London is without a doubt one of the greatest cities on earth. If you’re planning on spending four days in London then you’re guaranteed an unforgettable trip.
Home to some of the world’s most famous landmarks, incredible museums, superb restaurants and a variety of enchanting neighbourhoods, London is a magnet for tourists from all over the globe.
If you have four days in London you’ll easily be able to get a good taste of what this city is all about. After ticking off everything in our four day London itinerary you’ll be able to give every Cockney cab driver in town a run for their money.
Before moving to Asia we lived in London for 18 years, so we like to think that we know a thing or two about this amazing city.
Every day has been carefully curated and structured so that you’ll see the very best of each part of town, with each day of our four day London itinerary covering a different part of the city.
→ Here’s a quick breakdown of our 4 day London itinerary:
› Day 1 – Discover the landmarks and other highlights of central London.
› Day 2 – Explore the old and new landmarks and main sights around the city’s Southbank.
› Day 3 – See the traditional and contemporary sides of east London
› Day 4 – Visit the palaces, parks and more of well-to-do west London
Four days is a good amount of time to get a strong feel for London. As the largest city in the United Kingdom there’s obviously a huge amount of things to do in London that would keep you busy for a lifetime.
By spending four days in London you’ll still get to see and do so much more than just tick off the headline sights.
The easiest way to get to London is by plane as London is served by several airports. London’s main airports are Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
London City Airport, Stansted and London Luton Airport also all serve London. Stansted and London Luton airports are both around 30 miles north of the city.
See below for a detailed guide on how to get into the centre of London from each of the city’s main airports.
There is no shortage of accommodation available in London and there is something here to suit every budget.
As with most major cities the cost of accommodation varies greatly depending on the area. Hotels in central London will generally be pricier than those a little further from the centre of town.
However, there’s also a pretty decent selection of affordable accommodation within central London if you know where to look.
You can search for a wide range of accommodation in London here, but if you need a few suggestions here are a few hotels that we recommend.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in London that’s smart and stylish and won’t break the bank then look no further than the Z Hotel Strand.
Rooms are very cosy (by which we mean small) but they’re super clean and modern. Perfectly located slap-bang in the centre of town, practically all of central London is right on the doorstep.
Right next door to Buckingham Palace, The Resident is just a five minute walk from either Victoria or St James’s Park station.
The Resident’s good-sized rooms are nicely decorated and come with extremely comfy beds as well as all the mod cons you’d expect. All rooms also feature a private kitchenette.
Top of the Range
Whilst newcomers like The Shard might dominate the city’s skyline, nowhere in London does glamour and glitz quite like The Savoy.
Britain’s very first luxury hotel, The Savoy remains a cultural icon and synonymous with luxury. An art deco masterpiece inside and out, The Savoy has hosted royalty and A-list stars for over 130 years and is still one of the best hotels in the world.
Begin your four day trip to London in the heart of town amongst some of the city’s most famous streets and landmarks.
Start the day in Covent Garden, one of the oldest and most iconic areas of London. From Covent Garden tube station, head south along James Street to the area’s most famous landmark, the Covent Garden Market Hall.
Covent Garden was once London’s biggest (and most ornate) fruit and veg market. Today the historic building is a gorgeous arcade filled with fashionable stores, a range of market stalls and great cafes and restaurants.
Opposite the market hall is the London Transport Museum, a fascinating insight into the history of travel in the capital as well as the development of modern London as a whole.
From the cobbled streets of Covent Garden’s main piazza, head north and meander along the numerous streets that criss-cross around Long Acre, aiming for the small roundabout called Seven Dials.
Seven Dials is named after the seven historic streets that dart off the roundabout. At the centre of Seven Dials stands a white tower with six sundials – the tower itself acts as the seventh dial.
All around Seven Dials is a balanced blend of high end boutique stores, particularly along Neale Street, Short’s Gardens and Monmouth Street.
There’s plenty of great vintage clothes stores here too. Head to either Rokit or Picknweight for some of the best vintage clothes in London.
There’s also some wonderful places to eat around Seven Dials too.
There’s a world of great food to be found inside the beautiful Seven Dials Market. Tucked away on Neals Yard is St John Bakery, famous for their incredible donuts, while Rock and Sole Plaice is one of the oldest fish and chip shops in London.
Like Covent Garden, Soho is one of the oldest and most famous areas of London. With a well-earned reputation for debauchery and style, Soho remains the beating heart of London.
Packed with historic streets, famous old theatres, countless bars and restaurants and some of the best shopping in the city, Soho is a joy to explore.
