London Drum

Spend One Week In London – Example Itinerary For 7 Days

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

Day #1 – London Eye, Parliament, Horse Guards, Trafalgar Square

London Eye
Houses of Parliament
Westminster Abbey
Downing Street
Horse Guards Parade
Trafalgar Square
National Gallery
Leicester Square
What you will see:
London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Horse Guards, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square

If you’re coming to London for a week then you’ll have plenty of time to do everything, so we’ll spend this first morning walking around Whitehall and ticking off all the landmarks there. You also want your first morning to be exciting so we always recommend a ride on the London Eye.

The great thing about the London Eye is that it only uses up an hour of your day (30 mins queueing, plus 30 mins on the ride), and you can try and spot all the places you’ll be visiting later.

When you’re finished cross over Westminster Bridge and take some photos of Big Ben and Parliament. Then look around Parliament Square and stroll across to Westminster Abbey.

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

Now walk down Whitehall and stop outside Downing Street – the famous front door is halfway down the street on the righthand side, and if you get lucky then you might even see the Prime Minister.

Just past Downing Street is Horse Guards. There’s usually a big crowd of tourists around here, all taking it in turns to go up to the horses and pose for a selfie. Remember to walk through the central arch afterwards and have a look at the impressive parade ground.

Now return to Whitehall and keep walking in the same direction until you reach Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column.

Seeing as it’s your first day in London you might still be tired from all the travelling, so how about spending a couple of hours inside the National Gallery? If you only visit one gallery all week then you should definitely make it this one – it contains works by the likes of Rembrandt, Renoir, Raphael, Titian, Turner, Da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh.

It should be late afternoon or early evening by now so we recommend walking to Leicester Square (3 mins walk) or Piccadilly Circus (another 3 mins walk) for something to eat.

Day #2 – Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Square Mile, The Shard

Tower Bridge
Tower of London
Leadenhall Market
Mansion House
Royal Exchange
The Monument
The Shard
What you will see:
Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Leadenhall Market, Royal Exchange and The Shard

We’ll spend the second day of your holiday looking at some more landmarks across the other side of town. Let’s start at Tower Bridge because every tourist wants to see that. We don’t recommend going inside the exhibition.

Spend the next 3 hours inside the Tower of London. We recommend starting with an hour-long Yeoman Warder Tour that you can pick up at the entrance gate, and then you can explore the inside of all the towers at your own leisure afterwards.

After you’ve finished with the Tower walk up Great Tower Street and turn into Philpot Lane. Keep going into Leadenhall Market and admire one of the loveliest places in London – it looks like it’s been lifted straight off the pages of a Dickens novel.

Now walk along Cornhill towards Bank and take some photos of Mansion House and the Royal Exchange.

Now walk down King William Street, past The Monument on your left, and stop halfway across the river for a great photo of Tower Bridge.

You’ll know where we’re going next because you can see it rising a thousand feet above you – The Shard. You can see everything from up here. The viewing floors are so high that it almost feels as if you’re coming in to land on a plane.

Day #3 – SeaLife Aquarium, Globe Theatre and St. Paul’s Cathedral

London Aqaurium
Globe Theatre
Tate Modern
St. Paul’s Cathedral
What you will see:
London Aquarium, Globe or Tate Modern, St. Paul’s Cathedral

The London Aquarium starts with a walk across the top of a shark tank, and then you can walk through a glass tunnel and see all the flatfish gliding silently above your head. They’ve also got a North Pole enclosure full of penguins (allow for 1½-2 hours).

We’re going to give you a choice of two options now, but you’re only going to have time for one.

Option 1 – Globe Theatre

Walk along the river until you reach the Globe Theatre. This is a reconstruction of the Tudor playhouse that stood here in Shakespeare’s day.

We recommend going on a guided tour, but if you don’t mind messing up the rest of the itinerary then you might like to watch a play. Unfortunately it’s an open-air theatre which means they only hold the plays during the sunny months (allow 1½ hours for the tour, and 3 hours for a play).

Option 2 – Tate Modern

Alternatively you might like to go inside the Tate Modern instead, which is home to the country’s largest collection of contemporary and modern art. If you enjoy works by Rothko, Pollock, Picasso, Dali and Matisse then give it a try (allow for 1½ hours).

