London Drum

Spend Four Days In London – Example Holiday Itinerary

An example itinerary with the best places to visit during your four-day stay in London

Day #1 – London Eye, landmarks around Big Ben, Trafalgar Square

London Eye
Big Ben
Westminster Abbey
Downing Street
Horse Guards Parade
Churchill War Rooms
Trafalgar Square
National Gallery
Piccadilly Circus
What you will see:
London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, Horse Guards, Churchill War Rooms, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery and Piccadilly Circus

Four days is plenty of time to see the best attractions, but it’s not quite enough to see them all. The difficult bit is trying to decide how many you can squeeze into your itinerary without wasting too much time rushing around on public transport.

Our number one tip is that you want your first morning to be exciting, so we always recommend starting with a ride on the London Eye. This will give a you great view of all the landmarks you’ll be visiting later, and it only uses up 30 mins of your day (plus 30 mins queueing – but you can reduce that by buying your tickets in advance).

You will have seen Big Ben from the top of the wheel, so when you’re finished cross over Westminster Bridge for one of London’s best photos. Then take some more of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

Everyone has different interests so we’re going to give you three different options now. You won’t have time to visit them all, so just pick two out of three.

Option 1 – Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is one of the most historic buildings in London and contains the tombs of Edward the Confessor, Henry V (Battle of Agincourt), Edward V (War of the Roses), Elizabeth I (Spanish Armada), James VI (Gunpowder Plot) and Charles II (allow for 2 hours).

Walk down Whitehall and stop outside Downing Street. You’ll have to get lucky to see the Prime Minister, but you should be able to see the famous front door easy enough – it’s halfway down the street.

Next-door is another one of London’s most popular photos – the mounted soldiers outside Horse Guards. There’s usually a big crowd of tourists crowding around them and they all take it in turns to stand next to the horses and pose for a photo.

It’s worth walking through the central arch to have a look at the parade ground afterwards. This is where they hold all the big military parades.

Option 2 – Churchill War Rooms

If you’re interested in WWII then you’ll find the entrance to the Churchill War Rooms next to the parade ground. This was where Winston Churchill directed the war during the Blitz (allow for 2 hours).

Return to Whitehall and keep walking until you reach Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column.

Option 3 – National Gallery

If you’re interested in art then our third option is spending a couple of hours inside the National Gallery. This is our finest gallery with artworks by the likes of Rembrandt, Raphael, Titian, Turner, Da Vinci and Van Gogh.

It should be late afternoon by now so how about finding somewhere to eat? If you walk through Leicester Square towards Piccadilly Circus you’ll find yourself in the heart of the West End. They are plenty of pubs and restaurants around here.

Day #2 – Changing the Guard, Sightseeing bus & Tower of London

St. James’s Park
Buckingham Palace
Changing The Guard at Buckingham Palace
Tootbus Tour
Tower Bridge
Tower of London
Covent Garden
What you will see:
Changing the Guard, Sightseeing bus around the landmarks, Tower of London, Covent Garden

Your second day will include another three attractions from our London Bucket List, plus a sightseeing bus that drives past lots of iconic landmarks that we didn’t see yesterday.

Start at Trafalgar Square and buy an Tootbus Tour ticket from their shop on Cockspur Street. Don’t board the bus just yet, though, because we’re going to see Changing the Guard first.

We’ve got a bit of time to kill before the parade starts at 11.15 AM, so maybe you can take some photos in St. James’s Park? You can get a great photo of Buckingham Palace by standing on the central bridge over the lake, and if you turn around you’ll get a great shot of Horse Guards as well.

If you want a decent view of the parade then you’ll need to get there by 10 AM (or as early as 9.30 AM if you want a really good view). Craig’s review goes into detail about the best places to stand.

When the ceremony ends around 11.30 AM find the bus stop for the Tootbus Tour in Buckingham Gate and catch one of their Yellow Route buses and get your camera ready. The route will take you past Big Ben, Parliament and the London Eye.

The Royal Courts of Justice and St. Paul’s Cathedral are highlights along the way, and the sights will just keep on coming until you roll over Tower Bridge. Get off outside the Tower of London.

Hopefully the entire route will have taken around 50 mins which will give you around 2½ hours to look around the Tower of London. Ideally we’d recommend at least 3-4 hours in here, but seeing as you’re only visiting London for four days you’ll have to settle for 2½ – that’s more than enough to see the Crown Jewels, Bloody Tower, Traitor’s Gate and Tower Green.

After that get the tube from Tower Hill to Embankment (10 mins). You had a meal in the West End yesterday, so how about a meal in Covent Garden instead?