From Covent Garden, cross Cambridge Circus and walk up Charing Cross Road before turning left on to Old Compton Street. Old Compton Street almost has the feeling of being its own little community within the centre of the city.
A string of cafes and specialist stores gives the street a cultured and cosmopolitan feel. If you’re peckish then Old Compton Brasserie or either of the two branches of Balans Soho make the perfect place for a spot of brunch.
Two of Old Compton Street’s pubs, the Admiral Duncan and Comptons, have been the epicentre of London’s LBGQT+ scene for decades.
Several of Soho’s main streets run parallel to each other off Old Compton Street, all of which are lined with a multitude of cafes, bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
Greek Street and Frith Street both end up at Soho Square, the tiny public park that fills with office workers on their lunch breaks in summer.
On Frith Street you’ll find two of Soho’s most loved institutions. Bar Italia is a truly authentic taste of Italy that is still owned by the same family that opened it in 1949.
Just over the road is the legendary Ronnie Scott’s, one of the world’s most famous jazz clubs. Dean Street and Wardour Street are similarly crammed with a myriad of fantastic places to eat and drink.
From Wardour Street, cut across to Berwick Street Market, one of London’s traditional fruit and veg markets. Today the market traders sell their wares alongside a number of excellent food stalls.
At the top of Berwick Street take a left and you’ll come to the world famous Carnaby Street. The centre of the swinging Sixties, Carnaby Street is still synonymous with all things fashion.
Today the more cutting edge brands are more likely to be found on the alleys and backstreets just off Carnaby Street.
Wander along the quaint cobbled lanes of Ganton Street and Newburgh Street to find a few remaining independent fashion stores, such as American Classics or the legendary jewellery store, the Great Frog.
Afterwards, head to the top end of Carnaby Street to visit another of London’s legendary fashion institutions, Liberty London.
Liberty London was founded on nearby Regent Street in 1875, and following great early success expanded with the addition of the iconic mock-Tudor department store building on Great Marlborough Street.
If you’re in the mood for a little culture, cut down Ramillies Street and pop into see what’s on at the excellent Photographers’ Gallery.
Mostly home to big brand stores, Oxford Street is still renowned as one of the world’s major shopping streets.
A mix of funky modern architecture and grand historic buildings, Oxford Street can lay as much claim as anywhere to being the centre of London.
From Oxford Street, walk south along the suitably regal Regent Street, one of the most beautiful streets in London.
Much of Regent Street was designed by John Nash, the architect responsible for many other London landmarks, such as Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch.
Regent Street features a host of high-end and premium fashion stores befitting of the street’s grandeur and leads to another of London’s most quintessential scenes, Piccadilly Circus.
Famous for decades for its big, bold advertising boards, Piccadilly Circus continues to be one of the most famous places in London. The statue of Eros is still a trusted meeting spot for many a Londoner.
From Piccadilly Circus, take a walk along Piccadilly, the elegant main street that connects the area with Green Park.
If you’re still craving a little culture then call in to the Royal Academy of Arts, famous for hosting large-scale art exhibitions by some of the world’s greatest artists.
Directly across the road is Fortnum and Mason, another of London’s world-famous department stores with a long history. Founded in 1707 as a purveyor of high quality goods, the store remains synonymous with luxury.
The building’s exterior and interior are both majestic and Fortnum and Mason’s window displays are heavily detailed works of art.
If you’re in the mood for something lavish, keep walking along Piccadilly and pop in for high tea at the Ritz Hotel.
Afterwards, walk south through Green Park, one of central London’s many beautiful green spaces. Green Park is a great place to take a break on a hot day, though do note that there is a charge for the use of the deck chairs.
At the bottom of the park you’ll come to perhaps London’s most famous building, Buckingham Palace.
Buckingham Palace has been the London home of the British monarch since 1837.
The main focus of national celebrations for decades, Buckingham Palace has undergone numerous changes since its first incarnation was first built in 1703.
Buckingham Palace’s 19 state rooms are open to the public from July to October each year.
Visitors can get to see some of the palace’s hugely ornate function rooms that have welcomed the great and the good from all over the world for centuries.
In front of the palace the traditional changing of the guard ceremony is always popular with tourists and Londoners alike, held at 11.00am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, weather permitting.
You can also admire some of the palace’s enormous collection of artwork in the Queen’s Gallery, located next to the palace on Buckingham Gate.
The gallery displays a rotating selection of artworks from the enormous Royal Collection, said to be the largest private art collection in the world.
