Things to do in London in 5 days

It is quite difficult to see everything the city of London has to offer in just five days, but this stay will allow you to see its main attractions and do some interesting activities.

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

13 min read

Things to do in London in 5 days

The Shard at sunset | ©Fred Moon

All travelers know that there are a lot of things to see and do in London, which makes it necessary to spend several days there to see as much as possible. Although they are not enough to see everything, a five-day stay is starting to be long enough to get to know it in some depth. The truth is that, with its museums, parks, historic streets and shows, London never disappoints.

Day 1: Get to know the most atmospheric streets and visit the British Museum

British Museum at Night| ©Jey han
British Museum at Night| ©Jey han

When you arrive in a city for the first time it is essential to adapt to it. From knowing how to ride the London Underground to knowing which are the best monuments in London, the first few hours are more about discovery than sightseeing. For this reason, the first day of sightseeing will help us to get to know the atmosphere of the city and, incidentally, to see one of its museums.

Take the opportunity to take a guided tour

To start your stay in London nothing better than hiring one of the many guided tours in London.

Not only will you be able to discover some of its most interesting attractions, but it will help you to understand what you are going to visit in the following days thanks to the information you will receive.

The offer of these tours is really impressive. You can choose between walking, cycling, bus or boat, day or night and with the theme of your choice.

Book your guided tour of London

British Museum

After the tour it is time to head to the British Museum, undoubtedly one of the best museums in London,

The visit to the British Museum, whose entrance is free, will never be less than two hours. However, my recommendation is to hire a guided tour of the British Museum if you want to know all the secrets it hides.

In this museum you will find more than seven million objects from all over the world. I recommend you to study in advance what you want to see to go directly to the corresponding rooms.

Book a guided tour of the British Museum

Start the evening at Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus is perhaps the most famous crossroads in London and an essential point of passage, so from there you can get on or off if you book a place on the London tourist bus that runs through the city and allow you to know it in a comfortable and relaxed way.

From this crossing is just minutes away from some of the places that no one can miss when visiting London and, for that reason, is the perfect place to start the tour of its shopping streets and Soho ...

Hire the Big Bus London sightseeing bus

Soak up the atmosphere of Oxford Street

Walking the streets of Oxford Street| ©Bas Leenders
Walking the streets of Oxford Street| ©Bas Leenders

This shopping street is considered the busiest in Europe. It is almost 2 and a half kilometers of stores of all kinds, restaurants and other shops that attract a large number of Londoners and visitors. If you are lucky enough to be in London at Christmas time you can not miss walking down this street to see its Christmas lights, as its decoration is one of the best in the city. You can enjoy them from mid-November.

Following the street towards Marble Arch you will see some of the most popular department stores in the city, such as Selfridges, located in a building with an important architectural relevance.

At the end of the street you will come out to Marble Arch, a triumphal arch located until a few years ago at the entrance to Buckingham Palace and today, now moved, is one of the most famous images of the city.

Book your guided tour of London

Get lost in the streets of Soho

The best thing to do in Soho is to wander aimlessly through its streets. The area is home to several theaters and a good number of cult bars.

One of the spots you should not miss is Carnaby, the most famous street in Soho. In addition to its atmosphere, it is known for its extravagant Christmas decorations that make it a must-see if you are in London at that time.

When you walk down this street you should look on the right side until you find a beautiful gallery called Kingly Court. I advise you to enter it to contemplate its open courtyard and its two floors full of restaurants and terraces.

Book your guided tour of London

Have a bite to eat at the Mother Mash

If you are hungry, this area is perfect to recharge your batteries. One of the most famous places is the Mother Mash, at 26 Ganton Street. In this place you will find British food at quite reasonable prices for the capital.

Go see a musical

Finally, if you love musicals, you should head to London' s West End to attend one of the best musicals in London at the moment.

Buy tickets for London musicals

Day 2: Visit London's most iconic sights

St Paul's Cathedral| ©Loco Steve
St Paul's Cathedral| ©Loco Steve

The second day of the itinerary will be chosen to visit some of the city's most iconic sights, as well as some of its finest monuments. The first site, after some breakfast, will be St Paul's Cathedral.

St. Paul's Cathedral

Buying tickets for St. Paul's Cathedral is a great idea because, due to its height and dimensions, this cathedral is the second largest in the world, only behind St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The wonderful decoration of the cathedral immediately catches the attention of all visitors. The fresco paintings that decorate its ceilings stand out above all. If you have entered the cathedral you should not miss the ascent to its exceptional dome, as well as a visit to its crypt.

When leaving the cathedral you should walk towards the Millennium Bridge, the most modern bridge in the city.