Day #3 – St. Paul’s Cathedral, view from The Shard & West End show

St. Paul’s Cathedral
Tate Modern
Globe Theatre
The Shard
Borough Market
West End
What you will see:
St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, Globe Theatre or The Shard, Borough Market and a West End show

Day three begins with St. Paul’s Cathedral. After you’ve walked around Christopher Wren’s spectacular interior and seen the tombs of Nelson and Wellington in the crypt, try climbing to the top of the dome for a fantastic view of the skyline (allow for 2 hours).

We’re going to give you a choice of three different attractions now, but you’ll only have time for two. All three of them are across the other side of the river so come out of the cathedral and cross over the Millennium Bridge.

Option 1 – Tate Modern

Tate Modern is one of the most visited attractions in London and is home to the country’s largest collection of contemporary and modern art. It won’t be to everybody’s taste, but if you’re into Rothko, Pollock, Picasso and Matisse then give it a try (allow for 1½ hours).

Option 2 – Globe Theatre

Next-door to the Tate is Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. There are two ways of sneaking a peek inside: a guided tour or watching a play. Unfortunately it’s an open-air theatre which means they only hold plays during the sunny months, so unless you come during the summer then you’ll have to settle for a tour. They’ve also got an interesting museum underneath which explores the life of Shakespeare (allow for 1½ hours for a tour, and 3 hours for a play).

Option 3 – The Shard

The third choice is a climb to the top of London’s tallest skyscraper: The Shard. You can find it by walking along the river, past the Golden Hinde and Southwark Cathedral.

You can see the whole of London from up there and it’s amazing how small it seems. You probably thought that St. Paul’s was high when you climbed it this morning, but from the top of the Shard it looks tiny! (allow for 1½ hours)

If you chose The Shard then you might like to pop into Borough Market next-door. It’s an undercover food market and they have lots of gourmet food stalls selling arty breads, meats and cheeses. It’s a nice place to stop for something to eat.

Now catch the RV1 bus from Southwark Street or Borough High Street and ride it all the way back to Covent Garden. You should be familiar with the West End by now so find a nice pub or restaurant and spend the evening watching a West End show.

Most of the big shows start at 7 PM or 7.30 PM and are within walking distance down the Strand and Shaftesbury Ave. There are more down Aldwych, Haymarket and Drury Lane.

It’s always best to buy your tickets in advance, but if you leave it to the last minute then try one of the ticket seller shops around Leicester Square. If you want the cheapest theatre tickets then try the discount TKTS booth in Leicester Square itself.

Day #4 – Boat to Greenwich

Thames River Sightseeing boat
Old Royal Naval College
Cutty Sark
National Maritime Museum
Queen’s House
Royal Observatory
Greenwich Park
What you will see:
Sightseeing boat, Old Royal Naval College, Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum or Royal Observatory

Day four takes you away from central London for a change of scenery. Tourists always think about trying a sightseeing bus but they rarely think of a sightseeing boat, so how about a boat ride from Big Ben to Greenwich? Thames Clippers, City Cruises and TRS all go to Greenwich, but we recommend TRS because City Cruises are too busy and Thames Clippers don’t have very many outside seats.

Get your camera ready because the 60-min ride will take you past lots of landmarks including Cleopatra’s Needle, St. Paul’s, the Globe Theatre, Tower of London and HMS Belfast. It will then pass straight under Tower Bridge and head towards the skyscrapers at Canary Wharf.

When you pull into Greenwich pier the first thing you’ll see is the Cutty Sark and the front facade of the Old Royal Naval College, but don’t rush over to them just yet because you have a choice to make. There are four attractions worth visiting and you won’t have time for them all, so we recommend choosing just two of them (or three if you don’t mind rushing).

Option 1 – Old Royal Naval College

Christopher Wren’s Old Royal Naval College is one of the most beautiful buildings in London. Tourists can only enter two rooms – but what rooms! The famous Painted Hall is often described as London’s Sistine Chapel (allow for 45-60 mins in total).

Option 2 – Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark is an old clipper ship that used to carry tea from China in record speeds. The hull has been suspended in mid-air so you can walk underneath it and then explore the cargo decks and crew’s quarters (allow for 1½ hours).

Option 3 – National Maritime Museum and Queen’s House

If you’re interested in boats then you might like to visit the National Maritime Museum which tells the story of the British navy from the days of the British Empire. One of the best exhibits is the actual jacket that Admiral Nelson was wearing at the Battle of Trafalgar. Queen’s House is where they keep the museum’s collection of artworks (allow for 2 hours in total)

Option 4 – Royal Observatory

The final choice is the Royal Observatory on top of Greenwich Hill. You can explore the 16th-century house where the original Astronomer Royals used to live, and the museum is full of old clocks and telescopes. It also has a planetarium with a 360-degree movie dome (allow for 3 hours in total).

You might like to walk into the town centre at some point and have lunch in one of Greenwich’s lovely old pubs.

Bear in mind that your return boat might leave as early as 4 PM depending on the date, and which company you chose. Or you could just catch the tube from Cutty Sark to Westminster.