From Buckingham Palace walk along The Mall, the historic red road approach to the palace. Walk beneath the spectacular Admiralty Arch and you’ll be in another iconic London location, Trafalgar Square.
If you still need more art, wander across the square, past Nelson’s Column, and into the National Gallery. Entrance to the National Gallery is completely free.
The National Gallery features one of the best art collections in the world, with artworks by masters such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and many many more.
From Trafalgar Square, walk the short distance along Whitehall towards Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
On the way you’ll pass the gates to Downing Street, home (with a few exceptions) of every British Prime Minister since 1735.
Continue along Whitehall until you reach Parliament Square and the Palace of Westminster, which is the official name for Britain’s Houses of Parliament.
The Palace of Westminster consists of both of the UK’s parliament buildings, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The iconic Gothic-inspired Houses of Parliament were largely built in the 1830s following a fire that gutted the original Palace of Westminster.
The Houses of Parliament’s most significant symbol, the clock tower known as Big Ben, has recently been beautifully restored following a four year renovation.
» It’s possible to see inside the Houses of Parliament with a fascinating combined tour of the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey. You can buy tickets for the tour in advance here.
Next to Parliament Square is Westminster Abbey, the towering Gothic church that has been the site of the coronation of (almost) every monarch since William the Conqueror took to the throne in 1066.
Westminster Abbey has seen several royal weddings throughout its history, including that of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.
Westminster Abbey is also the final resting place of some of the most famous Britons of all time, including Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens and Stephen Hawking.
There are plenty of options for things to do once night draws in.
You could spend the evening taking in one of the West End shows performed in the countless theatres along the Strand or in Soho. You can see what shows are on in London and book tickets here.
Alternatively let your hair down and enjoy a night on the tiles back in Soho’s bars and clubs.
Head to Bob Bob Ricard for sumptuous dishes of French-inspired food washed down by champagne in a stunning stylish setting.
Alternatively try Quo Vadis, another Soho institution that’s been on Dean Street since the 1920s and is much loved by some of the world’s most famous chefs.
For a nightcap you could visit one of Soho’s many historic pubs. The French House on Dean Street has been the pub of choice for countless writers and artists over the years, including Dylan Thomas and Francis Bacon.
Or head to the Grade II Listed Coach and Horses on Romilly Street. The Blue Posts on Berwick Street and the Glasshouse Stores on Brewer Street are also well worth calling in before the night is out.
On the second of your four days in London, explore the city’s vibrant Southbank on the opposite side of the River Thames.
Bursting with landmarks both old and new, as well as some of the best food in the city, Southbank has plenty to see and do to fill a day.
One of the best ways to see London is from a cruise along the River Thames. There are several boat trips on the Thames every day that set sail from Westminster or Waterloo all the way to the Royal Naval College in Greenwich in south east London.
A round trip takes around two hours, taking in many of London’s most famous sights, with audio guides explaining their history and significance to the city.
You can choose to alight at Greenwich, where you can spend some time exploring this beautiful area’s many highlights, including the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Park, the Royal Observatory, and the Cutty Sark.
Alternatively take the return boat back to Festival Pier to continue exploring the sights around London’s Southbank.
When you arrive back at the Southbank take in a bird’s eye view of London’s famous skyline with a trip on the London Eye.
One of the world’s most famous ferris wheels, the London Eye has become another iconic piece of the city’s architecture since it was erected in 2000.
A spin on the London Eye lasts for 30 minutes, in which time you get unparalleled views of the city, especially the nearby Houses of Parliament and Big Ben just across the River Thames.
Next, walk along the Thames to see some of the artwork on display in the gigantic Tate Modern. Located right on the Thames, the enormous brick building that houses the Tate Modern was once a power station.
The huge building has since been transformed and its industrial appearance is now the backdrop for some of the biggest art exhibitions in the country.
The Turbine Hall at the heart of the Tate is often used as a space for stunning large-scale art installations. Many of the Tate’s exhibitions are free but you’ll need to pay to enter some of the larger temporary exhibitions.
Besides the art on display the Tate is also home to an excellent shop and cafe, and there are wonderful views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the rest of the city from the terrace on the top floor.
Next door to the Tate Modern is the Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. The theatre is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, the original theatre where William Shakespeare wrote and performed his plays in the 17th century.
The original Globe was demolished in 1644 not far from where today’s Shakespeare’s Globe now stands. Rebuilt in 1997, the Shakespeare’s Globe is a faithful reconstruction of the original, though it does feature a lot more attention paid to health and safety.
The theatre is mostly open air, meaning it’s open to the elements if it rains, as it would have been in Shakespeare’s day.
