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Itineraries for Your Trip to London

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3 Days in London for First Timers

Lavet af Zoë SmithZoë Smith is a British travel writer, editor, and digital content creator who has lived, worked, and traveled over six continents, and is currently based near Nantes, France. She has written for Rough Guides, CNN, and Culture Trip, and is digital editor at FrenchEntrée.

With three days in London, you have enough time to check off the must-see sights and customize your itinerary to suit your preferences. Take advantage of super saver tours and money-saving city passes, head out on a day trip, and add in a few additional landmarks to make your trip even more memorable. Here are some ideas for a 3-day trip to London.

Day 1

A hop-on hop-off bus tour offers the convenience of a guided tour while leaving you free to decide where to go and how to long to stay at each stop. Hop off at top attractions such as the Tower of London, Trafalgar Square, and Piccadilly Circus, then time your arrival at Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard ceremony. After a busy morning of sightseeing, hop aboard a lunch cruise down the River Thames and tuck into a meal as you pass Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. In the afternoon, ride on the London Eye—be sure to book a skip-the-line ticket as queues can take over an hour—and enjoy views that reach as far as Windsor Castle on a clear day. Afterward, head to Oxford Street or Covent Garden for some shopping before walking to London’s West End theater district for a show such as Wicked or The Lion King.

Day 2

Many of England’s most popular spots can be visited on a day trip from London, so choosing where to go is up to you. Perhaps discover ancient Stonehenge, visit medieval Windsor Castle, and take a walking tour of UNESCO-listed Bath. Alternatively, visit Oxford’s world-famous university and Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare, stopping along the way to admire the Cotswolds and visit Warwick Castle. If you’re feeling really adventurous, it’s even possible to cross the Channel and visit Paris. Simply hop on the Eurostar and within hours you could be cruising down the Seine. To maximize your time, opt for a full-day tour that combines multiple destinations into one trip and—if you’re on a budget—look for a tour that includes extras such as hotel pickup, entrance fees, and lunch.

Day 3

Spend your final morning visiting some of London’s award-winning museums—the British Museum is a history lover’s paradise, while the Tate Modern is one of the most cutting edge contemporary art museums in the world. This is also the day to take in any attractions that you’ve missed and perhaps a few fun extras. Stop by Madame Tussauds to rub shoulders with celebrities and “meet” the queen, visit family favorites like the Sea Life London Aquarium and London Zoo, or indulge in afternoon tea at Grosvenor House. Alternatively, you could just spend the entire day on the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio tour, a must for Potter fans. On your final evening, opt for an entertaining food tour of Soho or head down to the Southbank to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy dinner at a riverside restaurant.

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