View this itinerary on the planner

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

Your comments and questions

Derby Hi. We will be arriving at Kings Cross at 10:30 am on a Monday morning. We would like to visit the Tower of London, maybe the London Bridge Experience, and The Shard. The next day we are thinking about seeing Big Ben (just pictures from outside), Westminster Abbey, British Museum, Trafalgar Square, and then a night tour on a sightseeing bus after dinner. On Wednesday we are planning a bus tour of Stonehenge & Bath. On Thursday we'll see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and maybe a river cruise, and then catch a train at Kings Cross by 2:30PM. My first question is whether this schedule seems feasible? My second question is with this schedule, would it make sense to purchase a London Pass? Thanks for your help

Craig Hi Derby. If you're getting to Kings Cross at 10:30, presumably you've still got to go to the hotel after that and maybe have something to eat, so you probably won't get to the Tower of London until midday-ish. I would normally give the Tower at least 3 hours, but you'll have to do it a lot quicker than that if you want to squeeze in the other two. Luckily the Shard stays open late, but personally I would scrap the London Bridge Experience and give the Tower a decent amount of time. Day two is easy enough. You can probably fit something else in as well. Maybe the National Gallery or London Eye which are nearby. Or you could go and have a look at Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Day Four is okay, but you should check the schedule for Changing the Guard closer to make sure that it's actually running on that day because it does't happen every day. Be aware that by the time you have walked to the river after the ceremony to catch the boat, it will probably be 12:30-ish (it's a fair walk from the palace to the river). Which won't leave you very much time to ride a boat if you've got to get to kings cross by 2:30, especially if you've got to pick your bags up from the hotel beforehand. I would definitely advise against getting a London Pass. You have to use it on consecutive days so you'll have to buy a 4-day one, even though you're spending the whole of day three outside of London. You won't save any money.

Derby Thanks for your advice, we will probably have a re-think!

Andrzej Hi, I am from Poland and are going to spend 4 full days in London staying in Westminster. I think I will be able to attend/see the following attractions: Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms, Kensington Palace, Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral, Hop on Hop off Bus Tour + Thames River Boat Cruise, all are included in London Pass. I think I should buy 3 Day London Pass to be able to attend all above with a lower price. And how about the option 'With Travel'? I should choose this option I think, but I am not sure as I will be able to have travelcard and to buy it at Heathrow. And if it is really cheaper option of travelling? Regards, Andrzej

Craig Hi Andrzej. You can buy a travelcard at Heathrow if you want but you'll get an Oyster card with the London Pass, which has cheaper fares. But one important thing to remember with the 3-day London Pass is that you have to use it on consecutive days, and you said you're here for 4 full days. So your three days will have to follow on from each other.

Anna Hi there! My fiance and I are planning a trip to London and we've got a list of great things we want to see and do but not really sure how to group them for the best. Here's our list of what we want to do: Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Eye, Riverboat cruise, Zoo, Household Cavalry Museum, Royal Mews, Wellington Arch, St Paul's, Southwark Cathedral, Borough Market, Camden Market, Shard, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, National Gallery, British Museum, Churchill War Rooms, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Tea somewhere. We have 4 full days to do everything. The Zoo is the most expendable. Would love any help! Thank you so much!

Craig Hi Anna. I've had a go at putting them all together based on where they are and how long they take, but I think you're going to have to rush around a bit too much to squeeze every single one of them in. If you don't mind missing London Zoo then I would suggest missing Camden Market as well because that's in the same area and it's a bit of a waste of a journey getting the train all the way up there just for that. Day 1) You want your first day to start with something good so I would go for the London Eye first. Then get your riverboat cruise from Embankment Pier to Tower Pier. Then you can do the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. If you get a return ticket on the boat then you can ride it all the way back to Embankment again and then walk past Trafalgar Square and into the West End for the night. Day 2) Start at Westminster Abbey and have a look at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The Churchill War Rooms is just around the corner and the Household Cavalry Museum is two minutes away. Don't forget to look at Downing Street next door. Then walk down to the National Gallery. You can walk to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus as well. If you still want to visit a market then maybe you could put Covent Garden in here. Day 3) The Shard, Southwark Cathedral and Borough Market (for lunch) are all within walking distance of each other so you can do them all together. Then maybe do St Paul's Cathedral in the afternoon. Day 4): Start with the British Museum (or maybe the Royal Mews instead, but I would do the British Museum), then get the bus to Fortnum & Mason, and another bus past Wellington Arch to Harrods. (I wouldn't bother going inside Wellington Arch myself because the view isn't all that great, and you've already been up The Shard and London Eye). If you want tea somewhere then maybe you could try one of Harrod's restaurants

Anna Thank you so much! I really appreciate your help and you've given us some good ideas

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