The main audience section is also all standing, just as it would have been in the 1600s. There is a covered seated area, where the tickets are understandably a little more expensive.
The theatre hosts several performances of Shakespeare plays throughout the year, plus there are guided tours of the building too.
When you start to get hungry take a detour from the Thames to get a bite to eat at Borough Market. Borough Market is one of the oldest food markets in London, with some claiming that the market originated as far back as the 12th century.
Borough Market’s current layout originates from the 19th century when the goods on sale were fruit, veg and other sundries, all of which were sold wholesale to retailers.
Today, Borough Market is a veritable sprawling feast for the senses. Countless stalls sell a huge array of sumptuous delicacies from all over the world.
Alongside these stalls are numerous food stands, cafes, pubs, and restaurants where you can eat till you’re ready to pop.
Borough Market is open seven days a week, though not all stalls are open every day. Be aware that Borough Market is usually incredibly busy on weekends when the majority of the stalls are open.
A short walk from Borough Market is probably London’s most dominant building, The Shard. Part hotel, part commercial offices and part luxury apartments, the Shard is easily the tallest building in London.
If you can’t afford a room to stay at the hotel (and most people can’t) you can still enjoy the Shard’s incredible 360 degree view of London from the observation deck.
If you’ve already taken a ride on the London Eye you might not need to take a trip to the top of the Shard. However, the view from the 68th floor of the Shard is twice as high as any other viewing point in London.
As well as a bird’s-eye view of London’s most famous buildings on clear days there are also sensational views for over 40 miles in all directions.
From the Shard, walk along the Thames to another of London’s more established landmarks, Tower Bridge. Another symbol of the city, Tower Bridge took eight years to build, opening in 1894.
At the time tall ships still sailed this far along the River Thames, hence the need for a suspension bridge. Two upper walkways connect the bridge’s two Gothic towers, where pickpockets and prostitutes used to ply their trades not long after the bridge opened.
Not many people realise that you can take a tour of Tower Bridge. You can visit Tower Bridge’s two walkways along with both towers and the suspension bridge’s original engine room.
Not only are there wonderful views of the Thames from the two walkways, the tour also offers an insight into a fascinating piece of London’s history.
End the day at Vinegar Yard, a collection of chilled out food stalls and bars that sits next to the train tracks that spill out of London Bridge station.
Vinegar Yard’s food stalls offer a range of great grub, including mouth-watering burgers at Nanny Bills, sublime pasta dishes at Sugo and superb pizzas at Bad Boys Pizza Society.
Orders for food and drink can be placed via menus from a QR code on your phone from your table. It’s worth pointing out that Vinegar Yard gets extremely busy in the afternoons so it may be worth booking a table in advance.
On weekends there’s also a flea market held at Vinegar Yard where you can pick up all manner of retro and vintage treats.
On day three explore the two very different sides of east London.
Start with two more of the city’s world-famous landmarks before spending the second half of the day amongst the street-art of Shoreditch.
You will have seen the unmistakable dome of St Paul’s Cathedral several times on day two from the south side of the Thames. However, today’s the day to get up close and inside the breathtakingly beautiful cathedral.
Another symbol of London, St Paul’s Cathedral was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren following the devastation of the Great Fire of London.
Dominating the city’s skyline for over 300 years, St Paul’s has been the site of countless royal weddings as well as the state funerals of such venerated figures as Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill.
St Paul’s Cathedral is as spectacular inside as it is on the outside, adorned with the kind of lavish detailing and ornamentation you’d expect to find in one of the world’s greatest and grandest places of worship.
Still a working church, services are held several times a day. Visitors are able to enter the cathedral’s stunning main hall and visit the Crypt and also take in the view of the city from the cathedral’s Dome.
From St Paul’s Cathedral take the tube from Mansion House station to the Tower of London.
Another emblem of the city, the Tower of London has played a massive role in the history of the city and the entire nation and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The oldest buildings within the Tower of London were built by William the Conqueror in the late 11th century. The Tower has served a multitude of uses during its lifetime, including a palace, a prison and even the home of the Royal Mint.
The Tower of London has also been a tourist attraction for well over 300 years. The Tower’s most famous attraction, the Crown Jewels, have been on public display ever since the 1600s.
The priceless collection of regalia is still used or worn during specific important events such as coronation ceremonies.
Besides the Crown Jewels the Tower is also famous for its Yeomen Warders, more commonly known as beefeaters.
Dressed in their traditional black and red uniforms, today the yeomen offer guided tours of the tower while documenting some of its 1000 year history.
