Moreover, the interior of the museum is pretty impressive as well. That’s the museum I recommend visiting. Moreover, if you’re hungry, you can also get a traditional English Afternoon tea ceremony at the Victoria & Albert Museum (however, it’s only served on Fridays and Saturdays and you need to book in advance). However, you always visit the V&A cafe. It’s gorgeous and if the Afternoon tea is not available, you can get a cream tea (tea with a couple of scones, clotted cream and jam).
Finally, we have The Design museum, which is located a bit further away (15-20 minutes walking). It’s not as big as any of the museums in the Museum Quarter; however, it’s also an interesting museum to visit.
Chelsea or Knightsbridge
Next, you can head to Chelsea – another posh area of London. Chelsea doesn’t have too many attractions, but it’s a nice district where you can walk around and explore some of the most beautiful streets. A lot of restaurants in Chelsea are frequented by celebrities living there, so if you go there for dinner, you might end up sitting next to a celebrity.
If Chelsea didn’t appeal to you, head to Knightsbridge. In the heart of Knightsbridge, you can find the famous department store Harrods which belongs to the Al-Fayed family. Harrods is really one of its kind department store, maybe the flagship Galeries Lafayette in Paris can be compared to it, but in my opinion, Harrods is way more impressive. My favourite area to visit in Harrods is its food hall, where you can buy yourself lunch or dinner (or some snacks), as well as buy some food & edible souvenirs to bring back home. There are amazing teas, biscuits, cookies, chocolate and everything you can actually think of! And that’s only one floor.
There is a floor with souvenirs, another floor with luxury furniture and home accessories ( a gold vase in the shape of a camel for £200,000, anyone?), floors with clothing, electronics, cosmetics, bags and more! There are also plenty of restaurants scattered across Harrods, so it’s a really nice place to sit down and have lunch or something between lunch and dinner.
Traditional English dinner in London
If you haven’t had any food in London already, I recommend eating a traditional English dinner. You can choose three options: head to a pub, which would be the most affordable and casual option; head to a traditional English restaurant like Maggie Jones’s (you need to book in advance) – it’s not too expensive either, and the atmosphere is pretty unique or, visit a fine dining experience at a historical hotel, for example, The Goring. The Goring Dining room has a Michelin star, and if you’re a meat-eater, I recommend trying Beef Wellington, which is their speciality at The Goring.
Summary of London in 4 days: 2 itineraries for any taste
Alright, these were two itineraries for exploring London in 4 days! In the first itinerary, I tried to focus more on the main landmarks of London, such as Westminster, the Tower of London, the London Eye, the British Museum and more. The second itinerary is more informal, it includes some cool and unusual places such as street food markets, a Jack the Ripper tour, a lot of interesting charity shops and Instagrammable places.