Now cross over Millennium Bridge to St. Paul’s. You can’t spend a week in London and not look around Christopher Wren’s masterpiece. The crypt contains the tombs of Admiral Nelson and the Duke of Wellington, and if you can brave the stairs the exterior dome has a fantastic view of the skyline (allow for 2 hours).

Day #4 – Kensington Palace, Natural History Museum, V&A, Harrods

Kensington Palace
Albert Memorial
Royal Albert Hall
Natural History Museum
Science Museum
Victoria & Albert Museum
What you will see:
Kensington Palace, Royal Albert Hall, two museums and Harrods

Catch the tube to Queensway and walk through the park to Kensington Palace. Tourists know it as the palace where Princess Di lived, but Brits might know it better as the childhood home of Queen Victoria (allow for 2 hours).

Now walk across Kensington Gardens to the Round Pond, and then down to the Albert Memorial for a look at the Royal Albert Hall.

Don’t bother going inside the Royal Albert Hall because we’re going to give you a choice of three different museums – but you’ll only have time for two.

Option 1 – Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum probably has more animals than London Zoo, but all of them are dead. And we’re not just talking about fossils and skeletons either – most of them are stuffed. They also have lots of dinosaur bones (allow for 2½ hours).

Option 2 – Science Museum

The Science Museum has everything from computers, clocks and cars to planes, trains and spaceships. Best of the bunch are a life-size model of the Apollo moon lander and a hangar full of airplanes halfway up the building (allow for 2½ hours).

Option 3 – Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria & Albert Museum is for people interested in art and design. The Cast Room contains models of the world’s most famous monuments, and they also have some paintings by the likes of Constable, Turner and Raphael (allow for 2½ hours).

When you’re finished walk up Brompton Road to the world’s most luxurious department store – Harrods. Even if you can’t afford to buy anything it’s still worth a look inside the food halls (allow for 45 mins).

Day #5 – Greenwich, Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory and Planetarium

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

We haven’t included a sightseeing bus in this itinerary because when you’re here for a week you’ve got plenty of time to see all the most important landmarks anyway – but a sightseeing boat is different. Sitting on a bus for an hour is boring. Sitting on a boat is fun!

Three are three boat companies in London: City Cruises, Thames Clippers and TRS, but we always recommend TRS because City Cruises are always too busy and Thames Clippers don’t have very many outside seats.

The hour-long journey from Westminster pier will take you past lots of landmarks including St. Paul’s, Globe Theatre, Tate Modern, Tower of London and Tower Bridge, before passing by the skyscrapers at Canary Wharf.

When you pull into Greenwich pier head to the Old Royal Naval College on the left.

The famous Painted Hall is like one big picture. The walls are covered in works by Nicholas Hawksmoor and it has been described as London’s Sistine Chapel. You can also look ins the chapel by Christopher Wren (allow for 45 mins in total).

There are three more places worth visiting in Greenwich but you’ll only have time for two:

Option 1 – Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark is an old clipper ship that used to carry tea back and forth between Britain and China in world-record times. They’ve cleverly suspended it in the air so you can walk under it and explore all of the cargo decks and the crews’ cabins (allow for 1½ hours).

Option 2 – National Maritime Museum and Queen’s House

National Maritime Museum tells the story of the British navy and how it helped to spread the British Empire by expanding its trade networks all around the world. It has a very good exhibition about the Battle of Trafalgar which contains the jacket Nelson was wearing onboard HMS Victory.

Queen’s House is an architectural jewel by Inigo Jones, and contains the museum’s collection of naval artworks.

Option 3 – Royal Observatory

If you don’t mind climbing up Greenwich Hill then you can visit the Royal Observatory. Flamsteed House was built by Christopher Wren and still contains its 17th-century decor. The museum has a collection of old clocks and telescopes, but the real fun comes with a visit to the planetarium next-door (allow for 3 hours).

When it’s time for lunch we recommend the Gipsy Moth pub next to the Cutty Sark, or you can walk into the town centre and try one of the traditional little tea shops.

Note: depending on the date and which company you sailed with, your return boat might leave as early as 4 PM or as late as 9 PM, so remember to check their timetable. Alternatively you could just catch the tube from Cutty Sark to Westminster.