Keep an eye out too for the Tower’s famous ravens, whose presence is said to safeguard the tower and the nation.
Following the pomp and ceremony of the morning, spend the second half of the day in a very different London.
A huge chunk of east London is home to hipster-filled cafes, vintage clothes and vinyl stores, stylish pubs and bars and whole areas daubed with graffiti and street art.
From Tower of London, take the tube from Tower Hill Station to Liverpool Street and then head for Spitalfields Market.
Another of London’s historic markets, Spitalfields Market’s origins lie as far back as the 17th century. Today, this bustling market specialises in stalls run by independent designers, artists and retailers inside a beautifully renovated market hall.
Around the perimeter of the market hall are countless independent boutique stores that sell all kinds of homewares, fashion and much more.
There’s also no shortage of places to eat in and around Spitalfields Market, whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a full meal, with numerous stalls, cafes, restaurants and pubs all offering up excellent food.
Opposite Spitalfields is the Ten Bells pub. The Ten Bells is famous for its connection with this area’s most notorious former resident, Jack the Ripper.
It was on these streets that the elusive serial killer murdered a number of women in 1888. These still unsolved and gruesome crimes have been an endless source of fascination and speculation for over a hundred years.
You can find out much more about Jack the Ripper, his crimes and his victims on an excellent and very informative walking tour of the area.
Just behind the Ten Bells pub is Brick Lane. Brick Lane is most famous for its many curry houses thanks to its large Bangladeshi community. If you’re craving a great curry while you’re in London then you’re in the right place.
Head north on Brick Lane and you’ll find yourself well and truly inside east London’s hipster heaven.
This is where the walls and shop shutters are festooned with street art and murals that are painted by some of the world’s most famous graffiti artists.
Fashion is a huge part of the area, and a chunk of the street is dominated by the Truman Brewery.
This sprawling former brewery is now a warren of countless vintage markets, fashion stores, food stands, record shops and gallery spaces.
The Truman Brewery’s markets are a magnet for fans of all things hipster, with stalls selling everything from film cameras to typewriters.
Just past the Truman Brewery is Cheshire Street, one of many interesting side-streets that jut off Brick Lane.
At the far end of the street, alongside several excellent vintage stores (especially Beyond Retro) is the Carpenters Arms pub. In the late 1960s this was possibly the most feared pub in Britain, thanks to its two owners, Ronnie and Reggie Kray.
The notorious East-End gangsters grew up around the corner from the Carpenters Arms and bought the pub in 1967, essentially becoming the Krays’ HQ.
Reggie Kray was seen drinking here on the night he murdered Jack McVitie. McVitie’s murder would eventually be the downfall of the Krays that saw them spend the rest of their life in prison.
Thankfully the Carpenters Arms is a much more welcoming place today. The pub has several nods to its former owners, as well as a great selection of imported beers and a nice selection of cocktails.
At the north end of Brick Lane you’ll find he street’s two famous bagel shops.
Beigel Shop first opened in 1885, specialising in a small selection of homemade stuffed bagels. There are only a few choices of fillings on Beigel Shop’s menu, but by far the most famous is salt beef and pickle combo.
A few doors down is Beigel Bake, who also offer a similar range of heavenly bagels. Beigel Bake is the younger of the two, having opened in 1974, but has a wider menu and is just as loved by the foodies of east London.
Both bagel shops are open 24 hours a day.
When Brick Lane reaches Bethnal Green Road take a left and walk down Redchurch Street.
Cat lovers might want to take a detour to Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, London’s first cat cafe. The cafe’s collection of live-in and fostered cats live a life of luxury at this Alice in Wonderland themed cafe. Bookings are strongly recommended.
Along Redchurch Street you’ll find a blend of laid-back cafes, restaurants and bars, as well as upmarket fashion stores and plenty more street art.
From Redchurch Street take a look around BoxPark Shoreditch, located just beneath Shoreditch High Street Station.
A shopping mall made entirely from shipping containers, BoxPark Shoreditch consists of dozens of independent fashion shops and food stalls as well as bars and a space for live music and events.
End the day with a night out in Shoreditch, one of the most vivacious areas in London.
Cross Shoreditch High Street and meander along the backstreets to find some of the area’s super-chic bars and clubs.
You’ll find plenty of places for a great night out along Curtain Road, Rivington Street and Great Eastern Road.
Have a ball (literally) at Ballie Ballerson or dine al fresco at Strongroom Bar. Alternatively, the Barley Mow and the Bricklayers Arms on Rivington Street are two of the best pubs in Shoreditch.
Spend the final day of your four day London itinerary exploring some of the more refined areas of the city.