Buy your ticket to St. Paul's Cathedral

Enjoy the best of contemporary art at the Tate Modern

A visit to the Tate Modern is an absolute must for art lovers. It is also located in the former Bankside Power Station, a building that, in itself, is worth seeing.

As in many London museums, admission to this museum is free, but if you really want to know in depth the works of the most famous representatives of contemporary art, such as Picasso, Warhol, Salvador Dali or Monet, my recommendation is to book a guided tour of the Tate Modern.

Book a guided tour of the Tate Modern

Grab a bite to eat at Borough Market

After finishing seeing the works of the Tate Modern it's time to continue the itinerary. On the way to Borough Market you will pass by some points worth seeing, such as Shakespeare's Globe or the ruins of Winchester Palace.

If, like me, you like to stroll through the markets, Borough Market is an essential stop. It is the most important food market in London and wandering around inside you can still breathe some of its old charm and history.

Borough Market has an area dedicated to street food stalls where you can eat something before continuing the tour or, better yet, hire the gastronomic tour of London that takes place in this famous market.

Book a food tour of London

Enter the Tower of London and discover the legend of its crows

Touring the Tower of London| ©Doug Kerr
Touring the Tower of London| ©Doug Kerr

Leaving the market you have to walk towards the Tower of London, a fortress with a really interesting and, at the same time, quite macabre history. The Tower of London became famous for the many famous people who ended their days there, such as Anne Boleyn, Thomas More or Queen Jane Grey.

It is worth booking tickets for the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels, its chapel or the White Tower.

The tower is also famous for the legend about the crows, the most famous inhabitants of the tower. That legend states that if the crows disappear from the tower, the tower and the kingdom itself would collapse. To prevent that from happening, a worker named Ravenmaster is dedicated solely to guarding the birds and preventing them from escaping.

Buy your ticket for the Tower of London

See the best views of the city from The Shard

The last visit of the day is after crossing Tower Bridge to City Hall. Book your tickets for The Shard, a splendid skyscraper where you will enjoy its impressive observation deck.

There is also a restaurant inside The Shard. You can dine here or look for a place to eat near The Shard.

Buy your ticket to The Shard viewing platform

Day 3: Live some of the most original experiences in London.

Buckingham Palace| ©Hellotickets
Buckingham Palace| ©Hellotickets

The third day of the trip can be dedicated to an interesting mix: some well-known places, such as Buckingham Palace or Hyde Park, and others less visited but equally interesting. Like any great city, London hides some secrets inside and it is always a good idea to go off the beaten track and look for those corners.

Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard

The first visit of the day is one of those practically mandatory tourist spots in London: Buckingham Palace. Although the palace is worth a visit in itself, many come simply to watch the famous Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guard, which takes place every day between 10:30 - 11:00 (depending on the time of year).

Book tickets for the Changing of the Guard

Camden Market

After watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony you should look for the subway stop that leads to Camden Town to visit the most famous market in London. You can calculate that it will take you about two hours to see it all.

Camden Market is located between the two beautiful canals located in the neighborhood of Camden Town. In this market you will find stalls of all kinds, from crafts and antiques to food of all kinds.

Picnic in Regent Park

Although Camden offers good options to eat, if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere you can go to Regent Park, a well-known park in the city. If you have bought some food it is the perfect place to have a small picnic.

Another option is to do the same in Primrose Hill, where you will also enjoy great views of the city. Finally, if the weather is not good (something never ruled out in London), you can always have a drink in a pub, such as The Volunteer.

Follow the Sherlock Holmes route along Baker Street

Visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum| ©Anders Thirsgaard
Visiting the Sherlock Holmes Museum| ©Anders Thirsgaard

If you like the stories of Sherlock Holmes, like millions of people around the world, you have the opportunity to visit the house where Arthur Conan Doyle located the residence of the most famous detective in history.

This is located, as you no doubt know, at 221B Baker Street and today has been converted into a museum dedicated to the character. On the same street, there is also a statue representing him.

Book the Sherlock Holmes Bus Tour

Stroll through Hyde Park

One of the best parks in London will be the perfect place to get some fresh air and leave the city traffic behind. Hyde Park, easily reached on foot from Baker Street, is the oldest park in the city and is well worth a stroll along its paths.

If you are visiting London in summer you can look for the statue of Peter Pan, visit Kensington Palace or take a boat in the central lake of the park. If, on the other hand, you are visiting London in winter, there is a Christmas market there that you will love.

It is more than likely that by the time you leave the park it will be dark. At that time you have the option to have dinner and go to the hotel to rest or hire one of the interesting night tours of London that run through the capital and that will allow you to see London's monuments from a different perspective.

