When you're going through your bucket list of cities to visit, you might have London on there. It's a place you'll never be bored of and is famous for several reasons. Whether you're visiting London for 3 days or 3 weeks, you have countless options regarding what to do.
If you're anything like me, any length of visit requires an itinerary. I don't want to miss anything! Even though you can see a lot of London in just a weekend, you might consider staying longer. If you're headed there for 5 days, here's how to make the most of your time!
What to Do in London for 5 Days?
With 5 days, you can take a more leisurely pace when exploring the city. You'll have time to see all the main sights, but you can also head further if you want. If your main priority is visiting landmarks, check off these 14 most iconic buildings in London!
To make the most out of your time in London, here are my suggestions for an itinerary:
Get to Know The City
For your first day, consider hopping on a Hop On Hop Off bus tour to start your visit. With tickets starting at $48.70, you can choose between two routes to see several London landmarks. The Red Route will take you from Green Park to Victoria, bypassing Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, and more.
While tickets can be less budget-friendly, this does allow you to see several sights from up high in one go. You can also hop off at any point if you'd like.
Consider taking the number 11 from Liverpool Street Station for a more budget-friendly bus option. This won't be a guided tour, but you'll still pass by landmarks such as St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and Parliament Square. The best part? The bus journey will only cost you around $2.
You'll be in Victoria when you get off either bus option. It's a short walk back to Westminster. You can take Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, and the Houses of Parliament there.
You can book a tour of the Houses of Parliament or visit Westminster Abbey. Prefer to save some money for other experiences in London? You can admire the exteriors of all the landmarks. Be sure to also check out the statues in Parliament Square! If you head down to the river, you'll also see the London Eye.
If you're a Harry Potter fan, you'll be excited to know that Westminster tube station was used during the fifth film. It's the station where Harry takes Arthur Weasley down into the underground!
Finishing Off The Day
If you're not too tired from your first day of exploring, consider seeing a play in the West End to end your day! With countless offerings daily, you can find a show that fits your vibe and budget. Check out TodayTix for the best daily deals!
The theatre district is located near Covent Garden and Leicester Square, so you can visit those before seeing a show.
Changing of The Guard
For your second day in London, consider starting early with the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. This happens Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday at 11:00 am. It would help if you planned on getting there much earlier to get a spot where you want to be.
When you're done with the royal flair, walk back up the Mall towards the big arch. You'll be at Trafalgar Square, home to Nelson's Column, when you cross through there. Pose with the lions and the fountains for some classic London photos.
If you feel like getting a museum fix, the National Gallery is in Trafalgar Square. It's a massive museum, so you'll want to dedicate some time to it, but you can also add it to one of your last days to return for more.
Exploring The Southbank
After exploring Trafalgar Square, walk down Northumberland Avenue until you come to the Thames. You'll see the Golden Jubilee Bridge, and you should cross it to get to the Southbank. Walk away from the London Eye for my favorite area to walk in London.
On this walk, you'll pass by the Southbank Centre, National Theatre, The Tate Modern, and Shakespeare's Globe. If you feel like taking a detour, you can cross Millenium Bridge to St. Paul's Cathedral.
Otherwise, keep walking until you pass the Clink Prison, and then you'll come out onto a street where you'll find Borough Market. Here you'll find all kinds of food carts at London's premier food market.
If food is your passion, consider joining a secret British food tour!
After hitting the market, head back to the Southbank to see Tower Bridge. If you have time, you can cross over to visit the Tower of London, but make sure you have enough time to fully explore it.
Finish your evening with a visit to the Sky Garden to get a beautiful view of the London skyline. Tickets are free, but you need to prebook them to guarantee entry. There are bars and restaurants at the top, but you can also check out other exciting London bars to end the night!
Now that you've got the hang of London, why not spend a day visiting museums? Start the day with the British Museum. While you can explore the whole museum on your own, you can also book guided tours to get the most out of your time there.
After the museum history, jump on the tube at Holborn. Take the Piccadilly line eastbound all the way to South Kensington. When you exit there, you have three museums you can choose to explore: The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Science Museum. Any of the three are all excellent, but my favorite is the V&A.
To get some outdoor time after spending the day inside museums, walk down to Kensington Gardens. It's just around the corner from the museums, and you can take in the palace gardens and wander down to Hyde Park.
If you exit the park via Marble Arch, you can walk down Oxford Street for some retail therapy to finish the day!
Day Trip Out of London
While London is an incredible city, there's more to the UK than its capital. With five days in London, you've got the perfect amount of time to venture a little further. London has several train stations making it easy to go on a day trip.
Depending on your interests, you can visit any of the following in a day:
- Windsor Castle
- If you're up for a challenge, you can visit Stonehenge via coach
Any of these cities will allow you to get out of London while being close enough to make it back for dinner!
If you'd rather stay in London, visit Hampton Court Palace. It's still within London, but a bit of a way out, so it can take up an entire day. If you still have time left after visiting, you can walk through Richmond Park to see the deer!
On your last day in London, leave time for afternoon tea. You can indulge at Fortnum & Mason's afternoon tea for the creme de la creme. Consider Cafe Rouge or a cream tea at a museum for more budget-friendly options. Having a scone with clotted cream and jam is a must!
You can use your last day to check off all the must-see items you still need to get to. This might include:
- Camden Market
- Hampstead Heath
- Regent's Park
- Spitalfields Market - be sure to try Humble Crumble there!
- Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour
- Returning to the National Gallery
How to Plan a Trip to London, England
When planning a trip to London, determine when you want to visit. The weather can be fickle in London, so keep that in mind, and it can also be wet, so always prepare for rain.
Once you've got your dates, you can start making an itinerary. Check for any bank holidays or closures that could impact your planned activities.
If you need help booking accommodations in London, you only need 4 minutes to book your perfect place to stay in London.
How Can I Travel in London for 5 Days?
When traveling in London, you can take advantage of the extensive public transport system. London has the underground (the tube), over ground services, trains, buses, and more. You can use these services with a contactless credit or debit card. Simply tap in and out, and you're good to go!
You can also use Apple Pay or Google Pay on your phone if that's easier. While stations still sell Oyster cards, you have to top those up to use them.
Next Stop: London
With your itinerary in place for five days in London, you're ready to answer London's call! As you book everything, use Pilot to keep everything in one place.