West London is known for being the posher part of town, home to royalty and a destination for the world’s super-rich. There’s also plenty of character and charm on this side of town too, with some of London’s most vibrant streets waiting to be explored.
Start the day in South Kensington, one of west London’s many chic and stylish neighbourhoods that is famous for its museums.
Sat side by side are the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Both museums are housed in spectacularly beautiful buildings dating from the 19th century.
The Victoria & Albert Museum is home to a huge collection of objects and artworks inspired by all aspects of art and design, including paintings, ceramics, photographs, clothing and more.
Alongside its permanent collection the V&A also regularly hosts major exhibitions. The Natural History Museum meanwhile houses a truly gigantic collection of objects exploring everything to do with the natural world.
Both museums are excellent, but in the interests of time, and due to the sheer size of their collections, we’d recommend choosing to visit just the one.
Once you’ve decided which museum to visit, you may want to choose which of its exhibitions you want to see – if you try to see everything on display it’ll easily take up the entire day.
From the museums either walk or take a bus the short distance up Brompton Road towards Knightsbridge. Knightsbridge is one of the most exclusive areas of London, where many high-end brands have their flag-ship stores.
The area is a mecca for the mega-rich and those that want to see how the other half live.
Appropriately, Knightsbridge is where you’ll find possibly the most famous shop in London, Harrods.
Harrods first opened here in 1849 as a small one-room shop. The current building dates from the late 1880s, built after the original store was destroyed by a fire.
Still the largest department store in Europe, Harrods has over 300 departments and claims to serve over 300,000 customers a day during peak seasons.
The store’s palatial and Egyptian-inspired interiors are well worth popping in to see, as are the extensive range of products and services on offer.
There’s also an array of restaurants and cafes on site where you can enjoy some of the finest foods in town, or you could even stop off for high tea.
From Harrods, pop across Knightsbridge for a temporary escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens form an enormous green space, framed by some of the most exclusive and expensive neighbourhoods in the city.
A former hunting ground for King Henry VIII, Hyde Park is the largest of London’s Royal Parks. Today, Hyde Park regularly hosts massive live music concerts throughout the year, as well as a Bavarian Christmas market every winter.
Kensington Gardens was originally a part of Hyde Park, but separated to become a garden for Kensington Palace in the 18th century. It was eventually opened to the public in 1841.
Though officially two parks in reality there is no noticeable divide between them and they essentially form one huge green lung in the centre of London.
Amongst the highlights of the parks are the two beautiful lakes that sit side by side, the Serpentine in Hyde Park and the Long Water in Kensington Gardens.
You can hire a boat to sail alongside the swans on the Serpentine, or you can sit back and relax with a tea or a coffee and admire the lake view at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen.
On the south side of the lakes is the Serpentine Gallery, a free art museum that displays major exhibitions by contemporary artists from all over the world.
Meanwhile at the north end of the Long Water is the beautiful Italian Garden, a classic water garden featuring several fountains and Italianate figurines.
Standing over Kensington Gardens is Kensington Palace. The palace was the birthplace of Queen Victoria and was once the home of Princess Diana.
Today Kensington Palace is currently the London home of several members of the Royal Family, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
If you fancy a peek inside then the Palace’s state rooms are open to the public all year round.
Tours take in the stunningly opulent state rooms and detail the history of the palace, from its origins as the home of King William III in the 17th century right through to the palace’s recent history.
After the palace, head to the north exit of Kensington Gardens and you’ll be on the doorstep of Notting Hill.
One of London’s most colourful neighbourhoods, Notting Hill is a cosmopolitan and picturesque area, known for the annual carnival that passes through its streets.
Long associated with artists and writers, much of the area was largely still a slum until as recently as the 1960s. Today Notting Hill is one of the most desirable parts of the city.
There are plenty of shops and places to eat along Notting Hill Gate and Pembridge Road, though the main area to explore is the historic Portobello Road.
Lined with vintage and antique stores, Portobello Road is packed with character. The street’s shops are painted in a rainbow of colours, making it a huge hit with the Instagram crowd.
The best time to visit Portobello Road is on a Friday or over the weekend when the street hosts the Portobello Road Market. Though the market is held every day, Fridays and weekends are by far the market’s busiest days and when the most stalls are open.
On these days hundreds of stalls are set up stretching over a mile as far as Ladbroke Grove. You can find almost everything for sale at the market’s stalls, including antiques and collectibles, books, jewellery, film cameras, and vintage clothes.
On Friday and Saturday there are also numerous food trucks specialising in dishes from all over the world.