Book tickets for Kensington Palace

Day 4: Visit the key points of the city

Thames River Cruise| ©Hellotickets
Thames River Cruise| ©Hellotickets

For the fourth day of the trip it is time again to visit some of the iconic points of the British capital. To start the day well you can go to Covent Garden and have a good breakfast at one of the market stalls.

Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery

The most famous square in London, Trafalgar Square, welcomes visitors with its statue of Admiral Nelson and his four lions.

In addition to strolling through the square itself, art lovers can not miss a guided tour of the National Gallery. This gallery exhibits paintings by European artists from the thirteenth century to the twentieth century. Thus, you will be able to see works by Rembrandt, Titian, Velazquez and Van Gogh, just to give a few examples.

Book a visit to the National Gallery of London

Relax on a boat on the Thames

When you have finished admiring the works of the best classical painters, the next destination is the Thames. There is a wide range of small river cruises, so here is an article about the best Thames cruises for you to choose the one you like the most.

The prices of a Thames cruise are also varied and you can find some Thames cruises that include dinner. Finally, some people prefer to combine the Thames cruise with a visit to the London Eye.

Regardless of your choice, the Thames cruise will allow you to relax, as well as to see some monuments from the river.

Book your Thames river cruise

Enter Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey| ©Justin Horton
Westminster Abbey| ©Justin Horton

To visit Westminster Abbey you have to calculate about 2 hours. You can access by purchasing the London Pass tourist card or by booking tickets for Westminster Abbey in advance, as there are usually quite long queues.

This abbey is the oldest temple of the British capital and is the site of coronations and funerals of the kings of the country. Also, historical figures such as Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin are buried there, as well as the kings of England

Book your visit to Westminster Abbey

Big Ben

Near Westminster Abbey is one of the main icons of the city, Big Ben. Actually, the name refers only to the bell on the clock tower, but today it is used for the entire tower. At 106 meters high, it is one of the most photographed monuments in the whole country.

London Eye

Once you have seen Big Ben you have to cross the Westminster Bridge to get to the London Eye, a spectacular wheel of 135 meters high.

It is best to have tickets for the London Eye in advance so you can go up without problems to enjoy the best views of London.

The attraction takes about 30 minutes to complete the turn and when you finish you can find several restaurants around the London Eye for dinner.

Buy your ticket to the London Eye

Day 5: Make the most of your last day

Visiting the Jack the Ripper Museum on the Tour| ©Matt Brown
Visiting the Jack the Ripper Museum on the Tour| ©Matt Brown

For this last day I have included some places a little less visited but that will allow you to get to know London in a different way. As a final point, Harry Potter fans can visit the studios dedicated to the character.

Whitechapel and Jack the Ripper

For many years now, the neighborhood of Whitechapel, where Jack the Ripper acted, has hosted several of the most successful London sightseeing tours. If you prefer to take a walking tour, my advice is to find out about the highlights beforehand.

Today, this neighborhood is home to a neighborhood that has nothing to do with that of the Ripper's time. However, his mark can still be seen in places like 29 Hanbury Street, where the second victim of the criminal appeared, or Durward Street, where he murdered his first victim.

Book the Jack the Ripper Bus Tour

Nature in the middle of the city: the Museum of Natural History

The Natural History Museum is one of the most spectacular museums in London and you should not miss it if you go with children. To get there from Whitechapel you should look for the subway lines leading to South Kesington.

Although it has millions of exhibits, what usually attracts the most attention is the area dedicated to dinosaurs, including the impressive full-scale reconstruction of a T-Rex equipped with movement and sound. In addition, the entire tour is punctuated with games for the little ones to enjoy the visit, so booking a guided tour of the Natural History Museum in London for children is a must if you are traveling with the little ones at home.

Book a guided tour for kids at the NHM

Notting Hill neighborhood

Enjoying the carnivals of Nothing Hill| ©David Sedlecký
Enjoying the carnivals of Nothing Hill| ©David Sedlecký

Although Notting Hill achieved worldwide fame after the movie starring Hugh Grant, the truth is that it was already known in London for its famous carnivals and the beauty of their houses.

Its best known street is Portobello Road, which crosses the neighborhood almost completely. The best day to make this visit is Saturday, as that day is installed one of the most complete markets in the city.

Harry Potter Tour

The end of the trip is dedicated especially for fans of the Harry Potter saga. London offers some of the best tours about Harry Potter, besides it is possible to visit the great Harry Potter exhibition at Warner Studios.

Among all of them can be very interesting to do the one that shows the most famous locations of the Harry Potter films, from the famous platform 9 and ¾ of King's Cross Station to The Leaky Cauldron (located in Borough Market).

With this tour, you will not only enjoy those locations, but you will also see some of London's most important attractions.

Book your Harry Potter tour