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 not enough to see it all, a five-day stay is starting to be long enough to get to know it in some depth.
The best way to make the most of your visit is to divide the city into zones in order to waste as little time as possible in getting around. In addition, it is highly recommended to be flexible with the itinerary in case, along the way, there are attractions that you did not expect. The truth is that, with its museums, parks, historic streets and shows, London never disappoints.
Day 1: visit some of the most atmospheric streets and the British Museum
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, by the way, to see one of its museums.
Take the opportunity to take a guided tour
To start your stay in London, there is 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 also 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, biking, bus or boat, day or night and with the theme of your choice.
The visit to the British Museum, whose entrance is free, will never be less than two hours, although to see it all would take several days.
In this museum you will find more than seven million objects from all over the world. I recommend you to study beforehand what you want to see to go directly to the corresponding rooms. It is also advisable to pick up the audio guide they offer to be better informed about what you are seeing.
Start the evening at Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus is perhaps London's most famous intersection and an essential stopping point for any of the many London sightseeing buses that run through the city and that you can hire to visit it if you prefer.
From this junction you are 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...
Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Oxford Street
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 locals that attract a large number of Londoners and visitors.
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.
If you are lucky enough to be in London at Christmas time you can not miss walking down this street to see their Christmas lights, as its decoration is the best in the city. You can enjoy them from mid-November.
At the end of the street you 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 best known images of the city. .
Get lost in the streets of Soho
The best thing to do in Soho is to wander aimlessly through its streets. In the area there are 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.
Grab a bite to eat at the Mother Mash
If you are hungry, this area is perfect to recharge your batteries. One of the best known 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 to a musical
Finally, if you love musicals, you should head to London's West End to see some of the best musicals in London at the moment.
Day 2: Visit some of the city's most iconic sites, including St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tate Modern and the Tower of London
The second day of the itinerary will be chosen to visit some of the city's most iconic sites, 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 good idea since, 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 are especially noteworthy.
If you have entered the cathedral you should not miss the climb 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.
Enjoy the best of contemporary art at 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 the Tate Modern is free. Inside you can enjoy works by the most famous representatives of contemporary art, such as Picasso, Warhol, Salvador Dali and Monet, among others.
Grab a bite to eat at Borough Market and see The Shard
After finishing seeing the works of the Tate Modern it is time to follow the itinerary. On the way to Borough Market we 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.
The oldest part of the market is covered, but there are also interesting stalls in the open air.
Borough Market has an area dedicated to street food stalls where you can grab a bite to eat before continuing the tour.
Enter the Tower of London and discover the legend of its crows
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.
For over 900 years, the tower was used as a prison. In it ended up many whose only crime had been to offend the Crown. Torture caused the death of a large number of prisoners, while the unsanitary conditions of the cells contributed to the death of many others. Finally, others were executed, but not before being tortured as well.
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 caring for these birds and preventing them from escaping.
See the best views of the city from The Shard
The last visit of this day is after crossing the Tower Bridge to City Hall. This is The Shard, a splendid skyscraper with an impressive observation deck inside.
Day 3: from the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace to the best market in town, via Peter Pan and Sherlock Holmes
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 obligatory 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).
After watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony you have to find the subway stop that leads to Camden Town to visit the most famous street market in London. You can calculate that it will take you about two hours to see it in its entirety.
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's Park
Although Camden offers good options to eat, if you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere you can head 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 trail along Baker Street
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.
Stroll through Hyde Park
One of the best parks in London will be the perfect place to get some fresh air and get away from the city traffic. Hyde Park, which is easily reached on foot from Baker Street, is the oldest park in the city and is well worth a stroll along its paths.
In case you are visiting London in summer you can look for the statue of Peter Pan, the 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 the London monuments from a different perspective.
Day 4: visit four key points of the city (Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral and the London Eye) and relax by the Thames
For the fourth day of the trip it is time again to visit some of the iconic places 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 visit to the National Gallery, whose admission is free. 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, Velázquez and Van Gogh, just to give a few examples.
Relax on a boat on the Thames
When you finish admiring the works of the best classical painters, the next destination will be the Thames. There is a great offer of small cruises on the river, so here is an article about the best cruises on the Thames 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.
Enter Westminster Abbey
To visit Westminster Abbey you have to calculate about 2 hours. You can access with the London Pass tourist card or by purchasing 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, there are buried historical figures such as Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin, as well as the kings of England.
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.
Once you have seen Big Ben you have to cross Westminster Bridge to get to the London Eye, a spectacular wheel 135 meters high.
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.
Day 5: take advantage of your last day to visit the Natural History Museum and some historic neighborhoods.
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 quite a few years now, the Whitechapel neighborhood, where Jack the Ripper played a role, has hosted several of the most successful London sightseeing tours. If you prefer to do 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 the Ripper's era. However, his mark is still visible in places like 29 Hanbury Street, where the second victim of the criminal appeared, or Durward Street, where he murdered his first victim.
Nature in the middle of the city: the Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is one of the most spectacular 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 that lead 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.
Notting Hill neighborhood
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 for the beauty of its houses.
Its most famous 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 tour is dedicated especially for fans of the Harry Potter saga. London offers some of the best Harry Potter toursin the world.
It is also possible to visit the great Harry Potter exhibition at Warner Studios.
Among all of them it can be very interesting to take 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 the scenery, but you will also see some of London's most important attractions.