After a hectic four days in London, wind down on your last evening in town on Westbourne Grove. Cutting through the heart of Notting Hill, Westbourne Grove is filled with smart and stylish restaurants for one final meal in town.
Head to the Aussie-inspired Grainger & Co for a plate of laid-back dinner or Beach Blanket Babylon for a taste of the Mediterranean in a Georgian mansion.
If you fancy a nightcap, the Cock and Bottle on Needham Road or the Prince Edward on Prince’s Square are two of the best neighbourhood pubs in London.
If you need even more inspiration, here are a few of the best London guidebooks you might want to take on your trip.
Experience London by Lonely Planet.
If you’re looking to go off the beaten track and explore some of London’s lesser-known treasures then Experience London is the book for you. Written by local guides with a genuine love for the city, Experience London is a perfect companion to help you see much more of the city.
Rick Steves is one of the world’s most famous and trusted travellers. Having been writing about destinations all over the world since the 1970s, Steves’ recently-updated guide to London is packed with details and levels of insight that only years of travel can bring.
The Monocle Travel Guide to London.
The team at Monocle offer their insight to bring you some of the hippest and hottest places to see in London. Monocle’s guide to London will tell you will give you the lowdown on the city, from where to find the best cup of coffee to the best place to catch live music.
The best time to visit London is in the late spring, the summer or in the early autumn. Generally London is a much nicer place when the sun comes out, when people head to parks and pubs and enjoy the longer days.
London (and the UK as a whole) is not known for fantastic weather, and you should always be ready for rain no matter what time of year you visit.
Yet late spring through to early autumn sees the best weather in London. Between May and October you’ll see more sunshine and a lot less of the rain and bitterly cold winds than are common during late autumn, winter and the early spring.
The average temperatures in May is around 12 °C/54.8 °F, rising to around 18 °C/64 °F in July during the height of summer. Maximum temperatures are often a little higher than these averages.
Hot weather (by UK standards) is common in London in the summer, when temperatures tend to hit the high 20 °Cs/low 80 °Fs.
The best way to get around London is by Underground trains (known as the tube) or, for shorter journeys, by bus.
There might be times when you’ll need a taxi (or an Uber) but in most cases public transport is the easiest way to travel around London.
For such a big city getting around London is generally pretty simple. There’s a large if sometimes confusing public transport system in London that is fairly easy to understand once you get the swing of things.
Download the TFL Go app from Transport for London to help you navigate your way around the city by tube, bus, train and more.
London’s transport system spits the city into concentric zones. The centre of London is designated as zone 1. The next outer layer of the city that circles zone 1 is zone 2, the next zone after that is zone 3, and so on until you reach zone 9, way outside of the city.
The cost of travelling on public transport in London typically depends on which zones you travel within or between. The more zones you pass through the more expensive the journey.
However most of London’s main sights are in the centre of the city, so most visitors to London will probably only rarely venture beyond zone 1.
An Oyster card is a prepaid swipe card that you use to tap in and out of tube and train stations and also on to buses.
The Oyster Card is generally aimed at people who live or work in London, though there is an Oyster card designed for overseas visitors to the city, called the Visitor Oyster Card.
You can buy a Visitor Oyster Card online here and have it sent to you before you leave for London.
Alternatively you can buy a Visitor Oyster Card from any of the TFL Visitor Centres located in Victoria Station, Piccadilly Circus Station, Kings Cross & St Pancras Station or Liverpool Street Station.
The Visitor Oyster card costs £5 and you can choose how much credit to add to the card. If you live in the UK and are visiting the capital then you can buy a regular Oyster from any tube station.
The majority of journeys that you’ll take during your time in London will most probably be by tube. The vast majority of central London, and the areas covered in this four day London itinerary, can be reached easily by tube.
There are 11 tube lines that operate throughout central and Greater London. Underground stations are easy to find in central London, especially on the north side of the Thames.
Tube trains start running from around 5.00am until roughly around midnight on all lines. The Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines all run a night tube service on Fridays and Saturday nights. On these lines trains run right through the night although on a reduced service.
The tube is quick and mostly reliable, though delays are not uncommon, typically caused by a signal failure somewhere along the line.
South London is notoriously underserved by the underground network. If you’re travelling to areas further afield on the south side of the river you’ll probably have to rely on overland trains departing from Waterloo, London Bridge, Charing Cross, and Victoria stations.
London is served by a huge bus network. Buses can be ideal for short journeys within central London as well as for trips to areas where there are no tube stations.