Day #6 – Day trip outside London

Canterbury Cathedral
Windsor Castle
What you will see:
Choose between Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury, Bath, Windsor Castle or Stonehenge

The great thing about spending a whole week in London is that you’ll have enough time for a day trip. Getting outside central London will help to break up your holiday. There are plenty of great places to choose from and we’ve included what we think are the best six below.

Option 1 – Oxford

Tourists will usually try and choose between Oxford and Cambridge but we think Oxford is definitely better. You’ve got the fantastic architecture of the old colleges, plus the Bodleian Library, Ashmolean Museum and Museum of Natural History – Oxford’s equivalent of the Natural History Museum (allow for 8-9 hours in total).

Option 2 – Cambridge

Cambridge is another beautiful university town full of cloisters, chapels and squares. The highlight of your day will be a visit to the world famous King’s College – England’s gothic masterpiece (allow for 9-10½ hours in total).

Option 3 – Canterbury

Canterbury is another chocolate-box town, but not quite as pretty as Oxford or Cambridge. If you want to visit here then it will probably be because of Canterbury Cathedral, to see the spot where the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket was murdered by Henry II’s rampaging knights.

Option 4 – Bath

If you like the architecture of Oxford and Cambridge but want a bit of Roman history thrown in, the try the beautiful city of Bath. These are probably the best-known Roman remains in Britain. You can also visit the 12th-century Bath Abbey and walk along the famous Royal Crescent on top of the hill (allow for 8-9 hours in total).

Option 5 – Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is the oldest occupied castle in the world. It dates from the reign of William Conqueror and has been home to thirty-nine different kings and queens over the last 1,000 years. Windsor is also worth visiting for the pretty little town centre which looks like something on a chocolate box (allow for 5 hours in total).

Option 6 – Stonehenge

Another popular day trip with tourists is taking a train to Salisbury to visit Stonehenge. This neolithic stone circle could be as old as 5,000 years. It’s also worth visiting Salisbury Cathedral in the town centre (allow for 6-7 hours in total).

Day #7 – Changing the Guard, afternoon tea, theatre show in the West End

Buckingham Palace
Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Afternoon tea at the Ritz
Piccadilly Circus
West End
What you will see:
Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace, afternoon tea, Piccadilly Circus, and a musical in the West End

It’s your last day in London and we’ve saved some of the best things until the end. Let’s start with Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace was is high up on every visitor’s bucket list.

You ideally need to get there by 9.30 AM if you want a good view, but you’ll have to get there even earlier than that if you want to stand up against the railings. This means you don’t really have much time to do anything else beforehand because most of the attractions don’t open until 10 AM. Maybe you could just have a last look around Trafalgar Square before walking to Buckingham Palace (10-15 min walk).

We recommend going via St. James’s Park so you can get a great photo of Buckingham Palace from the central bridge. If you turn around 180 degrees then you’ll get a great shot of Horse Guards as well.

When the parade ends at 11:30 AM walk through Green Park and turn right until you see the Ritz Hotel.

How about treating yourself to one of their famous afternoon teas? It takes place in the Palm Court and they insist that everybody dresses smart, so make sure you check their rules beforehand. You should be able to make the 1.30 PM sitting easy enough, but you need to book a table at least 2-3 months in advance.

If you want an afternoon tea that’s slightly easier to book then try Fortnum & Mason instead. You’ll find it a short walk down Piccadilly. This is second-poshest shop in London after Harrods, and where Buckingham Palace buys its groceries from – so if it’s good enough for the Queen then it should be good enough for you!

Hopefully your afternoon tea will be finished by about 3 PM, so walk down Piccadilly until you reach Piccadilly Circus. We’ve set aside the next three hours for you to do some last-minute gift shopping. Regent Street is one of London’s busiest shopping streets. Hamleys, Liberty and Carnaby Street can be found up by Oxford Circus, and Selfridges is at the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street. If you want some corny tourist gifts like cups, mugs and magnets, then try the shops around Leicester Square.

How about spending your final night in the West End and buying a ticket to one of the musicals. Most of the big shows start at 7 PM or 7.30 PM. If you want some last-minute discount tickets then check out the TKTS booth in Leicester Square.

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

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