You can use the TFL Go app to find bus routes and how to get from A to B. There is also usually detailed route information displayed at most of the bus stops within central London.
Bus journeys can be paid by tapping on the Oyster card reader when getting on the bus.
London’s famous black cabs are another very useful way of getting around the city. This is certainly true of shorter journeys where you’d prefer to get from A to B without any fuss.
Before qualifying to drive a taxi, London’s black cab drivers spend years mastering “the knowledge”, committing the city’s entire road network to memory.
As a result, black cabs aren’t cheap. But if you take a black cab you’ll be certain to get to wherever it is you need to get to.
You can hail a black cab down on the street as long as their orange vacant light is on. Tell the driver where you need to go and pay by either cash or by credit or debit card at the end of the journey.
Over the past few years Uber has also become very common in London. Uber drivers rely on sat nav rather than brainpower alone, but fares in an Uber taxi are a lot cheaper than black cabs, especially over longer distances.
Heathrow Airport is London’s largest airport, located around 14 miles west of the centre of the city. Heathrow Airport is connected to London by one train line and two Underground train lines, the Piccadilly Line and the newly-opened Elizabeth Line.
The Piccadilly Line takes around 50 minutes to an hour to reach central London, costing £5.50.
It takes 30 minutes from Heathrow to Paddington Station on the Elizabeth Line, with the journey costing £11.50.
The quickest way into central London is to take the Heathrow Express, a direct overground train. The Heathrow Express takes either 15 or 30 minutes to get from the airport to Paddington Station, depending on the journey.
Heathrow Express trains are more frequent than the Elizabeth Line, and tickets cost £25 per person. Children under 15 accompanied by an adult travel for free. Heavily discounted rates for specific journeys on the Heathrow Express are available on certain days if tickets are booked in advance.
The cheapest way to get into central London from Heathrow is by bus. Several companies operate coach services between Heathrow and London, including National Express and Megabus.
Journeys start from Heathrow Central Bus station and terminate at Victoria Coach Station, near Buckingham Palace.
Coaches take between 45 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes to reach Victoria Coach Station depending on the operator and the journey.
Gatwick Airport is located just 25 miles south of central London in the county of West Sussex.
The easiest and quickest way to reach the centre of the city is by train. Four train operators run services from Gatwick Airport’s overground train station.
The most convenient train service into London from Gatwick is the Gatwick Express which operates between Gatwick Airport and Victoria Station without any stops. The Gatwick Express takes around 30 minutes with tickets costing from £18.50 per person.
Alternatively, local train services call at London Bridge, Victoria, and Blackfriars Stations and take between 35 to 50 minutes depending on the journey and the final destination.
Tickets cost from £12.50 per person but these trains call at local stations on the way, which might not be ideal if you’re travelling with a large amount of luggage.
National Express run a number of buses from Gatwick Airport to Victoria Coach Station every day. The journey by coach takes around 1 hour 40 minutes and tickets start at £10 per person.
Stansted Airport is located 30 miles northeast of London.
The easiest way to reach London from Stansted Airport is via the Stansted Express train which terminates at Liverpool Street Station. The Stansted Express takes around 40 minutes and costs £20.70.
The cheapest way to get to central London from Stansted is again by coach.
National Express run coaches from Stansted Airport calling at Liverpool Street Coach Station and Victoria Coach Station. Journeys take around 50 minutes and tickets start at £15.
London Luton Airport is around 25 miles north of London.
The quickest way to get to the centre of London from London Luton Airport is by a combination of shuttle bus and train. A shuttle bus runs from London Luton Airport to Luton Airport Parkway train station costing £2.40 one way.
Trains from Luton Parkway Station take around 40 minutes to reach central London, calling at St Pancras, Farringdon and Blackfriars stations.
Note that these trains are all regular passenger trains – there are no dedicated airport services like the Heathrow Express to London Luton Airport. Tickets from Luton Parkway to central London cost £16.50.
Again the cheapest way to get to central London from London Luton Airport is by coach. National Express and Green Line both run services between the airport and Victoria Coach Station.
The journey takes between 45 minutes to an hour and 30 minutes depending on the route and bus company, with tickets starting at £6 on National Express.
By far the most convenient airport to arrive and depart from is London City Airport as it’s actually located within London.
However, London City Airport is the smallest of the city’s airports, with only a small selection of flights, mostly to and from city destinations in Europe.
London City Airport can be reached by the Dockland Light Railway (DLR), a driverless light rail system that runs between central London and the east of the city.
The journey from London City Airport DLR station to Bank Station in the centre of London takes around 20 minutes and costs £2.90.
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